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No longer forward, nor behind,
I look in hope and fear:
But grateful, take the good I fin.!,
I plough no more a desert land
For harvest, weed and tare;
The manna dropping from God's hand
I break my pilgrim staff, I lay
Aside the toiling oar;
The angel sought so far away
I welcome at my door.
The airs of spring may never play
Nor freshness of the flowers of May
That wheresoe'er my feet have swerved,
388 A Household Book of English Poetry.
That more and more a Providence
Making the springs of time and sense
That death seems but a covered way,
Wherein no blinded child can stray
P. 3, No. iii.-There seems no reason to doubt that Sir Walter Raleigh was the author of this poem, and that the initials W. R. with which it appears in Davison's Rhapsody indicate truly the authorship. It is abundantly worthy of him; there have been seldom profounder thoughts more perfectly expressed than in the fourth and fifth stanzas. A certain obscurity in the poem will demand, but will also repay, study; and for its right understanding we must keep in mind that affection' is here used as in our English Bible, where it is the rendering of πálos (Rom. i. 26; Col. 3, 5), and that affection' and 'desire' are regarded as interchangeable and equivalent.
P. 4, No. iv.-See Spedding's Works of Lord Bacon, vol. vii. p. 267 sqq., for the external evidence making it reasonably probable, but certainly not lifting above all doubt, that the ascription of these lines to Lord Bacon is a right one.
P. 6, No. vi.—This very remarkable poem first appeared in the second edition of Davison's Poetical Rhapsody, 1608; itself a sufficient disproof of the often-repeated assertion that Raleigh wrote it the night before his execution, 1618. At the same time this leaves untouched the question whether he may not at some earlier day have been its author. There is a certain amount of evidence in favour of this tradition, which is carefully put together in Hannah's Poems by Sir Henry Wotton, Sir Walter Raleigh, and others, 1845, pp. 89-98.
P. 10, No. viii.-The author of these beautiful lines was a minister of the Scotch Kirk at the close of the sixteenth century. Several stanzas have been omitted.
P. 21, No. xviii.—This sonnet is the first among the commendatory poems prefixed to the original edition of The Fairy Queen. As original in conception as it is grand in execution, it is about the finest compliment which was ever paid by poet to poet, such as it became Raleigh to indite and Spenser to receive. Yet it labours under a serious defect. The great poets of the past lose no whit of their glory because later poets are found worthy to share it. Petrarch in his lesser, and Homer in his greater sphere, are just as illustrious since Spenser appeared as before.
P. 23, No. xx.-I have marked this poem as anonymous, the evidence which ascribes it to Sir Walter Raleigh being insufficient to prove him the author of it. It first appeared in England's Helicon, 1600. In all known copies of this edition Ignoto' has been pasted over W. R., the original signature which the poem bore. This may have arisen from a discovery on the part of the editor that the poem was not Raleigh's; but also may be explained by his unwillingness to have his authorship of it declared; so that there is here nothing decisive one way or the other. Other external evidence bearing on the question I believe there is none, except Izaak Walton's assertion fifty-three years later (Complete Angler, 1653, p. 64) that it was made by Sir Walter Raleigh in his younger days. No doubt then there was a tradition to this effect; though 'younger must not be pushed too far, as Raleigh was ten years older than Marlowe, to whose poem this is a reply. All that we can say is that there is no name in English literature so great, but that the authorship of these lines, if this could be ascertained, would be an additional honour to it.-l. 21-24: In the second edition of Walton's Complete Angler, 1655, this stanza appears-I should say, for the first time, were not this fact brought into question by its nearly contemporaneous appearance in a broad-sheet (see Roxburgh Ballads, vol. i. p. 205) which seems by its type to belong, as those expert in such matters affirm, to the date 1650-55. The stanza there runs,
'What should you talk of dainties then!
Of better meat than serveth men ?
All that is vain; this only good,
Which God doth bless and send for food.'
While Walton may have made, it is also possible that he may have found ready made to his hand, this beautiful addition to the poem.
P. 24, No. xxii.—Of this poem Dr. Guest (History of English Rhythms, vol. ii. p. 273) has said, 'It appears to me extremely beautiful,' a judgment from which none who are capable of recognizing poetry when they see it will dissent. It is found in Campion's Observations on the Art of English Poesy, London, 1602. The purpose of the book is mainly to prove that rhyme is altogether an unnecessary appendage to English verse; that this does not require, and indeed is better without it. Had he offered to his readers many lyrics like this, he might have done much more than by all his arguments he has done to bring them to his opinion. As it is, the main value which the Observations possess consists in this exquisite lyric, and, mediately, in the admirable Apology for Rhyme on Daniel's part which they called out.
Pp. 27, 28, No. xxv. xxvi.—Sir Philip Sidney's sonnets may be ' vain and amatorious,' as Milton has called his prose romance of The
Arcadia; but they possess grace, fancy, and a passion which makes itself felt even under the artificial forms of a Platonic philosophy. They are addressed to one, who, if the course of true love had run smooth, should have been his wife. When, however, through the misunderstanding of parents, or through some other cause, she had become the wife of another, Platonic as they are, they would far better have remained unwritten.
P. 35, No. xli. --Pope somewhere speaks of 'a very mediocre poet, one Drayton,' and it will be remembered that when Goldsmith visited Poets' Corner, seeing his monument he exclaimed, ' Drayton, I never heard of him before.' It must be confessed that Drayton, who wrote far too much, wrote often below himself, and has left not a little to justify the censure of the one, and to excuse the ignorance of the other. At the same time only a poet could describe the sun
at his rising,
'With rosy robes and crown of flaming gold;'
and this heroic ballad has a very genuine and martial tone about it. It is true that every celebration of Agincourt must show pale and faint beside Shakespeare's epic drama, Henry the Fifth, and this will as little endure as any other to be brought even into remote comparison with that; but for all this it ought not to be forgotten.
P. 39, No. xlii. 1. 9: 'Clarius,' a surname of Apollo, derived from his famous temple at Claros, in Asia Minor.-1. 27-30: Prometheus was 'Japhet's line,' being the son of Iapetus, whom Jonson has not resisted the temptation of identifying, as others have done, with Japhet the son of Noah, and calling by his name. According to one legend it was by the assistance of Minerva, 'the issue of Jove's brain,' that Prometheus ascended to heaven, and there stole from the chariot of the Sun the fire which he brought down to earth; to all which there is reference here.
P. 40, No. xliii.-It would be difficult not to think that we had here the undeveloped germ of Il Penseroso of Milton, if this were not shown to be impossible by the fact that Milton's poem was published two years previously to this.
P. 41, No. xliv. - Hallam thinks that Southwell has been of late praised at least as much as he deserves. This may be so, yet taking into account the finished beauty of such poems as this and No. 1. of this collection, poems which, as far as they go, leave nothing to be desired, he has scarcely been praised more than he deserves. How in earlier times he was rated the fact that there were twenty-four editions of his poems will sufficiently testify; though possibly the creed which he professed, and the death which he died, may have had something to do with this. Robert Southwell was a seminary priest,