Current LiteratureThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1233, p. 551.
November 28, 1863
Tales of a Wayside Inn. By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (1 vol. Routledge, Warne, and Routledge.) A new volume of poems, by the author of "Evangeline," is fair matter for congratulation. Still, semper idem is not a motto for poets. Homer himself nods sometimes, and even the Swan of Avon sometimes sings amiss. Nor is Mr. Longfellow an exception to this rule; he has poured forth simpler, grander, and tenderer utterances than are to be found in the volume before us. There are the same antique quaintness, the same musical cadence, the same mastery of rhythm, and the same gracefulness of expression; but the prosaic spirit has been mixed in larger quantities with the poetic element. The scene which gives rise to the title of the book is to be gathered from the following graphic, tuneful lines:--
But from the parlour of the inn
A pleasant murmur smote the ear,
Like water rushing through a weir;
Oft interrupted by the din
Of laughter and of loud applause,
And, in each intervening pause,
The music of a violin.
Around the fireside, at their ease,
There sat a group of friends, entranced
With the delicious melodies,
Who from the far-off noisy town
Had to the wayside inn come down
To rest beneath its old oak-trees.
The firelight on their faces glanced,
Their shadow on the wainscot danced,
And, though of different lands and speech,
Each had his tale to tell, and each
Was anxious to be pleased and please.
And hence it comes that legends of many lands--American, Italian, Sicilian, Jewish, and Norse are set to the poet's facile measures.