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the world of associations called up by the fog wreaths, the pebbled beach, and the sweet brier blooming on Kittery-side.
The above-named poems, together with ‘The * Barefoot Boy' and 'In School-Days,' suggest a phase of Whittier’s genius which found complete expression in the 'winter idyl,' a picture of life in the old East Haverhill homestead.
Snow-Bound was published in 1866. What the author thought of it we now know: 'If it were not ‘mine I should call it pretty good.' The public decided for itself and bought copies enough to fatten Whittier's lean purse with ten thousand dollars. The enviously-inclined should remember that the poet was nearly sixty when this happened to him. A twelvemonth later The Tent on the Beach was published and began selling at the rate of a thousand copies a day. Whittier wrote to Fields: *This will never do; the swindle is awful; Barnum ‘is a saint to us.'
Readers who find difficulty in comprehending the enthusiasm that Snow-Bound evoked must reflect that there are strange creatures in the world who actually like winter. For them Whittier had a particular message. He has reproduced the atmosphere of the New England landscape under storm-cloud and falling snow with utmost precision. No important detail is wanting, and no detail is emphasized to the injury of the general effect. The exactness and simplicity of the touch
are wholly admirable. The result is as exquisite as the means to it are unostentatious.
Snow-Bound is a favorite because of its homely, sweet realism, because of the poetic glow thrown on old-fashioned scenes, because of the variety of moods (which, lying between the extremes of playfulness and deepest feeling, shade naturally from one to the next); and because of the reverential spirit, the high confidence and trust. The poem is autobiographical, but it needs no 'key' to give it interest. The characters are types.
In The Tent on the Beach it is related how a poet,' a publisher (who in this instance, contrary to the traditions of his race, is a friend of the poet), and a traveller beguile an evening at the seaside with the reading of manuscript verses from the publisher's portfolio. The tales, eleven in number, with a closing lyric on ‘The Worship of Nature,' are too uniformly sombre. The one called “The "Maids of Attitash'is blithe enough, but the gray tints need even more relief.
Whittier's power in descriptions of sea and sky is displayed at its best in this volume. One does not soon forget this stanza from the prelude:
Sometimes a cloud, with thunder black,
Stooped low upon the darkening main, Piercing the waves along its track
With the slant javelins of rain. And when west-wind and sunshine warm Chased out to sea its wrecks of storm,
s Whittier, J. T. Fields, and Bayard Taylor.
They saw the prismy hues in thin spray showers
Even better is the description of the breakers seen by twilight:
trampling up the sloping sand,
The white-maned billows swept to land,
A vast and ghostly cavalcade. The change from the mist and confusion of the brief tempest to the clear after effect was never better rendered :
Suddenly seaward swept the squall;
The low sun smote through cloudy rack;
The trend of the coast lay hard and black. Among the Hills, Miriam, and The Pennsylvania Pilgrim come next in order of publication. The first is a romance of New England country life; the second is Oriental and purely fiction;' the third, partly historical and partly imaginative, is an attempt to reconstruct life in Penn's colony towards the close of the Seventeenth Century. Whittier said of The Pennsylvania Pilgrim : 'It is 'as long as Snow-Bound, and better, but nobody 'will find it out. The poet felt that too little had been said in praise of the humanizing influences at work in the colonies by the Schuylkill and the Delaware. The Pilgrim Father here celebrated is Daniel Pastorius, who planted the settlement of Germantown. He was the first American aboli
tionist. The poem abounds in happy pictures of scenery, and in tenderly humorous sketches of the quaint characters who found peace, shelter, and, above all, toleration, under the beneficent rule of Pastorius.
The Vision of Echard will serve to introduce Whittier's distinctively religious poems. A characteristic performance, it admirably illustrates his manner, diction, cast of thought. First, the scenes of great natural beauty, where historical memories are overlaid and blended with ideas of ceremonial pomp associated with formal religion ; and then, projected on this rich background, the dreamer and his dream. The blended walls of sapphire in Echard's vision blazed with the thought of God:'
Ye bow to ghastly symbols,
To cross and scourge and thorn;
Who in the heart is born.
O blind ones, outward groping,
The idle quest forego;
Alone of him shall know.
A light, a guide, a warning,
A presence ever near,
I reach the inward ear.
The stern behest of duty,
The doom-book open thrown,
Whittier did not include The Preacher' among his religious poems. This fine picture of the great awakening' might be so classified. Also The *Chapel of the Hermits,’ ‘Tauler,' and yet others.
. In general the religious poems consist of meditations on sacred characters and scenes, poetic settings of Biblical narrative, and reflective poems in which Whittier gives voice to phases of his spiritual life, and above all to a faith so broad that the distinctions of sect and creed are lost in its catholic charity. 'Questions of Life,' “The Over‘Heart,’ ‘Trinitas,' 'The Shadow and the Light,' and “The Eternal Goodness' are the expressions of this lofty and inspiring side of his poetic genius.
Whittier's singing voice lost none of its flexibility but rather gained as time went on. “The ‘Henchman’ was a striking performance for a man of seventy. It is not exactly a Quakerly
* 'piece, nor is it didactic, and it has no moral that I know of, observed Whittier. He must have known that it had the moral of exquisite beauty. Indeed he admitted that it was 'not unpoetical.' His last utterance was a little
poems, At Sundown, having for the controlling thought the close of life's day. One of them, ‘Burning * Drift-Wood,' was the poet's farewell; and with the quotation of four of its stanzas we may bring to an end this brief survey of Whittier's work.
What matter that it is not May,