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“ Methought I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
Rescu'd from death by force, though pale and faint.
Purification in the old law did save,
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint ;
Her face was veil'd; yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
But 0, as to embrace me she inclin'd,
I wak'd ; she fled; and day brought back my night."-Milton. A dream ! it shall be the poet's mouth," and visits the subterranean dream. And here is Elton's “ Dream cataracts. So much we consider as of Orpheus." He has most happily the drop-scene indicative of the genetreated the subject as a dream, with ral character of the piece, for in other the boldness, the transition, the action respects it is unnecessary. From this of a Greek. He is Greek in his he emerges, in his “ bodiless, swift dream, and has given us an English presence," and is again upon the moun. version not to be despised. The poet, tains, which are poetically described in a vision,-“my visual sense was as fit scenery for the agency of the soul,"-is amongst strange mountains poem. and forests. He pierces” a cavern's
“ The vulture cross'd the azure with his shade,
Starting, as 't were a leaf, scarce seen and gone." - Page 181. He is in the territory of the Bacchants, hears enchanting music, and “ with a thought” is before a mountain grotto. There are " nymphs with vine-leaves crown'd." Orpheus, of the music of whose lyre he had heard, is here introduced with effect.
“ Stags, with their antlers, peep'd ; and the streak'd pard
Beneath his foot, the fang still dropping gore." - Page 182. There is then silence-afterwards comes the song of the Bacchants, who taunt Orpheus with his absence, and his worship of his unaiding god, when his Eurydice, flying from the shepherd Aristæus, fell under the bite of the asp. They then try their amorous arts to engage him in a new affection. In vain —
“ There was a pause : a silence, fearful, deep,
The god, whom they blaspheme, is their own god,
The token is the repossession of Eurydice. Orpheus breaks from the Bacchants, throws himself to the branch of a high tree, whence “rock'd giddily,"
-“ when it bending swept
“ My sprite was with the bard; I follow'd him
'The poet is in spirit with him, and the description of the descent is truly graphic. Orpheus arrives in confidence at the very centre of Infernal Glory, which is gorgeously painted.
“ At length the rock receded over-head;
Through whose ensanguined and transparent light
Mr Elton has made the most advantageous use of the Orphic Remains, and has embodied with high poetical conception the Zivs of the ancient Greek. The following lines are extremely beautiful, and the dream-like visionary transmutation of the distinct yet blended powers of the One are in the true spirit of poetry :
“ He saw a monarch in his pomp of place
Lifted his plaintive chant, and hailed the goddess god."-Pp. 194, 6. The « Song of Orpheus," excepting “ But beware lest haste the first few lines of the poem, we
The spell dissever, think a failure. It sadly wants dig Or, unembraced, nity. The metre offends, and meets She is dead for ever!”—P. 201. with little apology in the matter. It From this point Mr Elton reasis of the common sing-song elegiac; sumes his poetical dignity and power. and as good verses may be found in The dreaming Poet had been disenevery village album amongst its fair- gaged from the Bard Orpheus during handed specimens of youthful and the upward passage, left therefore unvirgin talent. Nor do we see any described. He awaits him at the encharm in the speech of Proserpine, trance of the enormous cavern, the who tells Orpheus that, under spell, roarings of whose subterranean waves his Eurydice “flits behind him"
“ Faintlier heard ; when from within the and the eternal regions of the blessed cave
expand before him, and around him, A harp rang out ; a youth with hurried and all is love.
tread Sprang into day, and, gasping, turn'd his
* And one of roseate cheek and sunny hair, head.
With starr'd and azured vestments, lean'd The very heart within me seem'd to break
her head At the shrill sadness of that following
O'er a wan youth, who waked as from the shriek."-P. 201.
Drew life and love like sun-light at his eyes, The shriek, and misty figure,“ veil. And held his breath in speechless ecstasies, ed in snowy white,” melting into Then dove-like murmured, while delight * blindest, blackest, shade,” is certain grew pain, ly an improvement upon the too pal. •Eurydice! thou then art mine again!'” pable and speech-making Eurydice of
P. 205, the older versions. The Pontiff youth, under the despairing passion of his
Nothing can be happier than this grief, tearing away his harp.strings, is
conclusion; a word more would have finely conceived.
been an interruption to that perfect The charm of the Lyre has departed
bliss of reunion-at once the poet's
happiness, his dream, and his belief! from him.
