Imágenes de página

Here Nature, in her unaffected dress,
Plaited with valleys, and embossed with hills
Enchased with silver streams, and fringed with woods,
Sits lovely in her native russet.


Who is not charmed with the rich quaintness of worthy GEORGE HERBERT? Here is his fine piece, entitled Virtue :

Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,

The bridal of the earth and sky!
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night;

For thou must die.

Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave,

Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye!
Thy root is ever in its grave-

And thou must die.

Sweet Spring, full of sweet days and roses,

A box where sweets compacted lie!
My music shows ye have your closes,

And all must die.

Only a sweet and virtuous soul,

Like seasoned timber, never gives ;
But though the whole world turn to coal,

Then chiefly lives.

These are the opening stanzas of his Man's Medley :

Hark! how the birds do sing,

And woods do ring :
All creatures have their joy, and man hath his :

Yet if we rightly measure,

Man’s joy and pleasure
Rather hereafter, than in present, is.

To this life things of sense

Make their pretence ;
In th' other angels have a right by birth;

Man ties them both alone,

And makes them one,
With th' one touching heaven—with th' other, earth.

There is a charm about Herbert's poetry, notwithstanding the strange conceits with which it abounds; as in the following lines, entitled Life :

I made a posie, while the day ran by:
Here will I smell my remnant out, and tie

My life within this band.
But Time did beckon to the Aowers, and they
By noon most cunningly did steal away,
And wither'd in my hand.

My hand was next to them, and then my heart;
I took, without more thinking, in good part

Time's gentle admonition;
Who did so sweetly death's sad taste convey,
Making my minde to smell my fatall day,

Yet sugaring the suspicion.

Farewell, dear flowers; sweetly your time ye spent,
Fit, while ye liv’d, for smell or ornament,

And after death for cures.
I follow straight without complaints or grief,
Since, if my scent be good, I care not if

It be as short as yours.

Addison, it may be remembered, thus refers to a brother bard in the following couplet :

“Nor, Denham, must we e'er forget thy strains,

While Cooper's Hill commands the neighboring plains.”

It was this DenHAM that wrote that celebrated quartette—which seems to have been a poetic inspiration :

Oh! could I low like thee, and make thy stream
My great example, as it is my theme !
Though deep, yet clear ; though gentle, yet not dull ;
Strong without rage ; without o’erflowing, full !

ANDREW Marvell, the friend of Milton, wrote these glowing lines On a Drop of Dew :

See how the orient dew,

Shed from the bosom of the morn,
Into the blowing roses,

Yet careless of its mansion new,
For the clear region where 'twas born,

Round in itself encloses;
And in its little globe's extent,
Frames as it can its native element.

How it the purple flower does slight!

Scarce touching where it lies ;

But giving back upon the skies,

Shines with a mournful light,
Like its own tear, because so long divided from the sphere,
Restless it rolls and insecure, trembling lest it grow impure,

Till the warm sun pities its pain,
And to the skies exhales it back again.

So the soul that drop, that ray
Of the clear fountain of eternal day,
Could it within the human Aower be seen,

Remembering still its former height,
Shuns the sweet leaves and blossoms green,

And recollecting its own light,
Does in its pure and circling thoughts express
The greater heaven in a heaven less.

Dryden's magnificent Ode, On the Power of Music, written in 1697, for the festival of St. Cecilia's day, is by many considered his masterpiece. It is pronounced unequalled by any thing of its kind since classic times; and is the best illustration of the pliancy of our English extant. He wrote this grand Ode at Burleigh House, where his translation of Virgil was partly executed. One morning Lord Bolingbroke chanced to call on Dryden, whom he found in unusual agitation. On inquiring the cause, “I have been up all night,” replied the bard; “my musical friends made me promise to write them an Ode for the Feast of St. Cecilia : I have been so struck with the subject which occurred to me, that I could not leave it till I had completed it: here it is, finished at one sitting.”

The poem is designed to exhibit the different passions excited by Timotheus in the mind of Alexander, feasting a triumphant conqueror in Persepolis. The grandeur of the poem can only be appreciated by perusing it entire, and more fully, indeed, on even a second perusal. Here is the opening stanza :

[graphic][merged small]

His valiant peers were placed around,
Their brows with roses and with myrtle bound;
So should desert in arms be crown'd.

The lovely Thaïs by his side
Sat, like a blooming Eastern bride,
In Aower of youth and beauty's pride :

« AnteriorContinuar »