so loud and sad it play'd
As though all music were to breathe its last,
I saw the infernal windows flaming red,and
>Trim the dull tapers, for I see no dawn,which are a source of astonishment to one who has followed the course of American poetry up to this point. But unfortunately the romantic strain which promised so richly was soon lost. Freneau's poems of the “glory of America” type, such as his Rising glory cf America, written in collaboration with H. H. Brackenridge1 when the two were seniors at Princeton, were inspired by a great vision and still retain a certain eloquence. His burlesques of American scenes and characters, such as Slender's journey, are less successful; but his satires in both quantity and variety surpassed all but McFingal in their day. “Poet of the American Revolution” is no misnomer, if the term is to include political events up to 1815. Freneau's masters in satire are Dryden, Churchill, and “Peter Pindar” ; and his tone ranges from burlesque to invective. The political balance and The British prison ship are the most powerful and original satires of their time. The royalist printers Rivington and Gaine were his chief targets during the last years of the Revolution. In his personal satires he uses the anapest, which he was the first to popularize in America. His later satires, usually in lyrical stanzas, were suggested by “Peter Pindar” ; the phrase “Peter Pindar of America” gives the key to his contemporary reputation. That his finer work received no praise was to Preneau a source of discouragement and even of bitterness. His aspiration was lyrical; but he had fallen on evil days:
Freneau's newspaper work, his political affiliations, and his business ventures operated unfavourably upon his lyrical poetry.
On these bleak climes by fortune thrown,
Where rigid reason reigns alone,
Where lovely fancy has no sway,
Nor magic forms about us play-
Nor nature takes her summer hue,
Tell me, what has the muse to do?To an Author.