1830
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Dream of the Sea.

The Token, a Christmas and New Year's Present. [S. G. Goodrich, ed.]

Willis Gaylord Clark


Four Spenserians, signed "W. G. Clark": a nightmare vision of watery chaos: "Deep murmured unto deep; the up-heaving tide | Disclosed the skeleton, the diadem; | Once shrieks arose, to which no heart replied, | When the waves made a sepulchre for them." Before his early death, Willis Gaylord Clark was editor of The Ladies Literary Port Folio, published in Philadelphia. In Clark's Poetical Writings (1847) several "early poems" are in Spenserians: "Spain," "Valencia," and "Ancient Utica."

Elizabeth Margaret Chandler: "If the whole of this piece was equal to some of its scattered lines, it would belong to a very high order of poetry" Genius of Universal Emancipation [Baltimore] NS 4 (4 December 1829) 101.

New-York Mirror and Ladies' Literary Gazette: "The poetry, though not impregnated with any great quantity of the fire of genius, evinces considerable talent; it is very pretty and agreeable, and reads as smoothly as it looks. Some of the best of it is from the pen of the editor himself, and Mrs. Sigourney, Willis, Mellen, and other popular poets have also furnished contributions. One thing is against it; a good part of it has been 'made to measure,' that is, written to suit the plates, instead of the plates being engraved to illustrate the subjects" 7 (19 September 1829) 83.

Ladies' Magazine [Boston]: "The literary department of the Token is respectable: the prose is however superior to the poetry. A few articles of the latter are good, — such as 'Napoleon,' 'To the Memory of J. G. C. Brainard,' 'Song of the Bees,' and a few others; but these have all been extracted by those fortunate reviwers who had the first peep at the book, or the first opportunity of noticing it" 2 (November 1829) 529-30.



I slept; and lo! upon my shrinking sight
The melancholy waste of ocean rose;
Not with its glassy pictures of delight,
When o'er its caves the glancing sunbeam throws
The peerless glory of a deep repose;
But like a world of waters, sounding high,
As when o'er Alps the rushing storm-clouds close;
Thus each roused foam-wreath whitened in the sky,
And blending with their roar, came Terror's funeral cry.

Deep murmured unto deep; the up-heaving tide
Disclosed the skeleton, the diadem;
Once shrieks arose, to which no heart replied,
When the waves made a sepulchre for them,
As the storm-spirit heard the requiem,
And fanned the dun clouds with his dusky wing;
Young, bounding hearts, that scarce the air could stem,
To boundless depths were given, an offering,
Faded, as buds will fade, cut off in early spring!

The staggering ships sank down into the brine,
The lightning went upon its hurried way;
Oh! that a gift of eloquence were mine,
That stirring scene of horror to portray,
All mingled in one dark and dim array!
I stood upon the shore; the lone gull near,
As he swept onward through the troubled spray,
Shook his stern pinions by my startled ear,
Hastening, with screams of joy, upon his proud career!

I woke! 'Twas morning — in the infant year—
Roused by the voices of the early spring,
How danced my heart, as eloquent and clear
The reckless wild birds chanted on the wing,
Pouring their lays, a sinless offering!
While silver streams by meadow verdure wound
Far through the pleasant landscape glistening,
As buds bent humbly to the dewy ground,
And steeped in golden light, the blue hills stretched around!

[pp. 235-36]