Imágenes de páginas

The fern was press'd beneath her hair, She listen’d to the tale divine, The dark-green Adder's Tongue" was there; And closer still the Babe she press'd; And still as past the flagging sea-gale weak, And while she cried, the Babe is mine! The long lank leaf bow'd fluttering o'er her cheek. The milk rush'd faster to her breast: Joy rose within her, like a summer's morn; That pallid cheek was flush'd; her eager look Peace, Peace on Earth! the Prince of Peace is born Beam'd eloquent in slumber! Inly wrought, Imperfect sounds her moving lips forsook, Thou Mother of the Pri f P And her bent forehead work'd with troubled o. o ** o: ** thought. That Strife should vanish, Battle cease,

Strange was the dream O why should this thy soul elate?

[ocr errors]

And is not War a youthful King,

iaiitated from stolberg. A stately Hero clad in mail? MARK this holy chapel well! Beneath his sootsteps laurels spring; The Birth-place, this, of William Tell. Him Earth's majestic monarchs hail Here, where stands God's altar dread, Their Friend, their Play-mate! and his bold bright eye Stood his parents' marriage-bed. Compels the maiden's love-confessing sigh. Here first, an infant to her breast, “Tell this in some more courtly scene, Him his loving mother prest; To maids and youths in robes of state! And kiss'd the babe, and bless'd the day, I am a woman poor and mean, And pray'd as mothers use to pray: And therefore is my Soul elate. - - War is a ruffian, all with guilt defiled, “Vouchsafe him health, O God, and give - - ;1... ? The Child thy servant still to live!” That from the aged Father tears his Child ! But God has destined to do more Through him, than through an armed power. “A murderous fiend, by fiends adored, He kills the Sire and starves the Son; God gave him reverence of laws, The Husband kills, and from her board Yet stirring blood in Freedom's cause— Steals all his Widow's toil had won; A spirit to his rocks akin, Plunders God's world of beauty; rends away

The eye of the Hawk, and the fire therein! All safety from the Night, all comfort from the Day.

To Nature and to Holy writ “Then wisely is my soul elate,

Alone did God the boy commit: That Strife should vanish, Battle cease: Where flash'd and roar'd the torrent, oft I'm poor and of a low estate,

His soul found wings, and soar'd aloft' The Mother of the Prince of Peace.

Joy rises in me, like a summer's morn:

The straining oar and chamois chase Peace, Peace on Earth! the Prince of Peace is born!”

Had form'd his limbs to strength and grace:
On wave and wind the boy would toss,
Was great, nor knew how great he was '

He knew not that his chosen hand,

Made strong by God, his native land
Would rescue from the shameful yoke HUMAN LIFE,
Of Slavery the which he broke'


If dead, we cease to be ; if total gloom
A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Swallow up life's brief flash for aye, we fare
As summer-gusts, of sudden birth and doom,
Whose sound and motion not alone declare,
But are their whole of being ! If the Breath
Be Life itself, and not its task and tent,
If even a soul like Milton's can know death,
O Man! thou vessel, purposeless, unmeant,
Yet drone-hive strange of phantom purposes!

The Shepherds went their hasty way,
And found the lowly stable-shed
Where the Virgin-Mother lay:
And now they check'd their eager tread,
For to the Babe, that at her bosom clung,
A Mother's song the Virgin-Mother sung,

They told her how a glorious light, Surplus of Nature's dread activity, Streaming from a heavenly throng, Which, as she gazed on some nigh-finish'd vase, Around them shone, suspending night! Retreating slow, with meditative pause, While, sweeter than a Mother's song, She form'd with restless hands unconsciously: Blest Angels heralded the Savior's birth, Blank accident! nothing's anomaly! Glory to God on high and peace on Earth. If rootless thus, thus substanceless thy state,

Go, weigh thy dreams, and be thy Hopes, thy Fears, * A botaniral mistake. The plant which the poet here de- The counter-weights!—Thy Laughter and thy Tears scribes is called the Hart's Tongue. Mean but themselves, each * create,

And to repay the other! Why rejoices
Thy heart with hollow joy for hollow good?
Why cowl thy face beneath the mourner's hood,
Why waste thy sighs, and thy lamenting voices,
Image of image, Ghost of Ghostly Elf,
That such a thing as thou feel'st warm or cold!
Yet what and whence thy gain if thou withhold
These costless shadows of thy shadowy self?
Be sad be glad ' be neither! seek, or shun'
Thou hast no reason why | Thou canst have none:
Thy being's being is contradiction.


