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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 182 pages of information about Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poetical Works.

We cannot bring ourselves to believe that the selections of the “Book of Gems” are such as will impart to a poetical reader the clearest possible idea of the beauty of the school—­but if the intention had been merely to show the school’s character, the attempt might have been considered successful in the highest degree.  There are long passages now before us of the most despicable trash, with no merit whatever beyond that of their antiquity.  The criticisms of the editor do not particularly please us.  His enthusiasm is too general and too vivid not to be false.  His opinion, for example, of Sir Henry’s Wotton’s “Verses on the Queen of Bohemia”—­that “there are few finer things in our language,” is untenable and absurd.

In such lines we can perceive not one of those higher attributes of Poesy which belong to her in all circumstances and throughout all time.  Here everything is art, nakedly, or but awkwardly concealed.  No prepossession for the mere antique (and in this case we can imagine no other prepossession) should induce us to dignify with the sacred name of poetry, a series, such as this, of elaborate and threadbare compliments, stitched, apparently, together, without fancy, without plausibility, and without even an attempt at adaptation.

In common with all the world, we have been much delighted with “The Shepherd’s Hunting” by Withers—­a poem partaking, in a remarkable degree, of the peculiarities of ‘Il Penseroso’.  Speaking of Poesy, the author says: 

  “By the murmur of a spring,
  Or the least boughs rustleling,
  By a daisy whose leaves spread,
  Shut when Titan goes to bed,
  Or a shady bush or tree,
  She could more infuse in me
  Than all Nature’s beauties con
  In some other wiser man. 
  By her help I also now
  Make this churlish place allow
  Something that may sweeten gladness
  In the very gall of sadness—­
  The dull loneness, the black shade,
  That these hanging vaults have made
  The strange music of the waves
  Beating on these hollow caves,
  This black den which rocks emboss,
  Overgrown with eldest moss,
  The rude portals that give light
  More to terror than delight,
  This my chamber of neglect
  Walled about with disrespect;
  From all these and this dull air
  A fit object for despair,
  She hath taught me by her might
  To draw comfort and delight.”

But these lines, however good, do not bear with them much of the general character of the English antique.  Something more of this will be found in Corbet’s “Farewell to the Fairies!” We copy a portion of Marvell’s “Maiden lamenting for her Fawn,” which we prefer—­not only as a specimen of the elder poets, but in itself as a beautiful poem, abounding in pathos, exquisitely delicate imagination and truthfulness—­to anything of its species: 

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