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tive poetry, if strictly confined to the great occurrences of history, would be deprived of the individual interest which it is so well calculated to excite.
Modern poets may therefore be pardoned in seeking simpler subjects of verse, more interesting in proportion to their simplicity. Two or three figures, well grouped, suited the artist better than a crowd, for whatever purpose assembled. For the same reason a scene immediately presented to the imagination, and directly brought home to the feelings, though involving the fate but of one or two persons, is more favourable for poetry than the political struggles and convulsions which influence the fate of kingdoms. The former are within the reach and comprehension of all, and, if depicted with vigour, seldom fail to fix attention: the other, if more sublime, are more vague and distant, less capable of being distinctly understood, and infinitely less capable of exciting those sentiments which it is the very purpose of poetry to inspire. To generalize is always to destroy effect. would, for example, be more interested in the fate of an individual soldier in combat, than in the grand event of a general action; with the happiness of two lovers raised from misery and anxiety to peace and union, than with the successful exertions of a whole nation. From what causes this may originate, is a separate, and obviously an immaterial consideration. Before ascribing this peculiarity to causes decidedly and odiously selfish, it is proper to recollect, that while men see only a limited space, and while their affections and conduct are regulated, not by aspiring at an universal good, but by exerting their power of making themselves and others happy within the limited scale allotted to each individual, so long will individual history and individual virtue be the readier and more accessible road to general interest and attention; and perhaps we may add, that it is the more useful, as well as the more accessible, inasmuch as it affords an example capable of being easily imitated.
treated, have still the interest and charm of novelty, and which thus prevents them from adding insipidity to their other more insuperable defects.
According to the author's idea of Romantic Poetry, as distinguished from Epic, the former comprehends a fictitious narrative, framed and combined at the pleasure of the writer; beginning and ending as he may judge best; which neither exacts nor refuses the use of supernatural machinery; which is free from the technical rules of the Epée; and is subject only to those which good sense, good taste, and good morals apply to every species of poetry without exception. The date may be in a remote age, or in the present; the story may deail the adventures of a prince or of a peasant. In a word, the author is absolute master of his country and its inhabitants, and every thing is permitted to him, excepting to be heavy or prosaic, for which, free and unembarrassed as he is, he has no manner of apology. Those, it is probable, will be found the peculiarities of this species of composition: and, before joining the outcry against the vitiated taste that fosters and encourages it, the justice and grounds of it ought to be made perfectly apparent. If the want of sieges and battles and great military evolutions in our poetry is complained of, let us reflect, that the campaigns and heroes of our day are perpetuated in a record that neither requires nor admits of the aid of fiction; and if the complaint refers to the inferiority of our bards, let us pay a Just tribute to their modesty, limiting them, as it does, to subjects, which, however indifferently
THE BRIDAL OF TRIERMAIN.
COME, Lucy! while 'tis morning hour,
The woodland brook we needs must pass;
So, ere the sun assume his power,
We shelter in our poplar bower,
Where dew lies long upon the flower,
Though vanished from the velvet grass. Curbing the stream, this stony ridge May serve us for a sylvan bridge; For here, compelled to disunite,
Round petty isles the runnels glide, And, chafing off their puny spite, The shallow murmurs waste their might, Yielding to footsteps free and light A dry-shod pass from side to side. II. Nay, why this hesitating pause? And, Lucy, as thy step withdraws, Why sidelong eye the streamlet's brim! Titania's foot without a slip, Like thine, though timid, light, and slim, From stone to stone might safely trip, Nor risk the glow-worm clasp to dip That binds her slipper's silken rim. Or trust thy lover's strength; nor fear
That this same stalwart arm of mine, Which could yon oak's prone trunk uprean, Shall sink beneath the burthen dear
Of form so slender, light, and fine.So, now, the danger dared at last, Look back and smile at perils past!
