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Yet still ask'd pardon, and was not denied.
But you shall hear. After my heart was well,
Aud clean and fair, as I one eventide

(I sigh to tell)
Walk'd by myself abroad, I saw a large
And spacious furnace flaming, and thereon
A boiling caldron, round about whose verge
Was in great letters set AFFLICTION.
The greatness shew'd the owner. So I went
To fetch a sacrifice out of my fold,
Thinking with that, which I did thus present,
To warm his love, which, I did fear, grew cold.
But as my heart did tender it, the man
Who was to take it from me, slipt his hand,
And threw my heart into the scalding pan;
My heart that brought it (do you understand ?)
The offerer's heart. Your heart was hard, I fear.”
Indeed 'tis true. I found a callous matter
Began to spread and to expatiate there:
But with a richer drug than scalding water
I bath'd it often, ev'n with holy blood,
Which at a board, while many drank bare wine,
A friend did steal into my cup for good,
Ev’n taken inwardly, and most divine
To supple hardnesses. But at the length
Out of the caldron getting, soon I fled
Unto my house, where to repair the strength
Which I had lost, I hasted to

my

bed: But when I thought to sleep out all these faults,

(I sigh to speak) I found that some had stuff”d the bed with thoughts, I would say thorns. Dear, could my heart not break, When with my pleasures ev'n my rest was gone? Full well I understood who had been there : For I had given the key to none but one: It must be he. “ Your heart was dull, I fear.” Indeed a slack and sleepy state of mind Did oft possess me; so that when I pray’d, Though my lips went, my heart did stay behind. But all my scores were by another paid, Who took my guilt upon him. “ Truly, Friend,

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· For aught I hear, your Master shews to you
More favour than you wot of. Mark the end.

The font did only what was old renew :
“ The caldron suppled what was grown too harul:
· The thorns did quicken what was grown too dull:
All did but strive to mend what

you

had marr'd.
“ Wherefore be cheer'd, and praise him to the full

Each day, each hour, each moment of the week,
“ Who fain would have you be new, tender, quick."

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CHAPTER VII.

The former subject continued The nentral style, or that common to Prose and Poetry, exemplified by specimens from Chaucer, Herbert, and others.

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HAVE no fear in declaring my conviction, that the excellence defined and exemplified in the preceding chapter is not the characteristic excellence of Mr.

Wordsworth's style; because I can add with equal sincerity, that it is precluded by higher powers. The praise of uniform adherence to genuine, logical English is undoubtedly his; nay, laying the main emphasis on the word uniform, I will dare add that, of all contemporary poets, it is his alone. For, in a less absolute sense of the word, I should certainly include Mr. Bowles, Lord Byron, and, as to all his later writings, Mr. Southey, the exceptions in their works being so few and unimportant. But of the specific excellence described in the quotation from

7

[The three poems are at pp. 87, 40, and 133 respectively. S. C.]

Garve, I appear to find more, and more undoubted specimens in the works of others; for instance, among the minor poems of Mr. Thomas Moore, and of our illustrious Laureate. To me it will always remain a singular and noticeable fact; that a theory, which would establish this lingua communis, not only as the best, but as the only commendable style, should have proceeded from a poet, whose diction, next to that of Shakespeare and Milton, appears to me of all others the most individualized and characteristic. And let it be remembered too, that I am now interpreting the controverted passages of Mr. Wordsworth's critical preface by the purpose and object, which he may be supposed to have intended, rather than by the sense which the words themselves must convey, if they are taken without this allowance. A person

of any taste, who had but studied three or four of Shakespeare's principal plays, would without the name affixed scarcely fail to recognise as Shakespeare's a quotation from any other play, though but of a few lines. A similar peculiarity, though in a less degree, attends Mr. Wordsworth's style, whenever he speaks in his own person ; or whenever, though under a feigned name, it is clear that he himself is still speaking, as in the different dramatis persone of the RECLUSE. Even in the other poems, in which he purposes to be most dramatic, there are few in which it does not occasionally burst forth. The reader might often address the poet in his own words with reference to the persons introduced :

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• It seems, as I retrace the ballad line by line That but half of it is theirs, and the better half is thine.” 1

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1

[Altered from The Pet Lamb, P. W. p. 30. S. C.]

Who, having been previously acquainted with any considerable portion of Mr. Wordsworth's publications, and having studied them with a full feeling of the author's genius, would not at once claim as Wordsworthian the little poem on the rainbow ?

“ The Child is father of the Man, &c.” 2 Or in the LUCY GRAY?

“No mate, no comrade Lucy knew;
She dwelt on a wide moor;
The sweetest thing that ever grew
Beside u human door.3

Or in the IDLE SHEPHERD-BOYS ?

4

Along the river's stony marge
The sand-lark chants a joyous song;
The thrush is busy in the wood,
And carols loud and strong.
A thousand lambs are on the rocks,
All newly born! both earth and sky
Keep jubilee, and more than all,
Those boys with their green coronal;
They never hear the cry,
That plaintive cry! which up the hill
Comes from the depth of Dungeon-Ghyll.”

2 P. W.p. 2, line 7.

"My heart leaps up when I behold

A rainbow in the sky;
So was it when my life began ;
So is it now I am a man ;
So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety.” S. C.]
[Ib. I. p. 16. S. C.]

4 [Ib. I. p. 31. S.C.]

3

Need I mention the exquisite description of the SeaLoch in THE BLIND HIGHLAND Boy, Who but a poet tells a tale in such language to the little ones by the fire-side as—

“ Yet lad he many a restless dream;
Both when he heard the eagle's scream,
And when he heard the torrents roar,
And heard the water beat the shore

Near where their cottage stood.
Beside a lake their cottage stood,
Not small like our's, a peaceful flood;
But one of mighty size, and strange;
That, rough or smooth, is full of change,

And stirring in its bed.
For to this lake, by night and day,
The great Sea-water finds its way
Through long, long windings of the hills,
And drinks up all the pretty rills

And rivers large and strong :
Then hurries back the road it came
Returns on errand still the same;
This did it when the earth was new;
And this for evermore will do,

As long as earth shall last.
And, with the coming of the tide,
Come boats and ships that sweetly ride,
Between the woods and lofty rocks;
And to the shepherds with their flocks

Bring tales of distant lands.” 5

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[Ib.III.p.145-6. Mr. Wordsworth has altered "sweetly” in the last stanza to“ safely.” In the first I venture to preler “the eagle's scream,” which my father wrote, to “the eagles," as it is written by Mr. Wordsworth—because eagles are neither gregarious nor numerous, and the first expression seems to mark the nature of the bird, and to bring it more interestingly before the mind, than the last. S. C.]

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