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This work is designed to form a collection of the choicest Poetry in the English language. Nothing but what is really good will be admitted. No original poetry will find a place.
JOHN CROCKFORD, 29, ESSEX STREET,
There is not sufficient originality in the "Ode to
Knowledge." Its thoughts are thoroughly commonplace.
"D. M. WEST, (Glasgow.)”—Thanks for the "Brilliants;" they are such, and will be inserted. We shall be glad of more. Please to write all contributions plainly, and on one side of the paper only.
"R. J. L."-Although "A Word of Cheer" is not quite within our scheme, we shall be glad to receive others.
"AMATOR POESIS."- -"The Last Plague" is, certainly, not beautiful. The two "Brilliants" are wise sayings, but not poetry. Our correspondent has fallen into the very common error of mistaking a good moral sentiment in verse for good poetry.
"MIDAS" will see that we have already used some of his welcome inclosures.
66 'G.," JUVENIS,' "REV. E. M.," "A LOVER OF POETRY," "VIATOR."-Thanks to all for the contributions forwarded. Many of them will have a place.
"A SUBSCRIBER."-We will endeavour to adopt his suggestion in future.
"A CORRESPONDENT" informs us that the poem 66 A Mother to her Child," attributed to Wordsworth, was written by his sister, although published among his works, and that the "Lines to the Redbreast," of which Keble is stated to be the author, were by a friend of his.
Number IV. will be published on the 1st of March.
Part I., price 18. sewn in a cover, will be published on the same day. The success of Beautiful Poetry has far exceeded any expectation we had formed of it, and the universal approval of the selections is very gratifying.
No. II. of Wit and Humour will be published on the 1st of March. Beautiful Poetry may be had by order of all Booksellers, in Numbers at 3d., or Parts at 1s. It will also be sent direct from the office, stamped to pass free by post, to any person prepaying for not less than twelve numbers, 3s. 6d., which may be transmitted in postage stamps.
ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE.
The whole range of English lyrical poetry contains nothing finer than this, we believe nothing so fine. JOHN KEATS, to whom the lovers of poetry are indebted for it, was one of the contemporaries of Lord Byron. He possessed a genius of the very highest order, and before he was twenty-one he published poems that have already taken their station among our national literature. A bitter attack in the Quarterly Review is said to have so grieved him as to hasten the approach of an hereditary disease, and at the early age of twenty-four death deprived the world of one of its master spirits. Had he lived, it is probable that he would have produced works second to none in our language. The following ode was his last composition, written upon his death-bed. To feel its full beauty, the reader must have in his mind's eye the entire scene. An Italian evening-the night wind coming through the window-sill, fanning the brow of the dying poet, the young moon setting over the sea, the odour of night flowers stealing into the feverish chamber, the rich voice of the nightingale flooding the else silent world. On the bed of death lies the poet, his frame wasted, his cheeks hectic, his eyes lighted up with all the fire of his undying soul. In such a position he breathes the following "most musical, most melancholy" address to the merry songster in the garden below. It opens with a painful description of his own sad state.
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
Of beechen green and shadows numberless,
Was ever a
Here is a rich array of ideas clothed in the choicest words. But mark the wonderful voluptuousness of the next verse. goblet of wine so deliciously described as this with which the poet longs to slake his fever and die in the luxury of the draught?
Oh! for a draught of vintage that hath been
Dance, and Provençal song, and sun-burnt mirth!
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim
And purple-stained mouth!
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget,
Here where men sit and hear each other groan;
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
How exquisitely, in the next verse, he imagines the beauties of flower and field at that delightful season which he, poor dying mortal, shut up in his dark sick chamber, cannot see and may only dream of. What a multitude of pleasant country thoughts are condensed in this single
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
The coming musk-rose full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
On such a night, he thinks, how sweet to die-to end this troublous wayward life and burst into a higher and happier being. He who in
sad youthful fancies had often wished to die, when death seemed something impossible, now when it is in sight remembers this. Never was a calm death described with such delicacy of touch as in the lines in italics.
Darkling I listen; and,-for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful death,
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain,
And that remembrance leads him to compare his lot with the nightingale's. That self-same tune had been heard for ages past, and would be heard for centuries to come, while his song was poured forth in a rich strain for three or four short years, to be stifled in death, and its like never more to be heard.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird!
The same that oft-times hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
Was it a vision, or a waking dream ?-
Poor KEATS! the world in thee lost a treasure. Thy foes little knew what a rare flower they were trampling to death.