Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

After these, the modern sonnet sounds somewhat tame:
'Tis not alone a bright and streaky sky-

Soul-cheering warmth-a spicy air serene-
Fair peeping flowers, nor dews that on them lie-

Nor sunny breadths topping the forests green-
That make the charm of Morning :--thoughts as high,

As meek and pure, live in that tranquil scene,
Whether it meet the rapt and wakeful eye
In
vapoury

clouds, or tints of clearest sheen.
If to behold, or hear, all natural things

In general gladness hail the blessed light

Herds lowing—birds sporting with devious flight,
And tiny swarms spreading their powdery wings-
And every herb with dewy shoots up-springing-
If these be joys—such joys the Morn is ever bringing.

ANON. EVENING has formed the subject of one of Collins' most finished poems :

If aught of oaten stop, or pastoral song,
May hope, O pensive Eve, to soothe thine ear

Like thy own modest springs,

Thy springs, and dying gales ;
O nymph reserved, while now the bright-haired sun
Sits in yon western tent whose cloudy skirts,

With brede ethereal wove,

O'erhang his wavy bed:
Now air is hushed, save where the weak-eyed bat,
With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing,

Or where the beetle winds

His small but sullen horn,
As oft he rises midst the twilight path,
Against the pilgrim borne in needless hum:

Now teach me, maid composed,

To breathe some softened strain,
Whose numbers stealing through thy darkening vale
May not unseemly with its stillness suit;

As musing slow I hail
Thy genial loved return!

For when thy folding star arising shows
His paly circlet, at his warning lamp

The fragrant hours and elves

Who slept in buds the day,
And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge,
And sheds the freshening dew, and, lovelier still,

The pensive pleasures sweet,

Prepare thy shadowy ear.
Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene,
Or find some ruin midst its dreary dells,

Whose walls more awful nod

By thy religious gleams.
Or if chill blustering winds, or driving rain,
Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut

That from the mountain's side

Views wilds and swelling floods,
And hamlets brown, and dim discovered spires,
And hears their simple bell, and marks o’er all

Thy dewy fingers draw

The gradual dusky veil.
While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve!

While Summer loves to sport

Beneath thy lingering light;
While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves;
Or Winter, yelling through the troublous air,

Affrights thy shrinking train,

And rudely rends thy robes;
So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Peace,

Thy gentlest influence own,
And love thy favourite name.

COLLINS.

Byron sings the evening of Italian skies :

The Moon is up, and yet it is not night-
Sunset divides the sky with her-a sea

Of glory streams along the alpine height
Of blue Friuli's mountains; heaven is free
From clouds, but of all colours seems to be,
Melted to one vast iris of the west,
Where the day joins the past eternity;

While, on the other hand, meek Dian's crest
Floats through the azure air-an island of the blest!

A single star is at her side, and reigns
With her o'er half the lovely heaven; but still
Yon sunny sea heaves brightly, and remains
Rollid o'er the peak of the fair Rhætian hill,
As day and night contending were, until
Nature reclaim'd her order:-gently flows
The deep-dyed Brenta, where their hues instil

The odorous purple of a new-born rose,
Which streams upon her stream, and glassed within it glows,

Filled with the face of heaven, which from afar
Comes down upon the waters; all its hues,
From the rich sunset to the rising star,
Their magical variety diffuse :
And now they change; a paler shadow strews
Its mantle o'er the mountains; parting day
Dies like the dolphin, whom each pang imbues

With a new colour as it gasps away,
The last still loveliest, till—'tis gone—and all is grey.

BYRON. Brilliant as, these stanzas are, the older poets have a more natural charm-to our tastes :

Look, the world's comforter, with weary gait,
His day's hot task has ended in the west:
The owl, night's herald, shrieks—’tis very
The sheep are gone to fold, birds to their nest;

And coal-black clouds that shadow heaven's light
Do summon us to part, and bid good night.

SHAKSPERE.
Shepherds all, and maidens fair,
Fold
your
flocks

up,

for the air

late;

VOL. I.

PP

[ocr errors]

Gins to thicken, and the sun
Already his great course hath run.
See the dew-drops how they kiss
Ev'ry little flower that is ;
Hanging on their velvet heads,
Like a rope of crystal beads.
See the heavy clouds low falling,
And bright Hesperus down calling
The dead Night from under ground;
At whose rising mists unsound,
Damps and vapours fly apace,
Hov'ring o'er the wanton face
Of these pastures, where they come
Striking dead both bud and bloom ;
Therefore, from such danger, lock
Ev'ry one his loved flock;
And let your dogs lie loose without,
Lest the wolf come as a scout ·
From the mountain, and, ere day,
Bear a lamb or kid away ;
Or the crafty thievish fox
Break upon your simple flocks.
To secure yourselves from these
Be not too secure in ease;
Let one eye his watches keep,
While the other

eye

doth sleep;
So you shall good shepherds prove,
And for ever hold the love
Of our great God. Sweetest slumbers,
And soft silence, fall in numbers
On your eye-lids! So, farewell !
Thus I end my evening's knell.

FLETCHER.

89.-WHAT IS POETRY?

LEIGH HUNT. [We could not close this first Volume of Half-Hours with the Best Authors' at all satisfactorily, if we did not give an extract from the writings of one of the most original and fascinating of English prose writers—one, also, who has won an enduring station amongst English poets. Leigh Hunt, the son of a West Indian who came to England and took orders in the Church, was born in 1784. He was educated at Christ's Hospital. As early as 1805 he was a writer of theatrical criticism in his brother's paper, · The News; '-in 1808 the brothers established the Examiner—a weekly paper which surpassed all its then contemporaries in ability and taste. In those days it was almost impossible for a public writer to speak out; and Leigh Hunt had to expiate a sarcasm upon the Prince Regent by two years'imprisonment. Mr. Hunt's subsequent connection with Lord Byron was not a fortunate one; and we are inclined to think that in future literary history most honest sympathies will be with the plebeian asserting his independence as a brother in letters, instead of with the patrician,heartless and insolent,

,-a declaimer for liberty but in practice a tyrant. Mr. Hunt, who has borne much adversity with a cheerfulness beyond all praise, writes as freshly and brilliantly as ever. Long may those unfailing spirits which are the delight of his social and family circle be the sunshine of his old age. The following extract is from a delightful volume, published in 1847, entitled, “Selections from the English Poets-Imagination and Fancy.'

If a young reader should ask, after all, What is the best

way

of knowing bad poets from good, the best poets from the next best, and so on? the answer is, the only and twofold way; first, the perusal of the best poets with the greatest attention; and second, the cultivation of that love of truth and beauty which made them what they are. Every true reader of poetry partakes a more than ordinary portion of the poetic nature; and no one can be completely such, who does not love, or take an interest in every thing that interests the poet, from the firmament to the daisy--from the highest heart of man, to the most pitiable of the low. It is a good practice to read with pen in hand, marking what is liked or doubted. It rivets the attention, realizes the greatest amount of enjoyment, and facilitates reference. It

« VorigeDoorgaan »