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النشر الإلكتروني

ELIZABETH B. BARRETT.

AMERICAN readers have as yet seen but few of the productions of this lady, but she has already made herself a home in the hearts of the people; a proof that the popular taste does not lie altogether in the direction of singsong echoes, sickly sentiment, or empty blank verse; and a proof, too, in her own case, that the most varied acquirements of learning do not impair the subtlest delicacy of thought and feeling.

Miss BARRETT, in her earlier works and first adventurous attempts, is the poetess of angels and seraphim, breathing a rare and elevated atmosphere, too rare for habitual contemplation. In her later style, she is the sweet poetess of meditation and thought, of a deep and pure spirituality, of

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Philosophy, baptized In the pure fountain of eternal love.

Compare the eloquence of her poem entitled Cowper's Grave," with what generally passes for Byronic eloquence, and mark the difference. Here is thought compact and close, enthusiasm fresh from the heart, noble domestic incident, and sorrow as gentle and as mild as ever breathed from a human bosom. Mark the pathos, the tenderness, the deep sympathy in the poem, "The Sleep."

Miss BARRETT's productions are unique in this age of lady authors. They have the "touch of nature," in common with the best; they have, too, sentiment, passion, and fancy in the highest degree, without any imitation of NORTON, HEMANS, or LANDON. Her excellence is her own; her mind is coloured by what it feeds on; the fine tissue of her flowing style comes to us from the loom of Grecian thought. She is the learned poetess of the day, familiar with HOMER and ÆSCHYLUS and SOPHOCLES; and to the musings of Tempe she has added the inspiration of Christianity, "above all Greek, all Roman fame." She has translated the Prometheus, to the delight of scholars, and has contributed a series of very valuable prose papers "On the Poetry of the Early Church," to the London "Athenæum." Her reading Greek recalls to us ROGER ASCHAM's anecdote of Lady JANE

GREY; but Lady JANE GREY has left us no such verses.

A striking characteristic of Miss BARRETT'S verse, is its prevailing seriousness, approaching to solemnity-a garb borrowed from the "sceptred pall" of her favourite Greek drama of fate. She loses much with the general reader, by a dim mysticism; but many of her later poems are entirely free from any such defect. The great writers whom she loves will teach her the plain, simple, universal language of poetry.

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Her dreams and abstractions, though "caviàre to the generale," have their admirers, who will ever find in pure and elevated philosophy, expressed in the words of enthusiasm, the living presence of poetry. On Parnassus there are many groves: far from the dust of the highway, embosomed in twilight woods, that seem to symbol Reverence and Faith trusting on the unseen, we may hear, in the whispering of the trees, the wavering breath of insect life, the accompaniment of our poet's strain. Despise not dreams and reveries. With COWLEY, Miss BARRETT vindicates herself. The father of poets tells us, even dreams, too, are from God."

Miss BARRETT has published two volumes of poetry, "Prometheus Bound, and Miscellaneous Poems," in 1833, and "The Seraphim and other Poems," in 1838; and we understand that she has a forthcoming volume in the press. It will be a welcome one to all lovers of true poetry.

In our judgment, Miss Barrett is destined, in due time, to take her place at the head of the female poets of Great Britain. The noble ardour with which she writes, makes us believe that this new volume will go far toward determining the question.

Of her personal history, we know very little. She resides in London, and is one of the stars in a brilliant constellation of scholars, philosophers, and poets. She was a contributor, with WORDSWORTH, HUNT, and HORNE, to "Chaucer Modernized," and besides her prose writings in "The Athenæum,” has written for that admirable gazette some of her finest poems.

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NAPOLEON'S RETURN.

NAPOLEON! years ago, and that great word, Compact of human breath in hate and dread And exultation, skied us overhead

An atmosphere, whose lightning was the sword, Scathing the cedars of the world, drawn down In burnings, by the metal of a crown.

Napoleon! Foemen, while they cursed that name,
Shook at their own curse; and while others bore
Its sound, as of a trumpet, on before,
Brass-fronted legions follow'd, sure of fame-
And dying men, from trampled battle-sods,
Near their last silence, utter'd it for God's.

Napoleon! Sages with high foreheads droop'd,
Did use it for a problem; children small
Leapt up as hearing in't their manhood's call:
Priests bless'd it from their altars, overstoop'd
By meek-eyed Christs,-and widows with a moan
Breathed it, when question'd why they sate alone.

