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ride upon a cherub, and did fly; yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his secret place ; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the sky." The circumstances of darkness and terror are here applied with propriety and success for heightening the sublime.

The celebrated instance, given by Longinus, from Moses, “God said, let there be light; and there was light," belongs to the true sublime; and its sublimity arises from the strong conception, it conveys, of an effort of power producing its effect with the utmost speed and facility. A. similar thought is magnificently expanded in the following passage of Isaiah, chap. xliv. 24,27,28. “ Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb; I am the Lord, that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone ; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; that saith to the deep, be dry, and I will dry up the rivers; that saith of Cyrus, he is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure ; even saying to Jerusalem, thou shalt be built; and to the temple, thy foundation shall be laid."

Homer has in all ages been universally admired for sublimity; and he is indebted for much of his grandeur to that native and unaffected simplicity which characterizes his manner. His descriptions of conflicting armies; the spirit, the fire, the rapidity, which he throws into his battles, present to every reader of the Iliad frequent instances of sublime writing. The majes. ty of his warlike scenes is often heightened in a high degree by the introduction of the gods.


the twentieth book, where all the gods take part in the engagement, according as they severally favour either the Grecians or the Trojans, the poet appears to put forth one of his highest efforts, and the description rises into the most awful magnificence. All nature appears in commotion. Jupiter thunders in the heavens ; Neptune strikes the earth with his trident; the ships, the city, and the mountains shake; the earth trembles to its centre; Pluto starts from his throne, fearing, lest the secrets of the infernal regions should be laid open to the view of mortals. We shall transcribe Mr. Pope's translation of this passage ; which, though inferior to the original, is highly animated and sublime.

But, when the powers descending swell’d the fight,
Then tumult rose, fierce rage, and pale affright,
Now through the trembling shores Minerva calls,
And now she thunders from the Grecian walls,
Mars, hov'ring o'er his Troy, his terror shrouds
In gloomy tempests, and a night of clouds ;
Now through each Trojan heart he fury pours
With voice divine from Ilion's topmost towers;
Above the Sire of gods his thunder rolls,
And peals on peals redoubled rend the poles.
Beneath, stern Neptune shakes the solid ground,
The forests wave, the mountains nod around;
Through all her summits tremble Ida's woods,
And from their sources boil her hundred floods :
Troy's turrets totter on the rocking plain;
And the toss'd navies beat the heaving main ;
Deep in the dismal region of the dead,
The infernal monarch rear'd his horrid head,
Leapt from his throne, lest Neptune's arm should lay
His dark dominions open to the day,
And pour in light on Pluto's drear abodes,
Abhorr’d by men, and dreadful'e'en to gods.
Such wars the immortals wage ; such horrors rend
The world's vast concave, when the gods contend.

Conciseness and simplicity will ever be found essential to sublime writing. Simplicity is properly opposed to studied and profuse ornament; and conciseness to superfluous espression. It will easily appear, why a defect either in conciseness or simplicity is peculiarly hurtful to the sublime. The emotion, excited in the mind by some great or noble object, raises it considerably above its common pitch. A species of enthusiasm is produced, extremely pleasing, while it lasts; but the mind is tending every moment to sink into its ordinary state.

When an author has brought us, or is endeavouring to bring us into this state, if he multiply words unnecessarily; if he deck the sublime object on all sides with glittering ornaments; nay, if he throw in any one decorotion which falls in the least below the principal image; that moment he changes the key; he relaxes the tension of the mind; the strength of the feeling is emasculated; the beautiful may remain ; but the sublime is extinguished. Homer's description of the nod of Jupiter, as shaking the heavens, bas been admired in all ages, as wonderfully sublime. Literally translated, it runs thus; “ He spoke, and bending his sable brows, gave the awful nod; while he shook the celestial locks of his immortal head, all Olympus was shaken. Mr. Pope translates it thus :

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He spoke ; and awful bends his sable brows,
Shakes his ambrosial curls, and gives the nod;
The stamp of fate, and sanction of a God;
High heaven with trembling the dread signal took,
And all Olympus to its centre sbook,


The image is expanded, and attempted to be beautified; but in reality it is weakened. The third line, “ The stamp of fate, and sanction of a God,” is entirely expletive, and introduced only to fill up the rhyme ; for it interrupts the description, and clogs the image. For the same reason Jupiter is represented, as shaking his locks, before he gives the nod; “ Shakes his ambrosial curls, and gives the nod;" which is trifling and insignificant; whereas in the original the shaking of his hair is the consequence of his nod, and makes a happy picturesque circumstance in the description.

The boldness, freedom, and variety of our blank verse are infinitely more propitious than rhyme, to all kinds of sublime poetry. The fullest proof of this is afforded by Milton; an author, whose genius led him peculiarly to the sublime. The first and second books of Paradise Lost are continued examples of it. Take, for instance, the following noted description of Satan, after his fall, appearing at the head of his infernal hosts.

-He, above the rest,
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tower; his form had not yet lost
All her original brightness, nor appear’d
Less than archangel ruin'd, and the excess
Of glory obscur’d; as when the sun, new risen,
Looks through the horizontal misty air,
Shorn of his beams; or, from behind the moon,
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs. Darken'd so, yet shone

Above them all the archangel.. Here various sources of the sublime are joined together; the principal object superlatively

great; a high, superior nature, fallen indeed, but raising itself against distress ; the grandeur of the principal object heightened by connecting it with so noble an idea, as that of the sun suffering an eclipse; this picture, shaded with all those images of change and trouble, of darkness and terror, which coincide so exquisitely with the sublime emotion; and the whole expressed in a style and versification, easy, natural, and simple, but magnificent.

Beside simplicity and conciseness, strength is essentially necessary to sublime writing. Strength of description proceeds, in a great measure, from conciseness; but it implies something more, namely, a judicious choice of circumstances in the description; such as will exhibit the object in its full and most striking point of view. For, every object has several faces, by which it may be presented to us, according to the circumstances with wbich we surround it; and it will appear superlatively sublime, or not, in proportion as these circumstances are happily chosen, and of a sublime kind. In this, the great art of the writer consists ; and indeed the principal difficulty of sublime description. If the description be too general, and divested of circumstances; the object is shown in a faint light, and makes a feeble impression, or no impression, on the reader. At the same time, if any trivial or improper circumstances be mingled, the whole is degraded.

The nature of that emotion, which is aimed at by sublime description, admits no mediocrity, and cannot subsist in a middle state; but must either highly transport us; or, if unsuccessful in the execution, leave us exceedingly disgusted.

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