ORIGINAL SONNETS, &c.
BY ANNA SEWARD.
* * * * *
PRICE SIX SHILLINGS AND SIXPENCE.
Entered at Stationers hall.
ORIGINAL SONNETS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS;
AND ODES PARAPHRASED FROM HORACE:
BY ANNA SEWARD.
PRINTED FOR G. SAEL, NO. 192, STRAND; AND SOLD BY MR. SWINNEY, BIRMINGHAM, AND MR. MORGAN, LICHFIELD.
Whatever other excellence may be wanting in the ensuing Poems, they are, with only nine exceptions out of the hundred, strictly Sonnets. Those nine vary only from the rules of the legitimate Sonnet in that they rhime three, instead of four times in the first part. The pause is in them, as in the rest, variously placed through the course of the verses; and thus they bear no more resemblance than their associates, to those minute Elegies of twelve alternate rhimes, closing with a couplet, which assume the name of Sonnet, without any other resemblance to that order of Verse, except their limitation to fourteen lines. I never found the quadruple rhimes injurious to the general expression of the sense, but in the excepted instances. When it is considered how few they are in so large a number, I flatter myself the idea will vanish that our language is not capable of doing justice to the regular Sonnet.
From the Supplement to the Gentleman's Magazine for 1786, I shall insert Mr. White's definition of the nature and perfection of this species of Verse, because I think it explains them with justness and precision.
"Little Elegies, consisting of four stanzas and a couplet, are no more Sonnets than they are Epic Poems. The Sonnet is of a particular and arbitrary construction; it partakes of the nature of Blank Verse, by the lines running into each other at proper intervals. Each line of the first eight, rhimes four times, and the order in which those rhimes should fall is decisive. For the ensuing six there is more licence; they may, or may not, at pleasure, close with a couplet.
"Of Milton's English Sonnets, only that to Oliver Cromwell ends with a couplet, but the single instance is a sufficient precedent; however, in three out of his five Italian ones, the concluding lines rhime to each other.
"The style of the Sonnet should be nervous, and, where the subject will with propriety bear elevation, sublime; with which, simplicity of language is by no means incompatible. If the subject is familiar and domestic, the style should, though affectionate, be nervous; though plain, be energetic. The great models of perfection, for the sublime and domestic Sonnet, are those of Milton's, 'To the Soldier to spare his Dwelling-place,' and 'To Mr. Laurence.'
"The Sonnet is certainly the most difficult species of poetic composition; but difficulty, well subdued, is excellence. Mrs. Smith says she has been told that the regular Sonnet suits not the nature or genius of our language. Surely this assertion cannot be demonstrated, and therefore was not worth attention.
"Out of eighteen English Sonnets, written by Milton, four are bad. The rest, though they are not free from certain hardnesses, have a pathos and greatness in their simplicity, sufficient to endear the legitimate Sonnet to every Reader of just taste. They possess a characteristic grace, which can never belong to three elegiac stanzas, closing with a couplet."
I have pleasure in quoting the preceding Dissertation on the SONNET, conscious that there is no order of Verse, upon which so much erroneous opinion has gone forth, and of whose beauties the merely common Reader is so insensible. But when the Author of this just Treatise says of the assertion, that the legitimate Sonnet suits not our language, "its truth cannot be demonstrated," he should perhaps rather have observed, that its fallacy is proved by the great number of beautiful legitimate Sonnets, which adorn our National Poetry, not only by Milton, but by many of our modern Poets.
Of the four of Milton's, justly disapproved by Mr. White, there is one evidently a burlesque, written in sport. It begins,
"A book was writ of late, call'd Tetrachordon."
Doctor Johnson has the disingenuousness, in his Folio Dictionary, under the word SONNET, to cite that Sonnet at full length, as a specimen of Milton's style in this kind of Poetry. Johnson disliked Sonnets, and he equally disliked Blank Verse, and Odes. It is in vain to combat the prejudice of splenetic aversion. The Sonnet is an highly valuable species of Verse; the best vehicle for a single detached thought, an elevated, or a tender sentiment, and for a succinct description. The compositions of that order now before the Reader, ensued from time to time, as various circumstances impressed the heart, or the imagination of their Author, and as the aweful, or lovely scenes of Nature, arrested, or allured her eye.
TO MISS SEWARD,
ON READING HER CENTENARY OF SONNETS.
Dear are the forceful energies of Song, For they do swell the spring-tide of the heart With rosier currents, and impel along The life-blood freely:—O! they can impart Raptures ne'er dreamt of by the sordid throng Who barter human feeling at the mart Of pamper'd selfishness, and thus do wrong Imperial Nature of her prime desert.— SEWARD! thy strains, beyond the critic-praise Which may to arduous skill its meed assign, Can the pure sympathies of spirit raise To bright Imagination's throne divine; And proudly triumph, with a generous strife, O'er all the "flat realities of life."
High Street, Marybone, Feb. 1, 1799.
BY THE REV. H. F. CAREY,
ON READING THE FOLLOWING PARAPHRASES.
Hear, honor'd Flaccus, from the vocal shades Where with gay Prior, and thy Teian Peer Thou wanderest thro' the amaranthine glades, While social joys the devious walk endear!
Or whether in the bright Elysian bowers, Where the tall vine its lavish mantle spreads, Thou crown'st the goblet with unfading flowers, Sooth'd by the murmuring stream, that labors thro' the meads.
Hear, happy Bard!—to wake thy silent lyre Our British Muse, our charming Seward, deigns!— With more harmonious tones, more sportive fire Beneath her hand arise the potent strains.
Then, as thou hear'st the sweet Enthusiast, own Thy fancy's various florets look'd less gay When kiss'd by bright Italia's ardent sun, Than now their hues expand in Albion's milder ray!
H. F. CAREY.
When Life's realities the Soul perceives Vain, dull, perchance corrosive, if she glows With rising energy, and open throws The golden gates of Genius, she achieves His fairy clime delighted, and receives In those gay paths, deck'd with the thornless rose, Blest compensation.—Lo! with alter'd brows Lours the false World, and the fine Spirit grieves; No more young Hope tints with her light and bloom The darkening Scene.—Then to ourselves we say, Come, bright IMAGINATION, come! relume Thy orient lamp; with recompensing ray Shine on the Mind, and pierce its gathering gloom With all the fires of intellectual Day!
The Future, and its gifts, alone we prize, Few joys the Present brings, and those alloy'd; Th' expected fulness leaves an aching void; But HOPE stands by, and lifts her sunny eyes That gild the days to come.—She still relies The Phantom HAPPINESS not thus shall glide Always from life.—Alas!—yet ill betide Austere Experience, when she coldly tries In distant roses to discern the thorn! Ah! is it wise to anticipate our pain? Arriv'd, it then is soon enough to mourn. Nor call the dear Consoler false and vain, When yet again, shining through april-tears, Those fair enlight'ning eyes beam on advancing Years.
WRITTEN AT BUXTON IN A RAINY SEASON.
From these wild heights, where oft the mists descend In rains, that shroud the sun, and chill the gale, Each transient, gleaming interval we hail, And rove the naked vallies, and extend Our gaze around, where yon vast mountains blend With billowy clouds, that o'er their summits sail; Pondering, how little Nature's charms befriend The barren scene, monotonous, and pale. Yet solemn when the darkening shadows fleet Successive o'er the wide and silent hills, Gilded by watry sun-beams, then we meet Peculiar pomp of vision. Fancy thrills, And owns there is no scene so rude and bare, But Nature sheds or grace or grandeur there.
TO HONORA SNEYD, WHOSE HEALTH WAS ALWAYS BEST IN WINTER.
And now the youthful, gay, capricious Spring, Piercing her showery clouds with crystal light, And with their hues reflected streaking bright Her radiant bow, bids all her Warblers sing; The Lark, shrill caroling on soaring wing; The lonely Thrush, in brake, with blossoms white, That tunes his pipe so loud; while, from the sight Coy bending their dropt heads, young Cowslips fling Rich perfume o'er the fields.—It is the prime Of Hours that Beauty robes:—yet all they gild, Cheer, and delight in this their fragrant time, For thy dear sake, to me less pleasure yield Than, veil'd in sleet, and rain, and hoary rime, Dim Winter's naked hedge and plashy field.
1: Afterwards Mrs. Edgeworth.
TO A FRIEND, WHO THINKS SENSIBILITY A MISFORTUNE.
Ah, thankless! canst thou envy him who gains The Stoic's cold and indurate repose? Thou! with thy lively sense of bliss and woes!— From a false balance of life's joys and pains Thou deem'st him happy.—Plac'd 'mid fair domains, Where full the river down the valley flows, As wisely might'st thou wish thy home had rose On the parch'd surface of unwater'd plains, For that, when long the heavy rain descends, Bursts over guardian banks their whelming tide!— Seldom the wild and wasteful Flood extends, But, spreading plenty, verdure, beauty wide, The cool translucent Stream perpetual bends, And laughs the Vale as the bright waters glide.
WRITTEN AT LICHFIELD, IN AN EASTERN APARTMENT OF THE BISHOP'S PALACE, WHICH COMMANDS A VIEW OF STOW VALLEY.
In this chill morning of a wintry Spring I look into the gloom'd and rainy vale; The sullen clouds, the stormy winds assail, Lour on the fields, and with impetuous wing Disturb the lake:—but Love and Memory cling To their known scene, in this cold influence pale; Yet priz'd, as when it bloom'd in Summer's gale, Ting'd by his setting sun.—When Sorrows fling, Or slow Disease, thus, o'er some beauteous Form Their shadowy languors, Form, devoutly dear As thine to me, HONORA, with more warm And anxious gaze the eyes of Love sincere Bend on the charms, dim in their tintless snow, Than when with health's vermilion hues they glow.
By Derwent's rapid stream as oft I stray'd, With Infancy's light step and glances wild, And saw vast rocks, on steepy mountains pil'd, Frown o'er th' umbrageous glen; or pleas'd survey'd The cloudy moonshine in the shadowy glade, Romantic Nature to th' enthusiast Child Grew dearer far than when serene she smil'd, In uncontrasted loveliness array'd. But O! in every Scene, with sacred sway, Her graces fire me; from the bloom that spreads Resplendent in the lucid morn of May, To the green light the little Glow-worm sheds On mossy banks, when midnight glooms prevail, And softest Silence broods o'er all the dale.
Short is the time the oldest Being lives, Nor has Longevity one hour to waste; Life's duties are proportion'd to the haste With which it fleets away;—each day receives Its task, that if neglected, surely gives The morrow double toil.—Ye, who have pass'd In idle sport the days that fled so fast, Days, that nor Grief recalls, nor Care retrieves, At length be wise, and think, that of the part Remaining in that vital period given, How short the date, and at the prospect start, Ere to the extremest verge your steps be driv'n! Nor let a moment unimprov'd depart, But view it as the latest trust of Heav'n!
Seek not, my Lesbia, the sequester'd dale, Or bear thou to its shades a tranquil heart; Since rankles most in solitude the smart Of injur'd charms and talents, when they fail To meet their due regard;—nor e'en prevail Where most they wish to please:—Yet, since thy part Is large in Life's chief blessings, why desert Sullen the world?—Alas! how many wail Dire loss of the best comforts Heaven can grant! While they the bitter tear in secret pour, Smote by the death of Friends, Disease, or Want, Slight wrongs if thy self-valuing soul deplore, Thou but resemblest, in thy lonely haunt, Narcissus pining on the watry shore.
