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Melodies belong preeminently to that minor and less ambitious school of lyrics which of set purpose dedicates itself to vocal singing. The highest lyrical poetry, of course, appeals to the inner ear alone, in that silent singing which is a sweeter thing than any triumph of the vocalist. No tune of the most transcendent aptness could throw fresh charm into the finest stanzas of Shelley, while the most clear-voiced and sympathetic singer would probably fail to make so subtle a scheme of words intelligible to any audience previously ignorant of them. But Moore is a master in that ritual of which Burns is the high priest, in which words of a commonplace character are so strung together as to form poetry easily grasped and enjoyed by the ear, while sometimes the Melodies reach a higher pitch, and may be judged by a more severe standard than the improvisatore ever knows. When his genuine and burning love of Irish liberty inspires him, the little amatory bard rises for a moment to the level of Tyrtæus and Campbell
It is difficult at the present day to revive an interest in Moore's satirical and humourous collections of verse, yet their gaiety was hailed with great enjoyment by a generation accustomed to Wolcot's sturdy fun and the heavy hand of Gifford. In fact the public was excessively entertained by these brisk, smart epistles, in which the Horatian manner was carried to its last excess of levity, and in which witty personalities against public individuals were as thick as plums in a pudding. The Fables for the Holy Alliance were more serious and more trenchant than the rest, and perhaps just because their effect was greater at the time, it is less now. It is precisely the lightness of The Twopenny Post-Bag that supports it still on the stream of literature. In Rhymes on the Road Moore seems to be emulating Byron in his rapid interchange of cynical with romantic reflection, but he has not the muscular strength needed to draw the bow of Byron, and when he describes the view of Lake Leman from the Jura we miss almost painfully the note of the master. He is infinitely more at home in describing the gay world of Florence, and sentimentally regretting the domestic pleasures of an English home. Nor is the modern reader much scandalised, but only very much amused, to find little Mr. Moore inditing a long poem at Les Charmettes merely to insist upon the fact that he was not roused by reminiscences of Rousseau.
EDMUND W. GOSSE.
THE LIGHT OF THE HARAM.
[From Lalla Rookh.]
Who has not heard of the Vale of Cashmere,
With its roses the brightest that earth ever gave, Its temples, and grottos, and fountains as clear
As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave?
Oh! to see it at sunset,--when warm o'er the Lake
Its splendour at parting a summer eve throws, Like a bride, full of blushes, when ling’ring to take
A last look of her mirror at night ere she goes ! When the shrines through the foliage are gleaming half shown, And each hallows the hour by some rites of its own. Here the music of prayer from a minaret swells,
Here the Magian his urn, full of perfume, is swinging, And here, at the altar, a zone of sweet bells
Round the waist of some fair Indian dancer is ringing. Or to see it by moonlight,—when mellowly shines The light o'er its palaces, gardens, and shrines; When the water-falls gleam, like a quick fall of stars, And the nightingale's hymn from the Isle of Chenars Is broken by laughs and light echoes of feet From the cool, shining walks where the young people meet.Or at morn, when the magic of daylight awakes A new wonder each minute, as slowly it breaks, Hills, cupolas, fountains, called forth every one Out of darkness, as if but just born of the Sun. When the Spirit of Fragrance is up with the day, From his Haram of night-flowers stealing away; And the wind, full of wantonness, woos like a lover The young aspen-trees, till they tremble all over. When the East is as warm as the light of first hopes,
And Day, with his banner of radiance unfurled, Shines in through the mountainous portal that opes,
Sublime, from that Valley of bliss to the world!
[From the same.]
“How sweetly,' said the trembling maid,
Were wasted off to seas unknown, Where not a pulse should beat but ours,
And we might live, love, die alone! Far from the cruel and the cold,
Where the bright eyes of angels only Should come around us, to behold
A paradise so pure and lonely! Would this be world enough for thee?' Playful she turned, that he might see
The passing smile her cheek put on; But when she marked how mournfully
His eyes met hers, that smile was gone; And, bursting into heartfelt tears, “Yes, yes,' she cried, “my hourly fears, My dreams, have boded all too rightWe part--for ever part-to-night! I knew, I knew it could not last'Twas bright, 'twas heavenly, but ’tis past! Oh! ever thus, from childhood's hour,
I've seen my fondest hopes decay ; I never loved a tree or flower,
But 'twas the first to fade away, I never nursed a dear gazelle,
To glad me with its soft black eye,
But when it came to know me well,
And love me, it was sure to die !
Of all I ever dreamt or knew,
Oh, misery! must I lose that too?
Those frightful rocks—that treacherous sea-
Though heaven, it may be death to thee.
Where'er thou go'st, beloved stranger!
Than have thee near me, and in danger!'
WHEN HE, WHO ADORES THEE.
When he, who adores thee, has left but the name
Of his fault and his sorrows behind,
Of a life that for thee was resigned ?
Thy tears shall efface their decree ;
I have been but too faithful to thee.
With thee were the dreams of my earliest love ;
Every thought of my reason was thine ;
Thy name shall be mingled with mine.
The days of thy glory to see ; But the next dearest blessing that Heaven can give
Is the pride of thus dying for thee.
BELIEVE ME, IF ALL THOSE ENDEARING YOUNG CHARMS.
Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly to-day,
Like fairy-gifts fading away,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will,
Would entwine itself verdantly still.
And thy cheeks unprofan’d by a tear,
To which time will but make thee more dear ;
But as truly loves on to the close,
The same look which she turn'd when he rose.
BY THAT LAKE, WHOSE GLOOMY SHORE?
By that Lake, whose gloomy shore
1 This ballad is founded upon one of the many stories related of St. Kevin, whose bed in the rock is to be seen at Glendalough, a most gloomy and romantic spot in the county of Wicklow.