Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

tree.

York city, and when near Bloomingdale, they observed a cottager in the act of sharpening his axe under the shadow of a noble ancestral

His friend, who was once the proprietor of the estate on which the tree stood, suspecting that the woodman intended to cut it down, remonstrated against the act, and accompanying the protest with a ten-dollar note, succeeded in preserving from destruction this legendary memorial of his earlier and better days. Now for the song :

Woodman, spare that tree !--touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me, and I'll protect it now.
'Twas my forefather's hand that placed it near his cot ;
There, woodman, let it stand,—thy axe shall harm it not.
That old familiar tree, whose glory and renown
Are spread o'er land and sea, -and wouldst thou cut it down?
Woodman! forbear thy stroke! cut not its earth-bound ties;
Oh, spare that aged oak, now towering to the skies !

When but an idle boy, I sought its grateful shade ;
In all their gushing joy, here, too, my sisters played ;
My mother kissed me here, my father pressed my hand, -
Forgive this foolish tear ; but let that old oak stand!
My heart-strings round thee cling, close as thy bark, old friend!
Here shall the wild-bird sing, and still thy branches bend.
Old tree! the storm still brave; and, woodman, leave the spot ;
While I've a hand to save, thy axe shall harm it not.

This lyric is also by the same author :

To me the world's an open book, of sweet and pleasant poetry;
I read it in the running brook that sings its way towards the sea.
It whispers in the leaves of trees, the swelling grain, the waving

grass, And in the cool, fresh evening breeze, that crisps the wavelets as

they pass.

The Aowers below, the stars above, in all their bloom and brightness

given, Are, like the attributes of love, the poetry of earth and heaven. Thus Nature's volume, read aright, attunes the soul to minstrelsy, Tinging life's clouds with rosy light, and all the world with poetry.

Rogers seems to have imbibed much of the spirit of Goldsmith in his poetry, as Campbell did that of Rogers. There is not only an analogy between The Pleasures of Hope and The Pleasures of Memory, beyond the mere titles; it is also observable in the style and structure of the poems. Rogers was engaged for nine years upon his first poem, and nearly the same space of time upon his Human Life, while his Italy was not completed in less than sixteen years. He was a princely patron of poor poets and artists, and had “learned the luxury of doing good,”—but he was possessed of ample means for the gratification of his noble purpose, as well as his artistic taste. His house in St. James's Place—a costly museum of art—was, for many years, the resort of the most eminent men of letters from all parts of the world. He expended upwards of twenty thousand pounds upon the illustrated edition of his works, the beautiful engravings of which have scarcely to this day been surpassed.

The life of this remarkable man was extended beyond the average term of human existence. When more than ninety, and a prisoner in his chair, he still delighted to watch the changing colours of the evening sky—to repeat passages of his favourite poets-or to dwell on the merits of the great painters whose works adorned his walls.

There is such quiet, pensive music in his Pleasures of Memory, that it would be difficult to select a passage that would fail to please : here is one :

Ethereal power! whose smile of noon, of night,
Recalls the far-Aed spirit of delight;

Instils that musing, melancholy mood,
Which charms the wise, and elevates the good ;-

Blest Memory, hail !

Lulled in the countless chambers of the brain,
Our thoughts are linked by many a hidden chain;
Awake but one, and, lo, what myriads rise !
Each stamps its image as the other Alies :
Each, as the varied avenues of sense
Delight or sorrow to the soul dispense,
Brightens or fades, yet all, with magic art,
Control the latent fibres of the heart.

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

There is a favourite passage from his Human Life, too good to pass over :

The lark has sung his carol in the sky,
The bees have hummed their noontide harmony;
Still in the vale the village-bells ring round,
Still in Llewellyn-Hall the jests resound :
For now the caudle-cup is circling there,
Now, glad at heart, the gossips breathe their prayer,
And, crowding, stop the cradle to admire
The babe, the sleeping image of his sire.
A few short years, and then these sounds shall hail
The day again, and gladness fill the vale ;
So soon the child a youth, the youth a man,
Eager to run the race his fathers ran.
Then the huge ox shall yield the broad sirloin ;
The ale now brewed, in floods of amber shine,
And, basking in the chimney's ample blaze,
Mid many a tale told of his boyish days,
The nurse shall cry, of all her ills beguiled,

“ 'Twas on these knees he sate so oft, and smiled.”
And soon again shall music swell the breeze;
Soon, issuing forth, shall glitter through the trees
Vestures of nuptial white, and hymns be sung,
And violets scattered round; and old and young,
In every cottage-porch, with garlands green,
Stand still to gaze, and, gazing, bless the scene :
While, her dark eyes declining, by his side
Moves in her virgin-veil the gentle bride.
And once, alas! nor in a distant hour,
Another voice shall come from yonder tower :
When in dim chambers long black weeds are seen,
And weepings heard where only joy has been ;
When by his children borne, and from his door,
Slowly departing, to return no more,
He rests in holy earth, with them that went before !
And such is human life; so gliding on,
It glimmers like a meteor, and is gone!

Rogers's Lines to a Butterfly are replete with grace and beauty :

Child of the sun! pursue thy rapturous Aight,
Mingling with her thou lov’st in fields of light;
And, where the flowers of Paradise unfold,
Quaff fragrant nectar from their cup, of gold.
There shall thy wings, rich as an evening sky,
Expand and shut with silent ecstasy!
Yet wert thou once a worm, a thing that crept
On the bare earth, then wrought a tomb and slept.
And such is man: soon from his cell of clay
To burst a seraph in the blaze of day.

We might cull many pearls of thought from this poet, but we have only space for the following :

The soul of music slumbers in the shell
Till waked and kindled by the master's spell;
And feeling hearts, touch them but rightly, pour
A thousand melodies unheard before !

A guardian angel o'er his life presiding,
Doubling his pleasures, and his cares dividing.

The good are better made by ill,
As odours crushed are sweeter still.

Far from the joyless glare, the maddening strife,
And all the dull impertinence of life.

Let us turn now, with Laura A. Boies, to a sweet domestic study—that of Little Children:

There is music, there is sunshine, where the little children dwell, -
In the cottage, in the mansion, in the hut, or in the cell ;
There is music in their voices, there is sunshine in their love,
And a joy forever round them, like a glory from above.
There's a laughter-loving spirit glancing from the soft blue eyes,
Flashing through the pearly tear-drops, changing like the summer

skies :
Lurking in each roguish dimple, nestling in each ringlet fair ;
Over all the little child-face gleaming, glancing everywhere.
They all win our smiles and kisses in a thousand pleasant ways,
By the sweet, bewitching beauty of their sunny, upward gaze ;
And we cannot help but love them, when their young lips meet our

own, And the magic of their presence round about our hearts is thrown.

« AnteriorContinuar »