Images de page
PDF
ePub

This elegant rose, had I shaken it less,

Might have bloomed with its owner awhile; And the tear that is wiped with a little address, May be followed, perhaps, by a smile.

Cowper.

XI. EXPOSTULATION.

The current that with gentle murmur glides,

Thou know'st, being stopped, impatiently doth rage;

[ocr errors]

But, when his fair course is not hindered,

He makes sweet music with the enameled stones,

Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge

He overtaketh in his pilgrimage;

And so, by many winding nooks, he strays
With willing sport to the wild ocean.
Then, let me go, and hinder not my course!
I'll be as patient as a gentle stream,

And make a pastime of each weary step!

Shakspeare.

XII. EVENING.

Now came still evening on; and twilight grey
Had in her sober livery all things clad.
Silence accompanied; for beast and bird-
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests,
Were slunk; all but the wakeful nightingale.
She all night long her amorous descant sung:
Silence was pleased. Now glowed the firmament
With living sapphires. Hesperus, that led
The starry host, rode brightest; till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length,
Apparent queen, unveiled her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.

Milton.

XIII. SATAN'S OVERTHROW.

Nine times the space that measures day and night To mortal men, he with his horrid crew

Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf,
Confounded, though immortal. But his doom
Reserved him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain

Torments him. Round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witnessed huge affliction and dismay,
Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate.
At once, as far as angels ken, he views

The dismal situation waste and wild:

A dungeon horrible on all sides round

As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames No light, but rather darkness visible,

Served only to discover sights of woe.

Milton.

XIV. MERCY.

The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed :
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptred sway:
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings:
It is an attribute to God himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God's,

When mercy seasons justice. Think of this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us

Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

Shakspeare.

XV. SATAN'S ADDRESS TO BEELZEBUB.

If thou beest he, but O, how fallen! how changed From him who, in the happy realms of light, Clothed with transcendent brightness, did* outshine Myriads though bright! If he whom mutual league, United thoughts and counsels, equal hope

And hazard in the glorious enterprise,

Joined with me once; now misery hath joined

In equal ruin. Into what pit thou seest,

From what height fallen, so much the stronger proved
He with his thunder; and, till then, who knew
The force of those dire arms! Yet not for those,

Nor what the potent victor, in his rage,
Can else inflict, do I repent, or change-

Though changed in outward lustre—that fixed mind,
And high disdain from sense of injured merit,
That with the mightiest raised me to contend,
And to the fierce contention brought along
Innumerable force of spirits armed,

That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power opposed
In dubious battle on the plains of heaven,
And shook his throne.

Milton.

* Didst, the usual reading, is ungrammatical.

XVI. HAMLET'S SOLILOQUY ON DEATH.

To be or not to be!-that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them.-To die! To sleep!-
No more?—and by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to?-'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished!-To die! To sleep!-

To sleep?-perchance to dream!-Ay! there's the rub!
For, in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause. There's the respect

That makes calamity of so long life!

Shakspeare.

XVII. MESSIAH'S TRIUMPH OVER THE REBEL ANGELS.

Sole victor, from the expulsion of His foes

Messiah His triumphal chariot turned.

To meet Him, all His saints, who silent stood,

Eye-witnesses of His almighty acts,

With jubilee advanced; and as they went,
Shaded with branching palm, each order bright
Sung triumph, and Him sung victorious King,
Son, Heir, and Lord, -to Him dominion given,
Worthiest to reign. He, celebrated, rode
Triumphant through mid heaven, into the courts
And temple of His mighty Father throned
On high, Who into glory Him received,
Where now He sits, at the right hand of bliss.

Milton.

XVIII. CATO's SOLILOQUY ON THE IMMORTALITY OF THE

SOUL.

It must be so! - Plato, thou reasonest well!
Else, whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?

Or whence this secret dread and inward horror

Of falling into nought?-Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
'Tis the Divinity that stirs within us;

"Tis Heaven itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates Eternity to man!

Eternity! thou pleasing—dreadful thought!
Through what variety of untried being,

Through what new scenes and changes must we pass !
The wide-the unbounded prospect lies before me;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it!

Addison.

XIX. ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day;

The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea; The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me!

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds;

Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.-

Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tower,

The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower, Molest her ancient solitary reign.

« PrécédentContinuer »