And now we reach the favourite glade,
Paled in by copse-wood, cliff, and stone, Where never harsher sounds invade,
To break affection's whispering tone, Than the deep breeze that waves the shade, Than the small brooklet's feeble moan. Come! rest thee on thy wonted seat;
Moss'd is the stone, the turf is green, A place where lovers best may meet,
Who would not that their love be seen. The boughs, that dim the summer sky, Shall hide us from each lurking spy,
That fain would spread the invidious tale, How Lucy of the lofty eye, Noble in birth, in fortunes high, She for whom lords and barons sigh, Meets her poor Arthur in the dale.
IV. How deep that blush!-how deep that sigh! And why does Lucy shun mine eye? Is it because that crimson draws Its colour from some secret cause, Some hidden movement of the breast, She would not that her Arthur guess'd? O! quicker far is lovers' ken Than the dull glance of common men, And by strange sympathy, can spell The thoughts the loved one will not tell! And mine, in Lucy's blush, saw met The hue of pleasure and regret; Pride mingled in the sigh her voice,
And shared with Love the crimson glow,
Well pleased that thou art Arthur's choice,
Yet shamed thine own is placed so low.
Thou turn'st thy self-confessing cheek,
As if to meet the breeze's cooling;
Then, Lucy, hear thy tutor speak,
For Love, too, has his hours of schooling.
Too oft my anxious eye has spied
That secret grief thou fain would'st hide,
The passing pang of humbled pride:
Too oft, when through the splendid hall,
The load-star of each heart and eye,
My fair one leads the glittering ball,
Will her stolen glance on Arthur fall,
With such a blush and such a sigh!
Thou would'st not yield, for wealth or rank,
The heart thy worth and beauty won,
Nor leave me on this mossy bank,
To meet a rival on a throne:
Why, then, should vain repinings rise,
That to thy lover fate denies
A nobler name, a wide domain,
A baron's birth, a menial train,
Since heaven assign'd him, for his part,
A lyre, a falchion, and a heart?
My sword its master must be dumb; But, when a soldier names my name, Approach, my Lucy! fearless come,
Nor dread to hear of Arthur's shame. My heart-'mid all yon courtly crew, Of lordly rank and lofty line, Is there to love and honour true,
That boasts a pulse so warm as mine? They praised thy diamond's lustre rareMatched with thine eyes, I thought it faded; They praised the pearls that bound thy hairI only saw the locks they braided; They talked of wealthy dower and land,
And titles of high birth the tokenI thought of Lucy's heart and hand,
Nor knew the sense of what was spoken. And yet, if ranked in fortune's roll,
I might have learn'd their choice unwise, Who rate the dower above the soul, And Lucy's diamonds o'er her eyes. Vit. My lyre-it is an idle toy,
That borrows accents not its own, Like warbler of Columbian sky.
That sings but in a mimic tone.' Ne'er did it sound o'er sainted well, Nor boasts it aught of border spell; Its strings no feudal slogan pour, Its heroes draw no broad claymore; No shouting clans applauses raise, Because it sung their father's praise; On Scottish moor, or English down, It ne'er was graced with fair renown, Nor won,-best meed to minstrel true,-One favouring smile from fair BUCCLEUCH! By one poor streamlet sounds its tone, And heard by one dear maid alone,
But, if thou bid'st, these tones shall tell
Of errant knight and damozelle;
Of the dread knot a wizard tied,
In punishment of maiden's pride,
In notes of marvel and of fear,
That best may charm romantic ear.
The Mocking bird.
For Lucy loves,--like Collins, ill-starr'd name!!
Whose lay's requital was, that tardy fame,
Who bound no laurel round his living head,
Should hang it o'er his monument when dead,-
For Lucy loves to tread enchanted strand,
And thread, like him, the maze of fairy-land;
Of golden battlements to view the gleam,
And slumber soft by some Elysian stream:
Such lays she loves,-and, such my Lucy's choice,
What other song can claim her poet's voice?
WHERE is the maiden of mortal strain,
That may watch with the baron of Triermain?
