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omething. But I fear it was not so, for only genius can do that; and Sternhold and Hopkins are inspired men in comparison with them. For Sternhold was at least the author of two noble stanzas:— The Lord descended from above And bowed the heavens high, And underneath his feet he cast The darkness of the sky; On cherubs and on cherubims Full royally he rode, And on the wings of all the winds Came flying all abroad. But Gascoyne and the rest did nothing more than put the worst school of Italian love poetry into an awkward English dress. The Italian proverb says, Inglese italianizzato, Diavolo incarnate, that an Englishman Italianized is the very devil incarnate, and one feels the truth of it here. The very titles of their poems set one yawning, and their wit is the cause of the dulness that is in other men. The lover, deceived by his love, repenteth him of the true love he bare her. As thus:— Where I sought heaven there found I hap; From danger unto death, Much like the mo
e also shuns a hiatus which does not seem to have been generally dipleasing to Spenser's ear, though perhaps in the compound epithet bees-alluring he intentionally avoids it by the plural form. But he was, with the exception of Milton and possibly Gray, the most learned of our poets. His familiarity with ancient and modern literature was easy and intimate, and as he perfected himself in his art, he caught the grand manner and high-bred ways of the society he frequented. But even to the last hee's youth. I read the Faery Queen when I was about twelve with a vast deal of delight; and I think it gave me as much when I read it over about a year or two ago. Thomson wrote the most delightful of his poems in the measure of Spenser; Collins, Gray, and Akenside show traces of him; and in our own day his influence reappears in Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, and Keats. Landor is, I believe, the only poet who ever found him tedious. Spenser's mere manner has not had so many imitators as Milton'
tly bliss, Does waste his days in dark obscurity And in oblivion ever buried is; Where ease abounds it's eath to do amiss: But who his limbs with labors and his mind Behaves with cares, cannot so easy miss. Abroad in arms, at home in studious kind, Who seeks with painful toil shall Honor soonest find. In woods, in waves, in wars, she wonts to dwell, And will be found with peril and with pain, Ne can the man that moulds in idle cell Unto her happy mansion attain; Before her gate high God did Sweat ordain, And wakeful watches ever to abide; But easy is the way and passage plain To pleasure's palace; it may soon be spied, And day and night her doors to all stand open wide. Faery Queen, B. II. c. III. 40, 41. Spenser's mind always demands this large elbow-room. His thoughts are never pithily expressed, but with a stately and sonorous proclamation, as if under the open sky, that seems to me very noble. For example,— The noble heart that harbors virtuous thought And is with child of
Edmund Bolton (search for this): chapter 2
text, gave out at the end of the eighteenth book. Yet Drayton could write well, and had an agreeable lightsomeness of fancy, as his Nymphidia proves. His poem To the Cambro-Britons on their Harp is full of vigor; it runs, it leaps, clashing its verses like swords upon bucklers, and moves the pulse to a charge. Daniel was in all respects a man of finer mould. He did indeed refine our tongue, and deserved the praise his contemporaries concur in giving him of being well-languaged. Edmund Bolton in his Hypercritica says, The works of Sam Daniel contained somewhat a flat, but yet withal a very pure and copious English, and words as warrantable as any man's, and fitter perhaps for prose than measure. I have italicized his second thought, which chimes curiously with the feeling Daniel leaves in the mind. (See Haslewood's Ancient Crit. Essays, Vol. II.) Wordsworth, an excellent judge, much admired Daniel's poem to the Countess of Cumberland. Writing two hundred and fifty years a
o tell you when you cannot fully taste a book that it is because it is so thoroughly national, is to condemn the book. To say it of a poem is even worse, for it is to say that what should be true of the whole compass of human nature is true only to some northand-by-east-half-east point of it. I can understand the nationality of Firdusi when, looking sadly back to the former glories of his country, he tells us that the nightingale still sings old Persian; I can understand the nationality of Burns when he turns his plough aside to spare the rough burr thistle, and hopes he may write a song or two for dear auld Scotia's sake. That sort of nationality belongs to a country of which we are all citizens,— that country of the heart which has no boundaries laid down on the map. All great poetry must smack of the soil, for it must be rooted in it, must suck life and substance from it, but it must do so with the aspiring instinct of the pine that climbs forever toward diviner air, and not in
doth please the eye? Who rests not pleased with such happiness, Well worthy he to taste of wretchedness. The Muiopotmos pleases us all the more that it vibrates in us a string of classical association by adding an episode to Ovid's story of Arachne. Talking the other day with a friend (the late Mr. Keats) about Dante, he observed that whenever so great a poet told us anything in addition or continuation of an ancient story, he had a right to be regarded as classical authority. For instane 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 fee
Sam Daniel (search for this): chapter 2
er it came the Polyolbion of Drayton and the Civil Wars of Daniel. This was the period of the saurians in English poetry, iby their sons,—a dreary inheritance. Yet both Drayton and Daniel are fine poets, though both of them in their most elaborat swords upon bucklers, and moves the pulse to a charge. Daniel was in all respects a man of finer mould. He did indeed r Edmund Bolton in his Hypercritica says, The works of Sam Daniel contained somewhat a flat, but yet withal a very pure ans, Vol. II.) Wordsworth, an excellent judge, much admired Daniel's poem to the Countess of Cumberland. Writing two hundred r that matter, off his own age, and it is very likely that Daniel had only the thinking and languaging parts of a poet's outt extremely probable that Rosalinde is the anagram of Rose Daniel, sister of the poet, and married to John Florio. He leaveot born thereto; Nor are they born in every prince's days. Daniel's Dedic. Trag. Of Philotas. Then, as when the same phenome
damsels; but to those who are grown familiar with his imaginary world such a transformation seems as natural as in the old legend of the Knight of the Swan. Come now ye damsels, daughters of Delight, Help quickly her to dight: But first come ye, fair Hours, which were begot In Jove's sweet paradise of Day and Night,. . . . And ye three handmaids of the Cyprian Queen, The which do still adorn her beauty's pride, Help to adorn my beautifulest bride. Crown ye god Bacchus with a coronal, And Hymen also crown with wreaths of vine, And let the Graces dance unto the rest,— For they can do it best. The whiles the maidens do their carols sing, To which the woods shall answer and their echo ring. The whole Epithalamion is very noble, with an organlike roll and majesty of numbers, while it is instinct with the same joyousness which must have been the familiar mood of Spenser. It is no superficial and tiresome merriment, but a profound delight in the beauty of the universe and in that de
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 at the same time picturesque confutation of Socialism than in the Second Canto of the Fifth Book. If I apprehend rightly his words and images, there is not only subtile but profound thinking here. The French Revolution is prefigured in the well-meaning but too theoretic giant, and Rousseau's fallacies exposed two centuries in advance. Spenser was a conscious Englishman to his inmost fibre, and did not lack the sound judgment in politics which belongs to his race. He was the more English for living in Ireland, and there is something that moves us deeply in the exile's passionate cry:— Dear Country! O how dearly dear Ought thy remembrance and perpetual band Be to thy foster—child that from thy hand Did common breath and nouriture receive! How brutish is it not to unders
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
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