« PoprzedniaDalej »
which every now and then take place of what is concealed beneath them.— It is upon this happy contrast that the interest of the whole piece chiefly hinges, and would Mr Coleridge only take heart, and complete what he has so nobly begun—he would probably make Christabel the finest exemplification to be found in the English, or perhaps in any language since Homer's, of an idea which may be traced in most popular superstitions. In these two poems—we might even
say in the extracts we have made from
them—the poetical faculties of Coleridge are abundantly exhibited in the whole power and charm of their native beauty. That such exercise of these faculties may have been so far injudicious as not calculated to awaken much of the ordinary sympathies of mankind—but rather addressing every thing to feelings of which in their full strength and sway only a few. are capable—all this is a reproach easy to be made, and in a great measure perhaps it may be a well-founded reproach. But nothing surely can be more unfair, than to overlook or deny the existence of such beauty and such strength on any grounds of real or pretended misapplication. That the author of these productions is a poet of a most noble class—a poet most original in his conceptions—most masterly in his execution—above all things. a most inimitable master of the language of poetry—it is impossible to deny. His powers indeed—to judge. from what of them that has been put forth and exhibited—may not be of the widest—or even of the very highest kind. So far as they go, surely, they are the most exquisite of powers. In his mixture of all the awful and all the gentle graces of conception—in his sway of wild—solitary—dreamy phantasies—in his music of words—and magic of numbers—we think he stands absolutely alone among all the poets of the most poetical age. In one of the great John Müller's early letters (compositions, by the way, which it is a thousand pities the English reader should have no access to admire) there is a fine passionate disquisition on the power of words—and on the unrivalled use of that power exemplified in the writings of Rousseau. “He sways mankind with that delicious might”—says the youthful historian—“ as Jupiter does with his
lightnings.” We know not that there is any English poet who owes so much to this single element of power as Coleridge. It o to us that there is not one of them, at least not one that has written since the age of Elizabeth, in whose use of words the most delicate sense of beauty concurs with so much exquisite subtlety of metaphysical perception. To illustrate this by individual examples is out of the question, but we think a little examination. would satisfy any person who is accustomed to the study of language of the justice of what we have said.— . In the kind of poetry in which he has chiefly dealt, there can be no doubt the effect of his peculiar mastery over this instrument has been singularly happy—more so than, perhaps, it could have been in any other. The wholet essence of his poetry is more akin to music than that of any other poetry we have ever met with. Speaking' generally, his poetry is not the poetry of high imagination—nor of teeming fancy—nor of overflowing sentiment—least of all, is it the poetry of intense or overmastering passion:If there be such a thing as poetry. of the senses strung to imagination— such is his. It lies in the senses, but they are senses breathed upon by imagination—having reference to the imagination though they do not reach to it—having a sympathy, not an union, with the imagination—like the beauty of flowers. In Milton there is between sense and imagination a strict union—their actions are blended into one. In Coleridge what is borrowed from imagination or affection is brought to sense—sense is his sphere. In him the pulses of sense seem to die away in sense. The emotions in which he deals—even the love in which he deals —can scarcely be said to belong to the class of what are properly called passions. The love he describes the bes
is a romantic and spiritual movemen
of wonder, blended and exalted with an ineffable suffusion of the powers of sense. There is more of aerial romance, than of genuine tenderness, even in the peerless love of his Genevieve. Her silent emotions are an unknown world which her minstrel watches with fear and hope—and yet there is exquisite propriety in calling that poem LovE, for it truly represents the essence of that passionwhere the power acquired over the human soul depends so much upon the awakening, for a time, of the idea of infinitude, and the bathing of the universal spirit in one interminable sea of thoughts undefineable. We are aware that this inimitable poem is better known than any of its author's productions—and doubt not that many hundreds of our readers have got it by heart long ago, without knowing by whom it was written—but there can be no harm in quoting it, for they that have read it the most frequently will be the most willing to read it a. gain. All thoughts, all passions, all delights, Whatever stirs this mortal frame, Are all but ministers of Love, And feed his sacred flame.
Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o'er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay, Beside the ruin'd tower.
The Moonshine, stealing o'er the scene,
Had blended with the lights of eve;
And she was there, my hope, my joy, My own dear Genevieve 1
She leant against the armed man,
I play'd a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story—
An old rude song, that suited well That ruin wild and hoary.
She listen’d with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
For well she knew, I could not chuse But gaze upon her face.
H told her of the Knight that wore Upon his shield a burning brand ; And that for ten long years he woo'd The Lady of the Land.
I told her how he pined; and ah!
