1827 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Felicia Hemans

Anonymous, in Review of Poems by Mrs. Hemans; United States Review and Literary Gazette 1 (March 1827) 401-06.



The popularity of Mrs. Hemans's shorter poems has been almost unexampled. When some one of her productions, of a length not unsuited for republication in a newspaper, has been received from England, by nearly simultaneous arrivals in different parts of our country, we have known the same poem appear within a week in the public prints of New York and Philadelphia, as well as Boston, and apparently copied, in each place, directly from the English publications. And her poems have continued to please, and have reappeared in the papers of the interior, till at last it would be very difficult to say how many times they have been republished, or where their circulation has stopped. We have read them, as they have issued from Detroit. Such a rapid extension of literary fame and influence would hardly have been possible in any age but ours, and now, perhaps, in no other country than our own. Such success deserves to be remarked; and, while it is a high reward of exertion in the cause of virtue and good feeling, it is also a powerful incentive to literary exertion. A female writer, in a retired part of Great Britain, unassisted by any means of exciting interest but such as her own mind affords, finds leisure, in the quiet of her seclusion, to entrust her views of life and nature to verse, and within six weeks from the time a poem is published in the metropolis of Great Britain, it is read on our seaboard, repeatedly printed in the interior, diligently perused in the little circles of our villages, and, it may be, makes its way across Lake Erie to the outskirts of civilization.