« 前へ次へ »
Azrael receives her parting soul from the hands of Thalaba.
I cannot close this brief analysis, without transcribing one of the many beautiful pictures with which the poem abounds. I would recommend the following to the magical pencil of my friend, P. Delaroche. It is a description of Alaodin's pa. radise :
“ And oh! what odours the voluptuous vale
Scatters from jasmine bowers,
From yon rose wilderness,
That with such perfume fill the breeze,
As Peris to their sister bear,
They from their pinions shake
And as her enemies impure
Inhales her fragrant food.
Went forth in heaven to roll
The author of Lalla Rookh has written nothing which more perfectly breathes the spirit of oriental poetry
In Madoc, another of Southey's poems, the
scene is partly laid in Britain, and partly in America.
Madoc, as well as Thalaba, occasionally presents traces of affected simplicity, false energy, artificial enthusiasm, laboured style, tediousness, prolixity, and an unnecessary profusion of harsh sounding names. * But yet it cannot be denied that the author has happily succeeded in combining the inspirations of the three great poets, Ossian, Milton, and Alonzo d'Ercilla. Southey's Welsh bards are more natural and less monotonous than the Caledonian bards of Macpherson, in their descriptions of scenery, and in their warlike and festive hymns. The laureate has happily retraced some of those images which constitute the charm of the melancholy song of Selma. His Ossianic harp breathes forth the music of a new world, where he seems to have discovered chords hitherto unknown to Christian bards. Its inspirations are addressed to savages, but for the purpose of refining their feelings, and not for the celebration of sanguinary obsequies. The episode of Caradoc may almost be regarded as an allegory.
Two chiefs, the Nisus and Euryalus of the Indians, make a nocturnal sortie, and in the neighbourhood of the Christian camp, surprise a sleep* Boileau says :
un seul nom barbare Rend un poème entier ridicule ou bizarre.” I entirely concur in this opinion, with respect to French poems, in particular; but yet I would ask, whether Childebrandt is a harsher name than Clytemnestra?,
ing warrior, whom Thalaba, surnamed the Tiger of War, proposes to sacrifice, in the hope that an offering of human blood will propitiate the gods, and be the pledge of his nation's success. He creeps like a serpent to the spot, where Caradoc, in his slumbers, is dreaming of his native home, and the blue eyed maid whom he loves. He raises his lance and is about to strike his victim, when suddenly the morning breeze, gently sweeping the strings of the Cambrian warrior's harp, produces heavenly strains of melody. The savage stops, looks round him with amazement ; no mortal is near him; and in a moment all is silent. The ærial music again falls on his astonished ear, and then again suddenly ceases. The savage for the first time feels the influence of terror. He thinks a friendly genius watches over the stranger, and he shrinks confounded from the fulfilment of his murderous purpose.
This invisible protection of the harp, appears to me a beautiful poetic idea, The captivity of Hoel and Madoc, and their deliverance by a priestess of the false gods; and the death of Coatel and her lover, are incidents which excite the liveliest interest. In several energetic passages, and also where the poet expresses religious sentiments, he soars to a level with Milton; but when he describes the manners of the savages, their councils of war, the religious ceremonies, their combats, and the magnificent scenery of the new world, he approximates to the style of Alonzo de Ercilla, while at the same time, he evinces more
correct judgment, and purer taste, than the Spa
The history of Madoc is founded on a tradition which attributes the discovery of the American continent in the twelfth century to a Welch prince, who fled from his native land to avoid civil war and the hatred of a cruel brother. The posterity of the Welch adventurers who at that period emigrated to the New World, are said still to exist on the banks of the Missouri. Nearly about the same time, the Aztecas, an American tribe, forsook their original country and founded the Mexican empire, so called in honour of their tutelary deity Mexitli. Their emigration is, by Southey, connected with the adventures of Madoc, and the poet describes their superstitions, such as the Spaniards found them among their descendants. This poem was criticised with unjust severity in the Edinburgh Review, in an article written by Jeffrey. A burlesque description is given of the events and characters; but Voltaire made parodies almost as grotesque on Homer and Milton. It will readily be supposed that prejudices were raised against a poem which was treated thus cavalierly by the reviewers. A great portion of readers are often satisfied with the mere analysis of a work. It is convenient for ignorance “to meet with ready made opinions, and mediocrity is always gratified at the opportunity of aiming a blow at genius.” The
poem which followed Madoc, in spite of all its magnificence, could not dazzle the critics who had parodied Southey's three preceding works.
The Curse of Kehama would be the most extravagant of poems, but that the author has so completely thrown aside his European character, and so happily identified himself with his subject, that the work appears like a brilliant version of one of the numerous national epopees of the Brahmins, transmitted to Europe by the college of Calcutta. The author must be regarded as singularly successful in having excited any other sentiment than curiosity by a work borrowed from the most fanciful of mythologies, in which we are by turns transported from heaven to hell; and the principal characters of which are a king endowed with almost all the attributes of the gods, a man struck by a singular curse, a wandering spectre,a witch, a glendoveer, agenius, and other super-human beings of various orders. The only creature who belongs to this world is frequently transported into the invisible regions, and is at length admitted to the rank of the im. mortal genii. The interest of the poem arises out of the sweetest of mortal affections, that which is a
all nations, namely, filial piety. Kaylial is the poet's grand talisman; he frequently appears like one of Raphael's virgins singularly placed among the extravagant figures of a Chinese skreen. Kehama, the proud and ambitious tyrant of India, also rises to a level with the gloomy energy and infernal majesty of Milton's Satan.
The story is founded on a singularity in the religious faith in the Hindoos, who believe that prayers, seconded by penance and sacrifices, have a power independent of the motives of him by