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scanty support by “ French translation and Italian song." We heartily hope, that the bard of “ Paradise Lost” will do better for his translator than he did for himself, and that M. de Chateaubriand will put more than five pounds in his pocket by his literary labor.
Art. III. - The Poems of Richard MONCKTON Milnes,
Author of " Memorials of a Tour in Greece.” In Two Volumes. London : Edward Moxon. 1838. Svo. pp. xvi. 208 and xii. 166.
The external appearance of these volumes is attractive beyond the usual splendor of the London press, and indicates their connexion with the delicacies of English high life. The author everywhere makes known, in prefaces, dedications, and verses, his aristocratic standing ; and, as might be expected, his works receive not a little of their character and coloring from this circumstance. Many of the pieces are connected with his own personal history, or that of his fainily and friends ; many are suggested by scenes in his own and foreign lands; and some have that ambiguous air of halfreal, half-fictitious, which renders it doubtful to the reader, whether they have any true meaning or not. Being mostly occasional, there is none of any considerable length. The first volume bears the title, “Poems of Many Years" ; the second, that of " Memorials of a Residence on the Continent, and Historical Poems.”
Among the latter no small number seem to have been written in imitation of Wordsworth's historical pieces, and, like many of them, are merely rhymed prose. It is surprising, that men can go on writing sonnets à-propos to every thing, with a fancy, that, because there are fourteen lines strung together by rule, therefore there is poetry. Others of these pieces have a good deal of sweetness and grace, marked by a love of nature, an affectionate sympathy with suffering, and a devotedness to friends and kindred, which are altogether amiable and winning. They give the feeling, that the author is a man of great gentlemanliness of character, of a contemplative turn of mind, elegant in his tastes, and fitted to be loved by those near him ; but a poet more by circumstance, study, and imitation, than by native enthusiasm, or original fancy. Accordingly, his poetry, while possessing unusual merits of a certain kind, is yet defective and ineffectual from the want of the poetic soul. It wants impulse and glow. It is elaborate, elegant, stately, and sonorous in form and movement, generous, moral, and devout in sentiment, bearing with it an air of philosophical pretension, and shaded by a gentle touch of melancholy. But there is a frequent want of ease, and a straining after what is original and striking both in sentiment and diction, which turn the pleasure of perusal into laborious effort.
The reader is not borne on by the current, but is obliged to bend his mind with an effort, and make a study of the verses. The poem, entitled “ The Marvel of Life,” will illustrate and justify these general remarks.
“O Life! how like the common breathed air,
Is lost with all its train of circumstance,
And appanage of after and before,
“ He was a bitter Mocker, that old Man
Like statues on appointed pedestals,
- Vol. 1. pp. 117 - 120. There is much that is fine in this, — the pomp of the numbers, the imposing solemnity of the tone, the richness of some of the imagery ; yet it clearly lies open to the exceptions we have made.
66 The Papal Benediction, from St. Peter's” might be quoted as particularly characteristic, - a fine subject finely treated. It is, on the whole, a noble and sonorous ode. The grand introductory swell is, however, interrupted and ruined by a harsh change from the present to the past tense in the third stanza, which stops the reader abruptly, and puts him on thinking and puzzling in order to make out the sense. The seven closing stanzas roll upon the ear majestically, and touch the chord of the sublime ; but they do not bear critical scrutiny.
“ Higher than ever lifted into space,
Rises the soveran dome, –
Flows all the life of Rome ;
“ The assembled peasants of a hundred mountains,
Beneath the Sun's clear disk,
Exorcised Obelisk, —
" And massive Front, from whose high ridge outslanted,
A spacious awning fell ;
To follow its slow swell.
" Why are they met in their collective might,
That earnest multitude ?
By threat and clamor rude ?
“ To watch with tip-toe foot and eager eye
Some mere device of Pride, Meaningless pomp of regal vanity
The void of Truth to hide ?
“ To feed some popular lust which cautious power
Would, for wise ends, restrain,
What ages toiled to gain ?
“ Thanks, thanks to Heaven, that in these evil days,
Days of hard hearts and cold,
Where Man is overbold,
“ And loathes all tender, mutual offices,
And nothing old reveres,
Ashamed of his own tears,
“ My soul the gracious privilege of this sight,
This priceless sight, has won,
A Father's benison ;
“ Not in low flattery, not in selfish dread,
Before one meek old man,
Infant and veteran,
“ By that High-Priest in prelude of deep prayer
Implored and sanctified,
Can never be denied.
“ Most surely from that narrow gallery,
The oriflamme unfurled, Shelters within its grand benignity
Rome and the orbed world.
“ The faintest wretch may catch the dew that falls
From those anointed lips,
A joy without eclipse.