Sidor som bilder
PDF
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

TO THE MOON.

That peace, how deep! this night of thousand stars, That hide themselves abash'd from the bold sun, But hang, all fondly, on thy gentler brow, How calm ' Yet not o'er calmer skies alone, Mild Moon! is thy dominion: Thou dost sway The very storm to obey thy peacefulness. When winds are piping, and the charged clouds, As if out-summon'd by that warlike music, First in black squadrons rush; then sternly muster In sullen mass, on either side the heaven, Like armies face to face, with space between ; 'Tis then Thou glidest forth; like some pale nun, Unhooded, whom a high and rare occasion Wrests from her sanctuary, to interpose In mortal quarrel, so thou glidest forth, And lookest thy mild bidding; and the winds Are silent; and those close-compacted clouds, Disbanding, fleet in tender flakes away, And leave the world to thy tranquillity. . . . And ne'er did dawn behold thee lovelier yet,

Than when we saw thee, one remember'd day, Thee and that brightest of all morning-stars, Hang o'er the Adrian; not in thy full lustre, But graceful with slim crescent; such as, erst, Some Arab chief beheld in his own sky

Of purest, deepest azure; and so loved it,
So loved it, that he chose it for his symbol;
A peaceful symbol on a warlike banners
And oft, I ween, in many a distant camp,
Mid the sharp neigh of steeds, and clash of cymbals,
And jingle of the nodding Moorish bells,
When he hath caught that image o'er the tents,
Hath he bethought him of the placid hours
When thou wast whitening his night-feeding flocks
On Yemen's happy hills; and then, perchance,
Hath sigh'd to think of war! We too beheld thee
With untired eye fix’d upward; scarce regarding
(So deep the charm which thou hadst wrapp'd
around us)
Where reddening lines along the eastward sea
Spoke of the sun's uprising. Up he rose,
From o'er the regions of the near Illyria,
Glorious, how glorious!—if less gladly hail'd
As warning thy departure. Yet, some time,
Ye shone together; and we then might feel
How they, the ancient masters of that land,
The dwellers on the banks of Rubicon,
Who saw what we were seeing, uninstruct’
Of wiser faith, had, in no feign'd devotion,
Bow’d down to thee, their Dian, and to him
Bright-hair’d Apollo' We, too, bow'd our hearts,
But in a purer worship, to the One,
Who made, alone, the hills and seas and skies,

And thee, fair moon, the hallower of them all !
—Well did that sun fulfil his rising promise,
Showering redundant light, the livelong day,
O'er plain, and inland peak, and bluest sea;
And brightening the far mole, which old Ancona
Hath rear'd upon the waves. Meanwhile, thy form
(Faint and more faint, and, if might be, more fair;
And still, as near to lose thee, loved the more)
Thinn'd to unseen. But as some morning dream,
Too sweet to part with, and which yet must fade
At touch of light, will oft unconsciously
Mix with the day, serener thoughts inweaving
Than sunbeams bring ; or, as some melody,
Closed on the ear, nor e'en by it remember'd,
Will still its silent agency prolong
Upon the spirit, with a hoarded sweetness
Tempering the after-mood; e'en so did'st thou
Waft the bland influence of thy dawning presence
Over the onward hours. Yet, thou sphered vestal'
If mine it were to choose me when to bend
Before thy high-hung lamp ; and venerate
Thy mysteries; and feel, not hear, the voice
Of thy mute admonition; let it be
At holy vesper-tide, when nature all
Whispers of peace; if solemn less than night's,
More soothing still. Such season of the soul
Obeys thee best. For as the unwrinkled pool,
Still'd o'er by stirless eve, will dimple under
The tiniest brushing of an insect's wing ;
So, at that hour, do human hearts respond
To every touch of finer thought.....Such eve
Such blessed eve was ours, when last we stood
Beside the storied shore of Gaëta,
Breathing its citron’d air. Silence more strict
Was never. The small wave, or ripple rather,
Scarce lisping up the sand, crept to the ear, [ment
Sole sound; nor did we break the calm with move-
Or sacrilege of word; but stay’d in peace,
Of thee expectant. And what need had been
Of voiced language, when the silent eye,
And silent pressure of each link'd arm,
Spoke more than utterance? Nay, whose tongue
might tell
What hues were garlanding the western sky
To welcome thy approaching ! Purple hues
With orange wove, and many a floating lake
Crimson or rose, with that last tender green
Which best relieves thy beauty. Who may paint
How glow'd those hills, with depth of ruddy light
Translucified, and half ethereal made,
For thy white feet to tread on 3 and, ere long-
E’er yet those hues had left or sky or hill,
One peak with pearling top confess'd thy coming.
There didst thou pause awhile, as inly musing
O'er realm so fair! And, first, thy rays fell partial
On many a scatter'd object, here and there;
Edging or tipping, with fantastic glean,
The sword-like aloe, or the tent-roof'd pine,
Or adding a yet paler pensiveness
To the pale olive-tree; or, yet more near us,
Were flickering back from wall reticulate'
Of ruin old. But when that orb of thine
Had clomb to the mid-concave, then broad light

Was flung around o'er all those girding cliffs
And groves, and villages, and fortress towers,
And the far circle of that lake-like sea,
Till the whole grew to one expanded sense
Of peacefulness, one atmosphere of love,
Where the soul breathed as native, and mere body
Sublimed to spirit...... She, too, stood beside us,
Our human type of thee; the pure, the peaceful,
The gentle, potent in her gentleness'
And, as she raised her eyes to thy meek glory,
In the fond aspiration of a heart,
Which prized all beauty and all sanctity;
We saw, and loved to see, thy sainting ray
Fall, as in fondness, on her upturn'd brow,
Serene,—like it. Alas! in how brief space
Coldly to glitter on her marble tomb!
She lies in her own land; far from the scene
Of that fair eve; but thou, its fairer part,
Thou moon l art here ; and now we gaze on thee
To think on her; if still in sorrow, yet
Not without hope; and, for the time to come,
Though dear to us thy light hath ever been,
Shall love thee yet the more for her sweet sake.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ONE of the most remarkable men of the present age is EBENEzer Elliott, the “CornLaw Rhymer,” a poet whose productions are distinguished alike for boldness and origimality, a singular strength and purity of diction, and a warm sympathy with the oppressed masses. He is called “the bard of the people,” for whom he has written, on subjects of popular interest, and in words they all can understand. Like most men of moderate means and in humble life, EBENEzer ELLiott has felt the heavy and unequal pressure of the laws, especially of those commercial restrictions by which full twenty per cent. is added to the price of bread, turning the sweat of the poor into gold for the rich. As is commonly the case with men who devote their chief attention to some particular evil, he has doubtless magnified the importance of the bread-tax, and attributed to it more than a due share of the general suffering. I do not, however, well understand this subject; and it is enough for my present purpose to remark, that the “Poet of the Poor,” uniting with his more sacred functions those of the orator, has exercised in England a greater influence against the Corn Laws, whatever may be their true character, than any other person unconnected with the administration of public affairs. Of the history of ELLiott, more than is shown in his writings, I know but little. He was born at Masborough, near Sheffield, in 1781. His father was a Presbyterian, rigid and formal, without affection for the religious establishment or the government. Our poet, in his boyhood, had few companionships. He learned nothing with facility from books. He was thought too dull to profit by instruction, and his education was neglected. But he was quick to observe, and had an ardent love of nature. When he was about fifteen, a Cameronian clergyman bequeathed to his father a library containing many valuable works. With these, or with so many as were worth reading, he soon became familiar. He boasts that he has

deeply studied all the really good literature

of the language, and that he has never read to the end a worthless book. His mind and his style are fashioned by the great masters of thought and expression. harsh and coarse, but he is never careless. Efforts to be refined too often induce effeminacy. He has no such fault. He is an ardent, independent thinker, and he utters his opinions with force and directness, never discarding a word because it is too strong.

Among his longer poems, not included in this volume, are Spirits and Men, an antediluvian epic, They Met Again, Withered Wild Flowers, and several dramas. His dramatic pieces are not his best, though Bothwell, which I have quoted, is a fine fragment. One of his plays is entitled Kerhonah; the scene is in Connecticut, and among the dramatis personae are the regicides Ward and Goffe, and the learned and pious Eliot, well named “Apostle of the Indians,” who is introduced as the lover of some dusky princess. The poet should have better learned the missionary, whose character was one of the purest and sublimest in history.

Elliott was for a long time neglected. His subjects, like those of CRAbbe, whom in many ways he is like, are of a homely sort, emphatically human, such as, for some reason, the popular taste does not readily approve. He gives simple, earnest, and true echoes of the affections. His poems, aside from their political character, breathe the spirit of a kind of primitive life, unperverted, unhackneyed, and fresh as the dews on his own hawthorn. CARLYLE, Bulwer, and other critics, seeing in him incontestable signs of genius, at length handed him up to fame. Those who were most opposed to his politics, recognised him as a poet; society seemed to be ashamed of the indifference with which it had treated him; and his works rose rapidly in the popular estimation. He takes rank now among the first of the living poets of England.

Mr. Elliott is more than sixty years of age. He has been for many years a steel refiner and iron merchant at Sheffield, where he is much respected for his high qualities as a man,

He is sometimes

[ocr errors]

BOTHWELL.-A DRAMATIC POEM.

SCENE–Inside of a dungeon, in a fortress on the coast of Norway. Both well sleeping. Rh1 NvALT gazing through a barred window on the rocks, and stormy sea below.

