Page:Unpublished poems by Bryant and Thoreau.djvu/35

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The ballad here printed for the first time, through the liberality of Mr. Bixby, is probably the earliest of the extant verses of the author. No date can with certainty be given it; but very likely it was written during his college life, which ended in the summer of 1837. It was during those years at Harvard that he read Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered, and still earlier, like many young poets, he had delighted in the easy, flowing verse of Mrs. Hemans.

This ballad (perhaps the only one he ever wrote) savors of both Tasso and Mrs. Hemans. In The Service, written in 1840, are traces of this early interest in Godfrey of Boulogne and the Crusades; and portions of The Service may have been written a year or two before it was offered to Margaret Fuller for The Dial, in 1840, and by her declined.

This ballad was never offered anywhere for printing, I fancy, but cherished by some aunt or cousin into whose hands it fell, and thus preserved in the Thatcher family at Bangor,