Изображения страниц

141 159 High-born Hoel, soft Llewellyn (1. 15); the Dissertatio

de Bardis of Evans names the first as son to the King
Owain Gwynedd : Llewelyn, last King of North
Wales, was murdered 1282. L. 16 Cadwallo : Cail-
wallon (died 631) and Urien Rheged (early kings of
Gwynedd and Cumbria respectively) are mentioned
by Evans (p. 78) as bards none of whose poetry is ex-
tant. L. 20 Modred : Evans supplies no data for this
name, which Gray (it has been supposedl) uses for
Merlin (Myrddin Wyllt), held prophet as well as
poet.—The Italicized lines mark where the Barl's
song is joined by that of his predecessors departeil.
L. 22 Arvon: the shores of Carnarvonshire opposite
Anglesey. Whether intentionally or through iy-
norance of the real dates, Gray here seems to
represent the Bard as speaking of these poets,
all of earlier days, Llewelyn excepted, as his own
contemporaries at the close of the thirteenth cen-
Gray, whose penetrating and powerful genius ren-
dered him in many ways an initiator in advance of
his age, is probably the first of our poets who made
some acquaintance with the rich and admirable poetry
in which Wales from the Sixth Century has been
fertile,-before and since his time so barbarously
neglected, not in England only. Hence it l'as been
thought worth while here to enter into a little detail

upon his Cymric allusions. 142 – 1. 5 She-woif : Isabel of France, adulterous Quieen of

Edward II.-L. 35 Towers of Julius : the Tower of
London, built in part, according to tradition, by

Julius Cæsar. 143 - 1. 2 bristled boar : the badge of Richard III. L. 7

Half of thy heart : Queen Eleanor died soon after the conquest of Wales. L. 18 Arthur: Henry VII namel his eldest son thus, in deference to native feeling and

story. 144 161 The Highlanders called the battle of Culloden,

Drumossie. 145 162 lilting, singing blithely: loaning, broacl lane : bughts,

pens : scorning, rallying: dowie, dreary: daffin' ani gabbin', joking and chatting : leglin, milkpail: shearing, reaping : bandsters, sheaf-binders : lyart, grizzled : runkled, wrinklel : fleeching, coaxing: gloaming, twi

light: bogle, ghost : dool, sorrow. 147 164 The Editor has found no authoritative text of this

The Editor'h. poem, to his mind superior to any other of its class in melody and pathos. Part is probably not later than the seventeenth century: in other stanzas a more modern hand, much resembling Scott's, is traceable. Logan's poem (163) exlibits a knowledge rather of the old legend than of the old verses. Hecht, promised; the obsolete hight: mavis, thrush : PAGE NO.

ilka, every: lav'rock, lark: haughs, valley-ineadows:

twined, parted from : marrow, mate : syne, then. 148 165 The Royal George, of 108 guns, whilst undergoing a

partial careening at Spithearl, was overset about 10 A.M. Aug. 29, 1782. The total loss was believed to be nearly 1000 souls.—This little poem might be called one of our trial-pieces, in regard to taste. The reader who feels the vigour of description and the force of pathos underlying Cowper's bare and truly Greek simplicity of phrase, may assure himself se valde

profecisse in poetry. 151 167 A little masterpiece in a very difficult style: Catullus

limself could hardly have bettered it. In grace, tenderness, simplicity, and humour, it is worthy of the Ancients: an even more so, from the complete

ness and unity of the picture presented. 155 172 Perhaps no writer who has given such strong proofs

of the poetic nature has left less satisfactory poetry than Thomson. Yet this song, with ‘Rule Britannia' and a few others, must make us regret that he did not more seriously apply himself to lyrical

writing. 156 174 With what insight and tenderness, yet in how few

words, has this painter-poet here himself told Love's

Secret! 157 177 1. 1 Aeolian lyre : the Greeks ascribed the origin of

their Lyrical Poetry to the Colonies of Aeolis in Asia

Minor. 158 - Thracia's hills (1. 9) supposed a favourite resort of

Mars. Feather'd king (1. 13) the Eagle of Jupiter, admirably described by Pindar in a passage here imitated by Gray. Idalia (1. 19) in Cyprus, where

