صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

WILLIAM COLLINS.

**

WILLIAM COLLINS, a distinguished modern poet, of disorder in his mind, perceptible to any but himwas born at Chichester, in 1720 or 1721, where his self. He was reading the New Testament. I father exercised the trade of a hatter. He received have but one book," said he, "but it is the best." his education at Winchester College, whence he en-He was finally consigned to the care of his sister, in tered as a commoner of Queen's College, Oxford. whose arms he finished his short and melancholy In 1741, he procured his election into Magdalen course, in the year 1756. college as a demy; and it was here that he wrote It is from his Odes, that Collins derives his chief his poetical "Epistle to Sir Thomas Hanmer," poetical fame; and in compensation for the neglect and his Oriental Eclogues;" of both which with which they were treated at their first appearpieces the success was but moderate. In 1744, he ance, they are now almost universally regarded as came to London as a literary adventurer, and va- the first productions of the kind in our language, rious were the projects which he formed in this with respect to vigor of conception, boldness and capacity. In 1746, however, he ventured to lay variety of personification, and genuine warmth of before the public a volume of "Odes, Descriptive feeling. They are well characterized in an essay and Allegorical;" but so callous was the national prefixed to his works, in an ornamented edition pubtaste at this time, that their sale did not pay for the lished by Cadell and Davies, with which we shall printing. Collins, whose spirit was high, returned conclude this article. "He will be acknowledged to the bookseller his copy-money, burnt all the un- (says the author) to possess imagination, sweetness, sold copies, and as soon as it lay in his power, in- bold and figurative language. His numbers dwell demnified him for his small loss; yet among these on the ear, and easily fix themselves in the memory. odes, were many pieces which now rank among the His vein of sentiment is by turns tender and lofty, finest lyric compositions in the language. After always tinged with a degree of melancholy, but not this mortification, he obtained from the booksellers possessing any claim to originality. His originality a small sum for an intended translation of Aristotle's consists in his manner, in the highly figurative garb Poetics, and paid a visit to an uncle, Lieutenant-in which he clothes abstract ideas, in the felicity of Colonel Martin, then with the army in Germany. his expressions, and his skill in embodying ideal The Colonel dying soon after, left Collins a legacy creations. He had much of the mysticism of poetry, of 2000l., a sum which raised him to temporary and sometimes became obscure by aiming at imopulence; but he now soon became incapable of pressions stronger than he had clear and well-defin'd every mental exertion. Dreadful depression of ideas to support. Had his life been prolonged, and spirits was an occasional attendant on his malady, with life had he enjoyed that ease which is necessary for which he had no remedy but the bottle. It was for the undisturbed exercise of the faculties, he about this time, that it was thought proper to con- would probably have risen far above most of his fine him in a receptacle of lunatics. Dr. Johnson contemporaries." paid him a visit at Islington, when there was nothing

[blocks in formation]

Come, Pity, come, by Fancy's aid,
E'en now my thoughts, relenting maid,
Thy temple's pride design;
Its southern site, its truth complete,
Shall raise a wild enthusiast heat
In all who view the shrine.

There Picture's toil shall well relate,
How Chance, or hard involving Fate,
O'er mortal bliss prevail :

The buskin'd Muse shall near her stand,
And, sighing, prompt her tender hand

With each disastrous tale.

There let me oft, retir'd by day,
In dreams of passion melt away,

Allow'd with thee to dwell:
There waste the mournful lamp of night,
Till, Virgin, thou again delight
To hear a British shell!

ODE TO FEAR.

THOU, to whom the world unknown With all its shadowy shapes is shown; Who see'st appall'd th' unreal scene, While Fancy lifts the veil between :

Ah, Fear! ah, frantic Fear! I see, I see thee near.