And this name brake the silence of the snows
In Alpine keeping, holy and cloud-hid!
The mimic eagles dared what nature's did,
And over-rush'd her mountainous repose
In search of eyries: and th' Egyptian river
Mingled the same word with its grand "for ever."

Yea! this, they shouted near the pyramidal
Egyptian tombs, whose mummied habitants,
Pack'd to humanity's significance,
Motion'd them back with stillness! Shouts as idle
As the hired artists' work-in myrrh and spice,
Swathing last glories round the Ptolemies.

The world's face changed to hear it. Kingly men
Came down, in chidden babes' bewilderment,
From autocratic places each content
With sprinkled ashes for anointing!-then
The people laugh'd, or wonder'd for the nonce,
To see one throne a composite of thrones.

Napoleon! The cavernous vastitude
Of India felt, in motions of the air,
The name which scatter'd in a ruining blare
All Europe's landmarks, drawn afresh in blood!
Napoleon! from the Russias, west, to Spain !
And Austria trembled-till we heard her chain.

And Germany was 'ware-and Italy
Forgot her own name so-her laurel-lock'd,
High-ghosted Cæsars passing uninvoked,—
She crumbled her own ruins with her knee,
To serve a newer! But the Gaulmen cast
A future from them, nobler than her past.

For, verily, though Gaul augustly rose
With that raised name, and did assume by such
The purple of the world, none gave so much
As she, in purchase-to speak plain, in loss-
Whose hands to freedom stretch'd, dropp'd para-
lyzed

To wield a sword, or fit an undersized

King's crown to a great man's head! And though along

Her Paris streets, did float on frequent streams
Of triumph, pictured or enmarbled dreams,
Dreamt right by genius in a world gone wrong,
No dream of all, was beautiful to see,
As the lost vision of her liberty.

Napoleon! 'twas a high name lifted high!
It met at last God's thunder,-sent to clear
Our compassing and covering atmosphere,
And open a clear sight, beyond the sky,
Of supreme empire! This of earth's was done-
And kings crept out again to feel the sun.

The kings crept out the people sate at home,—
And finding the long-advocated peace
A pall embroider'd with worn images

Of rights divine, too scant to cover doom,-
Gnawed their own hearts, or else the corn that grew
Rankly, to bitter bread, on Waterloo !

A deep gloom center'd in the deep repose—
The nations stood up mute to count their dead-
The bearer of the name which vibrated
Through silence,-trusting to his noblest foes,
When earth was all too gray for chivalry-
Died of their mercies, midst the desert sea.

O wild St. Helen! very still she kept him,
With a green willow for all pyramid,
Stirring a little if the low wind did,-
More rarely, if some pilgrim overwept him
And parted the lithe boughs, to see the clay
Which seem'd to cover his for judgment-day.

Nay! not so long! France kept her old affection,
As deeply as the sepulchre the corse,-
And now, dilated by that love's remorse
To a new angel of the resurrection,

She cries, Behold, thou England, I would have The dead thou wottest of, from out that grave."

And England answers in the courtesy
Which, ancient foes turn'd lovers, may befit-
"Take back thy dead! and when thou buriest it,
Throw in all former strifes 'twixt thee and me."
Amen, mine England! 'tis a courteous claim-
But ask a little room too... for thy shame!

Because it was not well, it was not well,
Nor tuneful with thy lofty-chanted part
Among the Oceanides, that heart
To bind and bare, and vex with vulture fell.
O mine own England! would, we had to seek
All crimson stains upon thy breast--not cheek!
Would hostile fleets had scarr'd thy bay of Tor,
Instead of the lone ship, which waited here
Until thy princely purpose should be clear,
Then left a shadow-to pass out no more!
Not for the moonlight.-not for a noontide sun!
Green watching hills, ye witness'd what was done!

But since it was done,-in sepulchral dust,
We fain would pay back something of our debt
To Gaul, if not to honour, and forget
How, through much fear, we falsified the trust

Of a fall'n foe and exile! We return Orestes to Electra... in his urn!

A little urn-a little dust inside,
Which once outbalanced the large earth,-albeit
To-day, a four years child might carry it,
Sleek-brow'd, and smiling "Let the burden 'bide!"
Orestes to Electra! O fair town
Of Paris, how the wild tears will run down,

And run back in the chariot-marks of time,
When all the people shall come forth to meet
The passive victor, death-still in the street
He rode through mid the shouting and bell-chime
And martial music,-under eagles which
Dyed their ensanguined beaks at Austerlitz!

