« FöregåendeFortsätt »
If the two tollowing criticisms on Moore be not colossal, it is from no lack in the straddle—one having been written on the other side of the Atlantic, and one on this. Together they make a free-and-easy commentary, which will let the reader down softly from the high flight of the poetry foregone :—
Moore's Muse is another Ariel—as light, as tricksy, as indefatigable, and as humane a spirit. His fancy is for eyer on the wing, flutters in the gale, glitters in the sun. Everything lives, moves, and sparkles in his poetry, while over all Love waves his purple light. His thoughts are as restless, as many, and as bright, as the insects that people the sun's beam. “So work the honeybees,” extracting tiquid sweets from opening buds; so the butterfly expands ts wings to the idle air; so the thistle's silver down is wafted over summer seas. An airy voyager on life's stream his mind inhales the fragrance of a thousand shores, an drinks of endless pleasures under halcyon skies. Wherever his footsteps tend over the enamelled ground of fairy fiction—
“Around him the bees in play flutter and cluster,
The fault of Mr. Moore is an exuberance of involun
wer. His facility of production lessens the effect of, an hangs as a dead weight upon, what he produces. His levity at last oppresses. The infinite delight he takes in such an infinite number of things, produces indifference in minds less susceptible of pleasure than his own. He exhausts attention by being inexhaustible. His variety cloys; his rapidity dazzles and distracts the sight. The graceful ease with '''. he lends himself to every subject, the genial spirit with which he induiges in every sentiment, prevents him from giving their full force to the masses of things, from connecting them into a whole. He wants intensity, strength and grandeur. His mind does not brood over the great and permanent; it glances over the surfaces, the first info-s: sions of things, instead of grappling with the deep-rooted É."; of the mind, its inveterate habits, and that “per
us stuff that weighs upon the, heart.” iii. n, as it is rapid and fanciful, wants momentum and passion....It requires the same principle to make us o like poetry, that makes us like ourselves, so well, the feeling of continued o The impressions of Mr. Moore's poetry are detached, desultory, and physical. Its gorgeous colors brighten and fade like the rainbow's. Its sweetness
yaporates like the effluvia exhaled from beds of flowers' His gay laughing style, which relates to the immediate | leasures of love or wine, is better than his sentimental and romantic vein. His “ Irish Melodies” are not free from affectation and a certain sickliness of pretension. His serious descriptions are apt to run into flowery tenderness. His pathos sometimes melts into a mawkish sensibility, or crystallizes into aii the prettiness of allegorical language, and glittering hardness of external imagery. But he has
Bag” is a perfect “nest of spicery;” where the Cayenne is not spared. The politician there sharpens the poet's |. In this too, our bard resembles the bee—he has its oney and its sting. “Lalla Rookh” is not what people wanted to see whether Mr. Moore could do ; namely, whether he could write a long epic poem. It is four short tales. The interest, however, is often high-wrought and tragic, but the execution still turns to the effeminate and voluptuous side. Fortitude of mind is the first requisite of a tragic or epic writer. Happiness of nature and felicity of genius are the pre-eminent characteristics of the bard of Erin. If he is not perfectly contented with what he is, all the world beside is. He had no temptation to risk anything in adding to the love and admiration of his age, and more than one country
“Therefore to be possessed with double polap
The same might be said of Mr. Moore's seeking to bind an epic crown, or the shadow of one, round his other laurels. Thomas Moore has become moral and almost chaste. Let us follow him through the history of his various writings; we shall find him more superficial than profound, more tender than pathetic, more graceful than energetic; addressing the heart rather than the mind; but still on all occasions an amiable poet, sometimes a great poet, and almost always imbued with imagination, wit, and taste. Diderot affirms, that in order to write well on the subject of females, it would be requisite to dip the pen in the dies of the rainbow, and dry the paper with powder borrowed from the wings of the butterfly. It might be imagined, that Thomas Moore had employed this recipe, in order to compose his oriental imagery, and depict his Peris, or not less brilliant mortal fairies; there is so prodigious a luxury of metaphors and ornaments lavished on his verses, that they may be styled a selection of Polical arabesques. The Grand Nazir of the Mogul Princess might have added to the above-noticed critique, that the elements of Thomas Moore's poetry consist in the ingenious distribution of divers butterfly wings, angel plumes, beams of light, pearls, precious stones, perfumes, etc. All these fictitious appendages do not always adorn perfect beauties; but, as paste and false diamonds produce enchanting metamorphoses at the opera, with the aid of singing and music, the poet operates an illusion by the magic of his pictures and the melody of his verses. He has carried this melody far ther than any English poet since Chaucer: Thomas Moore's poetry is almost Italian. This melody was already con spicuous in his first pieces, addressed to Julia, Rose, Jess Be sy. Mary, and to thirty others, whom the discreet Mr
With his charming social verses, and his amiable manhers, Mr. Moore succeeded, not only in winning the ear of she ladies, but also of some influential noblemen. He was #. to a situation in the Vice-Admiralty Court at
imudas, and he embarked for that island, which Shakspere makes the birth-place of his syph Ariel. During his leisure moments Mr. Moore did not neglect the muses, and the beauties of the Azores; and on his return to England
blished a collection of odes, epistles, and fugitive poems, in which he celebrates the enchantments of a climate wellcalculated to seduce, by its various features, the poet's imagination. Of these pieces, some are rich with brilliant descriptions, while others reproduce the tender emotions with which Mr. Moore delights to inspire himself. He had, however, found the ladies of the Bermudas more fond than beautiful; he treats their husbands still less favorably, telling us that the ancient philosopher, who held that after this life, the men are changed into mules, and the women into turtles, might have seen this metamorphosis nearly accomplish’d at Bermudas.
