Reference > Cambridge History > Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I > Writers of Familiar Verse > Bunner
  Eugene Field  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

XXIII. Writers of Familiar Verse.

§ 17. Bunner.


The youngest of these three younger practitioners of familiar verse, Henry Cuyler Bunner, could also be broadly comic; he had an ample outlook on literature and on life; and he was truly a poet, who won a memorable position among our lyrists by lyrics of a loftier flight than mere comic verse. His lyre was a winged instrument on which he could strike at will the resonant note of patriotism or the gentler strain of peaceful sentiment. The Way to Arcady is almost too poetical, its spirit is almost too ethereal, to let it fall within the narrow circle of social verse; it has a simple grace and a light freedom not often discoverable since the songs of the Elizabethan dramatists. In certain of his brisker and brighter poems Bunner reveals himself as a disciple of Austin Dobson; in others he is treading the trail of Herrick or following in the footsteps of Heine. He sat at the feet of many masters and learned what they had to teach him, standing forth in time upon his own feet and giving voice to a note of his own. No one of his predecessors in social verse could be credited with the suggesting of Forfeits or Candour, the Chaperon or One, Two, Three, exquisite in its certainty of execution, in the skill with which the sadness of the theme is relieved by the joyousness of the treatment. It is the abiding quality of Bunner’s familiar verse that it discloses the spirit of the true poet, even while it confines itself within the bounds of the brevity, the brilliancy, and the buoyancy which are the hampering limitations of familiar verse.   42

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  Eugene Field  
 
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