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JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
We have nothing biographical to say respecting Mr. Lowell; we know not that his history presents any striking facts. He is the son of a distinguished Boston divine; he graduated at Harvard, and with high honors, and he wrote excellent poetry at an early age.
But Lowell is a remarkable man and poet. He lacks the fire of Whittier; he is possibly inferior to many American poets in important respects, but that he is one of the first poets of this age no man will deny. He is sincerely a reformer; his sympathies are entirely with the oppressed and down-trodden; he has always been true to the cause of the negro slave, and many of his poems prove it. Some of his poems are exceedingly beautiful, while others are full of grand thoughts, which strike upon the ear and heart, like the booming cannon-shot, which tells that an ardently desired conflict has commenced. This class of poems are less fiery than Whittier's reform poetry, but a very few of them are, we have sometimes thought, characterized by more grandeur than any of Whit
upon the same subject. One of the most beautiful of Lowell's poems is that entitled “The Forlorn."
“ It betrays the nature of his religion and philosophy; at least, it proves that his sympathies are with the poor and friendless. To us, it seems that this poem can never die—that some of its stanzas are unsurpassed by any modern poetry.
The night is dark, the stinging sleet,
Swept by the bitter gusts of air,
And stiffens on the pavement bare.
The street-lamps flare and struggle dim
Through the white sleet-clouds as they pass,
Drop down and rattle on the glass.
One poor, heart-broken, out-cast girl
Faces the east wind's searching flaws,
Her tattered cloak more tightly draws.
The flat brick walls look cold and bleak,
Her bare feet to the side-walk freeze;
Though faint with hunger and disease.
The sharp storm cuts her forehead bare,
And, piercing through her garments thin,
Makes colder the cold heart within.
She lingers where a ruddy glow
Streams outward through an open shutter, Giving more bitterness to woe,
More loneliness to desertion utter.
One half the cold she had not felt
Until she saw this gush of light
Its slow way through the dead’ning night.
She hears a woman's voice within,
Singing sweet words her childhood knew, And years of misery and sin
Furl off and leave her heaven blue.
Her freezing heart, like one who sinks
Out-wearied in the drifting snow, Drowses to deadly sleep, and thinks
No longer of its hopeless woe:
Old fields, and clear blue summer days,
Old meadows, green with grass and trees, That shimmer through the trembling bare,
And whiten in the western breeze;
Old faces—all the friendly past
Rises within her heart again,
Makes summer of the icy rain.
Enhaloed by a mild, warm glow,
From all humanity apart,
Through the lone chambers of her heart.
Outside the porch below the door,
Her cheek upon the cold, hard stone, She lies, no longer foul and poor,
No longer dreary and alone.
Next morning, something heavily
Against the opening door did weigh,
A woman on the threshold lay.
A smile upon the wan lips told
That she had found a calm release,
The song had borne her soul in peace;
For, whom the heart of man shuts out,
Straightway the heart of God takes in,
With silence mid the world's loud din;
And one of his great charities
Is music, and it doth not scorn
Of the polluted and forlorn.
Far was she from her childhood's home,
Farther in guilt had wandered thence,
To die in maiden innocence.
Mr. Lowell has shown that he is a wit and humorist in the publication of his “Biglow Papers." He is the only American who has attempted to laugh down the oppressors of the slave—the propagandists of slavery. Some of the Biglow poems are capital specimens of Yankee wit and humor. They are of course written purposely in the rough, exaggerated, Yankee style. Hosea gives his ideas of war as follows:
“Ez for war, I call it murder,
you hev it plain an' flat;
Than my testyment for that;
“God haz sed so plump and fairly,
It's ez long ez it is broad,
Ef you want to take in God.”
Occasionally in the midst of fun, a fine, grand verse occurs, which puts away all laughter from the face. For instance, the following verse from the same poem, from which the foregoing was extracted :
One of the most popular of Lowell's Biglow poems, is that upon John P. Robinson. In it General Cushing gets the following hit:
“ Gineral C. is a drefile smart man:
So John P.