Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Mrs. R. S. Nichols,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XII: Literary Criticism - part 04 (1902), pp. 110-111


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[page 110, continued:]

MRS. R. S. NICHOLS.

[Text: Broadway Journal, March 22, 1845.]

MRS. NICHOLS, of Cincinnati, is one of our most imaginative and vigorous poets. We have lately fallen upon a copy of “An Address of the Carriers of the Cincinnati Daily American Republican to its Patrons, for January, 1845.” This is the composition of Mrs. Nichols; and although we should scarcely look for anything very original in a New-Year’s Address, still there is a great deal both of originality and of other high merit here. We quote at random a stanza or two, not hoping, of course, to convey any just idea of the skill manifested in the general conduct of the poem — that point which is so severe a test of the artist:

Bride of my youthful days, gentle and fair,

Low lies thy grave at the portals of Time

Wrapt in thy shroud of long sunshiny hair

The hours upborne by the wings of the air,

Entombed thee in love, singing dirges sublime!

· · · · · · · · ·

This grew my whitened beard — moistened my eye;

Faint was my voice’s tone — languished my heart;

Then, in my dreary age, Autumn drew nigh, [page 111:]

Like a sweet angel of love from the sky,

Ready to act the Samaritan’s part!

· · · · · · · · ·

Oft, when the glowing stars-footprints of God! —

Lit up the earth with a holier light,

We o’er each pleasant place falteringly trod,

Wailing the fate of the brown-fading sod

That shrunk from our steps, as if tearing a blight.

· · · · · · · · ·

Down by a flashing rill, winding in shade,

Leaping to sunlight in gladness, and mirth,

We, in a softened mood, pleasantly made

A couch, where the streamlet a monody played —

A death-song for one of the brightest of Earth!

· · · · · · · · ·

Pale grew the berries red, close at our feet;

Wan looked the waning Moon over our head;

Then moaned the hollow winds, winged and fleet,

And Autumn folded her white winding-sweet,

White Winter approached, and enshrouded the dead!

The rhythm here is anapæstic — by no means an usual one with us, and requiring much art in the handling. There are some lapses, to be sure, in all the stanzas except the second one quoted, which is rhythmically perfect. Even the lapses, however, or variations, are strictly defensible, and show that Mrs. Nichols has, at all events, a well cultivated ear.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Mrs. R. S. Nichols)