Text: Lavante, “The Poets and Poetry of America: A Satire,” Philadelphia: William S. Young, 1847








[page 3:]




“And with his moral and religious views

Woos the wild fancies of an infant Muse,

Inspiring thoughts that he could not express,

Obscure sublime! his secret happiness.” CRABBE.

Clime of the brave! entire from sea to sea!

Vain is thy boast that thou art blest and free!

Oh servile slave to eastern rules and rhyme,

Almost from Milton's blank to Chaucer's chime!

Thy own proud bards behold! a motley band

To lead the music of their native land.

Immortal Griswold! thine the deathless name*

Shall bear the palm of more than mortal fame!

For thine the lofty boast at once to save

The humble bard perchance from hapless grave,

Weave with his crown thy fadeless laurel bays,

And with thy nursling gain undying praise.

Yea, thine alone to search o’er Delphian height

That which shall give to gods and men delight;

At once to snatch from each lone wand’ring, Muse

All which on earth could profit or amuse,

Then rise and soar o’er loftier peaks away,

And bask in Phœbus’ pure effulgent ray!

Blest be thy name! nor grief thy pleasure mar,

Nor fade thy life but with the morning star! [page 4:]

Awake, Satiric muse! awake in might

To strike, for Poesy's insulted right!

Awake in spite of SAUNDERS and the fools

Who think of thee, as I of Parker's rules,

That thou art weak — and not that deathless fame

Awaits thy course to crown thy empty claim!

The chase is up; arise and onward press,

If mean the game, yet not the sport is less!

Keen be the jest, yet just the pointed stroke,

To silence folly in her shameless cloak;

Let impulse lead, not prudence guide the song,

Nor laughter fail to cheer the muse along.

What age can boast improvements like our own,

When men to gods, and idiots bards have grown?

No want of rhyme, though oft as light as chaff,

Vain as a bustle or a cenotaph;

Dreams, clouds, or gas-light, all are made

At cheapest rate by Espy or a blade!

Oh wondrous age! whose glories fax excel

All which romancers dream or fictions tell!

When monster banks can raise a monstrous panic,

And infants gain their growth by means galvanic!

Thus population, like the mania, speeds

O’er western wilds and noxious prairie meads.

New states are born, new stars our banner bless,

And struggling realms are caught like men at chess!

Our green-house bard and critic puff behold,

With native lead to make them brave and bold,

“Whose tow’ring brow and eagle eye” might tell

With them undoubted genius, talent dwell!

Not in the past such lovely quacks were caught,

When Horace sung and elder Cato taught! [page 5:]

Oh! had they lived that censor's scowl to claim,

Soon had they found the downward path to fame.

No trace were left to tell their sunken race,

In life as worthless as in dying base;

Nor theirs the crime to wield the pointless pen,

Nor mine the task to lift the scourge again!

In modern times, who may not hope for praise,

When all we ask is but unmeaning lays?

And thoughtless bards can suit the servile throng

With heartless verse and worse than worthless song?

No theme Byronic, not the critic strain

Of reckless Pope, in thought and meaning plain;

Nor joyous Hope, by Campbell taught to please

Alike when life is sad or wrapt in ease;

Not these the subjects which our times demand,

To please the public and to curse the land!

But all enough if but the poet paint

Some fleeting shadow by a touch as faint,

Recount those hues which in the autumn streak

The woodland grove or distant mountain peak;

Some sickly dream relate to close the rhyme,

The task is done — complete without a crime!

No more we ask, no more the bard can give —

In times like these can mind or merit live?

Can genius flourish, or but scorn the crew

Such slaves to art and superficial view?

No! but for this the poet yields his name,

That public taste may canvass on his claim;

Condemn the false, approve the true to life,

Or sink the whole to end at once the strife;

No genius he who not demands in pride

That final word to be his future guide. [page 6:]

Such is my crime before this righteous age!

Too proud to stoop; or heed the critic's rage,

I printed but to suit the present whim

Without a preface or a suppliant hymn!

Some others too have sought the luckless play;

To all I pledge the boon of health to-day,

But ere I close let none repine to see

That public trash is held most wondrous free.

Oh! for an arm less feeble than my own

To sweep from dust Apollo's sacred throne!

Too much the chaff infests the precious grain;

When shall a Pope or Byron live again?

The Poet's heart, the poet's sense sublime

Was born for torture and his soul for rhyme;

Intense his feeling and severe his pain,

That sullen frown no more from love would gain:

So nice his texture, and so fine the mould,

None e’er can guess what ne’er to sight is told,

Nor search the secrets of a soul like his,

Or from the common mind imagine this.

The hope, the fear, the rapture and delight,

Are all his own — and impulse all his light.

Earth, air, and sea, the planet and the sun,

Are but the elements of art begun;

The inner world, the sphere of thought and mind,

The mysteries that make and move mankind,

To him are servile, and for him were made,

Yea, but for him, would still from beauty fade.

Thus noble wit, as by a skill divine,

Ennobles nature and prevents decline;

Thus beauty sways and anguish rends the heart;

By passion wrought into the height of art, [page 7:]

When meanest scribblers dare to woo the muse,

And print for praise in Graham's Posh-Reviews;

When soulless bards can seek in art to find

The hopeful substitute for wit or mind;

Each moon-struck boy his tuneful harp prepare,

And all may flood the land with rhymes of air;

Then wake, my muse! canst thou not scribble too,

Strike for the prize — the self-same path pursue?