TO HONORA SNEYD.
HONORA, shou'd that cruel time arrive When 'gainst my truth thou should'st my errors poize, Scorning remembrance of our vanish'd joys; When for the love-warm looks, in which I live, But cold respect must greet me, that shall give No tender glance, no kind regretful sighs; When thou shalt pass me with averted eyes, Feigning thou see'st me not, to sting, and grieve, And sicken my sad heart, I cou'd not bear Such dire eclipse of thy soul-cheering rays; I cou'd not learn my struggling heart to tear From thy lov'd form, that thro' my memory strays; Nor in the pale horizon of Despair Endure the wintry and the darken'd days.
How sweet to rove, from summer sun-beams veil'd, In gloomy dingles; or to trace the tide Of wandering brooks, their pebbly beds that chide; To feel the west-wind cool refreshment yield, That comes soft creeping o'er the flowery field, And shadow'd waters; in whose bushy side The Mountain-Bees their fragrant treasure hide Murmuring; and sings the lonely Thrush conceal'd!— Then, Ceremony, in thy gilded halls, Where forc'd and frivolous the themes arise, With bow and smile unmeaning, O! how palls At thee, and thine, my sense!—how oft it sighs For leisure, wood-lanes, dells, and water-falls; And feels th' untemper'd heat of sultry skies!
Chill'd by unkind Honora's alter'd eye, "Why droops my heart with fruitless woes forlorn," Thankless for much of good?—what thousands, born To ceaseless toil beneath this wintry sky, Or to brave deathful Oceans surging high, Or fell Disease's fever'd rage to mourn, How blest to them wou'd seem my destiny! How dear the comforts my rash sorrows scorn!— Affection is repaid by causeless hate! A plighted love is chang'd to cold disdain! Yet suffer not thy wrongs to shroud thy fate, But turn, my Soul, to blessings which remain; And let this truth the wise resolve create, THE HEART ESTRANGED NO ANGUISH CAN REGAIN.
Thou child of NIGHT, and SILENCE, balmy SLEEP, Shed thy soft poppies on my aching brow! And charm to rest the thoughts of whence, or how Vanish'd that priz'd AFFECTION, wont to keep Each grief of mine from rankling into woe. Then stern Misfortune from her bended bow Loos'd the dire strings;—and Care, and anxious Dread From my cheer'd heart, on sullen pinion, fled. But now, the spell dissolv'd, th' Enchantress gone, Ceaseless those cruel Fiends infest my day, And sunny hours but light them to their prey. Then welcome Midnight shades, when thy wish'd boon May in oblivious dews my eye-lids steep, THOU CHILD OF NIGHT, AND SILENCE, BALMY SLEEP!
INGRATITUDE, how deadly is thy smart Proceeding from the Form we fondly love! How light, compared, all other sorrows prove! THOU shed'st a Night of Woe, from whence depart The gentle beams of Patience, that the heart 'Mid lesser ills, illume.—Thy Victims rove Unquiet as the Ghost that haunts the Grove Where MURDER spilt the life-blood.—O! thy dart Kills more than Life,—e'en all that makes Life dear; Till we "the sensible of pain" wou'd change For Phrenzy, that defies the bitter tear; Or wish, in kindred callousness, to range Where moon-ey'd IDIOCY, with fallen lip, Drags the loose knee, and intermitting step.
WRITTEN ON RISING GROUND NEAR LICHFIELD.
The evening shines in May's luxuriant pride, And all the sunny hills at distance glow, And all the brooks, that thro' the valley flow, Seem liquid gold.—O! had my fate denied Leisure, and power to taste the sweets that glide Thro' waken'd minds, as the soft seasons go On their still varying progress, for the woe My heart has felt, what balm had been supplied? But where great NATURE smiles, as here she smiles, 'Mid verdant vales, and gently swelling hills, And glassy lakes, and mazy, murmuring rills, And narrow wood-wild lanes, her spell beguiles Th' impatient sighs of Grief, and reconciles Poetic Minds to Life, with all her ills.
TRANSLATED FROM BOILEAU.
Apollo, at his crowded altars, tir'd Of Votaries, who for trite ideas thrown Into loose verse, assume, in lofty tone, The Poet's name, untaught, and uninspir'd, Indignant struck the LYRE.—Straight it acquir'd New powers, and complicate. Then first was known The rigorous Sonnet, to be fram'd alone By duteous Bards, or by just Taste admir'd.— Go, energetic SONNET, go, he cried, And be the test of skill!—For rhymes that flow Regardless of thy rules, their destin'd guide, Yet take thy name, ah! let the boasters know That with strict sway my jealous laws preside, While I no wreaths on rebel verse bestow.
Ah! why have I indulg'd my dazzled sight With scenes in Hope's delusive mirror shown? Scenes, that too seldom human Life has known In kind accomplishment;—but O! how bright The rays, that gilded them with varied light Alternate! oft swift flashing on the boon That might at FAME's immortal shrine be won; Then shining soft on tender LOVE's delight.— Now, with stern hand, FATE draws the sable veil O'er the frail glass!—HOPE, as she turns away, The darken'd crystal drops.——Heavy and pale, Rain-pouring clouds quench all the darts of day; Low mourns the wind along the gloomy dale, And tolls the Death-bell in the pausing gale.
AN EVENING IN NOVEMBER, WHICH HAD BEEN STORMY, GRADUALLY CLEARING UP, IN A MOUNTAINOUS COUNTRY.
Ceas'd is the rain; but heavy drops yet fall From the drench'd roof;—yet murmurs the sunk wind Round the dim hills; can yet a passage find Whistling thro' yon cleft rock, and ruin'd wall. The swoln and angry torrents heard, appal, Tho' distant.—A few stars, emerging kind, Shed their green, trembling beams.—With lustre small, The moon, her swiftly-passing clouds behind, Glides o'er that shaded hill.—Now blasts remove The shadowing clouds, and on the mountain's brow, Full-orb'd, she shines.—Half sunk within its cove Heaves the lone boat, with gulphing sound;—and lo! Bright rolls the settling lake, and brimming rove The vale's blue rills, and glitter as they flow.
Farewell, false Friend!—our scenes of kindness close! To cordial looks, to sunny smiles farewell! To sweet consolings, that can grief expel, And every joy soft sympathy bestows! For alter'd looks, where truth no longer glows, Thou hast prepar'd my heart;—and it was well To bid thy pen th' unlook'd for story tell, Falsehood avow'd, that shame, nor sorrow knows.— O! when we meet,—(to meet we're destin'd, try To avoid it as thou may'st) on either brow, Nor in the stealing consciousness of eye, Be seen the slightest trace of what, or how We once were to each other;—nor one sigh Flatter with weak regret a broken vow!
ON READING A DESCRIPTION OF POPE's GARDENS AT TWICKENHAM.
Ah! might I range each hallow'd bower and glade Musaeus cultur'd, many a raptur'd sigh Wou'd that dear, local consciousness supply Beneath his willow, in the grotto's shade, Whose roof his hand with ores and shells inlaid. How sweet to watch, with reverential eye, Thro' the sparr'd arch, the streams he oft survey'd, Thine, blue Thamesis, gently wandering by! This is the POET's triumph, and it towers O'er Life's pale ills, his consciousness of powers That lift his memory from Oblivion's gloom, Secure a train of these heart-thrilling hours By his idea deck'd in rapture's bloom, For Spirits rightly touch'd, thro' ages yet to come.
Proud of our lyric Galaxy, I hear Of faded Genius with supreme disdain; As when we see the Miser bend insane O'er his full coffers, and in accents drear Deplore imagin'd want;—and thus appear To me those moody Censors, who complain, As Shaftsbury plain'd in a now boasted reign, That "POESY had left our darken'd sphere." Whence may the present stupid dream be traced That now she shines not as in days foregone? Perchance neglected, often shine in waste Her LIGHTS, from number into confluence run, More than when thinly in th' horizon placed Each Orb shone separate, and appear'd a Sun.
1: Of the Poets, who were cotemporary with Lord Shaftsbury, Dryden, Cowley, Pope, Prior, Congreve, Gay, Addison, &c. in the Period which this Age styles AUGUSTAN, his Lordship speaks with sovereign scorn. In his Characteristics he, without making any exception, labors to prove, that the compositions of Dryden are uniformly contemptible. See his advice to an Author in the second Volume of the Characteristics, and also his miscellaneous reflections in the third Volume; "If," says he to the authors, "your Poets are still to be Mr. Bayses, and your prose writers Sir Rogers, without offering at a better manner, must it follow that the manner is good, and the wit genuine?"
Thus it is that the jealousy People of literary fame often feel of each other, produces the foolish, and impolitic desire of decrying the general pretensions of the Age to Genius. Their narrow selfishness leads them to betray the common cause, which it is their true interest to support. They persuade the credulous Many, with whom envy of superior talents increases their willingness to despise, that Imagination is become enervated; designing, however, to have it understood, that in their individual instance exists the sole exception,
"For they wou'd each bestride the narrow world Like a Colossus."
You, whose dull spirits feel not the fine glow Enthusiasm breathes, no more of light Perceive ye in rapt POESY, tho' bright In Fancy's richest colouring, than can flow From jewel'd treasures in the central night Of their deep caves.—You have no Sun to show Their inborn radiance pure.—Go, Snarlers, go; Nor your defects of feeling, and of sight, To charge upon the POET thus presume, Ye lightless minds, whate'er of title proud, Scholar, or Sage, or Critic, ye assume, Arraigning his high claims with censure loud, Or sickly scorn; yours, yours is all the cloud, Gems cannot sparkle in the midnight Gloom.
TO MISS E. S.
Do I not tell thee surly Winter's flown, That the brook's verge is green;—and bid thee hear, In yon irriguous vale, the Blackbird clear, At measur'd intervals, with mellow tone, Choiring the hours of prime? and call thine ear To the gay viol dinning in the dale, With tabor loud, and bag-pipe's rustic drone To merry Shearer's dance;—or jest retail From festal board, from choral roofs the song; And speak of Masque, or Pageant, to beguile The caustic memory of a cruel wrong?— Thy lips acknowledge this a generous wile, And bid me still the effort kind prolong; But ah! they wear a cold and joyless smile.
1: "While Day arises, that sweet hour of prime." MILTON'S PAR. LOST.
Behold the Day an image of the Year! The Year an image of our life's short span! Morn, like the Spring, with growing light began, Spring, like our Youth, with joy, and beauty fair; Noon picturing Summer;—Summer's ardent sphere Manhood's gay portrait.—Eve, like Autumn, wan, Autumn resembling faded age in Man; Night, with its silence, and its darkness drear, Emblem of Winter's frore and gloomy reign, When torpid lie the vegetative Powers; Winter, so shrunk, so cold, reminds us plain Of the mute Grave, that o'er the dim Corse lours; There shall the Weary rest, nor ought remain To the pale Slumberer of Life's checker'd hours.
PETRARCH to VAUCLUSE.
Fortunate Vale! exulting Hill! dear Plain! Where morn, and eve, my soul's fair Idol stray'd, While all your winds, that murmur'd thro' the glade, Stole her sweet breath; yet, yet your paths retain Prints of her step, by fount, whose floods remain In depth unfathom'd; 'mid the rocks, that shade, With cavern'd arch, their sleep.—Ye streams, that play'd Around her limbs in Summer's ardent reign, The soft resplendence of those azure eyes Ting'd ye with living light.—The envied claim These blest distinctions give, my lyre, my sighs, My songs record; and, from their Poet's flame, Bid this wild Vale, its Rocks, and Streams arise, Associates still of their bright MISTRESS' fame.
