« VorigeDoorgaan »
Break, Phant'sie, from thy cave of cloud,
And spread thy purple wings;
And various shape of things.
It must have blood, and nought of phlegm;
Yet let it like an odour rise
To all the senses here;
And fall like sleep upon their eyes,
DRAYTON was a voluminous, yet national poet. He composed the Battle of Agincourt, the Baron's Wars, and England's Heroic Epistles. His chief work, the Poly-olbion is a description of our island, and full of antiquarian detail and allegorical personifications. He paints battle or hunting scenes, local sports or customs, and introduces historical characters and events into his poem, which is written in Alexandrine lines, and divided into thirty parts or songs. If he is often spirited and fluent, he is as often tame and monotonous. At times he presents us with an animated and highly colored picture, and again his descriptions degenerate to the level of a traveller's guide or a poetical book of roads. Drayton, if he wanted a very deep imagination, had an harmonious ear, and has left us many tripping and graceful lyrics. His Cryer is not of a very high order of poetry, but it is lively and spirited.
Good folk, for gold or hire,
But help me to a cryer;
For my poor heart is run astray
O yes, o yes, o yes,
If there be any man,
In town or country, can
Bring me my heart again,
It is a wounded heart,
And never us'd to roam;
But having got this haunt, I fear
PHINEAS FLETCHER, the author of the Purple Island, has been compared by his admirers to Spenser, but he fell very far short of his model in power of imagery and grandeur of design. He was however read and admired by Milton, and complimented by Quarles; but his writings are not regarded in the present day with the favor lavished on them by the author's contemporaries.
QUARLES, the puritan, wrote with much nerve and intensity, but with the gloom and spirit of his sect. His verses were popular amongst those who looked with
distaste on the wit and licence of the court poets of the age, and were read with fervor and applauded with zeal. Afterwards, when a more polished versification was successfully cultivated, and poetry was written with greater system and design, the ruggedness of Quarles' compositions caused them to fall into disrepute; but they have survived this temporary neglect, and his imagination and power are still appreciated.
There are many lyrical pieces of HERRICK'S of great beauty, but his flowers were hid amidst a wilderness of weeds. His Ode to Blossoms is quaint, tender, and unaffected:
Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,
Your date is not so past;
But you may stay yet here awhile,
What, were ye born to be
But your lovely leaves, where we
May read how soon things have
Into the grave.
WITHERS' writings present a mass of wire-drawn lines, redeemed by an occasional burst of inspiration, a sensibility, and poetical dreaminess, that tended somewhat to sustain an elegant but languid versification, and a frequent poverty of idea.
BROWNE, the author of Britannia's Pastorals, cultivated with moderate success a style of composition that has never arrived at perfection in England. Whether it be that there is a want of sentiment in the lower classes of our countrymen, or an uncongenial coldness in our climate, certain it is that pastoral verse has never attained a position in our poetry. In the drama (as for instance in the Gentle Shepherd) and also in the Songs and Tales of Burns, and other writers, rural life has been invested with poetic interest; but the Eclogues of Browne, Phillips, and Pope are little read and less admired. The real truth is, that the state of society they represent is too primitively romantic to appear probable; while their language and sentiments seem much more like those of fine gentlemen and ladies playing shepherds and shepherdesses, than the rude but bold thoughts and words of rustic minstrels, whose feelings are inartificial, and whose affections bound rather to material objects than fanciful imagery.
GILES FLETCHER and CRASHAW devoted their muses to sacred subjects, and were almost the first who led the way to that tone and majesty, that dignity of truth with
which religious poetry is capable of being inspired. But Crashaw slighted not the more worldly muse, nor disdained to pen a sportive epigram, or translate an ode of Catullus. His Music's Duel represents a contest between a lyrist and a nightingale for the palm of song; and the poem, although overloaded with words, has much of the mystic sweetness and imagination of Shelley's verse. The bird follows the changing music of the lutes-master,' through all its windings and modulations, and her bosom heaves,
Till the fledg'd notes at length forsake their nest,
With the cool epod of a graver note,
Thus high, thus low, as if her silver throat
Would reach the brazen voice of war's hoarse bird;
Her little soul is ravish'd: and so pour'd
Into loose extacies, that she is plac'd
Again her human rival concentrates his powers in one
most finished burst.
This done, he lists what she would say to this,