But when I told the cruel scorn
And how she wept, and claspt his knees; And how she tended him in vainAnd ever strove to expiate The scorn that crazed his brain. And that she nursed him in a cave; And how his madness went away, When on the yellow forest-leaves A dying man he lay. His dying words—but when I reach'd That tenderest strain of all the ditty, My faultering voice and pausing harp Disturb’d her soul with pity! All impulses of soul and sense Had thrill'd m §. Genevieve: The music, o e doleful tale, The rich and balmy eve; And hopes, and fears that kindle hope, An undistinguishable throng, And gentle wishes long subdued, Subdued and cherish'd long She wept with pity and delight, She blush'd with love, and virgin-shame: And like the murmur of a dream, I heard her breathe my name. Her bosom heav’d—she stept aside, As conscious of my look she stept— Then suddenly, with timorous eye She fled to me and wept. She half enclosed me with her arms, She press'd me with a meek embrace; And bending back her head, look’d up, And gazed upon my face. 'Twas partly Love, and partly Fear, And partly ’twas a bashful art, That I might rather feel, than see, The swelling of her heart. I calm'd her fears, and she was calm, And told her love with virgin-pride, And so I won my Genevieve, My bright and beauteous Bride. We shall take an early opportunity of offering a few remarks on Mr Cole. ridge's efforts in tragedy—and in particular on his o or. rather improvement of the Wallenstein. We shall then, perhaps, be able still more effectually to carry our readers along with us—when we presume to address a few words of expostulation to this remarkable man on the strange and unworthy indolence which has, for so many years, condemned so many of his high gifts to slumber in comparative uselessness and inaction. “A cheerful soul is what the muses loveA soaring spirit is their prime delight.”
THE MISSIONARY ; A PosM.
Never were any two poets more unlike each other than Bowles and Coleridge; and we believe that the associating principle of contrast has now recalled to our remembrance the author of so many beautiful strains of mere human affection and sensibility, after we have been indulging ourselves in the wild and wonderful fictions of that magician. Coleridge appears before us in his native might, only when walking through the mistiness of preternatural fear; and even over his pictures of ordinary life, and its ordinary emotions, there is ever and anon the “glimmer and the gloom” of an imagination that loves to steal away from the earth we inhabit, and to bring back upon it a lovelier, and richer, and more mysterious light, from the haunts of another world. Bowles, on the contrary, looks on human life with delighted tenderness and love, and unreservedly opens all the pure and warm affections of the most amiable of hearts, to all those impulses, and impressions, and joys, and sorrows, which make up the sum of our mortal .. or misery. He is, beyond doubt, one of the most pathetic of our English poets. The past is to him the source of the tenderest inspirations; and while Coleridge summons from a world of shadows the imaginary beings of his own wild creation, to seize upon, to fascinate, and to enchain our souls in a pleasing dread, —Bowles recalls from .. and oblivion the human friends whom his heart loved in the days of old—the human affections that once flowed purely, peacefully, and beautifully between them—and trusts, for his dominion over the spirits of his readers, to thoughts which all human beings may r ise, for they are thoughts which all human beings must, in a greater or less degree, have experienced. Coleridge is rich in fancy and imagination—Bowles in sensibility and tenderest ion. The genius of the one would delight to fling the radiance or the mists of fiction over the most common tale of life—that of the other would clothe even a tale of fic
BY THE REv. we L. Bowles.”
tion with the saddest and most mournful colours of reality. Fear and wonder are the attendant spirits of Coleridge-pity and sadness love to walk by the side of Bowles. We have heard-indeed they themselves have told us—that these poets greatly admire the genius of each other; nor is it surprising that it should be so; for how delightful must it be for Bowles, to leave, at times, the “quiet homestead” where his heart indulges its melancholy dreams of human life, and to accompany the “winged bard” on his wild flights into a far-off land 1 —and how can it be less delightful to Coleridge to return from the dreary shadowiness of his own haunted regions, back into the bosom of peace, tenderness, and quiet joy! We intend, on an early occasion, to take a survey of all Mr. Bowles' poetical works; for some of them are, we suspect, not very generally known, and even those which are established in the classical poetry of this age, are not so universally familiar as they ought to be to our countrymen in Scotland. Mr Bowles was a popular poet before any one of the great poets of the day arose, except Crabbe and and Rogers; and though the engrossing popularity of some late splendid productions has thrown his somewhat into the shade, yet, though little talked of, we are greatly mistaken if they are not very much read—if they have not a home and an abiding in the heart of England. The extreme grace and elegance of his diction, the sweetness and occasional richness of his versification, and his fresh and teeming imagery, would of themselves be sufficient to give him a respectable and permanent station among our poets; but when to these qualities are added a pure, natural, and unaffected pathos, a subduing tenderness, and a strain of genuine passion, we need not scruple to say that Mr Bowles possesses more of the poetical character than some who enjoy a more splendid reputation, and that while they sink with sinking fashion and caprice, he will rise with rising nature and truth.
