Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “William Wallace” (Text-C), The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe­ (1850), 3:240-241


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­ [page 240, continued:]

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WILLIAM WALLACE.

AMONG our men of genius whom, because they are men of genius, we neglect, let me not fail to mention WILLIAM WALLACE, of Kentucky. Had Mr. W. been born under the wings of that ineffable buzzard, “The North American Review,” his unusual merits would long ago have been blazoned to the world — as the far inferior merits of Sprague, Dana, and others of like calibre, have already been blazoned. Neither of these gentlemen has written ­[page 241:] a poem worthy to be compared with “The Chaunt of a Soul,” published in “The Union Magazine” for November, 1848. It is a noble composition throughout — imaginative, eloquent, full of dignity, and well sustained. It abounds in detached images of high merit — for example:

Your early splendor’s gone

Like stars into a cloud withdrawn —

Like music laid asleep

In dried up fountains.  .  .  .

 

Enough, I am, and shall not choose to die.

No matter what our future Fate may be,

To live, is in itself a majesty.   .  .  .

 

And Truth, arising from yon deep,

Is plain as a white statue on a tall, dark steep. . .

 

————— Then

The Earth and Heaven were fair,

While only less than Gods seemed all my fellow men.

Oh, the delight — the gladness —

The sense, yet love, of madness

The glorious choral exultations —

The far-off sounding of the banded nations —

The wings of angels in melodious sweeps

Upon the mountain’s hazy steeps —

The very dead astir within their coffined deeps

The dreamy veil that wrapt the star and sod —

A swathe of purple, gold, and amethyst —

And, luminous behind the billowy mist;

Something that looked to my young eyes like God.

I admit that the defect charged, by an envious critic, upon Bayard Taylor — the sin of excessive rhetoricianism — is, in some measure, chargeable to Wallace. He, now and then, permits enthusiasm to hurry him into bombast; but at this point he is rapidly improving; and, if not disheartened by the cowardly neglect of those who dare not praise a poetical aspirant with genius and without influence, will soon rank as one of the very noblest of American poets. In fact, he is so now.


Notes:

None.


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[S:1 - Works, 1850] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - William Wallace (Text-C)