網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Inferior to the vilest now become

Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me-
They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own;
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
O dark, dark, dark,' amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse

Without all hope of day!

O first created beam, and thou great Word,
"Let there be light, and light was over all,"
Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree?
The sun to me is dark

And silent as the moon,2

When she deserts the night,

Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.
Since light so necessary is to life,
And almost life itself, if it be true
That light is in the soul,

She all in every part, why was the sight
To such a tender ball as the eye confined,
So obvious and so easy to be quenched?
And not, as feeling, through all parts diffused,
That she might look at will through every pore?
Then had I not been thus exiled from light,
As in the land of darkness, yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And buried but O yet more miserable!
Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave,
Buried, yet not exempt

By privilege of death and burial

From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs,

But made hereby obnoxious more

To all the miseries of life,

Life in captivity

Among inhuman foes.

Milton.

(1) Oh dark, dark, &c.-"Few passages in poetry," says Sir E. Brydges, “are so affecting as this; and the tone of expression is peculiarly Miltonic."

(2) Silent as the moon-a singular expression, taken from the Latin "silens luna," the silent moon, i. e. the moon when she does not shine.

(3) Hid in her, &c.-Hidden idly ("vacant") in the cave to which she (poetically) retires between one lunation and another.

THE MEDAL.

SEE the wild waste of all devouring years!
How Rome her own sad sepulchre appears!
With nodding arches, broken temples spread;
The very tombs now vanished like their dead!
Imperial wonders1 raised on nations spoiled,
Where, mixed with slaves, the groaning martyr toiled;
Huge theatres, that now unpeopled woods,
Now drained a distant country of her floods;
Fanes, which admiring gods with pride survey;
Statues of men, scarce less alive than they!
Some felt the silent stroke of mouldering age,
Some hostile fury, some religious rage:
Barbarian blindness, Christian zeal conspire,
And Papal piety, and Gothic fire:

Perhaps, by its own ruins saved from flame,
Some buried marble half preserves a name;
That name, the learn'd with fierce disputes pursue,
And give to Titus old Vespasian's due.

Ambition sighed; she found it vain to trust
The faithless column, and the crumbling bust;

Huge moles, whose shadow stretched from shore to shore-
Their ruins perished, and their place no more!
Convinced, she now contracts her vast design,
And all her triumphs shrink into a coin.
A narrow orb each crowded conquest keeps―
Beneath her palm here sad Judea weeps.
Now scantier limits the proud arch confine,
And scarce are seen the prostrate Nile or Rhine;
A small Euphrates through the piece is rolled,
And little eagles wave their wings in gold.

(1) Imperial wonders—The poet here refers to the circuses, amphitheatres, &c., of Rome.

(2) Drained, &c.--In allusion to the naumachiæ, or mock sea-fights, which used to be represented in the Circus Maximus, the water for which, although derived immediately from the Tiber, might poetically be said to drain a distant country.

(3) Give to Titus, &c.-i. e. mistake a statue of Vespasian for one of Titus.

(4) Beneath her palm-the medals struck to commemorate the conquest of Judea represent a female figure sitting, bowed in sorrow, beneath a palm

tree.

ages

The Medal, faithful to its charge of fame,
Through climes and bears each form and name:
In one short view subjected to our eye,
Gods, emperors, heroes, sages, beauties lie.
With sharpened sight pale antiquaries pore,
The inscription value, but the rust adore;
This the blue' varnish, that the green endears,
The sacred rust of twice ten hundred years!
To gain Pescennius2 one employs his schemes;
One grasps a Cecrops in ecstatic dreams:
Poor Vadius, long with learned spleen devoured,
Can taste no pleasure since his shield was scoured;
And Curio, restless by the fair one's side,
Sighs for an Otho, and neglects his bride.

Pope.

JERUSALEM BEFORE THE SIEGE.3
TITUS SPEAKS.

IT must be

And yet it moves me, Romans! it confounds
The counsel of my firm philosophy,

That ruin's merciless ploughshare must pass o'er,
And barren salt be sown on, yon proud city.
As on this olive-crownéd hill5 we stand,
Where Kedron at our feet its scanty waters
Distils from stone to stone with gentle motion,
As through a valley sacred to sweet peace,
How boldly doth it front us! how majestically!
Like a luxurious vineyard, the hill-side
Is hung with marble fabrics, line o'er line,
Terrace o'er terrace, nearer still, and nearer

(1) This the blue, &c.-The blue tinge marks the silver, and the green, the copper medals.