But who the first shall feel thy rising ire

Of all the throng that curse the sacred lyre?

Or wilt thou fall, as downward falls the plague,

On lofty Bryant, Dana, Halleck, Sprague?

Are these — alas the noblest and the best,

Must Satire's self for ever sink to rest?

Too much in vain — in vain such war to wage

With unoffending bard and vacant page!

The night was up, when, all serene and glad,

Each tuneful bard was for the banquet clad,

While Griswold's self, like Jeffrey on his throne,

Was raised sublime, and to a god was blown.

No mortal sign to mar that awful face,

Where still appear the hues of wrath or grace;

All care, in cairn composure sunk to rest,

A gracious smile betrays him greatly blest,

While trembling bards in eager strife appear

That nod to gain, the end of hope and fear.

Close by is set an altar's shining frame

For vows and incense to our god of Fame.

There bend the suppliant throng intent to seek

Propitious smiles in mercy to the weak,

As oft of old the weary pilgrim bent

When Pytho swelled till madness gave her vent. [page 8:]

First comes great WILLIS, trembling to his heels,

Invokes the god, and for his country feels.

But few indeed could boast such matchless head,

So well proportioned and so rich in lead;

Each fearful bump, phrenologists would say,

Was thunder proof till thunder's self decay;

So thick the skull where few ideas meet,

For dulness and delay a cairn retreat!

Next comes our noble Doctor, HOLMES we call,

Still bent to jest in spite of wit and gall,

Still prone to rhyme with or without a soul,

Style, ornament, and rhyme the poet's whole;

Those tin pan toys which catch the listless ear,

Awhile delight, then worse than vile appear.

One hand presents in picture of his pain,

Some slender sheets from travail of the brain,

Light as the air, or that which gave them birth,

Some slight reflection from a land of dearth.

Humble his prayer, and meek his subject mien,

In hopes few frowns’ to gain — a smile between!

Approaching next with incense each in hand,

Proud DOANE and DANA take their rev’rent stand;

One famed for moral, one for ghostly song,

While one might pray to help the tune along.

Poor Doane! for one thou sure wilt grace obtain,

By practice taught that heartless prayer is vain!

Fear not; be free in speech, and yet be true,

Nor mention once, e’en by mistake the Jew,

Lest might such freedom prove some breach of law,

That priest and bard must stand in equal awe.

Grave as the gravest and more comical,

In solemn suit appears great Percival, [page 9:]

A moonshine wit with Romething of the calf,

A mooncalf clown the hero of a laugh!

Who Cobb and Webster tortures into rhyme,

Without one thought to fill the vacant time;

To him all art, all argument, supremely flat

Appear, like metaphysics to a cat;

So like the mole, so fitted for the dark,

The mental eye ne’er saw a mental spark!

There bend meek BURLEIGH, CLIO and SIR PIKE,

All goose-quill armed, all friends to goose alike;

Great masters of the pen, who ne’er may flag

Till Pegasus his tail shall cease to wag!

Sons of a day, who justly measure time!

One virtue sure, a duty, not a crime.

With these attend SPRAGUE, SIMMS and BENJAMIN,

All heroes of the lyre without a sin;

Then HOFFMAN, SARGENT and the rest

Approach the altar and adore the best;

While last of all app,ears the humble Hill,

Weak in reflection, weak in mind and will.

With look of torture, visage of distress,

And all but perfect mania, fast they press

Their suit, with many a groan and tear in eye,

Fame, fame, undying fame, their ceaseless cry.

Thus cries the leech in holy Scripture phrase,

Still sucks tenacious, still persistent prays.

Thus each, his suppliant prayer preferred, regains

His seat, and sits in emptiness of brains.

All are content; assurance sways the breast

That each at last shall be supremely blest;

No doubt remains that each shall hence obtain

Immortal fame and death without a pain. [page 10:]

Pleased with the incense and the vow sincere,

The god assents, and calms each needless fear.

Then passed the ready bowl from hand to hand,

Whilst feast and verse now animate the band;

The cry for fame propitious heard at last,

Thanks to the throne in murmurs fill the blast.

On tiptoe some, as all in heels more light

Than head, express ineffable delight;

Some heels reversed, as truly held in trance

Attempt the mystic mazes of the dance,

Some sprawling shout sincere the awful name

Of Folly's son, the Arbiter of fame;

The rest, in fitful inspiration mad

By monkey feats proclaim their spirits glad.

Then spoke the god; “Some farther test I name,

The loftier fame to win, and life to claim;

Who highest soars where Phrebus shines afar,

By light unhurt, himself a living star;

Ascends Parnassus and o’ ertops its head,

Shall gain the prize a life beyond the dead.

Though all immortal, his the highest name,

Who highest soars in spite of sun and flame.’‘

Scarce closed, wl1en all prepared for instant flight,

Icarus-like, ascend on pinions light,

Their recent wings in open sunlight glare

While croaking voices fill the rending air.

Thus startled oft arise the ca wing crows,

By instinct taught the dread of secret foes,

Right merry yet, in spite of human wrong,

Mount in confusion croaking still for song.

