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good deeds, all good affection dies, and the heart becomes utterly desolate. The external world, too, then loses all its beauty ; poetry fades away from the earth ; for what is poetry, but the reflection of all pure and sweet, all high and holy thoughts? But where duty is,
“ Flowers laugh beneath her in their beds,
And fragrance in her footing treads ;-
And what other books, besides her Bible, doth Theodora read ? History, to be sure, and romances, and voyages and travels, and— POETRY. Preaching and praying is not the whole of religion. Sermons, certainly, are very spi. ritual, especially Jeremy Taylor's; but so is Spenser's Fairy Queen, if we mistake not, and Milton's Paradise Lost. What a body of divinity in those two poems! This our Theodora knows, nor fears to read them,-even on the Sabbath day. Not often so, perhaps; but as often as the pious spirit of delight may prompt her to worship her Creator through the glorious genius of his creatures !
And what may be the amusements of our Theodora ? Whatever her own heart, thus instructed and guarded may desire. No nun is shemno veil hath she takenbut the veil which nature weaves of mantling blushes, and modesty sometimes lets drop, but for a few moments, over the reddening rose-glow on the virgin's cheeks. All round and round her own home, as the centre, expand before her happy eyes, the many concentric circles of social life. She regards them all with liking or with love, and has showers of smiles and of tears too to scatter, at the touch of joys or sorrows that come not too near her heart, while yet they touch its strings. Of many of the festivities of this world-ay, even of this wicked world—she partakes with a gladsome sympathy-and, would you believe it ?-Theodora sometimes dances, and goes to concerts and plays, and sings herself like St. Cecilia, till a drawingroom in a city, with a hundred living people, is as hushed as a tomb full of skeletons in some far-off forest beyond the reach of the voice of river or sea!
Now, were you to meet our Theodora in company,
ten to one you would not know it was she; possibly you might not see any thing very beautiful about her; for the beauty we love strikes not by a sudden and single blow,but-allow us another simile-is like the vernal sunshine, still steal, steal, stealing through a dim, tender, pensive sky, and even when it has reached its brightest, tempered and subdued by a fleecy veil of clouds. To some eyes such a spring-day has but little loveliness, and passes away unregarded over the earth; but to others it seemeth a day indeed born in heaven, nor is it ever forgotten in the calendar kept in common by the imagination and the heart.
Would you believe it?-our Theodora is fond of dress! Rising up from her morning prayer, she goes to her mirror; and the beauty of her own face-though she is not philosopher enough to know the causes of effects-makes her happy as day.dawn. Ten minutes at the least and never was time better employed-has the fair creature been busy with her ten delicate fingers and thumbs in tricking her hair ;-ten more in arranging the simple adornment of her person; and a final ten in giving, ever and anon, somotimes before the mirror, and sometimes away from it, those skilful little airy touches to the toute-ensemble, which a natural sense of grace and elegance can alone bestow- of which never was so consummate a mistress--and of which Minerva knew no more than a modern Blue. Down she comes to the breakfast-table; for a spring-shower has prevented her from taking her morning walk ;-down she comes to the breakfast-table, and her presence diffuses a new light over the room, as if a shutter had been suddenly opened to the east.
(Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1830.)
DESCRIPTIVE poetry is either the most dull or the most delightful thing in the united kingdoms of art and nature. To write it well, you must see with your eyes shut-no such easy operation. But to enable you to see with your eyes shut, you must begin with seeing with your eyes open--an operation, also, of much greater difficulty than is generally imagined—and indeed not to be well performed by one man in a thousand. Seeing with your eyes open is a very complicated concern--as it obviously must be, when perhaps fifty church-spires, and as many more barns, some millions of trees, and hay-stacks innumerable, hills and plains without end, not to mention some scores of cities, towns, villages, and hamlets, are all impressed--tiny images-on each retina---which tiny images the mind must see as in reflection within these miraculous mirrors. She is apt to get confused amidst that bewildering conglomeration--to mistake one object for another-to displace and disarrange to the destruction of all harmonies and proportions--and finally, to get, if not stone-at least, what is perhaps worse, sand-blind. The moment she opens her mouth to discourse of these her perceptions, the old lady is apt to wax so confused, that you unjustly suspect her of a bad habit; and as soon as she winks, or shuts her eyes, begins prosing away from memory, till you lose all belief in the existence of the external world. Chaos is come again and old John Nox introduces you to Somnus. The poem falls out of your hand-for we shall suppose a poem-a composing draft of a descriptive poem to have been in itbut not till you have swallowed sufficient of one dose to produce another doze that threatens to last till doomsday.
