« 上一頁繼續 »
SONG FOR THE WANDERING JEW.1
THOUGH the torrents from their fountains
Yet they find among the mountains
Clouds that love through air to hasten
What, if through the frozen centre
And the sea-horse, though the ocean
If on windy days the raven
The fleet ostrich till day closes
Day and night my toils redouble,
(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 going, 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 quiet1 when the winds give o'er;
Clouds of affection from our younger eyes
Stronger by weakness, wiser, men become,
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. 1, 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,
By the struggling moonbeam's misty light,
No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Few and short were the prayers we said,
But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the dead,"
We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed,
And smoothed down his lonely pillow,*
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
(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 harmonises 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,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone-
But we left him alone with his glory!
THE HAUNTED HOUSE.1
SOME dreams we have are nothing else but dreams,
It might be only on enchanted ground;
A residence for woman, child, and man,
Unhinged, the iron gates half open hung,
No dog was at the threshold, great or small;
Not one domestic feature.
No human figure stirr'd, to go or come,
No face looked forth from shut or open casement;
(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.
With shatter'd panes the grassy court was starr'd;
O'er all there hung a shadow and a fear;
The flower grew wild and rankly as the weed,
But gay or gloomy, steadfast or infirm,
No heart was there to heed the hour's duration;
The wren had built within the porch-she found
And on the lawn, within its turfy mound,
The rabbit made his burrow:
The rabbit wild and grey, that flitted through
The shrubby clumps, and frisked, and sat, and vanished; But leisurely and bold, as if he knew
His enemy was banished.
The weary crow, the pheasant from the woods,
The coot was swimming in the reedy pond,
The moping heron, motionless and stiff,
(1) i. e. to try which could look over the other.