NEveR, believe me,
Appear the Immortals,
Never alone:

Scarce had I welcomed the Sorrow-beguiler,
Iacchus! but in came Boy Cupid the Smiler;
Lo! Phoebus the Glorious descends from his Throne !
They advance, they float in, the Olympians all!

With Divinities fills my

Terrestrial Hall !

How shall I yield you
Due entertainment,
Celestial Quire 1
Me rather, bright guests! with your wings of up-

Bear aloft to your homes, to your banquets of joyance,
That the roofs of Olympus may echo my lyre!
Ha! we mount! on their pinions they waft up my Soul!

0 give me the Nectar! O fill me the Bowl! Give him the Nectar! Pour out for the Poet, Hebe pour free Quicken his eyes with celestial dew, That Styx the detested no more he may view, And like one of us Gods may conceit him to be: Thanks, Hebe: I quaff it! Io Paean, I cry! The Wine of the Immortals Forbids me to die!



NEAR the lone pile with ivy overspread,
Fast by the rivulet's sleep-persuading sound,

Where “sleeps the moonlight” on yon verdant bed—
O humbly press that consecrated ground !

For there does Edmund rest, the learned swain!
And there his spirit most delights to rove:

Young Edmund ! samed for each harmonious strain,
And the sore wounds of ill-requited love.

Like some tall tree that spreads its branches wide,
And loads the west-wind with its soft perfume,

His manhood blossom'd: till the faithless pride
Of fair Matilda sank him to the tomb.

But soon did righteous Heaven her guilt pursue !
Where'er with wilder'd steps she wander'd pale,

Still Edmund's image rose to blast her view,
Still Edmund's voice accused her in each gale.

With keen regret, and conscious guilt's alarms, Amid the pomp of affluence she pined:

Nor all that lured her faith from Edmund's arms Could lull the wakeful horror of her mind.

Go, Traveller! tell the tale with sorrow fraught:
Some tearful maid, perchance, or blooming youth

May hold it in remembrance; and be taught
That Riches cannot pay for Love or Truth.



[The following fragment is here published at the request of a poet of great and deserved celebrity, and, as far as the Author's own opinions are concerned, rather as a psychological curiosity, than on the ground of any supposed poetic merits.

In the summer of the year 1797, the Author, then in ill health, had retired to alonely farm-house between Porlock and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment that he was reading the following sentence, or words of the same substance, in Purchas's “Pilgrimage “Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto ; and thus ten miles of fertile ground were inclosed with a wall." The author continued for abou" three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he has the most vivid confidence that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation, or consciousness of effort. On awaking he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone had been cast, but, alas: without the after restoration of the latter.

Then all the charm Is broken—all that phantom-world so fair Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread, And each misshapes the other. Stay awhile, Poor youth ! who scarcely darest lift up thine eyes– The stream will soon renew its smoothness, soon The visions will return And lo, he stays, And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms Come trembling back, unite, and now once more The pool becomes a mirror.


Yet from the still surviving recollections in his mind, the Author has frequently purposed to finish for himself what had been originally, as it were, given to him. Xanspov advov acre: but the to-morrow is yet to come. As a contrast to this vision, I have annexed a fragment of a very different character, describing with equal fidelity the dream of pain and disease.--Note to the first Edition. 1816.]

IN Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree;
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man,

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossom'd many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Infolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seeth-

ing, As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, A mighty fountain momently was forced: Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail, Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail: And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever It flung up momently the sacred river. Five miles, meandering with a mazy motion, Through wood and dale the sacred river ran, Then reach'd the caverns measureless to man, And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean: And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure Floated midway on the waves; Where was heard the mingled measure From the sountain and the caves. It was a miracle of rare device, A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice! A damsel with a dulcimer In a vision once I saw : It was an Abyssinian maid, And on her dulcimer she play'd, Singing of Mount Abora. Could I revive within me Her symphony and song, To such a deep delight 'twould win me, That with music loud and long, I would build that dome in air, That sunny dome! those caves of ice! And all who heard should see them there, And all should cry, Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair! Weave a circle round him thrice, And close your eyes with holy dread, For he on honey-dew hath fed And drank the milk of Paradise.


