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READINGS IN POETRY.
DESCENDED from the ancient and illustrious family of the Spensers, was born in London, about 1553. In 1569 he entered as a sizar at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he graduated as M.A. in 1576. He was for some time patronised by Sir Philip Sidney, to whom he dedicated his Shepherd's Calendar; after which he became secretary to Lord Grey of Wilton, the lord-deputy of Ireland. He obtained from Lord Grey a large grant of forfeited lands in the county of Cork; and at Kilcolman Castle, the greater part of his great work, The Faerie Queene, wascomposed. Through the kindness of his friend, Sir Walter Raleigh, Spenser, during his visit to London, was introduced to Queen Elizabeth, and obtained a small pension. When the second part of The Faerie Queene was nearly completed Tyrone's rebellion broke out, Spenser was forced to fly from Ireland; his castle was burned, and an infant child whom he had left behind perished. To add to his misfortunes, a great portion of his manuscripts were lost; le sank under this complication of calamities, and died 16th January, 1599, of a broken heart.
The great merits of Spenser are his lively fancy, exuberant imagery, noble sentiments, and melodious versification. His defects are strongly marked; his work as a whole wants interest, his allegories are frequently extravagant, and his affectation of archaic and obsolete language renders him frequently obscure. But notwithstanding these blemishes, The Faerie Queene will ever be valuable to the lovers of true poetry, as a rich store-house of poetic inventions and vivid descriptions.
So forth issued the Seasons of the year:
A gilt engraven morions he did wear;
Then came the jolly Summer, being dight
4 well beseen, beautiful to be seen. 2 stoures, assaults, battles.
5 chauffed, heated. 3 morion, ancient military steel-cap.
Had hunted late the libbard or the boar,
Then came the Autumn, all in yellow clad,
And in his hand a sickle he did hold,
reap the ripened fruits the which the earth had yold.
And after these there came the Day and Night,
Then came the Hours, fair daughters of high Jove
Which they did daily watch and nightly wake
18 pight, placed, pitched. 7 to fore, before this time.
14 timely, coming in due season. 8 enrolled, rolled in, surrounded by. 15 eschewed, avoided. 9 yold, yielded.
16 forslack cause to be neglected. 10 limbeck, an alembic or still.
17 forshewed, previously shown and 11 eld, old age. 12 weld, to wield.
And after all came Life; and lastly Death :
Full of delightful health and lively joy,
SIR JOHN DAVIES, Was born at Chicksgrove, in Wiltshire, A.D. 1570; he was educated as a lawyer, and soon after being called to the bar obtained a seat in the House of Commons. He was sent to Ireland as Solicitor-general by James the First, where he obtained the rank of Attorney-General, and was elected Speaker of the first Irish House of Commons formed by a general representation. He returned to England, and again obtained a seat in the English Parliament. He died December 7, 1626.
Though Davies was more eminent as a lawyer than a poet, his merits in the latter capacity are of very high order.
There is a manly earnestness and strong moral feeling in his verses, his style is easy and flowing, his language at once natural and polished.
THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.
Locked up within the casket of thy breast?
What heavenly treasure in so weak a chest ?
Like those which drowned Narcissus' in the flood :
And all that in the world is counted good.
This worthy mind should worthy things embrace :
Nor her dishonour with thy passion base,
Mar not her sense with sensuality:
Make not her free-will slave to vanity.
18 ne, nor.
to have died from love of hisown image 19 to ween, to think of.
which he accidentally saw reflected in 20 Dan, Master, Sir, like the Spanish | a stream, and to have been changed Don.
into the flower that bears his name. 1 Narcissus, a beautiful youth, fabled 2 quickening, life-giving.
And when thou thinkst of her eternity,
Think not that death against her nature is; Think it a birth : and when thou goest to die,
Sing like a swan", as if thou wentst to bliss. And if thou, like a child, didst fear before,
Being in the dark, where thou didst nothing see; Now I have brought thee torch-light, fear no more;
Now when thou diest, thou canst not hoodwinked be. And thou, my soul, which turnst with curious eye
To view the beams of thine own form divine, Know, that thou canst know nothing perfectly,
While thou art clouded with this flesh of mine. Take heed of overweening, and
compare Thy peacock's feet with thy gay peacock's train : Study the best and highest things that are,
But of thyself an humble thought retain.
The glory of thy Maker's sacred name :
Which gives thee power to be, and use the same.
PHINEAS FLETCHER. Op this poet's personal history almost nothing is known; he held the living of Helgay, in Norfolk, where he died about A.D. 1650. The Purple Island is an allegorical poem in the style of Spencer ; but Fletcher does not possess the rich imagery and melodious versification of his master. It is, however, a poem that contains many passages which, both for diction and sentiment, can scarcely be excelled in our language.
INTELLECT, THE PRINCE OF THE PURPLE ISLAND?.
The island's prince, of frame more than celestial, Is rightly called the all-seeing Intellect :
All glorious bright, such nothing is terrestrial ; Whose sun-like face, and most divine aspect,
No human sight may ever hope decry ;
For when himself on's self reflects his eye, Dull and amazed he stands at so bright majesty.
Look at the sun, whose ray and searching light, Here, there, and everywhere itself displays,
No nook or corner flies his piercing sight; Yet on himself when he reflects his rays, suan,
the swan is fabled to utter | The Purple Island ; the island is an some melodious notes immediately be- allegorical representation of man, and fcre its death.
Intellect is naturally described as its 4 orerwecning, self-importance. sovereign.
Soon back he flings the too bold venturing gleam,
Down to the earth the flames all broken streain ;
Though travelling all places, changing none;
The centre search, and Dis* dark realm; he's gone,
And while his weary kingdom safely sleeps,
All restless night he watch and warding keeps ; Never his careful head on resting pillow steeps.
He knows nor death, nor years, nor feeble age, But as his time, his strength and vigour grows :
And when his kingdom, by intestine rage, Lies broke and wasted, open to his foes;
And battered sconce now flat and even lies ;
Sooner than thought to that great Judge he flies, Who weighs him just reward of good, or injuries.
For he the Judge's viceroy here is placed, Where, if he live, as knowing he may die,
He never dies, but with fresh pleasures graced, Bathes his crowned head in soft eternity;
Where thousand joys and pleasures ever new,
And blessings thicker than the morning dew, With endless sweets rain down on that immortal crew.
There golden stars set in the crystal snow; There dainty joys laugh at white-headed caring;
There day no night, delight no end shall know; Sweets without surfeit, fulness without sparing ;
And by its spending, growing happiness;
There God himself in glory's lavishness,
But if he here neglect his Master's law,
Down to the deeps ten thousand fiends him draw;
And in worst ills, still worse expecting, fears;
Where fell despite for spite his bowels tears ; And still increasing grief and torment ever wears.
Prayers there are idle, death is wooed in vain; In midst of death poor wretches long to die :
Night without day, or rest, still doubling pain; Woes spending still, yet still their end less nigh;
2 Dis, Pluto, the pagan god of the supposed to reside after death. infernal regions, where the souls were sconce, a fortification, a redoubt.