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overclouded the rest of his life: he sunk gradually into a son of melancholy, and died in 1756, in a state of helpless insanity.1
"The works of Collins," says Campbell, "will abide comparison with whatever Milton wrote under the age of thirty. If they have rather less exuberant wealth of genius, they have more exquisite touches of pathos. Like Milton, he leads us into the haunted ground of imagination: like him, he has the rich economy of expression haloed with thought, which by single or few words often hints entire pictures to die imagination. A cloud of obscurity sometimes rests on his highest conceptions, arising from the fineness of his associations, and the daring sweep of his allusions; but the shadow is transitory, and interferes very little with the light of his imagery or the warmth of his feelings. His genius loved to breathe rather in the preternatural and ideal element of poetry, than in the atmosphere of imitation, which lies closest to real life. He carried sensibility and tenderness into the highest regions of abstracted thought: his enthusiasm spreads a glow even amongst' the shadowy tribes of mindand his allegory is as sensible to the heart as it is visible to the fancy." *
ODE TO FEAR.8
Thou, to whom the world unknown,
Ah, Fear! ah, frantic Fearl
I see—I see thee near.
1 "In the year 1756 died our lamented Collins; one of our most exquisite poets, and of whom, pet. haps, without exaggeraUon, It may be asserted, that be partook of the credulity and enthusiasm of Tano, the magic wildncss of Shakspcare, the sublimity of Milton, and the pathos of Osstan."—Druse's libnn /fours.
14 He had a wonderful combination of excellencies. United to splendor and sublimity of Imagination, be bad a richness of erudition, a keenness of research, a nicety of taste, and an elegance and truth of moral reflection, which astonished those who had the lucL to b« InUmatc with him."— Sir E. Brfdgn.
s "Of all our minor poets, that Is, those who have attempted only short pieces, Collins Is probably the one who has shown most of the highest qualities of poetry, and who excites tho most Intense Interest In the bosom of the reader. He soars Into the regions of Imagination, and occupies the highest peaks of Parnassus. His fitney Is glowing and vivid, but at the same time hasty and obscure. He has the true Inspiration of the poet. Ho heats and melt* objects in the fervor of bis genius, as in ft furnace."—Uaitiu.
1 Collins, who bad often determined to apply himself to dramaUc poetry, seems here, with the same view, to have addressed one of the principal powers of the drama, and lo implore that mighty Influence she bad given to the genius of Shakspeare. In Uie construction of this nervous ode be has •liown equal power of judgment and ImaglnaUon. Nothing can be more striking than the violent ar*l abrupt abbreviation of the measure In the fifth and sixth verses, when the poet seems to reel the •'rung Influence of the power he Invokes:
"Ah. Fear—ah, frantic Fearl
Or throws him on the ridgy steep
EPODE, In earliest Greece, to thee, with partial choice,
The grief-ful Muse addrest her infant tongue: The maids and matrons, on her awful voice,
Silent and pale, in wild amazement hung.
Yet he, the Bard' who first invoked thy name,
Disdain'd in Marathon its power to feel : For not alone he nursed the poet's flame,
But reach'd from Virtue's hand the patriot's steel.
But who is he, whom later garlands grace,
Who left awhile o'er Hybla's3 dews to rove, With trembling eyes thy dreary steps to trace,
Where thou and furies shared the baleful grove?
Wrapt in thy cloudy veil, th' incestuous Queen"
Sigh'd the sad call her son and husband heard, When once alone it broke the silent scene,
And he, the wretch of Thebes, no more appear'd. O Fear, I know thee by my throbbing heart,
Thy withering power inspired each mournful line, Though gentle Pity claim her mingled part,
Yet all the thunders of the scene are thine.
ANTISTROPHE. Thou who such weary lengths hast past, Where wilt thou rest, mad nymph, at last? Say, wilt thou shroud in haunted cell, Where gloomy Rape and Murder dwell? Or in some hollow'd seat, 'Gainst which the big waves beat,
1 The Greek tragic poet, Æschylus, who was in the battle of Marathon, between the Alhen and Perslans, B. C. 490.
? Sophocles, another Greek dramatic poet. 8 Isybla was a mountain in Sicily, famous for its honey and beeg. 4 Jocasta, the queen of Thebes, who, after the death of her husband talus, married her own som Faipus (whom Collins here calls the "wretch") without knowing who he was. On this story
t sublime ind pathetic tragedy, the " dipus Tyrannus" of Sophocles.
