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To the neat stream permitting, as she trips
The following lively description of swimming (ib.) will remind the reader, in part, of the concluding stanza in Lord Byron's address to the Ocean. (Childe Harold, Canto iv. st . cxxxiv.)
If noon be fervid, and no zephyr breathe,
What time the new-shorn flock stands here and there
With huddled head, impatient of the fly—
What time the snuffling spaniel, as he runs,
Pants freely, and laps often at the brook,
To slake the fervour of his feverous tongue—
What time the cow stands knee-deep in the pool,
Lashing her sides for anguish, scaring oft,
With sudden head revers'd, the insect swarm
That basks and preys upon her sunny hide—
Or when she flies with tufted tail erect
The breeze-fly's keen invasion, to the shade
Scampering madly—let me wind my way
Tow'rd the still lip of ocean. Seated there,
Soon let me cast habiliment aside,
And to the cool wave give me. Transport sweet!
Pleasure thrice-delicate! Oh, let me plunge
Deep in the lucid element my head,
And, rising, sportful on his surface play.
Oh joy, to quit the fervid gleam of earth,
Leave a faint atmosphere, and soon recruit
Exhausted energy, suspended thus
Upon the bosom of a cooler world!
Oh recreation exquisite, to feel
The wholesome waters trickle from the head,
Oft as its saturated locks emerge!
To feel them lick the hand, and lave the foot!
And when the playful and luxurious limb
Is satiated with pastime, and the man
Rises refresh'd from the voluptuous flood,
How rich the pleasure to let Zephyr chili
And steal the dew-drops from his panting sides!
Let e'en the saucy and loud Auster blow,
Be but his sea not fierce, nor, save at shore.
The frothy breaker of displeasure shew,
Yet will I court the turbulent embrace
Of thee, thou roaring deep: yes, and will share
The bather's richest pleasure, when the foot
Of fear might hesitate, nor dare invade
The thund'ring downfall of the billowy surge.
How joys the bold intruder, then, at large
To flounder porpoise-like, wave after wave
Mounting triumphant, hoisted by the swell—
How climbs with ease, descends, and climbs again
Th' uplifted summit, high as it may seem,
Of the sublimest wave! What if lost earth
Each moment disappear, as the sunk head
Swims through the yawning hollow of the flood;
As often shall it greet the watchful eye,
Seen from the wave-top eminent."
Our author has attempted, after Virgil and Thomson, a description of the signs which precede a storm; how he has succeeded, the reader will judge from the following passage. (Canto iii.)
"As, when the daw throng on the steeple perch,
An ample circle with capacious zone
Her central disc encloses. Spiritless
At his round table sits the farmer lord;
A drowsy yawn his pipe-inhaling jaws
Relaxes often. At his foot the cur
Sleeps on the hearth outstretch'd, and yelping dreams,
Or lifts his head, astonish'd at the dance
Of frisking puss, who on the sanded floor
Gambols excessive. Such ere close of day
Were the wild antics of the frantic herd,
(Alike prophetic of the morrow storm,)
Who leap'd and rac'd, and bellow'd in the mead,
Andclash'd their horny foreheads, staring fierce.
Dim in the socket, burns the sulky wick,
Nor heeds the trimming hand, which oft divides
The kindled fibres of its nape in vain,
And to the oil redundant, that would drown
Its feeble flame, relieving sluice affords."
This is followed by an animated picture of the storm, and a whimsical recital of the damage which ensued from a sudden inundation, to the humble dwelling of
. ''Response-pronouncing sage,
The village-clerk parochial, nothing rich." (p. 115. &c.)
A pleasing passage on the sun and moon occurs in p. 118 —122. The following is from canto iv.
"From your uplifted summit, when the sun
The freshen'd landscape leisurely dismissal.
Lo! in the glowing east the cloud sublime
Lifting its arduous and illumin'd head
High above the highest earth, a pile superb
Of vapour, wrapping in its smoky skirts
Heav'n's everduring threshold, and the beam
Of day's clear orb resplendent from its folds
Reflecting glorious. With the falling sun
Slow sinks the pomp away, and while his orb
In flaky redness sets, and fills the west
With fiery fragments of disparted cloud,
The last-apparent summit of the storm
The ruddy hue imbibes, and sanguine glows;
Till, day withdrawn and the vex'd ether hush'd
The tempest all subsides and dies away,
And the pure heav'n displays an ardent moon
Swimming self-balancd through the blue profound.'
We quote part of the succeeding paragraph.
"On this commanding summit let me stand,
"What time the sun has from the west withdrawn
Of the lone wand'rer—when the recent leaf
Of clover 'gins to sleep, and, white with dew, ,
Closes its tender triple-finger'd palm
Till morning dawn afresh—when the moon wears
Nor hood nor veil, nor looks with cold regard
Through the fine lawn of intervening cloud,
But lifts a fair round visage o*er the vale,
And smiles affection which no bard can sing,
No painter with poetic pencil paint—
When the dark cloud that couches in the west
Seems to imbibe the last pale beam of eve,
Absorbing in its dun and gloomy folds
The feeble residue of dying day—.
Is it not pleasure, with unbended mind
To muse within or meditate abroad,
While either hand in the warm bosom sleeps,
And either foot falls feebly on the floor,
Or shaven sward, or stone that paves the path
Of village footway winding to the church?
'Twere passing pleasure, if to man alone
That hour were grateful: but with like desire
The dusky holiday of thick'ning night
Enjoys the chuckling partridge, the still mouse,
The rabbit foraging, the feeding hare,
The nightingale that warbles from the thorn,
And twilight-loving solitary owl,
That skims the meadows, hovers, drops her prey*
Seizes, and screeching to her tower returns.
Her woolly little ones there hiss on high,
And there who will may seek them, but who dares
Must 'bide the keen magnanimous rebuff
Of irritated love, and quick descend,
By the maternal talon not in vain
Insulted, baffled, scar'd, and put to flight."
The last passage may be considered as a fair specimen of the general strain of the poem. Indeed the whole work consists of a succession of such passages—an uniform series of agreeable descriptions; and this peculiarity, while it unfits the poem from being read continuously, renders it an appropriate lounge for any eight or ten minutes which we may have to spare occasionally. We know no composition which contains a greater number of elegant detached morceaux, passages pleasing in themselves, and which may be separated from the main work without injury. We shall conclude our extracts with the lines immediately following those last quoted.