ERE on my bed my limbs I lay,
It hath not been my use to pray
With moving lips or bended knees;
But silently, by slow degrees,
My spirit I to Love compose,
In humble Trust mine eye-lids close,
With reverential resignation,
No wish conceived, no thought express'd :
only a sense of supplication,
A sense o'er all my soul imprest
That I am weak, yet not unblest,

Since in me, round me, everywhere, Eternal Strength and Wisdom are.

But yester-night I pray'd aloud
In anguish and in agony,
Up-starting from the fiendish crowd
Of shapes and thoughts that tortured me :
A lurid light, a trampling throng,
Sense of intolerable wrong,
And whom I scorn'd, those only strong!
Thirst of revenge, the powerless will
Still baffled, and yet burning still!
Desire with lothing strangely mix'd,
On wild or hateful objects fix'd.
Fantastic passions! maddening brawl?
And shame and terror over all!
Deeds to be hid which were not hid,
Which all confused I could not know,
Whether I suffer'd, or I did :
For all seem'd guilt, remorse, or woe,
My own or others', still the same
Life-stifling fear, soul-stifling shame.

So two nights pass'd: the night's dismay
Sadden'd and stunn'd the coming day.
Sleep, the wide blessing, seem'd to me
Distemper's worst calamity.
The third night, when my own loud scream
Had waked me from the fiendish dream,
O'ercome with sufferings strange and wild,
I wept as I had been a child;
And having thus by tears subdued
My anguish to a milder mood,
Such punishments, I said, were due
To natures deepliest stain'd with sin .
For aye entempesting anew
The unfathomable hell within,
The horror of their deeds to view,
To know and lothe, yet wish and do!
Such griefs with such men well agree,
But wherefore, wherefore fall on me !
To be beloved is all I need,
And whom I love, I love indeed.



At the house of a gentleman, who by the principles and corresponding virtues of a sincere Christian consecrates a cultivated genius and the favorable accidents of birth, opulence, and splendid connexions, it was my good fortune to meet, in a dinner-party, with more men of celebrity in science or polite literature, than are commonly found collected round the same table. In the course of conversation, one of the par. ty reminded an illustrious Poet, then present, of some verses which he had recited that morning, and which had appeared in a newspaper under the name of a War-Eclogue, in which Fire, Famine, and Slaughter, were introduced as the speakers. The gentleman so addressed replied, that he was rather surprised that none of us should have noticed or heard of the poem, as it had been, at the time, a good deal talked of in Scotland. It may be easily supposed, that my feelings were at this moment not of the most comfortable kind. Of all present, one only knew or suspected me to be the author: a man who would have established himself in the first rank of England's living Poets, if the Genius of our country had not decreed that he should rather be the first in the first rank of its Philosophers and scientific Benefactors. It appeared the general wish to hear the lines. As my friend chose to remain silent, I chose to follow his example, and Mr. ***** recited the Poem. This he could do with the better grace, being known to have ever been not only a firm and active Anti-Jacobin and Anti-Gallican, but likewise a zealous admirer of Mr. Pitt, both as a good man and a great Statesman. As a Poet exclusively, he had been amused with the Eclogue; as a Poet, he recited it; and in a spirit, which made it evident, that he would have read and repeated it with the same pleasure, had his own name been attached to the imaginary object or agent. After the recitation, our amiable host observed, that in his opinion Mr. ***** had overrated the merits of the poetry; but had they been tenfold greater, they could not have compensated for that malignity of heart, which could alone have prompted sentiments so atrocious. I perceived that my illustrious friend became greatly distressed on my account; but fortunately I was able to preserve fortitude and presence of mind enough to take up the subject without exciting even a suspicion how nearly and painfully it interested me. What follows, is substantially the same as I then replied, but dilated and in language less colloquial. It was not my intention, I said, to justify the publication, whatever its author's feelings might have been at the time of composing it. That they are calculated to call forth so severe a reprobation from a good man, is not the worst feature of such poems. Their moral desormity is aggravated in proportion to the pleasure which they are capable of affording to vindictive, turbulent, and unprincipled readers. Could it be supposed, though for a moment, that the author seriously wished what he had thus wildly imagined, even the attempt to palliate an inhumanity so monstrous would be an insult to the hearers. But it seemed to me worthy of consideration, whether the mood of mind, and the general state of sensations, in which a Poet produces such vivid and fantastic images, is likely to coexist, or is even compatible, with that gloomy and deliberate ferocity which a serious wish to realize them would presuppose. It had been often observed, and all my experience tended to confirm the observation, that prospects of pain and evil to others, and, in general, all deep feelings of revenge, are commonly expressed in a few words, ironically tame, and mild. The mind under so direful and fiend-like an influence seems to take a morbid pleasure in contrasting the intensity of its wishes and feelings, with the slightness or levity of the expressions by which they are hinted; and indeed feelings so intense and solitary, if they were not precluded (as in almost all cases they would be) by a constitutional activity of fancy and association, and by the specific joyousness combined with it, would assuredly themselves preclude such activity. Passion, in its own quality, is the antagonist of action; though in an ordinary and natural degree the former alternates with the latter, and thereby revives

