« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
INSCRIPTION FOR A FOUNTAIN.
Rest! This little Fountain runs
Thus for aye-It never stays For the look of summer suns,
Nor the cold of winter days. Whosoe'er shall wander near,
When the Syrian heat is worst, Let him hither come, nor fear
Lest he may not slake his thirst: He will find this little river Running still, as bright as ever. Let him drink, and onwards hie, Bearing but in thought, that I, EROTAS, bade the Naiad fall, And thank the great god Pan for all !
A PETITION TO TIME.
Touch us gently, Time!
Let us glide adown thy stream Gently, as we sometimes glide
Through a quiet dream!,
Touch us gently, Time!
We've not proud nor soaring wings: Our ambition, our content
Lies in simple things.
[Born 17th of March, 1781, at the New Foundry, Masbro', near Rother. ham, Yorkshire; wrote in his seventeenth year The Vernal Walk; worked in his father's foundry until 1804; made trials of business in Sheffield, of which the first failed; published his first volume of verse, 1823; Village Patriarch, 1829; Corn Law Rhymer, 1831; retired from business, 1841; died 1st of December, 1849.]
'My feelings have been hammered until they have become coldshort, and are apt to snap and fly off in sarcasms.' The betrayal of sensitiveness, the apology for anger in these words, might lead one to surmise that the writer, Ebenezer Elliott, steel-merchant and poet, was no broad-thewed forger of the weapons of revolution who took to his trade with a will. Had one met him, instead of the burly ironmonger' described by an American visitor, one would have seen a man slender and of middle stature, with narrow forehead, bushy eyebrows under which gleamed the vivid fire of grey-blue eyes, sensitive nostrils, and a mouth apt to express love as much as scorn. It was not the bread-tax that first made him a poet, but the picture of a primrose in Sowerby's English Botany; this sent him to country lanes, the stream-side, and the moor, and he found his friends in the dragon-fly, the kingfisher, the green snake, and the nightingales of Basingthorpe Spring. Sensitiveness was more Elliott's characteristic than strength, and what strength he had was of an ardent, eager kind, less muscular than nervous.
Elliott's imagination was ambitious, and imperfectly trained he accordingly dealt with large and passionate themes, entering into them with complete abandon; and he was hurried on to passages of genuine inspiration; real heights and depths were within his range; heavenly lights alternate with nether darkness. Few of his longer poems, however, possess imaginative ordonnance; from the sublime he could pass to the turgid; from the pathetic to
the pseudo-romantic; and therefore few of these longer poems can be read with satisfaction in each as a whole. Nothing of worth that Elliott wrote was caught out of the air; each poem had its roots in fact; but the colouring in his earlier pieces is sometimes extravagant as he matured, his imagination gravitated from the romantic to the real. There are not many figures in English poetry drawn from real life worthier of regard than the Ranter, Elliott's pale preacher of reform on Shirecliffe height, and his Village Patriarch, the blind lone father, with wind-blown venerable hair, still unbowed after his hundred years; though seeming coeval with the cliffs around, still a living and heroic pattern of English manhood.
The wild flowers and the free wild streams of Yorkshire never found a more eager and faithful lover than Ebenezer Elliott; but mere sunlight and pure air delight him. The silence or living sounds of the fields or the moor bring healing and refreshment to an ear harassed by the din of machinery; the wide peaceful brightness is a benediction to an eye smarting from blear haze of the myriad-chimneyed city. Animal refreshment rises, by degrees, to gratitude, exaltation, worship.
But from the wilderness his heart full of passionate tenderness drew him back to the troubled walks of men. not be like His poetry could
That gathers daisies from the lap of May,
The indignation of the workers of England against the injustice of their lot found a voice in the Corn Law Rhymer. His anger is that of a sweet nature perforce turned bitter; this strife, he feels, may for ever mar his better self, yet it cannot be abandoned :
'My heart, once soft as woman's tear, is gnarled
and still he 'wooes Contention,' for in the end 'her dower is sure.' The sorrows of oppressed toil were sung by Elliott with a sincerity which makes amends for some imaginative crudeness. His pathos is not hard and dry like that of Crabbe; it is not that of a student of human misery, but that of a loving fellow-sufferer. ideal of happiness for the working man is simple and refinedAnd his some leisure, flowers, a good book, a neat home, a happy wife, and glad innocent children.
AN EXCURSION TO THE MOUNTAINS.
[From The Village Patriarch.]
Come, Father of the Hamlet! grasp again
Thy stern ash plant, cut when the woods were young; Come, let us leave the plough-subjected plain,
And rise, with freshened hearts, and nerves restrung,
Into the azure dome, that, haply, hung
O'er thoughtful power, ere suffering had begun.
Flowers peep, trees bud, boughs tremble, rivers run;
Blue are thy Heavens, thou Highest! and thy sun
Five rivers, like the fingers of a hand,
Flung from black mountains, mingle, and are one
A stately pilgrim, watched by all the hills.
O'er Sheaf, that mourns in Eden? Or, where rolled
And groves of love, in jealous beauty dark,
Child, is thy father dead?
Why did they tax his bread?
God's will be done!
Mother has sold her bed:
Father clammed' thrice a week-
Long for work did he seek,
1 Fasted; was hungry.