페이지 이미지

Bears him on while proudly sailing
He leaves behind a moon illumined wake :
Behold! the mantling spirit of reserve
Fashions his neck into a goodly curve;
An arch thrown back between luxuriant wings
Of whitest garniture, like fir-tree boughs
To which, on some unruffled morning, clings
A faky weight of winter's purest snows!
Behold !-as with a gushing impulse heaves
That downy prow, and softly cleaves
The mirror of the crystal flood,
Vanish inverted hill, and shadowy wood,
And pendant rocks, where'er, in gliding state,
Winds the mute creature, without visible mate
Or rival, save the queen of night
Showering down a silver light,
From heaven, upon her chosen favourite !

So pure, so bright, so fitted to embrace,
Where'er he turned, a natural grace
Of haughtiness without pretence,
And to unfold a still magnificence,
Was princely Dion, in the power

And beauty of his happier hour. And hear how the same writer describes a poet's tomb; the spirit of peace and solitude broods over every line :

In this still place, remote from men,
Sleeps Ossian, in the NARROW GLEN;
In this still place, where murmurs on
But one meek streamlet, only one :
He sang of battles, and the breath
Of stormy war, and violent death;
And should, methinks, when all was past,
Have rightfully been laid at last
Where rocks were rudely heaped, and rent
As by a spirit turbulent;
Where sights were rough, and sounds were wild,
And every thing unreconciled ;
In some complaining, dim retreat,
For fear and melancholy meet;
But this is calm ; there cannot be
A more entire tranquillity.
Does then the Bard sleep here indeed ?
Or is it but a groundless creed ?
What matters it?-I blame them not
Whose Fancy in this lonely spot
Was moved, and in this way expressed
Their notion of its perfect rest.
A convent, even a hermit's cell,
Would break the silence of this dell :
It is not quiet, is not ease,
But something deeper far than these :
The separation that is here
Is of the gravc; and of austere
And happy feelings of the dead :
And, therefore, was it rightly said,
That Ossian, last of all his race !

Lies buried in this lonely place. Nevertheless, if we wished to give a stranger to Wordsworth's poems the most delightful impression of them, we should, perhaps, as a whole, select “Yarrow Visited.' There are others much finer; the Lines on Cora Linn

breathe a softer energy; those to his . Infant Daughter,' and to a Child, Six Years Old,' are more completely removed from the beaten track of poetry; 'Laodamia' is statelier; 'Ruth' is at once more pathetic and more picturesque ; Tintern Abbey,' and the Ode to Duty,' are more profound ; but upon • Yarrow Visited' is shed a harmony, a beauty, a delicacy, and a grace, unmatched amongst its fellows. It is too long for entire quotation, but a few verses we must copy :

And is this Yarrow ?- This the stream
Of which my fancy cherished,
So faithfully a waking dream,
An image that hath perished ?
O! that some minstrel's harp were near
To utter notes of gladness,
And chase this silence from the air,
That fills my heart with sadness !
Yet why ?-a silvery current flows
With uncontrouled meanderings ;
Nor have these eyes by greener hills
Been soothed, in all my wanderings.
And, through her depths, Saint Mary's Lake
Is visibly delighted;
For not a feature of those hills
Is in the mirror slighted.
But thou, that didst appear so fair
To fund imagination,
Dost rival in the light of day
Her delicate creation :
Meek loveliness is round thee spread,
A softness still and holy ;
The grace of forest charms decayed,
And pastoral melancholy.
Fair scenes for childhood's opening bloom ;
For sportive youth to stray in;
For manhood to enjoy his strength;
And age to wear away in!
Yon cottage seems a bower of bliss,
It promises protection
To all the nestling brood of thoughts
Sustained by chaste affection!
I see but not by sight alone,
Loved Yarrow, have I won thee ;
A ray of Fancy still survives
Her sunshine plays upon thee!
Thy ever-youthful waters keep
A course of lively pleasure;
And gladsome notes my lips can breathe,
Accordant to the measure.
The vapours linger round the heights,
They meltmand soon must vanish;
One hour is theirs, nor more is mine
Sad thought! which I would banish,
But that I know, where'er I go,
Thy genuine image, Yarrow!
Will dwell with me-to heighten joy,

And cheer my my mind in sorrow. It is perpetually objected that Wordsworth's characters have no variety, inasmuch as they are almost invariably drawn from the better specimens of mankind; a family likeness of worth, usefulness, and peace, may be

discerned among them, but not more than the counter family likeness of darkness and desperation observable in all Lord Byron's heroes. In our last we gave a few of Wordsworth's female portraits ; we will now add to the collection a few of his male ones, worthy of the association :

As if within his frame
Two several souls alternately had lodged,
Two sets of manners could the youth put on;
And, fraught with antics as the Indian bird
That writhes and chatters in her wiry cage,
Was graceful, when it pleased him ; smooth and still
As the mute swan that floats adown the stream,
Or, on the waters of the unruffled lake,
Anchors her placid beauty. Not a leaf,
That flutters on the bough, more light than he ;
And not a flower, that droops in the green shade,
More willingly reserved.
Grey locks profusely round his temples hung
In clustering curls, like ivy, which the bite
Of Winter cannot thin; the fresh air lodged
Within his cheek, as light within a cloud.
A man he seems of cheerful yesterdays
And confident to-morrows,—with a face
Not worldly-minded; for it bears too much
Of Nature's impress,-gaiety and health,
Freedom and Hope ; but keen withal, and shrewd.
His gestures note,--and hark! his tones of voice
Are all vivacious as his mien and looks.
Him might we liken to the setting sun
As I have seen it, on some gusty day,
Struggling and bold, and shining from the west
With an inconstant and unmellowed light.-
She was a soft attendant cloud, that hung
As if with wish to veil the restless orb;
From which it did itself imbibe a ray

Of pleasing lustre. If the poet has seldom pourtrayed the harsher feautures of human nature; if he has never excited our sympathies for crime, or selected his heroes from cap and feather desperadoes, who commit murder ungracefully, and confess it with an air; it has been from choice and conviction.

