« 前へ次へ »
brightness ! The buildings glare like steel mol- | judged, save by the more or less of solemn or ten white—and what a furnace glow shimmers terrible effect they produce on the reader. The through the lurid vapour around them! We are half angelic beings which appear in Kehama, are in the domain of the fire that dieth not:
lovely and fanciful, but equally free with their Oh! what a gorgeous sight it was to see
hideous antagonists from any positive law. Their The diamond city blazing on its height,
sole function is that of producing an impression With more than mid-sun splendour, by the light
of beauty. As to the introduction of either class Of its own fiery river ! Its towers, and domes, and pinnacles, and spires,
as Dei ex machinâ, it is an expedient which Turrets, and battlements, that flash and quiver
adds nothings to the interest of the poem ; nor Through the red, restless atmosphere for ever! do we ever feel in such embarrassment concern. And hovering over head,
ing the living personages whom they appear The smoke and vapour of all Padalon,
either to combat or rescue, as to hail or dread Fit firmament for such a world, were spread, With surge and swell, and everlasting motion,
their approach. For in fables of the description Heaving and opening like tumultuous Ocean. contained in these poems, we know that ruin or We will now remark how powerfully our poet deliverance shall be effected in some manner alcan conceive the sublime of desolation ; the wea together supernatural; and it is matter of little
As riness and heart-sinking of a being doomed to
moment in what way they may take place. exist for ages, silent, and uncompanioned by
spectators of the development of legends, or of aught human; the victim of a lonely fate. He is
the fictions of a mythology, strange to all our spell-bound, (for this is the world of enchant- sympathies, and pursued, not with the trembling ment,) in the midst of a fair garden, invisible to
consciousness which recalls the season of earlier common men, and unapproachable save by the
belief or fear, but merely with a curiosity alive feet of the Deliverer, to whom he thus breathes
to discover what combinations of awe or beauty out the sigh of his long agony :
the unknown fable may admit of,—as spectators I looked around my prison place ;
of these remote visions, we say, we are in nowise The bodies of the dead were there,
in a condition to be moved by whatever of purely Where'er I looked, they lay.
supernatural they may contain. The magic of They mouldered, inouldered here......
the mysterious exists in belief alone ; and only Their very bones have crumbled into dust,
they who fear or have feared, can find in such So many years have past ! So many weary ages have gone by!
appearances anything more than an occupation And I still linger here !
for the faney. This condition we may observe, Still groaning with the burden of my sins,
en passant, is fatal to the interest of a fable, Have never dared to breathe
which the poet would fain transplant from the The prayer to be released !
gigantic mythologies of India or Araby to the Oh! who can tell the unspeakable misery Of solitude like this!
sympathies of European readers. And this for a No sound hath ever reached my ear,
double reason. The first, founded on the prinSave of the passing wind......
ciple which demands some familiarity, some kinThe fountain's everlasting flow ;
dred feeling with the tale of wonder we have al. The forest in the gale,
ready indicated,—the other, we think, lies in the The pattering of the shower
character of these Eastern mythologies, the perSounds dead and mournful all. No bird hath ever closed her wing
sonages of which are too vast, inhuman, and unUpon these solitary bowers.
approachable, to attach themselves to our naNo insect sweetly buzzed amidst these groves, tures. Each distinct race of people expresses its From all things that have life,
peculiar character in its superstitions, (a point Save only me, concealed. This tree alone, that o'er my head
that should not be lost sight of,) and the posiHangs down its hospitable boughs,
tive tendencies thus expressed are opposed to And bends its whispering leaves,
such a reception of an utterly strange race of As though to welcome me,
supernatural beings as is requisite to make them Seems to partake of life:
impressive agents in a 'poem. The creeds of I love it as my friend, my only friend ! I know not for what ages I have dragged
other hemispheres are instructive objects for the This miserable life,
contemplation of the philosopher, but they will How often I have seen
never cordially mingle with the poetry of ours. These ancient trees renewed,
There is in the Orlando, a witchery in itself as
extravagant and improbable as any that Oriental And I remain the same!
fable might produce; but it is invested with My garment hath not waxed old,
beauty and significance by the inherited associaNor the sole of my shoe hath worn.
tions to which it addresses itself. At the time With all powers that rule over the elements, when Southey’s great poems first appeared, the all mysterious and invisible beings, whether evil drawback to which we have alluded was not imminded or beneficent, the imagination of Southey mediately felt, so dazzling was the effect of their loves especially to converse. A vast progeny of novelty in style, subject, and tone. But to this wizards, genii, Glendowers, hags, and giants, cause, we believe, must now be ascribed the insome divine, others demoniac, stalk across the difference which generally exists towards poems shifting scenes of his two chief poems. These containing more individual beauties than others are creations too nearly resembling the phan- in far greater repute. The interest languished, tasms which attend fever or nightmare, to be and the poetry was in consequence neglected.
