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(SYDNEY DOBELL was born at Cranbrook in Kent in 1824, was educated at home, and for the greater part of his life was engaged in business ir. Gloucestershire. His first published poem The k man, inspired by his lifelong enthusiasm for the Italian cause, appeared in 1850; his next, Balder, was finished in 1853. In 1855 he wrote in conjunction with Alexander Smith a series of sonnets, suggested by the Crimean struggle. This volume was followed by another, of descriptive and lyrical verses, on the same theme, England in Time of War. Subsequently his health gave way, and after living for several years, the winters of which he passed abroad, more or less in the condition of an invalid, he died at Barton End House near Nailsworth, in 1874. A complete edition of his poems was published in 1875.]

The above outline in great measure accounts for the fact that most of Dobell's poetry was the product of his earlier yearsthe last eighteen of his life having been spent in forced abstinence from literary labour. The success of his first considerable work, The Roman, was rapid and unmistakable. The theme and its treatment, in accord with popular sentiment, in no less degree the flow of the lyrics, the strong sweep of the graver verse, the frequent richness of the imagery, enlisted the favour alike of the general public and of discerning critics. With defects readily condoned to the writer's youth, and many minor merits, its main charm lay in the novelty of its aim. It was hailed as the product of a man of refined culture, whose sympathies went beyond the mere love of ' harmony in tones and numbers' lisp,' and crossed the silver streak’to welcome the wider movements of his age. The Roman was continental in a sense that the work of none of our poets, since Byron, had been. Balder, the embodiment of the author's deepest though still somewhat chaotic thought, was less fortunate. The incomplete and painful plot was felt to be unnatural, and many of the details were disagreeable. The luxuriance of its imagery was like cloth of gold thrown over the limbs of a Frankenstein. But few contemporary English poets had scaled the heights of its finest passages. Every chapter bore witness to the author's analytic subtlety and passionate power. Few descriptions of external nature surpass the master sketches of Balder: they are drawn by the eye and pencil of one who, from a watch-tower on the hills, outgazed the stars and paid homage, like the Persian, to a hundred dawns, and

'hung his room with thought
Morning and noon, and eve, and night, and all

The changing seasons.' Dobell's Chamouni almost rivals that of Coleridge. His springs are redolent of Shelley. The pastoral of the summer day on the hills (Scene 24) recalls the Bohemia of The Winter's Tale. The music of Amy's songs ripples by the terror and tumult of the tragedy with a dying fall like the sweet south. Balder is not likely to become popular in our generation : but, for all its flagrant defects, it will keep its place as a mine for poets.

In spite of manifest faults, on the side of violence or of occasional obscurity, Dobell seems to us to claim a permanent place among the English poets of this century. He belonged to the so-called Spasmodic school, with which he was especially during his residence in Edinburgh often associated, in virtue of defects shared with men otherwise indefinitely his inferiors. Of these the chief were involutions of style, recalling the conceits of Donne and others of the absurdly named ' Metaphysical' school of the seventeenth century, a provoking excess of metaphor, and a weakness, latterly outgrown, for outré 'fine things. But from the graver intellectual offences of the galvanic and merely sentimental schools he was wholly free. Though unequal, his verse at its best is both strong and delicate ; his imagery, though redundant, original and incisive. But the great merit of his work is that it is steeped in that higher atmosphere in which all enduring literature breathes and moves. In our age his most distinctive quality is the intensity of thought, the freshness, depth and width of sympathy only possible to 'the breed of noble bloods,' and which endeared him to all who were privileged to enjoy the liberal education of his society.'



[From The Roman.]

There went an incense through the land one aight,
Through the hushed holy land, when tired men slept.

[Interlude of music.
The haughty sun of June had walked, long days,
Through the tall pastures which, like mendicants,
Hung their sere heads and sued for rain : and he
Had thrown thern none. And now it was high hay-time,
Through the sweet valley all the flowery wealth
At once lay low, at once ambrosial blood
Cried to the moonlight from a thousand fields.
And through the land the incense went that night,
Through the hushed holy land when tired men slept.
It fell upon the sage ; who with his lamp
Put out the light of heaven. He felt it come
Sweetening the musiy tomes, like the fair shape
Of that one blighted love, which from the past
Steals oft among his mouldering thoughts of wisdom.
And She came with it, borne on airs of youth;
Old days sang round her, old memorial days;
She crowned with tears, they dressed in flowers, all faded--
And the night-fragrance is a harmony
All through the old man's soul. Voices of eld,
The home, the church upon the village green,
Old thoughts that circle like the birds of Even
Round the grey spire. Soft sweet regrets, like sunset
Lighting old windows with gleams day had not.
Ghosts of dead years, whispering old silent names
Through grass-grown pathways, by halls mouldering now.
Childhood—the fragrance of forgotten fields ;
Manhood—the unforgotten fields whose fragrance
Passed like a breath ; the time of buttercups,
The fluttering time of sweet forget-me-nots ;
The time of passion and the rose—the hay-time
Of that last summer of hope! The old man weep,

The old man weeps.
His aimless hands the joyless books put by;
As one that dreams and fears to wake, the sage
With vacant eye stifles the trembling taper,
Lets in the moonlight-and for once is wise.



Men say, Columbia, we shall hear thy guns.
But in what tongue shall be thy battle-cry?
Not that our sires did love in years gone by,
When all the Pilgrim Fathers were little sons
In merrie homes of Englaunde? Back, and see
Thy satchelled ancestor ! Behold, he runs
To mine, and, clasped, they tread the equal lea
To the same village-school, where side by side
They spell 'Our Father.' Hard by, the twin pride
Of that grey hall whose ancient or el gleams
Thro' yon baronial pines, with looks of light
Our sister-mothers sit beneath one tree.
Meanwhile our Shakespeare wanders past and dreams
His Helena and Hermia. Shall we fight?

Nor force nor fraud shall sunder us? Oh ye
Who north or south, on east or western land,
Native to noble sounds, say truth for truth,
Freedom for freedom, love for love, and God
For God ; oh ye who in eternal youth
Speak with a living and creative flood
This universal English, and do stand
Its breathing book; live worthy of that grand
Heroic utterance-parted, yet a whole,
Far, yet unsevered,-children brave and free
Of the great Mother-tongue, and ye shall be
Lords of an Empire wide as Shakespeare's soul,
Sublime as Milton's immemorial theme,
And rich as Chaucer's speech, and fair as Spenser's dream.


Last night bei.eath the foreign stars I stood,
And saw the thoughts of those at home go by
To the great grave upon the hill of blood.
Upon the darkness they went visibly,
Each in the vesture of its own distress.
Among them there came One, frail as a sigh,
And like a creature of the wilderness
Dug with her bleeding hands. She neither cried
Nor wept; nor did she see the many stark
And dead that lay unburied at her side.
All night she toiled ; and at that time of dawn,
When Day and Night do change their More and Less,
And Day is More, I saw the melting Dark
Stir to the last, and knew she laboured on.


[From Balder.]

This dear English land ! This happy England, loud with brooks and birds, Shining with harvests, cool with dewy trees And bloomed from hill to dell ; but whose best flowers Are daughters, and Ophelia still more fair Than any rose she weaves ; whose noblest floods The pulsing torrent of a nation's heart ; Whose forests stronger than her native oaks Are living men ; and whose unfathomed lakes For ever calm the unforgotten dead In quiet graveyards willowed seemly round, O’er which To-day bends sad, and sees his face, Whose rocks are rights, consolidate of old Through unremembered years, around whose base The ever-surging pevples roll and roar Perpetual, as around her cliffs the seas That only wash them whiter; and whose mountains

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