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His works have not been popular; yet we might select at random. from any one of them, a dozen pages, out of which a more skilful, a more cunning, or a more humble man might have made a reputation. They are full to overflowing ; one cannot but wonder at the vast mine of thought, reason, and reflection, of which they exhibit proofs ;—at the same time, it will be lamented that some peculiar notions have led him to neglect the means by which his strong natural powers might have been made universally beneficial. It is obvious that he labours to attain a dislike of, and a contempt for, human kind; and that his kindly and benevolent nature will not permit him so to do: in all his writings there is a singular and striking mixture of the generous with the disdainful—tenderness with wrath, strong affections, with antipathies quite as strong. His “ Imaginary Conversations" will endure with the language in which they are written; and if they do not find readers in the multitude, they will be always appreciated by those whose judg. ment is valuable, and whose praise is reward. His latest work in prose, “Pericles and Aspasia,” might justify even a warmer eulogy.
Mr. Landor has published but one volume of Poetry,—“Geber, Count Julian, and other Poems;" but several of his most powerful and beautiful compositions will be found scattered through his prose works. Our readers will find in our selections ample to sustain a high reputation. They are polished to a degree; yet full of fine thoughts and rich fancies. The evidences of his genius for dra. matic poetry are abundant, and received full justice, a year ago, in the New Monthly Magazine. To a glowing imagination and a mind remarkably vigorous, he adds the advantages of extensive learning, and a matured knowledge of human kind. His indiffer. ence to public opinion-arising, no doubt, from a taste highly cul. tivated, and a refined appreciation of excellence-has, unhappily, induced him to withhold too much of the intellectual wealth he possesses, and even to mix with “ baser matter” that which he has given us. If he had been born a poor man, he would have been, at least in the estimation of the world, a much greater man than he is. If, however, the fame of Walter Savage Landor be not widely spread, it cannot fail to be enduring. Among the rarest and most excellent of British Poets he will always be classed.
Clifton, in vain thy varied scenes invite-
The mossy bank, dim glade, and dizzy height;
The sheep, that, starting from the tufted thyme,
Untune the distant churches' mellow chime;
As o'er each limb a gentle horror creeps,
And shake above our heads the craggy steeps.
Pleasant I've thought it to pursue the rower
While light and darkness seize the changeful oar;
The frolic Naiads drawing from below
A net of silver round the black canoe.
Now the last lonely solace must it be
To watch pale evening brood o'er land and sea.
Then join my friends, and let those friends believe
My cheeks are moistened by the dews of eve.
LIFE (priest and poet say) is but a dream ;
I wish no happier one than to be laid
Beneath some cool syringa’s scented shade;
Or wavy willow, by the running stream,
Brimful of moral, where the Dragon-fly
Wanders as careless and content as I.
Thanks for this fancy, insect king,
Of purple crest and meshy wing,
Who, with indifference, givest up
The water-lily's golden cup,
To come again and overlook
What I am writing in my
Believe me, most who read the line
Will read with hornier eyes than thine;
And yet their souls shall live for ever,
And thine drop dead into the river !
God pardon them, O insect king,
Who fancy so unjust a thing !
While the winds whistle round my cheerless room,
And the pale morning droops with winter's gloom ;
While indistinct lie rude and cultured lands,
The ripening harvest and the hoary sands :
Alone, and destitute of every page
That fires the poet, or informs the sage,
Where shall my wishes, where my fancy rove,
Rest upon past or cherish promised love?
Alas! the past I never can regain,
Wishes may rise, and tears may flow in vain.
Fancy, that shows her in her early bloom,
Throws barren sunshine o'er the unyielding tomb.
What then would passion, what would reason do?
Sure, to retrace is worse than to pursue.
Here will I sit, 'till heaven shall cease to lour,
And happier Hesper bring the appointed hour;
Gaze on the mingled waste of sky and sea,
Think of my love, and bid her think of me.
HERE, where precipitate Spring with one light bound
Into hot Summer's lusty arms expires;
And where go forth at morn, at eve, at night,
Soft airs, that want the lute to play with them,
And softer sighs, that know not what they want:
Under a wall, beneath an orange-tree
Whose tallest flowers could tell the lowlier ones
Of sights in Fiesole right up above,
While I was gazing a few paces off
At what they seemed to show me with their nods,
Their frequent whispers and their pointing shoots,
A gentle maid came down the garden steps,
And gathered the pure treasure in her lap.
I heard the branches rustle, and stept forth
To drive the ox away, or mule, or goat,
(Such I believed it must be); for sweet scents
Are the swift vehicles of still sweeter thoughts,
And nurse and pillow the dull memory
That would let drop without them her best stores.
They bring me tales of youth and tones of love,
And 'tis and ever was my wish and way
To let all flowers live freely, and all die,
Whene'er their genius bids their souls depart,
Among their kindred in their native place.
I never pluck the rose; the violet's head
Hath shaken with my breath upon its bank
And not reproacht me; the ever sacred cup
Of the pure lily hath between my hands
Felt safe, unsoil'd, nor lost one grain of gold.
I saw the light that made the glossy leaves
More glossy; the fair arm, the fairer cheek
Warmed by the eye intent on its pursuit ;
I saw the foot, that, although half erect
From its gray slipper, could not lift her up
To what she wanted : I held down a branch
And gather'd her some blossoms, since their hour
Was come, and bees had wounded them, and flies
Of harder wing were working their way through
And scattering them in fragments under foot.
So crisp were some, they rattled unevolved,
Others, ere broken off, fell into shells,
For such appear the petals when detach’d,
Unbending, brittle, lucid, white like snow,
And like snow not seen through, by eye or sun:
Yet every one her gown received from me
Was fairer than the first– I thought not so,
But so she praised them to reward my care.
I said: “You find the largest."
“ This indeed," Cried she, “ is large and sweet."
She held one forth, Whether for me to look at or to take She knew not, nor did I; but taking it Would best have solved (and this she felt) her doubts. I dared not touch it; for it seemed a part Of her own self; fresh, full, the most mature Of blossoms, yet a blossom; with a touch To fall, and yet unfallen.
She drew back
The boon she tendered, and then, finding not
The riband at her waist to fix it in,
Dropt it, as loth to drop it, on the rest.