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How joyous your life, if its pleasures ye knew,
But unenvied your joys, while the richest you miss,
Who would part with his cares for enjoyment like this,
MUSIC ON THE WATERS.
THE foot of music is on the waters,
Now it lingers among the billows,
Oft she flies, and her steps though light
And the flood is unstirred as the calm blue ether.
(1) The tears, &c.-i. e. the sorrows of earth may be appointed by God, as the very means of fixing the affections on heaven.
(2) The measure of these lines very aptly illustrates their subject; this is effected by an artful and ingenious intermingling of various metrical feet. The following scheme of the first stanza will exemplify the remark. The points out the accented syllables.
The advancing and receding in the last line are most skilfully represented. (3) Orestes' daughters-It is difficult to say who Orestes' daughters were; probably the Oreads, or mountain nymphs are meant.
HE who hath bent him o'er the dead,
Have swept the lines where beauty lingers;
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon-
That parts not quite with parting breath,
That hue which haunts it to the tomb-
(1) There is, perhaps, no instance in our poetical literature in which a continued simile is so beautifully sustained, as that which runs through these lines. The affecting picture of the lovely form, no longer animated by the living spirit, deeply touching in itself, derives a new interest from its exquisite adaptation to the subject which suggested it. The music of the rhythm too-so soft, so delicately modulated-floats like a requiem over the whole, and leaves nothing to be desired in consummating the effect.
(2) Cold obstruction-This expression is taken from Shakspere, who speaks of the dead as "lying in cold obstruction," in allusion to the stoppage of the animal functions.
(3) The following passage, from Gillies' "History of Greece," is thought to have suggested the above comparison :-"The present state of Greece, compared to the ancient, is the silent obscurity of the grave contrasted with the vivid lustre of active life."
Expression's last receding ray,
A gilded halo hovering round decay,
The farewell beam of feeling past away!
Spark of that flame-that flame of heavenly birth-
Clime of the unforgotten brave!1
These scenes, their story not unknown,
Thy heroes, though the general doom
A mightier monument command,
The mountains of their native land!
(1) The transition here to another variation of the same theme, by a change of key, as it were, is very striking. The energy of these lines is as remarkable as the pathos of the preceding.
(2) Thermopyla, Salamis-An instance of the suggestive power of a name. description is given of the deeds for which these places were remarkable--the simple mention of them is enough.
There points thy Muse to stranger's eye,
THEY fell devoted, but undying;
The very gale their names seemed sighing;
Claimed kindred with their sacred clay,
TO A SKYLARK.1
ETHEREAL minstrel ! pilgrim of the sky!
Mount, daring warbler!-that love-prompted strain
(1) It is difficult to conceive any thing more exquisitely graceful than these ines; the last two especially, and that beginning, "A privacy of," &c., may be characterised as perfect.
(2) Yet might'st thou seem, de-i. e. yet you mount so high, that you might seem to have lost all connection with earth, and not to be inspired by the genial innces of spring, which prompt the songs of other birds.
Leave to the nightingale her shady wood;
THE CATARACT AND THE STREAMLET,'
OR POWER AND GENTLENESS.
NOBLE the mountain stream,
Bursting in grandeur from its vantage ground;2
Of brightness;-thunder in its deafening sound:
Mark, how its foamy spray,
Tinged by the sunbeams with reflected dyes,
Arching in majesty the vaulted skies;
Thence, in a summer shower,
Steeping the rocks around;-Oh! tell me where
Could majesty and power
Be clothed in forms more beautifully fair?
Yet lovelier, in my view,
The Streamlet, flowing silently serene;
Traced by the brighter hue,
And livelier growth3 it gives; itself unseen!
It flows through flowery meads,
Gladdening the herds which on its margin browse;
The alders that o'ershade it with their boughs.
(1) The excellent moral of this piece is recommended by its tasteful style and versification. The closing stanza is finely expressed.
(2) Vantage ground-vantage is a contraction of advantage, and the expression is equivalent to, position of advantage, i. e. an elevated and commanding position. (3) Livelier growth-Cowper speaks of the rills that
"lose themselves at length
In matted grass, that with a livelier green