The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
§ 9. His Fairy Poems
Apart from the characteristics outlined above, Bryant had, as if a relief and release from the verities and solemnities, a love of fairyland: he had found it already, for instance, in the snow world of the Winter Piece; he went to it more often and eagerly from the editorial desk and the noise and heat of the Civil War: in The Little People of the Snow, in Sella (the underwater maiden), and in the fragments, A Tale of Cloudland, and Castles in the Air. Their flowing blank verse (each some hundreds of lines), unlike his early experiments in prose narrative (which in their wooden arrangement, dull plot, and stilted characterizations are of a piece with the American short story before Poe and Hawthorne), tells, in simple chronological order, of one simple type of adventure, a mortal penetrating beyond the confines of nature—again the repetition of theme and architectonics, and one more manifestation of the primitive in Bryant (for the fairy-tale is, as the anthropologists tell us, among the most primitive activities of man) as dreamer and poet.