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1  by abrupt stops and shifts. Indeed, and would our critic not likewise guess, especially if recently schooled at Leipzig under Sievers, the very pitch of his voice in verse-strongest in the lower octaves — as well as the intrinsic alliteration,1--an alliteration as natural as breathing, in its context unobtrusive as such to the conscious ear because so involved in a diction which is itself the outgrowth of very mood and meaning? In quite different ways, Bryant is, with Poe, America's finest artist in verse. Perhaps this is, with Bryant's genuineness of manhood, a reason why Bryant was the one native contemporary that Poe thoroughly respected.What to puzzled readers seems “characteristically Bryant's blank verse” is really the total impression of both materials and manner, manner itself including diction as well as metrics. But the metrics alone do have their peculiarities, which can, however, hardly be examined here: line endings like “and the green moss,” caesuras at the end of the first and of the fourth foot, the tendency to repeat the same caesura and cadence through a succession of lines, a stanza group of five or more lines with full stop followed by a single line or so, inverted accent at the beginning of a line, and a differentiated, strong cadence at the conclusion of the whole poem which gives the effect of a completion, not of a mere stopping,--these are all contributing factors. Yet Bryant is not one of the world's master-poets. It is not so much that he contributed little or nothing to philosophic thought or spiritual revolution, not altogether that his range was narrow, not that he never created a poem of vast and multitudinous proportions, drama, epic, or tale, not that he knew nature better than human life and human life better than human nature, not that he now and then lapsed from imaginative vision into a bit of sentiment or irrelevant fancy,--not either that there is not a single dark saying, or obscure word, construction, allusion, in all his verse, for the judicious to elucidate at a club or in a monograph. He is not one of the world's master-poets, because he was not pre-eminently endowed with intellectual intensity and imaginative concentration. The character of his whole mind was discursive, enumerative,
2 Largely on b and frequently in idiomatic pairs, as “bees and birds,” “bled or broke.”
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