Page:Notes by the Way.djvu/302

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��" rising up in America a generation of poets and scholars nourished by the old world, but not scornful of the new " tra- vellers who have visited

" the galleries of Italy and the libraries of Germany, and have drawn thence a refined spirit of appreciation and a fund of poetical associations which cast a mellower beauty upon all the objects with which nature has glorified their home empire.

For a long time The Athenaeum had been urging " the poetical doctrine of America for the Americans," and while the poets of that country had been " running off to Marathon and the Seven Hills, to London and the Black Forest, in search of poetic ore," The Athenceum had pointed out to them the rich lodes of fancy lying untouched and virgin at their feet :

" Buried cities, vanishing races, forests, lakes, mountains and waterfalls, all the mythical and pictorial elements in which imagination loves to work, are there, in their own great country, as we have said again and again, waiting the artist's eye to see their beauty, and the singer's tongue to give them voice."

The Athenceum considered it to be a serious impeachment of the national genius that the American poets had neglected " the sad and tender chords of Indian story," " the poetic features of the Red man," " the tale of the white man in America," in favour of " legends of European goblins, European cities, and European literary fashions " ; and in reviewing ' Hiawatha ' on the 10th of November, 1855, it rejoices that Longfellow " has removed this literary reproach," and that in ' Hiawatha ' we have " at length an American song by an American singer " :

"The tale itself is beautiful, fanciful, and new.... the measure is novel as well as the matter. It is a rhymeless verse, with something of forest music in its rise and fall. In it we hear, as it were, the swaying of trees, the whirr of wings, the pattering of leaves, the trickling of water."

The Athenceum hopes to find Longfellow

" on a future day still working at this poetic mine. America has found a Pactolus within her border : why should not her poets endow her with a new Parnassus ? "

William A controversy speedily arose on the measure of the poem, as to Howitt on its whether it was from the Finns or Spaniards ; and on the 17th of measure. November William Howitt writes :

" The measure which he [Longfellow] has adopted, and which you so justly praise, is the old national metre of Finland. Almost the whole of the Finlandic poetry is written in it. It is the metre of the ' Kalevala,' the great national epic, and of the ' Kanteletar,' the collec- tion of the Finlandic ballads and popular lyrics."

��1 Hiawatha '



Song by an



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