图书图片
PDF
ePub

The castle hight of Indolence,
And its false luxury;

Where for a little time, alas!
We lived right jollily.

The second canto is decidedly inferior to the first. It relates to

The Knight of Arts and Industry,
And his achievements fair;
That, by this castle's overthrow,
Secured and crownéd were.

It does not admit of such a pleasing variety of imagery, and the matter which it contains is of a more conventional and less poetic character. And yet its merits are of no mean order.

EXTRACTS FROM "THE CASTLE OF
INDOLENCE."1

THE LAND OF DROWSINESS.

In lowly dale, fast by a river's side,

With woody hill o'er hill encompass'd round,
A most enchanting wizard did abide,

Than whom a fiend more fell 2 is nowhere found.
It was, I ween,3 a lovely spot of ground;

1 "This poem being writ in the manner of Spenser, the obsolete words, and a simplicity of diction in some of the lines, which borders on the ludicrous, were necessary to make the imitation more perfect. And the style of that admirable poet, as well as the measure in which he wrote, are, as it were, appropriated by custom to allegorical poems writ in our language; just as in French the style of Marot, who lived under Francis I., has been used in tales and familiar epistles by the political writers of the age of Louis XIV."-Author's Advertisement.

2 cruel.

3 think, fancy.

And there a season atween June and May,

Half prankt1 with spring, with summer half imbrowned,

A listless climate made, where, sooth 2 to say,
No living wight could work, ne3 carèd even for play.

Was naught around but images of rest : Sleep-soothing groves, and quiet lawns between; And flowery beds that slumberous influence kest, From poppies breathed, and beds of pleasant green, Where never yet was creeping creature seen. Meantime, unnumbered glittering streamlets played And hurled everywhere their waters sheen; 4 That, as they bickered 5 through the sunny glade, Though restless still themselves, a lulling murmur

made.

Joined to the prattle of the purling rills
Were heard the lowing herds along the vale,

And flocks loud bleating from the distant hills
And vacant shepherds piping in the dale:
And, now and then, sweet Philomel would wail,
Or stockdoves plain amid the forest deep,
That drowsy rustled to the sighing gale;
And still a coil the grasshoper did keep;
Yet all these sounds yblent 8 inclinèd all to sleep.

Full in the passage of the vale, above,

A sable, silent, solemn forest stood,

Where naught but shadowy forms were seen to move, As Idleness fancied in her dreaming mood;

1 decorated.

2 truth. • The nightingale.

3

nor.

♦ bright. 7 noise, bustle.

5

8 blended.

rippled.

And up the hills, on either side, a wood
Of blackening pines, aye waving to and fro,
Send forth a sleepy horror through the blood;
And where this valley winded out, below,
The murmuring main was heard, and scarcely heard, to

flow.

A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,

Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
Forever flushing round a summer-sky:
There eke the soft delights, that witchingly
Instill a wanton sweetness through the breast;
And the calm pleasures always hovered nigh;
But whate'er smacked1 of noyance 2 or unrest,
Was far, far off expelled from this delicious nest.

The landscape such, inspiring perfect ease,
Where Indolence (for so the wizard hight3)
Close-hid his castle mid embowering trees,
That half shut out the beams of Phoebus bright,
And made a kind of checkered day and night:
Meanwhile unceasing at the massy gate
Beneath a spacious palm, the wicket wight
Was placed; and to his lute, of cruel fate
And labor harsh, complain'd, lamenting man's estate.

Thither continual pilgrims crowded still,
From all the roads of earth that pass there by:

For, as they chaunced to breath on neighboring hill,
The freshness of this valley smote their eye,
And drew them ever and anon more nigh;

2 trouble.

was called.

1 tasted.

1

Till clustering round the enchanter false they hung, Ymolten1 with his siren melody;

While o'er the enfeebling lute his hand he flung, And to the trembling chords these tempting verses

sung:

"Here naught but candor reigns, indulgent ease, Good-natured lounging, sauntering up and down. They who are pleas'd themselves must always please; On others' ways they never squint a frown, Nor heed what haps in hamlet or in town. Thus from the source of tender Indolence, With milky blood the heart is overflown, Is sooth'd and sweeten'd by the social sense; For interest, envy, pride, and strife are banish'd hence.

"What, what is virtue, but repose of mind,

A pure ethereal calm, that knows no storm ;
Above the reach of wild ambition's wind,
Above those passions that this world deform,
And torture man, a proud malignant worm?
But here, instead, soft gales of passion play,
And gently stir the heart, thereby to form
A quicker sense of joy: as breezes stray

Across the enliven'd skies, and make them still more

gay.

"The best of men have ever lov'd repose:
They hate to mingle in the filthy fray;
Where the soul sours, and gradual rancor grows,
Imbitter'd more from peevish day to day.

E'en those whom fame has lent her fairest ray,
The most renown'd of worthy wights of yore,

1 melted.

From a base world at last have stolen away: So Scipio,1 to the soft Cumaan shore Retiring, tasted joy he never knew before.

"But if a little exercise you choose,

Some zest for ease, 'tis not forbidden here: Amid the groves you may indulge the muse. Or tend the blooms 2 and deck the vernal year; Or softly stealing, with your watery gear, Along the brooks, the crimson-spotted fry You may delude; the whilst, amused, you hear Now the hoarse stream, and now the zephyr's sigh Attuned to the birds, and woodland melody.

"O grievous folly! to heap up estate,

Losing the days you see beneath the sun;
When, sudden, comes blind unrelenting fate,
And gives the untasted portion you have won
With ruthless toil, and many a wretch undone,
To those who mock you, gone to Pluto's reign,
There with sad ghosts to pine, and shadows dun :
But sure it is of vanities most vain,

To toil for what you here untoiling may obtain."

He ceased. But still their trembling ears retained
The deep vibrations of his witching song;
That by a kind of magic power, constrain'd
To enter in, pell mell, the listening throng.
Heaps pour'd on heaps and yet they slipp'd along,
In silent ease: as when beneath the beam

2 flowers.

1 See note 3, page 59.

3 headlong. As the players of pall-mall rush into the game. From Italian palla, ball, and maglia, mallet.

« 上一页继续 »