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النشر الإلكتروني

Whose bright print is gleaming yet;
And the red and golden vines,
Piercing with their trellis'd lines
The rough, dark-skirted wilderness;
The dun and bladed grass no less,
Pointing from this hoary tower
In the windless air; the flower
Glimmering at my feet; the line
Of the olive-sandall'd Apennine
In the south dimly islanded;
And the Alps, whose snows are spread
High between the clouds and sun;
And of living things each one;

And my spirit, which so long
Darken'd this swift stream of song,
Interpenetrated lie

By the glory of the sky :
Be it love, light, harmony,
Odour, or the soul of all

Which from heaven like dew doth fall,
Or the mind which feeds this verse
Peopling the lone universe.

This long quotation is justified by its delicate beauty; who, that has seen Lombardy, but must recognise the truth of that beautiful epithet, the olive-sandall'd Apennine? But a further reason is, that the last lines give (I think) as near an approach as Shelley himself could make to his conception of what underlies all Nature-of the Anima Mundi.

But this attempt-too long, yet not long enough to set forth Shelley's landscape may be closed by that one which, to my mind, is the most charmingly perfect in its simplicity and clearness of presentation. It is the Recollection of the pine woods near Pisa

We paused beside the pools that lie
Under the forest bough;

Each seemed as 'twere a little sky
Gulph'd in a world below;
A firmament of purple light,

Which in the dark earth lay,
More boundless than the depth of night,
And purer than the day-

In which the lovely forests grew

As in the upper air,

More perfect both in shape and hue
Than any spreading there.

There lay the glade and neighbouring lawn,
And through the dark-green wood
The white sun twinkling like the dawn
Out of a speckled cloud.

Sweet views which in our world above
Can never well be seen,
Were imaged by the water's love
Of that fair forest green.
And all was interfused beneath
With an Elysian glow,
An atmosphere without a breath,
A softer day below.

To the most modern phase of landscape in poetry, yet with a quality which brings him into a certain relation with Shelley, belongs Arthur O'Shaughnessy (1844-81); that gifted, unhappy youth, who, in delicate metrical skill and melody of words, in my eyes, stands second to Tennyson only during the last half century; whilst he is also high in pure imaginative faculty, wasted as it often was on doleful dreams and extravagant fantasies. He took Nature, if I may use the word, into his soul like a mistress; although known to him solely through books, he was intoxicated with tropical scenery. Thus he is voyaging to the Azure Islands

I reach them as the wave wanes low,
Leaving its stranded ores,
And evening floods of amber glow
And sleep around their shores :-

There his soul dwells in ecstasy

It plunges through some perfumed brake,
Or depth of odorous shade

That walls and roofs a dim hush'd lake,
Where endless dreams have stay'd;
And there it takes the incarnation

Of some amphibious blossom,
And lies in long-drawn contemplation
Buoy'd on the water's bosom.

O gorgeous Erumango! isle

Or blossom of the sea!

Often, some long enchanted while,
Have I been part of thee;

Part of some saffron hue that lingers
Above thy sapphire mountains ;

One of thy spice-groves' full-voiced singers;
One of thy murmuring fountains.

Or he is in the "country of the palm," where

Long red reaches of the cane,
Yellow winding water-lane,

Verdant isle and amber river
Lisp and murmur back again :

Many thousand years have been,
And the sun alone hath seen

Like a high and radiant ocean,
All the fair palm-world in motion;
But the crimson bird hath fed
With its mate of equal red,

And the flower in soft explosion
With the flower hath been wed.
And its long luxuriant thought
Lofty palm to palm hath taught,

While a single vast liana
All one brotherhood hath wrought,
Crossing forest and savannah.

What a strange visionary rapture is this! and yet, how true to botanical fact; note the "soft explosion" of anthers when the seed is ripe for fertilisation. It finds a parallel, if

anywhere, in the Sensitive Plant of Shelley-an artist of larger scope indeed, yet hardly more ecstatically imaginative.

Unlike as the two poets are, Chaucer was not more devoted to humanity as his subject than O'Shaughnessy. His landscape art, except in the poem inspired by tropical scenery, has but one conspicuous example, written seemingly toward the close of his life, just before that happy marriage which death ended soon and left him miserable. From this piece, describing a visit to "yet unspoil'd" Lynmouth, I quote a few stanzas, the clear, the imaginative simplicity of which may tempt some to the work of that poet who, among those of recent years, seems to me one of those most unjustly neglected

I have brought her I love to this sweet place,
Far away from the world of men and strife,
That I may talk to her a charméd space,

And make a rich long memory in my life.
Around my love and me the brooding hills,
Full of delicious murmurs, rise on high,
Closing upon this spot the summer fills,

And over which there rules the summer sky.
Behind us on the shore down there the sea

Roars roughly, like a fierce pursuing hound;
But all this hour is calm for her and me;

And now another hill shuts out the sound.

And now we breathe the odours of the glen,

And round about us are enchanted things;
The bird that hath blithe speech unknown to men,
The river keen, that hath a voice and sings :—
The tree that dwells with one ecstatic thought,
Wider and fairer growing year by year;
The flower that flowereth and knoweth nought,

The bee that scents the flower and draweth near.

Had he lived to pursue and perfect this simpler style, O'Shaughnessy might have reached an acceptance more worthy of his singular genius.



WE now reach the first of those two illustrious poets, who for England's lasting and priceless benefit carried on their art, in this century, to an age rarely granted man; while by the time of Wordsworth's death his work in poetry, I firmly hold, had placed him, then (for Tennyson's highest height was not yet reached), next in succession to Milton. But whether this opinion find assent or rejection, it should be remembered how many of our most gifted poets just preceding Wordsworth were cut down in youth. It is by the harvest-the opus operatum— the magnificent breadth and range-that he actually left us, not by what may have been the inborn genius, the natural power bestowed, that I am here venturing to measure him :

largior hic campos aether et lumine vestit

Through his lifetime runs an under-current of belief in his superiority amongst his great brethren in verse-Scott, Shelley, Coleridge, Keats, even Byron; they all seem to recognise him as the eldest brother; they know that he is the head of the family.1

The scenery in which William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was born, bred, and wherein he mostly spent his long lifethat of the English Lake region-passed as it were into his very soul, and forms a very large portion of his pictures and

1 Here and elsewhere quotations have been made from former attempts of my own in criticism of poetry.

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