Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

PAGE NO.

a certain depth and chivalry of feeling,---in the rare
and noble quality of disinterestedness (to put it in
one word), --- he has no superior, hardly perhimps an
equal, amongst our Poets; and after or beside
Shakespeare's Sonnets, his Astrophel and Stella, in
the Editor's judgment, offers the most intense and
powerful picture of the passion of love in the whole
range of our poetry.--Hundreds of years;
rapture of love,' says Mr. Ruskin; 'A lover like
this does not believe his mistress can grow old

· The very

or die.'

12 19 Readers who have visited Italy will be reminded of

more than one picture by this gorgeous Vision of
Beauty, equally sublime and pure in its Paradisaical
naturalness. Lodge wrote it on a voyage to the
Islands of Terceras and the Canaries;' and he
seems to have caught, in those southern seas, no
small portion of the qualities which marked the
almost contemporary Art of Venice,-the glory and
the glow of Veronese, Titian, or Tintoret.- From the
same romance is No. 71: a charming picture in the
purest style of the later Italian Renaissance.
The clear (1. 1) is the crystalline or outermost
heaven of the old cosmography. For a fair there's
fairer none: If you desire a Beauty, there is none

more beautiful than Rosaline, 14 22 Another gracious lyric from an Elizabethan Song

book, first reprinted (it is believed) in Mr. W.

J. Linton's 'Rare Poems,' in 1883. 15 23 that fair thou owest : that beauty thou ownest. 16 25 From one of the three Song-books of T. Campion,

who appears to have been author of the words which he set to music. His merit as a lyrical poet (recognized in his own time, but since then forgotten) has been again brought to light by Mr. Bullen's taste and research : swerving ist. 2) is his

conjecture for changing in the text of 1601. 20 31 the star Whose worth's unknown although his height

be taken: apparently, Whose stellar infuence is un calculated, although his angular altitude from the plane of the astrolabe or artificial horizon used by

astrologers has been determined. 20 32 This lovely song appears, as here given, in Putten

ham's ' arte of English Poesie,' 1589. A longer and inferior form was published in the 'Arcadia' of 1590 ; but Puttenham's prefatory words clearly assign

his version to Sidney's own authorship. 23 37 keel : keep cooler by stirring round. 24 39 expense : loss.

40 prease : press. 25 41 Nativity, once in the main of light : when a star has

risen and entered on the full stream of kigka another of the astrological phrases no longer familjar,

"AGE NO.

Crooked eclipses : as coming athwart the Sun's
apparent course.
Wordsworth, thinking probably of the Venus' and
the 'Lucrece,' said finely of Shakespeare ; 'Shake-
speare could not have written an Epic; he would
have died of plethora of thought.' This prodigality
of nature is exemplified equally in his Sonnets. The
copious selection here given (which from the wealth
of the material, required greater consideration than
any other portion of the Editor's task),-contains
many that will not be fully felt and understood with.
out some earnestness of thought on the reader's part.

But he is not likely to regret the labour. 26 42 upon misprision growing : either, granted in error,

or, on the growth of contempt. 43 With the tone of this Sonnet compare Hamlet's

Give me that man That is not passion's slave' &c. Shakespeare's writings show the deepest sensitiveness to passion :-hence the attraction he felt in the

contrasting effects of apathy. 26 44 grame : sorrow. Renaissance influences long im

peded the return of English poets to the charming

realism of this and a few other poems by Wyat. 28 45 Pandion in the ancient fable was father to

Philomela. 29 47 In the old legend it is now Philomela, now Procne

(the swallow) who suffers violence from Tereus. This song has a fascination in its calm intensity of passion; that 'sad earnestness and vivid exactness' which Cardinal Newman ascribes to the

master-pieces of ancient poetry. 31 50 proved : approved.

51 censures : judges.

52 Exquisite in its equably-balanced metrical flow. 32 53 Judging by its style, this beautiful example of old

simplicity and feeling may, perhaps, be referred to

the earlier years of Elizabeth. Late forgot : lately. 35 57 Printed in a little Anthology by Nicholas Breton,

1597. It is, however, a stronger and finer piece of work than any known to be his.--St. 1 silly: simple; dole: grief; chief: chiefly. St. 3 If there be . obscure : Perhaps, if there be any who speak harshly of thee, thy pain may plead for pity from Fate. This poem, with 60 and 143, are each graceful

variations of a long popular theme. 36 68 That busy archer : Cupid. Descries: used actively;

points out.--'The last line of this poem is a little obscured by transposition. He means, Do they call

ungratefulness there a virtue ?' (C. Lamb). 37 59 White lope: suggested, Mr. Bullen notes, by a

passage in Propertius (iii, 20) describing Spirits in the lower world :

Vobiscum est Iope, vobiscum candida Tyro.

PAGE NO. 38 62 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. 39 63 ramage : confused noise. 41 66 '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 earth, earthy. Both have that intenseness of feeling, whicu seems to resolve itself into the element which it

contemplates.' 43 70 Paraphrased from an Italian madrigal.