I know thy hurried step, thy haggard eye!
Like thee I start, like thee disorder'd fly.
For, lo, what monsters in thy train appear!
Danger, whose limbs of giant mould
What mortal eye can fixt behold?
Who stalks his round, a hideous form,
Howling amidst the midnight storm,
Or throws him on the ridgy steep
Of some loose hanging rock to sleep:
And with him thousand phantoms join'd,
Who prompt to deeds accurs'd the mind:
And those, the fiends, who, near allied,
O'er Nature's wounds and wrecks preside;
While Vengeance, in the lurid air,
Lifts her red arm, expos'd and bare;
On whom that ravening brood of Fate,
Who lap the blood of Sorrow, wait;
Who, Fear, this ghastly train can see,
And look not madly wild, like thee?

But who is he, whom later garlands grace,
Who left awhile o'er Hybla's dews to rove,
With trembling eyes thy dreary steps to trace,
Where thou and furies shar'd the baleful grove?

EPODE.

In earliest Greece, to thee, with partial choice The grief-full Muse address'd her infant tongue; 'The maids and matrons, on her awful voice,

Silent and pale, in wild amazement hung.

Yet he, the bard* who first invok'd thy name,
Disdain'd in Marathon its power to feel:
For not alone he nurs'd the poet's flame,

But reach'd from Virtue's hand the patriot's steel.

* Eschylus.

Wrapt in thy cloudy veil th' incestuous queen,†

Sigh'd the sad call her son and husband heard, When once alone it broke the silent scene,

And he the wretch of Thebes no more appear'd

O Fear! I know thee by my throbbing heart,

Thy withering power inspir'd each mournful line; Though gentle Pity claim her mingled part,

Yet all the thunders of the scene are thine.

ANTISTROPHE

Thou who such weary lengths hast past, Where wilt thou rest, mad nymph, at last? Say, wilt thou shroud in haunted cell, Where gloomy Rape and Murder dwell? Or in some hollow'd seat,

'Gainst which the big waves beat,

Hear drowning seamen's cries in tempests brought! Dark power, with shuddering meek submitted thought,

Be mine, to read the visions old,
Which thy awakening bards have told.

And, lest thou meet my blasted view,
Hold each strange tale devoutly true;
Ne'er be I found, by thee o'er-aw'd,
In that thrice-hallow'd eve abroad,
When ghosts, as cottage-maids believe,
Their pebbled beds permitted leave,
And goblins haunt from fire, or fen,
Or mine, or flood, the walks of men!

O thou, whose spirit most possest The sacred seat of Shakspeare's breast! By all that from thy prophet broke, In thy divine emotions spoke! Hither again thy fury deal, Teach me but once like him to feel: His cypress wreath my meed decree, And I, O Fear, will dwell with thee!

ODE.

WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1746. How sleep the brave, who sink to rest, By all their country's wishes blest! When Spring, with dewy fingers cold, Returns to deck their hallow'd mould, She there shall dress a sweeter sod, Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.

By Fairy hands their knell is rung,
By forms unseen their dirge is sung;
Their Honor comes, a pilgrim grey,
To bless the turf that wraps their clay,
And Freedom shall awhile repair,
To dwell a weeping hermit there!

† Jocasta.

[blocks in formation]

So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Peace,

Thy gentlest influence own, And love thy favorite name!

ODE TO LIBEPTY.

STROPHY

WHO shall awake the Spartan fife,
And call in solemn sonds to life,
The youths, whose locks divinely spreading,
Like vernal hyacinths in sullen hue,
At once the breath of fear and virtue shedding,
Applauding F endom lov'd of old to view?
What new Alens, fancy-blest,
Shall sing the sword, in myrtles drest,
At Wisdom's shrine awhile its flame concealing,
(What place so fit to seal a deed renown'd?)

Till she her brightest lightnings round revealing, It 'eap'd in glory forth, and dealt her prompted

wound!

