ePub 版

How could you say my face was fair,
And yet that face forsake?
How could you win my virgin heart,
Yet leave that heart to break?
Why did you say my lip was sweet,
And made the scarlet pale?
And why did I, young witless maid!
Believe the flattering tale?

That face, alas! no more is fair,
Those lips no longer red:

Dark are my eyes, now closed in death,
And every charm is filed.

The hungry worm my sister is;

This winding-sheet I wear:

And cold and weary lasts our night,

Till that last morn appear.

But hark! the cock has warned me hence;
A long and last adieu !

Come see, false man, how low she lies,
Who died for love of you.

The lark sung loud; the morning smiled
With beams of rosy red:

Pale William quaked in every limb,
And raving left his bed.

He hied him to the fatal place

Where Margaret's body lay;

And stretched him on the green-grass turf
That wrapt her breathless clay.

And thrice he called on Margaret's name,
And thrice he wept full sore;
Then laid his cheek to her cold grave,
And word spake never more!

Edwin and Emma.

Far in the windings of a vale,
Fast by a sheltering wood,

The safe retreat of health and peace,
A humble cottage stood.

There beauteous Emma flourished fair,
Beneath a mother's eye;

Whose only wish on earth was now
To see her blest, and die.

The softest blush that nature spreads
Gave colour to her cheek;

Such orient colour smiles through heaven,
When vernal mornings break.

Nor let the pride of great ones scorn
This charmer of the plains:
That sun, who bids their diamonds blaze,
To paint our lily deigns.

Long had she filled each youth with love,
Each maiden with despair;
And though by all a wonder owned,
Yet knew not she was fair:

Till Edwin came, the pride of swains,
A soul devoid of art;
And from whose eye, serenely mild,
Shone forth the feeling heart.
A mutual flame was quickly caught,
Was quickly too revealed;
For neither bosom lodged a wish
That virtue keeps concealed.

What happy hours of home-felt bliss
Did love on both bestow!

But bliss too mighty long to last,
Where fortune proves a foe.

His sister, who, like envy formed,
Like her in mischief joyed,
To work them harm, with wicked skill,
Each darker art employed.

The father too, a sordid man,
Who love nor pity knew,
Was all unfeeling as the clod
From whence his riches grew.

Long had he seen their secret flame,
And seen it long unmoved;
Then with a father's frown at last
Had sternly disapproved.

In Edwin's gentle heart, a war
Of differing passions strove:
His heart, that durst not disobey,
Yet could not cease to love.

Denied her sight, he oft behind

The spreading hawthorn crept, To snatch a glance, to mark the spot Where Emma walked and wept.

Oft, too, on Stanmore's wintry waste,
Beneath the moonlight shade,

In sighs to pour his softened soul,
The midnight mourner strayed.

His cheek, where health with beauty glowed,

A deadly pale o'ercast;

So fades the fresh rose in its prime,

Before the northern blast.

The parents now, with late remorse,
Hung o'er his dying bed;

And wearied Heaven with fruitless vows,
And fruitless sorrows shed.

"Tis past! he cried, but, if your souls

Sweet mercy yet can move,

Let these dim eyes once more behold
What they must ever love!

She came; his cold hand softly touched,
And bathed with many a tear:
Fast-falling o'er the primrose pale,
So morning dews appear.

But oh! his sister's jealous care,
A cruel sister she!

Forbade what Emma came to say;
'My Edwin, live for me!'

Now homeward as she hopeless wept,

The churchyard path along,

The blast blew cold, the dark owl screamed Her lover's funeral song.

Amid the falling gloom of night,

Her startling fancy found

In every bush his hovering shade,
groan in every sound.

Alone, appalled, thus had she passed
The visionary vale-

When lo! the death-bell smote her ear,
Sad sounding in the gale!

Just then she reached, with trembling step,
Her aged mother's door :

He's gone! she cried, and I shall see
That angel-face no more.

I feel, I feel this breaking heart

Beat high against my side!

From her white arm down sunk her head

She shivered, sighed, and died.


