Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

“Over dews, over sands

"But he grew old, Will I fly for your weal;

This knight so bold, Your holy delicate white hands

And o'er his heart a shadow Shall girdle me with steel.

Fell, as he found At home, in your emerald bowers,

No spot of ground
From morning's dawn till e'en,

That looked like Eldorado.
You'll pray for me, my flower of flowers,
My dark Rosaleen!

" And as his strength
My fond Rosaleen!

Failed him, at length You'll think of me through daylight's He met a pilgrim shadowhours,

"Shadow,' said he, My virgin flower, my flower of flowers,

"Where can it be, My dark Rosaleen!

This land of Eldorado ?'

16. Over the mountains “I could scale the blue air,

Of the moon,
I could plough the high hills,
Oh, I could kneel all night in prayer

Down the valley of the shadow

Ride, boldly ride,'
To heal your many ills !

The shade replied,
· And one beamy smile from you
Would float like light between

* If you seek for Eldorado !"" My toils and me, my own, my true, My dark Rosaleen !

We have thus devoted some time to My fond Rosaleen!

watching the brilliant, though eccenWould give me life and soul anew, tric evolutions of one of the late lumiA second life, a soul anew,

naries of the poetical empyrean of our My dark Rosaleen!"

cousin Jonathan, which, in departing,

has thrown a quivering light of golden We think we have now established

splendour over the highest regions of the resemblance between these two

transatlantic song. We have now to genuine poets to which we have refer

look nearer home, and to chronicle the red--a resemblance that strikes us as

appearance of a dazzling meteor, will. a very singular literary fact, worthy of

o'-the-wisp, star, planet, comet, sun, more particular investigation. Both

or moon (made of green cheese, and full writers have proved themselves to have

of maggots), whichever it will evenbeen too rich in original thought and

tually prove to be, which has just shot poetical power to have borrowed from

above the horizon of our own. * Comets the other. The poem which we have

are so plenty now-a-days (at least just given from the Irish poet will, we

so the astronomers tell us), that nohave no doubt, awaken the curiosity thing but a tremendous collision beof many persons about his writings.

tween these swift-flying high-comotives They are certainly as deserving of would draw the attention of the unbeing collected into a permanent form scientific world to their proceedings, as those of the brilliant American,

or rather the unscientific world has with whom we are at present more been so often deceived — the cry of immediately concerned. As it is only “Comet ! comet!" like that of “ Wolf! fair that he should have the last word,

wolf !" has been so often raised, when we shall take our leave of Edgar Allan

no comet was to be seen-that it has Poe, by quoting a simple but beautiful

grown quite sceptical upon the matter, little ballad, which paints, under a

and seems disposed to agree with Mrs. transparent veil of allegory, that search Prigg, that "there aint sich a person, after the impossible — that hope of

or thing.” We shall not chronicle the reaching the region of true happiness various attacks of influenza, twitches in this life. It is an especial favourite

of sore-throat, avant-couriers of asth. of ours :

ma, incipient barkings of bronchitis, which we endured some years ago in

looking out for that Mrs. Harris of Gaily bedight A gallant knight,

the starry system – Halley's comet. In sunshine and in shadow,

We have grown wiser since then ; and Had journeyed long,

now when Professor Airy or Mr. Hind Singing a song,

endeavours to inveigle us out of our In search of Eldorado.

comfortable quarters to get a peep at

ELDORADO.

* “ Poems." By Alexander Smith. London: David Bogue. 1853,

2

these interesting strangers, like Dr. tention we have adverted to above, and Johnson, we can philosophically ex- to which our own remarks shall be conclaim, “ We can wait,” until the cer- fined-is called “ A Life-Drama.” We tainty or the advantage of the intro- doubt very much that this title is judi. duction becomes more apparent. ciously selected, as it raises expecta

As it has been in the scientific, so tions of actual portraitures of existhas it been in the poetical world. Po- ence not certainly to be met with liticians and progressists (if we may in the poem itself

