« AnteriorContinuar »
tering the violence of the fiction under the ancient traditionary fable, have created and imagined an entire new set of charace ters, and brought closely and minutely before us the loves and sorrows and perplexities of beings, with whose names and supernatural attributes we had long been familiar, without any sense or feeling of their personal character. We have more than doubts of the fitness of such personages to maintain a permanent interest with the modern public; but the way in which they are here managed, certainly gives them the best chance that now remains for them; and, et all events, it cannot be denied that the effect is striking and graceful. But we must now proceed to onr extracts.
The first of the volumes before us is occupied with the loves of Endymion and Diana-which it would not be very easy, and which we do not at all intend to analyze in detail. In the ben ginning of the poem, however, the Shepherd Prince is represented as having had strange visions and delirious interviews with an unknown and celestial beauty; soon after which, he is called on to preside at a festival in honour of Pan; and his appearance in the procession is thus described.
His youth was fully blown,
Showing like Ganymede to manhood grown; ..
And, for those simple times, his garments were
A chieftain king's: beneath his breast, half bare,
Was hung a silver bugle, and between
His nervy knees there lay a boar-spear keen.
A smile was on his countenance; he seem'd,
To common lookers on, like one who dream'd
Of idleness in groves Elysian :
But there were some who feelingly could scan
A lurking trouble in his nether lip,
And see that oftentimes the reins would slip
Through his forgotten hands.' pp. 11, 12. There is then a choral hymn addressed to the sylvan deity, which appears to us to be full of beauty; and reminds us, in many places, of the finest strains of Sicilian or English poetry, A part of it is as follows.
• " O Thou, whose mighty palace roof doth hang
From jagged trunks, and overshadoweth
Eternal whispers, glooms, the birth, life, death .
Of unseen flowers in heavy peacefulness;
Who lov'st to see the hamadryads dress
Their ruffled locks where meeting hazels darken;
And through whole solemn hours dost sit, and hearken
The dreary melody of bedded reeds
In desolate places, where dank moisture breeds
The pipy bemlock to strange overgrowth.
• O thou, for whose soul-soothing quiet, turtles
Passion their voices cooingly 'mong myrtles,
What time thou wanderest at eventide
Through sunny meadows, that outskirt the side
Of thine enmossed realms : 0 thou, to whom
Broad leaved fig trees even now foredoom
Their ripen'd fruitage ; yellow girted bees
Their golden honeycombs ; our village leas
Their fairest blossom'd beans and poppied corn;
The chuckling linnet its five young unborn,
To sing for thee ; low creeping strawberries
Their summer coolness ; pent up butterflies
Their freckled wings ; yea, the fresh budding year
All its completions-be quickly near,
By every wind that nods the mountain pine,
O forester divine!
“ Thou, to whom every fawn and satyr flies
For willing service ; whether to surprise
The squatted hare while in half sleeping fit;
Or upward ragged precipices flit
To save poor lambkins from the eagle's maw;
Or by mysterious enticement draw
Bewildered shepherds to their path again;
Or to tread breathless round the frothy main,
And gather up all fancifullest shells
For thee to tumble into Naiads' cells,
And, being hidden, laugh at their out-peeping ;
Or to delight thee with fantastic leaping,
The while they pelt each other on the crown
With silvery oak apples, and fir cones brown-
By all the echoes that about thee ring,
Hear us, O satyr king !
“ O Hearkener to the loud clapping shears,
While ever and anon to his shorn peers
A ram goes bleating : Winder of the horn,
· When snouted wild-boars routing tender corn
Anger our huntsman : Breather round our farms,
To keep off mildews, and all weather harms:
Strange ministrant of undescribed sounds,
That come a swooning over hollow grounds,
And wither drearily on barren moors. ”' pp. 114-117. The enamoured youth sinks into insensibility in the midst of the solemnity, and is borne apart and revived by the care of his sister; and, opening his heavy eyes in her arms, says
6“ I feel this thine endearing love
All through my bosom : thou art as a dove
Trembling its closed eyes and sleeked wings
About me ; and the pearliest dew not brings
Such morning incense from the fields of May,
As do those brighter drops that twinkling stray
From those kind eyes. Then think not thou
That, any longer, I will pass my days
Alone and sad. No, I will once more raise
My voice upon the mountain-heights; once more
Make my horn pariey from their foreheads hoar :
Again my trooping hounds their tongues shall loll
Around the breathed boar : again I'il poll
The fair-grown yew tree, for a chosen bow :
And, when the pleasant sun is getting low,
Again I'll linger in a sloping mead
To hear the speckled thrushes, and see feed
Our idle sheep. So be thou cheered sweet,
And, if thy lute is here, softly intreat
My soul to keep in its resolved course."