And his banks open and his lawns extend,
Stops short the pleased traveller to view,
Presiding o'er the scene, some rustic tower
Founded by Norman or by Saxon hands:
O ye Northumbrian shades, which overlook
The rocky pavement and the mossy falls
Of solitary Wensbeck's limpid stream!
How gladly I recall your well-known seats
Beloved of old, and that delightful time
When all alone, for many a summer's day,
I wandered through your calm recesses, led
In silence by some powerful hand unseen.
Nor will I e'er forget you; nor shall e'er
The graver tasks of manhood, or the advice
Of vulgar wisdom, move me to disclaim
Those studies which possessed me in the dawn
Of life, and fixed the colour of my mind
For every future year: whence even now
From sleep I rescue the clear hours of morn,
And, while the world around lies overwhelmed
In idle darkness, am alive to thoughts
Of honourable fame, of truth divine
Or moral, and of minds to virtue won
By the sweet magic of harmonious verse.

The spirit of Milton seems to speak in this strain of
lofty egotism!

[ocr errors]

The Pleasures of Imagination' is a poem seldom read continuously, though its finer passages, by frequent quotation, particularly in works of criticism and moral philosophy, are well known, Gray censured the mixture of spurious philosophy-the speculations of Hutcheson and Shaftesbury-which the work contains. Plato, Lucretius, and even the papers by Addison in the Spectator, were also laid under contribution by the studious author. He gathered sparks of enthusiasm from kindred minds, but the train was in his own. The pleasures which his poem professes to treat of, 'proceed,' he says, either from natural objects, as from a flourishing grove, a clear and murmuring fountain, a calm sea by moonlight, or from works of art, such as a noble edifice, a musical tune, a statue, a picture, a poem.' These, with the moral and intellectual objects arising from them, furnish abundant topics for illustration; but Akenside dealt chiefly with abstract subjects, pertaining more to philosophy than to poetry. He did not seek to graft upon them human interests and passions. In tracing the final causes of our emotions, he could have described their exercise and effects in scenes of ordinary pain or pleasure in the walks of real life. This does not seem, however, to have been the purpose of the poet, and hence his work is deficient in interest. He seldom stoops from the heights of philosophy and classic taste. He considered that physical science improved the charms of nature. Contrary to the feeling of an accomplished living poet, who repudiates these cold material laws, he viewed the rainbow with additional pleasure after he had studied the Newtonian theory of lights and colours.


Nor ever yet
The melting rainbow's vernal tinctured hues
To me have shone so pleasing, as when first
The hand of Science pointed out the path

In which the sunbeams gleaming from the west
Fall on the watery cloud, whose darksome veil
Involves the orient.

[ocr errors]

learned poet, perhaps superior. His knowledge was
better digested. But Gray had not the romantic
enthusiasm of character, tinged with pedantry, which
naturally belonged to Akenside. He had also the
experience of mature years. The genius of Aken-
side was early developed, and his diffuse and florid
descriptions seem the natural product-marvellous
of its kind-of youthful exuberance. He was after-
wards conscious of the defects of his poem. He saw
that there was too much leaf for the fruit; but in
cutting off these luxuriances, he sacrificed some of
the finest blossoms. Posterity has been more just
to his fame, by almost wholly disregarding this
second copy of his philosophical poem. In his youth-
ful aspirations after moral and intellectual great-
ness and beauty, he seems, like Jeremy Taylor in
the pulpit, an angel newly descended from the
visions of glory.' In advanced years, he is the pro-
fessor in his robes; still free from stain, but stately,
formal, and severe. The blank verse of 'The Plea-
sures of Imagination' is free and well-modulated, and
seems to be distinctively his own. Though apt to
run into too long periods, it has more compactness
of structure than Thomson's ordinary composition.
Its occasional want of perspicuity probably arises
from the fineness of his distinctions, and the diffi-
culty attending mental analysis in verse. He might
also wish to avoid all vulgar and common expres-
sions, and thus err from excessive refinement. A
redundancy of ornament undoubtedly, in some pas-
sages, takes off from the clearness and prominence
of his conceptions. His highest flights, however-
as in the allusion to the death of Cæsar, and his
exquisitely-wrought parallel between art and na-
ture-have a flow and energy of expression, with
appropriate imagery, which mark the great poet.
His style is chaste, yet elevated and musical. He
never compromised his dignity, though he blended
sweetness with its expression.