Tumultuous they, as mingling gales contend

That sport the while, then sterner tempest end; [page 11:]

Thus like the eagle borne upon the gale,

Above the clouds our airy harpies sail;

At last approach where wind and tempest rage —

Well thought that wit and wind should combat wage!

Thus swiftly sweep by distance dim and vague,

Almost unseen poor DANA, DOANE and SPRAGUE;

Lost ‘to the sight, and just beneath the moon,

Our day-stars CLIO, HOFF are at their noon;

Some lost to hope the clouds in terror clasp,

As hopeless hope incites the senseless grasp;

As floats the hawk sublime for want of care,

Gyre after gyre repeated cuts the air;

Thus they distressed and tempest-tost appear,

Whirl with the wind and as its whim re-veer.

Sad thought! that flight so well begun should fall

To wild confusion, terrible to all!

As meteors darting from the upper sky,

All headlong plunge, a harpy host from high.

’Twere sad to tell, and long the tale to say

How each was swept again to native clay.

I Some hung on trees, as from the flood of old,

Were seen the fish by antique Ovid told;

Some from the rocks dependent swing in air,

With feeble grasp to save the last despair;

There WILLIS lies full blasted to a cave,

As that were meant his last and living grave;

Great BURLEIGH there is cast in lonely grot,

Apparent still in travail for a thought .

As birds dislodged, or by the hawk pursued,

So lie the ·pack in that confusion rude.

Who would not laugh that laughing scene to see,

That mount by wits possess’d from cave to tree? [page 12:]

All hail, great Dana! in thy shrouds of fear,

With goblin shapes and mystic Buccaneer!

Proud hero of the isle! that Corsair's home,

Whose deeds of blood distain [[disdain]] the ocean's foam!

Proud in thy simple verse, so light and free,

Proud in thy wild creation, Captain Lee!

That son of Cain, whose brow the breezes fan,

A ct1rsing sprite, whose mortal hate is man;

Long trained in crime, he with his ghostly crew

Till waking vengeance tells that fate is due;

When lo! the dawn-time revel broke perforce,

That vengeance comes in shape of spectre horse!

Poor Mat! condemned to ride that fearful steed

In dark atonement for a demon's deed!

Poor Mat! whose mystic steed might almost pass

By chance a ‘spectre horse’ for Balaam's ass!

Poor Mat! that steed of thline! whose words but strain

To aid the torture of thy burning brain!

Immortal Bana! in thy tale of crime

No lack of sense but Lee can close the rhyme!

Too much compress’d’ thy tale; hence might it burst,

Scare all thy sprites and make us fear the worst!

All hail, the bard! with skill supremely graced,

By themes like these to guide the public taste!

When this shall be, may genius cease to fling

Her genial inspiration from its spring,

Great Jeffrey once again resume his seat,

As bold in judgment as in folly great;

Each simple bard befriend the witch of Saul,

And soar aloft with soaring Percival!

Oh! matchless Dana! great in all but fame!

When others fail, do thou essay the game; [page 13:]

Let not our faith in human might decay,

Nor earth despair \vhile Dana hails the day.

Some daring stroke do thou attempt; for sure

Our bards some physic need, or caustic cure;

Out with thy drugs! thy sinking patient see

By frightful mania and the syncope!

Great bard, awake! some model just and great

Do thou ensure, then yield thee to thy fate!

Thus shall. the latest age thy name revere,

And critics quail for once in hopeless fear.

Immortal Sprague! Son of the new-born day,

While odes on odes arise in long array,

And freshness breathes around each airy theme,

The fitting subject for a summer dream!

If lays like thine in sterling wit excel,

Then bid we all to wit a last farewell,

Consult no more the matchless tales of Crabbe,

Seek truth in ghosts, or sense in senseless Mab!

Not thine the skill to long experience due,

The heart to melt, to hold the constant view,

To drag reflection from its calm abode,

One thought to start or guide upon its road;

Enough unmeaning rhyme without an aim,

In sense as weak as in expression tame.

So true thy fancy to the forms of life,

It ne’er with wit conceived a mortal strife.

So much thy subject and thy verse alike,

As rough and reckless each its aim may strike,

Claim equal praise and equal praise procure,

That each hath charms so fitted to allure!

Blest be thy verse! when odes uncounted claim

To vie with Pope and Dryden in their fame! [page 14:]

Write on thou yet may'st reap unfading bays,

Some angel add to earth, some spirit raise!

Write on the grandest souls at times are weak,

Let age, experience, and thy dulness speak;

No matter what the erring rules of fate,

With time thy name shall be supremely great.

Shall HALLECK not one passing moment claim?

Blest bard! immortal in Bozzaris’ name!

No dream of Hope, so sacred and divine,

No theme didactic, toilsome, weary, thine;

Too much thy native fire that thought to bear,

As that might sink thee hopeless in despair;

But those who bled and fell in freedom's cause

Thy worthier theme attest it our applause!

Nay — though thy hero bravely fought and fell,

Though thy own music fall like magic spell;

Grant that thy palm of praise is fairly won,

Is all achieved that mortal might have done?

Call not beneath thee song so just and great,

Which mightier bards in loftier verse relate!