There can be little doubt that the primitive songs, or lyrical compositions of the rhapsodists, were the spontaneous production of a poetical musician, who struck off the words and the air in the same heat. Subsequently, songs have generally preceded the music. But such is the triumph of music, which is the true universal language, over poet which only appertains to one language, that the tune st survives, when the words are lost. The Virgilian Shepherd was thence induced to exclaim, “I remember the air, but I have forgotten the words.”
“Numcros memini, si verba tenerem.”
Ireland possessed an original and popular music, which supplied numerous allusions to its nanners, customs, and history, and which, still more than the Scotch music, deserved that a Burns should render it popular, and consecrate it, as it were, by an alliance with the national poetry. Miss Owenson bad already adapted words to some of these airs of old Erin; but to Thomas Moore belongs the merit of assembling almost all of them in one historical record.
The luxury of the costumes, and of the periphrasis in Lalla Rookh, tend to persuade us that we are reading an oriental poem; it might be almost called, according to a well-known expression, more Arabic than Arabia. But in the Irish Melodies, if Mr. Moore is almost always a remarkable lyrical poet, he is seldom an Irishman, while Burns always remains a Scotchman in his Caledonian melodies. We have said enough to explain the reason; Mr. Moore has composed exclusively for the pianos of pretty women. Burns has preserved his somewhat savage independence in his songs; Moore resembles a caged nightingale, who devotes his dulcet voice to an imitation of the airs of the bird-organ. There are, however, some honorable exceptions to the general tone of the melodies of the Irish Anacreon: “Rich and Rare,” is a fragment rendered exquisite by its affecting simplicity; it describes the .. of a young virgin, clothed in rich vestures, who, on the faith of the virtue of Brien and his people, travels through the entire kingdon , without fear of outrage, “O the sight-entrancing,” is the almost sublime expression of a warrior's enthusiasm at the sight of arms. Divested of their rhythm and their music, these melodies would perhaps justify what Moore himself has modestly said of them in the style of Fadladeen—they resemble insects in amber, which are es: teemed on account of the precious substance which embalm them.
[And now let us add an admiring cKetch of the poet and his ways, written in that country which he himself describes
“A world so bright, but born to grace
but which is destined, notwithstanding, to be the second home of his immortality:]-- Well—how does Moore write a song? In the twilight of a September evening he strolls through the park to dine with the marquis. As he draws on his white gloves, he sees the evening star looking at him steadily through the long vista of the avenue, and he construes its punctual dispensation of light into a reproach for having, himself a star, passed a day of poetic idleness. “Damme,” soliloquizes the little fat planet, “this will never do | Here have I hammered the whole morning at a worthless idea, that, with the Inere prospect of dinner shows as trumpery as a ‘penny fairing.” Labor wasted —and at my time of life too ! Faith !—it's a dining at home these two days with nobody to drink with me ! It's eye-water I want Don't trouble yourself to sit up for me, brother Hesper I shall see clearer when I come back :
And Moore is mistaken He draws his inspiration, it is true, with the stem of a glass between his thumb and finger. but the wine is the least stimulus to his brain. He talks, and is listened to admiringly, and that is his Castaly. He sits next to Lady Fanny at dinner, who thinks him “an adorable little Love,” and he employs the first two courses in making her in love with herself—that is, blowing everything she says up to the red heat of poetry. Moore can do this; for the most o things on earth are, after all, the beginnings of ideas, and every fool is susceptible of the flattery of seeing the words go straight from his lips to the “hi heaven of invention.” And Lady Fanny is not a fool, but a quick and appreciative woman, and to almost evolo she says, the poet's trump is a germe of poetry. “Ah! says Lady Fanny with a sigh, “this will be a memorable dinner—not to you, but to me; for you see *} women every day, but I seldom see Tom Moore " . The looks into Lady Fanny's eyes, and makes no immediate answer. Presently she asks with a delicious look of simPoio “Are you as agreeable to everybody, Mr. Moore?” “There is but one Lady Fanny.” replies the poet; “or, to use your ou'n beautiful simile, ‘’The moon sees many broo but the brook sees but one moon s” (Mem.jot that down. And so is treasured up one idea for the morrow, and when the marchioness rises and the ladies follow her to the drawing-room, Moore finds himself sandwiched between a car ple of whig lords, and opposite a past or future premier— an audience of cultivation, talent, scholarship, and appre ciation; and as the fresh pitcher of claret is passed round, all regards radiate to the Anacreon of the world, and with that suction of expectation—let alone Tom Moore—even our “Secretary of the Navy and National Songster” would “turn out his lining”—such as it is. And Moore is delightful, and with his “As you say, my lord "he gives birth to a constellation of bright things, no one of which is dismissed with the claret. Every one at the table, except Moore, is subject to the hour—to its enthusiasm, its enjoyment—but the hour is to Moore a precious slave. So is the wine. It works for hio, It brings him money from Longman ' It plays his trumpet in the reviews ' It is his filter among the ladies Well may he sing its praises! Of all the poets, Moore is probably the only one who is thus master of his wine. The glorious abandon with which we fancy him, a brimming glass in his hand, singing “Flynot yet!” exists only in the fancy. He keeps a cool head and coins his conviviality; and to revert to my former figure, they who wish to know what Moore's electricity amounts to without the convivial friction, may read his “ }. Ireland.” Not a sparkle in it, from the landing of the Phenicians to the battle of Vinegar Hill ! He wrote to: as other people write—with nothing left from the day be. fore but the habit of labor; and the travel of a collapsed balloon on a man's back, is not more unlike the same thing, inflated and soaring, than Tom Moore, historian, and Tom Moore, bard
Somewhere in the small hours the poet walks home, and sitting down soberly in his little library, he puts on paper the half score of scintillations that collision, in one sha or another, has struck into the tinder of his fancy. if read from this paper, the world would probably think little of their prospect of ever becoming poetry. But the myterious part is done—the life is breathed into the chrysali —and the clothing of these naked fancies with winged words, Mr. Moore knows very well can be done in very uninspired moods by o industry. Most people have very little idea of what that industry is—how deeply lan. guage is ransacked, how often turned over, how untiringly rejected and recalled with some new combination, how resolutely sacrificed when only tolerable enough to pass, how left untouched day after day in the hope of a fres o: after repose. The vexation of a Chinese puzzle is slight, Fo to that which Moore has expended on some of
is most natural and flowing single verses. The exquisite nicety of his ear, though it eventually gives his poetry its honeyed fluidity, gives him no quicker choice of words, nor does more, in any way, than pass inexorable judgment on what his industry brings forward. Those who think a song dashed off like an invitation to dinner, would be edified by the progressive phases of a “Moore's Melody.” Taken with all its re-writings, emendations, &c., 1 doubt whether, in his most industrious seclusion, Moore averages a couplet a day. Yet this persevering, resolute, urconquerable Potience of labor, is the secret of his fame. Take the best thing he ever wrote, and translate its sen.iment and simili, tudrs into P. prose, and do the same thing by a song of any second-rate imitator of Moore, one abstract would read as well as the other. Yet Moore's song is immortal, and the other ephemeral as a paragraph in a newspaper, and the difference consists in the patient elaboration of lar guage and harmony, and in that only. And even thus short, seems the space between the ephemeron and the immotal. But it is wider than they icink, oh glorious Tom Moore 1
CHRIST’S AGONY IN THE GARDEN.
He knelt—the Savior knelt and prayed,
The sun set in a fearful hour,
He knew them all—the doubt, the strife,
It passed not—though the stormy wave
And was his mortal hour beset
A fit abode, wherein appear enshrined Our hopes of immortality.—Byron. SPEAK low !—the place is holy to the breath Of awful harmonies, of whispered prayer; Tread lightly —for the sanctity of death Broods with a voiceless influence on the air: Stern, yet serene —a reconciling spell, Each troubled billow of the soul to quell.
Leave me to linger silently awhile !
Not for rich music, though in triumph pealing, Mighty as forest sounds when winds are high; Nor yet for torch, and cross, and stole, revealing Through incense-mists their sainted pageantry:Though o'er the spirit each hath charm and power Yet not for these I ask one lingering hour.
But by strong sympathies, whose silver cord
Send up a murmur from the dust, Remorse!
Nc voice, no breath !—of conflicts past, no trace 7
* “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strength