[Aspirations after the Infinite.]
Say, why was man so eminently raised
Amid the vast creation; why ordained
Through life and death to dart his piercing eye,
With thoughts beyond the limit of his frame;
But that the Omnipotent might send him forth
In sight of mortal and immortal powers,
As on a boundless theatre, to run
The great career of justice; to exalt
His generous aim to all diviner deeds;
To chase each partial purpose from his breast;
And through the mists of passion and of sense,
And through the tossing tide of chance and pain,
To hold his course unfaltering, while the voice
Of Truth and Virtue, up the steep ascent
Of Nature, calls him to his high reward,
The applauding smile of Heaven? Else wherefore burns
In mortal bosoms this unquenched hope,
That breathes from day to day sublimer things,
And mocks possession? wherefore darts the mind
With such resistless ardour to embrace
Majestic forms; impatient to be free,
Spurning the gross control of wilful might;
Proud of the strong contention of her toils;
Proud to be daring? who but rather turns
To Heaven's broad fire his unconstrained view,
Than to the glimmering of a waxen flame?
Who that, from Alpine heights, his labouring eye
Shoots round the wide horizon, to survey
Nilus or Ganges rolling his bright wave
Through mountains, plains, through empires black
with shade,

Akenside's Hymn to the Naiads has the true classical
spirit. He had caught the manner and feeling, the
varied pause and harmony, of the Greek poets, with
such felicity, that Lloyd considered his Hymn as
fitted to give a better idea of that form of compo- And continents of sand, will turn his gaze
sition, than could be conveyed by any translation To mark the windings of a scanty rill
of Homer or Callimachus. Gray was an equally | That murmurs at his feet? The high-born soul

Disdains to rest her heaven-aspiring wing
Beneath its native quarry. Tired of earth
And this diurnal scene, she springs aloft
Through fields of air; pursues the flying storm;
Rides on the vollied lightning through the heavens ;
Or, yoked with whirlwinds and the northern blast,
Sweeps the long tract of day. Then high she soars
The blue profound, and, hovering round the sun,
Beholds him pouring the redundant stream
Of light; beholds his unrelenting sway
Bend the reluctant planets to absolve
The fated rounds of Time. Thence far effused,
She darts her swiftness up the long career
Of devious comets; through its burning signs
Exulting measures the perennial wheel
Of Nature, and looks back on all the stars,
Whose blended light, as with a milky zone,
Invest the orient. Now, amazed she views
The empyreal waste, where happy spirits hold,
Beyond this concave heaven, their calm abode;
And fields of radiance, whose unfading light
Has travelled the profound six thousand years,
Nor yet arrives in sight of mortal things.
Even on the barriers of the world, untired
She meditates the eternal depth below;
Till half recoiling, down the headlong steep

She plunges; soon o'erwhelmed and swallowed up
In that immense of being. There her hopes
Rest at the fated goal. For from the birth
Of mortal man, the sovereign Maker said,
That not in humble nor in brief delight,
Not in the fading echoes of Renown,
Power's purple robes, nor Pleasure's flowery lap,
The soul should find enjoyment: but from these
Turning disdainful to an equal good,
Through all the ascent of things enlarge her view,
Till every bound at length should disappear,
And infinite perfection close the scene.

[Intellectual Beauty-Patriotism.]

Mind, mind alone (bear witness earth and heaven!)
The living fountains in itself contains

Of beauteous and sublime: here hand in hand
Sit paramount the Graces; here enthroned,
Celestial Venus, with divinest airs,
Invites the soul to never-fading joy.

Look, then, abroad through Nature, to the range
Of planets, suns, and adamantine spheres,
Wheeling unshaken through the void immense;
And speak, oh man! does this capacious scene
With half that kindling majesty dilate
Thy strong conception, as when Brutus rose
Refulgent from the stroke of Cæsar's fate,
Amid the crowd of patriots; and his arm
Aloft extending, like eternal Jove

When guilt brings down the thunder, called aloud
On Tully's name, and shook his crimson steel,

And bade the father of his country, hail!
For lo! the tyrant prostrate on the dust,
And Rome again is free! Is aught so fair
In all the dewy landscapes of the spring,
In the bright eye of Hesper, or the morn,
In Nature's fairest forms, is aught so fair
As virtuous friendship? as the candid blush
Of him who strives with fortune to be just?
The graceful tear that streams for others' woes,
Or the mild majesty of private life,
Where Peace, with ever-blooming olive, crowns
The gate; where Honour's liberal hands effuse
Unenvied treasures, and the snowy wings
Of Innocence and Love protect the scene?
Once more search, undismayed, the dark profound
Where nature works in secret; view the beds
Of mineral treasure, and the eternal vault
That bounds the hoary ocean; trace the forms