Beneath aerial cliffs, and glittering snows, The rush-roof of an aged Warrior rose, Chief of the mountain tribes: high, overhead, The Andes, wild and desolate, were spread, Where cold Sierras shot their icy spires, And Chillan trail'd its smoke and smould'ring fires, A glen beneath—a lonely spot of rest— Hung, scarce discover'd, like an eagle's nest. Summer was in its prime;—the parrot-fiocks Darken'd the passing sunshine on the rocks; The chrysomé and purple butterfly, Amid the clear blue iight, are wand'ring by; The humming-bird, along the myrtle bow'rs, With twinkling wing, is spinning o'er the flow’rs, The woodpecker is heard with busy bill, The mock-bird sings—and all beside is still. And look the cataract that bursts so high, As not to mar the deep tranquillity, The tumult of its i. . suspends, And, stealing drop by drop, in mist descends: Through whose illumin'd spray and sprinkling dews, Shine to the adverse sun the broken rainbow hues. Check’ring, with partial shade, the beams of noon, And arching the gray rock with wild festoon, Here, its gay net-work, and fantastic twine, The to cogul threads from pine to pine, And oft, as the fresh airs of morning breathe, Dips its long tendrils in the stream beneath. There, ogh the trunks, with moss and lichens white, The sunshine darts its interrupted light, And, 'mid the cedar's darksome boughs, illumes, With instant touch, the Lori's scarlet plumes. So smiles the scene;—but can its smiles impart Aught to console yon mourning Warrior's heart? He heeds not now, when beautifully bright, The humming-bird is circling in his sight; Nor e'en, above his head, when air is still, Hears the green woodpecker's resounding bill; But gazing on the rocks and mountains wild, Rock after rock, in glittering masses pil'd To the volcano's cone, that shoots so high Gray smoke whose column stains the cloudless sky, He cries, “Oh if thy spirit yet be fled To the pale kingdoms of the shadowy dead,In yonder tract of purest light above, Dear long-lost object of a father's love, Dost thou abide 2 or like a shadow come, Circling the scenes of thy remember'd home, And passing with the breeze 2 or, in the beam Of evening, light the desert mountain stream 2 'Or at deep midnight are thine accents heard, In the notes of that melodious bird, Which, as we listen with mysterious dread, Brings tidings from our friends and fathers dead?" “Perhaps, beyond those summits, far away, Thine eyes yet view the living light of day; Sad, in the stranger's land, thou may'st sustain A weary life of servitude and pain, With wasted eye gaze on the orient beam, And think of these white rocks and torrent-stream,
Never to hear the summer cocoa wave, Or weep upon thy father's distant grave.”
We can conceive nothing more natural, nor more affectingly beautiful than the following description of the children of Atacapac, the mountainchief. - s
In other days, when, in his manly pride, Two children for a father's fondness vied,— Oft they essay’d, in mimic strife, to wield His lance, or laughing peep'd behind his shield. Oft in the sun, or the magnolia's shade, Lightsome of heart as gay of look, they play’d, . Brother and sister: She, along the dew, * Blithe as the squirrel of the forest flew; Blue rushes wreath’d her head: her dark brown hair Fell, gently lifted, on her bosom bare; Her necklace shone, of sparkling insects made, That flit, like specks of fire, from sun to shade; Light was her form; a clasp of silver brac'd The azure-dyed ichella round her waist; Her ankles rung with shells, as, unconsin'd, She danc'd, and sung wild carols to the wind. With snow-white teeth, and laughter in her eye, So beautiful in youth, she bounded by. Yet kindness sat upon her aspect bland,- . The tame Alpaca stood and lick'd her hand; She brought o gather'd moss, and lov'd to deck With flow'ry twine his tall and stately neck, Whilst he with silent gratitude replies, And bends to her caress his large blue eyes. o These children danc'd together in the shade, Or stretch'd their hands to see the rainbow fade; Or sat and mock'd, with imitative glee, r The paroquet, that laugh’d from tree to tree; , Or through the forest's wildest solitude, From glam to glen, the marmozet pursued; * And thought the light of parting day top short, That call'd them, ling'ring, from their daily sport. In that fair season of awak'ning life, When dawning youth and childhood are at strife; When on the verge of thought gay boyhood stands Tiptoe, with glist'ning eye and outspread hands; : With airy look, and form and footsteps light, And glossy locks, and features berry-bright, ..." And eye like the young eaglet's, to the ray Of noon, unblenching, as he sails away; A brede of sea-shells on his bosom strung, * . . A small stone hatchet o'er his shoulders slung, "... With slender lance, and feathers, blue and rod, That, like the heron's crest, wav'd on his head, , Buoyant with hope, and airiness, and joy, Lautaro was the loveliest Indian boy: Taught by his sire, ev'n now he drew the bow, Qr track'd the jagguar on the morning snow; Startled the Cóndor on the craggy height; Then silent sat, and mark'd its upward flight, , , Lessening in ether to a speck of white. But when th’ impassion'd Chieftain spoke of war, Smote his broad breast, or pointed to a scar, Spoke of the strangers of the distant main, And the proud banners of insulting Spain,_ Of the barb'd horse and iron horseman spoke, * And his red Gods, that wrapt in rolling smoke.Roar'd from the guns—the Boy, with still-drawn breath, Hung on the wond’rous tale, as mute as death; Then rais'd his animated eyes, and cried, “O let me perish by my father's side!"
