« ForrigeFortsett »
With mad rapidity and unconcern,
Down to the gulph, from which is no return.
They trust in Davies, and their navies fail-
God's curse can cast away ten thousand sail!
They trust in armies, and their courage dies;
In wisdom, wealth, in fortune, and in lies:
But all they trust in withers as it must,
When He commands, in whom they place no trust.
Vengeance at last pours down upon their coast
A long despised, but now victorious host;
Tyranny sends the chain, that must abridge
The noble sweep of all their privilege;
Gives liberty the last, the mortal shock:
Slips the slave's collar on, and snaps the lock.
A. Such lofty strains embellish what you teach, Mean you to prophesy, or but to preach?
B. I know the mind, that feels indeed the fire The muse imparts, and can command the lyre, Acts with a force, and kindles with a zeal, Whatever the theme, that others never feel. If human woes her soft attention claim, A tender sympathy pervađes the frame,
She pours a sensibility divine .
Along the nerve of every feeling line.
But if a deed not tamely to be borne
Fire indignation and a sense of scorn,
The strings are swept with such a power so loud,
The storm of music shakes the astonished crowd.
So, when remote futurity is brought
Before the keen inquiry of her thought,
A terrible sagacity informs
The poet's heart; he looks to distant storms;
He hears the thunder ére the tempest lowers;
And,armed with strength surpassing human powers,
Seizes events as yet unknown to man,
And darts his soul into the dawning plan.
Hence, in a Roman mouth, the graceful name
Of prophet and of poet was the same;
Hence British poets too the priesthood shared,
And every hallowed druid was a bard.
But no prophetic fires to me belong;
I play with syllables, and sport in song.
A. At Westminster, where little poets strive To set a distich upon six and five,
Where discipline helps opening buds of sense,
And makes his pupils proud with silver-pence,
I was a poet too: but modern taste
Is so refined, and delicate, and chaste,
That verse, whatever fire the fancy warms,
Without a creamy smoothness has no charms.
Thus all success depending on an ear,
And thinking I might purchase it too dear,
If sentiment were sacrificed to sound,
And truth cut short to make a period round,
I judged a man of sense could scarce do worse,
Than caper in the morris-dance of verse.
B. Thus reputation is a spur to wit,
· And some wits flag through fear of losing it.
Give me the line, that plows its stately course
Like a proud swan conquering the stream by force,
That, like some cottage beauty, strikes the heart,
Quite unindebted to the tricks of art.
When labour and when dulness, club in hand,
Like the two figures at Si. Dunstan's stand,
Beating alternately, in measured time,
The clockwork tintinabulum of rhyme,
Exact and regular the sounds will be;
But such mere quarter-strokes are not for me.
From him, who rears a poem lank and long,
To him, who strains his all into a song;
Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air,
All birks and braes, though he was never there;
Or, having whelped a prologue with great pains,
Feels himself spent, and fumbles for his brains;
A prologue interdashed with many a stroke-
An art contrived to advertise a joke,
So that the jest is clearly to be seen
Not in the words—but in the gap between :
Manner is all in all, whatever is writ,
The substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
To dally much with subjects mean and low Proves that the mind is weak, or makes it so. Neglected talents rust into decay, And every effort ends in push-pin play. The man, that means success, should soar above A soldier's feather or a lady's glove; Else, summoning the muse to such a theme, The fruit of all her labour is whipt-cream,
As if an eagle flew aloft, and then
Stooped from its highest pitch to pounce a wren.
As if the poet, purposing to wed,
Should carye himself a wife in gingerbread.
Ages elapsed ere Homer's lamp appeared,
And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard:
To carry nature lengths unknown before,
To give a Milton birth, asked ages more.
Thus genius rose and set at ordered times,
And shot a day-spring into distant climes,
Ennobling every region that he chose;
He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose;
And, tedious years of Gothic darkness passed,
Emerged all splendour in our isle at last.
Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main,
Then show far off their shining plumes again.
A. Is genius only found in epic lays?
Prove this, and forfeit all pretence to praise.
Make their heroic powers your own at once,
Or candidly confess yourself a dunce.
B. These were the chief: each interval of night Was graced with many an undulating light.