ePub 版

Ah! why was ruin so attractive made,
Or why fond man so easily betrayed?
Why heed we not, while mad we haste along,
The gentle voice of Peace, or Pleasure's song?
Or wherefore think the flowery mountain's side,
The fountain's murmurs, and the valley's pride;
Why think we these less pleasing to behold
Than dreary deserts, if they lead to gold?
'Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!'

O cease, my fears! All frantic as I go,
When thought creates unnumbered scenes of wo,
What if the lion in his rage I meet!
Oft in the dust I view his printed feet;
And fearful oft, when Day's declining light
Yields her pale empire to the mourner Night,
By hunger roused he scours the groaning plain,
Gaunt wolves and sullen tigers in his train;
Before them Death with shrieks directs their way,
Fills the wild yell, and leads them to their prey.
'Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!'

At that dead hour the silent asp shall creep,
If aught of rest I find, upon my sleep;
Or some swoln serpent twist his scales around,
And wake to anguish with a burning wound.
Thrice happy they, the wise contented poor,
From lust of wealth and dread of death secure!
They tempt no deserts, and no griefs they find;
Peace rules the day where reason rules the mind.
'Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!'
O hapless youth! for she thy love hath won,
The tender Zara! will be most undone.

Big swelled my heart, and owned the powerful maid,
When fast she dropped her tears, as thus she said:
'Farewell the youth whom sighs could not detain,
Whom Zara's breaking heart implored in vain!
Yet as thou go'st, may every blast arise
Weak and unfelt as these rejected sighs;
Safe o'er the wild no perils may'st thou see,

No griefs endure, nor weep, false youth! like me.'
'O! let me safely to the fair return,
Say with a kiss, she must not, shall not mourn;
O! let me teach my heart to lose its fears,
Recalled by Wisdom's voice and Zara's tears.'

He said, and called on Heaven to bless the day
When back to Schiraz' walls he bent his way.

[blocks in formation]

Now air is hushed, save where the weak-eyed bat, With short shrill shriek, flits by on leathern wing, Or where the beetle winds

His small but sullen horn,

As oft he rises midst the twilight path,
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum:
Now teach me, maid composed,

To breathe some softened strain,

Whose numbers stealing through thy darkening vale, May not unseemly with its stillness suit,

As, musing slow, I hail
Thy genial loved return!

For when thy folding-star arising shows
His paly circlet, at his warning lamp
The fragrant hours, and elves
Who slept in buds the day,

And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge,
And sheds the freshening dew, and lovelier still,

The pensive pleasures sweet

Prepare thy shadowy car.

Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene,
Or find some ruin 'midst its dreary dells,
Whose walls more awful nod

By thy religious gleams.

Or if chill blustering winds, or driving rain,
Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut
That from the mountain's side
Views wilds and swelling floods,

And hamlets brown, and dim-discovered spires,
And hears their simple bell, and marks o'er all
Thy dewy fingers draw

The gradual dusky veil.

While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve!
While Summer loves to sport
Beneath thy lingering light:

While sallow autumn fills thy lap with leaves,
Or Winter yelling through the troublous air,
Affrights thy shrinking train,
And rudely rends thy robes:

So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,

Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Peace,
Thy gentlest influence own,

And love thy favourite name!

Ode on the Passions.

When Music, heavenly maid! was young,
While yet in early Greece she sung,
The Passions oft, to hear her shell,
Thronged around her magic cell;
Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
Possessed beyond the muse's painting;
By turns they felt the glowing mind
Disturbed, delighted, raised, refined;
Till once, 'tis said, when all were fired,
Filled with fury, rapt, inspired,
From the supporting myrtles round,
They snatched her instruments of sound;
And as they oft had heard apart
Sweet lessons of her forceful art,
Each, for madness ruled the hour,
Would prove his own expressive power.
First Fear his hand, its skill to try,
Amid the chords, bewildered laid;
And back recoiled, he knew not why,
Even at the sound himself had made.
Next Anger rushed, his eyes on fire
In lightnings owned his secret stings;
In one rude clash he struck the lyre,
And swept with hurried hand the strings.

With woful measures wan Despair,
Low sullen sounds his grief beguiled;
A solemn, strange, and mingled air;
Twas sad by fits, by starts 'twas wild.

