Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][ocr errors]

EREWHILE of musick, and ethereal mirth,
Wherewith the stage of air and earth did ring,
And joyous news of heavenly Infant's birth,
My Muse with Angels did divide to sing;
But headlong joy is ever on the wing;

In wintry solstice, like the shorten'd light,
Soon swallow'd up in dark and long out-living night.



For now to sorrow must I tune my song,
And set my harp to notes of saddest woe,
Which on our dearest Lord did seize ere long,
Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than so,
Which he for us did freely undergo:

Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight
Of labours huge and hard, too hard for human wight!

[blocks in formation]

He, sovran Priest, stooping his regal head,
That dropt with odorous oil down his fair eyes,
Poor fleshly tabernacle entered,
His starry front low-rooft beneath the skies:
O, what a mask was there, what a disguise!

Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide;
Then lies him meekly down fast by his brethren's side.



These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
To this horizon is my Phæbus bound:
His godlike acts, and his temptations fierce,
And former sufferings, other where are found;
Loud o'er the rest Cremona's trump doth sound:


I cannot agree with Sir Egerton Brydges that this Ode or Elegy is unaccount ahly inferior" to the preceding Ilymn. True, this is not so highly finished as the other, but there are in it exquisite touches of beauty. A beloved friend and accomplished scholar of Oxford (J. W.) writes me--"That third stanza has often suffured my eyes and quickened my heart's pulsation : what it saddening, melancholy tendernessa climax of pathos and of dear human sympathy in the last two lines !".

1. Errwhile, &c. Hence we may conjecture that this Ode was probably com 1 posed 90on after that on the Nativity," And this, perhaps, was a college exercise at Easter, as the last was at Christmas. T. WARTON.

13. Most perfect Hero. See leh. ii. 10. 20. Cremona's trump. Vida's "Christind," which our author seems to think the finest Latin poem on a religious subject, is here called Cremonai's trump, because Vida was born at Cremoni.

Me softer airs befit, and softer strings
Of lute, or viol still, more apt for mournful things.

Befriend me, Night, best patroness of grief;
Over the pole thy thickest mantle throw,
And work my flatter'd fancy to belief,
That heaven and earth are colour'd with my woe;
My sorrows are too dark for day to know:

The leaves should all be black whereon I write; 34
And letters, where my tears have wash'd a wannish wbite.

See, see the chariot, and those rushing wheels,
That whirl’d the Prophet up at Chebar food;
My spirit some transporting Cherub feels,
To bear me where the towers of Salem stood,
Once glorious towers, now sunk in guiltless blood :

There doth my soul in holy vision sit,
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatick fit.


Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock
That was the casket of Heaven's richest store;
And here, though grief my feeble hands up lock,
Yet on the soften’d quarry would I score
My plaining verse as lively as before;

For sure so well instructed are my tears,
That they would fitly fall in order'd characters.


Or should I thence, hurried on viewless wing,
Take up a weeping on the mountains wild,
The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unbosom all their echoes mild;
And I (for grief is easily beguiled)

Might think the infection of my sorrows loud
Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant cloud.

[ocr errors]

This subject the author finding to be above the years he had when

he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.

28. Of lute, or vinl: That is, gentle; / 43. That sad sepulchral rock: That is, not noisy or loud like the trumpet. the lloly Sepulchre at Jerusalem.

34. The leares, &c. Conceits were not 51. Take up a wrrping. Jer. ix. 10. confined to woris only. Mr. Stevens has 52. The gentle neighbourhood. A sweetly a volume of Elegies, in which the paper beautiful couplet, which, with the two is black and the letters white: that is in preceding lines, opened the stanza so all the title-pages. Every intermediate well, that I particularly grieve to find it leaf is also black. What a sudden change, terininate feebly in a most miserably disfrom this hildish idea to the noble apos- gusting concello.-DUNSTER. trophe, the sublime rapture and imagibatiou of the next stauza.--T. WARTON.


Ye flaming Powers, and winged Warriours bright,
That erst with musick, and triumphant song,
First heard by happy watchful shepherds' ear,
So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along
Through the soft silence of the listening night;
Now mourn; and, if sad share with us to bear
Your fiery essence can distil no tear,
Burn in your sighs, and borrow
Seas wept from our deep sorrow:
He, who with all Heaven's heraldry whilere
Enter'd the world, now bleeds to give us ease:
Alas, how soon our sin
Sore doth begin

His infancy to seize!
O more exceeding love, or law more just?
Just law indeed, but more exceeding love!
For we, by rightful doom remediless,
Were lost in death, till he that dwelt above
High throned in secret bliss, for us frail dust
Emptied his glory, ev'n to nakedness ;
And that great covenant which we still transgress
Entirely satisfied ;
And the full wrath beside
Of vengeful justice bore for our excess ;
And seals obedience first, with wounding smart,
This day; but, 01 ere long,
Huge pangs and strong

Will pierce more near his heart.



