1848 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lydia Huntley Sigourney

Rufus Wilmot Griswold, in Female Poets of America (1848) 93.



Mrs. Sigourney has acquired a wider and more pervading reputation than many women will receive in this country. The times have been favourable for her, and the tone of her works such as is most likely to be acceptable in a primitive and pious community. Though possessing but little constructive power, she had a ready expression, and an ear naturally so sensitive to harmony that it has scarcely been necessary for her to study the principles of versification in order to produce some of its finest effects. She sings impulsively from an atmosphere of affectionate, pious, and elevated sentiment, rather than from the consciousness of subjective ability.... Whether there is in her nature the latent energy and exquisite susceptibility that, under favourable circumstances, might have warmed her sentiment into passion, and her fancy into imagination; or whether the absence of any deep emotion and creative power is to be attributed to a quietness of life and satisfaction of desires that forbade the development of the full force of her being, or whether benevolence and adoration have had the mastery of her life, as might seem, and led her other faculties in captivity, we know too little of her secret experiences to form an opinion: but the abilities displayed in Napoleon's Epitaph, and some other pieces in her works, suggest that it is only because the flower has not been crushed that we have not a richer perfume.