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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-
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 ruilled 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 seenThe 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 streamThe gay ruddy fount, with the changeable gleam, Where the lustre of heaven eternally playsThe 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 springsWhere 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 blood Over valley and rock !-over mountain and wood That bird is abroad in the van of her brood!
* 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 shriek Tells that she stoors 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 Of 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.
THE SOLDIER'S VISIT TO HIS FAMILY.
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 blusliing 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 :
0, 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-0, linger yet awhile !
An airy vision now appears, with eyes-
As tender as the blue of weeping skies :
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;
Shakes his thin sun-curls, while his eye-beams leap
As half in fear, along the stranger's dress,
Then, half advancing, yields to his caress :-
Then, peers beneath his locks, and seeks his eye
With the clear look of radiant infancy,
The cherub smile of love, the azure of the sky.
The stranger now is kneeling by the side
Of that young mother,—watching for the tide
Of her returning life :-it comes--a glow
Goes—faintly-slowly--o'er her cheek and brow :
A rising of the gauze that lightly shrouds
A snowy breast-like twilight's melting clouds--
In nature's pure, still eloquence, betrays
The feelings of the heart that reels beneath his gaze.
She lives! she lives--see how her feelings speak, Through what transparency of eye and cheek! Her color comes and goes, like that faint ray, That flits o’er lilies at the close of day. 0, nature, how omnipotent!—that sighThat youthful mother in her ecstacy, Feels but the wandering of a husband's eye. Her lip now ripens, and her heaving breast Throbs wildly in its light, and now subsides to rest.
'Tis dark abroad. The majesty of night
Bows down superbly from her utmost height:
Stretches her starless plumes across the world ;
And all the banners of the wind are furl’d.
How heavily we breathe amid such gloom!
As if we slumber'd in creation's tomb.
It is the noon of that treinendous hour,
When life is helpless, and the dead have power:
When solitudes are peopled: when the sky
Is swept by shady wings that, sailing by,
Proclaim their watch is set; when bidden rills
Are chirping on their course; and all the hills
Are bright with armor :--when the starry vests
And glittering plumes, and fiery twinkling crests
Of moon-light sentinels are sparkling round,
And all the air is one rich floating sound :
When countless voices, in the day unheard,
Are piping from their haunts: and every bird
That loves the leafy wood, and blooming bower,
And echoing cave, is singing to her flower:
When every lovely--every lonely place,