Images de page
[ocr errors][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

"So long enjoyed, so oft misusedAlternate, in thy fickle pride,

Desired, neglected, and accused?

"Before my breath, like blazing flax,

Man and his marvels pass away;
And changing empires wane and wax,
Are founded, flourish, and decay.

"Redeem mine hours the space is brief

While in my glass the sand-grains shiver,
And measureless thy joy or grief,

When time and thou shalt part for ever!"


[SIR WALTER SCOTT's fame is more associated with his inimitable Waverley novels than with his poetry, which, though extremely popular at the beginning of the present century, was eclipsed by the more fiery and vivid gleams of Byron's genius. Of his longer poems, the "Lady of the Lake" is the most successful, both as regards design and execution. "Marmion," "Rokeby," and the "Lord of the Isles," all exhibit the dramatic power of description which rendered the author's prose works so long the delight of thousands of readers. Sir Walter was born at Edinburgh, in 1771, and died at Abbotsford, the estate where he had spent such happy and such anxious days, in 1832.]

The Skylark.

IRD of the wilderness,

Blythesome and cumberless,

Sweet be thy matin o'er moorland and lea!
Emblem of happiness,

Blest is thy dwelling-place

Oh, to abide in the desert with thee!
Wild is thy lay and loud,
Far in the downy cloud,

[ocr errors]

Love gives it energy, love gave

Where on thy dewy wing,
Where art thou journeying?

Thy lay is in heaven, thy love is on earth.

it birth;

O'er fell and fountain sheen,

O'er moor and mountain green,

O'er the red streamer that heralds the day,

Over the cloudlet dim,

Over the rainbow's rim,

Musical cherub, soar, singing, away;

Then when the gloaming comes,
Low in the heather blooms,

Sweet will thy welcome and bed of love be;

Emblem of happiness,

Blest is thy dwelling-place

Oh, to abide in the desert with thee!

[JAMES HOGG, the Ettrick Shepherd, was brought into notice as a poet chiefly through the kindness of Sir Walter Scott, whose interest had been excited by some of the earlier works of this uncultured child of genius. Unequal in merit though they certainly are, Hogg's works display sufficient beauty to entitle him to a high rank among our poets. Bonny Kilmeney is, perhaps, his best poem, though the Queen's Wake" yielded him the greatest amount of fame.]


[ocr errors]



[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

VEN when the farmer, now secure of fear, Sends in the swains to spoil the finished year, Even when the reaper fills his greedy hands, And binds the golden sheaves in brittle bands,

[TO JOHN DRYDEN, a great poet and most unfortunate courtier, is due the credit of having produced, in "Absalom and Achitophel," the best satirical poem in the English language. What a masterly description is that he gives of Shaftesbury-the


Oft have I seen a sudden storm arise

From all the warring winds that sweep the skies.

The heavy harvest from the root is torn,
And whirled aloft the lighter stubble borne;
With such a force the flying rack is driven;
And such a winter wears the face of heaven;
The lofty skies at once come pouring down;
The promised crop and golden labours drown;
The dikes are filled, and with a roaring sound
The rising rivers float the nether ground;

And rocks the bellowing voice of boiling seas rebound.
The father of the gods his glory shrouds,
Involved in tempests and a night of clouds ;


wise judge!" Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress, Swift of despatch, and easy of access ;" but the bad statesman, who

"Grown weary to possess
A lawful fame, and lazy happiness,
Disdained the golden fruit to gather free,
And lent the crowd his arm to shake the tree.
Now manifest of crimes contrived long since,
He stood at bold defiance with his prince;
Held up the buckler of the people's cause

Against the crown, and skulked behind the laws.”

What more withering than his denunciation of the poet Shadwell, whom he accuses of disloyal practices, telling him at the same time, "Hadst thou the glories of thy king exprest, thy praises had been satire at the best!" The glorious "Alexander's Feast,' written at the age of sixty-six, would alone have been sufficient to immortalise its author. And yet Dryden died poor, at the age of sixty-nine, and had not, like Milton, the consolation that his poverty had been caused by his independence. Unfortunately for his happiness and fame, this great master of the English tongue devoted himself to the service of a court where licentiousness and frivolity reigned paramount, and where not even his mighty pen could remain uncontaminated by the miasma of vice that overhung everything. Unhappily, conforming to the spirit of the time, he defaced his writings without improving his fortunes. His subservience to James II., and his suspicious conversion to Popery, became unavailing on the accession of William III. Deprived of his laureateship, and reduced to poverty, his last days were devoted to literary drudgery, and he was compelled, in his old age, to write for bread !]



And from the middle darkness flashing out,
By fits he deals his fiery bolts about.
Deep horror seizes ev'ry human breast,
Their pride is humbled, and their fear confest,
While he from high his rolling thunder throws,
And fires the mountains with repeated blows :
The rocks are from their old foundations rent;
The winds redouble, and the rains augment:
The waves in heaps are dashed against the shore,
And now the woods and now the billows roar.
JOHN DRYDEN. [Translated from "Virgil."]

Belshazzar's Feast.


HE king was on his throne,

The satraps thronged the hall :
A thousand bright lamps shone
O'er that high festival.
A thousand cups of gold,
In Judah deemed divine-

Jehovah's vessels hold

The godless heathen's wine!

[LORD BYRON was born in Holles Street, London, in 1788, and succeeded to the title on the death of his grand-uncle, in 1798. His earliest publication," Hours of Idleness," was harshly criticised in the Edinburgh Review; whereupon the youthful poet retaliated in the satire, "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers." The chief portion

« PrécédentContinuer »