and strengthens it. But the more intense and insane the passion is, the fewer and the more fixed are the correspondent forms and notions. A rooted hatred, an inveterate thirst of revenge, is a sort of madness, and still eddies round its favorite object, and exercises as it were a perpetual tautology of mind in thoughts and words, which admit of no adequate substitutes. Like a fish in a globe of glass, it moves restlessly round and round the scanty circumference, which it cannot leave without losing its vital element.

There is a second character of such imaginary representations as spring from a real and earnest desire of evil to another, which we often see in real life, and might even anticipate from the nature of the mind. The images, I mean, that a vindictive man places before his imagination, will most often be taken from the realities of life : they will be images of pain and suffering which he has himself seen inflicted on other men, and which he can fancy himself as inflicting on the object of his hatred. I will suppose that we had heard at different times two. common sailors, each speaking of some one who had wronged or offended him: that the first with apparent violence had devoted every part of his adversary's body and soul to all the horrid phantoms and fantastic places that ever Quevedo dreamt of and this in a rapid flow of those outré and wildly-combined execrations, which too often with our lower classes serve for escape-valves to carry off the excess of their passions, as so much superfluous steam that would endanger the vessel if it were retained. The other, on the contrary, with that sort of calmness of tone which is to the ear what the paleness of anger is to the eye, shall simply say, “If I chance to be made boatswain, as I hope I soon shall, and can but once get that fellow under my hand (and I shall be upon the watch for him), I'll tickle his pretty skin? I wont hurt him oh no! I'll only cut the to the liver!” I dare appeal to all present, which of the two they would regard as the least deceptive symptom of deliberate malignity ? nay, whether it would surprise them to see the first fellow, an hour or two afterward, cordially shaking hands with the very man, the fractional parts of whose body and soul he had been so charitably disposing of; or even perhaps risking his life for him. What language Shakspeare considered characteristic of malignant disposition, we see in the speech of the good-natured Gratiano, who spoke “an infinite deal of nothing more than any man in all Venice ;”

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

and the wild fancies that follow, contrasted with Shylock's tranquil “I stand here for law.” Or, to take a case more analogous to the present subject, should we hold it either fair or charitable to believe it to have been Dante's serious wish, that all the persons mentioned by him, (many recently departed, and some even alive at the time), should actually suffer the fantastic and horrible punishments. to which he has sentenced them in his Hell and Purgatory? Or what shall we say of the passages in which Bishop Jeremy Taylor anticipates the state of those who, vicious themselves, have been the cause of vice and misery to their fellow-creatures 1 Could we endure for a moment to think that a spirit, like Bishop Taylor's, burning with Christian love; that a man constitutionally overflowing with pleasurable kindliness; who scarcely even in a casual illustration introduces the image of woman, child, or bird, but he embalms the thought with so rich a tenderness, as makes the very words seem beauties and fragments of poetry from a Euripides or Simomides;–can we endure to think, that a man so natured and so disciplined, did at the time of composing this horrible picture, attach a sober feeling of reality to the phrases 2 or that he would have described in the same tone of justification, in the same luxuriant flow of phrases, the tortures about to be inflicted on a living individual by a verdict of the Star-Chamber? or the still more atrocious sentences executed on the Scotch anti-prelatists and schismatics, at the command, and in some instances under the very eye of the Duke of Lauderdale, and of that wretched bigot who afterwards dishonored and forfeited the throne of Great Britain? Or do we not rather feel and understand, that these violent words were mere bubbles, flashes and electrical apparitions, from the magic caldron of a servid and ebullient fancy, constantly fuelled by an unexampled opulence of language 1

