20 FEBRUARY 1886, Page 23


Lyrics and ether Posies. By Richard Watson Gilder. (Scribnees Sons, New York, U.S.A.)—Mr. Gilder's lyrics are better known on the other side of the Atlantic than in this country ; but a goodly portion of this volume, and we think the best portion, is not un- familiar to us. "The New Day," a series of love-sonnets and short lyrics, deserves recognition for mastery of rhythm, for refinement of culture, and for a daintiness of expression which, if not due to

imagination, has the subtle flavour of art. In these days, the critic must be bold who will venture always to declare whether a writer is an inspired poet, or a brilliant verseman. The results of education on a mind with a turn for poetry may be deceptive. The trained ear catches lovely sounds ; the intellect, at once sensitive and tutored, is familiar with love'y thoughts; the mind is filled with images of beauty; and when to these gifts the accomplishment of verse is added, the writer has at least the semblance of a poet. Whether Mr. Gilder be one, we shall not attempt at present to determine ; but there can be no doubt that he breathes a poetical atmosphere, that be under- stands his instrument, and seldom vexes the ear with false notes. There are poets who prove their vocation by a single line, almost by a phrase. Mr. Gilder is less richly endowed ; but his verse has some- times a lyrical buoyancy which is very grateful. The following lines prove that the writer possesses in some degree the faculty of song. A similar love-fancy has been uttered many a time in verse ; but that does not make it less acceptable :—

"4a sweet wild-roses that bud and blow Along the way that my Love may go; 0 moss-green rocks that touch her drew, And grass that her dear feet may press ;

0 maple-tree whose brooding shade For her a summer tent has made; 0 golden-rod and brave sun-flower That flame before my maiden's bower ;

0 butterfly on whose light wings The golden summer sunshine mings ; 0 birds that flit o'er wheat and wall. And from cool hollows pipe and call ;

' • ' • • '

ks skies that bend above the hills,- •

0 gentle rains and babbling rills, 0 moon and sun that beam and burn, Keep safe my Love till I return."

There is a pretty "Birthday Song " that falls as softly on the ear as dew on grass, aud another tiny piece, called "Summer's Rain and Winter's Snow," that has the true lilt of bird-like verse. But Mr. Gilder claims fellowship with the sonnet-writers, and it may be well to give one illustration of his skill in this difficult form of composition. Here, as elsewhere, he has listened with attentive ears to the early sonnet-writers, and sometimes there is a note reminding us of Mrs. Browning : —

I will be brave for thee, dear heart; for thee My boasted bravery forego. I will

For thee be wise, or lose my little skill,—

Coward or brave; wi.qt, Voliah ; bond or free.

No grievous cost in anything I see That brings thee bites, or only keeps thee, still, In painless peace. So Heaven thy cup but till.

Be empty mine unto eternity !

Come to me, Love, and let me touch thy face !

Lean to me. Love,—brea-he on me thy dear breath !

Fly from me, Love, to some far hiding-place, If thy one thought of me or hindereth Or hurteth thy sweet soul—then grant me grace To be forgotten, though that grace be Lath !"

Mr. Gilder's sonnet on "The Sonnet" is at a disadvantage coming after Wordsworth's. Such lines as,—

- This was the flame that shook with Dante's breath ; The solemn organ whereon Milton played, And the clear glass where Shakespeare's shadow falls,"—

remind every reader that the influence of the sonnet on these three poets has been already uttered in far nobler language. Occasionally, Mr. Gilder mistakes puerility for simplicity, as in the fellosving stanza :-

I love her gentle forehead,

And I love her tender hair ; I love her cool, white arms, And her neck where it is bare."

For much that is suggestive and rich with fancy, if not with imagination, the reader who opens this volume will thank its author. The book is brought out in a very attractive form.