. We think “A coin a word) so often announced that Poet's Dream of Life,” or “ Truth the "coming Manhad come, that the and Fiction from a Poet's Life;" the disappointed public got angry, and de- Dichtung und Wahrheit, which Goethe clared that the expectation should have has so skilfully blended in his autobioforeshadowed a woman, and that it has graphy, would more clearly indicate been realised in the person of Mrs. the nature of the work that was to folStowe; while every little poetical low. This would be a trilling matter coterie worshipped its own diminutive if the author did not appear to be under Saint Catherine's wheel, as the star the impression that he was really traewhose rays were destined to illumine ing the outline of one of the grandest the long vacant vault of poesy. It pictures the dramatic canvas can hold, was thus that the good, easy, incredu- namely, “ A Life," and not combining lous world smiled at the announcement those shining but unsubstantial atoms which the Herschel of « The Critic " of which dreams are made." The recently made, that he had just disco- poem is divided into thirteen scenes vered a tremendous thundering, blaz- of unequal length, through a few of ing, many-tailed, no-humbug of a co- which we beg to conduct the reader, met, which was advancing with all the rapidly, indeed, but not carelessly. velocity of the steam-press, and which The first scene introduces us at once would soon appear, shaking its horrid to the hero Walter, a young poet, whose hair in the face of the sceptics, and, aspirations for as far as popular favour went

" Fame' fame ! fame i next grandest word to God," With fear of change,

as he himself says, are written with all Perplexing Laureates."

the enthusiasm that might be expected The public were, as usual, for a from so fond an idolater of this second while, indifferent, so the critical astro

divinity. His soul is " followed" (a nomers had it all to themselves. Some

rather incorrect word) – of them, on turning their telescopes in the direction of the supposed luminary,

“ By strong ambition to out-roll a lay,

Whose melody will haunt the world for age, were as dazzled as Herschel at the first Charming it onward on its golden way." sight of Uranus, which he described

Having, however, a sort of misgiving as resembling in brilliancy "a coach

that his name, like that of Keats, was lamp," the critics doubtless taking our

writ on water," he tears up the paper poet for a similar adjunct to the cha

on which he had commenced to outroll riot of Apollo. Others went blind,

his lay, and “paces the room with disand were thus prevented from examin

ordered steps." Mr. Smith, somehow ing with any certainty the material or

or another, has picked up these scatactual nature of the phenomenon.

tered sibyline leaves, and with them he Others, on the contrary, phoo-phooed!

commences his drama. Though havand said it was but one of the brilliant belts that bad slipped from the loins

ing no direct resemblance, except the

rhymes of the second, fourth, and fifth of Saturnian Keats, or a small new

lines, to the opening stanza of the “ Resatellite revolving on the ever-growing atmosphere of Jupiter Shelley. mind, and leave an impression that the

volt of Islam," they recall it to the There were not a few that said it was but a fire-baloon which some urchin

poet intended to have adopted the had let off from Mr. Tennyson's garden.

measure of that poem, which at the

first difficulty be seems to have capriA still fewer number denied its exist.

ciously abandoned. Here they are :ence altogether. All of them, however, bad something or another to say on the “ As a wild maiden, with love-drinking eyes, subject. What have We? We must

Sees in sweet dreams a beaming youth of look closely at it.

glory, The principal poem in the collection And wakes to weep, and ever after sighs --that one which has attracted the at- For that bright vision, till her hair is hoary ;

are.

[ocr errors]

Even so, alas! is my life's passion story, Such, he says, is his life; but poesy, he For poesy my heart and pulses beat; continues rather affectedly, can, by a For poesy my blood runs red and fleet;

single smile, “ clothe him with king. As Moses' serpent the Egyptians swallow'd, doms." This, we must confess, is a One passion eats the rest."

sort of apparel " a world too wide for And then follow the three lines we have

our shrunk shanks." We then come on already quoted. There is nothing, per

the “ wild maiden” again, who, it aphaps, deserving of particular notice in pears, has given up dreaming, and this passage, except the evidence which taken to something more substantial. it gives, at the very threshold of the The passage is a fine one, neverthepoem, of the want of truth which cha

less :

"O fair and cold! racterises many of the similes and

As well may some wild maiden waste her love figures of our poet-beautiful and ori

