網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

BOADICEA.

WHEN the British warrior queen,

Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought, with an indignant mien,

Counsel of her country's gods;
Sage, beneath the spreading oak,

Sat the Druid, hoary chief !
Every burning word he spoke

Full of rage, and full of grief :-
« Princess! if our aged eyes

Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,
'Tis because resentment ties

All the terrors of our tongues.
“Rome shall perish-write that word

In the blood that she has spilt;a
Perish, hopeless and abhorred,

Deep in ruin as in guilt.
“Rome, for empire far renowned,

Tramples on a thousand states;
Soon her pride shall kiss the ground-

Hark! the Gaulis at her gates !

1

[blocks in formation]

(1) This passage is somewhat obscure. The Druid's “ burning words " which follow seem inconsistent with the assertion that the “terrors of his tongue" were “ tied” or restrained. The meaning may perhaps be thus represented:-Princess if you find us weeping over your wrongs in private, instead of denouncing the perpetrators in public, blame us not, for our silence hitherto has arisen from the very intensity of our indignation.—Your personal appeal, however, demands that we should now give utterance to it:-Rome shall perish, &c.—This interpretation is based on the conjecture that “ ties" is used for “has hitherto tied.” Another explanation may be found in the Appendix, Note A.

(2) In the blood-that is, with the blood, as we say, to write in ink.

(3) Gaul-It does not appear that the Gauls were among the nations that swept over the Roman empire in the fifth century.-Perhaps “ Goth” should be read for

Gaul.”

Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize;

Harmony the path to fame.
“ Then the progeny that springs

From the forests of our land,
Armed with thunder, clad with wings,

Shall a wider world command,

“Regions Cæsar never knew,
Thy posterity shall

sway;
Where his eagles never flew

None invincible as they."3
Such the bard's prophetic words,

Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending, as he swept the chords

Of his sweet but awful lyre.
She, with all a monarch's pride,

Felt them in her bosom glow;
Rushed to battle, fought, and died ;4

Dying, hurled them at the foe:-
“Ruffians! pitiless as proud,

Heaven awards the vengeance due;
Empire is on us bestowed,

Shame and ruin wait for you."

a

Covoper.

THE STARTLED STAG.

The stag at eve had drunk his fill,
Where danced the moon on Monan’só rill,

[ocr errors]

(1) In allusion to the love of the Italians for music. As a striking indication of the change in character above referred to, it may be mentioned that the word virtus, which among the ancient Romans meant “ active courage,” is used by the modern Romans in the softened form of virtù, to signify" a taste for the fine arts.'

(2) Progeny, &c.—the ships of England.
(3) They-the British, not the Romans.
(4) According to Tacitus, Boadicea poisoned herself.
(5) Monan—a spring in the district of Menteith, Perthshire, Scotland.

And deep his midnight laird had made
In lone Glenartney'sa hazel shade;
But, when the sun his beacono red,
Had kindled on Benvoirlich’s4 head,
The deep-mouthed bloodhound's heavy bay
Resounded up the rocky, way,
And faint, from farther distance borne,
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.
As chief, who hears his warder call,
“ To arms! the foemen storm the wall!”
The antlered monarch of the waste
Sprang from his heathery couch in haste.
But, ere his fleet career he took,
The dew-drops from his flanks he shook ;
Like crested leader, proud and high,
Tossed his beamed frontlet to the sky;
A moment gazed adown the dale,
A moment snuffed the tainted gale,
A moment listened to the cry.
That thickened as the chase drew nigh;
Then, as the headmost foes appeared,
With one brave bound the copse he cleared,
And, stretching forward free and far,
Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var.6
Yelled on the view the opening pack,
Rock, glen, and cavern, paid them back;;

(1) Lair-derived from lay or lie-the place where any one (deer or other animal) is laid. Cowper (see p. 69) uses the word in the well-known lines:

“But the sea-fowl is gone to her nest,

The beast is laid down in his lair." (2) Glenartney-a vale in Menteith.

(3) Beacon--from Anglo-Saxon bicn-ian, to beck or beckon, to call by signsanything so placed as to give a signal or warning. The use of the word in the above passage is highly picturesque.

(4) Benvoirlich--one of the Grampian mountains.

(5) As chief, &c.—This description is full of animation. The stag awakening at the summons of his pursuers- his proud survey of the scene-his decisive action-his escape ;-the entrance of the hunting-party---the shouts and halloos which give“ Benvoirlich's echoes no rest”-and the deep silence which succeeds --are all touched with the hand of a master.

(6) Vam-Var--a mountain in Menteith.
(7) Paid them back---echoed back the sound.

To many a mingled sound at once
The awakened mountain gave response.
A hundred dogs bayed deep and strong,
Clattered a hundred steeds along,
Their peal the merry horns rang out,
A hundred voices joined the shout;
With hark, and whoop, and wild halloo,
No rest Benvoirlich's echoes knew.
Far from the tumult fled the roe,
Close in her covert cowered the doe,
The falcon, from her cairn? on high,
Cast on the rout a wondering eye,
Till far beyond her piercing ken,
The hurricane had swept the glen.
Faint, and more faint, its failing din
Returned from cavern, cliff, and linn,
And silence settled, wide and still,
On the lone wood and mighty hill.

Walter Scott.

2

THE GLORY OF GOD IN CREATION.3

The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great original proclaim.*

(1) Cairn-a heap of stones—here, a crag or cliff. (2) Linn--a waterfall, precipice.

(3) This beautiful poem is a paraphrase of the first four verses of the 19th Psalm, with which it should be compared.

(4) For some variations in the commencement, see Appendix, Note B.

The words firmament, sky, and heaven, may be thus distinguished :-- Firmament (from firmare, to strengthen), that which is strengthened, and therefore solid; --the arch or vault of heaven. The old astronomers believed the sky to be a sort of solid frame, in which the stars were set. Sky (from Okia, a shadow), originally a cloud or shadow; afterwards, the region of clouds-cloudland. Chaucer speaks of “not a skie” being left in all the welkin.” Heaven- that which is heaved or heaven up, comprehending all the upper regions, as opposed to the earth.

In accordance with these distinctions we may correctly speak of the spacious firmament,the blue sky—the spangled heavens, but scarcely of the firmament, with the sky and the heavens, as above.

The unwearied sun from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the listening earth,
Repeats the story of her birth :
While all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What, though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball!
What, though no real voice nor sound,
Amid their radiant orbs be found !
In Reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice;
For ever singing as they shine,
“ The hand that made us is divine."

Addison.

THE SLEEPING BABE.3

“She is not dead, but sleepeth.” Luke viii. 52.

The baby wept;
The mother took it from the nurse's arms,
And soothed its grief, and stilled its vain alarms,

And baby slept.

(1) Tale-The idea of the Creation declaring, as if in speech, the goodness and greatness of God is preserved throughout the poem, by the use of the words “proclaim," "publish,” “ tell," "story," "tidings,” &c.

(2) What though, &c.—Bishop Horsley translates the 3rd verse of the 19th Psalm thus:

“ There is no speech, no words,

No voice of them is heard ;

Yet their sound goes throughout the earth ;” which is nearly the same rendering as Cranmer's in the Book of Common Prayer.

(3) The simple beauty of these lines well deserves attention ; particularly, the striking use made of the double meaning of the word sleep. The change in the tense from past to present, heightens the climax, which is almost sublime.

« 上一頁繼續 »