Roget's Int'l Thesaurus
Fowler's King's English
The King James Bible
Brewer's Phrase & Fable
Frazer's Golden Bough
Shelf of Fiction
Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I
INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS
The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.
The high-water mark of Whittiers artistic achievement was undoubtedly reached in the years that gave birth to
The Tent on the Beach.
The latter and less important of these two works is a cycle of narratives in verse, linked together in the fashion of Longfellows
Tales of a Wayside Inn.
The company are three in number, Fields the lettered magnate and Taylor the free cosmopolite being foregathered on Salisbury Beach with Whittier, who thus describes himself:
And one there was, a dreamer born,
Who, with a mission to fulfil,
Had left the Muses haunts to turn
The crank of an opinion-mill,
Making his rustic reed of song
A weapon in the war with wrong.
The poems which make up the cycle fall into the general class of Whittiers narrative verse; the thousand lines of octosyllabic rhyme which are entitled
are almost in a class by themselves. This idyllic description of the Whittier household shut in for a week by
The chill embargo of the snow,
which bids us
pause to view
These Flemish pictures of old days,
is not only a poem but a social document of the highest value. In the words of T. W. Higginson,
Here we have absolutely photographed the Puritan Colonial interior, as it existed till within the memory of old men still living. No other book, no other picture preserves it to us; all other books, all other pictures combined, leave us still ignorant of the atmosphere which this one page re-creates for us; it is more imperishable than any interior painted by Gerard Douw.
It has been said of Whittier that he could never be conciseand a diffuse style is undoubtedly one of the greatest artistic defects of the body of his versebut the criticism falls flat in the presence of the lines which describe the fireplace on that winter evening.
This poem has often been compared with
The Cotters Saturday Night
and it means to the American all and more than Burnss famous poem means to the Scotsman. There is also much aptitude in a comparison with Crabbe, but it has qualities of wistful sentiment and tender reminiscence that are not to be found in the poet of
and to be mentioned as offering a foretaste of its subtle charm, is the short poem
The Barefoot Boy,
dated some ten years earlier, and cast in the same mould of retrospective yearning for the happy and wholesome days of childhood.
INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS
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