« ПредишнаНапред »
There is a period—it may be earlier or later, according to character—when we are conscious of passing out of childhood, and of entering upon the open arena of human life. Then our birthdays are wonderful epochs, and as we reach one after another we almost expect the whole world to stand still in admiration of our advance.
This state of exalted feeling in a poetic nature has never perhaps been so finely depicted as by Mrs. Browning in “ Aurora Leigh :"
...... Came a morn, I stood upon the brink of twenty years And looked before, and after, as I stoodWoman and artist- either incomplete, Both credulous of completion. I held there The whole creation in my little cup, And smiled with thirsty lips before I drank Good health to you and me, sweet neighbours mine, And all these peoples.
I was glad that day. The June was in me, with its multitudes Of nightingales, all singing in the dark, And rosebuds reddening where the calyx split. I felt so young, so strong, so sure of God! So glad, I could not choose be very wise! And, old at twenty, was inclined to pull My childhood backward, in a childish jest, To see the face of 't once more, and farewell! In which fantastic mood I bounded forth At early morning; would not wait so long As even to snatch my bonnet by the strings, But, brushing a green trail across the lawn With my gown in the dew, took will and way Among the acacias of the shrubberies, To Ay my fancies in the open air, And keep my birthday.
This beautiful picture induces us to exclaim with Lover, the humorous Irish poet :
O youth! happy youth! what a blessing!
In thy freshness of dawn and of dew;
And our griefs are but light and but few:
Some musing for sadness we find;
In age we leave pleasure behind.
Beautiful and splendid as the summer morning are the
ASPIRATIONS OF YOUTH.
Up the mount of glory,
In our country's story;
In the mines of knowledge ;
Win from school and college ;
Onward, onward, may we press,
Through the path of duty ;
Excellence true beauty.
Well would it be if all the aspirations of youth tended to produce a character deserving similar praise to that contained in the neat and terse tribute by Cowper :TO MISS
C ON HER BIRTHDAY.
Disgrace their parent earth,
The day that gave them birth;
Revolving months restore,
And wish her born once more.
TO A VIRTUOUS YOUNG LADY. Lady, that in the prime of earliest youth Wisely hath shunn'd the broad way and the green,
And with those few art eminently seen That labour up the hill of heavenly truth ; The better part with Mary and with Ruth
Chosen thou hast; and they that overween,
And at thy growing virtues fret their spleen, No anger find in thee, but pity and ruth.
Thy care is fix'd, and zealously attends
To fill thy odorous lamp with deeds of light, And hope that reaps not shame. Therefore be sure, Thou, when the Bridegroom with His feastful
friends Passes to bliss at the mid-hour of night, Hast gain'd thy entrance, virgin wise and pure.
The prime epoch of life to the children of fortune is the “ coming of age.” The best of Ben Jonson's birthday odes is admirable in its moral counsel to the young heir on arriving at his majority :
ODE TO SIR WILLIAM SIDNEY,* ON HIS
Now that the hearth is crowned with smiling fire, And some do drink and some do dance,
Wherefore should I
Who not the least
Give me my cup, but from the Thespian well,
When all the noise
Are fled and gone,
This day says, then, the number of glad years
Must now Strive all right ways it can, T' outstrip your peers :
* Eldest son of Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, and nephew of Sir Philip Sidney.
Since he doth lack
Little whose will
Nor weary rest
For they that swell
Which must be now,
And he that stays
Of love he bright
Of bonfires ! then