Of atoms moving with incessant change
Their elemental round: behold the seeds
Of being, and the energy of life
Kindling the mass with ever-active flame:
Then to the secrets of the working mind
Attentive turn; from dim oblivion call
Her fleet, ideal band; and bid them, go!
Break through time's barrier, and o'ertake the hour
That saw the heavens created: then declare
If aught were found in those external scenes
To move thy wonder now. For what are all
The forms which brute unconscious matter wears,
Greatness of bulk, or symmetry of parts?
Not reaching to the heart, soon feeble grows
The superficial impulse; dull their charms,
And satiate soon, and pall the languid eye.
Not so the moral species, nor the powers
Of genius and design: the ambitious mind
There sees herself: by these congenial forms
Touched and awakened, with intenser act
She bends each nerve, and meditates well-pleased
Her features in the mirror. For of all
The inhabitants of earth, to man alone
Creative Wisdom gave to lift his eye

To truth's eternal measures; thence to frame
The sacred laws of action and of will,
Discerning justice from unequal deeds,
And temperance from folly. But beyond
This energy of truth, whose dictates bind
Assenting reason, the benignant Sire,
To deck the honoured paths of just and good,
Has added bright imagination's rays:
Where virtue, rising from the awful depth
Of truth's mysterious bosom, doth forsake
The unadorned condition of her birth;
And, dressed by fancy in ten thousand hues,
Assumes a various feature to attract
With charms responsive to each gazer's eye,
The hearts of men. Amid his rural walk,
The ingenious youth, whom solitude inspires
With purest wishes, from the pensive shade
Beholds her moving, like a virgin-muse
That wakes her lyre to some indulgent theme
Of harmony and wonder: while among
The herd of servile minds her strenuous form
Indignant flashes on the patriot's eye,
And through the rolls of memory appeals
To ancient honour, or, in act serene

Yet watchful, raises the majestic sword
Of public power, from dark ambition's reach,
To guard the sacred volume of the laws.

[Operations of the Mind in the Production of Works of Imagination.]

By these mysterious ties, the busy power
Of memory her ideal train preserves

Entire; or when they would elude her watch,
Reclaims their fleeting footsteps from the waste
Of dark oblivion; thus collecting all

The various forms of being, to present
Before the curious eye of mimic art

Their largest choice: like spring's unfolded blooms
Exhaling sweetness, that the skilful bee
May taste at will from their selected spoils
To work her dulcet food. For not the expanse
Of living lakes in summer's noontide calm,
Reflects the bordering shade and sun-bright heavens
With fairer semblance; not the sculptured gold
More faithful keeps the graver's lively trace,
Than he whose birth the sister powers of art
Propitious viewed, and from his genial star
Shed influence to the seeds of fancy kind
Than his attempered bosom must preserve
The seal of nature. There alone, unchanged
Her form remains. The balmy walks of May

was made one of the lords of the treasury. He was afterwards a privy councillor and chancellor of the exchequer, and was elevated to the peerage. He died August 22, 1773, aged sixty-four. Lyttelton was author of a short but excellent treatise on The Conversion of St Paul, which is still regarded as one of the subsidiary bulwarks of Christianity. He also wrote an elaborate History of the Reign of Henry II., to which he brought ample information and a spirit of impartiality and justice. These valuable works, and his patronage of literary men (Fielding, it will be recollected, dedicated to him his Tom Jones, and to Thomson he was a firm friend), constitute the chief claim of Lyttelton upon the regard of posterity. Gray has praised his Monody on his wife's death as tender and elegiac; but undoubtedly the finest poetical effusion of Lyttelton is his Prologue to Thomson's Tragedy of Coriolanus. Before this play could be brought out, Thomson had paid the. debt of nature, and his premature death was deeply lamented. The tragedy was acted for the benefit of the poet's relations, and when Quin spoke the prologue by Lyttelton, many of the audience wept

at the lines

He loved his friends-forgive this gushing tear: Alas! I feel I am no actor here.

[From the Monody.]

In vain I look around

O'er all the well-known ground,

My Lucy's wonted footsteps to descry;
Where oft we used to walk,

Where oft in tender talk

We saw the summer sun go down the sky;
Nor by yon fountain's side,

Nor where its waters glide

Along the valley, can she now be found:

In all the wide-stretched prospect's ample bound, No more my mournful eye

Can aught of her espy,

But the sad sacred earth where her dear relics lie.

