« ForrigeFortsæt »
"So the rude rock by power divine impell'd, "Gush'd forth in streams, and cheer'd the thirsty field. "Next Charity,--by no proud pageants known, "Nor crown, nor sweeping train, nor azure zone. "If chance remembrance wakes the generous deed, "No pride elates her, and she claims no meed; "And timorous ever of the vulgar gaze, "She loves the action, but disclaims the praise. "—Yet not of Virtue's open cause afraid, "Where public blessings ask her public aid, ' "She shines superior to the wretch's sneer, "And bold in conscious honour, knows no fear. "Hence rose yon pile, where sickness finds relief, "Where lenient care allays the weight of grief; *
-Yon spacious roof, where hush'd in calm repose, "The drooping widow half forgets her woes:† "" -Yon calm retreat, where screen'd from every ill, "The helpless orphan's throbbing heart lies still ;‡ "And finds delighted, in the peaceful dome, "A better parent, and a happier home."
There are, besides, Dyer's Grongar Hill, Jago's Edge Hill, Mr. M'Neil's Carse of Stirling, and many other poems of this kind in our language, of considerable merit.
Perhaps the Fleece of Dyer, Phillips's Cyder,
* The public Infirmary.
The Alms-houses adjoining the Infirmary. + The Blue-coat Hospital.
and Somerville's Chace, may come under this description. They are now little read; but for minuter observations on Denham, Phillips and Dyer, I must refer you to the first of critics, Dr. Johnson.
Thomson's Seasons may be considered as of a mixed character, since they contain at least as much sentiment as description; but that remark will perhaps apply to most of those I have mentioned. After Dr. Johnson's admirable criticism on the Seasons, I feel incapable of saying a single word. That critic remarks that "His mode of thinking and of expressing his thoughts is original: his blank verse is no more the verse of Milton, or of any other poet, than the rhymes of Prior are the rhymes of Cowley." "The reader (he adds) of the Seasons wonders that he never saw before what Thomson shews him, and that he never yet has felt what Thomson impresses." The same author judiciously observes that "the great defect of the Seasons is the want of method;" and that "his diction is sometimes too exuberant, and may sometimes be charged with filling the ear more than the mind."
- From such poems as these the gradation is
easy to those which are chiefly descriptive of sentiment. In this line there is scarcely any thing that can bear competition with the "Traveller" and "Deserted Village" of Dr. Goldsmith. With these you are well acquainted, and I have already sufficiently indulged in quotations from them. "The "Deserted Village" is a more interesting and finished poem than the "Traveller." There is little of method in either; but probably by an attention to method they would have been spoiled.
There are many other excellent poems which may be classed under the sentimental descriptive, among which I shall only mention Mr. Rogers' Pleasures of Memory, and Mr. Campbell's Pleasures of Hope. There are some excellent short pieces of this kind also in my friend Mr. M'Neil's collection of Poems.
As I have already indulged in paying one tribute to early friendship, let me present you with a short extract from a poem which, exellent as it is, still is not more estimable than its author
"The beauteous maid, that bids the world adieu, "Oft of that world will snatch a fond review;
"Oft at the shrine neglect her beads, to trace "Some social scene, some dear familiar face; 66 Forgot, when first a father's stern controul "Chas'd the gay visions of her opening soul: "And ere, with iron tongue, the vesper-bell "Bursts thro' the cypress-walk, the convent-cell, "Oft will her warm and wayward heart revive, "To love and joy still tremblingly alive; "The whisper'd vow, the chaste caress prolong, "Weave the light dance, and swell the choral song; "With wrapt ear drink th' enchanting serenade; "And, as it melts along the moonlight glade,
"To each soft note return as soft a sigh,
And bless the youth that bids her slumbers fly.”
Elegy.-Lyric Poetry.-Epistles.—Tales and Fables.-Ovid.-Tibullus.-Propertius.
ELEGY, as a poetical composition, rises still higher in the scale than didactic, and even than descriptive poetry. It indeed approaches to the lyric, which is, if I may so express myself, the most poetical of all poetry. The language of elegy ought to be nearly as much abstracted from that of common life as the language of the ode, whereas both didactic and descriptive poetry often condescend to familiar topics, and those expressed in language very little above that of polished prose or conversation. Elegy also admits of nearly as much figure as lyric poetry itself. Indeed figurative language, and fine and interesting allusions, though with less