1830 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cullen Bryant

George Barrell Cheever, in Studies in Poetry ... A copious Collection of Elegant Extracts (1830) 397.



Bryant's poetry displays a chastened delicacy and simplicity, both in the expression and sentiment, which is equally uncommon and delightful. He possesses a refined fancy and a pure, exquisite taste. His descriptions from nature are executed with a quiet accuracy, and with great freshness and originality. He is soft and sweet in the colouring of his language, graceful in his imagery, and not being profuse of ornament, whatever he uses is select and appropriate, and gives a native richness to his compositions which we would not wish to see diminished or increased.

Thanatopsis is the finest specimen of his genius. Its spirit is like that of Wordsworth, but yet richer; and it may rank with the most elevated productions of the English poet.

Bryant's strains are all of them beautifully pure in their moral influence, inspiring the heart with a true love of nature, and a reverence for religion.