THE recent award of the Bowdoin prizes for dissertations of excellence reminds us that the incentives to exertion in the fields of literature are confined, with us, entirely to prose. We have had here, in the past ten years, many men who have given evidence of ability to write very good poetry, but we have not yet found one who possessed both the means and the disposing frame of mind to encourage the rising lights in the poetic firmament. At Oxford the prize poem is something which is struggled for, and the successful man is justly admired. That such a prize has been awarded yearly, for many generations, accounts, in some degree certainly, for the rank which the poets of England have taken in the world. Here we look in vain now for those who are to succeed to the places which are occupied by Longfellow, Bryant, Lowell, and Holmes. America either has no young poets coming forward at the present time, or else they are keeping themselves in the dark, to burst upon us like the harlequin in the play, and startle us when we least expect them. A prize offered here for the best poem by an undergraduate, or a graduate of one or two years' standing, might not cause a refulgent light to burst upon us immediately; but, possibly, it might serve to tone down the uncivilized "Hoosiers" who are expected to throng our halls when entrance examinations are held in Cincinnati.
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