Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/348

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River.' But 'Vane's Story' is pitched in a different key.… the poem is as thoroughly characteristic as any writing could be. It partakes in a strange manner of the gloomy despair of 'The City of Dreadful Night,' and of the audacious, almost commonplace, humour of the 'Hampstead' and 'River' idylls. It is no disparagement of Mr. Thomson's great powers to say that much of 'Vane's Story' is more like Browning than Browning himself. There is no sort of weak imitation, yet there is a most striking similarity in form and turn of thought constantly visible, which recalls Mr. Browning's 'Waring,' 'Youth and Art,' and in many places, 'Christmas Eve and Easter Day.'… 'Weddah and Om-el-Bonain' is a very beautiful poem of the love and fate of an Arab youth and maiden. The story is told in eight-lined stanzas, of almost faultless clearness and beauty. With the constant temptation to digress which a teeming creative faculty and a splendid command of language must present, Mr. Thomson has yet carried the story on with a directness which is almost severe, but which has still left no part of the story unadorned.… It becomes now an interesting question, how much more poetic treasure Mr. Thomson may have still in reserve, not only for its own sake, but that we may know when to expect some productions of his later muse."—Life.

"Our conviction in regard to 'The City of Dreadful Night' is that, distinguished though it be for very rare qualities of workmanship, and even of temperament, it is a decided waste of power.… But in none of the poems at which we have, thus far glanced, do we find a sufficiently rare combination of qualities to inspire confidence as to the high place which some critics have made bold to promise Mr. Thomson on behalf of posterity.… In what we have so far spoken of, and indeed throughout his two volumes, he is never flat, seldom uninteresting, sometimes flippant and vulgar, more often powerful and striking.… Only in 'Weddah and Om-El-Bonain' do we discern a chance of perennial fame. That is a romantic story from the East,—a tale of the Arabian tribe called the Azra, of whom it is recorded that 'they die when they love.' The story of two lovers, true to the tradition of their race, is set forth in ottava rima, in the most simple, forcible, direct, and graphic way; no incident is brought in that has not a value in developing the tragedy, and nothing is omitted that should be told: in the course of the whole fifty-three pages the interest never once flags; the characters are all drawn with unerring skill; and the metrical excellence is such and so simple that there are perhaps hardly half-a-dozen verses on which one pauses at a second reading to consider whether they might not be improved. At the first reading no one would dream of pausing at all.… As a piece of narrative verse, we have met with nothing so good since Mr. Morris ceased to give us romantic poems, dealing with old world facts and fictions." —London Quarterly Review, April 1881.