1: This Sonnet is not a Translation or Paraphrase, but is written in the Character of Petrarch, and in imitation of his manner.
O partial MEMORY! Years, that fled too fast, From thee in more than pristine beauty rise, Forgotten all the transient tears and sighs Somewhat that dimm'd their brightness! Thou hast chas'd Each hovering mist from the soft Suns, that grac'd Our fresh, gay morn of Youth;—the Heart's high prize, Friendship,—and all that charm'd us in the eyes Of yet unutter'd Love.—So pleasures past, That in thy crystal prism thus glow sublime, Beam on the gloom'd and disappointed Mind When Youth and Health, in the chill'd grasp of Time, Shudder and fade;—and cypress buds we find Ordain'd Life's blighted roses to supply, While but reflected shine the golden lights of Joy.
See wither'd WINTER, bending low his head; His ragged locks stiff with the hoary dew; His eyes, like frozen lakes, of livid hue; His train, a sable cloud, with murky red Streak'd.—Ah! behold his nitrous breathings shed Petrific death!—Lean, wailful Birds pursue, On as he sweeps o'er the dun lonely moor, Amid the battling blast of all the Winds, That, while their sleet the climbing Sailor blinds, Lash the white surges to the sounding shore. So com'st thou, WINTER, finally to doom The sinking year; and with thy ice-dropt sprays, Cypress and yew, engarland her pale tomb, Her vanish'd hopes, and aye-departed days.
O, GENIUS! does thy Sun-resembling beam To the internal eyes of Man display In clearer prospect, the momentous way That leads to peace? Do they not rather seem Dazzled by lustres in continual stream, Till night they find in such excessive day? Art thou not prone, with too intense a ray, To gild the hope improbable, the dream Of fancied good?—or bid the sigh upbraid Imaginary evils, and involve All real sorrow in a darker shade? To fond credulity, to rash resolve Dost thou not prompt, till reason's sacred aid And fair discretion in thy fires dissolve?
If GENIUS has its danger, grief and pain, That Common-Sense escapes, yet who wou'd change The Powers, thro' Nature, and thro' Art that range, To keep the bounded, tho' more safe domain Of moderate Intellect, where all we gain Is cold approvance? where the sweet, the strange, Soft, and sublime, in vivid interchange, Nor glad the spirit, nor enrich the brain. Destructive shall we deem yon noon-tide blaze If transiently the eye, o'er-power'd, resign Distinct perception?—Shall we rather praise The Moon's wan light?—with owlish choice incline That Common-Sense her lunar lamp shou'd raise Than that the solar fires of GENIUS shine?
That song again!—its sounds my bosom thrill, Breathe of past years, to all their joys allied; And, as the notes thro' my sooth'd spirits glide, Dear Recollection's choicest sweets distill, Soft as the Morn's calm dew on yonder hill, When slants the Sun upon its grassy side, Tinging the brooks that many a mead divide With lines of gilded light; and blue, and still, The distant lake stands gleaming in the vale. Sing, yet once more, that well-remember'd strain, Which oft made vocal every passing gale In days long fled, in Pleasure's golden reign, The youth of chang'd HONORA!—now it wears Her air—her smile—spells of the vanish'd years!
TO THE DEPARTING SPIRIT OF AN ALIENATED FRIEND.
O, EVER DEAR! thy precious, vital powers Sink rapidly!—the long and dreary Night Brings scarce an hope that Morn's returning light Shall dawn for THEE!—In such terrific hours, When yearning Fondness eagerly devours Each moment of protracted life, his flight The Rashly-Chosen of thy heart has ta'en Where dances, songs, and theatres invite. EXPIRING SWEETNESS! with indignant pain I see him in the scenes where laughing glide Pleasure's light Forms;—see his eyes gaily glow, Regardless of thy life's fast ebbing tide; I hear him, who shou'd droop in silent woe, Declaim on Actors, and on Taste decide!
SUBJECT OF THE PRECEDING SONNET CONTINUED.
Behold him now his genuine colours wear, That specious False-One, by whose cruel wiles I lost thy amity; saw thy dear smiles Eclips'd; those smiles, that us'd my heart to cheer, Wak'd by thy grateful sense of many a year When rose thy youth, by Friendship's pleasing toils Cultur'd;—but DYING!—O! for ever fade The angry fires.—Each thought, that might upbraid Thy broken faith, which yet my soul deplores, Now as eternally is past and gone As are the interesting, the happy hours, Days, years, we shar'd together. They are flown! Yet long must I lament thy hapless doom, Thy lavish'd life and early-hasten'd tomb.
Last night her Form the hours of slumber bless'd Whose eyes illumin'd all my youthful years.— Spirit of dreams, at thy command appears Each airy Shape, that visiting our rest, Dismays, perplexes, or delights the breast. My pensive heart this kind indulgence cheers; Bliss, in no waking moment now possess'd, Bliss, ask'd of thee with Memory's thrilling tears, Nightly I cry, how oft, alas! in vain, Give, by thy powers, that airy Shapes controul, HONORA to my visions!—ah! ordain Her beauteous lip may wear the smile that stole, In years long fled, the sting from every pain! Show her sweet face, ah show it to my soul!
When Death, or adverse Fortune's ruthless gale, Tears our best hopes away, the wounded Heart Exhausted, leans on all that can impart The charm of Sympathy; her mutual wail How soothing! never can her warm tears fail To balm our bleeding grief's severest smart; Nor wholly vain feign'd Pity's solemn art, Tho' we should penetrate her sable veil. Concern, e'en known to be assum'd, our pains Respecting, kinder welcome far acquires Than cold Neglect, or Mirth that Grief profanes. Thus each faint Glow-worm of the Night conspires, Gleaming along the moss'd and darken'd lanes, To cheer the Gloom with her unreal fires.
In April's gilded morn when south winds blow, And gently shake the hawthorn's silver crown, Wafting its scent the forest-glade adown, The dewy shelter of the bounding Doe, Then, under trees, soft tufts of primrose show Their palely-yellowing flowers;—to the moist Sun Blue harebells peep, while cowslips stand unblown, Plighted to riper May;—and lavish flow The Lark's loud carols in the wilds of air. O! not to Nature's glad Enthusiast cling Avarice, and pride.—Thro' her now blooming sphere Charm'd as he roves, his thoughts enraptur'd spring To HIM, who gives frail Man's appointed time These cheering hours of promise, and of prime.
April 29th, 1782.
Now on hills, rocks, and streams, and vales, and plains, Full looks the shining Day.—Our gardens wear The gorgeous robes of the consummate Year. With laugh, and shout, and song, stout Maids and Swains Heap high the fragrant hay, as thro' rough lanes Rings the yet empty waggon.—See in air The pendent cherries, red with tempting stains, Gleam thro' their boughs.—Summer, thy bright career Must slacken soon in Autumn's milder sway; Then thy now heapt and jocund meads shall stand Smooth,—vacant,—silent,—thro' th' exulting Land As wave thy Rival's golden fields, and gay Her Reapers throng. She smiles, and binds the sheaves; Then bends her parting step o'er fall'n and rustling leaves.
June 27th, 1782.
Thro' changing Months a well-attemper'd Mind Welcomes their gentle or terrific pace.— When o'er retreating Autumn's golden grace Tempestuous Winter spreads in every wind Naked asperity, our musings find Grandeur increasing, as the Glooms efface Variety and glow.—Each solemn trace Exalts the thoughts, from sensual joys refin'd. Then blended in our rapt ideas rise The vanish'd charms, that summer-suns reveal, With all of desolation, that now lies Dreary before us;—teach the Soul to feel Awe in the Present, pleasure in the Past, And to see vernal Morns in Hope's perspective cast.
October 27th, 1782.
If he whose bosom with no transport swells In vernal airs and hours commits the crime Of sullenness to Nature, 'gainst the Time, And its great RULER, he alike rebels Who seriousness and pious dread repels, And aweless gazes on the faded Clime, Dim in the gloom, and pale in the hoar rime That o'er the bleak and dreary prospect steals.— Spring claims our tender, grateful, gay delight; Winter our sympathy and sacred fear; And sure the Hearts that pay not Pity's rite O'er wide calamity; that careless hear Creation's wail, neglect, amid her blight, THE SOLEMN LESSON OF THE RUIN'D YEAR.
December 1st, 1782.
When mourn the dark Winds o'er the lonely plain, And from pale noon sinks, ere the fifth cold hour, The transient light, Imagination's power, With Knowledge, and with Science in her train, Not unpropitious Hyems' icy reign Perceives; since in the deep and silent lour High themes the rapt concent'ring Thoughts explore, Freed from external Pleasure's glittering chain. Then most the understanding's culture pays Luxuriant harvest, nor shall Folly bring Her aids obtrusive.—Then, with ardent gaze, The INGENIOUS to their rich resources spring, While sullen Winter's dull imprisoning days Hang on the vacant mind with flagging wing.
Dec. 7th, 1782.
I love to rise ere gleams the tardy light, Winter's pale dawn;—and as warm fires illume, And cheerful tapers shine around the room, Thro' misty windows bend my musing sight Where, round the dusky lawn, the mansions white, With shutters clos'd, peer faintly thro' the gloom, That slow recedes; while yon grey spires assume, Rising from their dark pile, an added height By indistinctness given.—Then to decree The grateful thoughts to GOD, ere they unfold To Friendship, or the Muse, or seek with glee Wisdom's rich page!—O, hours! more worth than gold, By whose blest use we lengthen Life, and free From drear decays of Age, outlive the Old!
Dec. 19th, 1782.
1: This Sonnet was written in an Apartment of the West Front of the Bishop's Palace at Lichfield, inhabited by the Author from her thirteenth year. It looks upon the Cathedral-Area, a green Lawn encircled by Prebendal Houses, which are white from being rough-cast.
INVITATION TO A FRIEND.
Since dark December shrouds the transient day, And stormy Winds are howling in their ire, Why com'st not THOU, who always can'st inspire The soul of cheerfulness, and best array A sullen hour in smiles?—O haste to pay The cordial visit sullen hours require!— Around the circling walls a glowing fire Shines;—but it vainly shines in this delay To blend thy spirit's warm Promethean light. Come then, at Science', and at Friendship's call, Their vow'd Disciple;—come, for they invite! The social Powers without thee languish all. Come, that I may not hear the winds of Night, Nor count the heavy eave-drops as they fall.
Dec. 21st, 1782.
Lo! the YEAR's FINAL DAY!—Nature performs Its obsequies with darkness, wind, and rain; But Man is jocund.—Hark! th' exultant strain From towers and steeples drowns the wintry storms! No village spire but to the cots and farms, Right merrily, its scant and tuneless peal Rings round!—Ah! joy ungrateful!—mirth insane! Wherefore the senseless triumph, ye, who feel This annual portion of brief Life the while Depart for ever?—Brought it no dear hours Of health and night-rest?—none that saw the smile On lips belov'd?—O! with as gentle powers Will the next pass?—Ye pause!—yet careless hear Strike these last Clocks, that knell th' EXPIRING YEAR!
Dec. 31st, 1782.
TO MAY, IN THE YEAR 1783.
