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eautiful verses (‘Turn, hither turn your winged pines’) were suggested by these of Spenser. It might almost seem as if Spenser had here, in his usual way, expanded the sweet old verses:— Merry sungen the monks binnen Ely When Knut king rew thereby; ‘Roweth knights near the lond, That I may hear these monks song.’ With that the rolling sea, resounding swift In his big bass, them fitly answered, And on the rock the waves, breaking aloft, A solemn mean unto them measured, The whiles sweet Zephyrus loud whisteled His treble, a strange kind of harmony Which Guyon's senses softly ticketed That he the boatman bade row easily And let him hear some part of their rare melody. Despite Spenser's instinctive tendency to idealize, and his habit of distilling out of the actual an ethereal essence in which very little of the possible seems left, yet his mind, as is generally true of great poets, was founded on a solid basis of good-sense. I do not know where to look for a more cogent and
which it seems to ripple and crinkle, catching and casting back the sunshine like a stream blown on by clear western winds. But Skelton was an exceptional blossom of autumn. A long and dreary winter follows. Surrey, who brought back with him from Italy the blank-verse not long before introduced by Trissino, is to some extent another exception. He had the sentiment of nature and unhackneyed feeling, but he has no mastery of verse, nor any elegance of diction. We have Gascoyne, Surrey, Wyatt, stiff, pedantic, artificial, systematic as a country cemetery, and, worst of all, the whole time desperately in love. Every verse is as flat, thin, and regular as a lath, and their poems are nothing more than bundles of such tied trimly together. They are said to have refined our language. Let us devoutly hope they did, for it would be pleasant to be grateful to them for something. But I fear it was not so, for only genius can do that; and Sternhold and Hopkins are inspired men in compa
William Wordsworth (search for this): chapter 2
ecognized the distinction between simplicity and vulgarity, which Wordsworth was so long in finding out, and seems to have divined the fact th in the mind. (See Haslewood's Ancient Crit. Essays, Vol. II.) Wordsworth, an excellent judge, much admired Daniel's poem to the Countess o attempt at reform than Thomson's Seasons were in the topics, and Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads in the language of poetry. But the great merit. But Spenser had fortunately almost as little sense of humor as Wordsworth, There is a gleam of humor in one of the couplets of Mother Huinest sight God looked down on was a fine man on a fine horse. Wordsworth, in the supplement to his preface, tells us that the Faery Queen faded before Sylvester's translation of Du Bartas. But Wordsworth held a brief for himself in this case, and is no exception to the proverb ashow traces of him; and in our own day his influence reappears in Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, and Keats. Landor is, I believe, the only poet
with the more generous side of Puritanism I think he sympathized to the last. His rebukes of clerical worldliness are in the Puritan tone, and as severe a one as any is in Mother Hubberd's Tale, published in 1591. Ben Jonson told Drummond that in that paper Sir W. Raleigh had of the allegories of his Faery Queen, by the Blatant Beast the Puritans were understood. But this is certainly wrong. There were very different shades of Puritanism, according to individual temperament. That of Winthrop and Higginson had a mellowness of which Endicott and Standish were incapable. The gradual change of Milton's opinions was similar to that which I suppose in Spenser. The passage in Mother Hubberd may have been aimed at the Protestant clergy of Ireland (for he says much the same thing in his View of the State of Ireland), but it is general in its terms. There is an iconoclastic relish in his account of Sir Guyon's demolishing the Bower of Bliss that makes us think he would not have regrett
Grey Wilton (search for this): chapter 2
acquaintance of Sir Philip Sidney, and was domiciled with him for a time at Penshurst, whether as guest or literary dependant is uncertain. In October, 1579, he is in the household of the Earl of Leicester. In July, 1580, he accompanied Lord Grey de Wilton to Ireland as Secretary, and in that country he spent the rest of his life, with occasional flying visits to England to publish poems or in search of preferment. His residence in that country has been compared to that of Ovid in Pontus. id human, fleck is visible. Instead of the ordinary bridal gifts, he hallows his wife with an Epithalamion fit for a conscious goddess, and the savage soil This phrase occurs in the sonnet addressed to the Earl of Ormond and in that to Lord Grey de Wilton in the series prefixed to the Faery Queen. These sonnets are of a much stronger build than the Amoretti, and some of them (especially that to Sir John Norris) recall the firm tread of Milton's, though differing in structure. of Ireland be
Joseph Warton (search for this): chapter 2