Scorn the vile throng, as if in vengeance set

To write for each vile monthly and gazette;

Extend thy sphere, thy native powers expand,

And as confess’d, immortal poet stand.

When vicious taste and critics both combine

To nourish bards unfit in prose to shine;

When senseless fools in eager haste declare, ,

For want of true, that worse than false is fair,

Create, forsooth, some idol haply dumb,

No matter what from Nimrod to Tom Thumb,

Call pigmy bards, for want of better, great,

The very giants of our modern date. [page 15:]

Shall shameful durance bend in silent awe,

Or greet as right and just such lawless law?

No — sooner see the orbs of night explode,

The land in arms, and torture on its road,

Than trust decision taught by fear

To hireling slaves, enlisted by the year!

Hail, SAUNDERS! prince of typographic men1

How pure thy heart, how faultless is thy pen!

Calm as the breath of Ceylon's spicy gale,

Thy genius, talent, eloquence, unveil.

Not such a flame could antique annals know,

Close shamed Demosthenes or Cicero!

Oh hadst thou lived when awful Jeffrey reigned

Thy fame at least had with the world remain’d :

Immortal Saunders! o’er thy lofty name

Slow flits the shadow of thy deathless fame!

Not for thy idle sneer shall cease my verse,

Not for the dread of editorial curse;

Yet o’er the bard the muse may· wave her wing,

And critics praise when infant poets sing.

Health to prejudging Saunders! o’er his brow

May future years in joy unheeded flow!

Yea, o’er his lofty brow, ‘’in pride of place,’‘

May friend and foe the palm of honour trace.

O mighty goddess of celestial light,

Immortal Liberty! thy presence plight!

Flow on the beam of Luna's dying ray,

And wake around thy son a genial day;

May Pleiad, Hyad, Dryad nymph await,

Nor envy breathe one thought to silent Hate; [page 16:]

Attend, ye stars, and form tl1e radiant crown,

Thou, Liberty, invest thy awful son!

Ye Nymphs! entwine the deathless laurel wreath,

Nor Lethe doom one joy to secret death!

Thus shall the laurels that thy brows entwine

Excel the bays of the immortal Nine;

Thus shall the crown invest thy awful brow,

While trembling bards beneath thy sceptre bow.

Ye politicians! haste ere yet on high

Your mighty chief ascends his native sky,

Ere on his Pegasus he floats the air,

Borne through the blaze of Berenice's hair!

Ye statesmen, heroes, bards! with trembling mien,

Salute the glorious chief of mortal men!

Ye sons of freedom! swell the sighing breeze

With plaudits to this awful Pericles!

A starry god within the vaulted sky,

Behold his blaze of immortality!

Albeit his radiant presence we must weep,

Perchance his beam may light us when we sleep,

Cast its bright ray o’er Dian's cloudless skies,

And greet with milder light our tearful eyes!

No more we ask; perchance too high request

Might grieve thy soul and break thy wonted rest.

Fine aspirant to wild Draconic power,

How much we dread thy beam may deign to lower,

Shed one dull ray to CLAYS chaotic night,

And dim our eyes with thy celestial light!

The chase is on — who next comes coursing in,

Who but the great and graceless Benjamin?

Taught but for love and sport to snatch the lyre,

And waste in air his genial fun and fire. [page 17:]

Such is the force of genius in its might,

To force the muse in scorn of rule and right!

Such is the charm Qf fame to lead the throng

To seek uncalled the sacred mount of song!

How free thy pen, how swift thy volumes sweep

Their perfect flood to break our thoughtless sleep!

How like the deluge of the olden time

Come bursting forth the fountains of thy rhyme!

As reckless too, nor spare their instant wrath

In chance for life to seek some mountain path,

Nor leave the wretch one fleeting hour to save

His time of slumber from untimely grave!

Pray, not to weary mortal be unkind:

Spare, for the sake of sense and all mankind,

Spare for the mercy due to brother fools,

And learn in time to rhyme by juster rules!

Hail, soft Humanity! whose genial ray

Delights the soul along thy simple lay!

Friend of the slave! whose rough and rugged verse

Might burst his chains, his hopeless fate reverse!

Or knew he but thy merit or thy muse,

Would curse from thee dyspepsia and the blues,

Or pray thee joy, long-life, and mild career,

Till Pluto call, and Charon bid thee cheer.

Health to great BURLEIGH! thou whose reckless nurse

Not taught thee sense as folly taught thee verse!

Vain is thy claim to blest Apollo's sacred lyre,

Since not his beams thy lifeless notes inspire,

But well attest each vacant page and line.

Not thine the care, the zeal and strength divine

To prove thy muse the offspring of his care,

Unsought his grace, or not received thy prayer. [page 18:]

Nor empty rhyme can claim the proper place

Of native fire and nature's modest grace,

But feelings deep with genius must combine

To make the bard by nature meant to shine.

No matter this — let blame be light to thee,

Thine be the boast of soft humanity;

Thus gentle maidens ne’er shall blush to see

One stain of earth to mar virginity,

And hoary sires shall greatly joy to find

No base seduction to the youthful mind.

No matter now for genius, mind or sense,

A puff is grandeur, fool is no offence;

With morals pure, and fancy mild and trim,

Our bard is perfect all complaint is whim.

