« AnteriorContinuar »
the boldest fictions of the poet, much more may it be expected in his delineations of life; for the present life, which is the first stage of the immortal mind, abounds in the materials of poetry, and it is the high office of the bard to detect this divine element among the grosser labours and pleasures of our earthly being. The present life is not wholly prosaic, precise, tame, and finite. To the gifted eye, it abounds in the poetic. The affections which stretch far into futuritythe workings of mighty passions, which seem to arm the soul with an almost superhuman energy—the innocent and irrepressible joy of infancy—the bloom, and buoyancy, and dazzling hopes of youth—the throbbings of the heart, when it first wakes to love, and dreams of a happiness too vast for earth-woman, with her beauty, and grace, and gentleness, and fulness of feeling, and depth of affection, and her blushes of purity, and the tones and looks which only a mother's heart can inspire,—these are all poetical. It is not true that the poet paints a life which does not exist. He only extracts and concentrates, as it were, life's ethereal essence, arrests and condenses its volatile fragance, brings together its scattered beauties, and prolongs its more refined but evanescent joys: and in this he does well; for it is good to feel that life is not wholly usurped by cares for subsistence, and physical gratifications, but admits, in measures which may be indefinitely enlarged, sentiments and delights worthy of a higher being. This power of etry to refine our views of life and happiness, is more and more needed as society advances. It is needed to withstand the encroachments of heartless and artificial manners, which make civilization so tame and uninteresting. It is needed to counteract the tendency of physical science, which being now sought, not as formerly for intellectual gratification, but for multiplying bodily comforts, requires a new development of imagination, taste, and poetry, to preserve men from sinking into an earthly, material, epicurean life.
THE WELL OF ST. KEYNE.
A well there is in the west country,
And a clearer one never was seen; There is not a wife in the west country
But has heard of the well of St. Keyne.
An oak and an elm-tree stand beside,
And behind does an ash-tree grow, And a willow from the bank above
Droops to the water below.
A traveller came to the well of St. Keyne
Joyfully he drew nigh,
And there was not a cloud in the sky:
He drank of the water so cool and clear,
For thirsty and hot was he, And he sat down upon the bank
Under the willow-tree.
There came a man from the neighbouring town,
At the well to fill his pail; On the well-side he rested it,
And he bade the stranger-hail!
“ Now art thou a bachelor, Stranger?” quoth he,
“ For, an' if thou hast a wife, The happiest draught thou hast drunk this day
That ever thou didst in thy life.
“Or, has thy good woman, if one thou hast,
Ever here in Cornwall been?
She has drunk of the well of St. Keyne.”
"I have left a good woman who never was here,”
The stranger he made reply, “But that my draught should be better for that, I pray you answer me--why ?”
“St. Keyne,” quoth the Cornish-man, “ many a time
Drank of this crystal well,
She laid on the water a spell:
“ If the husband, of this gifted well
Shall drink before his wife,
For he shall be master for life!
“ But if the wife should drink of it first,
Heaven help the husband then!”-
And drank of the water again:
“ You drank of the well, I warrant, betimes ?”
He to the Cornish-man said;
And sheepishly shook his head:
“I hasten'd as soon as the wedding was done,
And left my wife in the porch;
For she took a bottle to church!”
THE WORLD COMPARED TO A STAGE.
All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
HEDDERWICK AND SON, PRINTERS.