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Companion of the Morning Star at dawn,
And you, ye five wild torrents, fiercely glad!
Who called you forth from night and utter death,
From dark and icy caverns called you forth,
Down those precipitous, black, jagged rocks,
Forever shattered and the same forever1
Who gave you your invulnerable life,
Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy,
Unceasing thunder and eternal foam1
And who commanded (and the silence came),
Here let the billows stiffen and have rest t
Ye ice-falls! ye that from the mountain's brow
Ye living flowers, that skirt the eternal frost!
Once more, hoar mount, with thy sky-painting peaks,
Oft from whose feet the avalanche unheard
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene
Into the depth of clouds that vail thy breast—
Thou too again, stupendous Mountain! thou,
In adoration, upward from thy base
Slow traveling with dim eyes, suffused with tears,
Solemnly seemest like a vapory cloud
To rise before me—Rise, 0 ever rise;
Rise like a cloud of incense from the earth!Thou kingly spirit throned among the hills,
One can not look too often upon Mr. Wordsworth's charming female portrait:
She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight:
A lovely apparition sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like twilight, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn From May-time and the cheerful dawn;A dancing shape, an image gay, To haunt, to startle, and waylay.
1 saw her upon nearer view
And now I see with eye serene
I would add "Laodamia," if it were not too long, and the "Yew-trees," if I had not a misgiving that I have somewhere planted those deathless trunks before. In how many ways is a great poet glorious! I met with a few lines taken from that noble poem the other day in the "Modern Painters," cited for the landscape:
"Huge trunks, and each particular trunk a growth
Beneath whose shade
and so forth. Mr. Ruskin cited this fine passage for the picture, I for the personifications:
Both quoted the lines for different excellences, and both were right.
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.
Among the strange events of these strange days of ours, when revolutions and counter-revolutions, constitutions changed one week and rechanged the next, seem to crowd into a fortnight the work of a century, annihilating time, just as railways and electric telegraphs annihilate space,—in these days of curious novelty, nothing has taken me more pleasantly by surprise than the school of true and original poetry that has sprung up among our blood relations (I had well nigh called them our fellow-countrymen) across the Atlantic; they who speak the same tongue and inherit the same literature. And of all this flight of genuine poets, I hardly know any one so original as Dr. Holmes. For him we can find no living prototype; to track his footsteps, we must travel back as far as Pope or Dryden; and to my mind it would be well if some of our own bards would take the same journey —provided always, it produced the same result. Lofty, poignant, graceful, grand, high of thought, and clear of word, we could fancy ourselves reading some pungent page of "Absalom and Achitophel," or of the "Moral Epistles," if it were not for the pervading nationality, which, excepting Whittier, American poets have generally wanted, and for that true reflection of the manners and the follies of the age, without which satire would fail alike of its purpose and its name.
The work of which I am about to offer a sample, all too brief, is a little book much too brief itself; a little book of less than forty pages, described in the title-page as " Astraa—a Poem, delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Yale College, August, 1850, by Oliver Wendell Holmes, and printed at the request of the Society."
The introduction tells most gracefully, in verse that rather, perhaps, implies than relates, the cause of the author's visit to the college, dear to him as the place of his father's education:
What secret charm long whispering in mine ear,
Is not the portrait of the boy beautiful? The poem goes jn:
Say shall my hand with pious love restore,
How kindness ripened, till the youth might dare.