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befor: :is idea to exalt and announce the earth rolling on, wrapt in the har it. He introduces to us
mony of the fraternal stars.
not life that he felt, like the masters of “ The breathing roses of the wood, Fair silver-buskin'd nymphs;
the Renaissance, but grandeur, like
Æschylus, and the Hebrew seers,* and tells how
manly and lyric spirits like his own, who “ The gray-hooded Even nourished like him in religious emoLike a sad votarist in palmer's weed, Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phæet is' tions and continuous enthusiasm, like wain ;" 1
him displayed sacerdotal pomp and
majesty. To express such a sentiment, und speaks of
images and poetry addressed only to “ All the sea-girt isles,
the eyes, were not enough; sounds also Tha', like to rich and various gems, inlag were requisite, and that more inti'o The unadorned bosom of the deep; 1
spective poetry which, purged from ind
corporeal shows, could reach the soul. That undisturbed song of
Milton was a musician; his hymns
pure concent, Aye sung before the sapphire-colour'd throne, rolled with the slowness of a measured To Him that sits thereon,
song and the gravity of a declamation ; With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee ; and he seems himself to be describing Where the bright Seraphim, in burning row, Their loud-uplifted angel-trumpets blow." s
his art in these incomparable verses,
which are evolved like the solemn har He gathered into full nosegays the
mony of an anthem : Aowers scattered through the other
“But else, in deep of night, when drowsiness poets :
Hath lock'd up mortal sense, then listen I Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use
To the celestial sirens' harmony, Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing That sit upon the nine infolded spheres, brooks,
And sing to those that hold the vital shears, On whose fresh lap the swart-star sparely
And turn the adamantine spindle round, looks;
On which the fate of Gods and men is Throw hither all your quaint enameli'd eyes,
wound, That on the green turf suck the honied Such sweet compulsion doth in musick lie, showers,
To lull the daughters of Necessity, And purple all the ground with vernal And keep unsteady Nature to her law, flowers.
And the low world in measured motion draw Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies, After the heavenly tune, which none can The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine,
hear The white pink, and the pansy freak'd with
Of human mould, with gross unpurged ear." jet, The glowing violet,
With his style, his subjects differed · The musk-rose, and the well-attired wood- he compacted and ennobled the poet's bine,
domain as well as his language, and With cowslips wan that hang the pensive consecrated his thoughts as well as his
head, Ind every flower that sad embroidery wears:
words. He who knows the true ria. Bid amaranthus all his beauty shed, ture of poetry soon finds, as Milton And daffadillies fill their cups with tears, said a little later, what despicable crea To strew the laureat herse where Lycid tures “libidinous and ignorant poetas. lies." I
ters are, and to what religious, glori. When still quite young, on his quitting ous, splendid use poetry can be put in Cambridge, he inclined to the magnif- things divine and human.
“ These ícent and grand; he wanted a great abilities, wheresoever they be found lowing verse, an ample and sounding are the inspired gift of God, rarely be strophe, vast periods of fourteen and stowed, but yet to some (though most four-and-twenty lines. He did not abuse) in every nation; and are of face objects on a level, as a mortal, power, beside the office of a pulpit, cu but from on high, like those archangels | imbreed and cherish in a great peop.e of Goethe, I who embrace at a glance the whole ocean lashing its coasts and * See the prophecy against Archbishop Land
in Lycidas, l. 130: Arcadis, l. 32. t Comus, l. 188-190. 1 lbid. l. 21-23.
“ But that two-handed engine at the door Ode at a Solemn Music, 1.6-17
Stands ready to smite once, ard smite pe
more." il Lycidas, l. 136-151. I Faut. Prolog im Hin.mel.
• Arcades, l. 61-73.
the seeds of virtue and public civility, Come, pensive Nun, devout and pare,
Sober, stedfast, and demure, to allay the perturbations of the mind,
All in a robe of darkest grain, and set the affections in right tune ; to Flowing with majestick train, celebrate in glorious and lofty hymns And sable stole of Cypress lawn the throne and equipage of God's al- Over thy decent shoulders drawn.