My memory, long accustom'd to receive In deep-engraven lines, each varying trait Past Times and Seasons wore, can find no date Thro' many years, O! MAY, when thou hadst leave, As now, of the great SUN, serene to weave Thy fragrant chaplets; in poetic state To call the jocund Hours on thee to wait, Bringing each day, at morn, at noon, at eve, His mild illuminations.—Nymph, no more Is thine to mourn beneath the scanty shade Of half-blown foliage, shivering to deplore Thy garlands immature, thy rites unpaid; Meads dropt with gold again to thee belong, Soft gales, luxuriant bowers, and wood-land song.
Rapt CONTEMPLATION, bring thy waking dreams To this umbrageous vale at noon-tide hour, While full of thee seems every bending flower, Whose petals tremble o'er the shadow'd streams! Give thou HONORA's image, when her beams, Youth, beauty, kindness, shone;—what time she wore That smile, of gentle, yet resistless power To sooth each painful Passion's wild extremes. Here shall no empty, vain Intruder chase, With idle converse, thy enchantment warm, That brings, in all its interest, all its grace, The dear, persuasive, visionary Form. Can real Life a rival blessing boast When thou canst thus restore HONORA early lost?
From Possibility's dim chaos sprung, High o'er its gloom the Aerostatic Power Arose!—Exulting Nations hail'd the hour, Magnific boast of Science!—Loud they sung Her victory o'er the element, that hung, Pressing to earth the Beings, who now soar Aerial heights;—but Wisdom bids explore This vaunted skill;—if, tides of air among, We know to steer our bark.—Here Science finds Her buoyant hopes burst, like the bubble vain, Type of this art;—guilty, if still she blinds The sense of Fear; persists thy flame to fan, Sky-vaulting Pride, that to the aweless winds Throws, for an idle Show, the LIFE OF MAN!
1: This Sonnet was written when the Balloon enthusiasm was at its height.
Dark as the silent stream beneath the night, Thy funeral glides to Life's eternal home, Child of its narrow house!—how late the bloom, The facile smile, the soft eye's crystal light, Each grace of Youth's gay morn, that charms our sight, Play'd o'er that Form!—now sunk in Death's cold gloom, Insensate! ghastly!—for the yawning tomb, Alas! fit Inmate.—Thus we mourn the blight Of Virgin-Beauty, and endowments rare In their glad hours of promise.—O! when Age Drops, like the o'er-blown, faded rose, tho' dear Its long known worth, no stormy sorrows rage; But swell when we behold, unsoil'd by time, Youth's broken Lily perished in its prime.
ON MR. SARGENT's DRAMATIC POEM, THE MINE.
With lyre Orphean, see a Bard explore The central caverns of the mornless Night, Where never Muse perform'd harmonious rite Till now!—and lo! upon the sparry floor, Advance, to welcome him, each Sister Power, Petra, stern Queen, Fossilia, cold and bright, And call their Gnomes, to marshal in his sight The gelid incrust, and the veined ore, And flashing gem.—Then, while his songs pourtray The mystic virtues gold and gems acquire, With every charm that mineral scenes display, Th' imperial Sisters praise the daring Lyre, And grateful hail its new and powerful lay, That seats them high amid the Muses' Choir.
1: Petra, and Fossilia, are Personifications of the first and last division of the Fossil Kingdom. The Author of this beautiful Poem supposes the Gnomes to be Spirits of the Mine, performing the behests of Petra and Fossilia, as the Sylphs, Gnomes, Salamanders, &c. appear as Handmaids of the Nymph of Botany in that exquisite sport of Imagination, THE BOTANIC GARDEN.
Now young-ey'd Spring, on gentle breezes borne, 'Mid the deep woodlands, hills, and vales, and bowers, Unfolds her leaves, her blossoms, and her flowers, Pouring their soft luxuriance on the morn. O! how unlike the wither'd, wan, forlorn, And limping Winter, that o'er russet moors, Grey ridgy fields, and ice-incrusted shores, Strays!—and commands his rising Winds to mourn. Protracted Life, thou art ordain'd to wear A form like his; and, shou'd thy gifts be mine, I tremble lest a kindred influence drear Steal on my mind;—but pious Hope benign, The Soul's bright day-spring, shall avert the fear, And gild Existence in her dim decline.
ON THE USE OF NEW AND OLD WORDS IN POETRY.
While with false pride, and narrow jealousy, Numbers reject each new expression, won, Perchance, from language richer than our own, O! with glad welcome may the POET see Extension's golden vantage! the decree Each way exclusive, scorn, and re-enthrone The obsolete, if strength, or grace of tone Or imagery await it, with a free, And liberal daring!—For the Critic Train, Whose eyes severe our verbal stores review, Let the firm Bard require that they explain Their cause of censure; then in balance true Weigh it; but smile at the objections vain Of sickly Spirits, hating for they do!
1: The particle for is used in the same sense with because, by Shakespear, and Beaumont and Fletcher.
"But she, and I, were Creatures innocent, Lov'd for we did." BEA. and FLE. TWO NOBLE KINSMEN.
"——Nor must you think I will your serious and great business scant For she is with me." OTHELLO.
"They're jealous for they're jealous." OTHELLO.
In every breast Affection fires, there dwells A secret consciousness to what degree They are themselves belov'd.—We hourly see Th' involuntary proof, that either quells, Or ought to quell false hopes,—or sets us free From pain'd distrust;—but, O, the misery! Weak Self-Delusion timidly repels The lights obtrusive—shrinks from all that tells Unwelcome truths, and vainly seeks repose For startled Fondness, in the opiate balm, Of kind profession, tho', perchance, it flows To hush Complaint—O! in Belief's clear calm, Or 'mid the lurid clouds of Doubt, we find LOVE rise the Sun, or Comet of the Mind.
TO SYLVIA ON HER APPROACHING NUPTIALS.
Hope comes to Youth, gliding thro' azure skies With amaranth crown:—her full robe, snowy white, Floats on the gale, and our exulting sight Marks it afar.—From waning Life she flies, Wrapt in a mist, covering her starry eyes With her fair hand.—But now, in floods of light, She meets thee, SYLVIA, and with glances, bright As lucid streams, when Spring's clear mornings rise. From Hymen's kindling torch, a yellow ray The shining texture of her spotless vest Gilds;—and the Month that gives the early day The scent odōrous, and the carol blest, Pride of the rising Year, enamour'd MAY, Paints its redundant folds with florets gay.
1: Odōrous. Milton, in the Par. Lost, gives the lengthened and harmonious accent to that word, rather than the short, and common one, ōdorous:
——"the bright consummate flower Spirit odōrous breathes."
Long has the pall of Midnight quench'd the scene, And wrapt the hush'd horizon.—All around, In scatter'd huts, Labor, in sleep profound, Lies stretch'd, and rosy Innocence serene Slumbers;—but creeps, with pale and starting mien, Benighted SUPERSTITION.—Fancy-found, The late self-slaughter'd Man, in earth yet green And festering, burst from his incumbent mound, Roams!—and the Slave of Terror thinks he hears A mutter'd groan!—sees the sunk eye, that glares As shoots the Meteor.—But no more forlorn He strays;—the Spectre sinks into his tomb! For now the jocund Herald of the Morn Claps his bold wings, and sounds along the gloom.
1: "It faded at the crowing of the cock." HAMLET.
WRITTEN IN THE SPRING 1785 ON THE DEATH OF THE POET LAUREAT.
The knell of WHITEHEAD tolls!—his cares are past, The hapless tribute of his purchas'd lays, His servile, his Egyptian tasks of praise!— If not sublime his strains, Fame justly plac'd Their power above their work.—Now, with wide gaze Of much indignant wonder, she surveys To the life-labouring oar assiduous haste A glowing Bard, by every Muse embrac'd.— O, WARTON! chosen Priest of Phoebus' choir! Shall thy rapt song be venal? hymn the THRONE, Whether its edicts just applause inspire, Or PATRIOT VIRTUE view them with a frown? What needs for this the golden-stringed Lyre, The snowy Tunic, and the Sun-bright Zone!
1: Ensigns of Apollo's Priesthood.
A PERSIAN KING TO HIS SON.
FROM A PROSE TRANSLATION IN SIR WILLIAM JONES' ESSAY ON THE POETRY OF THE EASTERN NATIONS.
Guard thou, my Son, the Helpless and the Poor, Nor in the chains of thine own indolence Slumber enervate, while the joys of sense Engross thee; and thou say'st, "I ask no more."— Wise Men the Shepherd's slumber will deplore When the rapacious Wolf has leapt the fence, And ranges thro' the fold.—My Son, dispense Those laws, that justice to the Wrong'd restore.— The Common-Weal shou'd be the first pursuit Of the crown'd Warrior, for the royal brows The People first enwreath'd.—They are the Root, The King the Tree. Aloft he spreads his boughs Glorious; but learn, impetuous Youth, at length, Trees from the Root alone derive their strength.
ON THE QUICK TRANSITION FROM WINTER TO SUMMER IN THE YEAR 1785.
Loud blew the North thro' April's pallid days, Nor grass the field, nor leaves the grove obtains, Nor crystal sun-beams, nor the gilded rains, That bless the hours of promise, gently raise Warmth in the blood, without that fiery blaze, Which makes it boil along the throbbing veins.— Albion, displeas'd, her own lov'd Spring surveys Passing, with volant step, o'er russet plains; Sees her to Summer's fierce embraces speed, Pale, and unrobed.—Faithless! thou well may'st hide Close in his sultry breast thy recreant head, That did'st, neglecting thy distinguish'd Isle, In Winter's icy arms so long abide, While Britain vainly languish'd for thy smile!
TO A TIMID YOUNG LADY, DISTRESSED BY THE ATTENTIONS OF AN AMIABLE, AND ACCEPTED LOVER.
What bashful wildness in those crystal eyes, Fair Zillia!—Ah! more dear to LOVE the gaze That dwells upon its object, than the rays Of that vague glance, quick, as in summer skies The lightning's lambent flash, when neither rise Thunder, nor storm.—I mark, while transport plays Warm in thy Lover's eye, what dread betrays Thy throbbing heart:—yet why from his soft sighs Fleet'st thou so swift away?—like the young Hind, That bending stands the fountain's brim beside, When, with a sudden gust, the western wind Rustles among the boughs that shade the tide: See, from the stream, innoxious and benign, Starting she bounds, with terror vain as thine!
1: "Vitas hinnuleo me similis Chloe." HORACE.
WRITTEN THE NIGHT PRECEDING THE FUNERAL OF MRS. CHARLES BUCKERIDGE.
In the chill silence of the winter eve, Thro' Lichfield's darken'd streets I bend my way By that sad mansion, where NERINA's Clay Awaits the MORNING KNELL;—and awed perceive, In the late bridal chamber, the clear ray Of numerous lights; while o'er the ceiling stray Shadows of those who frequent pass beneath Round the PALE DEAD.—What sounds my senses grieve! For now the busy hammer's stroke appals, That, "in dread note of preparation," falls, Closing the sable lid!—With sighs I bear These solemn warnings from the House of Woes; Pondering how late, for young NERINA, there, Joyous, the Love-illumin'd Morn arose.
1: In Lichfield Cathedral the funeral rites are performed early in the Morning.
Not the slow Hearse, where nod the sable plumes, The Parian Statue, bending o'er the Urn, The dark robe floating, the dejection worn On the dropt eye, and lip no smile illumes; Not all this pomp of sorrow, that presumes It pays Affection's debt, is due concern To the FOR EVER ABSENT, tho' it mourn Fashion's allotted time. If Time consumes, While Life is ours, the precious vestal-flame Memory shou'd hourly feed;—if, thro' each day, She with whate'er we see, hear, think, or say, Blend not the image of the vanish'd Frame, O! can the alien Heart expect to prove, In worlds of light and life, a reunited love!
