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"It is not while beauty and youth are thine own, And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervour and faith of a soul can be known,
As the sunflower turns to her god, when he sets,
There is a great deal of good feeling in the sentiment of this song; but we desiderate in it any poetical genius, such as the subject is calculated to inspire. The lines are either quite prosaic, únrelieved by any novelty of thought or delicacy of expression; or tricked out with imagery little worthy of the theme which it is employed to adorn. The conclusion of the second stanza is very characteristic of its author, "Around the dear ruin each wish of my heart,
Would entwine itself verdantly still."
is entirely in that fanciful style, which is calculated to dissipate feeling by calling other and opposite faculties into play. But is the image thus presented to us a correct one? If we understand the poet, he means to represent his mistress as a ruined building, and himself as an ivybush; and it is easy to compare the verdant embraces of the plant to the strong attachments of affections. But we think there is this confusion in the simile, that the ivy's clasp is not appropriately seen until the place becomes a ruin. Round the ruined tower or temple, ivy cannot be said to entwine itself verdantly still. It is only suffered to begin its addresses when the object of them is in ruins. The ivy, therefore, is not a true, any more than it is a natural or a pleasing representation of that love, which first bestows its adoration where there is youth and beauty, and continues faithful and unchanged in declension and decay. The sunflower in the end of the song, is, in its fabulous or fancied properties, a more correct similitude of enduring constancy. But, however appropriate it may be for the device of a valentine or the seal of a billetdoux, we can scarcely conceive a lover of high and heartfelt emotions, descending to picture, by the sunflower and "her god," the fond devotedness of his own noble spirit.
The following lines have at least the merit of expressing elegantly and easily ideas, which, though not striking or
nian mine, where, if you go below the surface, the bright ore "like love" is gone? The illustration is here illustrated by the original subject. It might have been asked at once with less trouble, has love been like love? The story from the Arabian nights is still more far-fetched, and is not more elevating or affecting. It is the constant recurrence in Moore's poetry of these ingenious, but too remote comparisons, that checks the current of our own feelings, by convincing us that the poet could not himself be much affected by his subject, when he had leisure to look so diligently about him for the images that were to express it. The simile of the Lagenian mines is peculiarly unfortunate, in reminding us of the "sparkles of golden splendour" which so often adorn the surface of the poet's own domain, without ensuring any very profitable result to those who may thence be induced "in pursuit to go deeper."
We think there is considerable power in our next example, though the rhythm is not melodious on the reader's lips, and the subject is not developed with all the imagination or the skill which its wild solemnity might admit of.
"Oh, ye dead! oh, ye dead! whom we know by the light you give
In far-off fields and waves,
Where the worm and the sea-bird only know your bed,
Those eyes that wept your fall,
And the hearts that bewail'd you, like your own, lie dead?
"It is true! it is true! we are shadows cold and wan;
So sweet is still the breath
Of the fields, and the flowers, in our youth we wander'd o'er,
To freeze 'mid Hecla's snow,
We would taste it awhile, and dream we live once more !"
The song which we next insert seems a favourite with the poet's antiSaxon countrymen, who probably rank it on the same level that has been assigned to Bruce's Bannockburn Address in this country. It is not throughout correctly written or powerfully conceived; but it possesses sufficient energy and enthusiasm to operate, we have no doubt, on an Irish mind like a spark upon tinder.
"O where's the slave so lowly,
His bonds at first,
Would pine beneath them slowly?
Would wait till time decay'd it,
When thus its wing
At once could spring
To the throne of Him who made it ?
Farewell, Erin!-farewell all
We close our extracts from the Irish melodies with lines that we consider a happy and not vain-glorious description of the poet's efforts to marry the
We tread the land that bore us,
And the foe we hate before us!
melodies of his country to verse, which, if not immortal, is very pleasing and very popular.
"Dear Harp of my Country! in darkness I found thee,
This sweet wreath of song is the last we shall twine;
Hath throbb'd at thy lay, 'tis thy glory alone;
The national melodies, and some of the other miscellaneous works of our author, will supply us with specimens of his poetry more favourable, we think, because more natural and simple, than any we have yet extracted.
No one can be insensible to the touching effect of those well-known verses, that tell us of the long-vanished pictures of youth and joy, that the silent darkness of night has power in the solitude of advancing years to restore to the mind's eye, with more vividness than the blaze of noon can now offer to the bodily sight::
"Oft in the stilly night,
Ere Slumber's chain has bound me,
Of other days around me ;
Now dimm'd and gone,
Ere Slumber's chain has bound me,
Of other days around me. "When I remember all
The friends so link'd together, I've seen around me fall,
Like leaves in wintry weather; I feel like one who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Ere Slumber's chain hath bound me,
Of other days around me."
