1836 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Oliver William Bourne Peabody

Isaac Clark Pray, "Sketches of American Poets: Peabody" Prose and Verse, from the Port Folio of an Editor (1836) 32-33.



There has been very little calm, devotional poetry written in America. We wonder that there is not more of it; because we have so many divines, whose pens flow with remarkable ease and grace. Every one knows the fact that the mind loves religious musings; and, that it is equally pleased with poetry, founded on the same spirit, cannot be questioned.

Peabody has admirably succeeded in this department. A silvery line of pure religion, fresh from the heart, vibrates throughout, and girds all his pieces. His writings are the repositories of holiness and goodness — having a pervading spirit which turns man to the contemplation of himself and his God.

Yet Peabody has no lofty genius. He is tame, except so far as his subject is concerned. There are no wild, brilliant flashings of inherent poetry, which display an imagination wholly and deeply poetical. They are quiet musings, freely and pleasantly written, but remarkable for nothing but the true fervor of religion.

There is a class of readers, however, to whom he is peculiarly acceptable — they are not those who make nice demands for genuine poetry — but such as love religion, as it exists in the mind, without the instructions of revelation.

There is nothing very original in his productions. An acquaintance with the best writers has purified his taste, and has given a poetical cast to his thoughts. Yet his productions are worthy of repeated perusal, and his reputation has been well acquired. May he live to write more and to enjoy his reputation, unmolested by satire or calumny.