oak Whose body is sere, whose branches broke, Whose naked arms stretch unto the fire. It is one of those verses that Joseph Warton would have liked in secret, that Dr. Johnson would have proved to be untranslatable into reasonable prose, and which the first person in the last two verses. or this, Come hither, come hither, O, come hastily! B. II. c. VIII. 3. Joseph Warton objects to Spenser's stanza, that its constraint led him into many absurdities. Of these he instances three, of whicve little doubt that, but for the Faery Queen, we should never have had the varied majesty of Milton's blank-verse. But Dr. Warton should have remembered (what he too often forgets in his own verses) that, in spite of Dr. Johnson's dictum, poetry is not prose, and that verse only loses its advantage over the latter by invading its province. As where Dr. Warton himself says:— How nearly had my spirit past, Till stopt by Metcalf's skilful hand, To death's dark regions wide and waste And the bl
is almost inconceivable that Spenser's hexameters should have been written by the man who was so soon to teach his native language how to soar and sing, and to give a fuller sail to English verse. One of the most striking facts in our literary history is the pre-eminence at once so frankly and unanimously conceded to Spenser by his contemporaries. At first, it is true, he had not many rivals. Before the Faery Queen two long poems were printed and popular,— the Mirror for Magistrates and Warner's Albion's England,—and not long after it came the Polyolbion of Drayton and the Civil Wars of Daniel. This was the period of the saurians in English poetry, interminable poems, book after book and canto after canto, like far-stretching vertebrae, that at first sight would seem to have rendered earth unfit for the habitation of man. They most of them sleep well now, as once they made their readers sleep, and their huge remains lie embedded in the deep morasses of Chambers and Anderson. We
Paul Veronese (search for this): chapter 2
ide, for perhaps, after all, he adopted it only for the reason that it was in fashion, and put it on as he did his ruff, not because it was becoming, but because it was the only wear. The true use of him is as a gallery of pictures which we visit as the mood takes us, and where we spend an hour or two at a time, long enough to sweeten our perceptions, not so long as to cloy them. He makes one think always of Venice; for not only is his style Venetian, Was not this picture painted by Paul Veronese, for example? Arachne figured how Jove did abuse Europa like a bull, and on his back Her through the sea did bear:. . . . She seemed still back unto the land to look, And her playfellows' aid to call, and fear The dashing of the waves, that up she took Her dainty feet, and garments gathered near. . . . . Before tile bull she pictured winged Love, With his young brother Sport,. . . . And many nymphs about them flocking round, And many Tritons which their horns did sound. Muiopotmos, 28
ell Did her beseem. And, ever as the crew About her danced, sweet flowers that far did smell, And fragrant odors they upon her threw; But most of all those three did her with gifts endue. Those were the graces, Daughters of Delight, Handmaids of Venus, which are wont to haunt Upon this hill and dance there, day and night; Those three to men all gifts of grace do grant And all that Venus in herself doth vaunt Is borrowed of them; but that fair one That in the midst was placed paravant, Was she Venus in herself doth vaunt Is borrowed of them; but that fair one That in the midst was placed paravant, Was she to whom that shepherd piped alone, That made him pipe so merrily, as never none. She was, to weet, that jolly shepherd's lass Which piped there unto that merry rout; That jolly shepherd that there piped was Poor Colin Clout; (who knows not Colin Clout?) He piped apace while they him danced about; Pipe, jolly shepherd, pipe thou now apace, Unto thy love that made thee low to lout; Thy love is present there with thee in place, Thy love is there advanced to be another Grace. Faery Queen, B. VI. c
Aymer Valence (search for this): chapter 2
nism have been present to his mind. He meant merely freedom from prison. But its highest merit is the natural and unstrained tone of manly courage in it, the easy and familiar way in which Barbour always takes chivalrous conduct as a matter of course, as if heroism were the least you could ask of any man. I modernize a few verses to show what I mean. When the King of England turns to fly from the battle of Bannockburn (and Barbour with his usual generosity tells us he has heard that Sir Aymer de Valence led him away by the bridle-rein against his will), Sir Giles d'argente Saw the king thus and his menie Shape them to flee so speedily, He came right to the king in hy [hastily] And said, ‘Sir, since that is so That ye thus gate your gate will go, Have ye good-day, for back will I: Yet never fled I certainly, And I choose here to bide and die Than to live shamefully and fly.’ The Brus is in many ways the best rhymed chronicle ever written. It is national in a high and generous way
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