The Warrior blesses his young son, and the family retire to repose, when their slumbers are suddenly broken by the attack of a fierce band of Spaniards, who, notwithstanding the desperate resistance of the distracted father, bear off, as their prize, his young son Lautaro.
Sev'n snows had fall'm, and sev'n green summers
pass'd, Since here he heard that son's lov'd accents last. . Still his beloved daughter sooth'd his cares,
While time began to strew with white his hairs.
Held with both hands his forehead, then her head.
The Mountain-chief essay’d his club to wield, And shook the dust indignant from the shield. Then spoke:— “O Thou ! that with thy ling’ring light Dost warm the world, till all is hushid in night; I look upon thy parting beams, Q Sun And say, “Ev’n thus my course is almost run.” “When thou dost hide thy head, as in the grave, And sink to glorious rest beneath the wave, Dost thou, majestic in repose, retire, Below the deep, to unknown worlds of fire 2 Yet, tho’ thou sinkest, awful, in the main, The shadowy moon comes forth, and all the train Of stars, that shine with soft and silent light, Making so beautiful the brow of might. Thus, when I sleep within the narrow bed, The light of after-fame around shall spread; The sons of distant Ocean, when they see . The grass-green heap beneath the mountain tree, And hear the leafy boughs at evening wave, Shallpause and say, ‘There sleep in dust the brave!” “All earthly hopes my lonely heart have fled! Stern Guecubu, angel of the dead, Who laughest when the brave in pangs expire, Whose dwelling is beneath the central fire of yonder burning mountain; who hast pass'd O'er my poor dwelling, and with one fell blast Scatter'd my summer-leaves that cluster'd round, And swept my fairest blossoms to the ground; Angel of dire despair, O come not nigh; . Nor wave thy red wings o'er me where I lie; But thou, O mild and gentle spirit, stand, Angel of hope and peace, at my right hand, , . (When blood-drops stagnate on my brow) and guide My pathless voyage o'er the unknown tide, Tô scenes of endless joy—to that fair isle, Where bow’rs of bliss, and soft savannahs smile; Where my forefathers oft the fight renew, And Spain's black visionary steeds pursue; Where, ceas'd the struggles of all human pain, I may behold thee—thee—my son, again.”
The next image presented is the reose of the Spanish general's army, and the reflections that employed him even in sleep, contrasted with the sad feelings of his page, Lautaro.
On the broad ocean, where the moonlight slept,
Perhaps, ev’n now, thy spirit sees me stand
The supposed appearance of the Genius of the Andes, which opens the second canto, is extremely well-conceived, and the imagery which dismisses the Spirit possesses great beauty. The military preparations of Waldivia are described in the same style of grandeur—in particular the warhorse and dress of the general and his page Lautaro.
The sun ascended to meridian height, And all the northern bastions shone in light; With hoarse acclaim the gong and trumpet rung, The Moorish slaves aloft their cymbals swung, When the proud victor, in triumphant state, Rode forth, in arms, through the port-cullis gate. "
With neck high-arching, as he smote the ground,— And restless påwing to the trumpets' sound,With ong mane, o'er his broad shoulders
And nostrils blowing, and dilated red,—
The fate of empires glowing in his thought,
Blue in the wind th’ escutcheon'd mantle flow'd