But thou, oh Hope! with eyes so fair,
What was thy delighted measure?
Still it whispered promised pleasure,
And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail.
Still would her touch the strain prolong;
And from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
She called on Echo still through all the song;
And where her sweetest theme she chose,

A soft responsive voice was heard at every close;
And Hope enchanted smiled, and waved her golden

And longer had she sung, but with a frown
Revenge impatient rose;

He threw his blood-stained sword in thunder down,
And, with a withering look,

The war-denouncing trumpet took,
And blew a blast so loud and dread,

Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of wo;

And ever and anon he beat

The double drum with furious heat;

And though sometimes, each dreary pause between, Dejected Pity at his side

Her soul-subduing voice applied,

Yet still he kept his wild unaltered mien,

While each strained ball of sight seemed bursting from his head.

Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought were fixed;
Sad proof of thy distressful state;

Of differing themes the veering song was mixed, And now it courted Love, now raving called on Hate.

With eyes upraised, as one inspired,
Pale Melancholy sat retired,

And from her wild sequestered seat,
In notes by distance made more sweet,
Poured through the mellow horn her pensive soul;
And clashing soft from rocks around,
Bubbling runnels joined the sound;

Through glades and glooms the mingled measure

Or o'er some haunted streams with fond delay,
Round a holy calm diffusing,

Love of peace and lonely musing,

In hollow murmurs died away.

But oh! how altered was its sprightly tone,
When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
Her bow across her shoulder flung,
Her buskins gemmed with morning dew,
Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung,
The hunter's call, to Fawn and Dryad known;
The oak-crowned sisters, and their chaste-eyed queen,
Satyrs and sylvan boys, were seen

Peeping from forth their alleys green;
Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear,

Oh Music! sphere-descended maid,
Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid,
Why, goddess! why to us denied,
Lay'st thou thy ancient lyre aside?
As in that loved Athenian bower,
You learn an all-commanding power;
Thy mimic soul, oh nymph endeared,
Can well recall what then it heard.
Where is thy native simple heart,
Devote to virtue, fancy, art?
Arise, as in that elder time,
Warm, energetic, chaste, sublime!
Thy wonders in that godlike age
Fill thy recording sister's page;
'Tis said, and I believe the tale,
Thy humblest reed could more prevail,
Had more of strength, diviner rage,
Than all which charms this laggard age;
Even all at once together found,
Cecilia's mingled world of sound.
Oh! bid your vain endeavours cease,
Revive the just designs of Greece;
Return in all thy simple state;
Confirm the tales her sons relate.

Ode to Liberty.


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 Alceus, fancy-blessed,

Shall sing the sword, in myrtles dressed,

At wisdom's shrine a while 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!
Oh 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 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;

And Sport leaped up, and seized his beechen spear. They saw, by what escaped the storm,

Last came Joy's ecstatic trial:

He, with viny crown advancing,

First to the lively pipe his hand addressed;
But soon he saw the brisk, awakening viol,
Whose sweet entrancing voice he loved the best.
They would have thought, who heard the strain,
They saw, in Tempe's vale, her native maids,
Amidst the festal sounding shades,

To some unwearied minstrel dancing:
While, as his flying fingers kissed the strings,
Love framed with Mirth, a gay fantastic round,
Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound:

And he, amidst his frolic play,
As if he would the charming air repay,
Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings.

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,

(Oh, who could fear it?) quenched her flame. And, lo, a 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 merchants' 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 eyry 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 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 'gain 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 blessed divorce she owed,

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


Then, too, 'tis said, a hoary pile,
'Midst the green naval 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-tressed 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 blessed,
Or bowers by spring or Hebe dressed,
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 Grecia's graceful orders join,
Majestic, though 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 patriots sight
May ever hang with fresh delight,
And, graved with some prophetic rage,
Read Albion's fame through every age.

Ye forms divine, ye laureate 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 blood-shot 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;
Our youths, enamoured of the fair,
Play with the tangles of her hair;
Till, in one loud applauding sound,
The nations shout to her around.
Thou, lady, thou shalt rule the west!
O how supremely art thou blest,

Dirge in Cymbeline.

Sung by GUIDERIUS and ARVIRAGUS Over FIDELE, supposed to be dead.

To fair Fidele's grassy tomb

Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
Each opening sweet, of earliest bloom,
And rifle all the breathing spring.