He bere alleles ta the old superstitions connected with All-Hallow Even, or Hallow
"Tout bank verse had been so successfully employed In English heroic measure by patet youts that ever lived, and made the vehicle of the noblest poem that ever was Well Introduced it into lyrie poetry before Collins. That be is most lappy and De Deo , who can doubt after reading this exquisite "Ode to Evening," the imagery Share of which must reader it delightful to every reader of tastet Cabas bas given but one entire instance of reflecting the wenery of nature as from
. This is the Ode to Evening, Almost all else is the embodiment of inteneet. B Wonen la pertet in its way. There is not one idle epithet or ill-chosen Image: the 1
sembination show invention even liere; though nature is neither added to
Hear drowning seamen's cries in tempests brought?
Dark power, with shuddering meek submitted thought,
Be mine, to read the visions old,
Which thy awakening bards have told
And, lest thou meet my blasted view,
Hold each strange tale devoutly true;
Ne'er be I found, by thee o'erawed,
In that thrice-hallow'd eve' abroad,
When ghosts, as cottage-maids believe,
Their pebbled beds permitted leave,
And goblins haunt from fire, or fen,
Or mine, or flood, the walks of men!
0 thou, whose spirit most possest
ODE TO EVENING.'
If aught of oaten stop, or pastoral song,
May hope, chaste Eve, to soothe thy modest ear,
Like thy own solemn springs,
Thy springs, and dying gales;
O nymph reserved, while now the bright-haird sun
With brede ethereal wove,
O'erhang his wavy bed:
Now air is hush'd, save where the weak-eyed bat,
Or where the beetle winds
His small but sullen horn,
As oft he rises, midst the twilight path,
Now teach me, maid composed,
To breathe some soften'd strain,
1 He here alludes to the old superstitions connected with All-Hallow Even, or Hallow E'en—the last evening of October.
> Though blank verse had been so successfully employed In English heroic measure by one of the matest poets that ever lived, and made the vehicle of the noblest poem that ever was written, yet no one bad Introduced It Into lyric poetry before Collins. That he is most happy and successful In the use of It, who can doubt after reading this exquisite " Ode to Evening," the Imagery and enthusiasm of which must render It delightful to every reader of taste f
"Collins has given but one entire Instance of reflecting the scenery nf nature as from a poetical mirror. This is the Ode to Evening. Almost all else la the embodiment of intcaect. B'lt this single specimen la perfect in Its way. There Is not one idle epithet or ill-chosen image:—the novelty and happiness of combination show invention even here; though nature Is neither added to nor height.
Whose numbers, stealing through thy darkening vale,
As, musing slow, I hail
Thy genial loved return!
For when thy folding-star, arising, show's
The iragrant hours, and elves
Who slept in buds the day,
And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with ssclge,
The pensive pleasures sweet
Prepare thy shadowy car;
Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene,
Whose walls more awful nod
By thy religious gleams.
Or if chill blustering winds, or driving rain,
That from the mountain's side,
Views wilds, and swelling floods,
And hamlets brown, and dim-discover'd spires,
Thy dewy fingers draw
The gradual dusky veil.
While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont
While Summer loves to sport
Beneath thy lingering light:
While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves,
Affrights thy shrinking train,
And rudely rends thy robes:
So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Pence,
Thy gentlest influence own,
And love thy favorite name!
THE PASSIONS. AN ODE FOR MUSIC.1
When Music, heavenly maid, was young,
I tf the music which was composed for this ode had equal merit with the ode ilseIC It must hare Deen the moat excellent performance of the kind In which poetry and music have, In modern tunes* united. Other pieces of the same nature have derived their greatest reputation from the perfection
Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
First Fear his hand, its skill to try,
Amid the chords bewilder'd laid,
E'en at the sound himself had made.
Next Anger rush'd, his eyes on fire,
In one rude clash he struck the lyre,
And swept with hurried hand the strings.
With woful measures wan Despair—
A solemn, strange, and mingled air,
But thou, 0 Hope with eyes so fair,
What was thy delighted measure?
And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail!
And from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
And where her sweetest theme she chose,
A soft responsive voice was heard at every close,
Revenge impatient rose;
of the musk: that accompanied them, having In themselves hUle more merit than that of an ordinary bsllsd: but In this we have the whole soul and power of poetry:—expression that, even without the aid of music, strikes to the heart; and Imagery of power enough to transport the attention without the forceful alliance of corresponding sounds. What then must have been the effects of these united 1 The picture of Hope In this ode Is beautiful almost beyond Imitation. By the united powers of Imagery and harmony, that delightful being Is exhibited with all the charms and graces that pleasure sod fsncy have appropriated to her. The descriptions of Joy, Jealousy, and Revenge, arc excellent, though not equally so: those of Melancholy and Cheerfulness are superior to every thing of the Mad; and, upon the whole, there may be very little hazard in asserting that this is the finest ode In U* English language. Read—Observations on Colllns's Poems in 'lie 5«Ui vol. of Johnson's Pocta.