She must be lovely and constant and kind,
Holy and pure and humble of mind,
Blith of cheer and gentle of mood,
Courteous and generous and noble of blood-
Lovely as the sun's first ray,
When it breaks the clouds of an April day;
Constant and true as the widow'd dove,
Kind as a minstrel that sings of love;
Pure the fountain rocky cave,
Where never sun-beam kissed the wave:
Humble as maiden that loves in vain,
Holy as hermit's vesper strain;
Gentle as breeze that but whispers and dies,
Yet blith as the light leaves that dance in its sighs;
Courteous as monarch the morn he is crown'd,
Gen'rous as spring-dews that bless the glad ground,
Noble her blood as the currents that met
In the veins of the noblest Platagenet-
Such must her form be, her mood, and her strain
That shall match with sir Roland of Triermain.
Sir Roland de Vaux he hath laid him to sleep,
His blood it was fevered, his breathing was deep.
He had been pricking against the Scot,
The foray was long and the skirmish hot;
His dinted helm and his buckler's plight
Bore token of a stubborn fight.
All in the castle must hold them still,
Harpers must lull him to his rest,
With the slow soft tunes he loves the best,
Till sleep sink down upon his breast,
Like the dew on a summer hill,
It was the dawn of an autumn day;
The sun was struggling with frost fog gray,
That like a silvery crape was read
Round Skiddaw's dim and distant head,
And faintly gleam'd each painted pane
Of the lordly halls of Triermain,
When that baron bold awoke.
Starting he woke, and loudly did call,
Rousing his menials in bower and hall,
While hastily he spoke.
"Hearken, my minstrels! Which of ye all Touch'd his harp with that dying fall,
So sweet, so soft, so faint,
It seem'd an angel's whisper'd call
To an expiring saint?
And hearken, my merry men! what time or where
Did she pass, that maid with her heav'nly brow
With her look so sweet and her eyes so fair,
And her graceful step and her angel air,
And the eagle plume in her dark brown hair,
That pass'd from my bower e'en now?"-
Answer'd him Richard de Brettville; he
Was chief of the baron's minstrelsy,-
"Silent, noble chieftain, we
Have sate since midnight close,
When such lulling sounds as the brooklet sings,
Murmur'd from our melting strings,
And hush'd you to repose.
Had a harp-note sounded here,
It had caught my watchful ear,
Although it fell as faint and shy
As bashful maiden's half-form'd sigh,
When she thinks her lover near."-
Answer'd Philip of Fasthwaite tall,
He kept guard in the outer hall,-
"Since at eve our watch took post,
Not a foot has thy portal cross'd;
Else had I heard the steps, though low
And light they fell as when earth receives,
In morn of frost, the withered leaves,
That drop when no winds blow."
On mountain, moss, and moor. Above his solitary track Rose Glaramara's ridgy back, Amid whose yawning gulfs the sun Cast umbered radiance red and dun, Though never sun-beam could discern The surface of that sable tarn,6 In whose black mirror you may spy The stars, while noontide lights the sky. The gallant king, he skirted still The margin of that mighty hill; Rocks upon rocks incumbent hung, And torrents, down the gullies f Join'd the rude river that brawl'd on, Recoiling now from crag and stone, Now diving deep from human ken, And raving down its darksome glen. The monarch judged this desert wild, With such romantic ruin piled, Was theatre by Nature's hand For feat of high achievement plann'd.
O rather he chose, that monarch bold,
On vent'rous quest to ride,
In plate and mail, by wood and wold,
Than, with ermine trapp'd and cloth of gold,
In princely bower bide;
The bursting crash of a foeman's spear,
As it shiver'd against his mail,
Was merrier music to his ear
Than courtier's whisper'd tale:
And the clash of Caliburn more dear,
He rode, till over down and dell
The shade more broad and deeper fell;
And though around the mountain's head
Flow'd streams of purple, and gold, and red,
Dark at the base, unblest by beam,
Frown'd the black rocks, and roar'd the stream,
With toil the king his way pursued
By lonely Threlkeld's waste and wood,
Till on his course obliquely shone
The narrow valley of SAINT JOHN,
Down sloping to the western sky,
Where lingering sun-beams love to lie.
