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Where is no living thing to be seen;
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Sinks, when the summer breeze hath died,
White Doe of Rylstone, Canto 1.
What, as mere description, can be more masterly than the following picture of the mountain solitude, where a dog was found, after three months' watching by his master's bodythough the touches which send the feeling of deep loneliness into the soul, and the bold imagination which represents the huge recess as visited by elemental presences, are produced by higher than descriptive powers ?
" It was a cove, a huge recess,
That keeps till June December's snow;
There sometimes does a leaping fish
We must abstain from farther examples of the descriptive faculty, and allude to that far higher gift which Wordsworth enjoys in his profound acquaintance with the sanctities of the soul. He does not make us feel the strength of the passions, by their violent contests in a transient storm, but the measureless depth of the affections when they are stillest and most holy. We often meet in his works with little passages in which we seem almost to contemplate the well-springs of pure emotion and gentle pathos, and to see the old clefts in the rock of humanity whence they arise. In these we may not rarely perceive the true elements of tales of the purest
sentiment and most genuine tragedies. No poet has done such justice to the depth and the fulness of maternal love. What, for instance, can be more tear-moving than these exclamations of a mother, who for seven years has heard no tidings of an only child, abandoning the false stay of a pride which ever does unholy violence to the sufferer?
“ Neglect me! no, I suffered long
From that ill thought; and, being blind,
How grand and fearful are the following conjectures of her agony!
" Perhaps some dungeon hears thee groan,
Maim'd, mangled by inhuman men;
Inheritest the lion's den;
And how triumphant does the great instinct appear in its vanquishing even the dread of mortal chilliness-asking and looking for spectres—and concluding that their appearance is not possible, because they come not to its intense cravings:
“ I look for ghosts; but none will force
Their way to me: 'tis falsely said
Of the same class is the poem on the death of a noble youth, who fell in attempting to bound over a chasm of the Wharf, and left his mother childless. What a volume of thought is there in the little stanzas which follows:
“ If for a lover the lady wept,
A solace she might borrow
Old Wharf might heal her sorrow.
She wecps not for the wedding.day,
Which was to be to-morrow :
And her's is a mother's sorrow !"
Here we are made to feel not only the vastness of maternal affection, but its difference from that of lovers. The last, being a passion, has a tendency to grasp and cling to objects which may sustain it, and thus fixes even on those things which have swallowed its hopes, and draws them into its likeness. Death itself thus becomes a passion to one whom it has bereaved; or the waters which flowed over the object of once happy love, become a solace to the mourner, who nurses holy visions by their side. But an instinct which has none of that tendency to go beyond itself, when its only object is lost, has no earthly relief, but is left utterly desolate. The hope of a lover looks chiefly to a single point of time as its goal;—that of a mother is spread equally over existence, and when cut down, at once the blossoming expectations of a whole life are withered for ever.
Can any thing be more true or intense than the following description of remorse, rejecting the phantoms of superstitious horror as powerless, and representing lovely and uncomplaining forms of those whose memories the sufferer had dishonoured by his errors, casting their silent looks perpetually upon him:
- "Feebly must they have felt
We will give but one short passage more to show the depth of Wordsworth's insight into our nature-but it is a passage which we think unequalled in its kind in the compass of poetry. Never surely was such a glimpse of beatific vision opened amidst mortal affliction; such an elevation given to seeming weakness; such consolation ascribed to bereaved love by the very heightening of its own intensities. The poet contends, that those whom we regard as dying broken-hearted for the loss of friends, do not really perish through despair; but have such vivid prospects of heaven, and such a present sense that those who have been taken from them are waiting for them there, that they wear themselves away in longings after the reality, and so hasten to enjoy it:
- Full oft the innocent sufferer sees
But the imaginative faculty is that with which Wordsworth is most eminently gifted. As the term IMAGINATION is often very loosely employed, it will be necessary for us here to state as clearly as possible our idea of its meaning. In our sense, it is that power by which the spiritualities of our nature and the sensible images derived from the material universe are commingled at the will of the possessor. It has thus a two-fold operation—the bodying forth of feelings, sentiments, and ideas, in beautiful and majestic forms, and giving to them local habitations; and the informing the colours and the shapes of matter with the properties of the soul. The first of these workings of the faculty supplies the highest excellencies of the orator, and the philosophic bard. When Sophocles represents the the eternal laws of morality as “ produced in the pure regions of celestial air—having the