O FAIREST flower, no sooner blown but blasted.
Soft silken primrose fading timelessly,

* The “Circumcision" is better than the “ Passion," and has two or three Miltonie lines. -BRIDES.

† The “ Elogy on the Death of a Fair Infant" is praised by Wurton, and we'l characterized in his last note upon it, but it has more of research and alourel fancy than of feeling, and is not a general favourite.-- BRYDGES. It was writen :.t the age of seventeen.

20. Emplied his glory. An expression taken from Phil, ii. 7, but not as in our translation," He made himself of no

r putation,"—but, as it is in the original, Eau TOV EKEVWOE,) "He emptind linisoif." -NEWTON,

Summer's chief honour, if thou hadst out-lasted
Bleak Winter's force that made thy blossom dry;
For he, being amorous on that lovely dye

That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss,
But kill'd, alas! and then bewail'd his fatal bliss.


For since grim Aquilo, his charioteer,
By boisterous rape the Athenian damsel got,
He thought it touch'd his deity full near,
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away the infamous blot

Of long uncoupled bed and childless eld,
Which, 'mongst the wanton gods, a foul reproach was held.


So, mounting up in icy-pearled car,
Through middle empire of the freezing air
He wander'd long, till thee he spied from far;
There ended was his quest, there ceased his care.
Down he descended from his snow-soft chair;

But, all unwares, with his cold-kind embrace
Unhous'd thy virgin soul from her fair biding-place.

[ocr errors]

Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hånd,
Whilom did slay his dearly-loved mate,
Young Hyacinth, born on Eurotas' strand,
Young Hyacinth, the pride of Spartan land;

But then transform’d him to a purple flower:
Alack, that so to change thee Winter had no power!


Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
Or that thy corse corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed,
Ilid from the world in a low-delved tomb.
Could Heaven for pity thee so strictly doom?

0, no! for something in thy face did shine Above mortality, that show'd thou wast divine.

8. Aquilo, or Boreas, the North wind, 'Yet, in the eighth stanza, the person laenamourel of Orithvin, the daughter of mented is alternately support to have Erechtheas King of Athens.

been sent down to earth in the shape of 12. Infámons, the common accent in two divinities, or of whom is styled a old Enlish portry.

- just maid." and the other a sweet 23. Furso A lo, &c. From these lince smiling youth." But the child was cer one would suspect, although it does not tainly a niece, a daughter of Milton's immedintely follow, that a boy was the sister Philips. subject of the de; but in the last stanza 40. Were, instend of are, for rhyme.-the poet says expressly,

47. Earth's sons, the giants.--50. Mail, Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child, Justice.-04. TM , ercy. Her false imagined loss cease to lament. 1 67. To turn swift-rusting, &c. Among the blessings which the Hearen-lored inno- pression, and versification; even in the cence of this child might have imparted, conceits, which are many, we perceive by remaining upon earth, the application strong and peculiar marks of genius. I to present circumstances, the supposition think Milton has here given a very rethat she might have averted the pesti- markable specimen of his ability to suc lence now raging in the kingdom, is hap- ceed in the Spenserian stanza. Ile moves piiy and beautifully conceived. On the with great ease and address amidst the whole, from a boy of seventeen, this de embarrassinent of a frequent return of is an extraordinary effort of fancy, ex rhyme.-T. WARTON.

Resolve me then, O soul most surely blest,
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear,)
Tell me, bright spirit, where'er thou hoverest;
Whether above that high first-moving sphere,
Or in the Elysian fields, (if such there were,

0, say me true, if thou wert mortal wight, And why from us so quickly thou didst take thy flight?

[ocr errors]

Wert thou some star, which from the ruin'd roof
Of shak'd Olympus by mischance didst fall;
Which careful Jove in Nature's true behoof
Took up, and in fit place did reinstall ?
Or did of late Earth's sons besiege the wall

Of sheeny Heaven, and thou, some goddess fled,
Amongst us here below to hide thy nectar'd head?


Or wert thou that just Maid, who once before
Forsook the hated earth, O, tell me sooth,
And cam'st again to visit us once more?
Or wert thou that sweet-smiling youth?
Or that crown'd matron sage, white-robed Truth?

Or any other of that heavenly brood,
Let down in cloudy throne to do the world some good ?

[ocr errors]

Or wert thou of the golden-winged host,
Who, having clad thyself in human weed,
To earth from thy prefixed seat didst post,
And after short abode fly back with speed,
As if to show what creatures heaven doth breed;

Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire
To scorn the sordid world, and unto heaven aspire ?

But, O! why didst thou not stay here below
To bless us with thy Ileaven-loved innocence,
To slake his wrath whom sin hath made our foe,
To turn swift-rushing black Perdition hence,
Or drive away the slaughtering Pestilence,

« AnteriorContinuar »