Right glad to feel those beams again,
The king drew up his charger's rein;
With gauntlet raised he skreen'd his sight,
As dazzled with the level light,
And, from beneath his glove of mail,
Scann'd at his ease the lovely vale,
While 'gainst the sun his armour bright
Gleam'd ruddy like the beacon's light.
XIII. Paled in by many a lofty hill, The narrow dale lay smooth and still, And, down its verdant bosom led, A winding brooklet found its bed. But, midmost of the vale, a mound Arose, with airy turrets crown'd, Buttress and rampire's circling bound,
And mighty keep and tower;
Seem'd some primeval giant's hand
The castle's massive walls had plann'd,
A ponderous bulwark, to withstand
Ambitious Nimrod's power.
Above the moated entrance slung,
The balanced draw-bridge trembling hung,
As jealous of a foe;
Wicket of oak, as iron hard,
With iron studded, clenched, and barr'd,
And prong'd portcullis, joined to guard
The gloomy pass below.
But the gray walls no banners crown'd,
Upon the watch tower's airy round
No warder stood his horn to sound,
No guard beside the bridge was found,
And, where the Gothic gateway frown'd,
Glanced neither bill nor bow.
Beneath the castle's gloomy pride,
In ample round did Arthur ride
Three times; nor living thing he spied,
Nor heard a living sound,
Save that, awakening from her dream,
The owlet now began to scream,
In concert with the rushing stream,
That washed the battled mound,
He lighted from his goodly steed,
And he left him to graze on bank and mead;
And slowly he climbed the narrow way,
That reached the entrance grim and gray,
And he stood the outward arch below, And his bugle horn prepar'd to blow,
In summons blith and bold,
Deeming to rouse from iron sleep
The guardian of this dismal keep,
Which well he guess'd the hold
Of wizard stern, or goblin grim,
Or pagan of gigantic limb,
The tyrant of the wold.
The ivory bugle's golden tip
Twice touched the monarch's manly lip,
And twice his hand withdrew.
Think not but Arthur's heart was good!
His shield was cross'd by the blessed rood,
Had a pagan host before him stood,
He had charged them through and through;
Yet the silence of that ancient place
Sunk on his heart, and he paused a space
Ere yet his horn he blew.
But, instant as its larum rung,
The castle-gate was open flung,
Portcullis rose with crashing groan,
Full harshly up its groove of stone;
The balance beams obeyed the blast,
And down the trembling draw-bridge cast;
The vaulted arch before him lay,
With nought to bar the gloomy way,
And onward Arthur paced, with hand
On Caliburn's resistless brand.
A hundred torches, flashing bright,
Dispelled at once the gloomy night
That loured along the walls,
And showed the king's astonished sight
The inmates of the halls.
Nor wizard stern, nor goblin grim,
Nor giant huge of form and limb,
Nor heathen knight was there;
But the cressets, which odours flung aloft,
Showed, by their yellow light and soft,
A band of damsels fair.
Onward they came, like summer wave
That dances to the shore;
An hundred voices welcome gave,
And welcome o'er and o'er!
An hundred lovely hands assail
The bucklers of the monarch's mail,
And busy laboured to unhasp
Rivet of steel and iron clasp.
One wrapp'd him in a mantle fair,
And one flung odours on his hair;
His short curled ringlets one smooth'd down,
One wreathed them with a myrtle crown.
A bride, upon her wedding day,
Was tended ne'er by troop so gay.
Loud laughed they all,-the king, in vain,
With questions tasked the giddy train;
Let him entreat, or crave, or call,
'Twas one reply,-loud laughed they all.
Then o'er him mimic chains they fling,
Framed of the fairest flowers of spring.
While some their gentle force unite,
Onward to drag the wondering knight,
Some, bolder, urge his pace with blows,
Dealt with the lily or the rose.