Delightful Burleigh! hold thy matchless strain,

Lest secret envy swear thy labour vain;

Some future cause may need thy servile pen,

Abate thy heat, let patience live again!

Not weary yet? then turn we each and all

To greet with peace the soaring Percival,

As upward borne in flight but just begun,

He with his eagle soars to greet the sun!

What muse so high as Clio dare ascend

That scarce her voice the ear may comprehend?

What if her airy flight she cease not soon,

Some reckless power should drive her to the moon?

Farewell to hope! farewell to Clio's name,

May weeping earth in phrensy now exclaim;

Such is our fate; our fondest hopes expand,

One moment bloom. then seek the better land!

Celestial bard! who then in rhyme shall fail

If thou for careless verse art not in jail? [page 19:]

Whose awful strokes in equal rhyme and blank

Might sink another world, explode another bank;

Whose pencil ne’er one fault will cancel o’er

Lest in its course it chance to meet with more;

Such strange enchantment binds, or right or wrong,

The first fond thought which dulness aids along!

Blest age! when thoughtless dabblers into rhyme

Are like the sands upon the shore of time.

No want of themes; how fair this fertile earth,

To give to bards and song an equal birth!

All hail! great searcher of the human heart,

As great in prose as in poetic art,

Immortal Willis, hail! in whom combine

The base and great with wit to make thee shine!

An exile from thy native land and home,

Well pleased in other lands to rhyme and roam,

Lest villain hands should strive to make thee just

To hungry creditors, ill-fed on trust;

As light in heart as fickle in thy mind,

Canst thou describe the motives of mankind?

Hast thou acquired the rarer skill to sing

The flood of feeling from its fountain spring?

As well might Etna's fiery summit bloom,

Or light surround the cypress-shaded tomb,

As thou relate in numbers fresh and true,

Whence actions spring, or life its essence drew!

Yet canst thou write, from eastern shore, the change

Of faithless custom, ever wild and strange;

Or rhyme from thence some tale of hopeless love

To please fair Venus or her silly dove;

Address the Spring or April in a lay,

With Wordsworth for thy tune in mellow May, [page 20:]

Enough — to gain the western critic's praise,

And crown thy brow with fadeless laurel bays;

Enough to gain, where more should own the name,

A poet's prize, a poet's envied fame!

Such is the toil, and such the slightest care

To swell to-day this bubble of the air!

In meads of green and woodland shades at rest,

Next view the younger Bryant greatly blest;

Who with his brother-bards alone can sing

That streamlets gild and flow’rets deck the spring;

Nor little thinks how slight the profit hence

When beauty charms, not aids our common sense;

How slight the gain to gaze till time is old

On Moskvan domes with cross and spires of gold,

(Which BAIRD might tell in lectures by the way

In needful aid of science in his day.)

Nor graceful art deserves our graver care,

Save as the traits of mind, are written there!

Vain thought! that nature rules in human life;

Or art can aid us in the spirit's strife

With cold existence, or can backward turn

The fearful flame where pride and passion burn!*

When sunset softly gilds the western sky,

And all but paints enchantment to the eye,

Nor wakes a sense but wakes to love the hue

From farewell beam on skies of azure blue; [page 21:]

Can scene like this, the fairest of our earth,

Awake the thoughts of more than mortal birth,

Or rouse the nobler feelings of the soul?

Or is delight the poet's noblest goal?

Has not the heart its passions, as the brain

The power to light the fancy in its train?

Yes! there are springs of thought and feeling chaste,

No vulgar eye hath to their fountain traced;

Nor knows the bard but half his proper art

Who aims to please the eye, not rend the heart.

Thus bent the awful bard of modern time

To worship Nature in her native clime!

Contracted in thy sphere as in thy sense,

I surely mean not, Whittier, an offence.

Ne’er hast thou stray’d in thought, or roam’d afar

Beyond the Hudson or the polar star,

Nor made thy genius or thy wit expand,

To burst in air, like rockets o’er the land!

Nay hadst thou watched Aurora jn her dance,

It sure had rapt thy muse in solemn trance,

Or some magnetic power had caught thy hair,

And dragged thee on to perish in despair!

What hap if thence had fled thy burning soul,

Condemn’d to ride the rough-revolving pole!

Could earth rejoice, thy goddess nature sing,

Or birds return to cheer the birth of Spring?

Could tender hearts but at thy mischief bleed,

Astride the pole to guide thy fitful steed?

Or lovely maidens at thy fate distrest,

But pray that jade at times an hour of rest?

No — Whittier, no! thou must not stray

Where hap like this might snatch thy wits away! [page 22:]

Nor seek the south, where spring for ever reigns

To deck the sunny mount and sloping plains,

Lest too much heat should melt thy feeble brain,

And turn thy wat’ry muse to mist again!

No Whittier, — no! far better than to roam,

To cherish pride in love of sacred home,

And worship Nature in her solitude

Beneath thy native sky and mountains rude;

Thus safe to sing thy tale of childhood o’er,

Till infants shout and humbly ask for more.

It is not goddess Nature in her pride,

With whom the cl1arms of earth and air reside,

But mental essence traced unto its spring,

Can teach the native bard his art to sing;

Or for success, must passion be the theme

For magic art to picture in a dream.