No wailing ghost shall dare appear
To vex with shrieks this quiet grove,
But shepherd lads assemble here,

And melting virgins own their love.
No withered witch shall here be seen,
No goblins lead their nightly crew;
The female fays shall haunt the green,
And dress thy grave with pearly dew;
The redbreast oft at evening hours
Shall kindly lend his little aid,
With hoary moss, and gathered flowers,
To deck the ground where thou art laid.
When howling winds, and beating rain,
In tempests shake thy sylvan cell,
Or midst the chase on every plain,
The tender thought on thee shall dwell.
Each lonely scene shall thee restore,
For thee the tear be duly shed;
Beloved till life can charm no more;
And mourned till pity's self be dead.

Ode on the Death of Mr Thomson.
The scene of the following stanzas is supposed to lie on the
Thames, near Richmond.

In yonder grave a Druid lies,
Where slowly winds the stealing wave!
The year's best sweets shall duteous rise,
To deck its poet's sylvan grave!

In yon deep bed of whispering reeds
His airy harp shall now be laid,
That he, whose heart in sorrow bleeds,

May love through life the soothing shade.

The maids and youths shall linger here,
And, while its sounds at distance swell,
Shall sadly seem in pity's ear

To hear the woodland pilgrim's knell.
Remembrance oft shall haunt the shore,

When Thames in summer wreaths is drest;
And oft suspend the dashing oar,
To bid his gentle spirit rest!

And oft as ease and health retire
To breezy lawn, or forest deep,
The friend shall view yon whitening spire,
And 'mid the varied landscape weep.

But thou, who own'st that earthly bed,
Ah! what will every dirge avail?
Or tears, which love and pity shed,
That mourn beneath the gliding sail!

Yet lives there one, whose heedless eye
Shall scorn thy pale shrine glimmering near?
With him, sweet bard, may fancy die,
And joy desert the blooming year.

But thou, lorn stream, whose sullen tide
No sedge-crowned sisters now attend,
Now waft me from the green hill's side,
Whose cold turf hides the buried friend!

And see, the fairy valleys fade,

Dun night has veiled the solemn view!
Yet once again, dear parted shade,
Meek nature's child, again adieu !

The genial meads, assigned to bless
Thy life, shall mourn thy early doom!
Their hinds and shepherd girls shall dress
With simple hands thy rural tomb.

Long, long thy stone and pointed clay
Shall melt the musing Briton's eyes:
O! vales, and wild woods, shall he say,
In yonder grave your Druid lies!


[merged small][graphic][merged small]

means to external embellishment, that he was compelled to live in a dilapidated house, not fit, as he acknowledges, to receive 'polite friends.' An unfor

ambition-for he aimed at political as well as poetical celebrity-conspired, with his passion for gardening and improvement, to fix him in his solitary situation. He became querulous and dejected, pined at the unequal gifts of fortune, and even contemplated with a gloomy joy the complaint of Swift, that he would be forced to die in a rage, like a poisoned rat in a hole.' Yet Shenstone was essentially kind and benevolent, and he must at times have experienced exquisite pleasure in his romantic retreat, in which every year would give fresh beauty, and develop more distinctly the creations of his taste and labour. The works of a person that builds,' he says, 'begin immediately to decay, while those of him who plants begin directly to improve.' This advantage he possessed, with the additional charm of a love of literature; but Shenstone sighed for more than inward peace and satisfaction. He built his happiness on the applause of others, and died in solitude a votary of the world. His death took place at the Leasowes, February 11, 1763.

WILLIAM SHENSTONE added some pleasing pas-tunate attachment to a young lady, and disappointed toral and elegiac strains to our national poetry, but he wanted, as Johnson justly remarks, comprehension and variety.' Though highly ambitious of poetical fame, he devoted a large portion of his time, and squandered most of his means, in landscapegardening and ornamental agriculture. He reared up around him a sort of rural paradise, expending his poetical taste and fancy in the disposition and embellishment of his grounds, till at length pecuniary difficulties and distress drew a cloud over the fair prospect, and darkened the latter days of the poet's life. Swift, who entertained a mortal aversion to all projectors, might have included the unhappy Shenstone among the fanciful inhabitants of his Laputa. The estate which he laboured to adorn was his natal ground. At Leasowes, in the parish of Hales Owen, Shropshire, the poet was born in November 1714. He was taught to read at what is termed a dame school, and his venerable preceptress has been immortalised by his poem of the Schoolmistress. At the proper age he was sent to Pembroke college, Oxford, where he remained four years. In 1745, by the death of his parents and an elder brother, the paternal estate fell to his own care and management, and he began from this time, as Johnson characteristically describes it, to point his prospects, to diversify his surface, to entangle his walks, and to wind his waters; which he did with such judgment and fancy, as made his little domain the envy of the great and the admiration of the skilful; a place to be visited by travellers and copied

