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her physicians could not restrict. Miss Mitford says that she was now "reading almost every book worth reading in almost every language, and giving herself, heart and soul, to that poetry of which she seemed born to be the

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priestess. The creative faculty re

asserted itself; the moon will draw the sea despite the storms and darkness that brood between.

In 1838 she published The Seraphim and other Poems; in another year, The Romaunt of the Page, a volume of ballads entitled from the one which bears that name. In 1842 she contributed to the London Athenæum some Essays on the Greek-Christian and English Poets, -the only specimens of her prose left



to us, -enthusiastic, not closely written, but showing unusual attainments and critical perception. In 1844 thirty-fifth year-she found strength for the collection of her writings in their first complete edition, which opened with "A Drama of Exile." These volumes, comprising the bulk of her works during her maiden period, furnish the material and occasion for some remarks upon her characteristics as an English poet.

Her style, from the beginning, was strikingly original, uneven to an extreme degree, equally remarkable for defects and beauties, of which the former gradually lessened and the latter grew more admirable as she advanced in years and

experience. The disadvantages, no less than the advantages, of her education, were apparent at the outset. She could not fail to be affected by various masterminds, and when she had outgrown one influence was drawn within another, and so tossed about from world to world. "The Seraphim," a diffuse, mystical passion-play, was an echo of the Eschylean drama. Its meaning was scarcely clear even to the author; the rhythm is wild and discordant; neither music nor meaning is thoroughly beaten out. I have mentioned Shelley as one with whom she was akin, is it that Shelley, dithyrambic as a votary of Cybele, was the most sexless, as he was the most spiritual, of poets? There are singers

who spurn the earth, yet scarcely rise to the heavens; they utter a melodious, errant strain that loses itself in a murmur, we know not how. Miss Barrett's early verse was strangely combined of this semi-musical delirium and obscurity, with an attempt at the Greek dramatic form. Her ballads, on the other hand, were a reflection of her English studies; and, as being more English and human, were a vast poetic advance upon "The Seraphim." Evidently, in these varied experiments, she was conscious of power, and strove to exercise it, yet with no direct purpose, and half doubtful of her themes. When, therefore, as in certain of these lyrics, she got hold of a rare story or suggestion, she made an artistic

poem; all are stamped with her signmanual, and one or two are as lovely as anything on which her fame will rest.

My own youthful acquaintance with her works began, for example, with the

Rhyme of the Duchess May." It was different from any romance-ballad I had read, and was to me a magic casement opening on "faerylands forlorn"; and even now I think, as I thought then, that the sweetness and power of scenery and language, the delicious metre, the refrain of the passing bell, the feeling and action, are highly poetical and have an indescribable charm. The blemishes of this lyric are few: it is nicely adjusted to the proper degree of quaintness; the overture and epilogue are

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