1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Henry Dana

Anonymous, in Review of Dana, "Thoughts on the Soul" Quarterly Christian Spectator [New Haven] 1 (December 1829) 674-75.



There is another kind of poetry which is simply the expression of intense feeling, or of deep and long cherished sentiment. It is not to produce a poem, but to relieve his mind from the pressure of struggling emotions, that a writer of this class embodies his glowing thoughts in language. In his view, imagery, versification, and rythmus — the liveliest pictures of external objects, and the most graphic delineations of life and manners, are of no other value, than as they give a more complete and satisfactory expression to the workings of the soul within. Dana is a poet of this class. With a mind of exquisite sensibility and deep moral feeling, his soul object is to awaken in the minds of others, those strong conceptions of moral and religious truth, which he has long been revolving in his own. In doing this he is always bold and picturesque; but often abrupt, and for that reason sometimes obscure. Rarely have we seen a more perfect contrast to the ordinary style among us, of close and studied imitation. His thoughts are instinct with life and originality; his versification is free and varied; and his subject rises in some places into genuine and impressive sublimity.