Let us, however, turn from this needful digres.
At that portentous sight,
The children of evil trembled, sion, to produce the portrait of an Indian witch,
And terror smote their souls. whom our poet has made to resemble not a little
Over the den the fire one of our own. It is, perhaps, for this reason, Its fearful splendour cas, that we like her so much. The passage, it may
The broad base rolling up in wavy streams, be remarked, is, perhaps, as fine a specimen of
Bright as the summer lightning, when it spreads
Its glory o'er the midnight heaven. right vigorous English, as any in our later litera
The Teraph's eyes were dimmed, ture. But this is an excellence not rare in
That like two twinkling stars
Shone in the darkness late;
The sorcerers on each other gazed,
And every face all pale with fear,
And ghastly, in that light was seen,
Like a dead man's by a sepulchral lamp.
From this abominable rite, let us at once fly
lands of Spain, in the day of the heroic Pelayo. Sani, the dreadful god, who rides abroad,
Look! the men-at-arms are mustering at the
castle-gate. What an animating spectacle ! Were weary of their toil, wonld let her do
Fronting the gate, the standard-bearer holds
His precious charge. Behind, the men divide
In ordered files : green boyhood presses there When the ripe earthquake should be loosed, and where And waning eld, pleading a youthful soul, To point its course. And in the baneful air,
Entreats admission. All is ardour here, The pregnant seeds of death he bade her strew,
Hope, and brave purposes, and minds resolved. All deadly plagues and pestilence to brew.
Nor where the weaker sex is left apart The locusts were her army, and their bands
Doth ought of fear find utterance ; though perchance Where'er she turned her skinny finger, flew;
Some paler cheeks might there be seen, some eyes The floods in ruin rolled at her commands;
Big with sad bodings, and some natural tears. And when, in time of drought, the husbandman
Count Pedro's war-horse, in the vacant space,
Strikes with impatient hoof the trodden turf,
And gazing round upon the martial show, While in the marshes' parched and gaping soil
Proud of his stately trappings, flings his head, The rice-roots by the scorching sun were dried ;
And snorts, and champs the bit ; and neighing shrill,
Wakes the near echo with his voice of joy.
We must hurry on, omitting many passages we
had marked for extraction. The following, from Promiscuous where the dead and dying lay,
Joan of Arc, must be introduced, not only as in Dogs fed on human bones in the open light of day. itself a fine vision, (wherein, however, the author
One more passage, and we must close our com is not wholly original,) but also as an instance of munion with the powers of darkness. Here is a certain very positive opinions as to martial glory, ghastly fragment of a scene too long for entire too rigid indeed for youth, and deserted by the insertion. In order to be understood, it must Poet in a maturer age. The Virgin of Orleans first be known that the speakers are certain un. is led in a dream to the abodes of Doom, and clean wizards, assembled in the bowels of the approaches : earth, to spell out the fate of Thalaba, the survi.
A huge and massy pile,- , vor of a family, all others of which the wizards Massy it seemed, and yet in every blast
As to its ruin shook. There, porter fit, have just slain. By consulting the Teraph, a
Remorse for ever his sad vigils kept. hideously created oracle, and by watching the
Pale, hollow-eyed, emaciate, sleepless wretch, fires emblematic of the lives of the hated family, Inly he groaned, or, starting, wildly shrieked, the necromaunts seek the fate of their victim.
Aye as the fabric, tottering from its base,
Threatened its fall, and so, expectant still,
Lived in the dread of danger still delayed.
They entered there a large and lofty dome,
O'er whose black marble sides a dim drear light “ I view the seas, I view the land,
Struggled with darkness from the unfrequent lamp. I search the ocean and the earth;
Enthroned around, the Murderers of Mankind, Not on ocean is the boy,
Monarchs, the great! the glorious! the august! Not on earth his steps are seen !”
Each bearing on his brow a crown of fire,
Sat stern and silent. Nimrod, he was there, “ A mightier power than we,” Lobaba cried,
First king, the mighty hunter; and that chief
Who did belie his mother's fame, that so
He might be called young Ammon. In this court
Cæsar was crowned--accursed liberticide ;
And he who murdered Tully, that cold villain
Octavius,—though the courtly minion's lyre
Hath hymned his praise, though Maro sung to him,
And when death levelled to original clay
The royal carcase, Flattery, fawning low,
Fell at his feet, and worshipped the new god.