(2) To gain Pescennius, &c.-In this and the following lines, the deep anxieties of the virtuoso antiquary are glanced at with happy raillery. The medals named are of course such as are very scarce and difficult to procure. Pescennius was a Roman Consul. The other names need no explanation.

(3) This fine view of Jerusalem is almost altogether taken from that given by Josephus. The description of the Temple, especially, is nearly verbatim.

(4) Ruin's merciless, &c.-This bold metaphor is also employed by Burns (see p. 78), and both writers probably derived it from Young. (See p. 407.) (5) Olive-crowned hill--Mount Olivet, east of Jerusalem.

To the blue heavens. There bright and sumptuous palaces,
With cool and verdant gardens interspersed ;
There towers of war that frown in massy strength;
While over all hangs the rich purple eve,

As conscious of its being her last farewell
Of light and glory to that fated city.
And as our clouds of battle, dust, and smoke,
Are melted into air, behold the Temple
In undisturbed and lone serenity,

Finding itself a solemn sanctuary

In the profound of heaven! It stands before us
A mount of snow, fretted with golden pinnacles.
The very sun, as though he worshipped there,
Lingers upon the gilded cedar roofs,
And down the long and branching porticoes;
On every flowery-sculptured capital,
Glitters the homage of his parting beams.

THE TRANQUILLITY OF NATURE.

Milman.

EVE's lingering clouds extend in solid bars
Through the grey west; and lo! these waters, steeled
By breezeless air to smoothest polish, yield
A vivid repetition of the stars;

Jove-Venus-and the ruddy crest of Mars,

Amid his fellows, beauteously revealed
At happy distance from earth's groaning field,
Where ruthless mortals wage incessant wars.
Is it a mirror?-or the nether sphere

Opening its vast abyss, while fancy feeds
On the rich show!-But list! a voice is near;

Great Pan' himself low-whispering through the reeds,
"Be thankful thou; for, if unholy deeds

Ravage the world, tranquillity is here!"

[ocr errors]

Wordsworth.

(1) Pan-Pan, among the Greeks, was the God of universal Nature, and the name was used frequently, as we use the word Nature, for the invisible cause of the beauties of creation.

TWILIGHT.

HAIL, Twilight! sovereign of one peaceful hour!
Not dull art thou as undiscerning Night!
But studious only to remove from sight
Day's mutable distinctions.-Ancient Power!
Thus did the waters gleam, the mountains lower
To the rude Briton, when, in wolf-skin vest,
Here roving wild, he laid him down to rest
On the bare rock, or through a leafy bower

Looked ere his eyes were closed. By him was seen
The self-same vision which we now behold,

At thy meek bidding, shadowy Power, brought forth :--
These mighty barriers and the gulf between;

The floods, the stars;-a spectacle as old
As the beginning of the heavens and earth!

Wordsworth.

TO THE NIGHTINGALE.'

SWEET bird! thou sing'st away the early hours!
Of winters past or coming void of care,

Well pleased with delights which present are,-
Fair seasons, budding sprays, sweet smelling flowers!
To rocks, to springs, to rills from leafy bowers,
Thou thy Creator's goodness dost declare,
And what dear gifts on thee he did not spare.
Oh stain3 to human sense, in sin that lowers!
What soul can be so sick, which by thy songs,
(Attired in sweetness,) sweetly is not driven
Quite to forget earth's turmoils, spites, and wrongs,
And lift a reverend eye and thought to heaven!
Sweet artless songster! thou my mind dost raise
To airs of spheres, yea, and to angels' lays!

Drummond.

(1) The writer of this and the following beautiful sonnet was a friend and contemporary of Ben Jonson.

(2) And what dear gifts, &c.-i. e. and the precious gifts that he lavished on thee.

(3) Oh stain, &c.-Oh what a reproach to men is the sin which debases ("lowers") them, and prevents their praising God as you do.

(4) Airs of spheres-the fancied music of the spheres.

« 上一頁繼續 »