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Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere.
Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers, that lately
sprang and stood
In brighter light, and softer airs, a beauteous sister
Alas! they all are in their graves; the gentle race of
Are lying in their lowly beds, with the fair and good of
The rain is falling where they lie, but the cold November rain
Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.
And now when comes the calm mild day, as still such days will come,
To call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter
When the sound of dropping nuts is heard, though all the trees are still,
And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill; The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore,
And sighs to find them in the wood, and by the stream
And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty
The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my
In the cold moist earth we laid her, when the forests cast the leaf,
And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so
Yet not unmeet it was that one, like that young friend
So gentle and so beautiful, should perish with the flowers."
An ancient author maintains that tears afford a peculiar kind of pleasure; and I would only desire to point to four poems in particular, as remarkably illustrative of the above idea; they would be too extended for recitation here, perhaps : their length might render them unsuitable for the purposes of this lecture. They are Henry Kirke White's "Ode to Disappointment; "Lines written in the Churchyard of Richmond, Yorkshire," by Herbert Knowles, when a youth of eighteen; the "Farewell to Life" of poor Michael Bruce, in which occurs that stanza, of such commingled power and sorrow—
"I hear the helpless wail, the shriek of woe;
and the "Visitation and Communion of the Sick," in that sweet volume of verse, the "Christian Year;" the blended gloom, melancholy, and intense feeling with which all these teem, tell powerfully upon the imagination, and sink into the heart. The bankerpoet, Samuel Rogers, thus writes on this subject :
"Go! you may call it madness, folly,
You shall not chase my gloom away;
"Oh! if you knew the pensive pleasure
Monarchs are too poor to buy."
As forcibly illustrative of the element of the Sublime in Poetry, we could scarcely meet with a nobler instance than the closing stanza of Shelley's "Adonais," the lamented subject of which piece sleeps calmly in the romantic and lonely cemetery of the Protestants at Rome:
"The breath whose might I have invoked in song
Descends on me; my spirit's bark is driven
The massy earth and sphered skies are riven !
I am borne darkly, fearfully afar ;
Whilst burning through the inmost veil of heaven,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are ;"
and a passage, really endowed with wild and terrific grandeur, in Aird's immortal poem, "The Demoniac," where the unhappy man's mother tells her sorrows and her son's fiend-compelled ways and wanderings at the feet of Jesus:
Strong as the eagle's wings of quest, on aimless errands
The beauteous savage of my love; but still his mother
Along the dizzy hills that reel up in the cloudy rack, O'er tumbling chasms, by desert wells, he speeds his
And in the dead hours of the night, when happier children lie
In slumber seal'd, he journeys far the flowing rivers by, And oft he haunts the sepulchres, where the thin shoals of ghosts
Flit shivering from Death's chilling dews, to their unbodied hosts,
That churn through night their feeble plaint, he yells; at the red morn
Meets the great armies of the winds, high o'er the mountains borne,
Leaping against their viewless rage, tossing his arms on
And hanging balanced o'er sheer steeps against the morning sky."
Then, in what beauteous dress will poetry oft clothe or decorate what in prose is but too frequently flat and commonplace. To produce a single example: We have all, doubtless, heard of the antiquated adage, "Rome was not built in a day." Happening lately to re-peruse Mr Christmas's good book, "The Cradle of the Twin Giants, Science and History," I encountered the following verse, somewhere quoted in it; it would seem a most pleasing substitute for the trite aphorism just noticed :
"The diamond's pure unsullied light
Is not the child of simple years—
A host of ages brings to sight
The crystal that the sovereign wears."
Again, what honour has been awarded to the Poets, in all ages, and most deservedly; for we should ever do our utmost to encourage the beautiful, for the useful encourages itself. Music-the rich mastery of the