Essays and Poems.
By Jones Very.
Boston: C. C. Little and James Brown.
This little volume would have received an earlier notice, if we had been at all careful to proclaim
our favorite books. The genius of this book is religious, and reaches an extraordinary depth of
sentiment. The author, plainly a man of a pure and kindly temper, casts himself into the state of
the high and transcendental obedience to the inward Spirit. He has apparently made up his mind
to follow all its leadings, though he should be taxed with absurdity or even with insanity. In this
enthusiasm he writes most of these verses, which rather flow through him than from him. There
is no _composition_, no elaboration, no artifice in the structure of the rhyme, no variety in the
imagery; in short, no pretension to literary merit, for this would be departure from his singleness,
and followed by loss of insight. He is not at liberty even to correct these unpremeditated poems
for the press; but if another will publish them, he offers no objection. In this way they have come
into the world, and as yet have hardly begun to be known. With the exception of the few first
poems, which appear to be of an earlier date, all these verses bear the unquestionable stamp of
grandeur. They are the breathings of a certain entranced devotion, which one would say, should
be received with affectionate and sympathizing curiosity by all men, as if no recent writer had so
much to show them of what is most their own. They are as sincere a litany as the Hebrew songs
of David or Isaiah, and only less than they, because indebted to the Hebrew muse for their tone
and genius. This makes the singularity of the book, namely, that so pure an utterance of the most
domestic and primitive of all sentiments should in this age of revolt and experiment use once
more the popular religious language, and so show itself secondary and morbid. These sonnets
have little range of topics, no extent of observation, no playfulness; there is even a certain
torpidity in the concluding lines of some of them, which reminds one of church hymns; but,
whilst they flow with great sweetness, they have the sublime unity of the Decalogue or the Code
of Menu, and if as monotonous, yet are they almost as pure as the sounds of Surrounding Nature.
We gladly insert from a newspaper the following sonnet, which appeared since the volume was
THE BARBERRY BUSH.
The bush that has most briers and bitter fruit,
Wait till the frost has turned its green leaves red,
Its sweetened berries will thy palate suit,
And thou may'st find e'en there a homely bread.
Upon the hills of Salem scattered wide,
Their yellow blossoms gain the eye in Spring;
And straggling e'en upon the turnpike's side,
Their ripened branches to your hand they bring,
I 've plucked them oft in boyhood's early hour,
That then I gave such name, and thought it true;
But now I know that other fruit as sour
Grows on what now thou callest _Me_ and _You_;
Yet, wilt thou wait the autumn that I see,
Will sweeter taste than these red berries be.