The complete poems of William Cullen Bryant (Illustrated)

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If it is multi volume set, then it is only single volume. We expect that you will understand our compulsion in these books. We found this book important for the readers who want to know more about our old treasure in old look so we brought it back to the shelves. Hope you will like it and give your comments and suggestions. Lang: - eng, Pages Normal Hardbound Edition is also available on request. Poems By William Cullen Bryant. Philadelphia: A. Reprint of the first edition See BAL Complete in One Volume. Bookseller's ticket of Wm. Murray of Lancaster, PA, on front pastedown.

Leather Bound. If it is multi volume set, then it is only single volume, if you wish to order a specific or all the volumes you may contact us. We found this book important for the readers who want to know more about our old treasure so we brought it back to the shelves. New York: D. Appleton and Company, First Thus. Decorative Cloth. Green decorativecloth, gilt edges. Illustrated by one hundred engravngs. This edition contains several of the author's poems which have not appeared in any previous collection.

Bryant, William Cullen, 1794-1878: Home

Front hinge starting. Corners worn. Interior clean. Appleton, Very Good minus. Blue cloth covers, small-sized book, gilt lettering and decoration on spine, blind-stamped decoration on front, all edges gilt. In its ordinary acceptation, it has, in all ages and all countries, included something more. When we speak of a poem, we do not mean merely a tissue of striking images. The most beautiful poetry is that which takes the strongest hold of the feelings, and, if it is really the most beautiful, then it is poetry in the highest sense. Poetry is constantly resorting to the language of the passions to heighten the effect of her pictures; and, if this be not enough to entitle that language to the appellation of poetical, I am not aware of the meaning of the term.

Is there no poetry in the wrath of Achilles? Is there no poetry in the passage where Lear, in the tent of Cordelia, just recovered from hisfrenzy, his senses yet infirm and unassured, addresses his daughter as she kneels to ask his blessing? Is there no poetry in the remorse of Othello, in the terrible consciousness of guilt which haunts Macbeth, or the lamentations of Antony over the body of his friend, the devoted love of Juliet, and the self-sacrificing affection of Cleopatra?

In the immortal work of Milton, is there no poetry inthe penitence of Adam, or in the sorrows of Eve at being excluded from Paradise?

The truth is, that poetry which does not find its way to the heart is scarcely deserving of the name; it may be brilliant and ingenious, but it wearies the attention. The feelings and the imagination, when skilfully touched, act reciprocally on each other. But when, in the midst of her incoherent talk, she utters some simple allusion to her own sorrows, as when she says,. It sets before us the days when she knew sorrow only by name, before her father was slain by the hand of her lover, and before her lover was estranged, and makes us feel the heaviness of that affliction which crushed a being so gentleand innocent and happy.

Those poems, however, as I have already hinted, which are apparently the most affluent of imagery, are not always those which most kindle the reader's imagination. It is because the ornaments with which they abound are not naturally suggested by the subject, not poured forth from a mind warmed and occupied by it; but a forced fruit of the fancy, produced by labor, without spontaneity or excitement. The language of passion is naturally figurative, but its figures are only employed to heighten the intensity of the expression; they are never introduced for their own sake.

Important, therefore, as may be the office of the imagination in poetry, the great spring of poetry is emotion.

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It is this power that holds the key of the storehouse where the mind has laid up its images, and that alone can open it without violence. All the forms of fancy stand ever in its sight, ready to execute its bidding. Indeed, I doubt not that most of the offences against good taste in this kind of composition are to be traced to the absence of emotion. A desire to treat agreeably or impressively a subject by which the writer is himself little moved, leads him into great mistakes about the means of effecting his purpose.

This is the origin of cold conceits, of prosing reflections, of the minute painting of uninteresting circumstances, and of the opposite extremes of tameness and extravagance. On the other hand, strong feeling is always a sure guide. It rarely offends against good taste, because it instinctively chooses the most effectual means of communicating itself to others.

It gives a variety to the composition it inspires, with which the severest taste is delighted. It may sometimes transgress arbitrary rules, or offend against local associations, but it speaks a language which reaches the heart in all countries and all times. Everywhere are the sentiments of fortitude and magnanimity uttered in strains that brace our own nerves, and the dead mourned in accents that draw our tears. But poetry not only addresses the passions and the imagination; it appeals to the understanding also. So far as this position relates to the principles of taste which lie at the foundation of all poetry, and by which its merits are tried, I believe its truth will not be doubted.

These principles have their origin in the reason of things, and are investigated and applied by the judgment. True it is that they may be observed by one who has never speculated about them, but it is no less true that their observance always gratifies the understanding with the fitness, the symmetry, and the congruity it produces.

To write fine poetry requires intellectual faculties of the highest order, and among these, not the least important, is the faculty of reason. Poetry is the worst mask in the world behind which folly and stupidity could attempt to hide their features. Fitter, safer, and more congenial to them is the solemn discussion of unprofitable questions.

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Any obtuseness of apprehension or incapacity for drawing conclusions, which shows a deficiency or want of cultivation of the reasoning power, is sure to expose the unfortunate poet to contempt and ridicule. But there is another point of view in which poetry may be said to address the understanding—I mean in the direct lessons of wisdom that it delivers.

