Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/337

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299
SARA J. CLARKE.

Aside from mere curiosity, of which I suppose I have my woman’s share, I have always wished to look on the flesh and blood embodi ment of that rare genius, of that mind stored with the wealth of many literatures, the lore of many lands,—for in Longfellow it is the scholar as well as the poet that we reverence. The first glance satisfied me of one happy circumstance—that the life and health which throbbed and glowed through this poet’s verse had their natural correspondences in the physical. He appears perfectly healthful and vigorous—is rather English in person. His head is simply full, well-rounded, and even, not severe or massive in character. The first glance of his genial eyes, which seem to have gathered up sunshine through all the summers they have known, and the first tones of his cordial voice, show one that he has not impoverished his own nature in so generously endowing the creations of his genius—has not drained his heart of the wine of life, to fill high the beaker of his song.

Mr. Longfellow does not look poetical, as Keats looked poetical, perhaps; but, as Hood says of Gray’s precocious youth, who used to get up early

“To meet the sun upon the upland lawn”—

he died young.” But, what is better, our poet looks well, for, after all, health is the best, most happy and glorious thing in the world. On my Parnassus, there should be no half-demented, long haired, ill-dressed bards, lean and pale, subject to sudden attacks of poetic frenzy—sitting on damp clouds, and harping to the winds; but they should be a hearty, manly, vigorous set of inspired gentlemen, erect and broad-chested, with features more on the robust than the romantic style—writing in snug studies, or fine, large libraries, surrounded by beauty, elegance, and comfort—receiving inspiration quietly and at regular hours, after a hot breakfast, the morning paper, and a cigar—given to hospitality and great dinners—driving their own bays, and treating their excellent wives to a box at the opera, a season at Newport, a trip to the Falls, or a winter in Rome.

The comforts of life have been long enough monopolized by thrifty tradesmen—“men in the coal and cattle line”—and good