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So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from | Night sucks them down, the tribute of the pit, above.
Whose names, half entered in the book of Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless Life, dower,
Were God's desire at noon. And as their This close-companioned inarticulate hour
hair When twofold silence was the song of love, And eyes sink last, the Torturer deigns no
whit There are several minor sequences
To gaze, but, yearning, waits his destined within the main work, wherein, as it were, The Sin still blithe on earth that sent them
wife, the momentary mood is clung to and lin
there. gered over, and the transcripts occupy two or three successive sonnets. Such “ The House of Life” is a standing anWillowwood” and three charming swer to those that carp at the sonnet on
“True Woman” in Part I., the ground of its inechanical limitations and “The Choice,” “Old and New Art,” and its little narrowness and general futil“ The Sun's Shame," and "Newborn ity. We may object to Mr. Rossetti's Death,” in Part II. These sub.move method, we may feel that the hill air is an ments lend variety and interest to the indispensable antidote to his moving and theme, which, as now elaborated, con- relaxing strains, we may say that he is tains an important embodiment of a phil. simply wasting words for the sake of warm osophical theory: As a specimen of the glow and rich color; but all that will not sober manner, after life's morning march affect the excellent structure and the unis over and the spirit is no longer young, doubted vitality of these sonnets. They let us take this vision of Lady Beauty form a unique and valuable contribution seen by the eye to which experience has to our poetic literature, and their essential given force of penetration and thorough-value rests on their beautiful form and the ness of insight:
deep and true character of the embodied
thought. Within the narrow compass of Under the arch of Life, where love and death, each duly limited entity, the poet has
Terror and mystery, guard her shrine, I saw managed to insert a clear idea, well formBeauty enthroned; and though her gaze ulated and graced with illustrative matestruck awe,
rial, and certain to be suggestive of long I drew it in as simply as my breath. Hers are the eyes which, over and beneath,
distances to the reflective reader. The The sky and sea bend on thee, — which can and especially in this connection) several
same qualities characterize the poems, draw, By sea or sky or woman, to one law, short lyrics of singular beauty. Mr. Ros. The allotted bondman of her palm and wreath. setti lays.his spell upon some apparently
chance thought or trifling incident, and This is that Lady Beauty, in whose praise the result is found in such transfigured Thy voice and hand shake still, – long loveliness as characterizes “The Woodknown to thee
spurge," "Love-Lily," "Sudden Light," By flying hair and fluttering hem,
Following her daily of thy heart and feet, How passionately and irretrievably,
grass beyond the door, In what fond flight, how many ways and days !
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore. Lastly, is there not a terrible force, an His philosophy finds impulse in a neg. uncompromising, almost Calvinistic blast lected spray of honeysuckle, or lingers of woful doom in this, entitled “Vain over the coming possibilities of a young Virtues," which comes still further on in fir wood, or grapples (in “The Sea-Lim. the reflective period ?
its”) with the “sea's listless chime”
Time's self it is made audible, -
The murmur of the earth's own shell. deed
This quick observing power and nimble. Which a soul's sin at length could supersede. ness of transfiguring method are still furThese yet are virgins, whom death's timely ther exemplified in the longer poems, in
knel] Might once have sainted; whom the fiends which, moreover, the poet's quaint idi. compel
osyncrasy of choice is invariably a striking Together now, in snake-bound shuddering feature. To one that knows the poetical sheaves
attitude manifested in the sonnets it will Of anguish, while the pit's pollution leaves be apparent that such themes as
" The Their refuse maidenhood abominable.
Blessed Damozel,” “ Dante at Verona,"
the beat with its
“ The Stream's Secret,” “Love's Noc-l his interest in Jenny, the very mention of turn,” and others are in keeping with it, whose name shocked the propriety of Mrs. and that they are besides such as Mr. Quickly. It is an experience of a novel Rossetti may fairly claim by right of su. and memorable kind to read of preme prerogative. When we learn, for
Lazy laughing languid Jenny, example, that
Fond of a kiss and fond of a guinea, The blessed damozel leaned out
and to come with the poet from her room From the gold bar of Heaven,
at the opening dawn, with the piercing we know that we are listening to the stu. twitter of the awaking sparrows and the dent and modern interpreter of Dante; sounds of the new day in one's ears. and then comes a pleasing thrill as we are Similarly one would not like to miss the told of her bold outlook into space and potent weirdness and the magic witchery the cosmical sweep of her gaze. The of “ Troy Town” and “Eden Bower," nor vast grandeur of this is unusually stimu- the fascinating spell that lures into the lating to the imagination :
vengeful presence of “Sister Helen."