Come, but keep thy wonted state, mightiness, and what he works, and
With even step, and musing gait; what he suffers to be wrought with And looks commercing with the skies, high providence in his church; to sing Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes.' the victorious agonies of martyrs and with her he wanders amidst grare saints, the deeds and triumphs of just thoughts and grave sights, which recall end pious nations, doing valiantly a man to his condition, and preparo through faith against the enemies of him for his duties, now amongst the Christ.”*
lofty colonnades of primeval trees, In fact, from the first, at St. Paul's whose "high-embowed roof” retains School and at Cambridge, he had writ- the silence and the twilight under their ten paraphrases of the Psalms, then shade ; now in composed odes on the Nativity, Circumcision, and the Passion. Presently ap
“ The studious cloysters pale,
With antick pillars massy proof, peared sad poems on the Death of a
And storied windows richly dight, Fair Infant, An Epitaph on the Mar. Casting a dim religious light ;” + chioness of Winchester; then grave and noble verses On Time, At a solemn now again in the retirement of the Musick, a sonnet On his being arrived study, where the cricket chirps, where to the Age of Twenty-three, « his late the lamp of labor shines, where the spring, which no bud or
mind, alone with the noble mindsu blossom
the past, may shew'th.” At last we have him in the
“ Unsphere country with his father, and the hopes,
The spirit of Plato, to unfold dreams, first enchantments of youth, What worlds or what vast regions hold rise from his heart like the morning The immortal mind, that hath forsook
Her mansion in this fleshly nook." I breath of a summer's day. But what a distance between these calm and He was filled with this lofty philoso bright contemplations and the warm phy. Whatever the language he used, youth, the voluptuous Adonis of Shak- English, Italian, or Latin, whatever spe are! He walked, used his eyes, the kind of verse, sonnets, hymns, list :ned ; there his joys ended; they stanzas, tragedy or epic, he always reart but the poetic joys of the soul : turned to it. He praised everywhere • To hear the lark begin his flight;
chaste love, piety, generosity, heroic
It was not from scruple, but it
He took a delight in admiring, as Shak-
in dreaming, Ever on ornamental Under the hawthorn in the dale." +
poems, which were only employed to To see the village dances and gayety ; exhibit costumes and introduce fairy: to i sok upon the high triumphs" and tales in Masques, like those of Bed che“ busy hum of men” in the "tow- Jonson, he impressed his own charac. er'd cities ;” above all, to abandon ter. They were amusements for the himself to melody, to the divine roll of castle ; he made out of themi lectures sweet verse, and the charming dreams on magnanimity and constancy: one of which they spread before us in a golden them, Comus, well worked out, with a light ;-this is all; and presently, as if complete originality and extraordinary he had gone too far, to counterbalance elevation of style, is perhaps his masthis eulogy of visible joys, he summons terpiece, and is simply the eulogy of Me ancholy •
virtue. • The Reason of Church Government, book * Il Penseroso, k 31-40. (1. Mitford, L'Alegro, ho 41-68. t Ibid. l. 156-160.
Ibid. . 88ga.
Here at the beginning we are in the And thou, unblemish'd form of Chastity, heavens. A spirit, descended in the I see ye visibly, and now believe
That He, the Supreme good, t whom al midst of wild woods, repeats this ode :
things ill • Before the starry threshold of Jove's court
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance, My mansion is, where those immortal shapes Would send a glistering guardian, if need Of bright aerial spirits live insphered
were, In regions mild of calm and serene air,
To keep my life and tonour unassail'd. Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot, Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud Which men call earth; and, with low
Turn forth her silver lining on the night? thoughted care
I did not err; there does a sable cloud Confined, and pester'd in this pinfold here, Turn forth her silver lining on the night, Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being, And casts a gleam over this tufted grove," * Unmindful of the crown that Virtue gives, After this mortal change, to her true ser. She calls her brothers in a soft and vants,
solemn-breathing sound,” which“ rose Amongst the enthron'd Gods on sainted like a steam of rich distill’d perfumes,
and stole upon the air," t across the Such characters cannot speak: they “violet-embroider'd vale,” to the dissing. The drama is an antique opera, solute god whom she enchants. He Composed like the Prometheus, of sol- comes disguised as a gentle shep eun hymns. The spectator is trans- herd,” and says : ported beyond the real world. He
“ Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould does not listen to men but to senti.
