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[243] in fact he does not often succeed in suggesting sentiment. His defect is that his verse tends to be frankly laughter-provoking. It is in Little Jerry that he has hinted the sentiment which sustains humour, as it is in The Mourner à la Mode that he has echoed the more worldly manner of mere society verse.

Eugene Field is like Saxe in one respect at least,—that his verse is frankly comic more often than not. His humour is bold, exuberant, energetic, spontaneous, and easy; and there is cause for wonder, therefore, that he was able to restrain himself on occasion and to curb his comic verse within the strictest bounds of familiar verse, endowing it with genuine sentiment without foregoing either blitheness or brilliancy. He had far more freshness than Saxe, a more fertile originality, and knowledge of men and of books both wider and deeper. He is superior also in technical dexterity, in variety of rhythm, and in fertility of rhyme. His feeling is more spontaneous, his sentiment more abundant and finer in feeling. He can when he chooses hint at the tear which trembles above the lips that seem to smile. There is warrant for the wide popularity of his Little boy blue, in which the pathos is pure and tender, without any taint of mawkish sentimentality. Only a little narrower in its appeal is Old times, old friends, old Loves. Field's command of sentiment is so certain that he can impart true feeling even to stanzas as frolicsome and as rollicking as those which delight us in Apple Pie and Cheese.

The youngest of these three younger practitioners of familiar verse, Henry Cuyler Bunner, could also be broadly comic; he had an ample outlook on literature and on life; and he was truly a poet, who won a memorable position among our lyrists by lyrics of a loftier flight than mere comic verse. His lyre was a winged instrument on which he could strike at will the resonant note of patriotism or the gentler strain of peaceful sentiment. The way to Arcady is almost too poetical, its spirit is almost too ethereal, to let it fall within the narrow circle of social verse; it has a simple grace and a light freedom not often discoverable since the songs of the Elizabethan dramatists. In certain of his brisker and brighter poems Bunner reveals himself as a disciple of Austin Dobson; in others he is treading the trail of Herrick or following in the footsteps of Heine. He sat at the feet of many

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John Godfrey Saxe (2)
Henry Cuyler Bunner (2)
Robert Herrick (1)
Heine (1)
Eugene Field (1)
Austin Dobson (1)
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