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Thomson; a note to be as gently echoed by Wordsworth in com. memoration of his own sweeter song and sadder end.

The mention of Wordsworth's name reminds me of another but a casual coincidence between the fortunes of that great poet's work and of this his lyric and elegiac predecessor's. In both cases the generally accepted masterpiece of their lyric labour seems to me by no means the poem genuinely acceptable as such. Mr. Arnold, with the helpful loyalty and sound discretion of a wise disciple, has noted as much in the case of Wordsworth; it is no less demonstrable a truth in the case of Collins. As surely as, for instance, the Ode to Duty is a work of greater perfection and more perfect greatness than that On the Intimations of Immortality, the Ode on the Passions is a work of less equal sustentation and purity of excellence than, for example, is the Ode to Evening. Yet of course its grace and vigour, its vivid and pliant dexterity of touch, are worthy of all their long inheritance of praise; and altogether it holds out admirably well to the happy and harmonious end; whereas the very Ode to Liberty, after an overture worthy of Milton's or of Handel's Agonistes, a prelude that peals as from beneath the triumphal hand of the thunder-bearer, steadily subsides through many noble but ever less and less noble verses, towards a final couplet showing not so much the flatness of failure as the prostration of collapse.

Living both in an age and after an age of critical poetry, Collins, always alien alike from the better and from the worse influences of his day, has shown at least as plentiful a lack of any slightest critical instinct or training as ever did any poet on record, in his epistle to Hanmer on that worthy knight's ‘inqualifiable' edition of Shakespeare. But his couplets, though incomparably inferior to Gray's, are generally spirited and competent as well as fluent and smooth.

The direct sincerity and purity of their positive and straightforward inspiration will always keep his poems fresh and sweet to the senses of all men. He was a solitary song-bird among many more or less excellent pipers and pianists. He could put more . spirit of colour into a single stroke, more breath of music into a single note, than could all the rest of his generation into all the labours of their lives. And the sweet name and the lucid memory of his genius could only pass away with all relics and all records of lyric poetry in England.


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Who shall awake the Spartan fife,
And call in solemn sounds to life,

The youths, whose locks divinely spreading,
Like vernal hyacinths in sullen hue,

At once the breath of fear and virtue shedding,
Applauding freedom loved of old to view?
What new Alcæus, fancy-blest,

Shall sing the sword, in myrtles drest,

At wisdom's shrine awhile its flame concealing, (What place so fit to seal a deed renowned ?)

Till she her brightest lightnings round revealing,

It leaped in glory forth, and dealt her prompted wound!

O goddess, in that feeling hour,

When most its sounds would court thy ears,

Let not my shell's misguided power
E'er draw thy sad, thy mindful tears.
No, freedom, no, I will not tell

How Rome, before thy weeping face,
With heaviest sound, a giant-statue, fell,
Pushed by a wild and artless race
From off its wide ambitious base,

When time his northern sons of spoil awoke,

And all the blended work of strength and grace,

With many a rude repeated stroke,

And many a barbarous yell, to thousand fragments broke


Yet, even where'er the least appeared,
The admiring world thy hand revered;
Still 'midst the scattered states around,
Some remnants of her strength were found;

They saw, by what escaped the storm,
How wondrous rose her perfect form;
How in the great, the laboured whole,
Each mighty master poured his soul!
For sunny Florence, seat of art,
Beneath her vines preserved a part,
Till they, whom science loved to name,1
(O who could fear it?) quenched her flame.
And lo, an humbler relic laid

In jealous Pisa's olive shade !

See small Marino joins the theme,
Though least, not last in thy esteem:
Strike, louder strike the ennobling strings
To those, whose merchant sons were kings;
To him, who, decked with pearly pride,
In Adria weds his green-haired bride;
Hail, port of glory, wealth, and pleasure,
Ne'er let me change this Lydian measure:
Nor e'er her former pride relate,

To sad Liguria's bleeding state.

Ah no! more pleased thy haunts I seek,
On wild Helvetia's mountains bleak:
(Where, when the favoured of thy choice,
The daring archer heard thy voice;
Forth from his eyrie roused in dread,
The ravening eagle northward fled ;)
Or dwell in willowed meads more near,
With those to whom thy stork is dear:
Those whom the rod of Alva bruised,
Whose crown a British queen refused!
The magic works, thou feel'st the strains,
One holier name alone remains;
The perfect spell shall then avail,
Hail, nymph, adored by Britain, hail!


Beyond the measure vast of thought,
The works the wizard time has wrought!

The Medici.

The Gaul, 'tis held of antique story,
Saw Britain linked to his now adverse strand,

No sea between, nor cliff sublime and hoary, He passed with unwet feet through all our land. To the blown Baltic then, they say,

The wild waves found another way,

Where Orcas howls, his wolfish mountains rounding; Till all the banded west at once 'gan rise,

A wide wild storm even nature's self confounding,

Withering her giant sons with strange uncouth surprise. This pillared earth so firm and wide,

By winds and inward labours torn, In thunders dread was pushed aside,

And down the shouldering billows borne.

And see, like gems, her laughing train,

The little isles on every side,

Mona, once hid from those who search the main,
Where thousand elfin shapes abide,

And Wight who checks the westering tide,

For thee consenting heaven has each bestowed,

A fair attendant on her sovereign pride:

To thee this blest divorce she owed,

For thou hast made her vales thy loved, thy last abode.

Second Epode.

Then too, 'tis said, an hoary pile,
'Midst the green navel of our isle,
Thy shrine in some religious wood,
O soul-enforcing goddess, stood !
There oft the painted native's feet
Were wont thy form celestial meet:
Though now with hopeless toil we trace
Time's backward rolls, to find its place;
Whether the fiery-tressèd Dane,
Or Roman's self, o'erturned the fane,
Or in what heaven-left age it fell,
'Twere hard for modern song to tell.

Yet still, if truth those beams infuse,
Which guide at once, and charm the muse,
Beyond yon braided clouds that lie,
Paving the light-embroidered sky,
Amidst the bright pavilioned plains,
The beauteous model still remains.
There, happier than in islands blest,
Or bowers by spring or Hebe drest,
The chiefs who fill our Albion's story,
In warlike weeds, retired in glory,
Hear their consorted Druids sing
Their triumphs to the immortal string.
How may the poet now unfold
What never tongue or numbers told?
How learn, delighted and amazed,
What hands unknown that fabric raised?
Even now before his favoured eyes,
In Gothic pride, it seems to rise!
Yet Græcia's graceful orders join,
Majestic through the mixed design:
The secret builder knew to choose
Each sphere-found gem of richest hues;
Whate'er heaven's purer mould contains,
When nearer suns emblaze its veins;
There on the walls the patriot's sight
May ever hang with fresh delight,
And, graved with some prophetic rage,
Read Albion's. fame through every age.

Ye forms divine, ye laureat band,
That near her inmost altar stand!
Now soothe her to her blissful train
Blithe concord's social form to gain;
Concord, whose myrtle wand can steep
Even anger's bloodshot eyes in sleep;
Before whose breathing bosom's balm
Rage drops his steel, and storms grow calm:

Her let our sires and matrons hoar
Welcome to Britain's ravaged shore;

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