Titus was here, the conqueror of the Jews,
He the delight of human-kind misnamed ;
Cæsars and Soldans, Emperors and Kings,
Here were they all, all who for glory fought,
As gazing round,
Henry of England !"
The only comment we shall make on this extract will be a remark that the Poet, we should think, would feel a little surprised, should he remember it, on reading his own Vision of Judgment, to find, amidst the angelic choir, the Black Prince:
“ His regal sire, magnificent Edward;" To say nothing of Marlborough, Wolfe, and a nameless band, “ Followers of Nelson's path, and the glorious career of
the Wellesley.” Are there, then, two Courts of Glory ? for of Heaven we are informed“ Nelson also was there, in the kingdom of peace, tho’ his
calling, While upon earth he dwelt, was to war and the work of
destruction.” This arbitrary dealing out of penalty and beatitude is a dangerous, not to say a presumptuous employment.
Although, in general, Southey produces his effects by an accumulation of words and images, he does occasionally avail himself of the sublime, resulting from the apt employinent of an unex. pected and brief transition, as in the following passage, where the terrible conciseness of the conclusion inspires an awe more than pages of solemn description could create :With song, with music, and with dance,
The bridal pomp proceeds.
And sparkle far with gems.
Accompanies their way;
Shout blessings on the bride.
The wedding-guests are gone.
It is Azrael, the Angel of Death. As we have remarked upon the vagueness of our Poet's human figures, it is but just to give an instance of the success with which he can at times clothe the workings of a powerful emotion
in living act and speech. We must observe, that so long as the actor has only to be described, Southey is commonly clear and happy ; it is when he requires to be put in motion, to feel, and to speak, that we are struck with a want of fixed character in his lineaments, and of harmony and distinctness in his movements. No such fault can, however, be ascribed to this description of Roderick the Goth, when, after losing his kingdom, he first returns from his solitary concealment, to find the Moor commanding in cities that once were his :
The sound, the sight
Wept like a child. A word of explanation must be prefixed to an extract, which, in justice to the author, and for the delight of all ingenuous readers, we must give at some length. It is, to our mind, the most beautiful and original creation of the tender sort that can be found in all Southey's poems. It is touching and fanciful. Here the supernatural is mingled with human feeling, so as to awaken a quick response in the heart of the reader; and how appropriate is the calm simplicity of the language, the sweet and yet mournful cadence of the verse! Thalaba, after a journey beset with perils, whereby he has hoped to fulfil his mission as avenger of his slaughtered father, arrives, at length, at a mountain of ice, within the heart of which is a palace, and a garden kept in constant bloom by the girdle of magic fire that surrounds it. Here, on entering but let the poet tell his own exquisite tale:There lay a damsel sleeping on a couch. His step awoke her, and she gazed at him,
With pleased and wondering look;
Too ignorant to fear.
The young intruder spoke.
Kindled her bright black eyes ;
She rose and took his hand;
“Oh! it is cold," she cried, “I thought I should have felt it warm like mine,
But thou art like the rest !”
Thalaba stood mute awhile,
And wondering at her words; “Cold, Lady :" then he said, “ I have travelled long
In this cold wilderness,
Till life is almost spent !" Laila.--Art thou a man, then ?
Thalaba.-I did not think Sorrow and toil could so have altered me, That I seem otherwise.
Laila.-And thou canst be warm
Laila.-Oh! not to-morrow!
Thalaba.—He who has led me here will still sustain
Through cold and hunger.
“ Hunger!" Laila cried;
She clapp'd her lily hands,
It came, sight could not see,
Laila.- Why dost thou watch, with hesitating eyes,
Laila.-Matters it from whence it came ?
Thalaba.-_I will not eat!
Laila.- Begone, then, insolent!
Rise on thy view, and make thee feel
How innocent I am.
Thalaba.-Mark me, lady!
Laila.-Lo, now! thou wert afraid of sorcery, And yet hast said a charm!
Thalaba. A charm!
Laila.-And wherefore ?
Thalaba.--How I never heard the names Of God and of the Prophet ?
Laila.-Never, ... nay, now
Thalaba.-And you do not know
The God that made you?
Laila.-Made me, man! my father Made me: he made this dwelling, and the grove, And yonder fountain fire; and every morn He visits me, and takes the snow, and moulds Women and men like thee; and breathes into them Motion, and life, and sense,... but to the touch They are chilling cold ; and ever when night closes, They melt away again, and leave me here, Alone and sad. Oh! then, how I rejoice When it is day, and my dear father comes ! And cheers me with kind words and kinder looks ! My dear, dear father! were it not for him, I am so weary of this loneliness, That I should wish I also were of snow, That I might melt away, and cease to be. Thalaba.–And have you always had your dwelling
here Amid this solitude of snow?
