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Though thought and step in western wilds be free,
Yet thine are still the day-dreams of his heart;
The deserts spread between, the billows foam,
Thou, distant and in chains, art yet his spirit's home.* pp.6—U.
In the following passage, the transition from the degr*>?
and degrading empire of the Turkish sovereigns of Gtwece, t»
the romantic era of the Caliphate, is very happily introd*c«
After comparing the column of the mosque rising amid »*
landscape 'a landmark of slavery,' to the dark upas tree, »
« Far other influence pour'd the Crescent's light,
O'er conquer'd realms, in ages past away;
Full and alone it beam'd, intensely bright,
While distant climes in midnight darkness lay.
Then rose th' Alhambra, with its founts and shades.
Fair marble halls, alcoves, and orange bowers:
Its sculptured lions, richly wrought arcades,
Aerial pillars, and enchanted towers;
Light, splendid, wild, as some Arabian tale
'Then fosterM genius lent each Caliph's throne
Lustre barbaric pomp could ne'er attain;
And stars unnumber'd o'er the orient shone.
Bright as that Pleiad, sphered in Mecca's fane.
From Bagdat's palaces the choral strains
Rose and re echoed to the desert's bound.
And Science, wooed on Egypt's burning plaint,
Rear'd her majestic head with glory crown'd;
And the wild Muses breathed romantic lore.
'Those years have past in radiance—they have past.
As sinks the day-star in the tropic main;
His parting beams no soft reflection cast,
They burn—are quench'd—and deepest shadows reign.
And Fame and Science have not left a trace,
In the vast regions of the Moslem's power,—
Regions, to intellect a desert space,
A wild without a fountain or a flower,
Where towers oppression midst the deepening glooms,
* Where now thy shrines, Elcusis! where thy fane.
Of fearful visions, mysteries wild and high r
The pomp of rites, the sacrificial train,
The long procession's awful pageantry?
Quench'd is the torch of Ceres—all around
Decay hath spread the stillness of her reign,
There never more shall choral hymns resound,
O'er the hush'd earth and solitary main;
Whose wave from Salamis deserted flows,
Ahd oh! ye secret and terrific powers,'
'And say, what marvel, in those early days,
'Thebes, Corinth, Argog!—ye, renown'd of old,
A page, a verse, records the tall of fame,
Some of the most spirited stanzas in the poem are those which contain the apostrophe to Athens. The Elgin marbles, which are described with not less correctness and skill than enthusiasm, naturally lead the poet to advert to the influence which the study of these works is adapted to have upon our own artists, and he calls upon England, in conclusion,' to be what Athens e'er has been.'
Art. XII. The Arctic Expeditions. A Poem. By Miss Porden. 8vo. pp. 30. 1818.
should have noticed this poem before. Perused immediately after 'the very able and delightful article' in the Quarterly Review, which to a subject half-science, half speculation, succeeded in communicating the illusive interest of romance and the reality of history, it would have accorded well with the reader's feelings. But now, alas! the Expeditions have returned, and the day-dream is ended! Lost Greenland is VoL.X.N.8. SC
not found, and Baffin's Bay may still be written Boy by our geographers. What is worse, the predictions of the Quarterly Reviewers have failed to do credit to their weather-wisdom: instead of the chill and wintry season with which they threatened ns, we have had a summer of more than ordinary fertility and pleasantness. Our corn-fields, our orchards, and our hopgrounds have teemed with wealth and luxury; but as to our vines, which, we were told, are, some of these days, to flourish again as they did in the time of our ancestors, the emigrant icebergs have not travelled southward far enough, or the polar barrier has not been sufficiently broken up, to admit of our having that gratification an yet. Devon and Hereford are agaia flowing with cider, Scotland may boast of tier John Barleycorn, and the honest Cambrian may rejoice over his Cwrw; but we citizens must still be content, as heretofore, to be indebted for our port and our raisins to the Dons, and to make up the deficiency of better articles, with currant juice and malt wine. The hope of once more realizing the descriptions of spring given by our elder poets, is now again indefinitely deferred, and those who wish to descant on the vernal beauties of the Queen of the Seasons, must, as we apprehend they did, catch the echo of Greek or Roman strains, and clothe with the charms of Arcadian or Sicilian skies, the cold and capricious clime of a higher latitude.
We regret, we say, that we have deferred our notice of Mis* Porden's version of the pleasant soothsayings of the Secretary to the Admiralty, till they have lost much of their effect, or rather, till they have acquired the power of exciting a different effect from what they were intended to produce. This is not the fault of the poetess, who has managed her subject secundum artem, and discovers no small skill in versification. Her production may still claim to rank with any of the prize-poems that either Oxford or Cambridge are accustomed to furnish; and if she might without fear enter the lists in competing for the laurel wreath, the Notes to the present poem, not less than thoseappended to her former production, discover an ambition of scientific attainments. We think that the lectures at the Royal Institution, to which Miss Porden refers, are proved by the present instance, to be of no small service to the Public.
Without further preface, we shall proceed to lay before our readers a specimen of the poem itself, aa the best method now left us, of apologizing for our unfortunate dilatoriness. Adopting the chimerical expectation of discovering the lost colony on th* eastern coast of Greenland, the Author exclaims:
« The barrier bursts—and Britain, first of all
Or should they live to bless the niggard spot,
Then occur two unfortunate lines, which must be omitted in the next edition.
'No day-dreams these of Bard's fantastic brain,
The succeeding lines display talents of no contemptible order. \\V do not recommend the fair Authoress to 'resume' thin theme, but we pledge ourselves to do her justice, in the event of her venturing upon one of a safer kind, and more permanent interest.
'Go forth, brave Seamen, reach the fated shore,
Which makes its wild distortions wildly dear,'
Awful it is to gaze on shoreless seas,
But more to view those restless billows freeze
One solid plain, or when like mountains piled,
Whole leagues in length, or when like mountains piled,
In dreadful war the floating icebergs rush,
Horrent with trees that kindle as they crush;
The flickering compass points with fitful force,
And not a star in heaven directs your course,
But the broad sun through all the endless day,
Wheels changeless round, sole beacon of your way}
Or through a night more dreadful, doomed to roam
Unknowing where, and hopeless of a home.
Dense fogs, dark floating on the frozen tide,
Veil the clear stars that yet might be your guide;
And vainly conscious that for weeks on high,
The moon shines glorious in a cloudless sky;
For you she shines not, doom'd to wait in fear
Some glacier, fatal in its wild career,
That comes immense in shadowy whiteness, known
By the damp chill that wraps your heart, alone;
Or deadlier still, in silence liemm'd around
By gathering ice, in firmer fetters bound:
Darkling you ply your saws with fruitless toil.
Yourselves the nucleus of a mighty isle;
While the red meteors, quivering through the sky,
Disclose the dangers now too late to fly,
And light the bears that urge their dangerous way,
And famish'd growl, impatient of their prey.
'Yet Britons! Conquerors on the subject deep, Where'er its islands rise, its waters sweep, Fired by your father's deathless deeds, defy The frozen ocean, and the flaming sky; Secure, though not one vessel speck the ware, One Eye beholds you, and One Arm shall save; That He, who gives those mighty agents force, Can guard his creatures and can stay their course; And as, when parted on those lonely realms, To different stars you turn your faithful helms, On to your several quests undaunted press, While courage seeks, but prudence wins, success: Then should that Power, whose smile your daring crownM Again unite you on the vast profound, Yourselves sole sovereigns of that awful zone, Sole friends, sole rivals, on those seas unknown; How shall your tongues on past deliverance dwell, What joy, what praise, in every heart shall swell !*