Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

It is wonderful how generally the formalists have missed their way to the interpretation of this poem. It is sometimes declared with oracular decisiveness, that, if this be poetry, all they have been accustomed to call poetry must change its name. As if it were not a law that every original poet must be in a sense new; as if Æschylus were not a poet because he did not write an epic like Homer: or as if the Romantic poets were not poets because they departed from every rule of classical poetry. And as if, indeed, this very objection had not been brought against the Romantic school, and Shakespeare himself pronounced by French critics a “buffoon”: till Schlegel showed that all life makes to itself its own form, and that Shakespeare's form had its living laws. So spoke the “ Edinburgh Review” of Byron; but it could not arrest his career. So spoke Byron himself of Wordsworth; but he would be a bold man, or a very flippant one, who would dare to say now that Wordsworth is not a great poet. And the day will come when the slow, sure judgment of Time shall give to Tennyson his undisputed place among the English poets as a true one, of rare merit and originality. — F. W. Robertson.

I conceive that this monumental and superlative poem has done more than any other literary performance of the nineteenth century to express and to consolidate all that is best in the life of England, its domestic affection, its patriotic feeling, its healthful morality, its rational and earnest religion. Happy is the nation whose accepted and greatest poet thus voices its deepest instincts. Let who will adjure Englishmen to galvanize the corpse of Paganism, I shall take my place in the throng of simple folk who listen, well pleased, to the home-bred, heart-felt, honest strains of In Memoriam. Peter Bayne.

It is the cry of the bereaved Psyche into the dark infinite after the vanished love. His friend is nowhere in his sight, and God is silent. Death, God's final compulsion to prayer, in its dread, its gloom, its utter stillness, its apparent nothingness, urges the cry. Moanings over the dead are mingled with the profoundest questionings of philosophy, the signs of nature, and the story of Jesus, while now and then the star of the morning, bright Phosphor, flashes a few rays through the shifting, cloudy dark

And if the sun has not arisen on the close of the book, yet the aurora of the coming dawn gives light enough to make the onward journey possible and hopeful. — George MacDonald.

ness.

ELEGIACAL POEMS

By William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, John Webster, Henry Vaughan,

John Milton, Thomas Chatterton, Robert Burns, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, Charles Lamb, William Cullen Bryant, and others

If I were to give a sensible image of Elegy, I should not paint her as many have done, in long robes of sorrow, with dishevelled hair and a veiled brow, weeping over a coffin. I would rather represent her as a nymph, seated placidly, with her head upon her hand, full of feeling and contemplation. On her neglected locks should hang a torn garland, and in her lap should lie a wreath of faded flowers. A tomb should appear in the distance, half-concealed by a dark grove of cypresses. Behind should rise a hill full of budding roses, and illumined with the rays of the rising sun. - JACOBI.

Elegiacal Poems.

I.

EPITAPH.

HERE lies a piece of Christ; a star in dust;
A vein of gold; a china dish that must
Be used in heaven, when God shall feast the just.

ROBERT WILDE (17th Century).

II.

EPITAPH.

In this marble casket lies
A matchless jewel of rich price;
Whom Nature in the world's disdain
But showed, and put it up again.

ANON.

III.

EPITAPH ON THE COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE,

UNDERNEATH this sable hearse
Lies the subject of all verse,
SIDNEY's sister, PEMBROKE's mother;
Death! ere thou hast slain another,
Learn'd and fair, and good as she,
Time shall throw a dart at thee.

BEN JONSON (1574-1637).

IV.

EPITAPH ON ELIZABETH L. H.

Wouldst thou hear what man can say
In a little ? Reader, stay.

Underneath this stone doth lie
As much beauty as could die :
Which in life did harbour give
To more virtue than doth live.
If at all she had a fault,
Leave it buried in this vault.
One name was ELIZABETH,
The other, let it sleep with death :
Fitter, when it died, to tell,
Than that it lived at all. Farewell !

BEN JONSON (1574-1637).

V.

A SEA DIRGE.

Full fathom five thy father lies:

Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:

Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange;
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell :
Hark! now I hear them,
Ding, dong, Bell.

William SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616).

« ForrigeFortsæt »