« 前へ次へ »
Why did you listen to my prayer?
When ye were gone my limbs were stronger;
And oh how grievously I rue,
That, afterwards, a little longer,
My friends, I did not follow you!
For strong and without pain I lay,
My friends when ye were gone away.
"My child! they gave thee to another,
"My little joy! my little pride!
"I'll follow you across the snow;
Wordsworth has also written another touching complaint of a poor emigrant Frenchwoman, who being separated from her child, endeavours to cheat her maternal sorrow by caressing the off spring of another.
The Female Vagrant is the pathetic history of a family reduced to misery. How charming are the regrets expressed by the poor woman at the recollection of the scenes of her childhood! And in the little poem entitled Resolution and Independence, how ably has the author pourtrayed the natural, but often inexplicable transition, from enthusiasm to gloomy reverie!
Many of Wordsworth's sonnets present grand images inspired by the events of the age, and are by turns prophetic visions of the future, and sublime commentaries on the past. I select the following from among the Sonnets on Liberty, and the Sonnets to Buonaparte.
ON THE EXTINCTION OF THE VENETIAN REPUBLIC.
"Once did she hold the gorgeous east in fee;
But if you would love Wordsworth, without ceasing to admire him, I advise you to read the pastoral of Michael, the history of poor Ruth, (which reminds one of Sterne's Maria), the ballad of Hart leap well, the reveries on the banks of the Wye, the Brothers, and the commencement of the history of a man who gains his livelihood by catching leeches. I dare say you will smile at these titles, which are certainly not of a very epic character; and I will not therefore recommend you to peruse the Waggoner, or Peter Bell, which latter is the hero of the poem only on the titlepage, for the principal character is an ass, the animal which Homer did not despise, and which Buffon and Delille have celebrated in verse. Wordsworth, however, has been the first to create a plulosophic ass. I will not multiply extracts, which would be only mutilating the productions of the poet, who himself declares, that all his works are connected one with another. Critics who are so fond of quoting, remind me of Harlequin in one of our pantomimes, who when he wanted to sell his house, took out a few of the bricks to shew as a specimen of its quality.
Wordsworth himself acknowledges that his associations have sometimes been particular rather than general; that he has consequently given to certain objects a false degree of importance, and treated subjects beneath the dignity of poetry. For my own part, I must confess that I have often found a whole world of new sensations in . those subjects which are usually deemed beneath the dignity of poetry, as for example in the Frasier of Bernardin de St. Pierre. The least phenomena of the creation present mysterious harmonies which are fertile in great results. The sublime revelation of God, or if you will, of nature personified, is poetically manifested in a thousand subjects which have been hitherto neglected by poets, and which Wordsworth has analysed in a grand and original way. When the Lord appears to Elijah, in the First Book of Kings, it is not the strong wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire, but a gentle breath of air that fills the prophet with the consciousness of his presence.
"And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind came an earthquake.
"And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
"And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle.''
TO M. ALPH. DE LA MARTINE.
Mr. Wordsworth may, in some respects, be compared to Jaques, in As You Like It; but in regard to reveries, his friend, J. Taylor Coleridge, leaves far behind him Shakspeare's contemplative philosopher, who, however, has the advantage of never having been a ministerial journalist.*
"From morn to night I am myself a dreamer,
says one of the characters in his metaphysical tragedy. It is but just to add, that Coleridge would, perhaps, be the greatest of modern poets, if he were not the most indolent. He is an extraordinary dreamer, and all his poetry seems to be composed in his sleep. Kubla-Khan, one of his day dreams, is preceded by a little preface, in which he states, that while engaged in transcribing his poem, he was called away on business, and that,
r • Perhaps Coleridge's best vertes are those which are dated from the period of his political independence:
"Not yut enslaved, not wholly free,
Ode on the Year 1796.
VOL. II. I