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“Poetry, like truth, is a common flower. God has sown it over the earth, like the daisies, sprinkled with tears or glowing in the sun, even as He places the Crocus and the March frosts. together, and beautifully mingles life and death !"
EBENEZER ELLIOTT. Such a definition of poetry could only have been given by one who was himself a true poet; such a beautiful similitude could not have sprung up in any other mind than one accustomed to hold commune with that power, of which it may be said, with a slight alteration of the words of SHELLEY,
“ As flowers beneath May's footsteps waken,
As stars from night's loose air are shaken,
Thoughts spring where'er that voice doth fall.” Taking the simile altogether, it is exquisite, alike for its truth and beauty; it fixes itself at once upon the memory, and becomes a part of the rich and rare adornments of that “chamber of imagery," the imagination. Many such shall we have to present to you, reader, before we conclude this chapter, for 'tis a rich subject, and appropriate passages, both of prose and poetry throng upon us,
6. Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks," and we are perplexed, amid such a multitude of lovely creations, what to choose, and what to reject. As a pendant to that of the “Corn Law Rhymer,” we give LADY BLESSINGTON's fanciful comparison: “Some flowers absorb the rays of the sun so strongly, that in the evening they yield slight phosphoric flashes, may we not compare the minds of poets to these flowers, which imbibing light, emit it again in a different form and aspect ?” Truly may we, fair querist! who art thyself one of those imbibers and emitters of light;—a human flower, celebrated not more for its beauty of form and colouring, than for its fragrance and inward virtues; of whom it may well be said,
“Her thoughts are garlands of new-tinted flowers,
Their utterance perfume.”—J. A WADE.
Proverbial Philosopher,” of modern times, not as applying to the lady above eulogised, but as supplying a worthy companion to the one last quoted :
“Speech is the golden harvest that followeth the flowering of
thought; Yet oftentimes runneth it to husks, and the grain be withered
and scanty."-M. F. TUPPER.
SIR HUMPHREY Davy tells us that the first king of Great Britain said, respecting a sermon, which was excellent in doctrine, but over-charged with poetical allusions and figurative language, “ that the tropes and metaphors of the speaker were like the brilliant wild flowers in a field of corn, very pretty, but which did very much hurt the corn:” and if this speech were indeed uttered by King ALPRED, we want no other proof of his being both a poet and a philosopher ; for although the language of scripture is eminently figurative and metaphorical, yet a preacher who overloads his discourse with tropes and similes, is in much danger of exciting and amusing the imagination of his hearers, while he leaves their hearts and their understandings altogether untouched.
A writer in “The Churchman's Monthly Review," noticing a volume of the “Pulpit Oratory," of the present day, in which there is much that is magniloquent and hyperbolical, and wisely and beautifully bids his author remember, that “A few overstrained and affected epithets, are often enough to change the most glowing eloquence into a painful burlesque; as if a master were playing Handel's majestic harmonies, and a wilful child, in every touching movement, were to sweep his hand along the keys," and also, that “The homeliest address which was ever drawn from the text by a village preacher, would be more likely to affect the heart, and stir the spirit into compliance with the gracious invitation, than the most brilliant and flowery address ever uttered or penned.” To this we may add the lines of CowPER:
“For ghostly counsel, if it either fall
Below the exigence, or be not backed
Drops from the lips a disregarded thing."
divine simplicity, and though He frequently makes use of a metaphor, we are never so much struck with its exquisite beauty and propriety, as with the moral which it is intended to illustrate and enforce; for instance:
“Consider the lilies, how they grow; they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, That Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O, ye of little faith !"* Equally simple and appropriate are the words of the prophet: “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower.”+ And again : “ All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth ; because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth ; but the word of our God shall stand for ever."I Many such passages will occur to the minds of our readers, proving the truth of these remarks. Well may it be said :
"As vanishes the fleeting shade,
As flowers before the evening fade,
His days are measured by a span."-FAWCETT. Our readers have already been warned, and had examples, of our disposition for wandering beyond the boundaries of the subject chosen for discourse. In truth we are sad vagrants, but we hope they will like us none the less, especially when, as in the present
* Luke, xii., 27. Isaiah, xxviii., 9. Isaiah, xl., 6.
instance, we return to the right path with a whole armful of poetical beauties—a bundle of similitudes :"“ 'Twas then that in me 'gan to bud anew
Immortal Truth-heaven's brightest evergreen !
The pansy, Peace, the star-flower, Faith, and then
How precious now became their hues, their scents;
My spirits twice ten thousand sin-made rents,
This is a bouquet, let us now seek out a few single symbolical flowers. Some one, we know not who, has finely said, “ Opportnnity is the flower of time, and as the stalk may remain when the flower is cut off, so time may remain with us, when opportunity is gone for ever,” and another unknown writer exclaims,
“If bliss be a frail and perishing flower
Born only to decay,
Would fling its sweets away?". Thus admonished, let us seize the present time to examine and enjoy our collection of sweets, lest we lose the opportunity, and it never more return. In“ Letters from Palmyra," we find this passage: "As this dark mould sends upwards, and out of its very heart, the rare Persian rose, so does hope grow out of evil, and the darker the evil the brighter the hope, as from a richer and fouler soil comes the more vigorous plant and larger flower.” This is very beautiful; but what says the poet upon the subject ?