Those who know how the witch in “ Mac. From the fixed place of Heaven she saw
beth” could make her victim “peak and Time like a pulse shake fierce Through all the worlds. Her gaze still strove pine” will understand the allusion in Within the gulf to pierce
this: Its path; and now she spoke as when
your waxen man, The stars sang in their spheres.
Sister Helen ?
To-day is the third since you began." The sun was gone now; the curled moon
“The time was long, yet the time ran, Was like a little feather
Little brother.” Fluttering far down the gulf; and now
(O Mother, Mary Mother, She spoke through the still weather.
Three days to-day, between Hell and Éleaven!) Her voice was like the voice the stars Had when they sang together.
It is a story of revenge, unsurpassed in
steadiness and directness of purpose, “The Stream's Secret” is one of the
firm, unswerving grip of fell circumstance most finely idealized and tenderly touch
coercive of tragical destiny, and realistic ing of English love poems. It is the sonneteer under a new aspect, but with mo
presentation of heart-rending sighs and
shadowy utterances from the borderlands tive and aim unchanged. He commits
These poems, together with the his secret, in the good old-fashioned style, majestic “ Burden of Nineveh” - the to the stream that flows by, in hopes that poet's lofty meditation on the winged bull he may thus win gently into the presence of his distant love ; and the result, of brought to the British Museum some course, is the gradual awakening of the years ago “Stratton Water,” and “The
Staff and Scrip,” may be conveniently poet and the quiet, industrious indifference of the stream. The conception is grouped along with the three that Mr. very fine, and the elaboration both of " Rose Mary,'
Rossetti himself specializes as ballads
,” “ The White Ship,” and thought and imagery singularly beautiful - The King's Tragedy." These all exand effective. Listen to the onomatopaichibit workinanship of a very high order, expressiveness of the closing stanza, and and still further illustrate the poet's masnote the steady gradation of effects. One tery of what is quaint, weird, and myste
knows how waier laps and sways and rious. In this particular department of | rolls, with mysterious significance, on
poetic interpretation Mr. Rossetti stands over some comparative level to its remote destination ; but one does not always get, of spells, charms, and mythical influences,
much alone; he holds the monopoly
very along with the perception, the grave or, at any rate, his seizure and presenta. movement of a pathetic experience:
tion of them are so thoroughly individual, O water whispering
and at the same time so forcible and Still through the dark into mine ears, – graphic, that there is probably no feature As with mine eyes, is it not now with hers ?- of his work by which in time to come he Mine eyes that add to thy cold spring, will be more readily identified. He has Wan water, wandering water weltering,
entered upon Coleridge's ground
a perThis hidden tide of tears.
ilous enterprise enough and the differ. , The same quickness of outlook and ence of attitude and method, as well as readiness of sympathy that enable the the specialities of success characteristic poet to dwell upon such exceptional top- of each, will, doubtless, form an interestics as have been mentioned account foring study for those acquainted with the
two poets. No one in our day has writ. That room was built far out from the house ; ten ballads like these, which, as with the
And none but we in the room great legendary ballads, owe their success Might hear the voice that rose beneath, very much to the presence of the grim
Nor the tread of the coming doom. and mysterious fatalistic influences which As already said, it would be difficult at the poet grasps with such energetic and present to estimate how Mr. Rossetti is diffusive potency. The beryl-stone is the likely to stand with posterity, but there is magic centre of “Rose Mary,” in which, no difficulty whatever in giving judgment while describing a thrilling interview be so far. The subtle intricacies and the tween a mother and a daughter over the frequently delicate fibre of his sonnets, discovery of the daughter's fatal secret, together with their highly colored and Mr. Rossetti rises as near as ever he does sometimes slightly fantastic imagery, may to true natural feeling and great surges of prevent them from striking the popular passion. In “The White Ship” the poet taste; while the grace, the rapid and vig, tells the legendary story of the drowning orous movement of at any rate several of of King Henry's son and daughter, the his ballads, and their weird significance, fatal power at work in this instance being will hardly fail to impress even the averthe king's own tyrannical tendency and age imagination. Still, he will be above the natural reward of its mysterious but all a poet's poet; and it is as yet impossirighteous overthrow. The twofold refrain ble and unnecessary to say whether, with of the first stanza strikes the key-note of his fit audience, he will be more cherished the piece
as a writer of ballads or a graceful son
neteer. Lands are swayed by a king on a throne.
sea hath no king but God alone. “The King's Tragedy" tells with masterly power and rare rapidity and energy
From The Saturday Review. of movement the assassination of King MARCH IN THE COUNTRY. James I. of Scotland ; and here Mr. Ros.
