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WILLIAM ALLINGHAM is a young poet of remarkable promise. He is a native of Ireland and dwells among some of its most enchanting scenery, from which he has manifestly caught much of the inspiration of the volume of Poems (London: Chapman and Hall), whence the following is extracted. Two or three obvious defects in composition scarcely disturb the pleasure that will be derived from the truly poetical conception of these stanzas, which have a supernatural and dream-like tone, like a strain of ghostly music.
I HEARD the dogs bark in the moonlight night,
And I went to the window to see the sight;
All the dead that ever I knew
Going one by one and two by two.
On they pass'd, and on they pass'd;
Townsfellows all from first to last;
Born in the moonlight of the lane
And quench'd in the heavy shadow again.
Schoolfellows passing as when we play'd
At soldiers once-but now more staid;
Those were the strangest sight to me
Who were drown'd, I knew, in the awful sea.
Straight and handsome folk; bent and weak too;
And some that I loved, and gasp'd to speak to;
Some just buried a day or two,
And some of whose death I never knew.
A long, long crowd-where each seem'd lonely,
And yet of them all there was one, one only,
That raised a head or look'd my way;
And she seem'd to linger, but might not stay.
How long since I saw that fair pale face;
Ah! mother dear, might I only place
My head on thy breast a moment to rest
While thy hand on my tearful cheek were prest!
On, on, a moving bridge they made
Across the moon-stream from shade to shade ;
Young and old, and women and men ;
Many long forgot but remember'd then.
And first there came a bitter laughter;
And a sound of tears the moment after;
And then a music so lofty and gay,
That every morning day by day
I strive to recall it if I may.
The conception of this poem by SHELLEY is most happy, and it is written with that perfect delicacy both of thought and language, in which he surpasses all other British poets.
THE artist who this idol wrought
To echo all harmonious thought
Fell'd a tree, while on the steep
The winds were in their winter sleep;
Rock'd in that repose divine
On the wind-swept Appennine,
And dreaming, some of Autumn past,
And some of Spring approaching fast,
And some of April buds and showers,
And some of songs in July bowers;
And all of love; and so this tree-
O! that such our death may be!
Died in sleep, and felt no pain,
To live in happier form again;
From which, beneath Heaven's fairest star,
The artist wrought this loved guitar,
And taught it justly to reply
To all who question skilfully,
In language gentle as thine own,
Whispering, in enamour'd tone,
Sweet oracles of woods and dells,
And summer winds in sylvan cells;
For it had learnt all harmonies
Of the plains and of the skies,
Of the forests and the mountains
And the many-voiced fountains,
The clearest echoes of the hills,
The softest notes of falling rills,
The melodies of birds and bees,
The murmuring of summer seas,
And pattering rain, and breathing dew,
And airs of evening, and it knew
That seldom-heard mysterious sound
Which, driven on its diurnal round,
As it floats through boundless day,
Our world enkindles on its way;—
All this it knows, but will not tell
To those who cannot question well
The spirit that inhabits it:
It talks according to the wit
Of its companions, and no more
Is heard than has been felt before,
By those who tempt it to betray
These secrets of an elder day.
But, sweetly as its answers will
Flatter hands of perfect skill,
It keeps its highest, holiest tone
For our beloved friend alone.
INSCRIPTION FOR A FOUNTAIN ON A HEATH.
From COLERIDGE we gather a little gem composed in his most
poetical mood. What a description of a tiny fountain!
and beautiful the images it suggests to him.
THIS Sycamore, oft musical with bees,
Such tents the patriarchs loved! O long unharm'd
May all its aged boughs o'er-canopy
The small round basin, which this jutting stone
Keeps pure from falling leaves! Long may the Spring,
Quietly as a sleeping infant's breath,
Send up cold waters to the traveller
With soft and even pulse! Nor ever cease
Yon tiny cone of sand its soundless dance,
Which at the bottom, like a fairy's page,
As merry and no taller, dances still,
Nor wrinkles the smooth surface of the Fount.
Here twilight is and coolness: here is moss,
A soft seat, and a deep and ample shade.
Thou may'st toil far and find no second tree.
Drink, pilgrim, here! Here rest! and, if thy heart
Be innocent, here too shalt thou refresh
Thy spirit, listening to some gentle sound,
Or passing gale or hum of murmuring bees.
Turning the thoughts back to the poets of old times, memory lights on a powerful composition by ROBERT SOUTHWELL. The singular condensation of language and ideas in the following poem will strike the least attentive reader. It would be well if, in this respect, our modern authors would follow the example of their predecessors. Writers of the present day are as diffuse as those of the Elizabethian age were sententious. The latter had more thoughts than words-the former have more words than thoughts-the one condensed an original idea into a single line-the others spread a single idea over a page.
THE lopped tree in time may grow again;
Most naked plants renew both fruit and flowers ;
The sorriest wight may find release from pain;
The driest soil suck in some moistening showers;
Times go by turns, and chances change by course
From foul to fair-from better hap to worse.
The sea of fortune doth not ever flow-
She draws her favours to the lowest ebb,
Her tides have equal times to come and go-
Her loom doth weave the fine and coarsest web-
No joy so great, but runneth to an end;
No hap so hard but may in fine amend.
Not always fall of leaf, nor ever spring-
No endless night, nor yet eternal day;
The saddest bird a season finds to sing,
The roughest storm a calm may soon allay :
Thus, with succeeding turns, God tempereth all,
That man may hope to rise, yet fear to fall.
A chance may win what by mischance was lost;
That net that holds no great, takes little, fish :
In some things all, in all things none are cross'd;
Few all they need, but none have all they wish;
Unmingled joys here to no man befal;
Who least, hath some; who most, hath never all.
In a lighter strain, and for variety's sake, we introduce a short lyric by MARY HOWITT. We love it, because it is so simple and natural. There is no attempt to be fine or profound. The style befits the subject, and the verse is just that which such a scene would inspire. Therefore it is good poetry.
LONG trails of cistus flowers
Creep on the rocky hill;
And beds of strong spear-mint
Grow round about the mill;
And from a mountain tarn above,
As peaceful as a dream,
Like to child unruly
Though school'd and counsell'd truly,
Foams down the wild mill-stream!
The wild mill-stream it dasheth,
In merriment away,
And keeps the miller and his son
So busy all the day!
Into the mad mill-stream
The mountain roses fall;
And fern and adder's-tongue
Grow on the old mill-wall.
The tarp is on the upland moor,
Where not a leaf doth grow;
And through the mountain gashes
The merry mill-stream dashes
Down to the sea below;
But in the quiet hollows
The red trout groweth prime,
For the miller and the miller's son
To angle when they've time.
Then fair befall the stream
That turns the mountain mill,
And fair befall the narrow road
That windeth up the hill!
And good luck to the countryman,
And to his old grey mare,
That upward toileth steadily,
With meal-sacks laden heavily,
In storm as well as fair!