But wherefore laugh if youth should dare to tell

What all confess, and some may know too well.

Such is thy boast, proud HOLMES, to touch the heart,

If not by genius, by thy native art!

For grant thy lofty strain but once begun,

How rich and how exhaustless is thy fun!

As true thy song, no doubt, as holy writ,

One merit more, it has some idle wit.

No doubt enough thy talent by its birth

To cure at once our nature from its dearth,

Make idiots gods, at least in form and shape,

From noble SAUNDERS to his puny ape,

And purge the public taste from sickly bile

By perfect metamorphosis of style!

So light thy verse, a plaything of the air,

Must mortal live on unsubstantial fare, [page 23:]

Or he who takes it for an ague chill,

Must own at least it was a pleasant pill,.

Content to try whate’er our Doctor give,

Nor cherish life when he shall cease to live.

Strange time to trifle in poetic art,

When most esteem it an unmeaning chart,

And all confess, when truth asserts her throne,

That western bards are worse than feeble grown!

Hail, gentle Hill! whose varied beauties shine

Like native beams of th.e immortal Nine!

Far is thy flight o’er classic mount and isle,

To where Athena's ruins strive to smile,

And Greece, undying Greece, is left to weep

That hero, bard, and sage in silence sleep.

Oh blest! though late indeed, that sunken land,

One touch to gain from thy redeeming hand!

Oh blest! in aidance of her hopeless night

To gain from thee one beam of future light!

Such is thy magic skill from death to save

The last dim shadows from a living grave!

Such is thy art to gild the glory past,

How man must mourn if thou hast sung thy last?

Bœotian Hill! whose merits all repose

In rhyming nouns unfit for proper prose!

Nor sense thy care; enough unmeaning rhyme

To make thy fustian strain accomplish time.

In sable cowl, beside his awful throne,

Behold the sacred scribbler, BISHOP DOANE!

Who, lowly bending in his calm retreat,

Can strike for fame and for Apollo's seat;

Assume alike, as if for change the while

The parson's fearful scowl or poet's smile; [page 24:]

Invoke the silent moon or Him who made,

As each at times may suit his double trade;

Explore the mystic depths of thought divine,

Then soar aloft and with the planets shine!

Thanks to the Muse who sheds on all her light

Till black-legs sing and bishops stoop to write!

Thanks to great GRISWOLD and the fertile age

That make and save the bard and priceless page!

Blest time! when all from priest to clown may sing,

A sickly love or mania touch the string!

No dearth of rhyme; or might our bishop pray

Till rhyme and sense alike had passed away.

Unhappy Clarke! whose fate to pity lends

All which with tender thought and feeling blends

Thine was the heart whose passions deep and strong,

Not pride, impell’d to seek the mount of song;

Nor thine the lays which fits the tuneless lyre,

That sleeping Muse to dulness might inspire,

But that which melts and moulds the manly heart,

By genius taught the force of grace and art.

Peace to thy shade! in joy supremely blest,

May bliss thy soul compose to needful rest.

Not such the master of the classic lay,

Blest child. of god and goddess passed away!

Or who that sings the gods, albeit unlike,

More seems their proper son than ALBERT PIKE?

Or whose the envied skill such theme to try,

Nor make in lifeless song the deathless die

Gods of the antique world! once more return,

Let fanes arise and gifted altars burn,

That he your son, Apollo's latest priest,

May sing your praise and on your victims feast! [page 25:]

Oh Albert Pike! stick to thy godlike lay,

Thy gods and goddesses in long array!

No matter if in wit and judgment weak,

Thy faults confess, their grace and pardon seek.

Out with thy notes! thy voice shall far rebound,

Till deeper tones than Orphic swell the Round,

Each brawling cat shall own the matchless tune,

And oaks shall bow the leafy pride of June.

As some soft stream which glides unheard along,

So glide thy music, so expire thy song,

So melt thy melody into the soul

That not thy foe may say it all was stole!

Oh Albert Pike! how much the gods should own

To thee the clearer title to their throne!

How much approve their offspring as divine,

Who sings their might and vindicates their line!

Long may they joy to grace thy rising name,

And gild thy later age with godlike fame,

Then call thee hence to join their banquet hall,

Nor ease thy pride with more than Vulcan's fall!

Now clear the way prepare our next to meet

The forest child in shape of ALFRED STREET!

Whose god, the rural Pan, in secret shade,

Where nymphs repose, and more than love is made.

Grant but thy horn and hounds then wake the muse,

Crack at the chase till day her light refuse!

Oh Alfred Street! when. shall we meet again

Thy mind of might, thy own prolific pen?

Thy modest muse in sylvan shades at rest,

So sweeps her fire along thy heaving breast,

Thy moving strain so falls upon the ear,

So helpless falls the tribute of a tear! [page 26:]

Some hunter lost where none could go astray,

Or but in dream, as thou in many a lay,

Some fore st scene where dogs might hunt the game,

Thy worthy theme, thy ground of fadeless fame!

No matter if thy verse at times is weak,

A slighter cause would scarce for vengeance speak —

None — if thy crime should be to rhyme in vain. —

The self-same path thy brother-bards have ta’en.

