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"THALABA."

his camel at the welcome fountain, under the long light hanging boughs of the acacia, sky and plain on all sides bounding the horizon; and now, far off, the ruins of old Babylon loom duskily between him and the sunset.

"A night of darkness and of storms!
Into the chambers of the tomb
Thalaba led the old man,

To roof him from the rain.
A night of storms! the wind

Swept through the moonless sky,
And moaned among the pillared sepulchres;
And, in the pauses of its sweep,

They heard the heavy rain
Beat on the monument above.

In silence, on Oneiza's grave,

The father and the husband sate."

At one time we see him buoyant with hope in the ultimate success of his mission; and now we follow him from the banquet-room, while he gazes on the stars, and feels himself "a lonely being, far from all he loved."

Thalaba is wild and wonderful; Kehama fantastic and monstrous. Thalaba is more varied and imaginative; Kehama is more gorgeously and grotesquely magnificent. Kailyal is a beautiful creation, and almost rivals Oneiza in interest. While Ladurlad is under a curse, which for ever banishes sleep from his eyelids, and water from his lips, a guardian spell protects Thalaba from the spirits of evil. But poetic justice ultimately saves both. Ladurlad is rescued from torment, and wafted up in The Ship of Heaven, to meet his family in The Bower of Bliss. Thalaba dies in the arms of victory; and at the gates of Paradise, "Oneiza receives his soul."

Few things have been written by human pen more perfectly beautiful than the meeting of Ladurlad with his wife and daughter in the mansions of the Blest, and which thus concludes:

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"He knew,

Though brightened with angelic grace,
His own Yedillian's earthly face;
He ran and held her to his breast.
Oh joy above all joys of heaven!
By death alone to others given,
That moment hath to him restored
The early lost, the long deplored."

The apostrophe which follows, commencing,

"They sin who tell us love can die,"

although it must be fresh in the memory of very many present, I cannot resist quoting :—

"6 They sin who tell us love can die :
With life all other passions fly,
All others are but vanity.
In heaven Ambition cannot dwell,
Nor Avarice in the vaults of hell:
Earthly these passions of the earth,
They perish where they have their birth;
But Love is indestructible.
Its holy flame for ever burneth;

From Heaven it came, to Heaven returneth ;
Too oft on earth a troubled guest,
At times deceived, at times opprest,
It here is tried and purified,
Then hath in Heaven its perfect rest:
It soweth here with toil and care,
But the harvest-time of Love is there.
O! when a mother meets on high

The babe she lost in infancy,
Hath she not then, for pains and fears,
The day of woe, the watchful night,

For all her sorrow, all her tears,
An over-payment of delight?"

Praise almost equally high may be given to many other descriptive portions of the poem, and to several of the dramatic as the Midnight Procession, the

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apparition of Arvalan's embodied spirit, the picture of the watchman on the tower at twilight, and of the Enchantress-which, however, strikes me as being more in the style of German than of Oriental exaggeration.

Madoc, although too lengthy, and not very artistically put together, also abounds in admirable passages,-passages as fine, especially in descriptions of external nature, as any Southey has ever written. The incidental episodes, more especially that of Caradoc, and "Prince Hoel's Lay of Love"-the music of which seems to have rung in the ear of Tennyson throughout an exquisite song in his "Princess," are among the most interesting portions of the work. Madoc's voyage is the finest sea-piece in the English language; and although in it he subjects himself to be brought into comparison with the prince of Roman poets, in the sea-wanderings of Eneas to Latium, he can scarcely be said to be found wanting in the balance.

What a fine commentary on the hearty old song, "Ye gentlemen of England, who sit at home at ease," are the following impressive lines:

""Tis pleasant, by the cheerful hearth, to hear
Of tempests, and the dangers of the deep,
And pause at times, and feel that we are safe;
Then listen to the perilous tale again,
And, with an eager and suspended soul,
Woo Terror to delight us :-but to hear
The roaring of the raging elements-
To know all human skill, all human strength
Avail not to look round, and only see
The mountain-wave, incumbent with its weight
Of bursting waters o'er the reeling bark-
O God! this is indeed a dreadful thing!
And he who hath endured the horror, once,
Of such an hour, doth never hear the storm
Howl round his home, but he remembers it,
And thinks upon the suffering mariner!"

66 RODERICK."

97

But of all Southey's great poems, "Roderick" is assuredly the best, and must ever keep its place among the first-class productions of the age. It was the achievement of his matured genius; and is, throughout, more consistent and sustained than "Thalaba," "Madoc," or "Kehama." Hence it is, perhaps, that its beauties stand less prominently forward from the general text; but they are more in number, and higher in excellence, than those of his other works. Roderick himself is admirably portrayed,-bowed down with the burden. of personal guilt and grief, yet burning to avenge the insults and injuries heaped on his devoted country. He is like a fallen constellation, yet bright with the traces of original glory—like a castle in ruins, breathing in stern decay of foregone magnificence. The conflict between varying passions, anxiety to restore the liberties of his country, and the consciousness of selfabasement, produces a compound which is the moving power-the lever of his character; and Southey has managed this with great dramatic skill. The meeting with Florinda, the recognition of Roderick by his dog Theron, the battle-scene in which he falls, and the concluding passage-referring to the mystery regarding his place of sepulture—are among the most striking incidents of this great work, and vindicate Southey's claim to be regarded as a master of the lyre. "Joan of Are" was less a thing of performance than promise, and may be likened to a young field of rich wheat overrun with poppies. "The Pilgrimage to Waterloo " is but the poet's journal cleverly versified; some of the stanzas are very beautiful. Of his ballads and minor poems, the finest are "Lord William"-finer stanzas he never wrote; "Mary the Maid of the Inn”—vigorous, but occasionally in bad taste; "Queen Orrica;" "The Victory;" "Youth and Age;' 'Elegy on a favourite

"" 66

Dog;" and "The Holly Tree."

Southey's mind was exuberantly fertile, like a tropic

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98

SOUTHEY'S DRAMATIC POWERS.

soil, and brought forth at once a plentiful crop of wheat and tares of flowers and weeds. He was too self-satisfied to be a judicious farmer-if we are to pursue the simile and let them all grow unchecked together. His intellect was more remarkable for scope than vigour; and, in his delineations of character, we have less of intuition than strict observation; but his situations are not only varied, but often eminently original. In dramatic power he was far before Byron; and perhaps Southey was the only man of our age-although some believe that Campbell, in the hey-day of his genius, might have done so-who could have enriched our literature with a tragedy worthy of standing, at least, on the same shelf with Otway's "Venice Preserved,” and Home's "Douglas;" for as to Shakespeare, I mention him not at all. He stands apart from and above compare; and we may as well expect a second Deluge as a second "Macbeth," or King Lear," or "Hamlet," or "Othello." Many of Southey's portraitures are beautiful in outline, but deficient in passion: they have almost the classic coldness of sculpture. Not so his landscapes, which are always true to nature, and glow with vitality, varying from the dewy dawns of Claude to the magnificent evening twilights of Salvator Rosa. Almost every page of Southey's writings holds out a subject for the painter. The following is an autumn sketch from "Madoc :"

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"There was not, on that day, a speck to stain
The azure heaven; the blessed sun alone,
In unapproachable divinity,
Careered, rejoicing in the fields of light.
How beautiful, beneath the bright blue sky,
The billows' heave! one glowing green expanse,
Save where, along the line of bending shore,
Such hue is thrown as when the peacock's neck
Assumes its proudest tint of amethyst,
Embathed in emerald glory: all the flocks
Of Ocean are abroad; like floating foam

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