These poems generally are only interesting as the leisure hours of an interesting man. De Vigny writes in an excellent style; soft, fresh, deliberately graceful. Such a style is like fine manners; you think of the words select, appropriate, rather than distinguished, or beautiful. De Vigny is a perfect gentleman; and his refinement is rather that of the gentleman than that of the poets whom he is so full of. In character, he looks naturally at those things which interest the man of honor and the man of taste. But for literature, he would have known nothing about the poets. He should be the elegant and instructive companion of social, not the priest or the minstrel of solitary hours. Neither has he logic or grasp with his reasoning powers, though of this, also, he is ambitious. Observation is his forte. To see, and to tell with grace, often with dignity and pathos, what he sees, is his proper vocation. Yet, where he fails, he has too much tact and modesty to be despised; and we cannot enough admire the absence of faults in a man whose ambition soared so much beyond his powers, and in an age and a country so full of false taste. He is never seduced into sentimentality, paradox, violent contrast, and, above all, never makes the mistake of confounding the horrible with the sublime. Above all, he never falls into the error, common to merely elegant minds, of painting leading minds ‘en gigantesque.’ His Richelieu and his Bonaparte are treated with great calmness, and
L'immobile corbeau sur l'arbre se balance
Comme la girouette au bout du long clocher.
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