Cytherea (Venus) was especially worshipped. 159 - 1. 6 Hyperion: the Sun. * St. 6—8 allude to the Poets

of the islands and Mainland of Greece, to those of

Rome and of England. 160 - 1. 27 Theban Eagle : Pindar. 163 178 1. 5 chaste-eyed Queen: Diana. 164 179 From that wild rhapsody of mingleil grandeur, ten

derness, and obscurity, that'medley between inspiration and possession,' which poor Smart is believeil to

have written whilst in confinement for madness. 165 181 the dreadful light : of life and experience. 166 182 Attic warbler : the nightingale. 168 184 sleekit, sleek: bickering brattle, flittering flight: laith,

loth: pattle, ploughstaff : whyles, at times : a daimenicker, a corn-ear now and then : thrave, shock : lare, rest: foggage, after-grass : snell, biting : but hald, without dwelling-place : thole, bear: cranreuch, hoarfrost: thy lanc, alone : a-gley, off the right line,

awry. 175 188 stoure, dust-storm; braw, smart. 176 189 scaith, hurt: tent, guard : steer, molest.


PAGE NO. 177 191 drumlie, muddy: birk, birch. 178 192 greet, cry: daurna, dare not.-There can hardly exist

a poem more truly tragic in the highest sense than this: nor, perhaps, Sappho excepted, has any Poetess

equalled it. 180 193 fou, merry with drink: coost, carried : unco skeigh,

very proud : gart, forced : abeigh, aside : Ailsa craig, a rock in the Firth of Clyde : grat his een bleert, cried till his eyes were bleare: lowpin, leaping: linn, waterfall: sair, sore : smoor'd, smothered :

crouse and canty, blithe and gay. 181 194 Burns justly named this one of the most beautiful

songs in the Scots or any other language.' One stanza, interpolated by Beattie, is here omitted :-it contains two good lines, but is out of harmony with the original poem. Bigonet, little cap: probably altered

from béguinette : thraw, twist : calier, fresh. 182 195 Burns himself, despite two attempts, failed to im

prove this little absolute masterpiece of music, ten-
derness, and simplicity: this ‘Romance of a life'in
eight lines.-Eerie : strictly, scared : uneasy.
airts, quarters : row, roll : shaw, small wood in a hol-

low, spinney : knowes, knolls.
184 197 jo, sweetheart : brent, smooth: pow, head.

- 198 leal, faithful. St. 3 fain, happy. 18: 199 Henry VI founded Eton. 18S 200 Written in 1773, towards the beginning of Cowper's

second attack of melancholy madness-a time when he altogether gave up prayer, saying, 'For him to inplore mercy would only anger God the more.' Yet had he given it up when sane, it would have been

'maior insania.' 191 203 The Editor would venture to class in the very first

rank this Sonnet, which, with 204, records Cowper's gratitude to the Lady whose affectionate care for many years gave what sweetness he could enjoy to a life radically wretched. Petrarch's sonnets have a more ethereal grace and a more perfect finish; Shakespeare's more passion ; Milton's stand supreme in stateliness; Wordsworth's in depth and delicacy. But Cowper's unites with an exquisiteness in the turn of thought which the ancients would have called Irony, an intensity of pathetic tenderness peculiar to his loving and ingenuous nature.—Thereis inuch mannerism, much that is unimportant or of now exhausteri interest in his poems: but where he is great, it is with that elementary greatness which rests on the most universal human feelings. Cowperis our highest

master in simple pathos. 193 205 Cowper's last original poem, founded upon a story

told in Anson's Voyages.' It was written March

1799; he died in next year's April. 195 206 Very little except his name appears recoverable with


regard to the anthor of this truly noble poem, which appeared in the ‘Scripscrapologia, or Collins'Doggerel Dish of All Sorts,' with three or four other pieces of merit, Birmingham, 1804.-Everlasting: used with side-allusion to a cloth so named, at the time when Collins wrote.