Upon the calm front of a marble Jove; ginal as some of them unquestionably

I cannot draw regard of thy great eyes, As they, indeed, form the prin

I love thee, Poesy! thou art a rock; cipal feature of the poem—as the poem I, a weak wave, would break on thee and die.” seems to have been written rather as a vehicle for their introduction, than He then proceeds to paint the agony they to illustrate it;-we must draw of that soul which, with every inclinaparticular attention to them as they tion “to hew a name out upon time, occur. We have very little doubt that as on a rock," finds it a more difficult maidens at that uncertain period of achievement than was at first imagined. life, or phase of existence, which the In vain he endeavours to console himpoet calls wild," occasionally

self with the philosophical reflection "See in sweet dreams a beaming youth of glory,"

“That great and small, weakness and and small blame to them. " The Wild

strength, are naught, Irish Girl,” we may be tolerably cer- That each thing being equal in its sphere, tain, was thus somnolently blest, and The May-night glowworm with its emerald it is not impossible that she may still lamp continue to be so, now that her is hair Is worthy as the mighty moon that drowns is hoary." But that most of the elderly Continents in her white and silent light.” “maidens” of our acquaintance, whose hair has assumed this venerable hue, have

Not content with this beautiful detheir midnight visions disturbed by ap

scription of the moon, he must, in the paritions of “ beaming youths of glory,”

very next lines, give a new oc

occupation when their waking thoughts seem to be

to that luminary which has rather a so charitably and happily occupied

ludicrous effect with the “ babes and youths uproary"

“ This—this, were easy to believe, were I of their married brothers and sisters,

The planet that doth nightly wash the we beg, for their sakes, respectfully to earth's deny. But the poet continues

Fair sides with moonlight ; not the shining

worm." "Poesy! poesy! I'd give to thee

As passionately my rich-laden years, Why the moon should neglect the
My bubble pleasures, and my awful joys,
As Hero gave her trembling sighs to find

face of the earth, and apply its abluDelicious death on wet Leander's lip."

tions only to its "sides," particularly

as a little farther on in the poem our The last is one of those fine lines globe is represented as “ lying on its of which we shall find abundant ex- back,” watching the silent stars ? (p. amples. But what does the poet mean

19), we are at a loss to imagine. by his awful joys." Dull proser that

This position of our planet however we are, we looked at the end of the prevents any irreverent critical Mephisvolume to see if, in any list of errata,

topheles from suggesting another adjecthis word should be printed lawful;" tive in the place of the word “fair." but that would never suit “ a beaming The soliloquy is continued a little longer youth of glory," like the poet Walter. in the same strain, and then the poet It is a favourite word of the author, musters up courage enough to have a and be sure we shall meet with it pretty peep at this celestial washerwoman while frequently. The next line is also a champooing the sides of the earth— very fine one:

“I am fain “Bare, bald, and tawdry, as a fing'red moth." To feed upon the beauty of the moon."

-p. 6.

The poet

He then throws open the casement press our incredulity of this story. The with the most cool blooded determi. fair Queen of the Nile would scarcely nation that we have ever heard of, to have ventured to recall the name of make as many similes and images at one, whom she had made every bit as her expense as he can.

Some people

“ rich " as it was possible to make there may be to whom the following Anthony, and whose lips she had will appear very fine, but to us it is “ crowned" exactly in the same way, sheer nonsense, at least that portion of it The scene, however, concludes with that relates to the "widow." The fancy some noble linesof the stars being the “ hand-maidens of the moon, is not very new. In

“ I seek the look of fame! Poor fool, so tries Troilus and Cressida (Act 5, s. ii.),

Some lonely wanderer 'mong the desert sands the faithless heroine swears

By shouts to gain the notice of the sphynx,

Staring right on with calm, eternal eyes.” " By all Diana's waiting women;" or, as Dryden more literally expresses The next scene represents a sort of it in his alteration of this play- idyllic meeting between the poet and

* By all Diana's waiting train of stars." a lady, who is wandering about a forest But with regard to the meaning of the

with a fawn. He has been reading

some book which has set him so soundly entire passage, in its totality, the beautiful, calm joyousness of a moonlight

to sleep, that the lady has time to make night never really or naturally sug.

