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bare. It cannot be denied that he has sometimes passed the limits of a poetical simplicity, and has fallen into a prosaic mean
But he is not always so unfortunate, and no reader of true taste would hesitate to prefer his translation of the celebrated Moon-light Scene, to that of Pope. Surely there is something simple, natural, and, in a word, Homeric, in the following passage, that it would be in vain to look for in the couplets of his predecessor.
As when around the clear, bright moon, the stars
All glitters, and the shepherd's heart is cheered. This is incomparably better than the stuff in Pope, about scious swains" “ eyeing the blue vault,” and “ blessing the useful* light.” Elton's translations have often much simplicity of Cowper's, and though in the same passage, he is, perhaps, less successful than him, his version has far more nature than Pope's.
As beautiful the stars shine out in heaven
Feels gladdened at his heart. The lines, however, with which Pope follows up this passage are very exquisite :
The long reflections of the distant fires
This is quite a Utilitarian epithet!
A thousand piles the dusky horrors gild,
this subject, I cannot refrain from further quotations, and as Pope's descriptive powers have never yet received that attention which they deserve, I shall lay a few brief specimens before the reader.
See; from the brake the whirring pheasant springs,
With slaughtering gun th' unwearied fowler roves,
Far as creation's ample range extends,
power ascends : Mark how it mounts to man's imperial race, From the green myriads in the peopled grass ;
* This description, however, reminds us a little too much of Thomas Paine's celebrated sarcasm-Mr. Burke pities the plumage, but neglects the dying bird. Pope rather injudiciously draws off our attention from the bird's sufferings to make us admire its feathers. The fourth line is perfect.
What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
These passages, (to which could be added many others of equal excellence from the same writer,) are highly picturesque, and ought to make the Lake poets treat the name of Pope with a little more respect. They as extravagantly depreciate his powers as Lord Byron overrated them. As I have quoted Wordsworth's allusion to the Nocturnal Reverie of the Countess of Winchelsea, and as that poem is not likely to be familiar to many of my readers, I will introduce a short extract from it.
“When darkened groves their softest shadows wear,
And falling waters we distinctly heur :
Wordsworth in the following night-scene, taken from one of his sonnets, appears to have had the natural and striking images contained in the last four lines of the passage just extracted, very strongly in his mind.
“Calm is all nature as a resting wheel;
Hurdis, in his Favorite Village, has also a similar description :
“ The grazing ox His dewy supper from the savoury herbs Audibly gathering."
Wordsworth abounds in natural images of admirable truth and beauty, which linked as they usually are to lofty and philosophical thoughts, form some of the most delightful poetry in the language. Here is a companion picture to Pope's “ lonely woodcocks.” It is from one of Wordsworth's juvenile productions,
“Sweet are the sounds that mingle from afar,
The duck dabbling in the above passage reminds me of a ludi. crous but very descriptive line of Southey's in a Sonnet to a Goose :
“ Or waddle wide, with flat and flabby feet,
Over some Cambrian mountain's plushy moor."
SCENE ON THE GANGES.
The shades of evening veil the lofty spires
Like the fond ivy on the ruined tower! 1822.