Were I now to have read by myself for the first time the Poem in question, my conclusion, I fully believe, would be, that the writer must have been some man of warm feelings and active fancy; that he had painted to himself the circumstances that accompany war in so many vivid and yet fantastic forms, as proved that neither the images nor the feelings were the result of observation, or in any way derived from realities. I should judge, that they were the product of his own seething imagination, and therefore impregnated with that pleasurable exultation which is experienced in all energetic exertion of intellectual power; that in the same mood he had generalized the causes of the war, and then personified the abstract, and christened it by the name which he had been accustomed to hear most often associated with its management and measures. I should guess that the minister was in the author's mind at the moment of composition, as completely araśās, dvaipúcapkos, as Anacreon's grasshopper, and that he had as little notion of a real person of flesh and blood,

Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb,

as Milton had in the grim and terrible phantoms (half person, half allegory) which he has placed at the gates of Hell. I concluded by observing, that the Poem was not calculated to excite passion in any mind, or to make any impression except on poetic readers; and that from the culpable levity, betrayed at the close of the Eclogue by the grotesque union of epigrammatic wit with allegoric personification, in the allusion to the most fearful of thoughts, I should conjecture that the “rantin' Bardie,” instead of really believing, much less wishing, the fate spoken of in the last line, in application to any human individual, would shrink from passing the verdict even on the Devil himself, and exclaim with poor

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I need not say that these thoughts, which are here dilated, were in such a company only rapidly suggested. Our kind host smiled, and with a courteous compliment observed, that the defence was too good for the cause. My voice faltered a little, for I was somewhat agitated; though not so much on my own account as for the uneasiness that so kind and friendly a man would feel from the thought that he had been the occasion of distressing me. At length I brought out these words: “I must now confess, Sir! that I am author of that Poem. It was written some years ago. I do not attempt to justify my past self, young as I then was ; but as little as I would now write a similar poem, so far was I even then from imagining, that the lines would be taken as more or less than a sport of fancy. At all events, if I know my own heart, there was never a moment in my existence in which I should have been more ready, had Mr. Pitt's person been in hazard, to interpose my own body, and defend his life at the risk of my own.”

I have prefaced the Poem with this anecdote, because to have printed it without any remark might well have been understood as implying an unconditional approbation on my part, and this after many years' consideration. But if it be asked why I republished it at all ! I answer, that the Poem had been attributed at different times to different other persons; and what I had dared beget, I thought it neither manly nor honorable not to dare father. From the same motives I should have published perfect copies of two Poems, the one entitled The Devil's Thoughts, and the other The Two Round Spaces on the Tomb-Stone, but that the three first stanzas of the former, which were worth all the rest of the poem, and the best stanza of the remainder, were written by a friend of deserved celebrity; and because there are passages in both, which might have given offence to the religious feelings of certain readers. I myself indeed see no reason why vulgar superstitions, and absurd conceptions that deform the pure faith of a Christian, should possess a greater immunity from ridicule than stories of witches, or the sables of Greece and Rome. But there are those who deem it profaneness and irreverence to call an ape an ape, if it but wear a monk's cowl on its head; and I would rather reason with this weakness than offend it.

The passage from Jeremy Taylor to which I referred, is sound in his second Sermon on Christ's Advent to Judgment; which is likewise the second in his year's course of sermons. Among many remarkable passages of the same character in those discourses, I have selected this as the most so. “But when this Lion of the tribe of Judah shall appear, then Justice shall strike and Mercy shall not hold her hands; she shall strike sore strokes, and Pity shall not break the blow. As there are treasures of good things, so hath God a treasure of wrath and fury, and scourges and scorpions; and then shall be produced the shame of Lust and the malice of Envy, and the groans of the oppressed and the persecutions of the saints, and the cares of Covetousness and the troubles of Ambition, and the indolence of traitors and the violences of rebels, and the rage of anger and the uneasiness of impatience, and the restlessness of

« AnteriorContinuar »