of American Letters, in conducting
the thing called 'The North American Review'. The poem just cited is
especially beautiful; but the poetic elevation which it induces we must
refer chiefly to our sympathy in the poet's enthusiasm. We pardon his
hyperboles for the evident earnestness with which they are uttered.
It was by no means my design, however, to expatiate upon the _merits_
of what I should read you. These will necessarily speak for themselves.
Boccalina, in his 'Advertisements from Parnassus', tells us that Zoilus
once presented Apollo a very caustic criticism upon a very admirable
book:--whereupon the god asked him for the beauties of the work. He
replied that he only busied himself about the errors. On hearing this,
Apollo, handing him a sack of unwinnowed wheat, bade him pick out _all
the chaff_ for his reward.
Now this fable answers very well as a hit at the critics--but I am by no
means sure that the god was in the right. I am by no means certain that
the true limits of the critical duty are not grossly misunderstood.
Excellence, in a poem especially, may be considered in the light of an
axiom, which need only be properly _put_, to become self-evident. It is
_not_ excellence if it require to be demonstrated its such:--and thus to
point out too particularly the merits of a work of Art, is to admit that
they are _not_ merits altogether.
Among the "Melodies" of Thomas Moore is one whose distinguished
character as a poem proper seems to have been singularly left out of
view. I allude to his lines beginning--"Come, rest in this bosom." The
intense energy of their expression is not surpassed by anything in
Byron. There are two of the lines in which a sentiment is conveyed that
embodies the _all in all_ of the divine passion of Love--a sentiment
which, perhaps, has found its echo in more, and in more passionate,
human hearts that any other single sentiment ever embodied in words:
Come, rest in this bosom, my own stricken deer,
Though the herd have fled from thee, thy home is still here;
Here still is the smile, that no cloud can o'ercast,
And a heart and a hand all thy own to the last.
Oh! what was love made for, if 'tis not the same
Through joy and through torment, through glory and shame?
I know not, I ask not, if guilt's in that heart,
I but know that I love thee, whatever thou art.
Taylor Drawn and engraved under the supervision of George T.Page 1
" [Illustration: 9015] Presently my soul grew stronger; Hesitating then no longer, "Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly Your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is I was napping, And so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, Tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you"-- Here I opened .Page 2
"Surely," said I, "surely that is Something at my window lattice; [Illustration: 0019] Let me see, then, what thereat is, And this mystery explore-- Let my heart be still a moment And this mystery explore;-- 'Tis the wind and nothing more.Page 3
When, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven [Illustration: 8020] Of the saintly days of yore.Page 4
Much I marvelled this ungainly Fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning-- Little relevancy bore; For we cannot help agreeing That no sublunary being Ever yet was blessed with seeing Bird above his chamber door-- Bird or beast upon the sculptured Bust above his chamber door, With such name as "Nevermore.Page 5
master Whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster, So when hope he would adjure, Stern despair returned, Instead of the sweet hope he dared adjure, That sad answer, "Nevermore.Page 6
" [Illustration: 0029] [Illustration: 0031] [Illustration: 9031] "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!-- Prophet still, if bird or devil!-- Whether Tempter sent, or whether Tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate, yet all undaunted, On this desert land enchanted-- On this home by Horror haunted-- Tell me truly, I implore-- Is there,--is there balm in Gilead?-- Tell me--tell me, I implore!" .Page 7
" "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!-- Prophet still, if bird or devil!-- By that Heaven that bends above us-- By that God we both adore-- Tell this soul with sorrow laden If, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden Whom the angels name Lenore-- [Illustration: 0032] Clasp a rare and radiant maiden Whom the angels name Lenore.Page 8
And the lamplight o'er him streaming Throws his shadow on the floor, And my soul from out that shadow That lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted--nevermore! [Illustration: 0035].