Alone we fear, lest by her nature mild,

Thy Muse be lost amid her woodland-wild,

Nor by her feeble voice alarm the chase,

Till hope is lost, and, past her hour of grace.

But such, in sooth, our modern bards appear,

The fittest subjects for our fitful jeer.

So free the Muse to wanton in embrace

With ev’ry fool who dares to give her chase,

That boys may write and infants snatch the pen

To praise her charms in woodland cave and glen.

For grant but needful impudence and pride,

With less of wit than vanity allied;

Some soft amour, perchance by scorn repaid,

Three grains of sense-our bard is ready made!

As noble too the critics of our land

To cherish all who dare to lift the hand;

Spontaneous as mushrooms to grace the spring,

As soft to all the tribe who dare to sing!

Precocious Sargent! to the drama dear,

As wild in verse as Pallas in her sphere,

Less soft in tone than owlets of the night,

By shame compell’d to shun the common light!

Yet proud in thy Velasco's name of dread

As that might raise to life the lifeless dead, [page 27:]

Make angels v.reep, the sternest quail in fear,

Till final anguish shed the helpless tear!

Who then shall fail if verse lihe thine shall gain

The palm of praise, or not the curse of Cain?

If such the child of genius and of taste,

What earl rnay not in language be as chaste?

Not thine the loftier wit or nicer sense

To guard thy verse and save from 1harsh offence;

Thyself a living proof that senseless pride

Most richly thrives where sense is most denied.

Great thanks to thee and thy dramatic Muse,

That palm to claim was thine alone ,to lose,

Nor leave to HILLHOUSE all the praise or blame,

But link to his thy worse than worthless name!

In dreamy mask behold, with brow of pride

The southern SIMMS in grandeur glide!

Hold Pegasus, thy fearful pace, nor bear

‘That lord of thine beyond the realms of air!

Oh! spare the fatal truth of all our fears,

Spare for the priceless meed of sighs and tears!

Not IRVINGS self could more romance impart

To grace the tale and hide the lure of art;

So fresh in thought, so rich in thoughtless mind,

Spare for the sake of verse and all mankind!

Thus shall our bard delay his lifeless rhyme

To sing the requiem to the death of time.

But where the tragic muse the drama-where?

No voice replies, save echo through the air.

Oh double shame to genius and the age!

No bard to trace the spirit in its rage,

To paint despair — revenge the wild and free —

Invent a plot or touch catastrophe! [page 28:]

Not quite so high our poet dares to aim,

Nor heeds the drama in his thirst for fame.

Why sleeps the mind? can daring teach no more

The grand conception rich from mental lore?

Is passion fled, the curbless and the strong,

That idlesse reigns the master of the song?

Why trembling view the trophies of the past,

While mind survives and music fills the blast?

What mind has done can mind again achieve;

Shame on the faithless — doubts can ne’er relieve!

Let inspiration light her guiding fire,

Breathe through the soul a holy, calm desire,

Compel to action, and inflame the breast,

Long taught by ease to hold inglorious rest;

The self-same elements as yet remain —

Let thought awake the drama live again!

Blest art invention! for to thee is due

The proudest boast, the praise of something new!

Not feeble fancy in her airy flight,

At her own shadow sure to, take affright,

But that which dares in aidance of our strife,

To add some fresher charm to vary life.

Colossal thought! gigantic vastitude!

Ideal grandeur built in structure rude!

What pride to trace the bold inventive art

That elevates and swells the mind and heart;

What joy to soar as high as mind can go

To catch the thought which led an Angelo,

Expand the sense with bold conception's flight

And almost tremble at our dizzy height!

All daring images and forms which dwell [page 29:]

All dancing fairies of the silver night

And ghosts more terrible than men in fight;

The muse who guides, and god who moves the song,

Invention, airy art! to thee belong.

Perfection, true, shall mortal ne’er attain,

While all confess our nature's hopeless chain;

Still what we may, should daring still achieve,

Conception furnish, and the fancy weave.

Oh! could we grasp the infinite of grand,

And catch sublime from angels where they stand,

Like these ideal, and as light and free,

Embrace immortal, and as clearly see;

Leave earth and false conception far behind,

Then might some praise await the human mind.

But wherefore longer hurt such worthless game,

The toil so well repaid by all but fame?

Perchance unfelt, my shaft may idly fall;

No matter this — my best regards to all!

Or if unhurt I from the strife withdraw,

One cause alone — our bards revere the law!

But if my spirit some may wish to try,

Crack at the muse — I pledge a prompt reply.

The task unsought; I would not seek to be

Corrector of this age of poesy;

But when our bards disdain poetic laws,

Slight sense indeed to ask a better cause!

When none hath dared the loftier paths of song,

Who bud must own that senseless praise is wrong

If hence their mortal hate my path oppose,

My heart is stong — I with the challenge close.

I would no more — let each his style correct,

Exalt his aim, and stand as man; erect. [page 30:]

For still, in spite of reason and the laws,

Shall ceaseless rhyme the senseless RUFUS DAWES?

Neglect the rules of order and the muse,

Nor share the fate of Jonah or the Jews?

Shall LOWELL still by dreams inflate his pride,

And ramble most, where most the mists reside?

Shall GOODRICH leave his Parley by the end,

And seek by rhyme to raise an outcast friend?

