by Larry Fyffe
Along with Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper, Fitz-Greene Halleck be a member of the Knickerbocker writers’ group.
Halleck’s poetry demonstrates that the author is an admirer of the English poet Lord Byron:
For thou art Woman - with that word Life's dearest hopes and memories come Truth, beauty, love - in her adored And earth's lost paradise restored In the green bower of home (Fitz-Greene Halleck: Woman)
Similar sentiments regarding a beautiful woman are expressed in the following verse:
She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies .... Where thoughts sincerely sweet express How pure, how dear, their dwelling-place (George Byron: She Walks In Beauty)
The Knickerbocker poet in the lines below envisions Eve as personification of a new hoped-for America, an idealized woman in Paradise Regained:
'Tis she that listens while he sings With blended smiles and tears (Fitz-Greene Halleck: Woman)
And if George Byron’s here, can Mary Shelley be far behind – perhaps it’s by coincidence, but Fitz gets jolted forward to modern times through the lines of a song:
Gonna jumpstart my creation to life I wanna bring someone to life, turn back the years Do it with laughter, and do it with tears (Bob Dylan: My Own Version Of You)
The vision of America presented above, and in the song lyrics beneath is one of Adam in a puritanical Paradise Lost:
As I went out one morning To breathe the air around Tom Paine's I spied the fairest damsel That ever did walk in chains I offered her my hand She took me by the arm I knew that very instant She meant to do me harm (Bob Dylan: As I Went Out One Morning)
At times it seems that, other than death, poetry and music are the only means to escape this world of woe:
Music bid thy minstrels play No tunes of grief or sorrow Let them cheer the living brave today They may wail the dead tomorrow (Fitz-Greene Halleck: Young America)
Fitz gets no argument from the modern day Byron:
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky .... Let me forget about today until tomorrow Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me (Bob Dylan: Mr. Tambourine Man)
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