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And through the veins and delicate skin
That with such pride she tricked
Their waves of glossy jet?
Of Thalaba went by!
A drear winter was to close over this happy spring, -a tragic ending to this bright promise. The trial of his faith which most heavily crushes the heart of Thalaba is when the angel of death invades the bridal chamber; and then follows that woeful description,-his ghastly wretchedness at Oneiza's grave:
“By the tomb lay Thalaba,
In the light of the setting eve.
And his lean fingers played,
When Thalaba’s unwearied faith approaches its consum. mation,--the good fight nearly finished, the race nearly won,--the ministering spirits come closer to his path, and he hears á spiritual welcoming from the angel voice of his lost Oneiza :
“ Was there a spirit in the gale
That fluttered o'er his cheek?
For it came on him like the new risen sun,
“And woos it to unfold anew to joy ;
Descend with healing and with life
Upon the summer mead;
And angel-greeting to the soul
It gives a vivid impression of the versatility of Southey's genius to turn from a spiritual and wildly-supernatural poem like “Thalaba” to his poetical odes. The finest of these were written during the long strife between his country and Napoleon. I cannot stop to characterize that contest, or to say how far I consider the poet's strain against the adversary to be justified. It is with the poetry, and not the politics, I have to deal. This only let me say: that the war with the French Empire is a grand chapter in British history, and that I know not where an American or a republican can find just ground for any sympathy with a military despotism. The trumpet-sounds of Southey's poetry came forth from his mountain dwelling to cheer and fortify the hearts of his countrymen. His heart never lost its faith that there is a moral strength mightier and more enduring than the perishable power of armies. He spake to the nation in the spirit of that noble line which he had spoken to himself in early manhood :
“Onward in faith, and leave the rest to Heaven !”
And it is a grand thing to behold the poet, like hiş own Thalaba, ever faithful, hopeful alike in seasons of victory and of doubt, and to hear him at last raising the exultant strain of triumph, as over the disastrous retreat from Moscow :
“ Witness that dread retreat,
When God and nature smote
The tyrant in his pride!
On every side he met
Invincible in arms.
There where the soldiers' blood
And nightly the cold moon
Whom there the morning found
The highest and most impetuous of these strains is the ode written during the negotiations with Napoleon in 1814. Since Milton's tremendous imprecation against the Papal tyranny on occasion of the Piedmontese massacre, I know of no piece of political invective equal to it. It is hurled with the force and the fire of a thunderbolt, one burst of indignation following another, and closing with an accumulation of all the deeds of blood identified with the name of him who had been at once the terror and the wonder of Europe. Let me give the opening and ending stanzas of the ode :
“Who counsels peace at this momentous hour, When God hath given deliverance to the oppressed,
And to the injured power ? Who counsels
like a flood, Rolls on, no longer now to be repressed;
When innocent blood,
Follow the avenging sword ?
“Woe, woe to England! woe and endless shame,
If this heroic land,
Be suffered still to stand !
France ! if thou lovest thine ancient fame,
Of frozen Moscovy;
By the widows' and the orphans' cry;
By the ruin he hath spread;
Open thine eyes! Too long hast thou been blind !
By those horrors which the night
By murdered Hofer's martyrdom;
From these notes, tuned in tumultuous times, and fit to cope with the tempest's swell, let me further illustrate the varied power of Southey's genius by turning to a passage in his pleasing poem, "The Tale of Paraguay." It is an exquisite specimen of purely pathetic poetry, full of the truth of feeling and of fancy,--the description of the death-bed of a young and innocent female. What can be more beautiful or more touching than the line which actually pictures to your imagination the sweet smile of the dying one?
" Who could dwell
From that good man, as over her he hung,
“She saw him weep, and she could understand
The cause thus tremulously that made him speak.