Behind him were in triumph borne
The warlike arms he late had worn,
Four of the train combined to rear
The terrors of Tintagel's spear;"
Two, laughing at their lack of strength,
Dragg'd Caliburn in cumbrous length;8
One, while she aped a martial stride,
Placed on her brows the helmet's pride,
Then scream'd, 'twixt laughter and surprise,
To feel its depth o'erwhelm her eyes.
With revel-shout and triumph-song,
Thus gayly marched the giddy throng.
The attributes of those high days
Now only live in minstrel lays,
For nature, now exhausted, still
Was then profuse of good and ill.
Strength was gigantic, valour high,
And wisdom soar'd beyond the sky,
And beauty had such matchless beam,
As lights not now a lover's dream.
Yet, e'en in that romantic age,
Ne'er were such charms by mortal seen
As Arthur's dazzled eyes engage,
When forth on that enchanted stage,
With glittering train of maid and page,
Advanced the castle's queen!
While up the hall she slowly passed,
Her dark eye on the king she cast,
That flash'd expression strong;
The longer dwelt that lingering look,
Her cheek the livelier colour took,
And scarce the shame-faced king could brook
The gaze that lasted long.
A sage, who had that look espied,
Where kindling passion strove with pride,
Had whisper'd, "Prince, beware!
From the chafed tyger rend the prey,
Rush on the lion when at bay,
Bar the fell dragon's blighted way,
But shun that lovely suare!"
At once, that inward strife suppress'd,
The dame approached her warlike guest.
With greeting in that fair degree,
Where female pride and courtesy
Are blended with such passing art
As awes at once and charms the beart.
A courtly welcome first she gave,
Then of his goodness 'gan to crave
Construction fair and true
Of her light maidens' idle mirth,
Who drew from lonely glens their birth,
Nor knew to pay to stranger worth
And dignity their due;
And then she pray'd that he would rest
That night her castle's honoured guest.
The monarch meetly thanks express'd;
The banquet rose at her behest;
With lay and tale, and laugh and jest,
Apace the evening flew.
The lady sate the monarch by,
Now in her turn abashed and shy,
And with indifference seemed to hear
The toys he whispered in her ear.
Her bearing modest was and fair,
Yet shadows of constraint were there,
That show'd an over-cautious care
Some inward thought to hide;
Oft did she pause in full reply,
And oft cast down her large dark eye,
Oft check'd the soft voluptuous sigh,
That heav'd her bosom's pride.
Slight symptoms these; but shepherds know
How hot the mid-day sun shall glow,
From the mist of morning sky;
And so the wily monarch guess'd,
That this assumed restraint express'd
More ardent passions in the breast,
Than ventured to the eye.
Closer he press'd, while beakers rang,
While maidens laughed and minstrels
Still closer to her ear-
But why pursue the common tale?
Or wherefore show how knights prevail
When ladies dare to hear
CANTO II. LYULPH'S TALE, CONTINUED. 1.
Or wherefore trace, from what slight cause
Its source one tyrant passion draws,
Till, mastering all within,
Where lives the man that has not tried,
How mirth can into folly glide,
And folly into sin!
Another day, another day,
And yet another, glides away!
The Saxon stern, the pagan Dane,
Maraud on Britain's shores again.
Arthur, of Christendom the flower,
Lies loitering in a lady's bower;
The horn, that foemen wont to fear,
Sounds but to wake the Cumbrian deer,
And Caliburn, the British pride,
Hangs useless by a lover's side.
Another day, another day,
And yet another, glides away!
Heroic plans in pleasure drown'd,
He thinks not of the Table Round;
In lawless love dissolved his life,
He thinks not of his beauteous wife;
Better he loves to snatch a flower
From bosom of his paramour,
Than from a Saxon knight to wrest
The honours of his heathen crest;
Better to wreath, 'mid tresses brown,
The heron's plume her hawk struck down,
Than o'er the altar give to flow
The banners of a Paynim foe.
Thus, week by week, and day by day,
His life inglorious glides away;
But she, that sooths his dream, with fear
Beholds his hour of waking near.
Much force have mortal charms to stay Our peace in Virtue's toilsome way;