« ПредишнаНапред »
fellow-men. Lord Byron, on the contrary, never eulogises external Nature without taking, or rather making occasion, to deride and degrade humanity. His lordship’s Muse makes hating the world a necessary consequence of loving the green earth, with all its magnificent array of
grandeur and beauty. It would occupy a very long paper to point out even a few of the passages in which the two poets have on this single subject brought forward their two leading principles-Love and Scorn. One, however, must suffice, and we would remind the reader that the writers are speaking in their own persons :
Is it not better then to be alone,
And love Earth only for its earthly sake?
By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone,
Or the pure bosom of its nursing lake,
Which feeds it as a mother who doth make
A fair but froward infant her own care,
Kissing its cries away as these awake;-
Is it not better thus our lives to wear,
Than join the crushing crowd, doomed to inflict or bear?
I live not in myself, but I become
Portion of that around me; and to me
High mountains are a feeling : I can see
Nothing to loathe in Nature, save to be
A link reluctant in a fleshly chain,
Classed among creatures, when the soul can flee,
And with the sky, the peak, the heaving plain
Of ocean, or the stars, mingle, and not in vain.
And thus I am absorbed, and this is life:
I look upon the peopled desert past,
As on a place of agony and strife,
Where, for some sin, to Sorrow I was cast,
To act and suffer.
I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion : the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite : a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, or any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts
Have followed, for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence. For I have learned
To look on Nature, not as in 'the hour
Of thoughtless youth ; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Not harsh, nor grating, though of ampler power
To chasten and subdue.
WORDSWORTH. Admitting that the most valuable part of Wordsworth's poetry will not be that which will meet with the greatest number of admirers, there is a vast portion which, for strength, precision, and melody,-exquisite grace, whether of feeling or expression, must be admired by all that have ears to hear, and hearts to feel. Whatever difference of 'opinion may exist concerning · The Idiot Boy,'— Peter Bell,'— ' The Waggoner,' and others of the same cast, which after all make up but a small portion of the volumes,
we could fill half a page with merely the names of poems, which require no argument to prove either their merič or their beauty. Much of Wordsworth's poetry is certainly peculiar, but how much more of it is general,– calculated for general perusal and general admiration. His Sonnets, upwards of two hundred in number, would, for the most part, delight even inveterate anti-Wordsworthians if put forth by any other writer; and the Episodes in The Excursion;' • She was a Phantom;' The Highland Girl, ;'
• The Solitary Reaper ;' • The Remembrance of Collins;' Lines written in a Boat;' Hartleap Well;' the 'Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle ;' Vaudracour and Julia;' would interest those who may be unable to appreciate his strains of a higher mood. Let us now make a few random selections ;
What aspect bore the man who roved or fled,
First of his tribe, to this dark dell,who first
In this pellucid current slaked his thirst ?
What hopes came with him ? what designs were spread
Along his path ? His unprotected bed
What dreams encompassed? Was the intruder nursed
In hideous usages, and rites accursed,
That thinned the living and disturbed the dead ?
No voice replies ;—the earth, the air is mute;
And thou blue streamlet, murmuring yield'st no more
Than a soft record that whatever fruit
Of ignorance thou might'st witness heretofore,
Thy function was to heal and to restore,
To soothe and cleanse, not madden and pollute !
Where lies the land to which yon ship must go ?
Festively she puts forth in trim array;
And vigorous as a lark at break of day:
Is she for tropic suns, or polar snow?
What boots the inquiry ? -Neither friend nor foe
She cares for; let her travel where she may,
She finds familiar names, a beaten way
Ever before her, and a wind to blow.
Yet still I ask, what haven is her mark ?
And almost as it was when ships were rare,
(From time to time, like pilgrims, here and there
Crossing the waters) doubt, and something dark,
Of the old sea some reverential fear,
Is with me at thy farewell, joyous bark !
COMPOSED UPON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE.
Earth has not any thing to shew more fair :
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty :
This city now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning ; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will :
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep ;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
Fair is the swan, whose majesty, prevailing
O'er breezeless water, on Locarno's lake,
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 Aaky 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 ?
0! 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 fond 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 well 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