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE LADY MARIANNE CARNEGIE, passing her winters at Ethic House on the Coast of Scotland, with her Father, Lord Northesk, who retired thither after the death of his excellent Countess.
WRITTEN FEBRUARY 1787.
Lady, each soft effusion of thy mind, Flowing thro' thy free pen, shows thee endu'd With taste so just for all of wise, and good, As bids me hope thy spirit does not find, Young as thou art, with solitude combin'd That wish of change, that irksome lassitude, Which often, thro' unvaried days, obtrude On Youth's rash bosom, dangerously inclin'd To pant for more than peace.—Rich volumes yield Their soul-endowing wealth.—Beyond e'en these Shall consciousness of filial duty gild The gloomy hours, when Winter's turbid Seas Roar round the rocks; when the dark Tempest lours, And mourn the Winds round Ethic's lonely towers.
Why view'st thou, Edwy, with disdainful mien The little Naiad of the Downton Wave? High 'mid the rocks, where her clear waters lave The circling, gloomy basin.—In such scene, Silent, sequester'd, few demand, I ween, That last perfection Phidian chisels gave. Dimly the soft and musing Form is seen In the hush'd, shelly, shadowy, lone concave.— As sleeps her pure, tho' darkling fountain there, I love to recollect her, stretch'd supine Upon its mossy brink, with pendent hair, As dripping o'er the flood.—Ah! well combine Such gentle graces, modest, pensive, fair, To aid the magic of her watry shrine.
1: The above Sonnet was addressed to a Friend, who had fastidiously despised, because he did not think it exquisite sculpture, the Statue of a Water-Nymph in Mr. Knight's singular, and beautiful Cold Bath at Downton Castle near Ludlow. It rises amidst a Rotunda, formed by Rocks, and covered with shells, and fossils, in the highest elevation of that mountainous and romantic Scene.
TO MR. HENRY CARY, ON READING HIS SONNETS WRITTEN AT SIXTEEN.
Disciple of the bright Aonian Maid In thy life's blossom, a resistless spell Amid the wild wood, and irriguous dell, O'er thymy hill, and thro' illumin'd glade, Led thee, for her thy votive wreaths to braid, Where flaunts the musk-rose, and the azure bell Nods o'er loquacious brook, or silent well.— Thus woo'd her inspirations, their rapt aid Liberal she gave; nor only thro' thy strain Breath'd their pure spirit, while her charms beguil'd The languid hours of Sorrow, and of Pain, But when Youth's tide ran high, and tempting smil'd Circean Pleasure, rescuing did she stand, Broke the Enchantress' cup and snapt her wand.
1: Then of Sutton Coldfield.
Dim grows the vital flame in his dear breast From whom my life I drew;—and thrice has Spring Bloom'd; and fierce Winter thrice, on darken'd wing, Howl'd o'er the grey, waste fields, since he possess'd Or strength of frame, or intellect.——Now bring Nor Morn, nor Eve, his cheerful steps, that press'd Thy pavement, LICHFIELD, in the spirit bless'd Of social gladness. They have fail'd, and cling Feebly to the fix'd chair, no more to rise Elastic!—Ah! my heart forebodes that soon The FULL OF DAYS shall sleep;—nor Spring's soft sighs, Nor Winter's blast awaken him!—Begun The twilight!—Night is long!—but o'er his eyes Life-weary slumbers weigh the pale lids down!
1: When this Sonnet was written, the Subject of it had languished three years beneath repeated paralytic strokes, which had greatly enfeebled his limbs, and impaired his understanding. Contrary to all expectation he survived three more years, subject, through their progress, to the same frequent and dreadful attacks, though in their intervals he was serene and apparently free from pain or sickness.
TO COLEBROOKE DALE.
Thy GENIUS, Colebrooke, faithless to his charge, Amid thy woods and vales, thy rocks and streams, Form'd for the Train that haunt poetic dreams, Naiads, and Nymphs,—now hears the toiling Barge And the swart Cyclops ever-clanging forge Din in thy dells;—permits the dark-red gleams, From umber'd fires on all thy hills, the beams, Solar and pure, to shroud with columns large Of black sulphureous smoke, that spread their veils Like funeral crape upon the sylvan robe Of thy romantic rocks, pollute thy gales, And stain thy glassy floods;—while o'er the globe To spread thy stores metallic, this rude yell Drowns the wild woodland song, and breaks the Poet's spell.
TO MR. HENRY CARY, ON THE PUBLICATION OF HIS SONNETS.
Prais'd be the Poet, who the Sonnet's claim, Severest of the orders that belong Distinct and separate to the Delphic Song, Shall venerate, nor its appropriate name Lawless assume. Peculiar is its frame, From him deriv'd, who shunn'd the City Throng, And warbled sweet thy rocks and streams among, Lonely Valclusa!—and that Heir of Fame, Our greater MILTON, hath, by many a lay Form'd on that arduous model, fully shown That English Verse may happily display Those strict energic measures, which alone Deserve the name of SONNET, and convey A grandeur, grace and spirit, all their own.
TO THE SAME.
Marcellus, since the ardors of my strain To thy young eyes and kindling fancy, gleam With somewhat of the vivid hues, that stream From Poesy's bright orb, each envious stain Shed by dull Critics, venal, vex'd and vain, Seems recompens'd at full;—and so wou'd seem Did not maturer Sons of Phoebus deem My verse Aonian.—Thou, in time, shalt gain, Like them, amid the letter'd World, that sway Which makes encomium fame;—so thou adorn, Extend, refine and dignify thy lay, And Indolence, and Syren Pleasure scorn; Then, at high noon, thy Genius shall display The splendors promis'd in its shining morn.
Nobly to scorn thy gilded veil to wear, Soft Simulation!—wisely to abstain From fostering Envy's asps;—to dash the bane Far from our hearts, which Hate, with frown severe, Extends for those who wrong us;—to revere With soul, or grateful, or resign'd, the train Of mercies, and of trials, is to gain A quiet Conscience, best of blessings here!— Calm Conscience is a land-encircled bay, On whose smooth surface Tempests never blow; Which shall the reflex of our life display Unstain'd by crime, tho' gloom'd with transient woe; While the bright hopes of Heaven's eternal day Upon the fair and silent waters glow.
ON DOCTOR JOHNSON'S UNJUST CRITICISMS IN HIS LIVES OF THE POETS.
Cou'd aweful Johnson want poetic ear, Fancy, or judgment?—no! his splendid strain, In prose, or rhyme, confutes that plea.—The pain Which writh'd o'er Garrick's fortunes, shows us clear Whence all his spleen to GENIUS.—Ill to bear A Friend's renown, that to his own must reign, Compar'd, a Meteor's evanescent train, To Jupiter's fix'd orb, proves that each sneer, Subtle and fatal to poetic Sense, Did from insidious ENVY meanly flow, Illumed with dazzling hues of eloquence, And Sophist-Wit, that labor to o'er-throw Th' awards of AGES, and new laws dispense That lift the mean, and lay the MIGHTY low.
1: When Johnson's Idolaters are hard pressed concerning his injustice in those fallacious though able pages;—when they are reminded that he there tells us the perusal of Milton's Paradise Lost is a task, and never a pleasure;—reminded also of his avowed contempt of that exquisite Poem, the LYCIDAS;—of his declaration that Dryden's absurd Ode on the death of Mrs. Anne Killegrew, written in Cowley's worst manner, is the noblest Ode in this Language;—of his disdain of GRAY as a lyric Poet; of the superior respect he pays to Yalden, Blackmore, and Pomfret;—When these things are urged, his Adorers seek to acquit him of wilful misrepresentation by alledging that he wanted ear for lyric numbers, and taste for the higher graces of POETRY:—but it is impossible so to believe, when we recollect that even his prose abounds with poetic efflorescence, metaphoric conception, and harmonious cadence, which in the highest degree adorn it, without diminishing its strength. We must look for the source of his injustice in the envy of his temper. When Garrick was named a Candidate for admission into the Literary Club, Dr. Johnson told Mr. Thrale he would black-ball him. "Who, Sir? Mr. Garrick! Companion of your Youth! your acknowledged Friend!" "Why, Sir, I love my little David better than any, or all of his Flatterers love him; but surely we ought to sit in a Society like ours, 'unelbow'd by a Gamester, Pimp, or PLAYER." See Supplement to Dr. Johnson's Letters, published by Mrs. Piozzi. The blended hypocrisy and malice of this sally show the man. Johnson knew, at times, how to coax without sincerity as well as to abuse without justice. His seeming fondness for Mrs. C—— of Lichfield, on his visits to that City, and the contempt with which he spoke of her to her Townspeople, was another instance of the same nature.
ON THE POSTHUMOUS FAME OF DOCTOR JOHNSON.
Well it becomes thee, Britain, to avow JOHNSON's high claims!—yet boasting that his fires Were of unclouded lustre, TRUTH retires Blushing, and JUSTICE knits her solemn brow; The eyes of GRATITUDE withdraw the glow His moral strain inspir'd.—Their zeal requires That thou should'st better guard the sacred Lyres, Sources of thy bright fame, than to bestow Perfection's wreath on him, whose ruthless hand, Goaded by jealous rage, the laurels tore, That JUSTICE, TRUTH, and GRATITUDE demand Should deck those Lyres till Time shall be no more.— A radiant course did Johnson's Glory run, But large the spots that darken'd on its Sun.
TO A YOUNG LADY, PURPOSING TO MARRY A MAN OF IMMORAL CHARACTER IN THE HOPE OF HIS REFORMATION.
Time, and thy charms, thou fanciest will redeem Yon aweless Libertine from rooted vice. Misleading thought! has he not paid the price, His taste for virtue?—Ah, the sensual stream Has flow'd too long.—What charms can so entice, What frequent guilt so pall, as not to shame The rash belief, presumptuous and unwise, That crimes habitual will forsake the Frame?— Thus, on the river's bank, in fabled lore, The Rustic stands; sees the stream swiftly go, And thinks he soon shall find the gulph below A channel dry, which he may safe pass o'er.— Vain hope!—it flows—and flows—and yet will flow, Volume decreaseless, to the FINAL HOUR.
"Rusticus exspectat dum defluit amnis: at ille Labitur, et labetur in omne volubilis aevum." HORACE.
TO A YOUNG LADY IN AFFLICTION, WHO FANCIED SHE SHOULD NEVER MORE BE HAPPY.
Yes, thou shalt smile again!—Time always heals In youth, the wounds of Sorrow.—O! survey Yon now subsided Deep, thro' Night a prey To warring Winds, and to their furious peals Surging tumultuous!—yet, as in dismay, The settling Billows tremble.—Morning steals Grey on the rocks;—and soon, to pour the day From the streak'd east, the radiant Orb unveils In all his pride of light.—Thus shall the glow Of beauty, health, and hope, by soft degrees Spread o'er thy breast; disperse these storms of woe; Wake, with sweet pleasure's sense, the wish to please, Till from those eyes the wonted lustres flow, Bright as the Sun on calm'd and crystal Seas.
TO THE POPPY.