Breathe such divine, enchanting ravish. ments. He hears a concert, as in
ment? Shakspeare; the Comus continues the Sure something holy lodges in that breast, Midsummer Night's Dream, as a choir
And with these raptures moves the vocal air
To testify his hidden residence. of deep men's voices continues the How sweetly did they float upon the wings glowing and sad symphony of the in- Of silence, through the empty-vaulted night, struments :
At every fall smoothing the raven down
Of darkness, till it smiled! I have oft “ Through the perplex'd paths of this drear heard wood,
My mother Circe with the syrens three, The nodding horror of whose shady brows Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades,
Threats the forlorn and wandering passeu- Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs strays a noble lady, separated from soul,
And lap it in Elysium: Scylla wept, her two brothers, troubled by the
And chid her barking waves into attention. . “sound of riot and ill-managed merri- But such a sacred and home-felt delight, ment which she hears from afar. Such sober certainty of waking bliss, The son of Circe the enchantress, sen
I never heard till now." I sual Comus enters with a charming They were heavenly songs which rod in one hand, his glass in the other, Comus heard ; Milton describes, and amid the clamor of men and women, at the same time imitates them; he with torches in their hands, headed makes us understand the saying of his like sundry sorts of wild beasts ;” it is master Plato, that virtuous melodies the hour when
teach virtue. The sounds and seas, with all their finny Circe's son has by deceit carried off drove,
the noble lady, and seats her, with Now to the moon in wavering morrice
nerves all chained up,” in a sumptu. And, on the tawny sands and shelves ous palace before a table spread with
Trip the pert faeries and the dapper elves.”+ all dainties. She accuses him, resists l'he lady is terrified and sinks on her insults him, and the style assumes ap knees : and in the misty forms which air of heroical indignation, to scorn Poat above in the pale light, perceives the offer of the tempter. the mysterious and heavenly guardians
“ When lust, who watch over her life and bonor :
By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and for
talk, O, welcome, pure-eyed Faith ; white-handed But most by lewd and lavish act of sin, Hope,
Lets in defilement to the inward parts; Thou Lovering angel, girt with golden wings; The soul grows clotted by contagion, * Comeus, l. 1-11.
# Ibid. l. 37-39.
† Ibid. l. 555-557 Tai k 113-118.
1 Ibid l. 244-764.
Imbodies and imbrutes, till she quite lose And drenches with Elysian dew
Where young Adonis oft reposes,
But far above in spangled sheen " A cold shuddering dew dips all o'er"
Celestial Cupid, her famed son, advanced Comus; he presents a cup of wine ; at Holds his dear Psyche sweet entranced the same instant the brothers, led by After her wandering labours long, the attendant Spirit, rush
Till free consent the gods among
Make her his eternal bride,
Youth and Joy; so Jove liath sworn. (be benevolent naiad, who sits
But now my task is smoothly done,
I can fly, or I can run * Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave,
Quickly to the green earth's end, In twisted braids of lilies knitting
Where the bow'd welkin slow doth bend ;
And from thence can soar as soon The loose train of thy (her) amber-dropping hair." +
To the corners of the moon.
Mortals, that would follow me, The goddess of the silver lake” rises Love Virtue, she alone is free: lightly from her “coral-paven bed,"
She can teach ye how to climb
Higher than the sphery chime; and her chariot “ of turkis blue and
Or, if Virtue feeble were, emerald-green,” sets her down
Heaven itself would stoop to her." ** By the rushy-fringed bank, Where grows the willow, and the osier awkwardnesses, strangenesses, exag,
Ought I to have pointed out the dank."
gerated expressions, the inheritance of Sprinkled by this cool and chaste the Renaissance, a philosophical quarhand, the lady leaves the “venom'd rel, the work of a reasoner and a Pla. seat which held her spell-bound; the tonist?' I did not perceive these faults. brothers, with their sister, reign peace- All was effaced before the spectacle of fully in their father's palace; and the the bright Renaissance, transformed Spirit, who has conducted all, pro- by austere philosophy, and of sublimity nounces this ode, in which poetry leads worshipped upon an altar of flowers. up to philosophy; the voluptuous light That, I think, was his last profane of an Oriental legend beams on the poem. Already, in the one which folElysium of the good, and all the splen- lowed, Lycidas, celebrating in the style dors of nature assemble to render vir- of Virgil the death of a beloved friend, t tue more seductive.
he suffers Puritan wrath and prepos" To the ocean now I fly,
sessions to shine through, inveighs And those happy climes that lie
against the bad teaching and tyranny Where day never shuts his eye
of the bishops, and speaks of “that Up in the broad fields of the sky:
two-handed engine at the door, ready There I suck the liquid air All amidst the gardens fair
to smite (but) once, and smite no Of Hesperus, and his daughters three more.” On his return from Italy, conThat sing about the golden tree:
troversy and action carried him away; Along the crisped shades and bowers Kevels the spruce and jocund spring;
prose begins, poetry is arrested. From The Graces, and the rosy-bosom'd Hours,
time to time a patriotic or religious Thither all their bounties bring;
sonnet breaks the long silence; now to There eternal Summer dwells,
praise the chief Puritans, Cromwell And west winds, with musky wing, About the cedar'n alleys fling
Vane, Fairfax; now to celebrate the Nard and cassia's balmy smells.