We really cannot take it upon ourselves to say what is the best mode of composition for a gentleman or lady of poetical propensities to adopt with respect to a descriptive poem-whether to sketch it, and lay the colours on-abso. lutely to finish it off entirely-in the open air, sitting under the shade of an elm, or an umbrella ; or from a mere out. line, drawn sub dio, to work up the picture to perfect beauty, in a room with one window, looking into a backcourt inhabited by a couple of cockless hens, innocent of cackle. Both modes are dangerous—full of peril. In the one', some great Gothic cathedral is apt to get into the foreground, to the exclusion of the whole country ; in the other, the scenery too often retires away back by much too far into the distance—the groves look small, and the rivers sing small and all nature is like a drowned rat.
The truth is—and it will out—that the poet alone sees this world. Nor does it make the slightest difference to him whether his eyes are open or shul-in or out-bright as stars, or “ with dim suffusion veiled”—provided only the iris of each “ particular orb” has, through tears of love and joy, been permitted for some twenty years, or thereabouts, to span heaven and earth, like seeing rainbows. All the imagery it ever knows has been gathered up by the perceiving soul during that period of time-afterwards 'tis the divining soul that works-and it matters not then whether the material organ be covered with day or with night. Milton saw without eyes more of the beauty and sublimity of the heavens than any man has eyer done since with eyes-except Wordsworth ;-and were Wordsworth to lose his eyes—which heaven forbid-still would he
“Walk in glory and in joy, .. Following his soul upon the mountain side."
The sole cause of all this power possessed by the poet over nature, is the spirit of delight, the sense of beauty, in which, from the dawning of moral and intellectual thought, he has gazed upon all her aspects. He has always felt towards her “as a lover or a child”—she hath ever been his mother his sister-his bride—his wife--all in one
wonderful living charm breathed over the shapings of his brain and the yearnings of his blood ;—and no wonder that all her sights dwell for ever and ever in the fountains of his eyes, and all her sounds in the fountains of his ears
-for what are these fountains but the depths and recesses of his own happy yet ever agitated heart?
A poet, then, at all times, whether he will or not, com. , merces with the skies, and with the seas, and with the earth, in a language of silent symbols ; and when he lays it aside, and longs to tell correctly of what he sees and seels to his brethren of mankind not so gifted by God, though then he must adopt their own language, the only one they understand, yet from his lips it becomes, while still human, an angelic speech. Ay-even their homeliest phrases-their everyday expressions-in which they speak of life's dullest goings-on and most unimpassioned procedure-seem kindled as by a coal from heaven, and prose brightens into poetry. True, that the poet selects all his words—but he selects them in a spirit of inspiration, which is a discriminating spirit--as well as a moving and creating spirit. All that is unfit for his high and holy purpose, of itself fades away; and out of all that is fit, genius, true to nature, chooses whatever is fittest-out of the good—the best. Not with a finer, surer instinct, flies the bee from flower to flower-touching but for a moment, like a shadow, on the bloom where no honey is mand where that ambrosia lies, piercing with passion into the rose's heart. Poetical language, indeed—who may tell what it is? What else can it be but poetry itself? And what is poetry--we know not though wour heart leaps up when we behold” it—even as at sight of a something in the sky-saint at first as a tinging dream, cloud-born-but growing gradually out of the darkness of the showery sky-child of the sun-dying almost as soon as bornyet seeming to be a creature-a being-a living thing that might endure for ever-and not a mere apparition, too, too soon deserting the earth and the heaven it has momentarily glorified with a rainbow !
But is poetry indeed thus evanescent? Yes-in the poet's soul. For it is produced upon the shadowy and showery background of the imagination, by genius shin