O goddess, in that feeling hour,

When most its sounds would court thy ears,

Let not my shell's misguided power
E'er draw thy sad, thy mindful tears.
No, Freedom, no, I will not tell,
How Rome, before thy face,

With heaviest sound, a giant-statue, fell,
Push'd by a wild and artless race,
From off its wide ambitious base,
When Time his northern sons of spoil awoke,

And all the blended work of strength and grace
With many a rude repeated stroke,
And many a barbarous yell, to thousand fragments
broke.

EPODE.

Yet, e'en where'er the least appear'd,
Th' admiring world thy hand rever'd;
Still, midst the scatter'd states around,
Some remnants of her strength were found;
They saw, by what escap'd the storm,
How wondrous rose her perfect form;
How in the great, the labor'd whole,
Each mighty master pour'd his soul;
For sunny Florence, seat of Art,
Beneath her vines preserv'd a part,
Till they, whom Science lov'd to name,
(O, who could fear it!) quench'd her flame.
And, lo, an humbler relic laid

In jealous Pisa's olive shade!

See small Marino joins the theme,
Though least, not last in thy esteem;
Strike, louder strike th' ennobling strings
To those, whose merchants' sons were kings;
To him, who, deck'd with pearly pride,
In Adria weds his green-hair'd bride:
Hail, port of glory, wealth, and pleasure,
Ne'er let me change this Lydian measure:
Nor e'er her former pride relate
To sad Liguria's bleeding state.

Ah, no! more pleas'd thy haunts I seek,
On wild Helvetia's mountains bleak:
(Where, when the favor'd of thy choice,
The daring archer heard thy voice;
Forth from his eyrie rous'd in dread,
The ravening eagle northward fled.)

Or dwell in willow'd meads more near, With those to whom the stork* is dear: Those whom the rod of Alva bruis'd, Whose crown a British queen refus'd! The magic works, thou feel'st the strains, One holier name alone remains;

The perfect spell shall then avail, Hail, nymph, ador'd by Britain, hail!

ANTISTROPHE.

Beyond the measure vast of thought,
The works, the wizard Time has wrought!
The Gaul, 'tis held of antique story,
Saw Britain link'd to his now adverse strand,t
No sea between, nor cliff sublime and hoary,
He pass'd with unwet feet through all our land.

To the blown Baltic then, they say,

The wild waves found another way, Where Orcas howls, his wolfish mountains rounding; Till all the banded west at once 'gan rise,

A

wide wild storm e'en Nature's self confounding, Withering her giant sons with strange uncouth surprise.

This pillar'd earth so firm and wide,
By winds and inward labors torn,
In thunders dread was push'd aside,

And down the shouldering billows borne
And see, like gems, her laughing train,
The little isles on every side,

Mona,t once hid from those who search the main,
Where thousand elfin shapes abide,

And Wight, who checks the westering tide,

For thee consenting Heaven has each bestow'd, A fair attendant on her sovereign pride:

To thee this blest divorce she ow'd,

For thou hast made her vales thy lov'd, thy last abode!

SECOND EPODE.

Then too, 'tis said, an hoary pile, 'Midst the green navel of our isle,

*The Dutch, amongst whom there are very severe pen. alties for those who are convicted of killing this bird. They are kept tame in almost all their towns, and particularly at the Hague, of the arms of which they make a part. The common people of Holland are said to entertain a superstitious sentiment, that if the whole species of them should become extinct, they should lose their liberties.

†This tradition is mentioned by several of our old his torians. Some naturalists, too, have endeavored to support the probability of the fact, by arguments drawn from the correspondent disposition of the two opposite coasts. I do not remember that any poetical use has been hitherto made of it.

There is a tradition in the Isle of Man, that a mermaid, becoming enamoured of a young man of extraordinary beauty, took an opportunity of meeting him one day as he walked on the shore, and opened her passion to him, but was received with a coldness, occasioned by his horror and surprise at her appearance. This, however, was so misconstrued by the sea-lady, that, in revenge for his treatment of her, she punished the whole island, by covering it with a mist, so that all who attempted to carry on any commerce with it, either never arrived at it, but wandered up and down the sea, or were on a sudden wrecked upon its cliffs.

