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His novels are the most striking of his works, and perhaps afford the fairest proofs of his talents, as well as of his peculiarities. They certainly baffle the powers of criticism. They are like nothing of the kind ever before seen, being alike remarkable for incoherence and wildness in plan, and for occasional passages of great splendor and eloquence.

The Battle of Niagara and Goldau, are his chief poems. There is not much of story in either. The narrative is altogether subordinate to the description, and has no precision or distinctness of outline. The narrative, however, is not what the author mainly relied upon for the interest of his poety. His strength is laid out on the appendages of the tale, and the descriptive passages which his poems afford in abundance, are uncommonly bold and sometimes magnificent. They are high wrought, brilliant and striking, and the objects are surrounded with every possible association of rich and dazzling imagery. His fancy however, is apt to run riot, and his conceptions are often invested in such a cloudy assemblage of thoughts, that his pictures have a confused, vague, and dreamy character. He overloads them with an exuberance of metaphor and similitudes, in such a manner as to obscure, rather than illustrate them; we cannot see heaven for the very stars. His fervor and impetuosity take away the faculty of seeing with distinctness the objects before him, and he is therefore perpetually deviating from the straight-forwardness of his direction; he is blinded by the swiftness of his course, like a charioteer wrapt in a cloud of smoke from his own axletree. The faults indeed of his poetry, are the faults of the man, of his constitution. We have his own words upon this point"It is no merit in me to compose rapidly. I claim no praise for it. I wish I could move more slowly, less capriciously; but I cannot. Had I a dozen hands, I could keep them all employed when I am writing poetry. I know such things only expose me to the reiterated charge of vanity, and perhaps folly; but I cannot help saying, that when fairly absorbed in the contemplation of a subject, my whole soul is in a tu

mult. I feel myself shut out from the world; a strange kindling comes over me, a kind of mental exhilaration, a 'drunkenness of heart' that I cannot describe, scarcely wish to experience again; but hope I shall never lose the memory of."

Mr Neal's poetry has not been so popular as that of many others who never possessed his power. The circumstance may be partly ascribed to the false taste in which his works are mostly composed, and partly to this, that it is addressed to the fancy, rather than the feeling; not that he wants poetical sensibility, or a delicate and refined conception of what is beautiful and tender and moving in the works of nature, or the emotions in the human bosom, for he has all these; and he has besides a passionate and overpowering sense of grandeur and sublimity. But his poetry is wanting in natural sentiment; it does not touch the heart-it does not awaken our sensibilities, or stir up from their recesses the "thoughts that lie too deep for words." If he is less read, however, than he might seem to deserve, he has been fully aware of the peculiar quality in his poetry, which has occasioned it. "I know its faults," says he, "they are innumerable and great. It has no calm, tranquil prettiness of character. It is no neutral, no hermaphrodite-such as you cannot blame, 't is true, but you may sleep over in reading. It is poetry, or it is the most outrageous nonsense; one or the other it must be." Poetry it is, doubtless, and with all its blemishes, poetry of a high rank. It is not, however, in a sufficiently close accordance with those models which will continue to direct public taste, to enjoy a great degree of favor. It is still true, in our opinion, that Neal's finest passages have seldom been excelled.


THERE's a fierce gray bird-with a sharpen'd beak;
With an angry eye, and a startling shriek:
That nurses her brood where the cliff-flowers blow,
On the precipice-top-in perpetual snow-

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Where the fountains are mute, or in secrecy flow--
That sits-where the air is shrill and bleak,

On the splinter'd point of a shiver'd peak-
Where the weeds lie close-and the grass sings sharp,
To a comfortless tune--like a wintry harp-
Bald-headed and stripp'd!—like a vulture torn
In wind and strife!-with her feathers worn,
And ruffled and stain'd—while scattering-bright,
Round her serpent-neck-that is writhing, bare—
Is a crimson collar of gleaming hair !—
Like the crest of a warrior thinn'd in the fight,
And shorn-and bristling-see her! where
She sits in the glow of the sun-bright air!
With wing half-poised-and talons bleeding-
And kindling eye-as if her prey
Had-suddenly-been snatch'd away-
While she was tearing it, and feeding!
A Bird that is first to worship the sun,

When he gallops in flame-'t ill the cloud tides run
In billows of fire-as his course is done:
Above where the fountain is gushing in light;
Above where the torrent is forth in its might-
Like an imprison'd blaze that is bursting from night!
Or a lion that springs-with a roar--from his lair!
Bounding off-all in foam-from the echoing height—
Like a rank of young war-horses-terribly bright,
Their manes all erect!—and their hoofs in the air!
The earth shaking under them-trumpets on high—
And banners unfurling away in the sky-

