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Poetry And Miss Esmonds

Tho’ poetry is one of the cheapest and profitable speculations of the literary world, we find not a few aspiring to be poets rather than be orators. This is a fact which goes to strongly prove that poetry has more charms than is generally supposed. It is the language of nature, aye, the breathings of the soul, elevating it as it were, on seraphic wings and leaving the world and all dull care behind it. Yes, every child of Adam possesses it in a more or less degree, though there be few to touch the lyre, in that pleasing vibration that captivates the soul. This is not because they are not poets, but on account of some unidentifiable deficiency in their organization and the want of cultivation, which prevents its development.”

The few who were born poets or overcame that difficulty, have left us such standing memorials of that art, that the productions of others less inspired appear to be only embryos. These master pieces require an education, not by way of commentaries, but by having them read to the public, whereby every person can have an opportunity of seeing and hearing these beautiful ideas and harmonies of expression that are collected and written in a style of superior elegance and unrivalled simplicity. Though almost all are readers, it is as rare to find good readers of the poets as poets themselves.

Among those who claim that distinction is Miss Teresa Edmonds, a young lady of superior accomplishment, who sheds an additional lustre on her native home, the cradle of poets, statesmen and orators. Her readings on Easter Monday evening at the Brooklyn Athenaeum to a large an respectable audience, interspersed with high officials of Church and State, elicited the most enthusiastic applause. Suffice it to say, that to appreciate it her, she must be heard and her being heard invites reiteration.

— Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 29, 1857

THE PORTENT
(1859)

Hanging from the beam,
Slowly swaying (such the law),
Gaunt the shadow on your green,
Shenandoah!
The cut is on the crown
(Lo, John Brown),
And the stabs shall heal no more.

Hidden in the cap
Is the anguish none can draw;
So your future veils its face,
Shenandoah!
But the streaming beard is shown
(Weird John Brown),
The meteor of the war.

— Herman Melville, from Battle-Pieces And Aspects of the War (1866)

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