Non so conoscer poi Se voi le rose, o sian le rose in voi. 44 72 crystal : fairness. 45 73 stare : starling. 74 This 'Spousal Verse' was written in honour of the

Ladies Elizabeth and Katherine Somerset. Nowhere has Spenser more emphatically displayed himself as the very poet of Beauty: The Renaissance impulse in England is here seen at its highest and purest. The genius of Spenser, like Chaucer's, does itself justice only in poems of some length. Hence it is impossible to represent it in this volume by other pieces of equal merit, but of impracticable dimensions. And the same applies to such poems as the

Lover's Lament or the Ancient Mariner. 46 entrailed: twisted. Feateously : elegantly. 48 shend : shame. 49 a noble peer: Robert Devereux, second Lord Essex,

then at the height of his brief triumph after taking Cadiz; hence the allusion following to the Pillars of Hercules, placed near Gades by ancient legend.

Elisa: Elizabeth. 50 twins of Jove: the stars Castor and Pollux: baldric

belt; the zodiac. 52 79 This lyric may with very high probability be assigned

to Campion, in whose first Book of Airs it appeared (1601). The evidence sometimes quoted ascribing it to Lord Bacon appears to be valueless.

[ocr errors]

Summary of Book Second.

This division, embracing generally the latter eighty years of the Seventeenth century, contains the close of our Early poetical style and the cornmencement 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 splen

A A

did Odes are far in advance of any prior attempts, Spenser's excepted: they exhibit that wider and grander range which years and experience and the struggles of the time conferred on Poetry. Our Muses now give expression to political feel. ing, to religious thought, to a high philosophic statesmanship in writers such as Marvell, Herbert, and Wotton : whilst in Marvell and Milton, again, we find noble attempts, hitherto rare in our literature, at pure description of nature, destined in our own age to be continued and equalled. Meanwhile the poetry of simple passion, although before 1660 often deformed by verbal fancies and conceits of thought, and afterwards 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 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.

[ocr errors]

PAGE NO.
58 85 1. 8 whist: hushed.

1. 32 than : obsolete for then : Pan: used here for tho

Lord of all. 59 1. 38 consort; Milton's spelling of this word, here

and elsewhere, has been followed, as it is uncertain whether he used it in the sense of accompanying, or

simply for concert. 64 1. 21 Lars and Lemures : household gods and spirits

of relations dead. Flamens (1. 24) Roman priests.

That twice-batter'd god (1. 29) Dagon. 62 1. 6 Osiris, the Egyptian god of Agriculture (here,

perhaps by confusion with Apis, figured as a Bull), was torn to pieces by Typho and embalmed after death in a sacred chest. This mythe, reproduced in Syria and Greece in the legends of Thammuz, Adonis, and perhaps Absyrtus, may have originally signified the annual death of the Sun or the Year under the influences of the winter darkness. Horus, the son of Osiris, as the New Year, in his turn overcomes Typho. L. 8 unshower'd grass : as watered by the Nile only. L. 33 youngest-teemed : last-born. Bright-harness'd

(1. 37) armoured. 64 87 The Late Massacre : the Vaudois persecution, carried

on in 1655 by the Duke of Savoy. No more mighty Sonnet than this collect in verse,' as it has been justly named, probably can be found in any language. Readers should observe that it is constructed on the original Italian or Provençal model. This form, in a

PAGE NO.

language such as ours, not affluent in rhyme, presents great difficulties; the rhymes are apt to be forced, or the substance commonplace. But, when successfully handled, it has a unity and a beauty of effect which place the strict Sonnet above the less compact and less lyrical systems adopted by Shakespeare, Sidney,

Spenser, and other Elizabethan poets. 85 88 Cromwell returned from Ireland in 1650, and Marvell

probably wrote his lines soon after, whilst living at
Nunappleton in the Fairfax household. It is hence
not surprising that (st. 21–24) he should have been
deceived by Cromwell's professed submissiveness to
the Parliament which, when it declined to register
his decrees, he expelled by armed violence :-one
despotism, by natural law, replacing another. The
poet's insight has, however, truly prophesied that
result in his last two lines.
This Ode, beyond doubt one of the finest in our lan.
guage, and more in Milton's style than has been
reached by any other poet, is occasionally obscure
from imitation of the condensed Latin syntax. The
meaning of st. 5 is rivalry or hostility are the same
to a lofty spirit, and limitation more hateful than op-
position. The allusion in st. 11 is to the old physical
doctrines of the non-existence of a vacuum and the
impenetrability of matter :-in st. 17 to the omen
traditionally connected with the foundation of the
Capitol at Rome :-forced, fated. The ancient belief
that certain years in life complete natural periods
and are hence peculiarly exposed to death, is intro-

duced in st. 26 by the word climacteric. 68 89 Lycidas : The person here lamented is Milton's col

lege contemporary, Edward King, drowned in 1637
whilst crossing from Chester to Ireland.
Strict Pastoral

Poetry was first written or perfected by the Dorian Greeks settled in Sicily : but the conventional use of it, exhibited more magnificently in Lycidas than in any other pastoral, is apparently of Roman origin. Milton, employing the noble free. dom of a great artist, has here united ancient mythology, with what may be called the modern mythology of Camus and Saint Peter,-to direct Christian images. Yet the poem, if it gains in historical interest, suffers in poetry by the harsh intrusion of the writer's narrow and violent theological politics.The metrical structure of this glorious elegy is partly

derived from Italian models. 69 1. 11 Sisters of the sacred well : the Muses, said to

frequent the Pierian Spring at the foot of Mount

Olympus. 70 1. 10 Mona : Anglesea, called by the Welsh poets, the

Dark Island, from its dense forests. Deva (1. 11) the
Dee : a river which may have derived its magical

Α Α 2

[ocr errors]

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »