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POETRY THAT POETS LOVE.
WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR-LEIGH HUNT-PERCY BYSSHE
To no one can the words that I have placed at the head of this paper apply more perfectly than to Mr. Landor. No poetry was ever dearer to poets than his. Nearly fifty years ago, we find Southey writing of and to the author of "Gebir," with a respectful admiration seldom felt by one young man for another; and, from that hour to the present, all whom he would himself most wish to please have showered upon him praises that cannot die. The difficulty in selecting from his works is the abundance; but I prefer the Hellenics, that charming volume, because few, very few, have given such present life to classical subjects. I begin with the Preface, so full of grace and modesty.
"It is hardly to be expected that ladies and gentlemen will leave, on a sudden, their daily promenade, skirted by Turks, and shepherds, and knights, and plumes, and palfreys, of the finest Tunbridge manufacture, to look at these rude frescoes, delineated on an old wall, high up and sadly weak in colouring. As in duty bound, we can wait. The reader (if there
should be one) will remember that Sculpture and Painting have never ceased to be occupied with the scenes and figures which we venture once more to introduce in poetry, it being our belief that what is becoming in two of the fine arts, is not quite unbecoming in a third, the one which, indeed, gave birth to them."
And now comes the very first story; with its conclusion that goes straight to the heart.
THRASYMEDES AND EUNÖE.
Who will away to Athens with me? Who
Loves choral songs and maidens crowned with flowers
I promise ye, as many as are here,
The sea smiles bright before us. What white sail
To overtake them. Are they menaces
We hear? And shall the strong repulse the weak,
Art thou the man? 'Twas Hippias. He had found
"Brother! O brother Hippias! Oh, if love,
My Thrasymedes, with his cloak alone
Protecting his own head and mine from harm."
66 Ay, before all the gods,
The sword was up, And yet he kissed her twice. Some god withheld The arm of Hippias; his proud blood seethed slower And smote his breast less angrily; he laid
His hand on the white shoulder and spoke thus: "Ye must return with me. A second time Offended, will our sire Peisistratos
Pardon the affront? Thou shouldst have asked thyself That question ere the sail first flapt the mast." "Already thou hast taken life from me ;
Put up thy sword," said the sad youth, his eyes
Look on them both awhile: they saw not him,
"Well hast thou performed thy duty," Firmly and gravely said Peisistratos.
"Nothing, then, rash young man! could turn thy heart From Eunöe my daughter ?”
Shall ever turn it.
And love but once.
I can die but once
Nay, she shall see what thou canst bear for her." "O father! Shut me in my chamber, shut me In my poor mother's tomb, dead or alive,
But never let me see what he can bear;
I know how much that is when borne for me."
Thou hadst evinced the madness of thy passion,
And now wouldst bear from home and plenteousness
To poverty and exile, this my child."
Then shuddered Thrasymedes, and exclamed,
The daughter of Peisistratos was born
Ah! nor for me!" He would have wept, but one
The justice of Peisistratos, the love
He spake; and on the morrow they were one.
Did not Mr. Landor write this scene of Orestes one fine June morning, seated on a garden-roller in the court before Mr. Kenyon's house in London? fitting home for such an inspiration! And is not that the way that such scenes are written? not sitting down with malice prepense to compose poetry, but letting it come when it will and how it will, and striking it off at a heat.
THE DEATH OF CLYTEMNESTRA.
ORESTES AND ELECTRA.
Electra. Pass on, my brother! she awaits the wretch, Dishonourer, despoiler, murderer
None other name shall name him-she awaits
As would a lover
Heavenly Gods! what poison
O'erflows my lips!
Strike her, the tigress!
Think upon our father-
That he might gladden and teach us how proud
His joyous head, and calling thee his crown.
Bite not thy lip, Nor tramp as an unsteady colt the ground, Nor stare against the wall, but think again How better than all fathers was our father.
Orestes. Loose me, then! for this white hand, Electra, Hath fastened upon mine with fiercer grasp
Than I can grasp the sword.
Go, sweet Orestes, I knew not I was holding thee-Avenge him!