We know not whether March may go setti finds in Scottish superstition an ex-out like a lamb, but assuredly it has not cellent opportunity for the exercise of his come in like a lion. Instead of blusterspecial method. His weird woman is ap ing winds and bitter morning frosts, every; propriately introduced, and her activities thing in its opening days was soft and are always apposite and telling; The en-springlike. The gardens were almost gay ergy and the penetrating thrill of these with spring flowers; the shrubberies and stanzas are exceedingly forcible and effec- copses were budding and shooting; the tive :
clustering tufts of the yellow primroses And now beneath the window arose
were flowering thickly under the hedgeA wild voice suddenly :
roots; and the birds, in a not unnatural And the king reared straight, but the queen delusion, were singing as if they were fell back
already in the middle of the spring. Of As for bitter dule to dree;
course the signs of the weather may prove And all of us knew the woman's voice
fallacious; but it is pleasanter to hope Who spoke by the Scottish Sea.
that the genial winter may be followed by “O king,” she cried, “in an evil hour
a summer tripping up the heels of spring; They drove me from thy gate ;
and we have prognostications that the hay And yet my voice must rise to thine ears; But alas! it comes too late!
crops may be mown in May, and that we
may be in the height of the harvest in “ Last night at mid-watch, by Aberdour, " the month of roses." But a mild March When the moon was dead in the skies,
is a phenomenon in England, and we can O king, in a death-light of thine own I saw thy shape arise.
hardly hope to escape the edge of the
easterly winds; and the spells of inclem“And in full season, as erst I said,
ency that may probably be in store for The doom had gained its growth ;
us, by nipping the advanced promise of And the shroud had risen above thy neck
the vegetation, may blight our hopes as And covered thine eyes and mouth.
well and turn premature joy to lamenta. “For every man on God's ground, O king,
tion. But in any case, and in spite of His death grows up from his birth
those detestable winds, we maintain that In a shadow.plant perpetually;
March, on the whole, is a pleasant month. And thine towers high, a black yew-tree We fully admit its ordinary drawbacks; O'er the Charterhouse of Perth!"
but then they are more than compen
sated by its pleasures. We know noth-| hedge-row. Should the weather prove ing more exhilarating than a bright March tolerably favorable, all ought to go well. day in the country, when a brisk northerly But bitter gales, with driving sleet or breeze is blowing. Nature has been hail, may search out the most sheltered shaking herself out of her gloomy winter corners; drenching, rains may soak garments, and has been making those un through the roughly thatched 'roof of obtrusive alterations in her toilet which straw or broom; or the snow may come are unmistakably suggestive of spring. heavily down with a falling thermometer, The buds have been visibly thickening on heaping itself in each angle in snowdrifts the trees, as you see when you take a that must be dug through or cleared away, survey of the sky through the branches. Then the mothers have as hard a time of The earlier plants are putting forth their it as their shepherd; while as for the leaves in the hedges, and the wild herbage lambs, they are landed in a world of soris expanding on the sides of the ditches. rows. The feeblest of them, crumpled up A faint flush of yellowish green has been and shivering, refuse to feed; and the spreading over the wintry brown of the shepherd has to turn dry-nurse to others, pastures. But it is on the ploughland and carry them to the fire in his tempothat the special signs of March are most rary shealing. In the course of a day or conspicuous, with the pleasant, earthy two, he may find more than sufficient och odors of the newly turned soil, and the cupation for himself and any number of cawing flights of keen-eyed rooks follow- bandy apprentices. For of course, in ing in the trail of the plough or the har- such unfavorable circumstances, some of
The earth is being roughly awak- the mothers will perish in lamb-birth; ened from its winter rest, and turned up and the helpless orphans must have perto meet the caresses of the spring air and manent attention, when some bereaved the sunshine; and it is so much the worse ewe is not persuaded to adopt them. for the grubs and the worms. We know Should you come upon the shepherd at no prettier picture, whether sharply de- such a time, you will see a careworn man fined in a clear atmosphere or seen dimly whose preoccupied manner is opposed to through the haze of misty exhalations, all your classical memories of pipes and than the long teams of sleek and well- leisurely love-making and the felicity of groomed horses, moving with heavy, busi- the pastoral life. Yet, if you chanced to ness-like tread to the blithe music of the revisit him in more genial weather, a bells on the barness; while the bleating week or two later, you might find himn the of the flocks from some neighboring very soul of cheerfulness. Thanks to the sheep-pen reminds us that the lambing- indefatigable energy and the practical time has fairly begun.