The works of Shenstone were collected and published after his death by his friend Dodsley, in three volumes. The first contains his poems, the second his prose essays, and the third his letters and other pieces. Gray remarks of his correspondence, that it is about nothing else but the Leasowes, and his writings with two or three neighbouring clergyman who wrote verses too.' The essays are good, displaying an ease and grace of style united to judgment and discrimination. They have not the mellow

[ocr errors]

ripeness of thought and learning of Cowley's essays, but they resemble them more closely than any others we possess. In poetry, Shenstone tried different styles; his elegies barely reach mediocrity; his levities, or pieces of humour, are dull and spiritless. His highest effort is the Schoolmistress,' a descriptive sketch in imitation of Spenser, so delightfully quaint and ludicrous, yet true to nature, that it has all the force and vividness of a painting by Teniers or Wilkie. His Pastoral Ballad, in four parts, is also the finest English poem of that order. The pastorals of Spenser do not aim at lyrical simplicity, and no modern poet has approached Shenstone in the simple tenderness and pathos of pastoral song. Mr Campbell seems to regret the affected Arcadianism of these pieces, which undoubtedly present an incongruous mixture of pastoral life and modern manners. But, whether from early associations (for almost every person has read Shenstone's ballad in youth), or from the romantic simplicity, the true touches of nature and feeling, and the easy versification of the stanzas, they are always read and remembered with delight. We must surrender up the judgment to the imagination in perusing them, well knowing that no such Corydons or Phylisses are to be found; but this is a sacrifice which the Faery Queen equally demands, and which few readers of poetry are slow to grant. Johnson quotes the following verses of the first part, with the striking eulogium, that, if any mind denies its sympathy to them, it has no acquaintance with love or nature:

I prized every hour that went by,

Beyond all that had pleased me before; But now they are past, and I sigh,

And I grieve that I prized them no more.

When forced the fair nymph' to forego,
What anguish I felt in my heart!
Yet I thought (but it might not be so)
'Twas with pain that she saw me depart.

She gazed as I slowly withdrew,

My path I could hardly discern;

So sweetly she bade me adieu,

I thought that she bade me return.

We subjoin the best part of the Schoolmistress ;' but one other stanza is worthy of notice, not only for its intrinsic excellence, but for its having probably suggested to Gray the fine reflection in his elegy

'Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,' &c.

[ocr errors]

Mr D'Israeli has pointed out this resemblance in his Curiosities of Literature,' and it appears wellfounded. The palm of merit, as well as originality, seems to rest with Shenstone; for it is more natural

and just to predict the existence of undeveloped powers and great eminence in the humble child at school, than to conceive they had slumbered through life in the peasant in the grave. Yet the conception of Gray has a sweet and touching pathos, that sinks into the heart and memory. Shenstone's is as follows:

Yet, nursed with skill, what dazzling fruits appear!
Even now sagacious foresight points to show
A little bench of heedless bishops here,
And there a chancellor in embryo,
Or bard sublime, if bard may e'er be so,

As Milton, Shakspeare-names that ne'er shall die!
Though now he crawl along the ground so low,
Nor weeting how the Muse should soar on high,
Wisheth, poor starveling elf! his paper kite may fly.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Cottage of the Schoolmistress, near Hales-Owen, Shropshire.
And all in sight doth rise a birchen tree,
Which learning near her little dome did stowe ;
Whilom a twig of small regard to see,
Though now so wide its waving branches flow,
And work the simple vassals mickle wo;
For not a wind might curl the leaves that blew,
But their limbs shuddered, and their pulse beat low;
And shaped it into rods, and tingled at the view.
And as they looked, they found their horror grew,

Near to this dome is found a patch so green,
On which the tribe their gambols do display;
And at the door imprisoning board is seen,
Lest weakly wights of smaller size should stray;
Eager, perdie, to bask in sunny day!

The noises intermixed, which thence resound,
Do learning's little tenement betray;
Where sits the dame, disguised in look profound,
And eyes her fairy throng, and turns her wheel around.

Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow, Emblem right meet of decency does yield: Her apron dyed in grain, as blue, I trow, As is the harebell that adorns the field;



« 上一頁繼續 »