« 前へ次へ »
instead of a mere recipe to make a corn-stack, the bodily image of one, newly thatched, is at once placed before his eye, while his ear is regaled with the sweet small notes of the bird of autumn.
The fashionable as well as the familiar poetry of the present day sparkles with fanciful yet true descriptions, of which the subjects are, in general, among the most obvious, and yet the least noticed circumstances, recurring every day, and every where. The brilliant parterres of Miss Landon's enclosure, on the south of Parnassus, where ideas, like hummingbirds, are seen flying about in tropical sunshine, or fluttering over blossoms of all hues and all climes ; and the home meadows of John Clare, the Northamptonshire peasant, whose thoughts, like bees, are ever on the wing in search of honey from “ the meanest flower that blows;” are equally productive of these 6 curiosities of literature." A specimen from the latter (as less known of the two) will show to what perfection the art of making much of a little has lately been carried.
THE THRUSH'S NEST.
“ Within a thick and spreading hawthorn bush,
That overhung a mole-hill large and round, I heard, from morn to morn, a merry thrush
Sing hymns of rapture, while I drank the sound With joy ; -- and oft, an unintruding guest,
I watch'd her secret toils from day to day, How true she warp'd the moss to form her nest,
And modell’d it within with wood and clay.
And by and by, like heath-bells gilt with dew,
There lay her shining eggs as bright as flowers, Ink-spotted over, shells of green and blue :
And there I witness'd, in the summer hours, A brood of nature's minstrels chirp and fly, Glad as the sunshine and the laughing sky."
Here we have in miniature the history and geo-, graphy of a “ Thrush's Nest,” so simply and naturally set forth, that one might think such strains
no more difficile, Than for a blackbird 'tis to whistle ;"
but let the heartless critic who despises them try his own hand, either at a bird's nest, or a sonnet like this; and when he has succeeded in making the one, he may have some hope of being able to make the other.
The happy peculiarities of that kind of descriptive poetry, which with us is indigenous-nothing of similar growth having been preserved in the remains of antiquity, nor any thing to compare with it found among the luxuriant products of modern Italy,—may be illustrated by a quotation or two from the writings of a bard of the same humble class with John Clare, but who was not less curious in marking, and skilful in delineating, the charms of external nature, and the occupations of rural industry, than the poet of " The Seasons" himself. The author of the " Farmer's Boy” was exalted above his deserts at the beginning of his career; and, according to the usual re-action of things in this perverse world, depreciated as much
below them in the sequel. Death, the universal administrator of those who die leaving an inheritance which cannot be willed, is adjusting the claims of posterity to what he has left behind which may be worthy of preservation; and he has already obtained that place in the esteem of those whose judgments are final, which he will probably hold during his century of probation. Robert Bloomfield's Country Muse resembled the Country Maiden, which he paints so prettily in his “ Rural Tales:"
". No meadow-flower rose fresher to the view,
That met her morning footsteps in the dew ;
Thus, the public fell in love with the simple Suffolk Muse at first sight; and turning to look, when she had passed by, praised her gait, her shape, her countenance, and air, as all enchanting and unrivalled. But meeting her repeatedly afterwards in the walks of Parnassus, and deeming her less fascinating at every interview, that public, whose affections are more variable than the clouds, which change colour in every light, and form in every breeze, soon discerned her homeliness of feature, rusticity of accent, and inelegance of manners.Hence, though familiarity never bred contempt, her modest graces were successively eclipsed by the dazzling pretensions of higher born and higher gifted rivals, so that few continued to behold her with the
partiality of Walter to Jane, in his first love. This poet's real merits must, at any rate, have been considerable, to have survived the indiscreet panegyrics of mistaken friends, and the carping criticisms of fastidious enemies.
Bloomfield excels in description, because he presents images and pictures both of living and inanimate nature, which every unperverted eye recognises at once, and which often occasion not only an emotion of pleasure at finding them in verse, but of surprise also that they were never found there before; because, though perfectly familiar, the originals themselves never touched us so. exquisitely as the poet's exhibition of them does. I prefer an extract on one of the most hackneyed themes of vulgar rhyme, on which he who could produce novelty must have been well entitled to poetic honours. Mentioning the task of Giles, in spring, to watch the new-sown crops, and himself to frighten away the rooks,-or having shot a few of the marauders to hang them up as scarecrows, or spread them out dead on the ground, to warn away their pilfering companions, these lines occur :
6 This task had Giles in fields remote from home;
Oft has he wish'd the rosy morn to come ;
- Gave inspiration pure as ever flow'd,
And genuine transport in his bosom glow'd.
Of nature's music from a thousand throats :
Every couplet here shows the difference between a genuine poet and a mere accomplished versifier. Four lines will be sufficient to explain and justify this assertion. Any rhymer might have placed the thrush upon the thorn, amidst blossoms and dew-drops; but mark what a variety of incidents the nice observer of nature strikes out. He startles the bird in the midst of her song; she flies off, and shakes from the black-thorn (the sloe) the earliest and frailest of the season, “a white shower” upon the ground; but instantly recollecting how “ the minstrel” had been sitting before she was disturbed, he describes her perched amidst the thorny sprays, covered with flowers and moist with dews. I repeat the lines, and call particular attention to the last :
Stopp'd in her song, perchance, the starting thrush