« AnteriorContinuar »
own place and context; but he would have done more wisely to have left them to find their own apology than to have given reasons which seemed paradoxes. In the hot controversy which followed, both disputants made false moves: the Edinburgh reviewers were false in their thrusts, Wordsworth was false in his parry. He was right in protesting against the doctrine that a thing is not poetical because it is not expressed in a certain conventional mintage: he was wrong in denying that there is a mintage of words fit for poetry and unsuitable for ordinary prose. They were utterly wrong in thinking that he was not a most careful and fastidious artist in language; but they had some reason for their objections, and some excuse for their ridicule, when it was laid down without distinguishing or qualifying that there was no difference between the language of prose and poetry, and that the language of poetry was false and bad unless it was what might be spoken in the intercourse of common life. Wordsworth, confident of his side of truth, and stung by the flippancy and ignorant narrowness of his censors, was not the person to clear up the dispute. Coleridge, understanding and sympathising with what he really meant, never undertook a worthier task than when he brought his singular powers of criticism to bear on it, and helped men to take a more serious and just measure of his friend's greatness. He pointed out firmly and clearly what was untenable in Wordsworth's positions, his ambiguities, his overstatements. He put into more reasonable and comprehensive terms what he knew to be Wordsworth's meaning. He did not shrink from admitting defects, 'characteristic defects,' in his poetry ;-inequality of style, over-care for minute painting of details; disproportion and incongruity between language and feeling, between matter and decoration; 'thoughts and images too great for the subject.' But then he showed at what a height, in spite of all, he really stood :-his austere purity and perfection of language, the wideness of his range, the freshness of his thought, the unfailing certainty of his eye; his unswerving truth, and, above all, his magnificent gift of imagination, 'nearest of all modern writers to Shakespeare and Milton, yet in a kind perfectly unborrowed and his own.' No more discriminating and no more elevated judgment of Wordsworth's genius is to be found than that which Coleridge inserted in the volume which he called his Biographia Literaria.
R. W. CHURCH.
THE REVERIE OF POOR SUSAN.
At the corner of Wood Street, when daylight appears,
'Tis a note of enchantment; what ails her? She sees
A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;
Green pastures she views in the midst of the dale,
She looks, and her heart is in heaven: but they fade,
EXPOSTULATION AND REPLY.
'Why, William, on that old grey stone,
Why, William, sit you thus alone,
Where are your books?—that light bequeathed
You look round on your Mother Earth,
One morning thus, by Esthwaite lake,
'The eye-it cannot choose but see:
Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum
That nothing of itself will come,
-Then ask not wherefore, here, alone,
I sit upon this old grey stone,
And dream my time away.'
THE TABLES TURNED.
(An Evening Scene on the same Subject.)
Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
The sun, above the mountain's head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
She has a world of ready wealth,
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:
Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
LINES, COMPOSED A FEW MILES ABOVE TINTERN ABBEY, ON REVISITING THE BANKS OF THE WYE DURING A TOUR. JULY 13, 1798.
Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
These beauteous forms,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Is lightened :—that serene and blessed mood,