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To threaten bold presumptuous kings with war,
MARLBOROUGH AT BLENHEIM.
[From The Campaign.)
Behold, in awful march and dread array The long extended squadrons shape their way! Death, in approaching terrible, imparts An anxious horror to the bravest hearts ; Yet do their beating breasts demand the strife, And thirst of glory quells the love of life. No vulgar fears can British minds control : Heat of revenge, and noble pride of soul, O'erlook the foe, advantag'd by his post, Lessen his numbers, and contract his host : Though fens and floods possess'd the middle space, That unprovok'd they would have fear'd to pass, Nor fens nor floods can stop Britannia's bands, When her proud foe rang'd on their borders stands.
But O, my muse, what numbers wilt thou find To sing the furious troops in battle join'd ! Methinks I hear the drum's tumultuous sound, The victor's shouts and dying groans confound, The dreadful burst of cannon rend the skies, And all the thunder of the battle rise. 'Twas then great Marlbro's mighty soul was prov'd, That, in the shock of charging hosts unmovid, Amidst confusion, horror, and despair, Examin'd all the dreadful scenes of war; In peaceful thought the field of death survey'd, To fainting squadrons sent the timely aid,
Inspir'd repuls'd battalions to engage,
(William Walsh was born at Aberley in Worcestershire, in 1663. He died in 1708. His principal works are A Defence of the Fair Sex, 1690, and Poems, 1691.]
The praise of Dryden first recommended to the public a poet who has since his death been solely immortalised by the praise of Pope. The lines of the latter, written in 1709, are familiar to most readers, but may be quoted here :
• To him the wit of Greece and Rome was known,
The qualities which Pope attributes to the person of Walsh are found in his writings, which have certainly been unduly neglected. The Propertius of the Restoration, he alone among the writers of his age understood the passion of love in an honourable and chivalric sense. Dryden, however, was almost the only person who perceived the moral beauty of Walsh’s verse, and certainly was alone in praising his very remarkable Defence of the Fair Sex, in which the young poet, in an age given up to selfish gallantry, recommended the honourable equality of the sexes and the views now understood as the extension of women's rights. He possessed little versatility, but much sweetness in the use of the heroic measure, and a certain delicate insight into emotion. His poem entitled “Jealousy' cannot be quoted here ; but it is by far the most powerful of his productions, and a marvellously true picture of a heart tossed in an agony of jealousy and love. In studying the versification of Pope, the influence of Walsh upon the style of the younger and greater man should not be overlooked, and there will be found in Walsh couplets such as this
‘Embalmed in verse, through distant times they come,
which Pope did not disdain to re-work on his own anvil into brighter shapes. It should be noted that Walsh is the author of the only sonnet written in English between Milton's, in 1658, and Warton's, about 1750.
EDMUND W. Gosse.
TO HIS BOOK (1691).
What has this bugbear death that's worth our care ?
After a life of pain and sorrow past, After deluding hopes and dire despair,
Death only gives us quiet at the last ;
How strangely are our love and hate misplaced ! Freedom we seek, and yet from freedom flee,
Courting those tyrant-sins that chain us fast, And shunning death that only sets us free. 'Tis not a foolish fear of future pains,Why should they fear who keep their souls from stains ?
That makes me dread thy terrors, Death, to see ; 'Tis not the loss of riches or of fame, Or the vain toys the vulgar pleasures name,
'Tis nothing, Celia, but the losing thee !