a very exact examination of his appeargested the idea to the most imagi

ance, and to make a poetical daguerronative mind. If, indeed, the figure type of him which might raise the envy bore any connection with the previous

of Professor Glukman. train of thought in the poet's mind, its

lavishes his gifts with a liberal hand, introduction might be pardoned, but

for while he is described as rivalling here its very abruptness shocks the

the lady in beauty, she is made as mind of the reader almost as much as

poetical as himself; quite as apt and its extravagance

felicitous at a figure or a trope. As

usual, there are passages of exquisite "Sorrowful moon! seeming so drowned in

beauty side by side with affectations woe,

and extravagances such as we have A queen, whom some grand battle-day has

pointed out. We are reminded of left

other poets occasionally in this scene, Unkingdomed and a widow, while the stars, but still more so in the following one, Thy handmaidens, are standing back in awe, where the resemblance strikes us as being Gazing in silence on thy mighty grief!" more than accidental, which rather sur

prises us; as a certain daring, at least He then tells us that there are of illustration, is one of the characte. “men" as well as “maids who love ristics of our author. The thought the moon;" that Adam had occasion

in the following line has, perhaps, ally an innocent flirtation with the be

spontaneously suggested itself to most loved of Endymion ; and that Anthony

poets(a tremendous favourite with our poet),

" Each leaf upon the trees doth shake with joy." was once caught ogling the lady of the night, by Cleopatra, who reprimanded

But Mr. Longfellow has expressed it the hero in the following words

with such paramount felicity as to have

made it almost exclusively his own“Now, by my Egypt's gods, • Benenth some patriarchal tree That pale and squeamish beauty of the night

I lay upon the ground;

His hoary arms uplifted he,
Has bad thine eyes too long; thine eyes are
mine.

Clapped their little bands in glee,
Alack ! there's sorrow in my Anthony's face!
Dost think of Rome? I'll make thee, with

The other passage we shall refer to a kiss, Richer than Cæsar! Come, I'll crown thy lips."

at the proper time. As we are divid.

ing our praise and censure pretty A certain matter-of-fact bishop is equally, we must support each by exsaid to have declared, after reading

tracts :“Gulliver's Travels,” that he did not believe a word of them. In the same

“ Better for man manner we must be permitted to ex. Were he and nature more familiar friends!

And all the broad leaves over me

With oue continuous sound."

MAN AND NATURE.

[blocks in formation]

mony that deserve and compel our approbation. But we are sorry to say there are many others of a very different description. First and foremost, with regard to our poet's rhymed or lyrical verses, we must pronounce them in general complete failures. The ear that seems so exquisitely modulated to all the harmonies of blank verse, forgets its cunning altogether when a lighter measure is attempted. Thus, in a long poem introduced into the present scene, and supposed to have been written by some unknown friend of the hero, some one whose superiority to himself he acknowledges in the following rather humble confession :“He was the sun, I was that squab—the

earth!" Or more figuratively, in the following correct and intelligible comparison :"Lady! he was as far 'bove common men As a sun-steed, wild-eyed, and meteor

maned, Neighing the reeling stars (!) is 'bove a

hack With sluggish veins of mud."-p. 24. In this poem, attempted to be written in the metre of “Locksley Hall,” the correct flow and music of the lines are lost at least six times. The first break is at the fifth line, the second at the eleventh, the third at the thirty-fifth, the fourth at the fortieth, the fifth at the forty-sixth, and the sixth at the seventy-fifth line. We are thus par. ticular to show that any charges we bring against our author are not made carelessly or at random, and that they are intended for his good. The poem itself is a sort of “life drama” within a life drama; a dream within a dream. The poet's friend seems to have gone through the same phases as the poet himself.

The poet of “Rimini," in some of the early editions of that poem, makes one of his heroes confess, that

“ He had stout notions on the marrying score." But stout as they were, they must bave been "plain X” to the opinions of the gentleman who makes the following candid admission :“ In the strong hand of my frenzy, laws and statutes And furious as a wounded bull I tore at all the

[blocks in formation]

enapt like reeds,

creeds !"

A Papal Bull might have been correctly described as tearing away at some of the creeds, and getting himself occa

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »