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Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark,
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and from the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of Nature's works, to be expunged and rased,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
SATAN'S ADDRESS TO THE SUN.
O THOU that with surpassing glory crowned,
Lookst from thy sole dominion, like the God
Of this new world; at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminished heads; to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,
O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere,
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down,
Warring in heaven against heaven's matchless King;
Ah, wherefore? he deserved no such return
From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none, nor was his service hard.
What could be less than to afford him praise,
The easiest recompense, and pay him thanks,
How due! yet all his good proved ill in me,
And wrought but malice: lifted up so high,
I sdeined subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burdensome, still paying, still to owe,
Forgetful what from him I still received,
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharged; what burden then?
O had his powerful destiny ordained
41 vernal, in spring time.
Me some inferior angel, I had stood
Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised
Ambition. Yet, why not? Some other power
As great might have aspired, and me, though mean,
Drawn to his part: but other powers as great
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within
Or from without, to all temptations armed.
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?
Thou hadst; whom hast thou then, or what, to accuse,
But Heaven's free love, dealt equally to all?
Be then His love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay, cursed be thou: since against His thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable! which way shall I fly,
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly, i shell; myself am hell;
And in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the hell I suffer seems a heaven.
O then, at last relent: is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left?
None left but by submission; and that word
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduced
With other promises and other vaunts
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
The Omnipotent. Ah me! they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan,
While they adore me on the throne of hell,
With diadem and sceptre high advanced;
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery; such joy ambition finds.
But say I could repent, and could obtain
By act of grace my former state; how soon
Would height recall high thoughts, how soon unsay
What feigned submission swore! Ease would recant Vows made in pain, as violent and void.
For never can true reconcilement grow
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep;
Which would but lead me to a worse relapse
And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear
Short intermission, bought with double smart.
This knows my punisher; therefore, as far
From granting He, as I from begging peace:
All hope excluded thus, behold instead
Of us outcast, exiled, his new delight,
Mankind created, and for him this world.
So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear,
Farewell remorse: all good to me is lost;
Evil, be thou my good; by thee at least
Divided empire with Heaven's King I hold.
By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;
As man, ere long, and this new world, shall know.
ALMOST the chief of the poets of artificial life, was born in Northamptonshire, A.D. 1631. Having passed through the University of Cambridge, he came to London, and became known as a poet by the publication of his Heroic Stanzas on the death of Oliver Cromwell. When Charles the Second was restored to the throne of his ancestors, Dryden changed his politics and became the first in the rank of courtly poets. To please the monarch, he composed his celebrated satire Absalom and Achitophel, in which the incidents of Absalom's rebellion against David are ingeniously applied to the opposition Charles the Second experienced from his natural son, the Duke of Monmouth, and his intriguing adviser, the Earl of Shaftesbury. It would be well if this were the only instance of the poet's courtly complaisance; unfortunately he polluted his works with gross licentiousness, to gratify a corrupt monarth, and an immoral court; and after the accession of James the Second, he turned Roman Catholic to please the king. At the Revolution he was consequently treated with neglect but too well merited, and was forced literally to write for bread; a lamentable example of the inefficiency of talent, unsupported by principle, to procure comfort or respectability. He died A.D. 1700, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Dryden's poetry is eloquent declamation in majestic verse; he possesses more invention than fancy, more wit than humour. He rarely approaches the sublime, but in his verse there is a sustained march of elevation, and a force of character, which atone for the deficiency. His style is thoroughly English; his diction grand and elegant; his versification rich, varied, and sounding, rarely degenerating into pompous bombast.
[From the ABSALOM and ACHITOPHEL.]
Now what relief can righteous David1 bring?
How fatal 'tis to be so good a king!
Friends he has few, so high the madness grows;
Who dare be such, must seem the people's foes.
Yet some there were, even in the worst of days;
Some let me name, and naming is to praise.
In this short file Barzillai' first appears;
Barzillai, crowned with honour and with years.
1 See the life of Dryden.
2 Barzillai, James the great duke of Ormond, one of the most eminent and
virtuous of English statesmen, and as remarkable for his devoted loyalty, as his eminent abilities.
