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THE POET AND HIS POETRY.
[Thomas CAMPBELL, the Bard of Hope, was born at Glasgow, in 1777, at which City he received his education.
The writings of this poet have done mankind some service, and tended very materially to fix the poetic taste of the present generation. Campbell has shown that the pure and exalted feelings of our nature, afford legitimate subjects for poetry of the highest stamp, and that it is not necessary for the poet to identify himself with the gloomy, or the terrible, to claim the attention of the majority. The “ Pleasures of Hope," the master-piece of Campbell's genius, embodies some of the purest and most delicate conceptions in our language. And finding an echo in every human bosom, as universal in its application, it awakens the tenderest emotions of the soul, and fans into flame those aspirations which ever speak to man of his high destiny, and turning hope itself into faith, gives the “ evidence of things not seen."
The style and diction of Campbell resemble a beautiful Grecian temple of the Ionic order, whose delicate symmetry enchants the beholder. A temple in which vestal virgins might minister, and in which the religion of the heart might find a sanctuary. Its imagery is as the delicate filigree work of some beautiful casket, which contains a set of jewels for some virgin bride and indicates the purity of which she is the example; Campbell appears to unite with the sweetness and simplicity of Goldsmith, and the terseness of Pope, a higher vein of imagination and a more dignified expression, and although he may seldom startle the soul as he carries it forward in its contemplations, he has no less the power to entrance it and to subdue.
Campbell has written little, but what he has written will stand against the withering touch of time. He takes his place securely among the poets of his age, and although he may not be the first, he is among the first of the poetic brotherhood. His minor pieces are most of them elaborately finished. The “ Soldier's Dream," is finely and naturally described; "Lochiel's Warning," would not suffer even by a comparison with the “ Bard" of Gray. The lines written on visiting a scene in Bavaria have a dignity and force about them that rivet the attention, while the “Last Man,” exhibits touches which none but the Christian could feel, and none but the master hand of genius could give. His “Gertrude of Wyoming," a beautiful Indian tale, written in the Spenserian stanza, contains many chastely beautiful and elaborate passages. “ Theoderic,” almost the last of this author's performances, is a more sober production, and although it may not add to the poet's reputation, it in no way detracts from it; it has a deep and quiet pathos and intensity, and shows that a good man's heart never grows old.]
WIZARD.] Lochiel! Lochiel ! beware of the day
WIZARD.) Ha ! laugh'st thou, Lochiel, my vision to scorn? · Proud bird of the mountain, thy plume shall be torn! Say, rush'd the bold eagle exultingly forth, From his home, in the dark-rolling clouds of the north? Lo! the death-shot of foemen outspeeding, he rode Companionless, bearing destruction abroad; But down let him stoop from his havoc on high! Ah! home let him speed—for the spoiler is nigh. Why flames the far summit? Why shoot to the blast Those embers, like stars from the firmament cast? 'Tis the fire-shower of ruin, all dreadfully driven From his eiry, that beacons the darkness of heaven. Oh, crested Lochiel ! the peerless in might, Whose banners arise on the battlement's height, Heaven's fire is around thee, to blast and to burn; Return to thy dwelling, all lonely! return! For the blackness of ashes shall mark where it stood, And a wild mother scream o'er her famishing brood. LOCHIEL.] False Wizard, avaunt ! I have marshall'd my clan; Their swords are a thousand, their bosoms are one!
They are true to the last of their blood and their breath,
WIZARD.] Lochiel, Lochiel ! beware of the day!
LOCHIEL.] Down, soothless insulter! I trust not the tale :
THE LAST MAN.
All worldly shapes shall melt in gloom,
The sun himself must die,
Adown the gulf of Time !
As Adam saw her prime.
The sun's eye had a sickly glare,
The earth with age was wan,
Around that lonely man!
In plague and famine some :
To shores where all was dumb!
Yet, prophet-like, that lone one stood,
With dauntless words and high, That shook the sere leaves from the wood,
As if a storm passed by; Saying, “We are twins in death, proud Sun, Thy face is cold, thy race is run
'Tis mercy bids thee go ; For thou, ten thousand, thousand years, Hast seen the tide of human tears,
That shall no longer flow.
“What though beneath thee man put forth
His pomp, his pride, his skill ;
The vassals of his will;
For all those trophied arts
Entail'd on human hearts.
"Go, let oblivion's curtain fall
Upon the stage of men,
Life's tragedy again;
Of pain anew to writhe;
Like grass beneath the scythe.
“Even I am weary in yon skies
To watch thy fading fire; Test of all sunless agonies,
Behold not me expire. My lips that speak thy dirge of deathTheir rounded gasp and gurgling breath
To see thou shalt not boast, The eclipse of nature spreads my pallThe majesty of darkness shall
Receive my parting ghost ! “ This spirit shall return to Him
That gave its heavenly spark ;
When thou thyself art dark ;
By Him recall'd to breath,
And took the sting from death.
“Go, Sun, while mercy holds me up,
On Nature's awful waste,
Of grief that man shall taste ;
On earth's sepulchral clod, The darkening universe defy To quench his immortality,
Or shake his trust in God.”