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THE FIRMAMENT.1

WHEN I survey the bright

Celestial sphere,
So rich with jewels hung, that night
Doth like an Ethiop bride appear ;
My soul her wings doth spread,

And heavenward flies,
The Almighty's mysteries to read
In the large volumes of the skies.
For the bright firmament

Shoots forth no flame
So silent, but is eloquent
In speaking the Creator's name.
No unregarded star

Contracts its light
Into so small a character,
Removed far from our human sight;
But if we steadfast look,

We shall discern
In it, as in some holy book,
How man may heavenly knowledge learn.

Habington.

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BEES.

Ye musical hounds of the fairy king,

Who hunt for the golden dew,
Who track for your game the green coverts of spring,
Till the echoes, that lurk in the flower-bells, ring

With the peal of your elfino crew!

(1) These fine lines—and the first four especially deserve the epithet--were written in the early part of the seventeenth century.

(2) This little poem presents a new and graceful handling of a trite subject. The first and last stanzas are original and striking.

(3) Elfin-from the Anglo-Saxon ælf, an elf, fairy. The Anglo-Saxons had their dun, or inountain elfs, wood elfs, water elfs, &c.

How joyous your life, if its pleasures ye knew,

Singing ever from bloom to bloom!
Ye wander the summer year's paradise through,
The souls of the flowers are the viands for you,

And the air that you breathe, perfume.
But unenvied your joys, while the richest you miss

And before you no brighter life lies :
Who would part with his cares for enjoyment like this,
When the tears that embitter the pure spirit's bliss

May be pearls in the crown of the skies !

3

MUSIC ON THE WATERS.
THE foot of music is on the waters,
Hark! how fairily, sweetly it treads,
As in the dance of Orestes' daughters,
Now it advances and now recedes.
Now it lingers among the billows,
Where some one fonder than the rest,
Clasps the rover in passing, and pillows
Her softly upon its heaving breast.
Oft she flies, and her steps though light
Make the green waves all tremble beneath her,
Now the quick ear cannot follow her flight,
And the flood is unstirred as the calm blue ether.

(1) The tears, &c.—-. 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.

-1vol

1 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.

GREECE.
He who hath bent him o'er the dead,
Ere the first day of death is fled-
Before decay's effacing fingers
Have swept the lines where beauty lingers;
And marked the mild angelic air,
The rapture of repose that's there,
The fixed yet tender traits that streak
The languor of the placid cheek,
And—but for that sad shrouded eye,
That fires not-wins not-weeps not-now,
And but for that chill, changetess brow,
Where cold obstruction’s2 apáthy
Appals the gazing mourner's heart,
As if to him it could impart
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon-
Yes, but for these, and these alone,
Some moments, aye, one treacherous hour,
He still might doubt the tyrant's power ;
So fair, so calm, so softly sealed,
The first-last look-by death revealed !
Such is the aspect of this shore-
'Tis Greece—but living Greece no more !3
So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
We start--for soul is wanting there.
Hers is the loveliness in death,
That parts not quite with parting breath,
But beauty with that fearful bloom,
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-
Which gleams—but warms no more its cherished earth!

Clime of the unforgotten brave !
Whose land from plain to mountain-cave
Was freedom's home or glory's grave!
Shrine of the mighty ! can it be,
That this is all remains of thee?
Approach, thou craven crouching slave,

Say, is not this Thermopylæ
These waters blue that round you lave,

Oh, servile offspring of the free--
Pronounce what sea, what shore is this?
The gulf, the rock of Salamis !2
These scenes, their story not unknown,
Arise, and make again your own;
Snatch from the ashes of

your

sires
The embers of their former fires;
And he who in the strife expires
Will add to theirs a name of fear
That tyranny shall quake to hear,
And leave his sons a hope, a fame,
They too will rather die than shame:
For freedom's battle once begun,
Bequeathed by bleeding sire to son,
Though baffled oft is ever won.
Bear witness, Greece, thy living page,
Attest it

many

a deathless
While kings, in dusty darkness hid,
Have left a nameless

pyramid,
Thy heroes, though the general doom
Hath swept the column from their tomb,
A mightier monument command,
The mountains of their native land !

age!

(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) Thermopylæ, Salamis-An instance of the suggestive power of a name. No 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,
The graves of those that cannot

die !-
"Twere long to tell, and sad to trace,
Each step from splendour to disgrace;
Enough-no foreign foe could quell
Thy soul, till from itself it fell;
Yes ! self-abasement paved the way
To villain-bonds and despot sway.

Byron.

THERMOPYLÆ.
THEY fell devoted, but undying;
The very gale their names seemed sighing;
The waters murmured of their name,
The woods were peopled with their fame;
The silent pillar, lone and grey,
Claimed kindred with their sacred clay,
Their spirits wrapped the dusky mountain,
Their memory sparkled o'er the fountain,
The meanest rill, the mightiest river,
Rolls mingling with their fame for ever.

Byron.

TO A SKYLARK."
ETHEREAL minstrel ! pilgrim of the sky!
Dost thou despise the earth, where cares abound ?
Or, while the wings aspire, are heart and eye
Both with thy nest upon the dewy ground
The nest which thou canst drop into at will,
Those quivering wings composed, that music still !
To the last point of vision, and beyond,
Mount, daring warbler !—that love-prompted strain
('Twixt thee and thine a never-failing bond,)
Thrills not the less the bosom of the

plain :
Yet might'st thou seem, proud privilege! to sing

All independent of the leafy spring. (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, do-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 inHuences of spring, which prompt the songs of other birds.

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