While Summer Roses all their glory yield To crown the Votary of Love and Joy, Misfortune's Victim hails, with many a sigh, Thee, scarlet POPPY of the pathless field, Gaudy, yet wild and lone; no leaf to shield Thy flaccid vest, that, as the gale blows high, Flaps, and alternate folds around thy head.— So stands in the long grass a love-craz'd Maid, Smiling aghast; while stream to every wind Her gairish ribbons, smear'd with dust and rain; But brain-sick visions cheat her tortur'd mind, And bring false peace. Thus, lulling grief and pain, Kind dreams oblivious from thy juice proceed, THOU FLIMSY, SHEWY, MELANCHOLY WEED.
WRITTEN IN THE RAINY SUMMER OF 1789.
Ah, hapless JUNE! circles yon lunar Sphere Yet the dim Halo? whose cold powers ordain Long o'er these vales shou'd sweep, in misty train, The pale continuous showers, that sullying smear Thy radiant lilies, towering on the plain; Bend low, with rivel'd leaves of canker'd stain, Thy drench'd and heavy rose.—Yet pledg'd and dear Fair Hope still holds the promise of the Year; Suspends her anchor on the silver horn Of the next wexing Orb, tho', JUNE, thy Day, Robb'd of its golden eve, and rosy morn, And gloomy as the Winter's rigid sway, Leads sunless, lingering, disappointing Hours Thro' the song-silent glades and dropping bowers.
He who a tender long-lov'd Wife survives, Sees himself sunder'd from the only mind Whose hopes, and fears, and interests, were combin'd, And blended with his own.—No more she lives! No more, alas! her death-numb'd ear receives His thoughts, that trace the Past, or anxious wind The Future's darkling maze!—His wish refin'd, The wish to please, exists no more, that gives The will its energy, the nerves their tone!— He feels the texture of his quiet torn, And stopt the settled course that Action drew; Life stands suspended—motionless—till thrown By outward causes, into channels new;— But, in the dread suspense, how sinks the Soul forlorn!
In sultry noon when youthful MILTON lay, Supinely stretch'd beneath the poplar shade, Lur'd by his Form, a fair Italian Maid Steals from her loitering chariot, to survey The slumbering charms, that all her soul betray. Then, as coy fears th' admiring gaze upbraid, Starts;—and these lines, with hurried pen pourtray'd, Slides in his half-clos'd hand;—and speeds away.— "Ye eyes, ye human stars!—if, thus conceal'd By Sleep's soft veil, ye agitate my heart, Ah! what had been its conflict if reveal'd Your rays had shone!"—Bright Nymph, thy strains impart Hopes, that impel the graceful Bard to rove, Seeking thro' Tuscan Vales his visionary Love.
1: This romantic circumstance of our great Poet's juvenility was inserted, as a well known fact, in one of the General Evening Posts in the Spring 1789, and it was there supposed to have formed the first impulse of his Italian journey.
He found her not;—yet much the POET found, To swell Imagination's golden store, On Arno's bank, and on that bloomy shore, Warbling Parthenope; in the wide bound, Where Rome's forlorn Campania stretches round Her ruin'd towers and temples;—classic lore Breathing sublimer spirit from the power Of local consciousness.—Thrice happy wound, Given by his sleeping graces, as the Fair "Hung over them enamour'd," the desire Thy fond result inspir'd, that wing'd him there, Where breath'd each Roman and each Tuscan Lyre, Might haply fan the emulative flame, That rose o'er DANTE's song, and rival'd MARO's fame.
THE CRITICS OF DOCTOR JOHNSON'S SCHOOL.
Lo! modern Critics emulously dare Ape the great Despot; throw in pompous tone And massy words their true no meaning down! But while their envious eyes on Genius glare, While axioms false assiduously they square In arrogant antithesis, a frown Lours on the brow of Justice, to disown The kindred malice with its mimic air. Spirit of Common Sense! must we endure The incrustation hard without the gem? Find in th' Anana's rind the wilding sour, The Oak's rough knots on every Osier's stem? The dark contortions of the Sybil bear, Whose inspirations never meet our ear?
1: In jargon, like the following, copied from a REVIEW, are the works of Genius perpetually criticized in our public Prints: "Passion has not sufficient coolness to pause for metaphor, nor has metaphor ardor enough to keep pace with passion."—Nothing can be less true. Metaphoric strength of expression will burst even from vulgar and illiterate minds when they are agitated. It is a natural effort of roused sensibility in every gradation, from unlettered simplicity to the highest refinement. Passion has no occasion to pause for metaphors, they rush upon the mind which it has heated. Similies, it is true, are not natural to strong emotion. They are the result of spirits that are calm, and at leisure to compare.
2: This idea is from a speech of Mr. Burke's, recorded by Boswell.
O! hast thou seen a vernal Morning bright Gem every bank and trembling leaf with dews, Tinging the green fields with her amber hues, Changing the leaden streams to lines of light? Then seen dull Clouds, that shed untimely night, Roll envious on, and every ray suffuse, Till the chill'd Scenes their early beauty lose, And faint, and colourless, no more invite The glistening gaze of Joy?—'Twas emblem just Of my youth's sun, on which deep shadows fell, Spread from the PALL OF FRIENDS; and Grief's loud gust Resistless, oft wou'd wasted tears compel: Yet let me hope, that on my darken'd days Science, and pious Trust, may shed pervading rays.
Sophia tempts me to her social walls, That 'mid the vast Metropolis arise, Where Splendor dazzles, and each Pleasure vies In soft allurement; and each Science calls To philosophic Domes, harmonious Halls, And storied Galleries. With duteous sighs, Filial and kind, and with averted eyes, I meet the gay temptation, as it falls From a seducing pen.—Here—here I stay, Fix'd by Affection's power; nor entertain One latent wish, that might persuade to stray From my ag'd Nurseling, in his life's dim wane; But, like the needle, by the magnet's sway, My constant, trembling residence maintain.
1: "And storied windows richly dight."—IL PENSEROSO.
While unsuspecting trust in all that wears Virtue's bright semblance, stimulates my heart To find its dearest pleasures in the part Taken in other's joys; yielding to theirs Its own desires, each latent wish that bears The selfish stamp, O! let me shun the art Taught by smooth Flattery in her courtly mart, Where Simulation's studied smile ensnares! Scorn that exterior varnish for the Mind, Which, while it polishes the manners, veils In showy clouds the soul.—E'en thus we find Glass, o'er whose surface clear the pencil steals, Grown less transparent, tho' with colours gay, Sheds but the darken'd and ambiguous ray.
As lightens the brown Hill to vivid green When juvenescent April's showery Sun Looks on its side, with golden glance, at Noon; So on the gloom of Life's now faded scene Shines the dear image of those days serene, From Memory's consecrated treasures won; The days that rose, ere youth, and years were flown, Soft as the morn of May;—and well I ween If they had clouds, in Time's alembic clear They vanish'd all, and their gay vision glows In brightness unobscur'd; and now they wear A more than pristine sunniness, which throws Those mild reflected lights that soften care, Loss of lov'd Friends, and all the train of Woes.
ON A LOCK OF MISS SARAH SEWARD'S HAIR WHO DIED IN HER TWENTIETH YEAR.
My Angel Sister, tho' thy lovely form Perish'd in Youth's gay morning, yet is mine This precious Ringlet!—still the soft hairs shine, Still glow the nut-brown tints, all bright and warm With sunny gleam!—Alas! each kindred charm Vanish'd long since; deep in the silent shrine Wither'd to shapeless Dust!—and of their grace Memory alone retains the faithful trace.— Dear Lock, had thy sweet Owner liv'd, ere now Time on her brow had faded thee!—My care Screen'd from the sun and dew thy golden glow; And thus her early beauty dost thou wear, Thou all of that fair Frame my love cou'd save From the resistless ravage of the GRAVE!
From a riv'd Tree, that stands beside the grave Of the Self-slaughter'd, to the misty Moon Calls the complaining Owl in Night's pale noon; And from a hut, far on the hill, to rave Is heard the angry Ban-Dog. With loud wave The rous'd and turbid River surges down, Swoln with the mountain-rains, and dimly shown Appals the Sense.—Yet see! from yonder cave, Her shelter in the recent, stormy showers, With anxious brow, a fond expecting Maid Steals towards the flood!—Alas!—for now appears Her Lover's vacant boat!—the broken oars Roll down the tide!—What images invade! Aghast she stands, the Statue of her fears!
ON CATANIA AND SYRACUSE SWALLOWED UP BY EARTHQUAKE.
FROM THE ITALIAN OF FILACAJA.
Here, from laborious Art, proud TOWNS, ye rose! Here, in an instant, sunk!—nor ought remains Of all ye were!—on the wide, lonely plains Not e'en a stone, that might these words disclose, "Here stood CATANIA;"—or whose surface shows That this was SYRACUSE:—but louring reigns A trackless DESOLATION.—Dim Domains! Pale, mournful Strand! how oft, with anxious throes, Seek I sad relics, which no spot supplies!— A SILENCE—a fix'd HORROR sears my soul, Arrests my foot!—Dread DOOM of human crimes, What art thou?—Ye o'erwhelmed Cities, rise! That your terrific skeletons may scowl Portentous warning to succeeding Times!
While one sere leaf, that parting Autumn gilds, Trembles upon the thin, and naked spray, November, dragging on his sunless day, Lours, cold and fallen, on the watry fields; And Nature to the waste dominion yields, Stript her last robes, with gold and purple gay.— So droops my life, of your soft beams despoil'd, Youth, Health, and Hope, that long exulting smil'd; And the wild carols, and the bloomy hues Of merry Spring-time, spruce on every plain Her half-blown bushes, moist with sunny rain, More pensive thoughts in my sunk heart infuse Than Winter's grey, and desolate domain, Faded, like my lost Youth, that no bright Spring renews.
MARCH, tho' the Hours of promise with bright ray May gild thy noons, yet, on wild pinion borne, Loud Winds more often rudely wake thy morn, And harshly hymn thy early-closing day. Still the chill'd Earth wears, with her tresses shorn, Her bleak, grey garb:—yet not for this we mourn, Nor, as in Winter's more enduring sway, With festal viands, and Associates gay, Arm 'gainst the Skies;—nor shun the piercing gale; But, with blue cheeks, and with disorder'd hair, Meet its rough breath;—and peep for primrose pale, Or lurking violet, under hedges bare; And, thro' long evenings, from our Lares claim The thrift of stinted grate, and sullen flame.
1: Lares, Hearth-Gods.
TO THE LAKE OF KILLARNEY.
Pride of Ierne's Sea-encircled bound, Rival of all Britannia's Naiads boast, Magnificent Killarney!—from thy coast Tho' mountains rise with noblest woods embrown'd; Tho' ten-voiced Echos send the cannon's sound In thunders bursting the vast rocks around, Till startled Wonder and Delight exhaust In countless repercussion—Isles embost Upon thy liquid glass; their bloomy veil Sorbus and ārbutus;—yet not for thee So keenly wakes our local ecstacy, As o'er the narrow, barren, silent Dale, Where deeply sleeps, rude circling Rocks among, The Love-devoted Fount enamour'd PETRARCH sung.
1: This Sonnet was written on having read a description of the Killarney Scenery immediately after that of the Vale of Vaucluse, uncultivated and comparatively desert as the latter has been through more than the present Century.
TO A YOUNG LADY, ADDRESSED BY A GENTLEMAN CELEBRATED FOR HIS POETIC TALENTS.