knowledge which his master will substanIndeed March in our mind always asso: tially recognize, the anxious days have ciates itself with lambs and rookeries and been tided over far better than he had yellow daffodils. Yet, whoever may en. expected. The few ewes that were lost joy the month, it can hardly bring much perished through no fault of his; and the pleasure to the shepherd. He is over- score of the surviving lambs is more than weighted with incessant anxieties; has satisfactory: And as you heard the care for his companion whether sleeping bleating of the flock when many a field or waking; and when he throws himself away, now you may admire the graceful down to snatch some broken rest, must be play of the lambkins, who are perpetuready to rouse himself at any moment ally indulging in gambols, and giving each from dreams of untimely additions to his other backs at leapfrog, when they are responsibilities. It is true that all has not dragging at their mother's teats. If been done that experience can suggest to they do not grow up sleek and vigor. render matters easy for the expectant or ous, it will certainly not be owing to neg. nursing mothers of the flock, and for the lect of their opportunities, though their new-born lambs that are exposed to the juvenile spirits might scarcely be so buoymany ailments of infancy. The sheep ant could they look forward to the imfarın may probably lie on the bleak up- pending cropping of their tails. lands; but the lambing-folds are in the From the bleating of the sheepfolds it most protected situation that can be is a natural and pleasant change to the found. They are in a quiet nook among cawing of the neighboring rookery. We the copses in the bottom of a valley; and know nothing more lively than a clamor, the hurdles, thickly wadded and inter- ous colony of rooks, when they are busied woven with straw, are backed up on the over the reconstruction of their nests for exposed quarters by a wall or a matted i the season. The situation of any rookery
can hardly fail to be romantic, for the hard by, or from the more distant fallows, birds bave settled in some groups of ven. laden with turf, twigs, or the materials for erable trees, and there is pretty sure to be plaster. And when they have gathered a quaint old mansion in their vicinity. material enough for the moment, they go For choice they appear to prefer the elms, to work on their dwelling like skilled me. although, failing elms, they will fall back chanics, though indulging in an amount upon oaks, ashes, or beeches. And the of noise all the time that could never be elm, if it has a sombre association with tolerated among human artisans. When coffins, is the most picturesque of forest we have had enough of this lively spectatimber among the woodlands. And under cle of clamorous industry, we may change the elms, where the grass has been killed the scene, and take a stroll in the quiet down by the dripping from the boughs, shrubberies. The thrushes, as a rule, are and bestrewed with twigs that have fallen pot much behind the rooks in their matfrom the nests, there spring up great beds ing and nest-building; but they always of the daffodils we have referred to, richly seem to take their family matters more manured by the rooks of innumerable easily. The cocks are at least equally generations. The faming patches of fond of hearing their own melodious orange contrast brilliantly with the neutral voices, which is very natural; but they tints of the leafless trees and of the brown take their pleasure cheerily, and keep it sward. Barring the brightness of the apart from their business. If it be drawdaffodil beds, the scene may be somewhat ing towards sunset, and should the weather sombre; but no one can say that it is, be mild, and more especially after a warm otherwise than animated. If it is a shower, you may hear them singing from crowded settlement, the cawing overhead every tree-top and thicket. Yet probably is almost deafening, and nobody who had the nest is far advanced or finished in not been used to it from childhood could some bush beneath; and in another week sleep through it for any length of time or so the mother will have settled to the after sunrise in any chamber of the adja- hatching of her speckled eggs. As for cent mansion. Though we may remark, the blackbird, who is in his way almost a on the other hand, that, should you have more engaging, as he is a more mellow, been nursed in the shadow of the rook- songster than his congener, he is at least wood, there is nothing like that noisy as musical in his tastes, and he has more chorus for a soothing morning lullaby leisure. With a reasonable apprehension And, if the noise is deafening, the move- of the late March frosts, which so often ment is never-ending. Nor is there much take the more impetuous thrush unawares, unmeaning swooping or hovering, though freezing the nestlings under the very the birds will flutter when they intend to feathers of the mother, he will not bethink perch. The intricate flight is thoroughly himself of nesting for another fortnight business-like, and each twist and turn has or more; and, till the last gleams of light its definite object. Nor is there as much that fall through the tree-tops in the dusk confusion in the crowd as you might sup- fade out in the thickening darkness, you pose, seeing that each couple knows the may still listen to the barmonious concerts way to its particular nest, and that each of the shrubberies, all the more delightful nest is being built with easy facilities of after the dead silence of the winter, which access. Except with the newly.mated was only broken by the song of the robin. birds of last year, it is seldom a case of The days will be brighter in April, the construction; it is merely a question of fields will be greener in May, and the repairing and redecorating, or of making woods in June will be rich in foliage; but certain improvements and additions. Be it is in the more springlike intervals of a that as it may, where each bird is his own blustering March that we enjoy, and enjoy architect, and where instinct supplies the the more for our sense of its precariousnecessary inspiration, there is no kind of ness, the exhilarating foretaste of those hesitation. There they are, fetching and more genial seasons. carrying; coming home from the lawn
END OF VOLUME CLII.