Napoleon! he hath come again-borne home
Upon the popular ebbing heart,—a sea
Which gathers its own wrecks perpetually,
Majestically moaning. Give him room!
Room for the dead in Paris! Welcome solemn
And grave-deep, 'neath the cannon-moulded co-
lumn !

There, weapon spent and warrior spent may rest
From roar of fields! provided Jupiter
Dare trust Saturnus to lie down so near
His bolts! And this he may do, since possess'd
(To wave th' imperial phantom from the throne)
Of that one capable sword... Napoleon's own!

Napoleon! Once more the recover'd name
Shakes the old casements of the world! and we
Look out upon the passing pageantry,
Attesting that the dead makes good his claim
To a Gaul grave,-another kingdom won-
The last of few spans by Napoleon!

Blood fell like dew beneath his sunrise-sooth!
But also glitter'd dew-like in the slanted
High-rayed light. He was a tyrant-granted!
But th' Autos of his autocratic mouth
Said "Yea" i' the people's French! He multiplied
The image of the freedom he denied.

And if they ask'd for "rights," he made reply,
"Ye have my glory!" and so, drawing round them
His ample purple, glorified and bound them
In an embrace that seem'd identity.

He ruled them like a tyrant-true! but none Were ruled like slaves! Each felt Napoleon!

I do not praise this man-the man was flaw'd, For Adam-much more, Christ!-his knee, unbent

His hand, unclean-his aspiration, pent [had
Within a sword-sweep.-Pshaw!-But since he
The genius to be loved, why let him have
The justice to be honour'd in his grave.

I think a nation's tears, pour'd thus together,
More rare than shouts! I think this funeral [all,
More grand than crownings, though a Pope bless
I think this grave more strong than thrones! But
whether

The crown'd Napoleon or his senseless dust Be worth more, I discern not-angels must.

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We look'd into the pit prepared to take her,

Was no room for any work in the close clay! From the sleep wherein she lieth none will wake her, Crying Get up, little Alice, it is day!' If you listen by that grave in sun and shower,

With your ear down, little Alice never cries; Could we see her face, be sure we should not know her, [eyes. For the new smile which has grown within her For merry go her moments, lull'd and still'd in The shroud, by the kirk chime!

It is good when it happens," say the children, "That we die before our time!"

Alas, the young children! they are seeking
Death in life, as best to have!
[ing,
They are binding up their hearts away from break-
With a cerement from the grave.

Go out, children, from the mine and from the city, Sing out, children, as the little thrushes do! Pluck your handfuls of the meadow cowslips pretty,

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"All day long the wheels are droning, turning,
Their wind comes in our faces!
[burning,
Till our hearts turn, and our heads with pulses
And the walls turn in their places! [ing,
Turns the sky in the high window blank and reel-
Turns the long light that droopeth down the wall,
Turn the black flies that crawl along the ceiling,

Are all turning all the day, and we with all!
All day long, the iron wheels are droning,
And sometimes we could pray,

O ye wheels (breaking off in a mad moaning,) Stop! be silent for to-day!'"

Ay, be silent let them hear each other breathing, For a moment, mouth to mouth; [wreathing Let them touch each other's hands, in a fresh Of their tender human youth;

Let them feel that this cold metallic motion

Is not all the life God giveth them to feel; Let them prove their inward souls against the notion That they live in you, or under you, O wheels! Still, all day, the iron wheels go onward,

As if fate in each were stark! [ward, And the children's souls, which God is calling sunSpin on blindly in the dark.

Now tell the weary children, O my brothers!
That they look to Him and pray,

For the bless'd One who blesseth all the others,
To bless them another day.
[us,"
They answer-"Who is God that He should hear
While this rushing of the iron wheels is stirr'd?
When we sob aloud, the human creatures near us

Pass unhearing-at least, answer not a word; And we hear not (for the wheels in their resounding) Strangers speaking at the door.

Is it likely God with angels singing round Him, Hears our weeping any more?

Two words, indeed, of praying we remember;
And at midnight's hour of harm,
"Our Father!" looking upward in our chamber,
We say softly for a charm.t

* A commissioner mentions the fact of weeds being thus confounded with the idea of flowers.

The report of the commissioners present repeated instances of children, whose religious devotion is confined to the repetition of the two first words of the Lord's Prayer.

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