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Music, when soft voices die,
P. B. Shelley
End of the Golden Treasury
Summary of Book First THE Elizabethan Poetry, as it is rather vaguely termed, forms the substance of this Book, which contains pieces from Wyat under Henry VIII to Shakespeare midway through the reign of James I, and Drummond who carried on the early manner to a still later period. There is here a wide range of style; from simplicity expressed in a language hardly yet broken in to verse,--through the pastoral fancies and Italian conceits of the strictly Elizabethan time,--to the passionate reality of Shakespeare: yet a general uniformity of tone prevails. Few readers can fail to observe the natural sweetness of the verse, the single-hearted straightforwardness of the thoughts :-nor less, the limitation of subject to the many phases of one passion, which then characterized our lyrical poetry,-unless when, as with Drummond and Shakespeare, the purple light of Love' is tempered by a spirit of sterner reflection
It should be observed that this and the following Summaries apply in the main to the Collection here presented, in which (besides its restriction to Lyrical Poetry) a strictly representative or historical Anthology has not been aimed at. Great Excellence, in human art as in human character, has from the beginning of things been even more uniform than Mediocrity, by virtue of the closeness of its approach to Nature and so far as the standard of Excellence kept in view has been attained in this volume, a comparative absence of extreme or temporary phases in style, a similarity of tone and manner, will be found throughout :-something neither modern nor ancient, but true in all ages, and like the works of Creation, perfect as on the first day.
dark Earth and the clouds where she is resting.
Grecian Mythology, which arose in the Personification of natural phenomena, and was totally free from those debasing and ludicrous ideas with which, through Roman and later misunderstanding or perversion, it
has been associated. 2 II 1. 27 Amphion's lyre: He was said to have built the
walls of Thebes to the sound of his music.
this Poem. 3 iv Time's chest: in which he is figuratively supposed to
lay up past treasures. So in Troilus, Act III, Scene 3,
was probably inserted by Izaak Walton. 6 IX This Poem, with xxv and xciv, is taken from Davison's
Rhapsody,' first published in 1602. One stanza has been here omitted, in accordance with the principle noticed in the Preface. Similar omissions occur in XLV, LXXXVII, C, CXXVIII, CLX, CLXV, CCXXVII, ccxxxv. The more serious abbreviation by which it has been attempted to bring Crashaw's Wishes' and Shelley's
Euganean Hills' within the limits of lyrical unity, is commended with much diffidence to the judgment of readers acquainted with the original pieces. Presence in line 12 is here conjecturally printed for present. A very few similar corrections of (it is presumed) misprints have been made :-as thy for my, XXII, 9: men for me, XLI, 3: viol for idol, CCLII, 43: and one for our, 90: locks for looks, CCLXXI, 5 : dome for doom,
CCLxxv, 25 : -- with two or three more less important. 9 XV This charming little poem, truly old and plain, and
dallying with the innocence of love' like that spoken of in Twelfth Night, is taken, with v, XVII, XX, XXXIV, and XL, from the most characteristic collection of Eliza
beth's reign, England's Helicon,'first published in 1600. 10 XVI Readers who have visited Italy will be reminded of
more than one picture by this gorgeous Vision of
copies give refining : the correct reading is perhaps revealing. For a fair there's fairer none : If you desire a Beauty, there is none more beautiful than
Rosaline. 12 xvIII that fair thou owest : that beauty thou ownest. 15 xxit the star Whose worth's unknoron, althorigh his height
be taken : apparently, Whose stellar influence is uncalculated, although his angular altitude from the plane of the astrolabe or artificial horizon used by
astrologers has been determined. 17 xxvii keel: skim. 18 xxix expense: waste. - Xxx Nativity once in the main of light : when a star has
risen and entered on the full stream of light ;-an-
But he is not likely to regret the labour. 19 xxxI upon misprision growing : either, granted in error, or,
on the growth of contempt.
the contrasting effects of apathy. 20 xxxiii grame : sorrow. It was long before English Poe
returned to the charming simplicity of this and a
few other poems by Wyat. 21 xxxiv Pandion.in the ancient fable was father to Philomela. 23 xxxviii ramage : confused noise. 23 xxxix censures : judges. 24 XL By its style this beautiful example of old simplicity
and feeling may be referred to the early years of
Elizabeth. Late forgot: lately. 25 XLI haggards: the least tameable hawks. 26 XLIV cypres or cyprus, -used by the old writers for crape;
whether from the French crespe or from the Island whence it was imported. Its accidental similarity in spelling to cypress has, here and in Milton's
Penseroso, probably confused readers. 28 xLvI, XIVI I never saw anything like this funeral dirge,'
says Charles Lamb, 'except the ditty which reminds Ferdinand of his drowned father in the Tempest.
As that is of the water, watery : so this is of the
Summary of Book Second This division, embracing the latter eighty years of the seventeenth century, contains the close of our Early poetical style and the commencement of the Modern. In Dryden we see the first master of the new : in Milton, whose genius dominates here as Shakespeare's in the former book, the crown and consummation of the early period. Their splendid Odes are far in advance of any prior attempts, Spenser's excepted: they exhibit the wider and grander range which years and experience and the struggles of the time conferred on Poetry. Our Muses now give expression to political feeling, to religious thought, to a high philosophic statesmanship in writers such as Marvell, Herbert, and Wotton : whilst in Marvell and Milton, again, we find the first noble attempts at pure description of nature, destined in our own ages to be continued and equalled. Meanwhile the poetry of simple passion, although before 1660 often deformed by verbal fancies and conceits of thought, and afterward by levity and an artificial tone,-produced in Herrick and Waller some charming pieces of more finished art than the Elizabethan: until in the courtly compliments of Sedley it seems to exhaust itself, and lie almost dormant for the hundred years between the days of Wither and Suckling and the days of Burns and Cowper. -That the change from our early style to the modern brought with it at first a loss of nature and simplicity is undeniable: yet the far bolder and wider scope which Poetry took between 1620 and 1700, and the successful efforts then made to gain greater clearness in expression, in their results have been no slight compensation.