He is not, as he expresses it,

Inclined to treat
Of man degraded in his Maker's sight

By the deformities of brutish vice; and even when obliged to introduce characters who have swerved from the narrow path, he desires to single out those

Upon whose lapse, or error, something more

Than brotherly forgiveness may attend. The diction of many of our living poets is more splendid and striking, but of none will the diction generally bear such close and repeated examination as that of Wordsworth. Few words could be removed from his works without injury to the sense, and fewer need be added to complete it. His is never an ambitious style; beggarly ideas are ever arrayed in the purple and fine linen' of pompous phraseology: his very metaphors are characterised by chaste simplicity; and differ from metaphors in general as the Macedonian Phalanx did from the Persian Immortals,—the one, dependent on innate strength and dignity, the other, relying on exterior show and splendour. From his habits of close observation and severe

reflection, his language never degenerates into gaudy common-place; his lines have all a definite meaning and purpose; whether the reader coincide with them or not, the poems are, true to themselves, free from contradiction. Energy has been called the characteristic of Lord Byron's diction,-precision is certainly the distinguishing character of Wordsworth’s. It is impossible not to be struck with the infinite number of felicitous phrases scattered through the Excursion and the Lyrical Ballads,-phrases that unite individual force with capability of general application. Thus, where he speaks of a forest at the approach of autumn, as

Unfaded, yet prepared to fade.
When he describes tender peaceful melancholy, as

That sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind. When the spectre of her husband first appears to Laodamia, and he gra'' phically remarks by two words, the transition and its cause, from surprise and fear, to certainty and delight

O terror ! what hath she perceived ?-Ojoy!

What doth she look on? Or compresses in one glorious line a description and illustration of poetry, by calling it

The vision and the faculty divine. When he describes the excitation of spirits produced by a first spring morning

I roamed in the confusion of my heart

Alive to all things and forgetting all.
Or depicts a summer evening-

Quiet as a Nun-breathless with adoration.
Or contemplating a scene of overpowering magnificence, says,

Thought was not, in enjoyment it expired. When he calls the cuckoo a wandering voice,' &c. speaks of a river 'gliding at his own sweet will,' of the old sea' inspiring reverential fear, of the 'glory and the freshness of a dream,'—of the 'sleep that is among the lonely hills,'-—of the stock dove • brooding over his own sweet voice,'of the deep contentment in the vernal air,-he has expressed what no one acquainted with his words will ever express in any other, because none can be found more exquisitely appropriate to the things described.

But it is time, more than time, to bring these remarks to a close. Some who may have perused them will not scruple to pronounce us bigoted enthusiasts ; of the latter title we are proud, the former we entirely disclaim, All Wordsworth's poems are not equally our favourites, there are some with which we are even dissatisfied; but when these make up so fractional a portion of his whole works, when the mass of excellence is excellence so exalted and unalloyed, it does strike us as little short of impertinence to examine such a sun merely to number its specks. On this point, a remark in the preface to his Lyrical Ballads fully expresses our feelings, and we shall therefore quote it.

• If an author, by any single composition, has impressed us with respect for his talents, it is useful to consider this as affording a presumption, that, on other occasions where we have been displeased, he, nevertheless, may not have written ill or absurdly; and further, to give him so much credit for this one composition as may induce us to review what has displeased us with more care than we should otherwise have bestowed upon it.'

Wordsworth, as was remarked at the outset of the last paper, is not popular; we may go further, and affirm, that in all probability he never will be ;-but we confidently anticipate the arrival of a period, when the merits of this truly great poet will be so universally acknowledged, we do not say appreciated—that people will no more think of ridiculing the Excursion than they would of decrying Paradise Lost.



Whilom by silver Thamis' gentle stream
In London town there dwelt a subtle wight ;-
A wight of mickle wealth, and mickle fame ;
Book-learned and quaint-a Virtuoso hight!
Uncommon things and rare were his delight;
From musings deep his brain ne'er borrowed ease ;
Nor did he cease from study day or night;

Until (advancing onward by degrees)
He knew whatever breeds on earth, in air, or seas.

He many a creature did anatomize,
Almost unpeopling water, air, and land;
Beasts, fishes, birds, snails, caterpillars, flies,
Were laid full low by his relentless hand,
That oft with gory crimson was distained :
He many a dog destroyed, and many a cat;
Of fleas his bed, of frogs the marshes drained;

Could tell us if a mite were lean or fat,
And read a lecture on the entrails of a gnat.

He knew the various modes of ancient times,
Their arts and fashions each of different guise ;
Their weddings, funerals, punishments for crimes,
Their strength, their learning eke, and rarities ;
Of old habiliments each sort and size,
Male, female, high and low to him were known;
Each gladiator, dress, and stage disguise :

With learned, clerkly phrase, he could have shown,
How the Greek tunic differed from the Roman gown.

A curious medalist, I wot, he was,
And boasted many a drawer of ancient coin ;
Well as his wife he knew each regal face
From Julius Cæsar down to Constantine.
For some rare sculpture he would often pine,

* This admirable sketch has been presented to us by a friend, as a juvenile production of the poet Akeuside. It has never, we are told, appeared in print before.-ED.

« 이전계속 »