1836 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Henry Dana

Isaac Clark Pray, "Sketches of American Poets: Dana" Prose and Verse, from the Port Folio of an Editor (1836) 27.



We are disposed to be favorable to Dana, but yet we will not esteem him as many do, the best of our poets. In sooth, we cannot tell who holds, or who is likely to hold such a situation. We can see no reasons for giving Dana the place, and we should, if it was demanded of us to decide, hand ever our vote to that effect.

His productions resemble, more than any thing we think of, some of those dark, old paintings of the early masters. There is a blackness without a gloom scattered over them, and you will often discover a slight dash, which will be brilliant, or a rich coloring, whose beauty will hide the surrounding darkness.

We esteem The Buccaneer one of the best modern poems that has been published. It is full of power, and is remarkably concise. It works on our emotions with tremendous force, and excites in the mind some of the best feelings.

As to the prose of this writer, it may be said to be full of poetry, which is quiet and still, unbroken by harshnesses, and only, at times awakens us by some sudden gorgeousness or dazzling splendor.

Dana resembles Wordsworth, in many respects. He exhibits much love for the nature of man, and would awake in the mind of others that respect for the soul which leads it on to discover the joys of its contemplation, and the ennobling principles which it excites when under proper observation.