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THE MOTHER'S SACRIFICE.
“ Thou hast a little bud
“ Thou hast a little harp-
A blight had struck
Again the voice
(1) This beautiful metaphor is also found in Coleridge's “Epitaph on an Infant:"
“ Ere sin could blight or sorrow fade,
Death came with friendly care,
And bade it blossom there."
SONG FOR THE WANDERING JEW.1
Though the torrents from their fountains
upon the rocking wave.
(1) The legend of the wandering Jew is of great, but unknown, antiquity. He was, the fable informs us, Pilate's porter, and when the soldiers were dragging the Saviour out of the judgment-hall, struck him on the back, saying, “Go faster, Jesus, go faster; why dost thou linger?” upon which Christ said to him, “I indeed am guing, but thou shalt tarry till I come.” He was soon after converted, but the doom rested upon him, and even so lately as 1228, an Armenian bishop, visiting England, professed with all sincerity to have dined recently with the man. See Percy's “Reliques of Ancient English Poetry,” vol. iii. p. 133.
The seas are quiet? when the winds give o'er;
THE BURIAL OF SIR JOHN MOORE.5
Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
(1) Quiet, calm-That is quiet which is made so by circumstances, and is, therefore, superficially at rest; that is calm which is quiet by constitution-or which is altogether at rest. An angry man may be quiet externally, but certainly not calm.
(2) Affection—i.e. love for the "fleeting things” of the world.
(3) Soul's dark cottage-i.e. the body, called in Job iv. 19, “a house of clay,” and in 2 Cor v. I, “our earthly house of this tabernacle;" or, more correctly, " this earthly house, this tabernacle."
(4) Stronger by weakness—because the soul's strength increases as the body's decays. Milton, in his “Prose Works,” employs a very fine expression, something like this of Waller's, when he speaks of “the martyrs, with the unresistible might of weakness, shaking the powers of darkness.”
(5) This poem is doubtless one of the most affecting of its kind ever written. The conceptions, the language, the rhythm, all unite in forcibly impressing the reader with the reality of the scene, and making him not a spectator merely, but a sharer in the mournful ceremony. Sir John Moore died January 16th, 1809, at Corunna, of a wound which he received in the battle which took place there between the English under his command, and the French headed by Marshal Soult.
We buried him darkly, at dead of night,
(1) Lord Byron, who considered this poem one of the finest in our language, pronounced this stanza perfect, particularly the last two lines. The art with which the writer, under the semblance of a figure, displays the actual circumstances, is very striking. It reminds one of the Grecian artist's picture of a curtain, which was taken for the curtain itself.
(2) Face of the dead—Some copies read “ face that was dead,” which is discarded from the text, first, because we can scarcely with propriety speak of a dead face,” and secondly, if we could, the meaning is unnecessarily restricted by confining the triumph of death to a part only of the once active frame.
(3) The morrow - because the British troops were to embark the next morning.
(4) Narrow bed—the conception of the bed and pillow gracefully harmunises with that of the warrior “ taking his rest.”
(5) Sullenly firing—As if in spite, because they had been defeated. One of the readings of these two lines is :
“And we heard by the distant and random gun
That the foe was suddenly firing." That is, we heard by the firing that the enemy was suddenly firing, which is either a redundant expression, or else implies that the report of the guns notified a sudden, that is, a new attack, which, however, is inconsistent with the facts.
Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
THE HAUNTED HOUSE."
Some dreams we have are nothing else but dreams,
Are something more than fictions.
An old deserted mansion;
One marble globe in splinters.
Not one domestic feature.
From parapet to basement.
(1) The extract here given is a portion only of a poem of Hood's with the above title, but it gives a good idea of the author's skill in the choice of details, which, by accumulation, make up a striking picture. The aptness, too, of the epithets, which give tone and colour to the picture, and the musical flow of the verse, evince a high degree of artistical ingenuity.