Remember that it does not concern itself with abstract reasonings, nor with any course of investigation that fatigues the mind. Nor is it merely didactic; but this does not prevent it from teaching truths which the mind instinctively acknowledges. The elements of moral truth are few and simple, but their combinations with human actions are as innumerable and diversified as the combinations of language.

Thousands of inductions resulting from the application of great principles to human life and conduct lie, as it were, latent in our minds, which we have never drawn for ourselves, but which we admit the moment they are hinted at, and which, though not abstruse, are yet new.

Nor are these of less value because they require no laborious research to discover them. The best riches of the earth are produced on its surface, and we need no reasoning to teach us the folly of a people who should leave its harvest ungathered to dig for its ores. The truths of which I have spoken, when possessing any peculiar force or beauty, are properly within the province of the art of which I am treating, and, when recommended by harmony of numbers, become poetry of the highest kind. Accordingly, they abound in the works of the most celebrated poets. When Shakespeare says of mercy,.

For instance:. Take, also, the following example from Cowper, in which he bears witness against the guilt and folly of princes:. I call these passages poetry, because the mind instantly acknowledges their truth and feels their force, and is moved and filled and elevated by them. Nor does poetry refuse to carry on a sort of process of reasoning by deducing one truth from another. Her demonstrations differ, however, from ordinary ones by requiring that each step should be in itself beautiful or striking, and that they all should carry the mind to the final conclusion without the consciousness of labor.

All the ways by which poetry affects the mind are open also to the prosewriter. All that kindles the imagination, all that excites emotion, all those moral truths that find an echo in our bosoms, are his property as well as of the poet.

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It is true that in the ornaments of style the poet is allowed a greater license, but there are many excellent poems which are not distinguished by any liberal use of the figures of speech from prose writings composed with the same degree of excitement. What, then, is the groundof the distinction between prose and poetry? This is a question about which there has been much debate,but one which seems to me of easy solution to those who are not too ambitious of distinguishing themselves by profound researches into things alreadysufficiently clear.

I supposethat poetry differs from prose, in the firstplace, by the employment ofmetrical harmony.

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It differs from it, in the next place, by excluding all thatdisgusts, all that tasks and fatigues the understanding, and all matters which are too trivial and common to excite any emotion whatever. Some these, verse cannot raise into dignity; to others, verse is an encumbrance: they are, therefore, all unfit for poetry; put them into verse, andthey are prose still. A distinction has been attempted to be made between poetry and eloquence, and I acknowledge that thereis one; but it seems to me that it consists solely in metrical arrangement.

Eloquence is the poetry of prose; poetry is the eloquence of verse. By eloquence I do not mean mere persuasiveness: there are many processes of argument that are not susceptible of eloquence, because they require close and painful attention. But by eloquence I understand those appeals to our moral perceptions that produce emotion as soon as they are uttered. It is in these that the orator is himself affected with the feelings he would communicate, that his eyes moisten, and his frame seems to dilate, and his voice acquires an unwonted melody, and his sentences arrange themselves into a sort of measure and harmony, and the listener is chained in involuntary and breathless attention.

This is the very enthusiasm that is the parent of poetry. Let the same man go to his closet and clothe in numbers conceptions full of the same fire and spirit, and they will be poetry. In conclusion, I will observe that the elements of poetry make a part of our natures, and that every individual is more or less a poet. But by their leave I will assert they are mistaken; they have it, although they may have never cultivated it. Is there any one among them who will confess himself insensible to the beauty of order or to the pleasure of variety—two principles, the happy mingling of which makes the perfection of poetic numbers?

Is there any one whose eye is undelighted with beautiful forms and colors, whose ear is not charmed by sweet sounds, and who sees no loveliness in the returns of light and darkness, and the changes of the seasons? Is there any one for whom the Works of Nature have no associations but such as relate to his animal wants? Is there any one to whom her great courses and operations show no majesty, to whom they impart no knowledge, and from whom they hide no secrets?

Is there any one who is attached by no ties to his fellow-beings, who has no hopes for the future, and no memory of the past? Have they all forgotten the days and the friends of their childhood, and do they all shut their eyes to the advances of age?

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  4. Have they nothing to desire and nothing to lament, and are their minds never darkened with the shadows of fear? Is it, in short, for these men that life has no pleasures and no pains, the grave no solemnity and the world to come no mysterites? All these things are the sources of poetry, and they are not only part of ourselves, but of the universe, and will expire only with the last of the creatures of God. Illustrated edition. Bryant's position in the poetical world is, perhaps, better settled than that of any American.

    There is less difference of opinion about his rank; but, as usual, the agreement is more decided in private literary circles than in what appears to be the public expression of sentiment as gleaned from the press. I may as well observe here, too, that this coincidence of opinion in private circles is in all cases very noticeable when compared with the discrepancy of the apparent public opinion.