• Hereat Peona, in their silver source,
Shut her pure sorrow drops with glad exclaim,
And took a lute, from which there pulsing came
A lively prelude, fashioning the way
In which her voice should wander. 'Twas a lay
More subtle cadenced, more forest wild
Than Dryope's lone lulling of her child;
And nothing since has floated in the air
So mournful strange.' pp. 25–27. He then tells her all the story of his love and madness; and is afterwards led away by butterflies to the haunts of Naiads, and by them sent down into enchanted caverns, where he sees Venus and Adonis, and great flights of Cupids, and wanders over diamond terraces among beautiful fountains and temples and statues, and all sorts of fine and strange things. All this is very fantastical: But there are splendid pieces of description, and a sort of wild richness on the whole. "We cull a few little morsels. This is the picture of the sleeping Adonis.
• In midst of all, there lay a sleeping youth
Of fondest beauty. Sideway his face repos'd
On one white arm, and tenderly unclos'd,
By tenderest pressure, a faint damask mouth
To slumbery pout; just as the morning south
Disparts a dew-lipp'd rose. Above his head,
Four lily stalks did their white honours wed
To make a coronal; and round him grew
All tendrils green, of every bloom and hue,
Together intertwin'd and trammel'd fresh:
The vine of glossy sprout; the ivy mesh,
Shading its Ethiop berries; and woodbine,
Of velvet leaves and bugle-blooms divine.
VOL. XXXIV, NO. 67.
Stood serene Cupids watching silently.
One, kneeling to a lyre, touch'd the strings,
Muffling to death the pathos with his wings;
And, ever and anon, uprose to look
At the youth's slumber; while another took
A willow-bough, distilling odorous dew,
And shook it on his hair; another flew
In through the woven roof, and Auttering-wise
Rain'd violets upon his sleeping eyes.' pp. 72, 73.
There is another and more classical sketch of Cybele.
• Forth from a rugged arch, in the dusk below,
Came mother Cybele! alone-alone
In sombre chariot ; dark foldings thrown
About her majesty, and front death-pale,
With turrets crown'd. Four maned lions hale
The sluggish wheels ; solemn their toothed maws,
Their surly eyes brow-hidden, heavy paws
Uplifted drowsily, and nervy tails
Cowering their tawny brushes. Silent sails
This shadowy queen athwart, and faints away
In another gloomy arch.' p. 83. In the midst of all these spectacles, he has, we do not very well know how, a ravishing interview with his unknown goddess; and, when she melts away from him, he finds himself in á vast grotto, where he overhears the courtship of Alpheus and Arethusa, and, as they elope together, discovers that the grotto has disappeared, and that he is at the bottom of the sea, under the transparent arches of its naked waters. The following is abundantly extravagant; but comes of no ignoble lineage, nor shames its high descent.
"Far had he roam'd,
With nothing save the hollow vast, that foam’d
Above, around, and at his feet ; save things
More dead than Morpheus' imaginings :
Old rusted anchors, helmets, breast-plates large
Of gone sea warriors ; brazen beaks and targe;
Rudders that for a hundred years had lost
The sway of human hand; gold vase emboss'd
With long-forgotten story, and wherein
No reveller had ever dipp'd a chin
But those of Saturn's vintage ; mouldering scrolls,
Writ in the tongue of heaven, by those souls
Who first were on the earth ; and sculptures rude
In ponderous stone, developing the mood
Of ancient Nox ;-then skeletons of man,
Of beast, behemoth, and leviathan,
And elephant, and eagle, and huge jaw
Of nameless monster.' p. 111. There he finds antient Glaucus enchanted by Circehears his wild story—and goes with him to the deliverance and restoration of thousands of drowned lovers, whose bodies were piled and stowed away in a large submarine palace. When this feat is happily performed, he finds himself again on dry ground, with woods and waters around him; and cannot help falling desperately in love with a beautiful damsel whom he finds there pining for some such consolations, and who tells a long story of her having come from India in the train of Bacchus, and having strayed away from him into that forest :-so they vow eternal fidelity, and are wafted up to heaven on flying horses, on which they sleep and dream among the stars;—and then the lady melts away, and he is again alone upon the earth; but soon rejoins his Indian love, and agrees to give up his goddess, and live only for her: But she refuses, and says she is resolved to devote herself to the service of Diana; and when she goes to dedicate herself, she turns out to be the goddess in a new shape, and exalts her lover with her to a blest immortality.
We have left ourselves room to say but little of the second volume, which is of a more miscellaneous character. Lamia is a Greek antique story, in the measure and taste of Endymion. Isabella is a paraphrase of the same tale of Boccacio, which Mr Cornwall has also imitated under the title of 'a Sicilian Story.' It would be worth while to compare the two imitations; but we have no longer time for such a task. Mr K. has followed his original more closely, and has given a deep pathos to several of his stanzas. The widowed bride's discovery of the murdered body is very strikingly given. • Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon
Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies,
She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone,
And put it in her bosom, where it dries.
Then 'gan she work again; nor stay'd her care,
But to throw back at times her veiling hair.
That old nurse stood beside her wondering,
Until her heart felt pity to the core
At sight of such a dismal labouring,
And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,
And put her lean hands to the horrid thing :
Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore;
At last they felt the kernel of the grave, &c.
In anxious secrecy they took it home,
And then the prize was all for Isabel :
She calm'd its wild hair with a golden comb,
And all around each eye's sepulchral cell