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IMITATIONS OF SHAKESPEARE AND

SPENSER

ADVERTISEMENT FROM THE PUBLISHER. The following imitation of Shakespeare was one of our author's first attempts in poetry, made when he was very young. It helped to amuse the solitude of a winter passed in a wild romantic country; and, what is rather particular, was just finished when Mr Thomson's celebrated poem upon the same subject appeared. Mr Thomson, soon hearing of it, had the curiosity to procure a copy by the means of a common acquaintance. He showed it to his poetical friends, Mr Mallet, Mr Aaron Hill, and Dr Young, who, it seems, did great honour to it; and the first-mentioned gentleman wrote to one of his friends at Edinburgh, desiring the author's leave to publish it; a request too flattering to youthful vanity to be resisted. But Mr Mallet altered his mind; and this little piece has hitherto remained unpublished.

The other imitations of Shakespeare happen to have been saved out of the ruins of an unfinished tragedy on the story of Tereus and Philomela; attempted upon an irregular and extravagant plan, at an age much too early for such achievements. However, they are here exhibited for the sake of such guests as may like a little repast of scraps. --Original Edition.

IMITATIONS OF SHAKESPEARE.

Now Summer with her wanton court is gone
To revel on the south side of the world,
And flaunt and frolic out the live-long day.
While Winter rising pale from northern seas
Shakes from his hoary locks the drizzling rheum.
A blast so shrewd makes the tall-bodied pines
Unsinew'd bend, and heavy-pacèd bears
Sends growling to their savage tenements.

10

Now blows the surly north, and chills throughout The stiffening regions; while, by stronger charms Than Circe e'er or fell Medea brewed, Each brook that wont to prattle to its banks Lies all bestilled and wedged betwixt its banks, Nor moves the withered reeds: and the rash flood That from the mountains held its headstrong course,

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Buried in livid sheets of vaulting ice,
Seen through the shameful breaches, idly creeps
Το

pay a scanty tribute to the ocean.
What wonder? when the floating wilderness
That scorns our miles, and calls geography
A shallow pryer; from whose unsteady mirror
The high-hung pole surveys his dancing locks;
When this still-raving deep lies mute and dead,
Nor heaves its swelling bosom to the winds.
The surges, baited by the fierce north-east,
Tossing with fretful spleen their angry heads
To roar and rush together,
Even in the foam of all their madness struck
To monumental ice, stand all astride
The rocks they washed so late. Such execution,
So stern, so sudden, wrought the grizzly aspect
Of terrible Medusa, ere young Perseus
With his keen sabre cropt her horrid head,
And laid her serpents rowling on the dust;
When wandering through the woods she frown'd to

stone
Their savage tenants : just as the foaming lion
Sprung furious on his prey, her speedier power
Outrun his haste; no time to languish in,
But fixed in that fierce attitude he stands
Like Rage in marble.-Now portly Argosies
Lie wedged 'twixt Neptune's ribs. The bridged

abysm
Has changed our ships to horses; the swift bark
Yields to the heavy waggon and the cart,
That now from isle to isle maintain the trade;
And where the surface-haunting dolphin led
Her sportive young, is now an area fit
For the wild schocl-boy's pastime.

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Meantime the evening skies, crusted with ice, Shifting from red to black their weighty skirts, Hang mournful o'er the hills; and stealing night Rides the weak puffing winds, that seem to spit Their foam sparse through the welkin, which is nothing If not beheld. Anon the burdened heaven Shakes from its ample sieve the boulted snow; That fluttering down besprinkles the sad trees In mockery of leaves; piles up the hills To monstrous altitude, and chokes to the lips The deep impervious vales that yawn as low As to the centre, Nature's vasty breaches; While all the pride of men and mortal things Lies whelmed in heaven's white ruins.

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The shivering clown digs his obstructed way Through the snow-barricadoed cottage door; And muffled in his home-spun plaid encounters With livid cheeks and rheum-distilling nose The morning's sharp and scourging breath; to count. His starving flock whose number 's all too short To make the goodly sum of yester-night: Part deep ingurgitated, part yet struggling With their last pantings melt themselves a grave In Winter's bosom; which yields not to the touch Of the pale languid cresset of this world, That now with lean and churlish husbandry Yields heartlessly the remnants of his prime; And like most spendthrifts starves his latter days For former rankness. He with bleary eye Blazons his own disgrace; the harness'd waste Rebellious to his blunt defeated shafts; And idly strikes the chalky mountains' tops That rise to kiss the welkin's ruddy lips;

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Where all the rash young bullies of the air
Mount their quick slender penetrating wings,
Whipping the frost-burnt villagers to the bones;
And growing with their motion mad and furious,

Till, swollen to tempests, they out-rage the thunder;
Winnow the chaffy snow, and mock the skies
Even with their own artillery retorted;
Tear up and throw th' accumulated hills
Into the valleys. And as rude hurricanes,
Discharged from the wind-swollen cheeks of heaven,
Buoy up the swelling skirts of Araby's
Inhospitable wilds,
And roll the dusty desert through the skies,
Choking the liberal air, and smothering
Whole caravans at once; such havoc spreads
This war of heaven and earth, such sudden ruin
Visits their houseless citizens, that shrink
In the false shelter of the hills together,
And hear the tempest howling o'er their heads
That by and by o’erwhelms them. The very birds,
Those few that trooped not with the chiming tribe 101
Of amorous Summer, quit their ruffian element;
And with domestic tameness hop and flutter
Within the roofs of persecuting man,
(Grown hospitable by like sense of sufferance ;)
Whither the hinds, the debt o' the day discharged,
From kiln or barn repairing, shut the door
On surly Winter; crowd the clean-swept hearth
And cheerful shining fire; and doff the time,
The whilst the maids their twirling spindles ply, 110
With musty legends and ear-pathing tales;
Of giants, and black necromantic bards,
Of air-built castles, feats of madcap knights,
And
every

hollow fiction of romance.

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And, as their rambling humour leads them, talk
Of prodigies, and things of dreadful utterance;
That set them all agape, rouse up their hair,
And make the idiot drops start from their eyes;
Of churchyards belching flames at dead of night,
Of walking statues, ghosts unaffable,
Haunting the dark waste tower or airless dungeon;
Then of the elves that deftly trip the green,
Drinking the summer's moonlight from the flowers;
And all the toys that phantasy pranks up
T'amuse her fools withal.—Thus they lash on
The snail-paced hyperborean nights, till heaven
Hangs with a juster poise: when the murk clouds
Rolled

up

in heavy wreaths low-bellying, seem To kiss the ground, and all the waste of snow Looks blue beneath 'em; till plump'd with bloating

dropsy,
Beyond the bounds and stretch of continence,
They burst at once; down pours the hoarded

rain,
Washing the slippery winter from the hills,
And floating all the valleys. The fading scene
Melts like a lost enchantment or vain phantasm
That can no more abuse. Nature resumes
Her old substantial shape; while from the waste
Of undistinguishing calamity,
Forests, and by their sides wide-skirted plains,
Houses and trees arise; and waters flow,
That from their dark confinements bursting, spurn
Their brittle chains; huge sheets of loosened ice
Float on their bosoms to the deep, and jar
And clatter as they pass; th' o'erjutting banks,
As long unpractised to so steep a view,
Seem to look dizzy on the moving pomp.

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