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Yet if we could scorn
Hate and pride and fear;
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.
Better than all measures
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground! 3
Teach me half the gladness,
That thy brain must know;
From my lips would flow,
"In the spring of 1820," says Mrs. Shelley," we spent a week or two near Leghorn, borrowing the house of some friends, who were absent on a journey to England. It was on a beautiful summer evening, while wandering among the lanes where myrtle hedges were the bowers of the fire-flies, that we heard the carolling of the skylark, which inspired one of the most beautiful of his po.”—Moxon's edition of 1840, p. 278.
Shelley chose the measure of this poem with great felicity. The earnest hurry of the four short lines, followed by the long effusiveness of the Alexandrine, expresses the eagerness and continuity of the lark. There is a luxury of the latter kind in Shakspeare's song, produced by the reduplication of the rhymes:
Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings,
And Phoebus 'gins arise
His steeds to water at those springs
On chalic'd flowers that lies:
"Chalic'd flowers that lies," is an ungrammatical license in use with the most scholarly writers of the time; and, to say the truth, it was a slovenly one; though there is all the difference in the world between the license of power and that of poverty.
1 “In profuse strains of unpremeditated art."-During the preva lence of the unimaginative and unmusical poetry of the last century, it was thought an Alexandrine should always be cut in halves, for the greater sweetness; that is to say, monotony. The truth is, the pause may be thrown anywhere, or even entirely omitted, as in the unhesitating and characteristic instance before us. See also the eighth stanza. The Alexandrines throughout the poem evince the nicest musical feeling.
2 Like a high-born maiden
Mark the accents on the word "love-laden," so beautifully carrying on the stress into the next line
Soothing her love-làden
The music of the whole stanza is of the loveliest sweetness; of energy in the midst of softness; of dulcitude and variety. Not a sound of a vowel in the quatrain resembles that of another, except in the rhymes; while the very sameness or repetition of the sounds in the Alexandrine intimates the revolvement and continuity of the music which the lady is playing. Observe, for instance (for nothing is too minute to dwell upon in such beauty), the contrast of the i and o in "high-born;" the difference of the a in "maiden" from that in "palace;" the strong opposition of maiden to tower (making the rhyme more vigorous in proportion to the general softness); then the new differences in soothing, love-laden, soul, and secret, all diverse from one another, and from the whole strain; and finally, the strain itself, winding up in the Alexandrine with a cadence of particular repetitions, which constitutes nevertheless a new difference on that account, and by the prolongation of the tone.
"It gives a very echo to the seat
There is another passage of Shakspeare which it more particularly calls to mind ;—the
Ditties highly penn'd,
Sung by a fair queen in a summer bower,
But as Shakspeare was not writing lyrically in this passage, nor desirous to fill it with so much love and sentiment, it is no irreverence to say that the modern excels it. The music is carried on into the first two lines of the next stanza :
Like a glow-worm golden
a melody as happy in its alliteration as in what may be termed its counterpoint. And the coloring of this stanza is as beautiful as the music.
3" Thou scorner of the ground."—A most noble and emphatic close of the stanza. Not that the lark, in any vulgar sense of the word, "scorns" the ground, for he dwells upon it: but that, like the poet, nobody can take leave of common-places with more heavenly triumph.
A GARISH DAY.
(SAID BY A POTENT RUFFIAN.)
The all-beholding sun yet shines; I hear
I see the bright sky through the window-panes;
It is a garish, broad, and peering day;
CONTEMPLATION OF VIOLENCE.
(BY A MAN NOT BAD.)
Spare me now.
I am as one lost in a midnight wood,
A ROCK AND A CHASM.
Two miles on this side of the fort, the road
Sustain'd itself with terror and with toil
With which it clings seems slowly coming down;
By the dark ivy's twine. At noon-day here 'Tis twilight, and at sunset blackest night.
Sweet lamp! my moth-like muse has burnt its wings;
Whose waters like blithe light and music are,
A Solitude, a Refuge, a Delight?
A lute, which those whom love has taught to play,
EXISTENCE IN SPACE.
Life, like a dome of many-colored glass,
One word is too often profaned
One feeling too falsely disdain'd