Round Cleon's brow the Delphic laurels twine, And lo! the laurel decks Amanda's breast! Charm'd shall he mark its glossy branches shine On that contrasting snow; shall see express'd Love's better omens, in the green hues dress'd Of this selected foliage.—Nymph, 't is thine The warning story on its leaves to find, Proud Daphne's fate, imprison'd in its rind, And with its umbrage veil'd, great Phoebus' power Scorning, and bent, with feet of wind, to foil His swift pursuit, till on Thessalian shore Shot into boughs, and rooted to the soil.— Thus warn'd, fair Maid, Apollo's ire to shun, Soon may his Spray's and VOTARY's lot be one.
THE PROSPECT A FLOODED VALE.
The three following Sonnets are written in the character of Werter; the sentiments and images chiefly, but not intirely taken from one of his letters.
Up this bleak Hill, in wintry Night's dread hour, With mind congenial to the scene, I come! To see my Valley in the lunar gloom, To see it whelm'd.—Amid the cloudy lour Gleams the cold Moon;—and shows the ruthless power Of yon swoln Floods, that white with turbid foam Roll o'er the fields;—and, billowy as they roam, Against the bushes beat!—A Vale no more, A troubled Sea, toss'd by the furious Wind!— Alas! the wild and angry Waves efface Pathway, and hedge, and bank, and stile!—I find But one wide waste of waters!—In controul Thus dire, to tides of Misery and Disgrace Love opes the flood-gates of my struggling Soul.
Yon late but gleaming Moon, in hoary light Shines out unveil'd, and on the cloud's dark fleece Rests;—but her strengthen'd beams appear to increase The wild disorder of this troubled Night. Redoubling Echos seem yet more to excite The roaring Winds and Waters!—Ah! why cease Resolves, that promis'd everlasting peace, And drew my steps to this incumbent height? I wish!—I shudder!—stretch my longing arms O'er the steep cliff!—My swelling spirits brave The leap, that quiets all these dire alarms, And floats me tossing on the stormy wave! But Oh! what roots my feet?—what spells, what charms The daring purpose of my Soul enslave?
My hour is not yet come!—these burning eyes Have not yet look'd their last!—else, 'mid the roar Of this wild STORM, what gloomy joy to pour My freed, exhaling Soul!—sublime to rise, Rend the conflicting clouds, inflame the skies, And lash the torrents!—Bending to explore Our evening seat, my straining eye once more Roves the wide watry Waste;—but nought descries Save the pale Flood, o'erwhelming as it strays. Yet Oh! lest my remorseless Fate decree That all I love, with life's extinguish'd rays Sink from my soul, to soothe this agony, To balm that life, whose loss may forfeit thee, COME DEAR REMEMBRANCE OF DEPARTED DAYS!
On the fleet streams, the Sun, that late arose, In amber radiance plays;—the tall young grass No foot hath bruis'd;—clear Morning, as I pass, Breathes the pure gale, that on the blossom blows; And, as with gold yon green hill's summit glows, The lake inlays the vale with molten glass.— Now is the Year's soft youth;—yet me, alas! Cheers not as it was wont;—impending woes Weigh on my heart;—the joys, that once were mine, Spring leads not back;—and those that yet remain Fade while she blooms.—Each hour more lovely shine Her crystal beams, and feed her floral Train; But ah with pale, and waning fires, decline Those eyes, whose light my filial hopes sustain.
Behold that Tree, in Autumn's dim decay, Stript by the frequent, chill, and eddying Wind; Where yet some yellow, lonely leaves we find Lingering and trembling on the naked spray, Twenty, perchance, for millions whirl'd away! Emblem, alas! too just, of Humankind! Vain MAN expects longevity, design'd For few indeed; and their protracted day What is it worth that Wisdom does not scorn? The blasts of Sickness, Care, and Grief appal, That laid the Friends in dust, whose natal morn Rose near their own;—and solemn is the call;— Yet, like those weak, deserted leaves forlorn, Shivering they cling to life, and fear to fall!
Yon soft Star, peering o'er the sable cloud, Sheds its green lustre thro' the darksome air.— Haply in that mild Planet's crystal sphere Live the freed Spirits, o'er whose timeless shroud Swell'd my lone sighs, my tearful sorrows flow'd. They, of these long regrets perhaps aware, View them with pitying smiles.—O! then, if e'er Your guardian cares may be on me bestow'd, For the pure friendship of our youthful days, Ere yet ye soar'd from earth, illume my heart, That roves bewilder'd in Dejection's night, And lead it back to peace!—as now ye dart, From your pellucid mansion, the kind rays, That thro' misleading darkness stream so bright.
1: The lustre of the brightest of the Stars always appeared to me of a green hue; and they are so described by Ossian.
All is not right with him, who ill sustains Retirement's silent hours.—Himself he flies, Perchance from that insipid equipoise, Which always with the hapless mind remains That feels no native bias; never gains One energy of will, that does not rise From some external cause, to which he hies From his own blank inanity.—When reigns, With a strong, cultur'd mind, this wretched hate To commune with himself, from thought that tells Of some lost joy, or dreaded stroke of Fate He struggles to escape;—or sense that dwells On secret guilt towards God, or Man, with weight Thrice dire, the self-exiling flight impels.
On the damp margin of the sea-beat shore Lonely at eve to wander;—or reclin'd Beneath a rock, what time the rising wind Mourns o'er the waters, and, with solemn roar, Vast billows into caverns surging pour, And back recede alternate; while combin'd Loud shriek the sea-fowls, harbingers assign'd, Clamorous and fearful, of the stormy hour; To listen with deep thought those awful sounds; Gaze on the boiling, the tumultuous waste, Or promontory rude, or craggy mounds Staying the furious main, delight has cast O'er my rapt spirit, and my thrilling heart, Dear as the softer joys green vales impart.
The breathing freshness of the shining Morn, Whose beams glance yellow on the distant fields, A sweet, unutterable pleasure yields To my dejected sense, that turns with scorn From the light joys of Dissipation born. Sacred Remembrance all my bosom shields Against each glittering lance she gaily wields, Warring with fond Regrets, that silent mourn The Heart's dear comforts lost.—But, NATURE, thou, Thou art resistless still;—and yet I ween Thy present balmy gales, and vernal blow, To MEMORY owe the magic of their scene; For with such fragrant breath, such orient rays, Shone the soft mornings of my youthful days.
TO A COFFIN-LID.
Thou silent Door of our eternal sleep, Sickness, and pain, debility, and woes, All the dire train of ills Existence knows, Thou shuttest out FOR EVER!—Why then weep This fix'd tranquillity,—so long!—so deep! In a dear FATHER's clay-cold Form?—where rose No energy, enlivening Health bestows, Thro' many a tedious year, that us'd to creep In languid deprivation; while the flame Of intellect, resplendent once confess'd, Dark, and more dark, each passing day became. Now that angelic lights the SOUL invest, Calm let me yield to thee a joyless Frame, THOU SILENT DOOR OF EVERLASTING REST.
Lichfield, March 1790.
Since my griev'd mind some energy regains, Industrious habits can, at times, repress The weight of filial woe, the deep distress Of life-long separation; yet its pains, Oft do they throb along these fever'd veins.— My rest has lost its balm, the fond caress Wont the dear aged forehead to impress At midnight, as he slept;—nor now obtains My uprising the blest news, that cou'd impart Joy to the morning, when its dawn had brought Some health to that weak Frame, o'er which my heart With fearful fondness yearn'd, and anxious thought.— Time, and the HOPE that robs the mortal Dart Of its fell sting, shall cheer me—as they ought.
ON THE VIOLENT THUNDER STORMS.
Remorseless WINTER! in thy iron reign Comes the loud whirlwind, on thy pinion borne; The long long night,—the tardy, leaden morn; The grey frost, riv'ling lane, and hill, and plain; Chill silent snows, and heavy, pattering rain. These are thy known allies;—and Life forlorn, Yet patient, droops, nor breathes repinings vain; But now, Usurper, thou hast madly torn From Summer's hand his stores of angry sway; His rattling thunders with thy winds unite, On thy pale snows those livid lightnings play, That pour their deathful splendors o'er his night, To poise the pleasures of his golden day, Soft gales, blue skies, and long-protracted light.
WRITTEN DECEMBER 1790.
Lyre of the Sonnet, that full many a time Amus'd my lassitude, and sooth'd my pains, When graver cares forbade the lengthen'd strains, To thy brief bound, and oft-returning chime A long farewell!—the splendid forms of Rhyme When Grief in lonely orphanism reigns, Oppress the drooping Soul.—DEATH's dark domains Throw mournful shadows o'er the Aonian clime; For in their silent bourne my filial bands Lie all dissolv'd;—and swiftly-wasting pour From my frail glass of life, health's sparkling sands. Sleep then, my LYRE, thy tuneful tasks are o'er, Sleep! for my heart bereav'd, and listless hands Wake with rapt touch thy glowing strings no more!
PARAPHRASES AND IMITATIONS OF HORACE.
Translations scrupulously faithful are apt to be stiff, vapid and obscure, from the often irreconcilably different nature of languages, from local customs, and from allusions to circumstances over which time has drawn a veil. In attempting to put the most admired and interesting of Horace's Odes into English Verse, I have taken only the Poet's general idea, frequently expanding it, to elucidate the sense, and to bring the images more distinctly to the eye; induced by the hope of thus infusing into these Paraphrases the spirit of original composition. Neither have I scrupled to follow the example of Dryden and Pope, by sometimes adding ideas and imagery congenial to the subject, and thus to translate Horace like a Poet, rather than a Versifier.
The trust, whether partial or not, that it was in my power so to paraphrase the Odes of Horace, prompted the late Mr. Grove of Lichfield, and the late Mr. Dewes of Wellsburn in Warwickshire, to request that I would undertake the task respecting those whose subjects best pleased me. Not acquainted with each other, the coincidence of their opinion and request was flattering. They were extensively known to be Gentlemen of distinguished virtues, much classic erudition, and poetic taste;
"Blest with each talent, and each art to please, And born to write, converse, and live at ease."
Mr. Dewes was the highly esteemed Friend of Dr. Parr, Mr. Grove of Lord Sheffield. A beautiful epitaph in verse, written by Mr. Grove, on his beloved Wife, is one of the chief ornaments of Lichfield Cathedral.
The imitation of the Ode to Delius, applied to Mr. Erskine, was written since the lamented death of those Gentlemen, which happened in the meridian of their days. All the other Paraphrases had been submitted to their revision and correction, and had been honoured by their warm praise. That consciousness makes me indifferent to the expected cavils of illiberal criticism.
Men of letters have often observed to me, that in paraphrasing Horace, my sex would be an unpardonable crime with every Pedant, whether within, or without the pale of professional criticism. It is not in their power to speak or write more contemptuously of my Horatian Odes than the Critics of Dryden's and Pope's time, in the literary journals of that Period, wrote of their Translations from Homer, Virgil, Horace, Boccace, and Chaucer. Instances of that public abuse are triumphantly inserted by Warburton in his Edition of Pope's works. See Appendix to the Dunciad. It is re-published there, to justify some of the personal severities of Pope's celebrated Satire.
Most of the notes to the ensuing Paraphrases are addressed to their unlearned Readers, since no allusion can interest which is not perfectly comprehended.
ODES FROM HORACE.
BOOK THE FIRST, ODE THE FIRST.
Maecenas, from Etrurian Princes sprung, For whom my golden lyre I strung, Friend, Patron, Guardian of its rising song, O mark the Youth, that towers along, With triumph in his air; Proud of Olympic dust, that soils His burning cheek and tangled hair! Mark how he spreads the palm, that crown'd his toils! Each look the throbbing hope reveals That his fleet steeds and kindling wheels, Swept round the skilfully-avoided goal, Shall with illustrious Chiefs his echo'd name enrol.