With the neighing of steeds! and the streaming of hair Above where the silvery flashing is seen

The striping of waters, that skip o'er the green,

And soft, spongy moss, where the fairies have been,
Bending lovely and bright in the young Morning's eye
Like ribands of flame-or the bow of the sky:

Above that dark torrent-above the bright stream-
The gay ruddy fount, with the changeable gleam,
Where the lustre of heaven eternally plays-
The voice may be heard-of the thunderer's bird,
Calling out to her god in a clear, wild scream,
As she mounts to his throne, and unfolds in his beam;
While her young are laid out in his rich red blaze;
And their winglets are fledged in his hottest rays:
Proud bird of the cliff! where the barren-yew springs-
Where the sunshine stays-and the wind-harp sings,
Where the heralds of battle sit—pluming their wings→

A scream! she 's awake-over hill-top and flood; A crimson light runs!—like the gushing of bloodOver valley and rock!-over mountain and wood That bird is abroad-in the van of her brood!




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* The Bird that laves

Her sounding pinions in the sun's first gush-
Drinks his meridian blaze and sunset flush:
Worships her idol in his fiercest hour:

Bathes her full bosom in his hottest shower:
Sits amid stirring stars, and bends her beak,
Like the slipp'd falcon-when her piercing shrick
Tells that she stoops upon her cleaving wing,
To drink anew some victim's clear-red spring.
That monarch Bird! that slumbers in the night
Upon the lofty air-peak's utmost height:
Or sleeps upon the wing-amid the ray


steady-cloudless-everlasting day!

Rides with the Thunderer in his blazing march:
And bears his lightnings o'er yon boundless arch:
Soars wheeling through the storm, and screams away
Where the young pinions of the morning play.



AND there the stranger stays: beneath that oak,
Whose shatter'd majesty hath felt the stroke
Of heaven's own thunder-yet it proudly heaves
A giant sceptre wreathed with blasted leaves-
As though it dared the elements, and stood

The guardian of that cot-the monarch of that wood.
Beneath its venerable vault he stands:

And one might think, who saw his outstretch'd hands,
That something more than soldiers e'er may feel,
Had touch'd him with its holy, calm appeal:
That yonder wave-the heaven-the earth-the air
Had call'd upon his spirit for her prayer.
His eye goes dimly o'er the midnight scene:
The oak-the cot-the wood-the faded green-
The moon-the sky-the distant moving light-
All! all are gathering on his dampen'd sight.

His warrior-helm and plume, his fresh-dyed blade
Beneath a window, on the turf are laid;

The panes are ruddy through the clambering vines
And blushing leaves, that Summer intertwines
In warmer tints than e'er luxuriant Spring,
O'er flower-embosom'd roof led wandering.
His pulses quicken-for a rude old door
Is open'd by the wind: he sees the floor
Strew'd with white sand, on which he used to trace
His boyhood's battles--and assign a place
To charging hosts-and give the Indian yell—
And shout to hear his hoary grandsire tell,
How he had fought with savages, whose breath
He felt upon his cheek like mildew till his death.

Hark! that sweet song!-how full of tenderness!
O, who would breathe in this voluptuous press
Of lulling thoughts!-so soothing and so low;
Like singing fountains in their faintest flow—
It is as if some holy-lovely thing,
Within our very hearts were murmuring.
The soldier listens, and his arms are prest
In thankfulness, and trembling on his breast:
Now-on the very window where he stands
Are seen a clambering infant's rosy hands:
And now-ah heaven!-blessings on that smile!—
Stay, soldier stay-O, linger yet awhile!
An airy vision now appears, with eyes-
As tender as the blue of weeping skies:
Yet sunny in their radiance, as that blue
When sunset glitters on its falling dew:
With form--all joy and dance-as bright and free
As youthful nymph of mountain Liberty:
Or naked angels dreamt by poesy:

A blooming infant to her heart is prest;
And ah-a mother's song is lulling it to rest!
A youthful mother! God of heaven!

A thing beneath the skies, so holy or so fair!
A single bound! our chief is standing by
Trembling from head to foot with ecstacy-

"Bless thee!" at length he murmur'd-"bless thee, love!

"My wife!-my boy:"Their eyes are raised above.

His soldier's tread of sounding strength is gone:

A choking transport drowns his manly tone.

He sees the closing of that mild, blue eye,
His bosom echoes to a faint low cry:

His glorious boy springs freshly from his sleep;

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