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writes should be no exaggeration of his feelings. His life is not passed in composing; therefore, his habitual moods need not be of the pitch of those in which he writes. His inspirations strike upon corresponding chords in our bosoms, and we feel all he describes as if the sentiments had sprung within us. Our interest, our pity, our belief, are raised for that which, in common life, we certainly would not allow to be our every day thoughts—and which we do not conceive to be his. But if we see any thing which leads us to suppose that he sat down coolly to work up these emotions—if he “ beat his sides” for warmth, and his head for images, all our interest is dried up. In short, if he seem to exaggerate, we are instantly cold. The melody of language, the heaping of images, which would appear out of place in prose, are not exaggerations in poetry. They rise from the higher flow of ideas—the kindling of the imagination. But they must be spontaneous and real ; and thus it is that so many poets fail:—for it is evident that they labour and seek these things which should appear to flow of themselves as easily as household words. We know, too, that those who have written tenderness and pathos have been selfish and cold. We know that sentiments have been beautifully expressed which were not felt : but good poetry will deceive-we believe in it while we read, and while our sensibilities are excited we do not deem the highest flights exaggerated. Poetry is not exaggeration, unless we were to feel and speak poetically every moment of our lives; and he who paints and colours over his ideas wants the estro of a true poet. I fear, however, that the constant display of feelings which a poet makes, in time dulls them; for there are some thoughts which grow less vivid if they are detailed—some feelings which too much use will render hackneyed.
".We belong to the unpopular family of Tell-truths, and would not flatter Apollo for
his Lyre."--Rob Roy.
The MARTYR of Antioch : a Dramatic Poem. By the Rev.
H. H. MIlman, Professor of Poetry in the University of
Oxford One Vol. 8vo. London, Murray, 1822. We do not think this poem calculated to add much to Mr. Milman's reputation. He has earned a great name, and the announcement of a new poem from him gives rise to high expectation. Fazio was a splendid dawnand the Fall of Jerusalem far more than counterbalanced any disappointment which might have been occasioned by Samor. But the present work, we think, would never have gained the reputation which Mr. Milman enjoys, and, in consequence, will not tend to increase it. It has little of the terce, which should be inseparable from poetical composition,-it has few “ thoughts that breathe, and words that burn,”-it is classical till it almost becomes cold. In seeking to avoid the appearance of straining after effect, Mr. M. has nearly ceased to produce effect altogether. If his poem have the sublime solemnity of the ocean in a calm, it has much of its monotony, and insipidity also.
The story is as short and simple as may be. Margarita, the daughter of a heathen priest, becomes a convert to Christianity, and is, in consequence, condemned to death. The Prefect, who is forced to condemn her, loves her, and is beloved again. From these materials much poetry, we think, might be derived. The struggles of the Prefect's feelings are most susceptible of poetical developement : and, above all, the workings of Margarita's mind ought to give the poem great beauty and vigour. On the last point, indeed, considerable pains have
been bestowed ; but, we must say, we think without very great effect. The strong desire which Mr. Milman seems to have felt to be perfectly classical and pure, has, apparently, withheld him from the delineation of powerful passion, of which he has shewn himself so great a master in his former poems. One scene in particular is glaringly mismanaged—and that is one which gives the widest field to all the beauties of poetry, both passionate and tender. We allude to the interview between Olybius and Margarita, in which he strives to persuade her to abjure her faith, and live. And how does he attempt this ?—It must be remembered, that he has the mightiest power over her mind, which it is possible for man to have over the mind of woman-she loves him, and he knows that she does so. With this fearful engine, how does he commence his task ? It will be supposed, that he paints in the most withering terms his feelings at being forced to pass sentence on the being that he most loves on earth ;-that he pleads with all the eloquence of real passion against her determination to die ;-that he causes her deep-seated love for him to combat her attachment to her newly-embraced religion. No: instead of this, he has her brought from her dungeon to his “illuminated palace,” and there tempts her with the luxuries and pomps of voluptuous and powerful life. Instead of enlisting her passions in his cause, he coldly strives to win her by means of her vanity and avarice. He holds out these miserable bribes to a woman of high soulto one drunk with fanaticism, even unto coveting and glorying in the crown of martyrdom.
Perhaps, however, it may be doubted, how far any mode of pleading would have availed in such a case. The new and absorbing nature of the faith she had embraced, would leave little room for the violence of love.