    In private it is quite a rare thing to find any strongly-marked disagreement — I mean, of course, about mere autorial merit. The author accustomed to seclusion, and mingling for the first time freely with the literary people about him, is invariably startled and delighted to find that the decisions of his own unbiased judgment — decisions to which he has refrained from giving voice on account of their broad contradiction to the decision of the press — are sustained and considered quite as matters of course by almost every person with whom he converses.

    The fact is, that when brought face to face with each other we are constrained to a certain amount of honesty by the sheer trouble it causes us to mould the countenance to a lie. We put on paper with a grave air what we could not for our lives assert personally to a friend without either blushing or laughing outright. That the opinion of the press is not an honest opinion, that necessarily it is impossible that it should be an honest opinion, is never denied by the members of the press themselves. Individual presses, of course, are now and then honest, but I speak of the combined effect.

    Indeed, it would be difficult for those conversant with the modus operandi of public journals to deny the general falsity of impression conveyed. Let in America a book be published by an unknown, careless or uninfluential author; if he publishes it "on his own account," he will be confounded at finding that no notice of it is taken at all. Glad to fill half a column or so of his editorial space, and still more glad to get rid of his visitor, the journalist assents. The author retires, consults the friend, instructs him touching the strong points of the volume, and insinuating in some shape a quid pro quo , gets an elaborate critique written, or, what is more usual and far more simple, writes it himself, and his business in this individual quarter is accomplished.

    Nothing more than sheer impudence is requisite to accomplish it in all. Now the effect of this system for it has really grown to be such is obvious. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, men of genius, too indolent and careless about worldly concerns to bestir themselves after this fashion, have also that pride of intellect which would prevent them, under any circumstances, from even insinuating, by the presentation of a book to a member of the press, a desire to have that book reviewed.

    They, consequently, and their works, are utterly overwhelmed and extinguished in the flood of the apparent public adulation upon which in gilded barges are borne triumphant the ingenious toady and the diligent quack. In general, the books of the toadies and quacks, not being read at all, are safe from any contradiction of this self-bestowed praise; but now and then it happens that the excess of the laudation works out in part its own remedy. Men of leisure, hearing one of the toady works commended, look at it, read its preface and a few pages of its body, and throw it aside with disgust, wondering at the ill taste of the editors who extol it.

    But there is an iteration, and then a continuous reiteration of the panegyric, till these men of leisure begin to suspect themselves in the wrong, to fancy that there may really be something good lying perdu in the volume. In a fit of desperate curiosity they read it through critically, their indignation growing hotter at each succeeding page till it gets the better even of contempt.

    The result is, that reviews now appear in various quarters entirely at variance with the opinions so generally expressed, and which, but for these indignation reviews, would have passed universally current as the opinion of the public. It is in this manner that those gross seeming discrepancies arise which so often astonish us, but which vanish instantaneously in private society. But although it may be said, in general, that Mr. Bryant's position is comparatively well settled, still for some time past there has been a growing tendency to under-estimate him.

    The new licentious "schools" of poetry — I do not now speak of the transcendentalists, who are the merest nobodies, fatiguing even themselves — but the Tennysonian and Barrettian schools, having, in their rashness of spirit, much in accordance with the whole spirit of the age, thrown into the shade necessarily all that seems akin to the conservatism of half a century ago. The conventionalities, even the most justifiable decora of composition, are regarded, per se, with a suspicious eye. When I say per se, I mean that, from finding them so long in connection with conservatism of thought, we have come at last to dislike them, not merely as the outward visible signs of that conservatism, but as things evil in themselves.

    How few are willing to admit the possibility of reconciling genius with artistic skill! Yet this reconciliation is not only possible, but an absolute necessity. It is a mere prejudice which has hitherto prevented the union, by studiously insisting upon a natural repulsion which not only does not exist, but which is at war with all the analogies of nature. The greatest poems will not be written until this prejudice is annihilated; and I mean to express a very exalted opinion of Mr.

    Bryant when I say that his works in time to come will do much towards the annihilation. I have never disbelieved in the perfect consistency, and even congeniality, of the highest genius and the profoundest art; but in the case of the author of "The Ages," I have fallen into the general error of undervaluing his poetic ability on account of the mere "elegances and accuracies" to which allusion has already been made.

    I confess that, with an absolute abstraction from all personal feelings, and with the most sincere intention to do justice, I was at one period beguiled into this popular error; there can be no difficulty, therefore, on my part, in excusing the inadvertence in others. It will never do to claim for Bryant a genius of the loftiest order, but there has been latterly, since the days of Mr. Longfellow and Mr. Lowell, a growing disposition to deny him genius in any respect.

    Bryant has genius, and that of a marked character, but it has been overlooked by modern schools, because deficient in those externals which have become in a measure symbolical of those schools. Griswold, in summing up his comments on Bryant, has the following significant objections. That they are not, I have repeatedly shown, or attempted to show, and to go over the demonstration now would be foreign to the gossiping and desultory nature of the present article. What Dr. Griswold means by "the gentler passions" is, I presume, not very clear to himself; but it is possible that he employs the phrase in consequence of the gentle, unpassionate emotion induced by the poems of which he quotes the titles.

    It is precisely this "unpassionate emotion" which is the limit of the true poetical art. Passion proper and poesy are discordant.