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Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And hope without an object cannot live. To about the same date belongs the following, entitled Youth and Age :
Verse, a breeze ʼmid blossoms straying,
When I was young!
Flowers are lovely; love is flower-like;
Ere I was old !
Dew-drops are the gems of morning,
When we are old :
And tells the jest without the smile. The following was written, we believe, a year or two later. It winds up a prose dialogue between two girls and their elderly male friend the Poet, or Improvisatore, as he is more familiarly styled, who, after a most eloquent description of that rare mutual love, the possession of which he declares would be more than an adequate reward for the rarest virtue, to the remark, “Surely, he who has described it so well must have possessed it ?” replies, “ If he were worthy to have possessed it, and had believingly anticipated and not found it, how bitter the disappointment!” and then, after a pause, breaks out into verse thus :
Yes, yes! that boon, life's richest treat,
The fancy made him glad !
But e'en the meteor offspring of the brain
Unnourished wane ;
That boon, which but to have possest
Doubts tossed him to and fro:
Those sparkling colours, once his boast,
Fading, one by one away, Thin and hueless as a ghost,
Poor fancy on her sick-bed lay; Ill at a distance, worse when near, Telling her dreams to jealous fear! Where was it then, the sociable sprite That crowned the poet's cup and decked his dish! Ā Poor shadow cast from an unsteady Itself a substance by no other right But that it intercepted reason's light; It dimmed his eye, it darkened on his brow: A peevish mood, a tedious time, I trow!
Thank heaven! 'tis not so now.
O bliss of blissful hours !
Whate'er it was, it is no longer so;
And that is next to best!
And still more perfect and altogether exquisite, we think, than anything we have yet given, is the following, entitled Love, Hope, and Patience, in Education :
O'er wayward childhood would'st thou hold firm rule,
O part them never! If Hope prostrate lie,
Love too will sink and die.
Yet haply there will come a weary day,
When overtasked at length
COLERIDGE died in 1834 ; his friend Southey, born three years later, survived to 1843. If Coleridge wrote too little poetry, Southey may be said to have written too much and too rapidly. Southey, as well as Coleridge, has been popularly reckoned one of the Lake poets; but it is difficult to assign any meaning to that name which should entitle it to comprehend either the one or the other. Southey, indeed, was, in the commencement of his career, the associate of Wordsworth and Coleridge ; a portion of his first poem, his Joan of Arc, published in 1796, was written by Coleridge ; and he afterwards took up his residence, as well as Wordsworth, among the lakes of Westmoreland. But, although in his first volume of minor poems, published in 1797, there was something of the same simplicity or plainness of style, and choice of subjects from humble life, by which Wordsworth sought to distinguish himself about the same time, the manner of the one writer bore only a very superficial resemblance to that of the other; whatever it was, whether something quite original, or only, in the main, an inspiration caught from the Germans, that gave its peculiar character to Wordsworth's poetry, it was wanting in Southey's; he was evidently, with all his ingenuity and fertility, and notwithstanding an ambition of originality which led him to be continually seeking after strange models, from Arabian and Hindoo mythologies to Latin hexameters, of a genius radically imitative, and not qualified to put forth its strength except while moving in a beaten track and under the guidance of long-established rules. Southey was by nature a conservative in literature as well as in politics, and the eccentricity of his Thalabas and Kehamas was as merely spasmodic as the Jacobinism of his Wat Tyler. But even Thalaba and Kehama, whatever they may be, are surely not poems of the Lake school. And in most of his other poems, especially in his latest epic, Roderick, the Last of the Goths, Southey is in verse what he always was in prose, one of the most thoroughly and unaffectedly English of our modern writers. The verse, however, is too like prose to be poetry of a very high order ; it is flowing and eloquent, but has little of the distinctive life or lustre of poetical composition. There is much splendor and beauty, however, in the Curse of Kehama, the most elaborate of his long poems.