« 上一頁繼續 »
“How beautiful is night! A dewy freshness fills the silent air; No mist obscures, nor cloud, nor speck, nor stain,
Breaks the serene of heaven.
Rolls through the dark blue depths.
The desert circle spreads,
How beautiful is night!
“Who, at this untimely hour,
No station is in view,
The mother and her child,
They, at this untimely hour,
“ Alas! the setting sun
Saw Zeinab in her bliss,
The fruitful mother late,
They wished their lots like hers,—
A wretched widow now;
With only one preserved,
“No tear relieved the burden of her heart;
Stunned with the heavy woe, she felt like one Half-wakened from a midnight dream of blood.
But sometimes, when the boy
Would wet her hand with tears, And, looking up to her fixed countenance, Sob out the name of mother!' then she groaned. At length, collecting, Zeinab turned her eyes
To heaven, and praised the Lord.
“She cast her eyes around ;
Alas! no tents were there
Beside the bending sands;
The dark blue sky closed round,
Famine and thirst were there.
And wept upon her child!"
In vindicating the poem of “Thalaba” from a misapprehension respecting the impression caused by its Arabian framework, I have sought to show that poetryChristian poetry-has the power of rescuing fictions and superstitions from the realms of error and bringing them into the alliance of truth. This leads to a further reflection, which I deem of sufficient importance to justify me in proceeding to it. It is that to Christianity belongs the privilege of appropriating to itself—of taking possession of—whatever is noble and grand and beautiful in the poetry of even paganism. This is the vantageground of our faith ; and, standing there, the Christian imagination may look over all the earth,-over all time, -and, wherever it discovers a sublime aspiration rising from the human soul, even though that soul be not blessed with the light of revelation, it may make that aspiration its own. Broken tones of truth come to us from the odes of Pindar, and from the Greek tragedies, and from the dark allusions in Roman poems to the Sibylline prophecies; and when they strike upon the ear of Faith, they are tuned and harmonized to some celestial melody, and the discords of error mingled with them are lost in the air. It is thus the poetry of the heathen is given to us for an inheritance. All that is good and beautiful in it is part of the perfect truth of a true religion. This subject has been finely treated by the imagination of a living poet,—the Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford. It is the theme of one of the poems in Keble's “ Christian Year.” Faith made the jewels of the Egyptians its own; it made the fertile land of the Canaanites its own; and it has the power to make its own the imaginative wealth of heathendom,—the rich domain of classic poetry :
“See Lucifer like lightning fall,
Dashed from his throne of pride ;
The saints his spoils divide,-
“So, when the first-born of thy foes
Dead in the darkness lay,-
And cast their bonds away,--
" And when their wondrous march was o'er,
And they had won their homes
Among their fathers' tombs,
A land that drinks the rain of Heaven at will,
“Oft as they watched, at thoughtful eve,
A gale from bowers of balm
The tresses of the palm,
“It was a fearful joy, I ween,
To trace the Heathen's toil :
Left ready for the spoil,
“ And now another Canaan yields
To thine all-conquering ark ;-
Ye Paynim shadows dark !
“ The olive wreath, the ivied wand,
• The sword in myrtles drest,' Each legend of the shadowy strand
Now wakes a vision blest: As little children lisp, and tell of Heaven, So thoughts beyond their thought to those high bards were given.
“ And these are ours; Thy partial grace
The tempting treasure lends :
Are forfeit to thy friends :
“ There's not a strain to Memory dear,
Nor flower in classic grove,
But minds us of thy Love,
To return to “Thalaba :" it would be a delightful task to follow the course of this remarkable and beautiful poem; but, drawing now towards the close of these lectures, I have learned, by repeated experience, some little of the virtue of forbearance, and the necessity of passing over many more things than the large demands I have made on your patience would lead you to suppose. One or two passages I must allude to. No poem is adorned with a more beautiful love-story than that of Thalaba and Oneiza :
“Oneiza called him brother, and the youth
How happily the years
In deep and breathless tenderness,
Save when from her full eyes
That dim his image there.
“She called him brother: was it sister love
For which the silver rings
Were her long fingers tinged,