« ForrigeFortsæt »
Thou dread ambassador from earth to heaven,
One cannot look too often upon Mr. Wordsworth's charming female portrait :
She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight:
A lovely apparition sent
To be a moment's ornament;
I saw her upon nearer view
A spirit, yet a woman too!
A countenance in which did meet
And now I see with eye serene
I would add " Laodamia," if it were not too long, and the "Yew-trees," if I had not a misgiving that I have somewhere planted those deathless trunks before. In how many ways is a great poet glorious! I met with a few lines taken from that noble poem the other day in the "Modern Painters,” cited for the landscape:
Huge trunks, and each particular trunk a growth
Upcoiling and inveterately convolved!
Beneath whose shade
With sheddings from the pinal umbrage tinged
and so forth. Mr. Ruskin cited this fine passage for the picture, I for the personifications :
May meet at noontide, Fear and trembling Hope
And Time the shadow!
Both quoted the lines for different excellences, and both were right.
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.
AMONGST the strange events of these strange days of ours, when revolutions and counter-revolutions, constitutions changed one week and rechanged the next, seem to crowd into a fortnight the work of a century, annihilating time, just as railways and electric telegraphs annihilate space-in these days of curious novelty, nothing has taken me more pleasantly by surprise than the school of true and original poetry that has sprung up among our blood relations (I had well nigh called them our fellow-countrymen) across the Atlantic; they who speak the same tongue and inherit the same literature. And of all this flight of genuine poets, I hardly know any one so original as Dr. Holmes. For him we can find no living prototype; to track his footsteps, we must travel back as far as Pope or Dryden; and to my mind it would be well if some of our own bards would take the same journey-provided always it produced the same result. Lofty, poignant, graceful, grand, high of thought, and clear of word, we could fancy ourselves reading some pungent page of "Absalom and Achitophel," or of the "Moral Epistles," if it
were not for the pervading nationality, which, excepting Whittier, American poets have generally wanted, and for that true reflection of the manners and the follies of the age, without which satire would fail alike of its purpose and its name.
The work of which I am about to offer a sample, all too brief, is a little book much too brief itself; a little book of less than forty pages, described in the title-page as" Astræa-a Poem, delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Yale College, August 1850, by Oliver Wendell Holmes, and printed at the request of the Society."
The introduction tells most gracefully, in verse that rather, perhaps, implies than relates, the cause of the author's visit to the college, dear to him as the place of his father's education:
What secret charm long whispering in mine ear,
Nameless, unfriended, yet by Nature blest
The clear-hued cheek, whose burning current glows
Say shall my hand with pious love restore,
How kindness ripened, till the youth might dare,