Sweet babes, who, like the little playful fawns, Were wont to trip along these verdant lawns, By your delighted mother's side: Who now your infant steps shall guide? Ah! where is now the hand whose tender care To every virtue would have formed your youth, And strewed with flowers the thorny ways of truth? O loss beyond repair!

O wretched father, left alone

To weep their dire misfortune and thy own!
How shall thy weakened mind, oppressed with wo,
And drooping o'er thy Lucy's grave,
Perform the duties that you doubly owe,

Now she, alas! is gone,

From folly and from vice their helpless age to save!

Advice to a Lady.

The counsels of a friend, Belinda, hear,
Too roughly kind to please a lady's ear,
Unlike the flatteries of a lover's pen,

Such truths as women seldom learn from men.
Nor think I praise you ill, when thus I show
What female vanity might fear to know:
Some merit's mine to dare to be sincere;
But greater yours sincerity to bear.
Hard is the fortune that your sex attends;
Women, like princes, find few real friends:
All who approach them their own ends pursue;
Lovers and ministers are seldom true.

Hence oft from Reason heedless Beauty strays,
And the most trusted guide the most betrays;

Hence, by fond dreams of fancied power amused,
When most you tyrannise, you're most abused.
What is your sex's earliest, latest care,
Your heart's supreme ambition ?-To be fair.
For this, the toilet every thought employs,
Hence all the toils of dress, and all the joys:
For this, hands, lips, and eyes, are put to school,
And each instructed feature has its rule:
And yet how few have learnt, when this is given,
Not to disgrace the partial boon of Heaven!
How few with all their pride of form can move !
How few are lovely, that are made for love!
Do you, my fair, endeavour to possess
An elegance of mind, as well as dress;
Be that your ornament, and know to please
By graceful Nature's unaffected ease.
Nor make to dangerous wit a vain pretence,
But wisely rest content with modest sense;
For wit, like wine, intoxicates the brain,
Too strong for feeble woman to sustain:
of those who claim it more than half have none;
And half of those who have it are undone.
Nor think dishonesty a proof of parts:
Be still superior to your sex's arts,
For you, the plainest is the wisest rule:
A cunning woman is a knavish fool.
Be good yourself, nor think another's shame
Can raise your merit, or adorn your fame.
Virtue is amiable, mild, serene;
Without all beauty, and all peace within;
The honour of a prude is rage and storm,
'Tis ugliness in its most frightful form;
Fiercely it stands, defying gods and men,
As fiery monsters guard a giant's den.
Seek to be good, but aim not to be great;
A woman's noblest station is retreat;
Her fairest virtues fly from public sight,
Domestic worth, that shuns too strong a light.
To rougher man Ambition's task resign,
'Tis ours in senates or in courts to shine,
To labour for a sunk corrupted state,
Or dare the rage of Envy, and be great;
One only care your gentle breasts should move,
The important business of your life is love;
To this great point direct your constant aim,
This makes your happiness, and this your fame.
Be never cool reserve with passion joined;
With caution choose! but then be fondly kind.
The selfish heart, that but by halves is given,
Shall find no place in Love's delightful heaven;
Here sweet extremes alone can truly bless:
The virtue of a lover is excess.

A maid unasked may own a well-placed flame;
Not loving first, but loving wrong, is shame.
Contemn the little pride of giving pain,
Nor think that conquest justifies disdain.
Short is the period of insulting power;
Offended Cupid finds his vengeful hour;
Soon will resume the empire which he gave,
And soon the tyrant shall become the slave.
Blest is the maid, and worthy to be blest,
Whose soul, entire by him she loves possessed,
Feels every vanity in fondness lost,
And asks no power but that of pleasing most:
Hers is the bliss, in just return, to prove
The honest warmth of undissembled love;
For her, inconstant man might cease to range,
And gratitude forbid desire to change.
But, lest harsh care the lover's peace destroy,
And roughly blight the tender buds of joy,
Let Reason teach what Passion fain would hide,
That Hymen's bands by Prudence should be tied;
Venus in vain the wedded pair would crown,
If angry Fortune on their union frown:
Soon will the flattering dream of bliss be o'er,
And cloyed Imagination cheat no more.

« 上一頁繼續 »