Oh, that he should awake from this and “ The serpent cast feel the chill of the gray morning cold Her venom on him, as he bounding pass'd
upon his widowed breast! Beneath the gnarl'd o'erbranching oaks ;
Much as we admire the Orpheus, the glare Of panthers met him from their briery
we are almost tempted to recom
mend Mr Elton to give a rifacilair.”_P. 202.
mento of this fascinating poem. The The paths lead him by the loathed
superiority of those portions that are image of the human Bacchus-he finds in blank verse will be striking to himself in the holiest place amongst every reader. We do not object the slumbering Bacchants-he awakes to rhyme-we would not disenchant them and drags their idol of Bacchus the tale of rhyme--but we would ever from its base, and tramples in the have rhyme tell. When it comes not earth the “mortal-visaged God." The with its due pause, it is tritling ; its Bacchants, infuriate, pour forth the beauty is that it gives precision to Dithyrambic rage, seize and tear him thought, and encloses it, supplying the in pieces. Mr Elion does not forget place of the more distinct ictus of the the bodiless head floating down the Greek and Latin prosody. When Hebrus, and the “frigida lingua,” still rhyme terminates a sentiment or an crying “Ah, miseram Eurydicen!"
action it gives it the muse's stamp, nor is he deterred by the burlesque of securing it from addition or interrupGay in his Trivia.
tion as a poetic axiom : it has a final “ Headless he sank; but woods, and glades,
value. We cannot approve of the and rocks,
innovation of ineffective rhyming by Told back the voice of bis last agony which the imitators of the Shelley * Eurydice ! ah, poor Eurydice !
school make it a passing impertinence, The last, the only sounds his tongue had with no apparent object but an unne
cessary intrusion. The monotony of Still quiver'd on the lip when life escap'd. periodical termination may be better The stream, that his departed visage roild avoided by transferring the rhymes, Along its ruddy tides, that echo told; making their iecurrence irregular, as And all the wild roar died along the steep, in Lycidas (but Milton's ear was perAnd those who wreaked the vengeance fect; his sense of hearing was propaused to weep.”—P. 204.
bably sharpened by the deprivation of The heathen poets here terminate sight), and also by the use of the trip. the story-but the immortality of the let, in which Dryden is so happy, and soul was a part of the Orphic creed. so expressively and finally closes the Mr Elton, therefore, justly and with sense of a passage. great beauty extends his vision. The But why may we not speak a few poet is again with Orpheus where, in words of Orpheus himself-Orpheus the cavern, the descent, the brazen the Poet! Who was Orpheus ? What door is passed. His footsteps are on did he do? The Poet, the modern the jasper floor; all vanishes in mist; Sophist, the Utilitarian, will variously
answer. Some deny his existence, sters, we should be loth to trust to the and some read all poetry by the rule most concentrated extracts of his power of contrary. We envy not such, who from any of the works that bear his would too severely put poetry to the name. Repeat some of his best lines question, and who think they confer with the volume in hand in a pretty a benefit on mankind by stripping thick wood, and never suspect that the her more naked than ever she was trees will follow you, nor fear comborn, and subjecting her limbs to plaints before magistrates of your oral the torture to chronicle her miser- depredations ! able confessions as truth. We are There are some strong and pictucontent to know that trees followed resque passages in the Argonautics, for him, tigers danced and crouched instance, the Cave of Chiron ; but, exbefore his lyre. Neither do we envy cepting some few isolated scenes, there the success of that exact enquiry by is little poetry in the work. There is which some have pretended to have a pretty story in the argument (why discovered, that the music of Orpheus so called we know not) to his Lithics, arose not from his lyre but from the which, though told with great simpestle and mortar! who resolve the plicity, shows a very successful atrecovery of Eurydice from Hades, tempt at descriptive precision and even or, according to the advertisements, studied sweetness and elegance of ver“ from under the ribs of death," into sification. the efficacy of medicine administered Orpheus, in his way to offer his an. by the first Apothecary, Orpheus! nual sacrifice to the Sun, meets Theo
The powers ascribed to Orpheus, damas, whom he persuades to accom. making every allowance for poetical pany him. He gives a very interest: embellishments, are, indeed, extensive ing and graphic narrative of the cause enough; he asserts in the Argonautics, which led his father to offer sacrifice with sufficient gravity, that he had on the altar of that deity. This in" trod the dark way of Tartarus into troduces a discussion, and leads the Hell for the sake of his spouse, trust. way to the poems that follow, on the ing to his harp.” Certainly, nothing merits and powers of various stones, has come down to us indicative of his the possession of which will lead to wonderful charm. The most whimsi. the attainment of the owner's wishes, cal power ascribed to a verse of Or- and guard him from the dangers of pheus, “ the wise mage," is in the poison. The scenery of the place of Cyclops, where the coward Satyr pro- sacrifice, and the accompaniment of poses the repetition as a charm to bid the two dogs, who attend of their own the monster's eye walk out of his head accord, conclude the little narrative of its own accord. We are not likely with some exquisitely beautiful lines, to meet with panthers in our walks; as expressive as any in the range of but, if Mr Wombwell's van should pastoral poetry. We offer a transbreak down and pour forth its mon. lation :
I love the converse of a man of sense,