Графични страници
PDF файл

“ See !” with united wonder cried

The experienced and the sage,
Ambition in a boy, supplied

With all the skill of age !
“ Discernment, eloquence, and grace,

Proclaim him born to sway
The balance in the highest place,

And bear the palm away!”
The praise bestow'd was just and wise :

He sprang impetuous forth,
Secure of conquest, where the prize

Attends superior worth.
So the best courser on the plain,

Ere yet he starts, is known,
And does but at the goal obtain

What all had deemd his own. Cowley, Pope, and many other poets have been remarkable for the early development of their genius. Chatterton, leaving a deathless name behind, more for its wondrous promise than performance, sank into a suicide's grave ere he had seen his eighteenth birthday. Who would not now like to search the pages of that “new pocket-book," presented to him one New Year's Day, by his sister, to whom he returned it full of poetry? And we may here recall that other glorious son of poverty who has left an immortal renown; whose birthdays were mostly spent in the cottage or the field. We all know Wordsworth's imperishable lines :I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous boy,

The sleepless soul that perish'd in his pride; Of him who walk'd in glory and in joy,

Following his plough upon the mountain-side. By our own spirits we are deified:

We poets in our youth begin in gladness,
And thereof come in the end despondency and

madness. And why so sad an ending in too many cases ? The problem is not easy of solution, but certain it is thatThe poet in a golden clime was born,

With golden stars above, Dower'd with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,

The love of love! This temperament, and the habit of listening to the deep things of the universe, in their symbolic utterances, so delicate and profound, are trying to youth or age; though our conviction is that, could we see through the whole range of the poetic existence, we should find, as Wordsworth says, in the following exquisite passage, “ central peace subsisting at the heart of endless agitation.”

.... I have seen
A curious child, applying to his ear
The convolutions of a smooth-lipp'd shell,
To which, in silence hushid, his very soul
Listen’d intensely, and his countenance soon
Brighten'd with joy, for murmuring from within
Were heard sonorous cadences, whereby,

To his belief, the monitor express'd
Mysterious union with its native sea.
Even such a spell the universe itself
Is to the ear of Faith, and doth impart
Authentic tidings of invisible things :
Of ebb and flow, and ever-during power;
And central peace subsisting at the heart
Of endless agitation.

The following contains an admirable moral for gifted youth:

A POET'S FATE.
I had a dream in boyhood, I should be

Famous, and move a giant in my time;

Yet it foreshadow'd, all around should climb
Quicker and deftlier up the fruitful tree
Of wealth and fair repute; for vainly me

Its boughs would tempt, if soild by earthly slime :

So might I gaze, and muse, or idly rhyme, While others grasp'd the prize or golden fee. Half has been partly true: for all around

My young compeers succeed ; and I, meanwhile,

Train my lone heart, by wandering fancies fed. Alas! what chance! the other will be found

As truly boding: yet content I smile,
And bless the dew that falls on other's head.

GORONVA CAMLAN. Another ambitious boy poet, who died young, shared this noble freedom from envious and selfish passions, which make the misery they feed on. The “Martyr Student,” Kirke White, whose birthdays found him, year after year, toiling unremittingly, with stinted means of support, to reach the object of his worthy ambition, the University of Cambridge ; and that attained, surprised him

“Pale o'er his lamp, and in his cell retired," without relaxation striving for honours that he won by the sacrifice of his life.

“Were I,” he said, “ to paint Fame crowning an undergraduate after the Senate-house examination, I would represent him as concealing a death's head under the mask of beauty.” And so his last birthday presented before him no better symbol

[ocr errors]

than this of the death's head under the mask of
beauty, for he was then wearing the crown of
hard-won college fame.
“O genius, taste, and piety sincere,

Too early lost ’midst studies too severe.”

All his poetry was written before his twentieth birthday. Shortly before his death he wrote, pathetically and regretfully :

And must the harp of Judah sleep again?
Shall I no more reanimate the lay?
O Thou who visitest the sons of men,
Thou who dost listen when the humble pray,
One little space prolong my mournful day;
One little lapse suspend Thy last decree!
I am a youthful traveller in the way,

And this slight boon would consecrate to Thee
Ere I with death shake hands, and smile that I am

free.

Premature sorrows and early death are mysterious dispensations of an all-wise Providence, but it is profoundly true that,

Crush'd from our sorrow, all that's great in man
Has ever sprung. In the bold pagan world
Men deified the beautiful, the glad,
The strong, the boastful, and it came to nought;
We have raised Pain and Sorrow into heaven,
And in our temples, on our altars, Grief
Stands, symbol of our faith, and it shall last
As long as man is mortal and unhappy.
Some joyful hearts may wander to the skies,
And harps may there be found them, and the

branch

Of palm be put into their hands ; on earth We know them not; no votarist of our faith, Till he has dropp'd his tears into the stream, Tastes of its sweetness.

William Smith. The Christian does not sorrow without hope-does not believe in misfortune without purpose.

EARLY TEARS.
Happy he whose early pathway

Was not still with roses strew'd;
Happy he whose spring of lifetime

Pass'd not without tempests rude.
Happy who some wholesome suffering

Drank e'en at his mother's breast;
Oh! so rich does sorrow make us,

And so poor all joy and rest !
Do not speak of sadden'd childhood,

Or of bliss that could not last;
Do not gaze with tearful eyelids

On the happy time that's past.
Could we learn to feel for others

Had we not of pain our part?
Could we learn to prize our treasures,

Or our riches, or our heart?
How should we have learnt endurance-

Learnt to pray with our last breath ?
Learnt to hope, believe, and suffer-

Love until the hour of death?
Let us, then, enwreath with roses

Early childhood's quiet grave;
Happy to whom God above us

Soon the tears of sorrow gave.

« ПредишнаНапред »