Laila.-I think so. I can remember, with unsteady feet, Tottering from room to room, and finding pleasure In flowers, and toys, and sweetmeats, things that long Have lost their power to please ; that when I see them, Raise only now a melancholy wish I were the little trifler once again That could be pleased so lightly.
Thalaba.-Then you know not Your father's art ?
Laila.-No! I besought him once To give me power like his, that where he went I might go with him ; but he shook his head, And said it was a power too dearly bought, And kissed me with the tenderness of tears.
Thalaba. And wherefore, hath he hidden you thus far From all the ways of human kind?
He read the stars,
Thalaba.-A guardian ?
Thalaba.-Lead me to him, Lady !
Suddenly Laila stopped ;
The glance of Laila's eye
Laila.-'Tis a figure,
That made my misery here!
And hear a human voice,...
Can anything be more delightful than the pic- fully delineated than in this simple passage. ture of this fair and loving creature, wearing her This quiet, unaffected character is the charm of heart away because there is no living thing with Southey's domestic eclogues. whom she can converse, save that gloomy father ; Without repeating what has been already eaid nothing to love-all cold! And how touching concerning the excellence of Southey's ballads, her innocent eagerness to keep the first compa we shall subjoin part of one, which deserves, as nion she has found in life! This is not only a a thoroughly genial work, to be given entire, picture beautiful in itself, but a symbol of a deep had we room for it. There is no modern writer and affecting truth.
who, in our opinion, surpasses the Laureate in a We must close our specimens of this poet with certain quaint and racy tone with which he treats two brief passages, illustrative of his manner in serio-comic subjects. homelier modes of composition. The first is from The second night, the taper's light one of his Rustic Eclogues; a style of writing he
Burnt dismally and blue,
And every one saw his neighbour's face was, we believe, the first to introduce in Eng
Like a dead man's to view. land, and in which he has hardly been surpassed. It is a dialogue between an aged peasant, and And yells and cries without arise,
That the stoutest heart might shock, the new inheritor of the property on which the old man had toiled from childhood. The latter
And a deafening roaring like a cataract pouring
Over a mountain rock. is somewhat of a laudator temporis acti, and expresses his displeasure at innovations, uncon
The monk and nun they told their beads scious whom he is addressing :
As fast as they could tell ;
And aye as louder grew the noise
The faster went the bell.
Louder and louder the choristers sung
As they trembled more and more, When they were planted there. It was my task
And the fifty priests prayed to heaven for aid-
They never had prayed so before.
The cock he crew-away they flow
The fiends from the herald of day ;In childhood under them, and 'twas her pride
And undisturbed the choristers sing, To keep them in their beauty. Plague, I say,
And the fifty priests they pray. On their new-fangled whimsies ! we shall have
The third night came, and the tapers' flame A modern shrubbery here, stuck full of firs
A hideous stench did make, And your pert poplar trees ;~I would as soon
And they burned as though they had been dipped Have ploughed my father's grave as cut thein down!
In the burning brimstone lake.
And the loud commotion, like the rushing of ocean, And pretty work he makes of it! What 'tis
Grew momently more and more, To have a stranger come to an old house!
And strokes as of a battering ram
Did shake the strong church door.
The bellmen they for very fear
Could toll the bell no longer ; But once, for they were very distant kin.
And still as louder grew the strokes,
Their fear it grew the stronger.
The monk and nun forgot their beads,
They fell on the ground dismayed,
There was not a single saint in heaven,
Whom they did not call to aid.
And the choristers' song that late was so strong, As if he could not see through casement glass!
Grew a quaver of consternation, The very red breasts, that so regular
For the church did rock as an earthquake shock Came to my lady for her morning crumbs,
Uplifted its foundation. Won't know the window now.
And a sound was heard like the trumpet's blast, Stranger.- Nay, they were high,
That shail one day wake the dead; And then so darkened up with jessamine,
The strong church door could bear no more,
And the bolts and the bars they fled.
And the tapers' light was extinguished quite,
And the choristers faintly sung,
And the priests, dismayed, panted and prayed, There was a sweetbriar, too, that grew beside.
Till fear froze every tonguc.
And in he came with eyes of flame,
The Fiend, to fetch the dead, She did not love him less that he was old
And all the church with his presence glowed, And feeble.
Like a fiery furnace red. In this there is, perhaps, nothing particularly The reader must refer to the poem, for a fur. new or vivid ; but we should find it difficult to ther account of what passed on the occasion thos name a poem in which feelings, that no repeti- vigorously announced ; and we shall have rention can render uninteresting are more grace dered him a service by breaking off at this in