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commendation for those who have ventured into print-but also of some performance. Mr. Matthew Arnold, in Sohrab ' and Rustum,' and The Death of Balder'; and Mr. Allingham, in The Music Master,' have written poems which, although they are not faultless, are as much better than any equal amount of the poetry of the spasmodic school, as a diamond which weighs an ounce is better than an ounce of diamond-dust; in the Earl's Return,' and 'Queen Guenevre,' Owen Meredith has given us two admirably descriptive pieces; and in the verses called Love in the Valley,' George Meredith has produced a little poem of singular sweetness, truth, and originality.
The Music-Master,' the only poem in Mr. Allingham's volume of more than a few stanzas in length, is a work which, in some important respects, is superior to anything emanating from the new poets whose names are at the head of this article. Without equalling Mr. Arnold's principal poems in metrical finish, or the force and beauty of detached passages and single lines in Mr. Dobell's or Mr. Smith's poetry, the • Music-Master' surpasses as a poem all that these writers have done, if a simple and sustained obedience to the muse's injunction, Look in thy heart and write' be, as we believe, the first of all poetic requirements. In this idyl Mr. Allingham, who is an Irishman, has produced a love-story in which singular tenderness, simplicity, and purity of feeling are combined with a peculiar national colouring. The art of construction is considerable, but perfectly well concealed; and, without being at all like any other poem we have read, it has none of the conscious pretension to originality which infects so much of our recent verse. Its appeal is not to our admiration, but to our feelings; yet those who have a right understanding of poetic art will not fail, after the subsidence of the deep emotion which this idyl is calculated to call forth, to be much impressed with the skill of the poet in his management of a story which turns upon a course of conduct created by the most subtle and shadowy, though perfectly real and essential, refinement of natural feeling in the two lovers. There is no piece, in any of the volumes before us, to which extract could do so little justice. The following lyric, selected from another part of the volume, will give our readers a good idea of the sweetness, simplicity, and unpretending vigour of Mr. Allingham's ordinary style.
Evey, in the linden alley,
All alone I met to-day,
Tripping to the sunny valley,
Spread across with new-mown hay.
Through the leaves a careless comer,
Few her words; yet like a sister,
'Shadows, which are not of sadness,
Touch her eyes, and brow above;
The greater portion of Mr. Allingham's volume consists of short lyrics, few of them without merit, some well maintaining the reputation of Irish minstrelsy. It is with justifiable pride that the author, in his preface, tells us that some of his songs 'have already an Irish circulation as "ha'penny ballads.”’
We scarcely know what to say of Clytemnestra,'' The Earl's 'Return,' The Artist,' and other poems, by Owen Meredith. That this volume indicates remarkable ability in so young a writer as we understand its author to be, is unquestionable; but whether that ability includes the exceedingly rare conjunction and balance of intellectual forces which constitute the nature of an original poet is more than we can undertake to determine from the evidence before us. It is certain that the best pieces in this volume are those in which the writer consents to look upon nature through the eyes of others; and so singular is his power of doing this, that his imitations sometimes surpass, in their own way, the originals. The Earl's Return,' by much the most remarkable piece in the collection, sustains to the extent of eight hundred lines, the peculiar sharpness and intensity which distinguish the best of Mr. Browning's descriptive passages. The opening lines of this poem are no more than an average specimen of its quality.
'Ragged and tall stood the castle wall,
And the squires, at their sport, in the great South Court,
Lounged all day long from stable to hall,
The land about was barren and blue,
To stagnate and steam on the mineral plain;
But a bare black thorn which the sea winds had wither'd
And some patches of gray grass-land to the right,
To the garden below, where, in desolate corners,
The lilies crouch'd, rocking their white heads like mourners,
Pining and pale in their comfortless bowers,
Into shreds for the beetles that lurk'd in the mosses.'
'Queen Guenevre,' and one or two other pieces, reproduce the manner of the Poet Laureate quite as strikingly as the Earl's Return' does that of Mr. Browning. If Owen Mere'dith' is himself anywhere, he is so in the two poems called "Good-night in the Porch,' and 'The Wife's Tragedy.' In these pieces there is an expression of passion apparently unborrowed; but the flow and force of it is sadly marred by the crying sin of almost all recent writers, the introduction of minute observation, and description of natural objects which would certainly not attract the notice of persons under the circumstances and with the feelings of the supposed speakers. We hope to hear of Owen Meredith' again, not under a nom de guerre, but by a name which has an hereditary claim to distinction in English literature.
Mr. Matthew Arnold's poems are very refreshing and instructive contrasts to the works of the writers who engaged our
attention in the first part of this article. Mr. Arnold seems to have been driven, by the consideration of the faults of those writers, into almost an affectation of indifference to minute verbal beauties. He has altogether failed to establish or illustrate the chief doctrine propounded in his preface; but he has done much to deserve our thanks in more substantial ways. For combined culture and fine natural feeling in the matter of versification Mr. Arnold has no living superior. Though sometimes slovenly in the versification of his smaller poems, when he is put upon his mettle by a particular affection for his subject, he manages the most irregular' and difficult metres with admirable skill and feeling.
As a specimen of an order of poetical ability to which his critics have not, we think, hitherto done justice, we extract from The Buried Life' a passage which, although it does occasionally echo an immortal strain of Wordsworth's, deserves to be remembered for its own merit.
'Often, in the din of strife,
After the knowledge of our buried life;
Into the mystery of this heart that beats
Whence our thoughts come and where they go.
Been on our own line, have we been ourselves;
The nameless feelings that course through our breast,
And long we try in vain to speak and act
Ah, yes, and they benumb us at our call:
Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,
Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again,
Here, and in many other poems, we recognise with delight the coolness of head and warmth of heart, which pass for insensibility with the multitude, who commonly mistake a fevered brain, with its invariable accompaniment, an unfeeling breast, for poetic passion.
Although Mr. Arnold's passionate partiality for ancient models is not without damage to his poetical aims and practice, it is impossible not to respect the sincerity and enthusiasm with which he holds up the example of the Greek tragedians as a protest against much of our modern practice. And here let us remark that the best poets of recent times have flatly contradicted the vulgar notion that the poetical and critical faculties are incompatible with each other. Mr. Arnold, like Wordsworth, is a very good, though not an infallible critic; and Göthe and Coleridge, two of the greatest poets of recent times, are by far the greatest critics of recent, and we might almost say of any times. We rejoice in every additional testimony to the too often denied truth that, although the true poet's song is never trammelled with a present consciousness of the laws which it obeys, science, not ignorance, supplies the conditions of such absence of consciousness. The free spirit of art, in its noblest developments, has ever been obtained, not by neglect, but by perfection of discipline.
Not unlike the poems of Matthew Arnold, for quality and style, are the poems by V,' of which we have before us a new edition with several additions. 'V' is the accomplished authoress of Paul Ferroll,' a tale which, in spite of the horrid subject on which it is founded, and the false interest it attaches to a great criminal, is unquestionably a very powerful work of fiction. The same literary talents have been more agreeably displayed by Mrs. Clive in her poetical writings. In description, with which her poetry abounds, she displays that coexistence of the synthetic and analytic modes of looking at things, the general want of which is the great defect of most modern poetry, even of a high