Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of Alice Ray: A Romance in Rhyme,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XII: Literary Criticism - part 04 (1902), pp. 259-262


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[page 259, continued:]

ALICE RAY: A ROMANCE IN RHYME. BY MRS. SARAH JOSEPHA HALE, AUTHOR OF “NORTHWOODETC., ETC. PHILADELPHIA.

[Broadway Journal, Nov. 1, 1845.]

MRS. HALE has been long distinguished as one of the purest and most vigorous writers in America — equally distinguished in poetry and in prose. [page 260:]

“Alice Ray” will add much — very much — to her well-earned reputation: — providing always the unpretending form in which it comes before the public, does not injure it in that most worldly public’s estimation, The volume, simply printed and bound, is dedicated to “The Lady Patronesses of the Fair Bazaar [Philadelphia] in aid of the Academy of Fine Arts” — and has Charity, of course, as its primary object.

The poem is truly beautiful. Its delicacy and fancy of conception, and the truthful simplicity and grace of its manner, have, we confess, quite taken us by surprise. We have read many of Mrs. Hale’s poetical compositions, but were prepared for nothing so good.

The story has a marked originality in it, and is well adapted to poetic effect — but the main excellence of the work lies in its point and force of expression — in the aggregate of its quotable passages. In place of an elaborate and needless criticism, we shall take the liberty of placing a few of these before our readers: — italicizing what especially pleases us.

The birds their love notes warble

Among the blossom’d trees;

The flowers are sighing forth their sweets

To wooing honey bees; —

The glad brook o’er a pebbly floor

Goes dancing on its way, —

But not a thing is so like spring

As happy Alice Ray.

 

And, with the Story-tellers,

What friendships had she made!

She pitied lonely Crusoe’s lot,

And lov’d Scheherazade, — [page 261:]

But to the Bard of Avon turn’d

Her fancy and her heart,

Nor knew which most in him she lov‘d

The nature or the art.

 

Her world was ever joyous —

She thought of grief and pain

As giants in the olden time

That ne‘er would come again.

 

Her heart was like a fountain,

The waters always sweet,

Her poney in the pasture,

The kitten at her feet,

The ruffling bird of Juno, and

The wren in the olden wall

Each knew her loving carefulness,

And came at her soft call.

· · · · · · · ·  

He rode with grace and bearing high,

Like Cossack in command:

And his good steed would gently feed,

Like Arab’s, from his hand;

And when he called his dog or steed,

His tones were ever bland.

· · · · · · · ·  

The brave are ever gentle,

The good should be the gay, —

And Arthur was as bold of heart

As knight in tourney fray, —

His mind was always firm for truth

As rock ‘mid ocean’s spray;

And though a restless daring will

At times he might display,

His wildest moods were calmed at once,

But mention Alice Ray.

And she — though when you talked of him

She blushed and turned away — [page 262:]

Was still his partner in the dance

And in the dashing sleigh-

They always searched together

For towers the first of May;

And duly to the Sabbath School

On every holy day

She went — they both were Teachers there —

She went with Arthur Gray.

 

However dear new friends may be.

However far she stray,

She yet will see her Mother weep,

And hear her Father pray, —

Praying for her happiness,

Weeping in dismay,

That she, their dear and only child

Must go so far away!

— She bade farewell to them and all —

Farewell to Arthur Gray.

It will be seen that the two passages last quoted have the peculiarity of a constantly recurring rhyme in ay. — The four cantos of the poem are terminated with some twenty or thirty lines in this manner — with the identical rhyme in ay — and the idea is not only original, but the effect (and not merely the musical effect) is one of the very happiest we have known in poetical art. Throughout is manifested an exquisite sense of the forcible and of the delicate, in rhythm. Upon the whole, this poem cannot fail to elevate its author very highly in the opinion of all those whose opinion she would be likely to value.

 


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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) (Review of Alice Ray: A Romance in Rhyme)