Who the civic crown obtains, Or bears into his granaries large The plenteous tribute of the Libyan Plains; Or he, who watches still a rural charge, O'er his own fields directs the plough, Sees his own fruitage load the bough; These would'st thou tempt to brave the faithless main, And tempt with regal wealth, thy effort should be vain.
The stormy South howls thro' the sullen cloud, Contending billows roar aloud! The Merchant sees the gathering danger rise, And sends a thousand yearning sighs To his dear shelter'd home.— Its shades receive him;—but the tides Grow smooth;—the wild winds cease to roam; And see!—his new-trimm'd vessel gaily rides!— Fir'd with the hope of wealth, once more He quits, so hardly gain'd, the shore; Watches, with eager eye, th' unfurling sail, Nor casts one look behind to the safe, sylvan vale.
The youth of gay, luxurious taste, Breaks, in the ārbutus' soft shade, The precious day with interrupting feast; Or quaffs, by some clear fountain in a glade, The mellow wine of ruby gleam, While in vain the purer stream Courts him, as gently the green bank it laves, To blend th' enfevering draught with its pellucid waves.
Th' uplifted trumpet, and the clarion, send, Confus'd, the mingled clang afar; Lo! while the Matron's tender breast they rend, Her Soldier hails that din of war.— The wood-land Chase desired, Far other sounds the Hunter charms; By the enlivening shout inspired, He breaks from his young Bride's encircling arms; Nor heeds the morning's wintry gale, While his deep-mouth'd hounds inhale The tainted breeze, or hold the stag at bay, Or while, from his strong toils, the wild boar bursts away.
THEE bright Learning's ivy crown Exalts above a mortal fate; Me shady Groves, light Nymphs, and Satyrs brown, Raise o'er the Crowd, in sweet sequester'd state. And there is heard the Lesbian lute, And there Euterpe's Dorian flute; But, should'st thou rank me with the LYRIC CHOIR, To GLORY's starry heights thy Poet would aspire.—
1: The Romans, in general, made no regular meal till the business of the day was over. They considered a mid-day feast as a mark of indolence and luxury.
2: "Diis miscent superis.] A manner of expression not unusual amongst the Greeks and Latins, for any eminent degree of happiness. Unless we adopt this explanation of the words, says Dacier, we shall make Horace guilty of a manifest contradiction, since a few lines farther he tells his Patron, that his suffrage, not the ivy crown is that, which will exalt him to the skies. The judicious emendation of the late Bishop of Chichester, who for Me doctarum, reads Te doctarum, removes all objection; and adds beauty to the Ode by the fine compliment it contains to Maecenas." BROM. HOR.
BOOK THE FIRST, ODE THE FIFTH.
Where roses flaunt beneath some pleasant cave, Too charming Pyrrha, what enamour'd Boy, Whose shining locks the breathing odors lave, Woos thee, exulting in a transient joy? For whom the simple band dost thou prepare, That lightly fastens back thy golden hair?
Alas! how soon shall this devoted Youth Love's tyrant sway, and thy chang'd eyes deplore, Indignant curse thy violated truth, And count each broken promise o'er and o'er, Who hopes to meet, unconscious of thy wiles, Looks ever vacant, ever facile smiles!
He, inexperienc'd Mariner! shall gaze In wild amazement on the stormy deep, Recall the flattery of those sunny days, That lull'd each ruder wind to calmest sleep. 'T was then, with jocund hope, he spread the sail, In rash dependence on the faithless gale.
Ah Wretch! to whom untried thou seemest fair! By me, who late thy halcyon surface sung, The walls of Neptune's fane inscrib'd, declare That I have dank and dropping garments hung, Devoted to the GOD, whose kind decree Snatch'd me to shore, from an o'erwhelming sea.
1: Horace alludes to the custom of the Roman Mariners after a shipwreck—that of suspending their garments, which had been drenched in the storm, in the temple of Neptune, together with a votive tablet, on which the circumstances of the danger and escape, were painted.
TO MUNATIUS PLANCUS.
BOOK THE FIRST, ODE THE SEVENTH.
Be far-fam'd RHODES the theme of loftier strains, Or MITYLENE, as their Bard decrees; Or EPHESUS, where great DIANA reigns, Or CORINTH, towering 'twixt the rival seas; Or THEBES, illustrious in thy birth divine, Purpureal BACCHUS;—or of PHOEBUS' shrine DELPHOS oracular; or warbling hail Thessalian TEMPE's flower-embroider'd vale.
The Art-crown'd City, chaste MINERVA's pride, There are, whose endless numbers have pourtray'd; They, to each tree that spreads its branches wide, Prefer the tawny Olive's scanty shade. Many, in JUNO's honor, sing thy meads, Green ARGOS, glorying in thy agile steeds; Or opulent MYCENE, whose proud fanes The blood of murder'd AGAMEMNON stains.
Nor patient LACEDAEMON wakes my lyre, Who trains her Sons to all the Warrior's toil; Nor me LARISSA's airy graces fire, Tho' round her hills the golden vallies smile: But my lov'd mansion, 'mid the circling wood, On the green bank of clear Albūnea's flood, Its walls resounding with the echo'd roar, As Anio's torrents down the mountain pour.
Amid my blooming orchards pleas'd I rove, Guiding the ductile course of murmuring rills; Or mark the curtains of the sacred grove Sink in the vales, or sweep along the hills. Ah Friend! if round my cell such graces shine, The PALACE of Tiburnian Shades is thine; She every feature of the Scene commands, And Empress of its varied beauty stands.
Tho' frequent mists the young Favonius shroud, Bending his flagging wing with heavy rains, Yet oft he chases every showery cloud, Winnowing, with pinion light, th' aerial plains; Ah! thus from thee let each dark vapor roll, That rash Ambition gathers on the soul; The jocund Pleasures in her absence rise, Glow in the breast, and sparkle in the eyes.
And thou, MUNATIUS, whether Fate ordain The Camp thy home, with glancing javelins bright; Or if the graces of that fair domain, Umbrageous Tivoli, thy steps invite; If trumpets sound the clang that Warriors love, Or round thee trill the choirings of the grove, In flowing bowls drown every vain regret, Enjoy the PRESENT, and the PAST forget!
The walls of SALAMIS when TEUCER fled, Driven by a Parent's unrelenting frown, Hope from his spirit chas'd each anxious dread, While on his brow he bound the poplar crown; In rich libation pour'd the generous wine, Then bath'd his temples in the juice divine; And thus, with gladden'd eye, and air sedate, Address'd the drooping Followers of his fate.
"Wherever Destiny, a kinder friend Than he who gave me birth, may point the way, Thither resolv'd our duteous steps shall bend, Nor know presaging fear, nor weak delay. Doubt flies when Teucer leads, and cold despair, In Teucer's auspices, shall melt to air; Phoebus ordains that, in more favoring skies, Another prosp'rous SALAMIS shall rise.
"So much alike her fountains, fanes, and bowers, That e'en her name shall dubious meaning bear;— Then, my lov'd Friends, who oft, in darker hours, Have shar'd with me a conflict more severe, O! let us lose in wine our sorrow's weight, And rise the masters of our future fate! This night we revel in convivial ease, To-morrow seek again the vast and pathless seas."
1: He had twice been Consul; was of Brutus' and Cassius' party, but went over to Augustus, who received him with kind respect. However he revolted from him, persuaded by the Friends of Marc Antony, that the Battle of Actium would decree the Empire to that General. The event, so contrary, brought Munatius back to the feet of Augustus, but he was not received with former kindness, nor did he deserve it, and retired, chagrined, to his fine seat at Tivoli, in the wood of Tiburnus, so called from the neighbouring city, Tibur. There also, and near the falls of Tivoli, described at full in Mr. Gray's letters, Horace had a villa. The Poet, perceiving the spirits of Munatius dejected, writes this Ode to reconcile him to his destiny, and to inspire him with delight in the beautiful Scenery by which he was surrounded; insinuating, that should Augustus banish him, which was no improbable event, he ought not to despond, but to form his conduct upon the spirited example of Teucer; who, together with his Friends and Followers, was banished from his native City, Salamis, by his Father, because he had not revenged upon the Greeks the death of his Brother Ajax.—The disinterested design of this Ode, and the humane attention it pays to a disgraced Nobleman, are much to the Poet's honor, who was perhaps, in general, more disposed to gratulate the Powerful, than to sooth the Unfortunate.
2: Rhodes, the Capital of an Island of the same name in the Mediterranean, and famous for the Colossal Statue.
3: Mitylene, the chief City of Lesbos, praised by Cicero for its advantageous situation, elegant buildings, and fertile soil.
4: Tawny Olive. It was believed that Minerva presented the seed of the olive-tree to the Athenians.
5: Larissa, a beautiful City, upon one of the hills in Thessaly.
6: This surely must be the Poet's meaning in mentioning his own villa, when he is endeavouring to awaken in Munatius a taste for the surrounding beauties of his more magnificent seat. Commentators rationally conclude that some connecting lines have been lost from the latin of this Ode. It appears to me, that the idea which those dismembered lines conveyed, must necessarily have been the comparison added in the four ensuing lines, which makes the transition easy.
BOOK THE FIRST, ODE THE EIGHTH.
O, Lydia! I conjure thee tell Why, with persisting zeal, thou dost employ The strongest power of amorous spell On Sybaris, belov'd too well, Wounding his fame amid voluptuous joy?
Why shuns he now the noon-tide glare, Inur'd to whirling dust, and scorching heat? Ceases the Warrior-vest to wear In which he us'd, with graceful air, Aspiring Youths, all emulous, to meet?
Why is it now no more his pride To rein the ardent horse with agile arm? With new-strung sinews to divide The yellow Tyber's angry tide, When the tempestuous showers its rage alarm?
Why hates he, as the viper's gore, The Wrestler's oil, that supples every vein? Why do we see his arms no more With livid bruises spotted o'er, Of manly sports the honorable stain?
'T was his to whirl, with matchless skill, The glancing quoit, the certain javelin throw, While Crowds, with acclamations shrill, The lofty Circus joy'd to fill, And all the honors of the Day bestow.
Such fond seclusion why desire?— Thus Thetis' care her blooming Son conceal'd, Ere yet commenc'd that Contest dire, When mournful gleam'd the funeral pyre, Thro' ten long years, on Ilium's purpled field.
In vain the female vest he wore, That Love maternal might avert his fate; Lest his spear drink the Lycian gore, Lest sinking Troy his force deplore, And DEATH with GLORY meet him at her gate.
BOOK THE FIRST, ODE THE NINTH.
In dazzling whiteness, lo! Soracte towers, As all the mountain were one heap of snow! Rush from the loaded woods the glittering showers; The frost-bound waters can no longer flow.
Let plenteous billets, on the glowing hearth, Dissolve the ice-dart ere it reach thy veins; Bring mellow wines to prompt convivial mirth, Nor heed th' arrested streams, or slippery plains.
High Heaven, resistless in his varied sway, Speaks!—The wild elements contend no more; Nor then, from raging seas, the foamy spray Climbs the dark rocks, or curls upon the shore.
And peaceful then yon aged ash shall stand; In breathless calm the dusky cypress rise; To-morrow's destiny the Gods command, To-day is thine;—enjoy it, and be wise!