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joins connected thought, and good sense, with the highest beauties of poetry. He does not often aspire beyond that middle region which I mentioned as belonging to the ode; and those odes in which he attempts the sublime, are perhaps not always his best.* The peculiar character in which he excels, is grace and elegance; and in this style of composition, no poet has ever attained to a greater perfection than Horace. No poet supports a moral sentiment with more dignity, touches a gay one more happily, or possesses the art of trifling more agreeably when he chooses to trifle. His language is so fortunate, that with a single word or epithet he often conveys a whole description to the fancy. Hence he ever has been, and ever will continue to be, a favourite author with all persons of taste.
Among the Latin poets of later ages, there have been many imitators of Horace. One of the most distinguished is Casimir, a Polish poet of the last century, who wrote four books of odes. In graceful ease of expression, he is far inferior to
There is no ode whatever of Horace's without great beauties. But though I may be singular in my opinion, I cannot help thinking that in some of those odes which have been much admired for sublimity, (such as Ode iv. Lib. 4. "Qualem ministrum fulminis alitem," &c.) there appears somewhat of a strained and forced effort to be lofty. The genius of this amiable poet shows itself, according to my judg ment, to greater advantage in themes of a more temperate kind.
the Roman. He oftener affects the sublime; and in the attempt, like other lyric writers, frequently becomes harsh and unnatural. But, on several
occasions, he discovers a considerable degree of original genius, and poetical fire. Buchanan, in some of his lyric compositions, is very elegant and classical.
Among the French, the odes of Jean Baptiste Rousseau have been much and justly celebrated. They possess great beauty, both of sentiment and expression. They are animated, without being rhapsodical; and are not inferior to any poetical productions in the French language.
In our own language, we have several lyric compositions of considerable merit. Dryden's Ode on St Cecilia, is well known. Mr Gray is distinguished in some of his odes, both for tenderness and sublimity; and in Dodsley's Miscellanies several very beautiful lyric poems are to be found. As to professed Pindaric odes, they are, with a few exceptions, so incoherent as seldom to be intelligible. Cowley, at all times harsh, is doubly so in his Pindaric compositions. In his Anacreontic odes he is much happier. They are smooth and elegant; and, indeed, the most agreeable, and the most perfect, in their kind, of all Mr Cowley's poems.
DIDACTIC POETRY-DESCRIPTIVE POETRY.
HAVING treated of pastoral and lyric poetry, I proceed next to didactic poetry; under which is included a numerous class of writings. The ultimate end of all poetry, indeed of every composition, should be, to make some useful impression on the mind. This useful impression is most commonly made in poetry, by indirect methods; as by fable, by narration, by representation of characters; but didactic poetry openly professes its intention of conveying knowledge and instruction. It differs therefore in the form only, not in the scope and substance, from a philosophical, a moral, or a critical treatise in prose. At the same time, by means of its form, it has several advantages over prose instruction. By the charm of versification and numbers, it renders instruction more agreeable; by the descriptions, episodes, and other embellishments, which it may interweave, it detains and engages the fancy; it
fixes also useful circumstances more deeply in the memory. Hence it is a field, wherein a poet may gain great honour, may display both much genius and much knowledge and judgment.
It may be executed in different manners. The poet may choose some instructive subject, and he may treat it regularly, and in form; or without intending a great or regular work, he may only inveigh against particular vices, or make some moral observations on human life and characters, as is commonly done in satires and epistles. All these come under the denomination of didactic poetry.
The highest species of it, is a regular treatise on some philosophical, grave, or useful subject. Of this nature we have several, both ancient and modern, of great merit and character: such as Lucretius's six books De Rerum Natura; Virgil's Georgics; Pope's Essay on Criticism; Akenside's Pleasures of the Imagination; Armstrong on Health; Horace's, Vida's, and Boileau's Art of Poetry.
In all such works, as instruction is the professed object, the fundamental merit consists in sound thought, just principles, clear and apt illustrations. The poet must instruct; but he must study, at the same time, to enliven his instructions, by the introduction of such figures,
and such circumstances, as may amuse the imagination, may conceal the dryness of his subject, and embellish it with poetical painting. Virgil, in his Georgics, presents us here with a perfect model. He has the art of raising and beautifying the most trivial circumstances in rural life. When he is going to say that the labour of the country must begin in spring, he expresses himself thus:
Vere novo, gelidus canis cum montibus humor
Instead of telling his husbandmen in plain language, that his crops will fail through bad management, his language is,
Heu magnum alterius frustra spectabis acervum,
* While yet the Spring is young, while earth unbinds
Produce the plough and yoke the sturdy steer,
+ On others' crops you may with envy look,
And shake for food the long abandon'd oak.