We cannot let these lines pass without protesting against an inaccuracy which makes us stumble at the very threshold. "Stilly" is not an adjective but an adverb; and even the authority of the author of Douglas will not justify this anomalous use of it. But, indeed, the expression a "stilly sound," which means not a perfectly still sound, or no sound at all, but a still-like sound, is not a precedent for "the stilly night," where the silence is as profound as this world will permit of. Passing over this blemish, we give our ready tribute of praise to the greater part of this admired and affecting song. We are not sure, however, that the image of the "banquet-hall deserted," is a pleasing or proper one. It is too much as if life were merely a revel, instead of being, as it is, the scene of silent and serene, as well as of rapturous and riotous, enjoyments. The picture of a deserted banquet-hall is no doubt a vivid object, but it comes home too much to our fancies, with its
burnt-out candles, spilt liquor, and broken glasses, as one of the meanest as well as most miserable of sights. We could have wished some comparison had been chosen of a less depreciatory character, and which would have better represented the loneliness of him who worthily laments the loss of loves and friendships, which had higher
and holier attractions than the feast or the wine-cup.
Our next extract, though not possessing any original ideas, is tender and melodious. But it ought to have stopped at the end of the fourth verse. In the fifth, the poet splits upon his old rock of fanciful and frigid simile.
"Then fare thee well! my own dear love,
No greater grief, no pain above
The pain of parting thus, dear love! the pain of parting thus!
"Had we but known, since first we met,
Some few short hours of bliss,
We might, in numb'ring them, forget
The deep, deep pain of this, dear love! the deep, deep pain of this
alas! we've never seen
One glimpse of pleasure's ray,
But still there came some cloud between,
And chased it all away, dear love! and chased it all away
"Yet, e'en could these sad moments last,
Far dearer to my heart
Were hours of grief, together past,
Than years of mirth apart, dear love! than years of mirth apart
"Farewell! our hope was born in fears,
And nursed 'mid vain regrets!
Like winter's suns, it rose in tears,
Like them in tears it sets, dear love! like them in tears it sets!"
The subject of our next quotation is worthy of all acceptation, and is prettily, though not powerfully, treated. "Oh, no !-not e'en when first we loved, Wert thou as dear as now thou art; Thy beauty then my senses moved,
But now thy virtues bind my heart. What was but Passion's sigh before,
Has since been turn'd to Reason's vow; And though I then might love thee more, Trust me, I love thee better now!
"Although my heart, in earlier youth, Might kindle with more wild desire; Believe me, it has gain'd in truth
Much more than it has lost in fire. The flame new warms my inmost core
That then but sparkled on my brow; And though I seem'd to love thee more, Yet, oh, I love thee better now!"
We happen to remember a passage in Southerne's Fatal Marriage, which probably no one else remembers, but which, in its strange prosaic style, embodies the idea that Moore has here worked out. The turn of one of the lines would almost persuade us that the modern poet had the passage of his predecessor in his eye when he wrote his song.
"When yet a virgin, free and undisposed,
I have since lived in contemplation
What then was passion is my reason
But how inferior are both of these descriptions to that other picture of a similar change of feeling towards a beloved object, when time and familiar converse have transformed her from a shadowy vision of imagined perfection to a substantial reality of experienced excellence. Moore and all his tribe must here bow before the acknowledged master, not in poetry only, but in the power to feel, and the skill to express that admiration of woman's loveliness and worth, which can only be deeply implanted where the soil itself is deep. We gladly quote the poem we refer to, though we have no right to give it the name of a song.
"She was a phantom of delight
"And now I see with eye serene
We have always been much affected by the beauty and simplicity of the following lines of Moore, which are to be found in the National Melo.. dies, adapted to a very plaintive Welsh air. The measure is peculiar, and may render some attention necessary to feel the full effect of the words when unconnected with music.
"Bright be thy dreams-may all thy weeping
Those by seas or death removed,
Friends who in thy spring-time knew thee,
"There may the child, whose love lay deepest,
Still the same-no charm forgot-
This, among other examples, we think, will illustrate our position, that Moore's talents are best shown where the natural goodness and sensibility of his heart can be seen through the simplest and least ornamental language. Indeed, we might ask whether it is not generally the best and always the safest plan to select as
the expression of our ideas, a style that shall be as colourless and transparent as the air that is the medium of sight, and seek only to enliven the picture by the real hues and forms of the objects that are represented.
There is neatness and sprightliness in the following specimen of a different character:
"How oft, when watching stars grow pale,
I from my casement lean.
Oh! come, my love!' each note it utters seems to say'Oh! come, my love! the night wears fast away!'
No, ne'er to mortal ear
Can words, though warm they be,
"Then quick my own light lute I seek,
And strike the chords with loudest swell;
And though they nought to others speak,
He knows their language well.
come, my love!' each sound they utter seems to say
'I come, my love! thine, thine, till break of day!'
Oh! weak the power of words,
The hues of painting dim,
Compared to what those simple chords
Then say and paint to him."