Rhin. Splendour in heaven, and horror on the main Sunshine and storm at once—a troubled day. Clouds roll in brightness, and descend in rain. How the waves rush into the rocky bay, Shaking the eternal barriers of the land' And ocean's face is like a battle plain, Where giant demons combat hand to hand; While, as their voices sink and swell again, Peace, listening on the rainbow, bends in pain. Where is the voice, whose stillness man's heart hears, Like dream'd-of music, wordless, soft, and low ! The voice, which dries on sorrow's cheek her tears, Or, lest she perish, bids the current flow ! That voice the whirlwind in his rage reveres; It bids the blast a tranquil sabbath keep: Lonely as death, harmonious as the spheres, It whispers to the wildness of the deep, Till, calm as cradled babe, the billows sleep. Oh, careless of the tempest in his ire, Blush, ruby glow of western heaven' The hue of roses, steep'd in liquid fire, On ocean in his conflict with the blast, And quiver into darkness, and retire, And let wild day to calmest night subside; Let the tired sailor from his toil respire, The drench'd flag hang, unmoving, o'er the tide, And pillow'd on still clouds, the whirlwind ride! Then, Queen of Silence, robe thee, and arise, And, through the barr'd loop of this dungeon old, Visit, once more, its inmate's blasted eyes! Let him again, though late, thy light behold ! Soulless, not sightless, have his eyeballs roll'd, A like, in light and darkness, desolate. The storm beat on his heart—he felt no cold; Summer look'd on him, from heaven's fiery gate— Shivering, he scowl'd, and knew not that he scowl'd. Unweeping, yet perturb’d : his bed a stone; Bonds on his body—on his mind a spell: Ten years in solitude, (yet not alone.) And conscious only to the inward hell; Here hath it been his hideous lot to dwell. But heav'n can bid the spirit's gloom depart, Can chase from his torn soul the demon fell, And whispering, find a listener in his heart. Oh, let him weep again! then, tearless dwell, In his dark, narrow home, unrung by passing bell ! [A long pause. Loud thunder; and after an interval, thunder heard remote.] The storm has ceased. The sun is set; the trees Are fain to slumber; and, on ocean's breast, How softly, yet how solemnly, the breeze, With unperceived gradation, sinks to rest! No voice, no sound is on the ear impress'd; Twilight is weeping o'er the pensive rose; The stoat slumbers, coil'd up in his nest! The grosbeak on the owl's perch seeks repose;

[ocr errors]

And o'er the heights, behold ! a pale light glows.
Waked by the bat, up-springs the startled snake;
The cloud's edge brightens—lo, the moon l and
grove,
And tree, and shrub, bath'd in her beams, awake,
With tresses cluster'd like the locks of love.
Behold ! the ocean's tremor! slowly move
The cloud-like sails; and, as their way they urge,
Fancy might almost deem she saw, above, [surge,
The streamer's chasten’d hues; bright sleeps the
And dark the rocks, on ocean's glittering verge.
Now lovers meet, and labour's task is done.
Now stillness hears the breathing heifer. Now
Heavens azure deepens; and, where rock-rills run,
Rest on the shadowy mountain's airy brow
Clouds that have taken their farewell of the sun;
While calmness, reigning o'er that wintry clime,
Pauses and listens;–hark' the evening gun
Oh, hark'—the sound expires! and silence is
sublime.
Moonlight o'er ocean's stillness! on the crest
Of the poor maniac, moonlight!—He is calm;
Calmer he soon will be in endless rest:—
Oh, be thy coolness to his brow as balm, [breast !
And breathe, thou fresh breeze, on his burning
For memory is returning to his brain;
The dreadful past, with worse than wo impress'd;
And torturing time's eternity of pain;
The curse of mind returns! Oh take it back again
[A long pause, during which he bends -
anariously over Bothwell.] -
Alas! how flutteringly he draws his breath !
Both. My blessed Mary'
Rhin. Calmer he appears—
Sad, fatal symptom' swift approaches death.
Both. Mary ! a hand of fire my bosom sears.-
Oh do not leave me!—Heavenly Mary !—years,
Ages of torture pass'd, and thou camest not;
I waited still, and watch'd, but not in tears;
I could not weep; mine eyes are dry and hot,
And long, long since, to shed a tear forgot. [gone!
A word ' though it condemn me!—stay ! she's
Gone ! and to come no more [He faints.]
Rhin. Ah, is it so?
His pilgrimage is o'er, his task is done;
How grimly still he lies' yet his eyes glow,
As with strange meaning. Troubled spirit, go '
How threateningly his teeth are clench'd; how fast
He clutches his grasp'd hair!—hush —breathless!
No 1
Life still is here, though withering hope be past;
Come, bridegroom of despair! and be this sigh

[merged small][ocr errors]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »