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While safe amidst the elemental strife,
A Mother (offering her infant to JAPHET). Oh let this child embark!
I brought him forth in woe,
But thought it joy
To see him to my bosom clinging so.
What hath he done
My unwean'd son
To move Jehovah's wrath or scorn?
What is there in this milk of mine, that death Should stir all heaven and earth up to destroy
And roll the waters o'er his placid breath?
Or cursed be-with him who made
Thee and thy race, for which we are betray'd!
Chorus of Mortals.
For prayer !!!
Shall prayer ascend,
When the swoln clouds unto the mountains bend
And gushing oceans every barrier rend,
Be he who made thee and thy sire!
We deem our curses vain; we must expire;
But as we know the worst,
Why should our hymn be raised, our knees be hent Before the implacable Omnipotent,
Since we must fall the same?
If he hath made earth, let it be his shame,
To make a world for torture.-Lo! they come, The loathsome waters, in their rage!
And with their roar make wholesome nature dumb!
Ere Eve gave Adam knowledge for her dower, Or Adam his first hymn of slavery sung),
So massy, vast, yet green in their old age,
Their summer blossoms by the surges lopp'd,
Vainly we look up to the lowering skies
(1) "This poem, or rather first part of a poem, for so it is stated to be, carries with it the peculiar impress of the writer's genius. It displays great vigour, and even a severity of style, throughout; which is another proof, if proof were needed, that elevation of writing is to be obtained only by a rigid regard to simplicity. It may be perused without shocking the feelings of the sensitive, or furnishing au object for the discriminating morality of any Lord Chancellor. Lord Byron has evidently endeavoured to sustain the interest of this poem, by depicting natural but deep-drawn thoughts, in all their freshness and intensity, with as little fictitious
And though the waters be o'er earth outspread, Yet, as his word
Be the decree adored!
He gave me life-he taketh but
And though these eyes should be for ever shut,
Still blessed be the Lord,
For what is past,
For that which is:
For all are his,
From first to last
The vast known and immeasurable unknown. He made, and can unmake;
And shall I, for a little gasp of breath,
Blaspheme and groan?
No; let me die, as I have lived, in faith, Nor quiver, though the universe may quake!
Chorus of Mortals.
Where shall we fly?
Not to the mountains high;
For now their torrents rush, with double roar,
Nor leaves an unsearch'd cave.
Enter a Woman.
Woman. Oh, save me, save!
Our valley is no more:
My father and my father's tent,
My brethren and my brethren's herds,
The pleasant trees, that o'er our noonday bent And sent forth evening songs from sweetest birds, The little rivulet which freshen'd all
Our pastures green,
No more are to be seen.
When to the mountain cliff I climb'd this morn,
And not a leaf appear'd about to fall;-
To die! in youth to die;
Am thus condemn'd to weep above in vain.
[The waters rise: Men fly in every direction;
aid as possible. Nothing is circumlocutory: there is no going about and about to enter at length upon his object, but he impetuously rushes into it at once. All over the poem there is a gloom cast suitable to the subject: an ominous fearful hue, like that which Poussin has flung over his inimitable picture of the Deluge. We see much evil, but we dread more. All is out of earthly keeping, as the events of the time are out of the course of nature. Man's wickedness, the perturbed creation, fear-struck mortals, demons passing to and fro in the earth, an overshadowing solemnity, and unearthly loves, form together the materials. That it has
faults is obvious: prosaic passages, and too much tedious soliloquising: but there is the vigour and force of Byron to fling into the scale against these: there is much of the sublime in description, and the beautiful in poetry. Prejudice, or ignorance, or both, may condemn it; but while true poetical feeling exists amongst us, it will be pronounced not unworthy of its distinguished author."-Campbell.
"It appears that this is but the first part of a poem; but it is likewise a poem, and a fine one too, within itself. We confess that we see little or nothing objectionable in it, either as to theological orthodoxy, or general human feeling. It is solemn, lofty, fearful, wild, tumultuous, and shadowed all over with the darkness of a dreadful disaster. Of the angels who love the daughters of men we see little, and know less and not too much of the love and passion of the fair lost mortals. The inconsolable despair preceding and accompanying an incomprehensible catastrophe, pervades the whole composition; and its expression is made sublime by the noble strain of poetry in which it is said or sung. Sometimes there is heaviness-dulness-as if it were pressed in on purpose; intended, perhaps, to denote the occasional stupefaction, drowsiness, and torpidity of soul produced by the impending destruction upon the latest of the antedilu. vians. But, on the whole, it is not unworthy of Lord Byron." -Wilson.
"Lord Byron's Mystery, with whatever crudeness and defects it is chargeable, certainly has more poetry and music in it than any of his dramatic writings since Manfred; and has also the peculiar merit of throwing us back, in a great degree, to the strange and preternatural time of which it professes to treat. It is truly, and in every sense of the word, a meeting of Heaven and Earth; angels are seen ascending and descending, and the windows of the sky are opened to deluge the face of nature. We have an impassioned picture of the strong and devoted attachment inspired into the daughters of men by angel forms, and have placed before us the emphatic picture of woman wailing for her demon lover.' There is a like conflict of the passions as of the elements-all wild, chaotic, uncontrollable, fatal; but there is a discordant harmony in all this-a keeping in the colouring and the time. In handling the unpolished page, we look upon the world before the Flood, and gaze upon a doubtful blank, with only a few straggling figures, part human and part divine; while, in the expression of the former, we read the fancies, ethereal and lawless, that lifted the eye of beauty to the skies, and in the latter, the human passions that drew angels down to earth.'”—Jeffrey.
"According to that vague and mysterious conception of grandeur which religious or poetic minds associate with the antediluvian ages of the world, there were giants in those days: the face of nature, the animal and vegetable productions, the stature, the longevity, the passions of men, were of a vast and majestic growth, unknown in the later and more feeble days of our ordinary world. Hence, from a poet who throws himself back into those times, we make the unreasonable demand, that he should keep the scenes and persons whom he introduces to our notice sufficiently allied to our common sympathies to excite our interest; while, at the same time, they must appear as almost belonging to another earth, and a different race of beings. We imperiously require that degree of reality, without which no poetry can become lastingly popular: yet that reality must be far removed from all our ordinary notions; the region visited by angels must be formed of the same elements, yet
a distinct character from that which we inhabit: the sons and daughters of men, who enjoyed familiar intercourse with a higher race of beings, while we are to feel for them as akin to ourselves, must partake in some degree of the unearthly nature of their celestial visitants. To this at once real and unreal world, among this human yet ut the same time almost preterhuman race, we must be transported by the imagination of the poet; and the slightest
incongruity, the most insignificant vulgarism, or modernism, or even too great similarity to the ordinary features of nature, breaks the charm at once, and destroys the character of the picture, as a faithful representation of the pri meval earth, and the mighty race which nature bore while yet in her prime of youth. Among all the wonderful excellencies of Milton, nothing surpasses the pure and undisturbed idealism with which he has drawn our first parents, so completely human as to excite our most ardent sympathies, yet so far distinct from the common race of men as manifestly to belong to a higher and uncorrupted state of being. In like manner, his Paradise is formed of the universal productions of nature-the flowers, the fruits, the trees, the waters, the cool breezes, the soft and sunny slopes, the majestic hills that skirt the scene; yet the whole is of an earlier, a more prolific, a more luxuriant vegetation: it fully comes up to our notion of what the earth might have been before it was cursed of its Creator.' This is the more remarkable, as Milton himself sometimes destroys, or at least mars, the general effect of his picture, by the introduction of incongruous thoughts or images. It has, not without justice, been said, that sometimes
God the Father turns a school divine;"
and it is impossible, now and then, not to regret the intrusion of the religious controversies of modern days. The ' poet's passions are, on occasions, too strong for his imagination, drag him down to earth, and, for the sake of some illtimed allusion to some of those circumstances which had taken possession of his mighty mind. he runs the hazard of breaking the solemn enchantment with which he has spellbound our captive senses. Perhaps, of later writers, Lord Byron alone has caught the true tone, in his short drama called Heaven and Earth. Here, notwithstanding that we cannot but admit the great and manifold delinquencies against correct taste, particularly some perfectly ludicrous metrical whimsies, yet all is in keeping-all is strange, poetic, oriental; the lyric abruptness, the prodigal accumulation of images in one part, and the rude simplicity in others -above all, the general tone of description as to natural objects, and of language and feeling in the scarcely mortal beings which come forth upon the scene, seem to throw us upward into the age of men before their lives were shortened to the narrow span of three-score years and ten, and when all that walked the earth were not born of woman." -Milman.
"From the Loves of the Angels, we turn to a strain of higher mood;' with feelings much like those which would arise on leaving the contemplation of a Holy Family' by Carlo Dolce, to behold the Last Judgment' of Michel Angelo. The Mystery of Heaven and Earth is conceived in the best style of the greatest masters of poetry and painting. It is not unworthy of Dante, and of the mighty artist to whom we have alluded. As a picture of the last deluge, it is incomparably grand and awful. The characters, too, are invested with great dignity and grace. Nothing can be more imposing and fascinating than the haughty, and imperious, and passionate beauty of the daughter of Cain; nor any thing more venerable than the mild but inflexible dignity of the patriarch Noah. We trust that no one will be i found with feelings so obtuse, with taste so perverted, or with malignity so undisguised, as to mar the beauties of pictures like these, by imputing to their author the cool profes sion of those sentiments which he exhibits as extorted from perishing mortals, in their last instants of despair and death. Such a poem as this, if read aright, is calculated, by its lofty passion and sublime conceptions, to exalt the mind and to purify the heart beyond the power of many a sober homily. It will remain an imperishable monument of the transcendent talents of its author; whom it has raised, in our estimation, to a higher pitch of pre-eminence than he ever before attained." M. Mag.-L. E.