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But we are many, we who hold
The grim resolve to guard it well.
Blow after blow, till men shall see
And glorious must their triumph be.
As a gem wherein our poet's elevation and tenderness and ideality of soul have found a common centre and a most exquisite blending, we instance
WAITING BY THE GATE. BESIDE a massive gateway built up in years gone by, Upon whose top the clouds in eternal shadow lie, While streams the evening sunshine on quiet wood and lea, I stand and calmly wait till the hinges turn for me.
The tree-tops faintly rustle beneath the breeze's Alight,
Behold the portals open, and o’er the threshold, now,
In sadness then I ponder how quickly fleets the hour
Again the hinges turn, and a youth, departing, throws
Oh glory of our race that so suddenly decays!
I grieve for life's bright promise, just shown and then
withdrawn; But still the sun shines round me: the evening bird sings on, And I again am soothed, and, beside the ancient gate, In the soft evening sunlight, I calmly stand and wait. Once more the gates are opened; an infant group go out, The sweet smile quenched for ever, and stilled the sprightly
shout. Oh frail, frail tree of Life, that upon the greensward strows Its fair young buds unopened, with every wind that blows ! So come from every region, so enter, side by side, The strong and faint of spirit, the meek and men of pride. Steps of earth's great and mighty, between those pillars gray, And prints of little feet, mark the dust along the way. And some approach the threshold whose looks are blank with
fear, And some whose temples brighten with joy in drawing near, As if they saw dear faces, and caught the gracious eye Of Him, the Sinless Teacher, who came for us to die. I mark the joy, the terror; yet these, within my heart, Can neither make the dread nor the longing to depart; And, in the sunshine streaming on quiet wood and lea, I stand and calmly wait till the hinges turn for me.
In 1870, Bryant published a translation of Homer's Iliad.* This production is pronounced by an excellent American authority † to be the most successful attempt of its kind yet made. It aims at as strict an adherence to the original text, in its idioms, phraseology, and imagery, as is consistent with the graces of versification. But in so doing it fails, on the one hand, of seizing the real poetic and Homeric intensity peculiar to Pope's translation, and, on the other, it lacks the literal fidelity of a prose rendition. / /Bryant's principal country residence is at Roslyn, Long [sland, a picturesquely situated village on the Sound. It
* Followed in 1872 by a similar translation of the Odyssey.
IS "an ancient mansion, embosomed in trees and vines-a great, ample, dwelling-place in the lap of the hills—built by Richard Kirk, in 1781. . . . Here the venerable host enjoys the society of his chosen friends, and retires for a season from the exacting duties and turmoils of a daily editorial life."
The following beautiful tribute to Bryant's lifelong fidelity to his early calling is rendered him by one of the ablest of American critics.
“He has preserved the elevation which he so early acquired. He has been loyal to the Muses. At their shrine his ministry seems ever free and sacred, wholly apart from the ordinary associations of life. With a pure heart and a lofty purpose has he hymned the glory of Nature and the praise of Freedom. To this we cannot but, in a great measure, ascribe the serene beauty of his verse.
. . As the patriarch went forth alone to muse at eventide, the reveries of genius have been to Bryant holy and private seasons. They are as unstained by the passing clouds of this troubled existence as the skies of his own Prairies by village smoke." Bryant's poems may be classified, first, as those possessing a universal interest - Thanatopsis for instance; secondly, poems of Nature, as the Forest Hymn; and thirdly, heroic or national poems, as Our Country's Call. /
“Of these, probably the most enduring will be those which draw their vitality more immediately from the American soil. In these there is a purity of nature and a certain rustic grace which speak at once the nature of the poet and his subject. . . . It is American air we breathe, and American Nature we see in his verses, and the plain living and high thinking of what should constitute American sentiment inspires them." I
“Bryant's writings transport us into the depths of the solemn primeval forest, to the shores of the lonely lake
* Western Monthly, Nov., 1870.
the banks of the wild nameless stream, or the brow of the rocky upland rising like a promontory from amidst a wide ocean of foliage; while they shed around us the glories of a climate fierce in its extremes, but splendid in all its vicissitudes."*
"It is indeed in the beautiful that the genius of Bryant finds its prime delight. He ensouls all dead, insensate things in that deep and delicate sense of their seeming life in which they breathe and smile before the eyes that love all they look upon;' and thus there is animation and enjoyment in the heart of the solitude.”+ “His genius is not versatile; he has related no history; he has not sung of the passion of love; he has not described artificial life. .. The melodious flow of his verse, and the vigor and compactness of his language, prove him a perfect master of his art. / But the loftiness of his imagination, the delicacy of his fancy, the dignity and truth of his thoughts, constitute a higher claim to our admiration than mastery of the intricacies of rhythm and of the force and graces of expression." I
Bryant died June 12, 1878. * Washington Irving. # Christopher North. * R. W. Griswold. WHITTIER.
John GREENLEAF WHITTIER was born of a Quaker family in the neighborhood of Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1807. “Until his eighteenth year he lived at home, working on the farm, writing occasional verses for the Haverhill Gazette, and turning his hand to a little shoemaking."*
After two years of academic study he entered on editorial duties at Boston, and subsequently at Hartford.
“In 1831 appeared, in a small octavo volume, at Hartford, his Legends of New England, which represent a taste early formed by him of the quaint Indian and colonial superstition of the country. The Supernaturalism of New England, which he published in 1847, may be considered a sequel to this volume."*
Mogg Megone-a poem-was published in 1835. The poet says of it: “The long poem of Mogg Megone was, in a great measure, composed in early life; and it is scarcely necessary to say that its subject is not such as the writer would have chosen at any subsequent period.” It was intended by the author as a mere frame-work for sketches of the scenery of New England, and of its early inhabitants.
In 1836, Whittier was chosen secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and about the same time he edited the Pennsylvania Freeman in Philadelphia. Four years later he took up his residence in Amesbury, Massachusetts, where he has since resided.
"In 1845, appeared The Stranger in Lowell, a series of sketches of scenery and character, which the varied characters of the populace of that famed manufacturing towr, might naturally suggest.” † The Bridal oj Pennacook, an Indian romance of consiö
Duyckinck's Cyclopædia of American Literature. † Cleveland's Compendium of American Literature.