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Ariel guides you o'er the sea
The artist who this idol wrought, To echo all harmonious thought, Fell'd a tree, while on the steep The woods were in their winter sleep, Rock'd in that repose divine On the wind-swept Appenine : And dreaming, some of autumn past, And some of spring approaching fast, And some of April buds and showers, And some of songs in July bowers, And all of love : and so this treeO that such our death may be !Died in sleep, and felt no pain, To live in happier form again : From which, beneath Heaven's fairest star, The artist wrought this lov'd Guitar, And taught it justly to reply To all who question skilfully, In language gentle as thine own; Whispering in enamor'd tone Sweet oracles of woods and dells, And summer winds in sylvan cells ; For it had learnt all harmonies Of the plains and of the skies, Of the forest and the mountains, And the many-voiced fountains, The clearest echoes of the hills, The softest notes of falling rills, The melodies of birds and bees, The murmuring of summer seas, And pattering rain, and breathing dew,
And airs of evening; and it knew
This is a Catullian melody of the first water. The transform. ation of the dreaming wood of the tree into a guitar was proba. bly suggested by Catullus's Dedication of the Galley,-a poem with which I know he was conversant, and which was particularly calculated to please him ; for it records the consecration of a favorite old sea-boat to the Dioscuri. The modern poet's imagination beats the ancient; but Catullus equals him in graceful flow ; and there is one very Shelleian passage in the original :
Ubi iste, post phaselus, antea fuit
For of old, what now you see
MUSIC, MEMORY, AND LOVE.
Music, when soft voices die,
1 “ Music, when soft voices die.”—This song is a great favorite with musicians: and no wonder. Beaumont and Fletcher never wrote anything of the kind more lovely.
BORN, 1796,—DIED, 1821.
KEATS was a born poet of the most poetical kind. All his feel. ings came to him through a poetical medium, or were speedily colored by it. He enjoyed a jest as heartily as any one, and sympathized with the lowliest common-place; but the next minute his thoughts were in a garden of enchantment, with nymphs, and fauns, and shapes of exalted humanity;
Elysian beauty, melancholy grace.
It might be said of him, that he never beheld an oak-tree without seeing the Dryad. His fame may now forgive the critics who disliked his politics, and did not understand his poetry. Repeated editions of him in England, France, and America, attest its triumphant survival of all obloquy; and there can be no doubt that he has taken a permanent station among the British Poets, of a very high, if not thoroughly mature, description.
Keats's early poetry, indeed, partook plentifully of the exuberance of youth; and even in most of his later, his sensibility, sharpened by mortal illness, tended to a morbid excess. His region is “a wilderness of sweets,”-flowers of all hue, and “ weeds of glorious feature,”—where, as he says, the luxuriant soil brings
The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth.
But there also is the “rain-scented eglantine," and bushes of May-flowers, with bees, and myrtle, and bay,—and endless paths into forests haunted with the loveliest as well as the gentlest beings; and the gods live in the distance, amid notes of majestic thunder. I do not say that no “surfeit” is ever there; but I do, that there is no end to the “nectared sweets.” In what other English poet (however superior to him in other respects) are you so certain of never opening a page without lighting upon the loveliest imagery and the most eloquent expressions ? Name one. Compare any succession of their pages at random, and see if the young poet is not sure to present his stock of beauty ; crude it may be, in many instances; too indiscriminate in general ; : never, perhaps, thoroughly perfect in cultivation; but there it is, exquisite of its kind, and filling envy with despair. He died at five-and-twenty; he had not revised his earlier works, nor given his genius its last pruning. His Endymion, in resolving to be free from all critical trammels, had no versification ; and his last noble fragment, Hyperion, is not faultless,—but it is nearly so. The Eve of St. Agnes betrays morbidity only in one in. stance (noticed in the comment). Even in his earliest productions, which are to be considered as those of youth just emerging from boyhood, are to be found passages of as masculine a beauty as ever were written. Witness the Sonnet or reading Chapman's Homer,-epical in the splendor and dignity of its images, and terminating with the noblest Greek simplicity. Among his finished productions, however, of any length, the Eve of St. Ag. nes still appears to me the most delightful and complete specimen of his genius. It stands mid-way between his most sensitive ones (which, though of rare beauty, occasionally sink into feebleness) and the less generally characteristic majesty of the fragment of Hyperion. Doubtless his greatest poetry is to be found in Hyperion; and had he lived, there is little doubt he would have written chiefly in that strain; rising superior to those languishments of love which made the critics so angry, and which they might so easily have pardoned at his time of life. But the Eve of St. Agnes had already bid most of them adieu,exquisitely loving as it is. It is young, but full-grown poetry of the rarest description; graceful as the beardless Apollo; glowing and gorgeous with the colors of romance. I have there. fore reprinted the whole of it in the present volume, together with the comment alluded to in the Preface; especially as, in