Or fools maintain without some slight offence

That rhyme can spring from ev’ry hue of sense?

Correct, correct your folly and your style,

I ask no more, unless at times to smile.

This done, I lay for ever down the pen

That ne’er shall strive to make you blush again.

Sons of the brave, awake! let but the mind

Assert her sway, and thought be unconfined,

The lusts of sense no longer rule retain;

And mind, not matter, be the rage again!

Let this, no more by toys or trifles bound,

Resume its might, and by its might confound;

Despise each idol of the heart and eye,

All save that fame which is not born to die: I

Approve the deathless flame to mortals given,

Ascend the sky and claim its kindred heaven!

Land of the fair, awake! let genius rise,

Explore the goal and press the bold emprise!

Let nicer taste each faulty phrase detect,

Commend the true, the false and light reject;

Seek out, admire and love the constant laws

Which guide the world by one ETERNAL CAUSE;

Thus let the bard his awful tale relate,

As grand in subject, as in meaning great. [page 31:]

Clime of the free! might but thy bards reclaim

Their by-gone censure from enduring shame!

Ask but the bard, the Ascrean, sage, to say,

Did genius guide him, or his muse betray?

Hath Homer sung but by his native might,

By genius led to Fame's eternal height?

Let genius wake and touch the magic string,

Nor list thy sons but when the gifted sing;

Let inspiration gain the just applause,

Nor bards be blest but for a proper cause.

Arise, ye bards! assume the nobler lay!

Let common sense and genius lead the way,

New worlds create of deathless thought and mind,

And prove yourselves an honour to mankind!

Ne’er let the muse those meaner themes regard,

Or not complain the poet's fate is hard!

Let Cambridge rouse her proud adopted son.

The bard to dare, nor themes sublime to shun;

Let BRYANT, Halleck, Sprague, once more awake,

Till newer beams shall on their vision break,

More fearless muse ascend on loftier wing,

And distant realms shall with their plaudits ring!

Awake, ye bards! and hammer out a style,

If not from POPE, from grandeur and Carlyle!

Abyss of thought and mass of mind profound!

If not a model, let it not confound.

Be genius fearless, yet as chaste and true

As MARO sung or old Apelles drew;

The fancy bold, yet cautious in her flight

To scan the world and search the realms of light;

Thus shall our land some future honour claim

From her own bards, to crown her rising name. [page 32:]

With you, ye minor bards, I hold not war;

Much as yourselves would I that strife abhor,

Too dull your muse offence to give or take,

My hate to rouse, or at my thrust awake;

So cold your strain, so dead your accents fall,

Great thanks to GRISWOLD that ye live at all!

Oh! better far that each would but appear

As nature meant, a native muleteer,

Would hold the plough, prepare or guide the plane,

Nor curse the land with senseless trash again.

Still must we hear some infant poet born

Some noble CRANCH or CROSWELL most forlorn?

Shall perfect swarms, like insects dim the air,

Like weeds arise, and bloom without a care

Great bards! without a title or a name,

Persist inverse —— an airy thing is fame!

No POPE shall raise his blasting voice to curse

Your dream of dulness, or your idle verse,

No BYRON breathe sarcastic death to quell

The harmless muse, or sink to native hell;

No fear — be bold; in freedom's land ye live,

Where critics kiss and loving bards forgive!

Thus have I sought some proper ire to show

Where priest could puff, and editor could blow,

A mooncalf swell to match a gazetteer,

Yet each insist a bard he must appear!

I too can rhyme, and in my time have sung

When hope was high and infant muse was young;

Too proud in sense, too much of manly tone,

I gave but challenge to be heard and known,

No crouching prayer to gain the critic round,

No favour sought, nor common mercy found. [page 33:]

Yet thanks to western fools! in haste to kill,

They could not gall me with satiric quill!

Once more I wait a better chance to meet

That noble pack, the hounds of Goslin Street!

Alike I scorn great GRISWOLD’S brow of rage,

Young BRYANTS scowl; or BURLEIGHS wrathful page;

Let southern puff and northern giant rise,

I lisp to all — take physic and be wise!

Once could I bear all which the best can bear,

Could scorn at pain, and hate at times the fair;

But now, by slight experience taught to strike,

but repel, where others make dislike.

Too well my gentle spirit some may know;

Cry up the chase — can repay a blow

Once could I bend, or feian to bend the knee,

When conscience told ‘twas order's just decree,

I could dissemble scorn, and strive to seem

As calm as love embracing in a cream;

No change could drag resentment from its rest,

My brow was smooth, my heart was well possest.

What now is done, not prudence would recall;

If pain ensue, what sooner might befall

Should public hate upon my pen react,

No matter this — I will not aught retract.



[The following footnote appears a the bottom of page 3:]

* It is in the invaluable collection of GRISWOLD that I have found the plot and ground-work of the Tale.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 20:]

* Such are the views which open on him who would inquire into the essence by which man is distinguished as a rational and moral being. Compared with it, what are all the phenomena of nature, — what is all the history of the world, — the rise and fall of empires, — or the fate of those who rule them? —




The identity of Lavante has not been discovered, but it certainly is not Poe.


[S:0 - PPAASL, 1847] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Rejected - The Poets and Poetry of America: A Satire by Lavante