Long since the rising rebels he withstood,
In regions waste, beyond the Jordan's flood3:
Unfortunately brave to buoy the state;
But sinking underneath his master's fate1:
In exile with his godlike prince he mourned;
For him he suffered, and with him returned.
The court he practised, not the courtier's art:
Large was his wealth, but larger was his heart;
Which well the noblest objects knew to choose,
The fighting warrior, and recording Muse.
His bed could once a fruitful issue boast;
Now more than half a father's name is lost,
His eldest hope, with every grace adorned:
By me, so Heaven will have it, always mourned.
Oh narrow circle, but of power divine,
Scanted in space, but perfect in thy line!
By sea, by land, thy matchless worth was known,
Arms thy delight, and war was all thy own:
Thy force, infused, the fainting Tyrians propped:
And haughty Pharaoh' found his fortune stopped.
Oh ancient honour! Oh unconquered hand,
Whom foes unpunished never could withstand!
But Israel was unworthy of his name:
Short is the date of all immoderate fame.
It looks as heaven our ruin had designed,
And durst not trust thy fortune and thy mind.
Now free from earth, thy disencumbered soul
Mounts up and leaves behind the clouds and starry pole,
From thence thy kindred legions mayst thou bring,
To aid the guardian angel of thy king.
Here stop, my Muse, here cease thy painful flight;
No pinions can pursue immortal height:
Tell good Barzillai thou canst sing no more,
And tell thy soul she should have fled before:
Or fled she with his life, and left this verse
To hang on her departed patron's hearse?
Now take thy steepy flight from heaven, and see
If thou canst find on earth another he:
Another he would be too hard to find;
See, then, whom thou canst see not far behind.
3 regions waste beyond the Jordan's flood, Ireland; where Ormond was the most conspicuous among the supporters of the royal cause.
young man eminently distinguished by his spirit and bravery, died in the very prime of life.
6 Tyrians, the Dutch, in whose army
4 his master's fate, the martyrdom of Ossory served. Charles the First.
5 his eldest hope, the Earl of Ossory, eldest son to the Duke of Ormond, a
7 Pharaoh, the king of France.
8 Israel, England.
Zadoc the priest, whom, shunning power and place,
His lowly mind advanced to David's grace.
With him the Sagan of Jerusalem1o,
Of hospitable soul and noble stem:
Him" of the western dome, whose weighty sense
Flows in fit words and heavenly eloquence;
The prophets' sons 12, by such example led,
To learning and to loyalty were bred:
For colleges on bounteous kings depend,
And never rebel was to arts a friend.
To these succeed the pillars of the laws;
Who best can plead, and best can judge a cause.
Next them a train of loyal peers ascend;
Sharp-judging Adriel's, the Muses' friend,
Himself a Muse: in Sanhedrim's debate
True to his prince, but not a slave of state;
Whom David's love with honours did adorn,
That from his disobedient son were torn.
Jotham's, of piercing wit and pregnant thought,
Endued by nature, and by learning taught
To move assemblies; who but only tried
The worse awhile, then chose the better side;
Nor chose alone, but turned the balance too;
So much the weight of one brave man can do.
Hushai1, the friend of David in distress;
In public storms of manly steadfastness:
By foreign travel he informed his youth,
And joined experience to his native truth.
His frugal care supplied the wanting throne:
Frugal for that, but bounteous of his own :
'Tis easy conduct when exchequers flow,
But hard the task to manage well the low;
For sovereign power is too depressed or high,
When kings are forced to sell, or crowds to buy.
Indulge one labour more, my weary Muse,
For Amiel17; who can Amiel's praise refuse!
9 Zadoc, Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury; a prelate eminently distinguished by his great abilities, and still more by his unaffected piety and unswerving integrity.
10 the Sagan of Jerusalem, Dr. Compter, bishop of London.
11 Dr. Dolben, bishop of Rochester and dean of Westminster.
12 prophets' sons, the younger clergy
13 Adriel, the Earl of Mulgrave, a distinguished parliamentary orator. 14 Sanhedrim, the Parliament. 15 Jotham, the Marquis of Halifax, a celebrated statesman and poet.
16 Hushai, the Earl of Rochester, who by no means merited the high character given him by the poet. He was a heartless profligate.
17 Amiel, Mr. Seymour, speaker of the House of Commons.