Summary of Book Fourth

It proves sufficiently the lavish wealth of our own age in Poetry, that the pieces which, without conscious departure from the standard of Excellence, render this Book by far the longest, were with very few exceptions composed during the first thirty years of the Nineteenth century. Exhaustive reasons can hardly be given for the strangely sudden appearance of individual genius : that, however, which assigns the splendid national achievements of our recent poetry to an impulse from the France of the first Republic and Empire is inadequate. The first French Revolution was rather one result, the most conspicuous, indeed, yet itself in great measure essentially retrogressive,-of that wider and more potent spirit which through enquiry and attempt, through strength and weakness, sweeps mankind round the circles (not, as some too confidently argne, of Advance, but) of gradual Transformation: and it is to this that we must trace the literature of Modern Europe. But, without attempting discussion on the motive causes of Scott, Wordsworth, Shelley, and others, we may observe that these Poets carried to further perfection the later tendencies of the Century preceding, in simplicity of narrative, reverence for human Passion and Character in every sphere, and love of Nature for herself:-that, whilst maintaining on the whole the advances in art made since the Restoration, they renewed the half-forgotten melody and depth of tone which marked the best Elizabethan writers :

-that, lastly, to what was thus inherited they added a richness in language and a variety in metre, a force and fire in narrative, a tenderness and bloom in feeling, an insight into the finer passages of the Soul and the inner meanings of the landscape, a larger sense of Humanity,-hitherto scarcely attained, and perhaps unattainable even by predecessors of not inferior individual genius. In a word, the Nation which, after the Greeks in their glory, may fairly claim that during six centuries it has proved itself the most richly gifted of all nations for Poetry, expressed in these men the highest strength and prodigality of its nature. They interpreted the age to itself-hence the many phases of thought and style they present:-to sympathize with each, fervently and impartially, without fear and without fancifulness, is no doubtful step in the higher education of the soul. For purity in taste is absolutely proportionate to strength and when once the mind has raised itself to grasp and to delight in excellence, those who love most will be found to love most wisely.

But the gallery which this Book offers to the reader will aid him more than any preface. It is a royal Palace of Poetry which he is invited to enter :

Adparet domus intus, et atria longa patescuntthough it is, indeed, to the sympathetic eye only that its treasures will be visible.

PAGE NO. 197 208 This beautiful lyric, printed in 1783, seems to antici

pate in its imaginative inusic that return to our great early age of song, which in Blake's own lifetime was to prove,-how gloriously! that the English Muses had resumed their ancient melody':-Keats, Shelley,

Byron,-he overlived them all. 199 210 stout Cortez : History would here suggest Balboa :

(A.T.) It may be noticed, that to find in Chapman's Homér the 'pure serene' of the original, the reader must bring with him the imagination of the youthful poet;-he must be a Greek himself,' as Shelley finely

said of Keats. 202 212 The most tender and true of Byron's smaller poems. 203 213 This poem exemplifies the peculiar skill with which

Scott employs proper names :-a rarely misleading

sign of true poetical genius. 213 226 Simple as Lucy Gray seems, a mere narrative of

what ‘has been, and may be again,' yet every touch in the child's picture is marked by the deepest and purest ideal character. Hence, pathetic as the situation is, this is not strictly a pathetic poem, such as Wordsworth gives us in 221, Lamb in 264, and Scott in his Maid of Neidpath, -' almost more pathetic,' as Tennyson once remarked, 'than a man has the right to be.' And Lyte's lovely stanzas (224) suggest,

perhaps, the same remark. 222 235 In this and in other instances the addition (or the

change) of a Title has been risked, in hope that the aim of the piece following may be -grasped more clearly

and immediately. 228 242 This beautiful Sonnet was the last word of a youth,

in whom, if the fulfilment may ever safely be prophesied from the promise, England lost one of the most rarely gifted in the long roll of her poets. Shakespeare and Milton, had their lives been closed at twenty-five, would (so far as we know) have left poems of less excellence and hope than the youth who, from the petty school and the London surgery, passed at once to a place with them of 'high col

lateral glory.' 230 245 It is impossible not to regret that Moore has written

so little in this sweet and genuinely national style. 231 246 A masterly example of Byron's command of strong

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »