Famous Reviews eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 560 pages of information about Famous Reviews.

“Mariana” is, we are disposed to think, although there are several poems which rise up reproachfully in our recollection as we say so, altogether, the most perfect composition in the volume.  The whole of this poem, of eighty-four lines, is generated by the legitimate process of poetical creation, as that process is conducted in a philosophical mind, from a half sentence in Shakespeare.  There is no mere samplification; it is all production, and production from that single germ.  That must be a rich intellect, in which thoughts thus take root and grow....

A considerable number of the poems are amatory; they are the expression not of heathen sensuality, nor of sickly refinement, nor of fantastic devotion, but of manly love; and they illustrate the philosophy of the passion while they exhibit the various phases of its existence and embody its power....

Mr. Tennyson sketches females as well as ever did Sir Thomas Lawrence.  His portraits are delicate, his likenesses (we will answer for them), perfect, and they have life, character, and individuality.  They are nicely assorted also to all the different gradations of emotion and passion which are expressed in common with the descriptions of them.  There is an appropriate object for every shade of feeling, from the light touch of a passing admiration, to the triumphant madness of soul and sense, or the deep and everlasting anguish of survivorship....

That these poems will have a rapid and extensive popularity we do not anticipate.  Their very originality will prevent their being appreciated for a time.  But that time will come, we hope, to a not far distant end.  They demonstrate the possession of powers, to the future direction of which we look with some anxiety.  A genuine poet has deep responsibilities to his country and the world, to the present and future generations, to earth and heaven.  He, of all men, should have distinct and worthy objects before him, and consecrate himself to their promotion.  It is then he best consults the glory of his art, and his own lasting fame.  Mr. Tennyson has a dangerous quality in that facility of impersonation on which we have remarked, and by which he enters so thoroughly into the most strange and wayward idiosyncracies of other men.  It must not degrade him into a poetical harlequin.  He has higher work to do than that of disporting himself among “mystics” and “flowing philosophers.”  He knows that “the poet’s mind is holy ground”; He knows that the poet’s portion is to be

  Dower’d with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,
  The love of love;

he has shown, in the lines from which we quote, his own just conception of the grandeur of the poet’s destiny; and we look to him for its fulfilment.  It is not for such men to sink into mere verse-makers for the amusement of themselves or others.  They can influence the associations of unnumbered minds; they can command the sympathies of unnumbered hearts; they can disseminate principles; they can give those principles power over men’s imaginations; they can excite in a good cause the sustained enthusiasm that is sure to conquer; they can blast the laurels of tyrants, and hallow the memories of the martyrs’ patriotism; they can act with a force, the extent of which it is difficult to estimate, upon national feelings and character, and consequently upon national happiness.

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Famous Reviews from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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