Text: J. E. Heath (???), Review of W. C. Bryant, Poems, Southern Literary Messenger, January 1835, 1:251, col. 2


[page 250, column 2, continued:]

POEMS, by William Cullen Bryant. Boston: Russell, Odiorne & Metcalfe. 1834.

THIS new and beautiful edition of Mr. Bryant's poems has undergone the author's correction, and contains some pieces which have never before appeared in print. As the elegant china cup from which we sip the fragrant imperial, imparts to it a finer flavor, so the pure white paper and excellent typography of the volume before us, will give a richer lustre to the gems of Mr. Bryant's genius. Not that the value of the diamond is really enhanced by the casket which contains it, but so it is that the majority of mortals are governed by appearances; and even a dull tale will appear respectable in the pages of a hot pressed and gilt bound London annual. In justice to Mr. Bryant however, and to ourselves, we will state that our first impressions [page 251:] of his great intellectual power — of his deep and sacred communings with the world of poetry — were derived from a very indifferent edition of his writings, printed with bad type, on a worse paper. Mr. Bryant is well known to the American public as a poet of uncommon strength and genius; and even on the other side of the Atlantic, a son of the distinguished Roscoe, who published a volume of American poetry, pronounced him the first among his equals. Like Halleck, however, and some others of scarcely inferior celebrity, — his muse has languished probably for want of that due encouragement, which to our shame as a nation be it spoken, has never been awarded to that department of native literature. Mr. Bryant, we believe, finding that Parnassus was not so productive a soil as the field of politics, has connected himself with a distinguished partizan newspaper in the city of New York. His bitter regrets at the frowns of an unpoetical public, and yet his unavailing efforts to divorce himself from the ever living and surrounding objects of inspiration are beautifully alluded to in the following lines:

I broke the spell that held me long,

The dear, dear witchery of song.

I said the poet's idle lore

Shall waste my prime of years no more,

For poetry though heavenly born,

Consorts with poverty and scorn.


I broke the spell — nor deemed its power

Could fetter me another hour.

Ah, thoughtless! how could I forget

Its causes were around me yet?

For wheresoe’er I look’d, the while,

Was nature's everlasting smile.


Still came and lingered on my sight

Of flowers and streams the bloom and light,

And glory of the stars and sun; —

And these and poetry are one.

They, ere the world had held me long,

Recalled me to the love of song.



This entry is the third of the five items in the section bearing the general heading of “ORIGINAL LITERARY NOTICES.”

This item was tentatively assigned as having been written by J. E. Heath by W. D. Hull.


[S:0 - SLM, 1835] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Rejected - Criticism - SLM Literary Reviews (Jan. 1835)