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DEATH-BED REFLECTIONS OF MICHELANGELO.
hand could make of stubborn stone Whate'er of Gods the shaping thought conceives ; Not that my skill by pictured lines hath shown All terrors that the guilty soul believes ; Not that my art, by blended light and shade, Express'd the world as it was newly made ; Not that my verse profoundest truth could teach, In the soft accents of the lover's speech ; Not that I rear'd a temple for mankind, To meet and pray in, borne by every windAffords me peace :- I count my gain but loss, For that vast love, that hangs upon the Cross.
DEDICATORY SONNET, line 3.
Thou, in thy night-watch o'er my cradled sluimbers, Alluding to the poem called “Frost at Midnight,” by S. T. Coleridge. The reference is especially to the following lines :
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze,
Himself in all, and all things in himself. As far as regards the habitats of my childhood, these lines, written at Nether Stowey, were almost prophetic. are not prophets.
This sonnet, and the two following, my earliest attempts at that form of versification, were addressed to R. S. Jameson, Esq., on occasion of meeting him in Lo afte a separation of some years. He was the favourite companion of my boyhood, the active friend and sincere counsellor of my youth. Though seas between us broad ha' rollid” since we ci travell’d side by side " last, I trust the sight of this little volume will give rise to recollections that will make him ten years younger.
He is now Judge Advocate at Dominica, and husband of Mrs. Jameson, authoress of the “ Diary of an Ennuyée," “ Loves of the Poets," and other agreeable productions.
SonNet I, line 3.
The peace that floated
Wordsworth's Song at the feast of Brougham Castle.
SONNET VIII, line 9.
The Fays, That sweetly nestle in the fox-glove bells. Popular fancy has generally conceived a connection between the Fox-glove and the good people. In Ireland, where it is called Lusmore (the great herb) and also Fairy-cap, the bending of its tall staiks is believed to denote the unseen presence of supernatural beings. The Shefro, or gregarious Fairy, is represented as wearing the corolla of the Fox-glove on his head, and no unbecoming headdress either. See Crofton Croker's “ Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland," a book to the author of which, unknown as he is to me, I gladly seize this opportunity of returning thanks for huge delight and considerable accession of fairy lore. Crofton Croker is evidently a man of genius and poetical feeling. Is it not to be wished that he had given more free way to the poetry of his nature ? He seems almost afraid lest some one should suspect him of fearing and believing in the good people himself, and consequently tells his stories as if he did not believe them, which makes them appear more like great big Irish lies than the genuine educts of superstition. Now this may be proper enough in such tales as Daniel O'Rourke's Voyage to the Moon, Ned Sheehy's Excuse and some others; but still superstition is one thing, and lying another, and though the superstitious are often mendacious, or rather destitute of any standard of truth within their minds, and when hard pushed will consciously and conscientiously forge to keep up the credit of their creed, (countless are the falsehoods that have been told as well as believed, for conscience sake,) yet really superstitious persons do not, Falstaff-like, set about of malice prepense to raise a laugh by the enormity of their inventions. Many thanks to Crofton for his three delectable little volumes; but I do suspect, that from injudicious emulation of Tam-o-Shanter, he sometimes “ mars a curious tale in telling it.” It is his manifest endeavour to be as Irish as possible, but are his Irishmen always genuine Milesians ? Are they not too much like the Kilmallocks, and Mactwolters, and Brul. grudderies ? all excellent fellows in their way, but not fit company for Fairies. A certain dash of the ludicrous is not amiss in a terrible story, because fear is a ridiculous passion, whether its object be man or goblin; but it should be naïveté, or unconscious humour, not irony or sarcasm, far less the slang knowingness of a hoaxer.
Of all the imaginations of Erin, the Banshee is the most affecting, and the best authenticated. There are some narratives of this apparition attested by startling evidence. But perhaps the most beautiful fancy is the Thierna-na-Oge, or land of youth, a region of perpetual spring beneath the waters, where there is no decay, no change, no time, but all remains as at the moment of submersion. To this Moore alludes in those lines
On Lough Neagh’s bank, as the fisherman strays,
When the clear, cold eve's declining,
In the wave beneath him shining. To return to the Fox-glove. Query. Is not the proper etymology Folks’, i. e. Fairie’s glove? Surely Renard oes not wear gloves in popular tradition.