By ANNE WHITNEY. New York : Appleton & Co. 1859.

THIS modest volume is a collection of Miss Whitney’s previously printed poems, scattered about in forgotten newspapers, with perhaps as many more, which now appear in print for the first time. The uncommon merit of some of her early poems, especially “ Bertha,” “ Hymn to the Sea,” and “ Lilian,” (here most unpoetically called “Facts in Verse,”) long ago awakened a desire in lovers of good poetry to know more of Miss Whitney and what she had written ; and the desire is gratified by the publication of this book. We can hardly say that the new poems are better than the old ; though some of them, as “ The Ceyba and the Jaguey,” “ Undine,” “Dominique,” and “My Window,” are marked by the same quick insight, the same force and dignity of expression, which charm us in the earlier verses. We still find “Lilian” the best of all, as it is the longest; there are in it passages of description as clear and vivid as the landscapes of Church and Turner, and touches of profound and glowing imagination ; and the whole poem, in spite of its obscurity, affects the mind like a strain of high and mournful music. The Sonnets are all more or less harsh and unintelligible, — a criticism which applies to many of the other poems Miss Whitney evidently despises foot-notes as utterly as Tennyson, and leaves much unexplained in her titles and in the poems themselves, which might help us to understand them, if we knew it. Obscurity of thought and a lack of facility in versification cause evident defects in her otherwise fine book; on the other hand, she is never flat and seldom feeble, but writes as one whose thoughts and feelings move on a high level, sustained by a familiarity with the strength and beauty, rather than the grace and tenderness of literature. Few of our countrywomen have written better poems, and her little book gives finer food for thought and fancy than many a more bulky volume. Is it ungracious to charge her with affectation ? for this is the clinging curse of modern poetry, and one may trace it even in the noble idyls of the greatest English poet now alive. The Brownings overflow with it, and it is the chief characteristic of scores of the lesser poets of the day. If all who write verses could learn how sacred language is, how full of beauty is its austere simplicity, they would cease from their endless tricks of word-painting and the Florentine mosaics of speech. Miss Whitney offends less than many in this way, and has shown some of the rarer gifts of that indefinable being, — a true poet.