Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/163

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

Fifth Dragoons,—tracked to the rendezvous, surrounded by the police, and every one captured."

Hassett and his comrades were not forgotten, as we shall see in relating the romantic story of their rescue by the American whaling bark Catalpa, in 1876.

The partial amnesty was extended also to certain Fenian prisoners in Ireland, including John Flood, Thomas Clarke Luby, John O'Leary, O'Donovan Rossa, John Devoy, O'Meagher Condon, and others, who arrived in New York in January, 1871.

During this year, the Uncle Ned's Tales, and other early poems were reprinted in the Pilot, and attracted a good deal of attention to their author. There was an element of strength underlying their occasional crudities, which gave promise of something better in the young poet. The appearance of his "Amber Whale," "Dukite Snake," and other narrative poems confirmed that promise. They were original in conception and dramatic in form. Although he was to achieve his greater, enduring fame in a far different field of poetry, his first popular success was made as a writer of narrative verse. The popular taste is not to be despised; for, undoubtedly, the versified story is the natural poem—if anything so artificial in form as a poem can be said to have a natural character. The world loves a story; and it is the bard's chronicle, from the tale of Troy Town, down to the latest ballad, that is committed to memory when loftier and more elevated flights of the Muse are admired and forgotten. In this respect the world of twenty years ago was very like the world of two thousand years ago. It craved for something new, and the demand created a supply of brilliant young writers, who brought novel wares to the literary market. Bret Harte and Joaquin Miller came from California with widely differing, but equally striking, lyrics of wild life. John Hay and Will Carleton struck other notes of the people's heart. There was a renaissance of natural poetry.

O'Reilly, fresh from a newer, stranger land of songless birds and scentless flowers, sung not of birds, nor of flowers,