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β€˜ [329] his flute can do things which Lanier's great four-manual organ could never accomplish.’ It surely will be conceded that Tabb's poetic manner is as individual as Lanier's. Yet his first poems in 1883, some nineteen lyrics and a few sonnets, reveal little of this originality or indeed of poetical promise. The shortest poems were in ten lines, whereas his later style tends to quatrains. Working in such small compass, he has polished his technique to a point near perfection. The diction is of extreme simplicity. The measures flow on without a ripple. The figures are suggested in the most concise phrasing. In short, his poems are a series of the most delicate cameos. Contrast and endless comparison are the basis of his style, which is largely coloured by the frequency of scriptural allusions, the constant introduction and personification of abstract ideas, and the subtle intermixture of symbolism. He was so wrapped up in his poetic fancies that his figures often pass over into conceits. Who else could give to the spiritual inquiry β€˜Is thy servant a dog?’ such a turn as this:

So must he be who, in the crowded street,
Where shameless Sin and flaunting Pleasure meet,
Amid the noisome footprints finds the sweet
Faint vestiges of Thy feet.

In his Child's verse the effect is natural enough, for his puns, no matter how far fetched they appear to the sober eye, there strike one as flashes of wit. But in serious poetry the effect is different. The mind hardly has time to link the symbol and the interpretation. The compression does not permit full grasp of the significance.

In spite of these shortcomings, however, we must concede that Father Tabb, though he lived constantly in a rarefied religious atmosphere, far removed from the daily interests of man, yet was endowed with an ear sensitive to those overtones which escape most men and that he was often visited with those intuitions which reveal nooks of beauty, aspects of cheer. Though his lute was of few strings, he played it with exquisite tone.

Another class of Reconstruction poets felt less keenly the sting of defeat. Some in fact came to catch the new national spirit and have even expressed in poetry their devotion to the

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John Banister Tabb (2)
Sidney Lanier (2)
F. J. Child (1)
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1883 AD (1)
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