1827 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Felicia Hemans

Anonymous, "My Scrap Book: Mrs. Hemans" The Philadelphia Album 3 (10 September 1828) 118.



Of all our female poets, and the list is far from inconsiderable, Mrs. Hemans is unquestionably the most truly feminine. Unlike Joanna Baillie, her language is rarely to be mistaken for that of the opposite sex; and equally unlike the very opposite efforts of Miss Landon, she as seldom condescends merely to rhapsodize. Her poetry is neither the ocean in its stern majesty, nor the brawling brook, now revelling among the flowers on its banks, and now exhausting itself in pretty anger over the pebble in its channel; — but it is the calm and beautiful lake, lying beneath a summer sky, and for the most part reflecting only peace and purity. The darker emotions of our nature come not within the scope of Mrs. Hemans' poetry; nor does she ever dazzle the reader with luxurious and gorgeous imagery. If she is totally unlike Byron, she has no greater resemblance to Moore. — Her joy is a joy of a pure and holy spirit — it is a joy derived wholly from the loveliness of nature, not from the blandishments of art. Her sorrow, like her love, has its source in the inmost recesses of the heart; — yet it seems to shun display, and to pour itself forth in complaint, not for the purpose of exciting sympathy, nor even attention, but simply to work itself repose—

Even as a suffering child
Weeping itself into forgetfulness.