Thy shrine in some religious wood,
O soul-enforcing goddess, stood!
There oft the painted native's feet
Were wont thy form celestial meet:
Though now with hopeless toil we trace
Time's backward rolls, to find its place;
Whether the fiery-tressed Dane,
Or Roman's self, o'erturn'd the fane,
Or in what heaven-left age it fell,
"Twere hard for modern song to tell.
Yet still, if truth those beams infuse,
Which guide at once, and charm the Muse,
Beyond yon braided clouds that lie,
Paving the light embroider'd sky:
Amidst the bright pavilion'd plains,
The beauteous model still remains.
There happier than in islands blest,
Or bowers by Spring or Hebe drest,
The chiefs who fill our Albion's story,
In warlike weeds, retir'd in glory,
Hear their consorted Druids sing
Their triumphs to th' immortal string.

How may the poet now unfold,
What never tongue or numbers told?
How learn delighted, and amaz'd,
What hands unknown that fabric rais'd?
E'en now, before his favor'd eyes,
In Gothic pride it seems to rise!
Yet Grecia's graceful orders join,
Majestic, through the mix'd design;
The secret builder knew to choose,
Each sphere-found gem of richest hues :
Whate'er Heaven's purer mould contains,
When nearer suns emblaze its veins;
There on the walls the patriot's sight
May ever hang with fresh delight,
And, 'grav'd with some prophetic rage,
Read Albion's fame through every age.

Ye forms divine, ye laureate band, That near her inmost altar stand! Now soothe her, to her blissful train Blithe Concord's social form to gain : Concord, whose myrtle wand can steep E'en Anger's blood-shot eyes in sleep: Before whose breathing bosom's balm, Rage drops his steel, and storms grow calm; Her let our sires and matrons hoar Welcome to Britain's ravag'd shore, Our youths, enamour'd of the fair, Play with the tangles of her hair, Till, in one loud applauding sound, The nations shout to her around, "O, how supremely art thou blest, Thou, lady, thou shalt rule the West!"

THE PASSIONS.

AN ODE FOR MUSIC.

WHEN Music, heavenly maid, was young,
While yet in early Greece she sung,
The Passions oft, to hear her shell,
Throng'd around her magic cell,
Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
Possest beyond the Muse's painting;
By turns they felt the glowing mind
Disturb'd, delighted, rais'd, refin'd;
Till once, 'tis said, when all were fir'd,
Fill'd with fury, rapt, inspir'd,

From the supporting myrtles round
They snatch'd her instruments of sound,
And, as they oft had heard apart
Sweet lessons of her forceful art,
Each, for madness rul'd the hour,
Would prove his own expressive power.

First Fear his hand, its skill to try,

Amid the chords bewilder'd laid, And back recoil'd, he knew not why, E'en at the sound himself had made.

Next Anger rush'd, his eyes on fire,

In lightnings own'd his secret stings, In one rude clash he struck the lyre, And swept with hurried hand the strings

With woful measures wan Despair

Low sullen sounds his grief beguil'd, A solemn, strange, and mingled air,

"Twas sad by fits, by starts 'twas wild.

But thou, O Hope, with eyes so fair,

What was thy delighted measure? Still it whisper'd promis'd pleasure,

And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail! Still would her touch the strain prolong,

And from the rocks, the woods, the vale," She call'd on Echo still through all the song; And where her sweetest theme she chose,

A soft responsive voice was heard at every close, And Hope enchanted smil'd, and wav'd her golden hair.

And longer had she sung-but, with a frown,
Revenge impatient rose,

He threw his blood-stain'd sword in thunder down.
And, with a withering look,

The war-denouncing trumpet took,
And blew a blast so loud and dread,

Were ne'er prophetic sound so full of woe.
And ever and anon he beat

[blocks in formation]
« السابقةمتابعة »