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Her grandmother, for many a year,
Had fed the parish with her bounty; Her second cousin was a peer,
And lord-lieutenant of the county.
But titles and the three per cents,
And mortgages, and great relations, And India bonds, and tithes and rents,
Oh! what are they to love's sensations? Black eyes, fair forehead, clustering locks, Such wealth, such honours, Cupid chooses; He cares as little for the stocks,
As Baron Rothschild for the muses.
She sketch'd; the vale, the wood, the beach, Grew lovelier from her pencil's shading; She botanized; I envied each
Young blossom in her boudoir fading; She warbled Handel; it was grand
She made the Catalina jealous; She touch'd the organ; I could stand
For hours and hours and blow the bellows.
She kept an album, too, at home,
Well fill'd with all an album's glories; Paintings of butterflies and Rome,
Patterns for trimming, Persian stories; Soft songs to Julia's cockatoo,
Fierce odes to famine and to slaughter; And autographs of Prince Laboo,
And recipes of elder water.
And she was flatter'd, worshipp'd, bored,
Her steps were watch'd, her dress was noted, Her poodle dog was quite adored,
Her sayings were extremely quoted.
As if the opera were demolish'd.
I knew that there was nothing in it; I was the first, the only one
Her heart had thought of for a minute; I knew it, for she told me so,
In phrase which was divinely moulded; She wrote a charming hand, and oh!
How sweetly all her notes were folded! Our love was like most other loves
A little glow, a little shiver; A rosebud and a pair of gloves,
AndFly Not Yet," upon the river; Some jealousy of some one's heir,
Some hopes of dying broken-hearted, A miniature, a lock of hair,
The usual vows-and then we parted. We parted-months and years roll'd by; We met again four summers after; Our parting was all sob and sigh
Our meeting was all mirth and laughter; For in my heart's most secret cell,
There had been many other lodgers; And she was not the ball-room belle,
But only Mrs. Something-Rogers.
ALFRED TENNYSON is the son of a clergyman in Lincolnshire, and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. Since leaving the university he has lived in retirement. His first appearance as an author was in 1830, when he published a small volume of verses, which was succeeded two years afterwards by another entitled Poems chiefly Lyrical. In 1843 appeared his collected writings in two volumes, the first containing a selection from his previous publications, and the second his later compositions.
Mr. TENNYSON, says LEIGH HUNT, in a notice written several years ago of his earlier poems, "is of the school of KEATS; that is to say, it is difficult not to see that KEATS has been a great deal in his thoughts; and that he delights in the same brooding over his sensations, and the same melodious enjoyment| of their expression........Much, however, as he reminds us of KEATS, his genius is his own: he would have written poetry had his precursor written none; and he has, also, a vein of metaphysical subtlety, in which the other did not indulge........He is a great lover of a certain home kind of landscape, which he delights to paint with a minuteness that in the Moated Grange becomes affecting, and in the Miller's Daughter would remind us of the Dutch school if it were not mixed up with the same deep feeling, though varied with a pleasant joviality. He has yet given no such evidence of sustained and broad power as that of Hyperion, nor even of such gentler narrative as the Eve of St. Agnes and the poems of Lamia and Isabella, but the materials of the noblest poetry are abundant in him."
The general judgment was less favourable than that of Mr. HUNT. TENNYSON's poems were keenly reviewed in several of the leading journals of criticism, and he is said at an early day to have withdrawn from the market and burned all the unsold copies. Yet the volumes published in 1830 and 1832 contained Mariana, Oriana, Madeline, The Death of the Old Year, The Miller's Daughter, Enone, and other pieces quite equal to the larger number of his more recent productions.
Locksley Hall is in my opinion the best of TENNYSON'S Works-the poem in which there is the truest feeling, the most strength, directness, and intensity. He is sensible of his want of the inventive faculty, and rarely attempts the creation of incidents. Dora was suggested by one of Miss MITFORD's portraits, and the Lady Clare by Mrs. FARRAR's Inheritance; The Day Dream, The Lady of Shalott, Godiva, and other narrative pieces, are versions of old stories; and the poetry of The Arabian Nights was ready made to his hand. He excels most in his female portraitures; but while delicate and graceful they are indefinite, while airy and spiritual are intangible. As we read BYRON or BURNS beautiful forms stand before us, we see the action of their breathing and read the passionate language of their eyes; but we have glimpses only of the impalpable creations of TENNYSON, as on gold-bordered clouds they bend to listen to dream-like melodies which go up from fairy lakes and enchanted palaces. There are exceptions as the picture of the Sleeping Beauty, in the Day Dream, which is rarely excelled for statue-like definiteness and warmth of colouring. Some of his portraits of men also are fine. It would be difficult to discover any thing in its way more graphic than this description from The Miller's Daughter:
I see the wealthy miller yet,
And full of dealings with the world.
There are equally felicitous stanzas in several of his longer poems, which are generally, more than those quoted in this volume, disfigured by affectations of thought and expression. Mr.. TENNYSON has studied KEATS, SHELLEY, and the Greek poets, and, of the last especially, has made free and unacknowledged use. The peculiarities of his style have attracted attention, and his writings have enough intrinsic merit, probably, to secure him a permanent place in the third or fourth rank of contemporary English poets.