"Literature: The Germ." Standard of Freedom 2 Mar. 1850, 11.
The Germ: Thoughts turned towards Nature in Poetry, Literature and Art. Nos. 1 and 2. London, Aylot and Jones, Paternoster row.
This is a periodical chiefly, it seems, conducted by a company of young artists, and expressly devoted to the expression of their ideas in art, and to the development of their poetic faculties. It bears unquestionable evidences of true inspiration; and, in fact, is so thoroughly spiritual that it is more likely to find "the fit audience though few" than to attract the multitude. Perhaps there is more affectation of quaintness and intellectual abstraction about it, however, than bold poetic power; and the writers would do well to leave behind them the echoes of the airs of Tennyson, and strike out into a field of their own. The mind is charmed with novelty of phraseology or manner only for a moment; the next is seeks for some free and manly expression of great and new thoughts, and if it do not find these is cloyed and disappointed. There are things in these two numbers which point on to greater things, such as Mr. Woolners "Beautiful Lady," and his "My Lady in Death;" "The Child Jesus," by James Collinson, and the "Blessed Damozel," as well as "Fancies at Leisure," and others; but we look for these greater things, and as we hereafter get them must we pronounce this work a beautiful promise only, or a genuine success. The prose articles on art are much to our taste, and we should be glad to see a greater proportion of them, whether narrative or critical. Of the etching prefixed to each number, we are better pleased with the feeling than the execution, and perhaps that is the true character of the whole work. We know, however, of no periodical of the time which is so genuinely poetical and artistic in its tone. An Extract from "Morning Sleep" may give as true an idea of the spirit of the work as any:--
"The Lark is up,
Piercing the dazzling sky beyond the search
Of the acutest love; enough for me
To hear its song; but now it dies away,
Leaving the chirping sparrow to attract
The listless ear. * * *
And now a hum like that
Of swarming bees on meadow flowers comes up;
Each hath its just and yet luxurious joy,
As if to live were to be blessed. The mild
Maternal influence of nature thus
Ennobles both the sentiment and the deed.
The human heart is an altar wreathed,
On which old wine pours, streaming on the leaves
And down the symbol-carvéd sides. Behold!
Unbidden, yet most welcome, who are these?
The high priests of this altarpoet-kings:
Chaucer, still young, with silvry beard that seems
Worthy the adoration of a child;
And Spenser, perfect master, to whom all
Sweet graces ministered. The shut eye weaves
A picture; the immortals pass along
Into the heaven, and others follow still,
Each on his own ray-path, till the field
Is threaded with the footsteps of the great."
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