the issue itself.
Any collection of American political verse produced during this period exhibits spirited and sincere writing, but the combination of mature literary art and impressive general ideas is comparatively rare.
There are single poems of Whittier
, and Whitman
which meet every test of effective political and social verse, but the main body of poetry, both sectional and national, written during the thirty years ending with 1865 lacks breadth, power, imaginative daring.
The continental spaciousness and energy which foreign critics thought they discovered in Whitman
is not characteristic of our poetry as a whole.
have written far more magnificent republican poetry than ours.
The passion for freedom has been very real upon this side of the Atlantic
; it pulsed in the local loyalty of the men who sang Dixie
as well as in their antagonists who chanted John Brown's body
and The battle Hymn of the Republic
; but this passion has not yet lifted and ennobled any notable mass of American verse.
Even the sentiment of union was more adequately voiced in editorials and sermons and orations, even in a short story — Edward Everett Hale
's Man without a country
--than by most of the poets who attempted to glorify that theme.