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 Although his fervour was reawakened by the French Revolution and again by the War of 1812, almost all his best lyrics were written between 1775 and 1790. In the main these concern the American Indian, the smaller objects of nature, and the sea, and in subject at least are altogether original. The Indian Burying ground is well known; The Indian student, which curiously anticipates some phases of Wordsworth's Ruth, and The dying Indian, are scarcely less fine. His nature lyrics, such as The wild Honeysuckle, the Caty-did, and On the Sleep of plants, are the first to give lyrical expression to American nature. Their simplicity and restraint suggest Collins and Gray, but they are not imitative, and it is probable that Freneau is more original in even the style of his lyrics than has generally been acknowledged. To a man of ninety would at once be lighted upon as an imitation of Wordsworth had it not actually anticipated the Lyrical ballads. The elegiac lyric Eutaw springs, which Scott pronounced the best thing of its kind in the language, may have been suggested by Collins, but is still strongly original. However this may be, Freneau seems to merit all that his latest editor claims for him as a pioneer in the lyric of the sea. On the death of Captain Nicholas Biddle (1779) has much of Campbell's spirit and power; The Paul Jones and Captain Barney's victory over the General monk deserve more than the mere credit given to the pioneer, for they are intrinsically fine. There remains, then, out of Freneau's voluminous product, a small body of work of permanent interest. The House of night deserves remembrance, not only for its pioneer romanticism but also for passages of intrinsic beauty and power; and a score of his lyrics, while far from perfect, are fine enough to deserve a permanent place in our anthologies. What his slender but genuine talent might have produced under more favourable conditions, even a generation later, can only be surmised, but even as it is we have in Freneau the only American poet before Bryant who possessed both imaginative insight and felicity of style. A few general conclusions concerning early American poetry may be stated briefly. First, the sheer quantity of it is surprisingly large in proportion to the population. Again, it is not the
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