« PreviousContinue »
in his hand, and pointing to the hostile temples of the Persians, and demanding vengeance of their prince, he instantly started from his throne,
Seiz'd a flambeau with zeal to destroy ;*
while Thais, and the attendant princes, rushed out with him to set fire to the city. The whole train of imagery in this stanza of Dryden is alive, sublime, and animated to an unparalleled degree: the poet had so strongly possessed himself of the action described, that he places it fully before the eyes
of the reader.
The descent of Orpheus into hell is gracefully introduced in the fourth stanza, as it naturally flowed from the subject of the preceding : the description of the infernal regions is well imagined; and the effects of the musician's 'lyre on the inhabitants of hell, are elegantly translated from the fourth Georgic of Virgil,t and happily
* These anapests, for such they are, have a fine effect.
+ Ver. 480,
adapted to the subject in question. The supplicating song at the beginning of the fifth stanza, is pathetic and poetical, especially when he conjures the powers below in beautiful trochaics ;
These images are picturesque and appropriated ; and these are such notes as might
Draw iron tears down Plulo's cheek,
But the numbers that conclude this stanza, are of so burlesque and ridiculous a kind, and have so much the air of a drinking song at a county election, that one is amazed and concerned to find them in a serious ode, and in an ode of a writer eminently skilled, in general, in accommodating his sounds to his sentiments.
* Milton's Il Penseroso,
Thus song could prevail
O’er death and o'er hell,
Tho' fate had fast bound her
With Styx nine times round her,
Yet music and love were victorious. Lzia oli tuon vil bo'stini i ri i 7 One would imagine that John Dennis, or some Hero of the Dunciad, had been here attempting to travesty this description of the restoration of Eurydice to life. It is observable, that this is the very measure Addison thought was proper to use in the comic' character of Sir Trusty ; by the introduction of which he has so strangely debased and degraded his elegant opera of Rosamond:
How unhappy is he
For of us pretty fellows
Our wives are so jealous,
These numbers, therefore, according to Addison's ear, conveyed a low and ludicrous idea, instead E 4
Act I. Scene II. See also, Scene IV. Act I. A song
of being expressive of triumph" and exultation, the images here intended to be impressed by POPE.
Virgil is again imitated throughout the sixth stanza, which describes the behaviour of Orpheus on the second loss of Eurydice. I wish POPE had inserted that striking circumstance, so strongly imagined, of a certain melancholy murmur, or rather dismal shriek, that was heard all around the lakes of Avernus, the moment Orpheus looked back on his wife;
-Terque fragor stagnis auditus Avernis.*
And as prosopopeias are a great beauty in lyric poetry, surely he should not have omitted those natural and pathetic exclamations of Eurydice, the moment she was spatched back, and which she uttered as she was gradually sinking to the shades, especially where she movingly takes her last adieu;
And adds, that she is now surrounded with a vast darkness, id feror ingenti circumdata nocte;" and in vain stretching' but ber feeble arms towards him,
Invalidasque tibi tendens, heu ! non tua, palmas.*
This lively and pathetic attitude would have made a striking picture under the hands of POPE. The reader, I presume, feels the effect of the judicious placing in the verse, heu !, non tua, and of its repetition after tibi. The places in which Orpheus, according to POPE, made his lamentations, are not so wild, so savage, and dismal, as those mentioned by Virgil : to introduce him “beside the falls of fountains,” conveys not such an image of desolation and despair, as the caverns on the banks of. Strymon and Tanais, the Hyperborean deserts, and the Riphæan solitudes. And to say of Hebrus, only, that it rolls in meanders,” is flat and frigid, and does not heighten the melancholy of the place. There is an antithesis in the succeeding lines," he glows amid