death of a pious lady, or the life of a Iris there with humid bow
virtuous young lady ;' once to pray Waters the odorous banks, that blow
God" to avenge his slaughter'd saints, Flowers of more mingled hew Than her purfled scarf can shew;
the unhappy Protestants of Piedmont,
“whose bones lie scatter'd on the Al Comus, l. 463-473. It is the elder brother pine mountains cold;" again, on his who utters these lines when speaking of his sisver.-TR. Ibid. 1. 861-863.
* Ibid. l. 976-1023. * Ibidl 890
Edward King died in 1697.
second wife, dead a year after their discussion has ended by subduing the narriage, his well beloved “saint ”. lyric flight; accumulated learning by " brought to me, like Alcestis, from choking the original genius. the grave,
came, vested all in no more sings sublime verse, he ro white, pure as her mind; loyal|lates or harangues, in grave verse. He friendships, sorrows bowed to or sub- no longer invents a personal style ; he duet, aspirations generous or stoical, imitates antique tragedy or epic. In which reverses did but purify. Old Samson Agonistes he hits upon a cold age came; cut off from power, action, and lofty tragedy, in Paradise Regained ven hope, he returned to the grand on a cold and noble epic; he composes dreams of his youth. As of old, he an imperfect and sublime poem in Parwent out of this lower world in search adise Lost. of the sublime; for the actual is petty, Would to Heaven he could have writand the familiar seems dull. He se ten it as he tried, in the shape of a jects his new characters on the verge of drama, or better, as the Prothèmeus of sacred antiquity, as he selected his old Æschylus, as a lyric opera! A pecuones on the verge of fabulous antiquity, liar kind of subject demands a pecubecause distance adds to their stature; liar kind of style ; if you resist, you and habit, ceasing to measure, ceases destroy your work, too happy if, in also to depreciate them. Just now we the deformed medley, chance produces had creatures of fancy : Joy, daughter and preserves a few beautiful frag: of Zephyr and Aurora; Melancholy, ments. To bring the supernatural daughter of Vesta and Saturn; Co- upon the scene, you must not continue mus, son of Circe, ivy-crowned, god in your every-day mood; if you do, you of echoing woods and turbulent exo look as if you did not believe in cess. Now we have Samson, the despis. Vision rereals it, and the style of er of giants, the elect of Israel's God, vision must express it. When Spenthe destroyer of idolaters, Satan and ser writes, he dreams. We listen to nis peers, Christ and his angels; they the happy concerts of his aerial music, come and rise before our eyes like and the varying train of his fancisuperhuman statues; and their far re- ful apparitions unfolds like a vapor moval, rendering vain our curious before our accommodating and dazzled hands, preserves our admiration and gaze. When Dante writes, he is rapt; their majesty. We rise further and and his cries of anguish, his transports, higher, to the origin of things, amongst the incoherent succession of his infereternal beings, to the commencement nal or mystical phantomo, carry us with of thought and life, to the battles of him into the invisible world which he God, in this unknown world where describes. Ecstasy alone renders vis. sentiments and existences, raised above ible and credible the objects of ecstasy, the ken of man, elude his judgment If you tell us of the exploits of the and criticism to command his venera- Deity as you tell us of Cromwell's, in a tion and awe; the sustained song of grave and lofty tone, we do not see solemn verse unfolds the actions of God; and as He constitutes the whole these shadowy figures; and then we of your poem, we do not see any thing: + xperience the same emotion as in a We conclude that you have accepted cathedral, while the music of the organ a tradition, that you adorn it with the rolls along, among the arches, and fictions of your mind, that you are a amidst the brilliant light of the tapers preacher, not a prophet, a decorator, clouds of incense hide from our view not a poet. We find that you sing of the colossal columns.
God as the vulgar pray to Him, after a But if the heart remains unchanged, formula learnt, not from spontaneous the genius has become transformed. emotion. Change your style, or, ratter Manliness has supplanted youth. The if you can, change your emotion. Try richness has decreased, the severity and discover in yourself the ancieni has increased. Seventeen years of fervor of psalmists and apostles, to re fighting and misfortune have steeped create the divine legend, to experience his soul in religious ideas. Mythology the sublime agitations by which the in has yielded to theology; the Fabit of 'spired and disturbed mind perceiver