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“ The wretch, condemned with life to part,
Still, still on hope relies;
Bids expectation rise.
Hope, like a glimmering taper's light,
Adorns and cheers his way,
Emits a brighter ray."
This is poetry. Every one must feel that it is; and, like the taper in the second stanza, it grows clearer and brighter the more it is contemplated. In point of diction, the ideas could hardly be more humbly attired; yet how much is expressed here in less than threescore syllables! First, we see the captive, under the sentence of death, yet nursing in secret, almost from despair, the hope of life, with every pang. Next, he is transformed into a benighted wanderer, whom Hope, a cherished deceiver, meets amid the darkness, and allures from afar, under the semblance of a stream of light from a cottage window, brightening as he approaches; while: we, who fear the illusion may prove an ignis fatuus, look on with painful anxiety, expecting every moment to see him ingulfed in a morass. “How sleep the
who sink to rest
To dwell a weeping hermit there." What a quantity of thought is here condensed in the compass of twelve lines, like a cluster of rock crystals, sparkling and distinct, yet receiving and reflecting lustre by their combination ! The imagery is of the most delicate and exquisite character — Spring decking the turfy sod; Fancy's feet treading upon the flowers there ;. Fairy hands ringing the knell; unseen forms singing the dirge of the glorious dead; but, above all, and never to be surpassed in picturesque and imaginative beauty, Honor, as an old soldier, coming on a far pilgrimage to visit the shrine where his companions in arms are laid at rest; and Freedom, in whose cause they fell, leaving the mountains, the fields, the hamlets, and the cities, delivered by their valor, hastening to the spot, and dwelling for a while, a weeping hermit, there. In the simple apostrophe, "How sleep the brave!” is implied, how sweetly, how soundly, and how happily. Then, in the line,
“ By all their country's wishes blessed," is implied every circumstance of bereavement, lamentation, and solemnity at their interment, and posthumous homage to their memory.
6. Therefore let the moon
These are the thoughts and the feelings of a poet in a state of excitement. Thoughts more patiently worked out of the very marble of the mind, and attired in a diction of more transcendent beauty, are rarely to be found either in prose or rhyme.
These are lines which none but a poet by nature could make. The same ideas might be expressed in prose; but the least variation in the words would break the charm; and the attempt would be like gathering up dew-drops, which
appear like pearls on the grass, mirroring forth the universe, but run into water in the hand. The elements remain ; but the grace, the sparkle, and the form, are gone.
Dr. Johnson very justly observes, that from poetry the reader expects, and from good poetry always obtains, an enlargement of his comprehension, and the elevation of his fancy; but this is rarely to be hoped by Christians from devotional poetry. Whatever is great, desirable, or tremendous, is comprised in the name of the Supreme Being Omnipotence cannot be exalted, infinity cannot be amplified, perfection cannot be improved. Of sentiments purely religious, it will be found that the most simple expression is the most sublime. Poetry loses its lustre and its power, because it is applied to the decoration of something more excellent than itself. Pious verse may help the memory, and delight the ear, and for these purposes it may be very useful; but it supplies nothing to the mind. The ideas of Christian theology are too simple for eloquence, too sacred for fiction, too majestic for ornament. To recommend them by tropes and figures, is to magnify, by a concave mirror, the sidereal hemisphere. The attribute of Deity called omnipresence is, perhaps, as difficult to express, otherwise than by that one emphatic word, as any other object that can be imagined. A thousand illustrations may be more easily given than one distinct idea of it. Perhaps the poet, in the following lines, has made the nearest possible approach to it:
"If I could find some cave unknown,
Where human feet have never trod,
On every side there would be God.” How simple is this language! yet how forcibly is the thought impressed! The longer we dwell upon it, the more do we feel ourselves in the immediate presence of the Deity.
Eternity is another indefinite and indescribable thing : yet, by the magic art of the poet, notwithstanding the impotency of the language, which seems to break down under
the weis a j such thoughts, he has set forth an idea só vast and incomprehensible as to overwhelm the most gifted minds, in so simple, clear, and vivid a manner, that even the infant mind can comprehend it.
“ Days, months, and years, will have an end.
Eternity has none;
As when it first begun." It will be seen that the above extracts have been taken as specimens from the productions of those, who wrote not for the amusement of that class whose taste has been pampered with delicacies even to loathing, and stimulated to stupidity with excessive excitement; gratified with nothing but novelty, and pleased with nothing less than feats of legerdemain in the exercises of the pen. It will at once be seen that they are selected from those writers who, in unburdening the mind, poured out the fulness of their feeling in words which they would have uttered if none but rocks, woods, and streams, had been their auditors. They are in reality the efforts of a mind having no motive except the púre impulso to do good, and content to clothe Truth in language so clear and pure that it should appear like a robe of light around her, to reveal her beauty, her symmetry, and her proportions, and thus attract the eye that rolled in darkness, and the feet that wandered in error.
The faultless reader should possess, for various occasions, all the qualities of the voice. The organs of articulation should be subjected to such a kind and degree of exercise, as will best develop their powers, and enable them to act with force, rapidity, precision, and effect. Well-directed and vigorous exercises on inflection, and the various forms of stress, will extend the compass of the voice, and render it smooth, powerful, and melodious.
Deep notes, extended quantity, and monotone, should be under the command of the reader or speaker for the expression of overwhelming sentiments; his tremor should be under bis control for the occasions of grief and exultation; his judgment and observation must decide where emphasis is to be placed; his perception and good taste must decide what inflection, form of stress, and movement of the voice, will best
express the thought; and these should at all times be obedient to his will, when occasion calls for their use.
For a complete system of articulation, he is referred to the GRADUAL READER; and for a full understanding of the rules, principles, and illustrations on the subject of Inflection, Stress, Emphasis, Pause, Tremor, and Circumflex, he is referred to the N. A. SECOND CLASS READER.
Other principles on reading yet regain to be explained. The subject is here continued; and in the following pages will be found a treatise on the higher departments of elocution, in which are explained and illustrated the use and power of the vocal elements, as the essential constituents of commanding eloquence and impressive delivery
I Bitch, the degree of elevation of the voice in uttering any sentiment, must be considered as one of the constituents in the expression of speech. It is to be noticed that the voice, in all varieties of utterance, moves within a limited compass, above or below which it cannot reach without disagreeable straining.
2. The various degrees of elevation, within this compass, are denominated intervals, some one of which is to be preferred or assumed as a favorable station for the starting-point or “ key-note,” from which the intervals are to be calculated, and above or below which all the modulations of the voice are to be referred.
3. The tone of the voice in unimpassioned utterance, in ordinary unexciting narrative, may be most conveniently assumed as the "key-note," which has a governing influence