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It has been objected to MOORE that he scatters similes too profusely; that he surfeits his readers with sweets; that his verses are gems of fancy, but wanting in imagination. Well, if they be but fancy, the play of it is very beautiful play; and if not poetry, it is so like it that the world will probably continue to accept and value it as poetry, spite of the critics. We certainly look upon the following as genuine poetry. It is from Lalla Rookh.
THERE'S a beauty for ever unchangingly bright,
Like the long sunny lapse of a summer day's light,
Shining on, shining on, by no shadow made tender,
Till love falls asleep in its sameness of splendour.
This was not the beauty-oh! nothing like this,
That to young Nourmahal gave such magic of bliss;
But that loveliness, ever in motion, which plays
Like the light upon autumn's soft shadowy days,
Now here and now there, giving warmth as it flies
From the lips to the cheek, from the cheek to the eyes,
Now melting in mist, and now breaking in gleams,
Like the glimpses a saint hath of heaven in his dreams!
When pensive, it seem'd as if that very grace,
That charm of all others was born with her face;
And when angry-for e'en in the tranquillest climes
Light breezes will ruffle the flowers sometimes,-
The short, passing anger but seem'd to awaken
New beauty, like flowers that are sweetest when shaken.
If tenderness touch'd her, the dark of her eye
At once took a darker, a heavenlier dye,
From the depth of whose shadow, like holy revealings
From innermost shrines, came the light of her feelings!
Then her mirth-oh! 'twas sportive as ever took wing
From the heart with a burst, like the wild bird in spring;
Illumed by a wit that would fascinate sages,
Yet playful as Peris just loosed from their cages.
While her laugh, full of life, without any control
But the sweet one of gracefulness, rang from her soul;
And where it most sparkled no glance could discover,
In lip, cheek or eyes, for she brighten'd all over,—
Like any fair lake that the breeze is upon,
When it breaks into dimples and laughs in the sun.
This beautiful ballad by COLERIDGE is probably familiar to every reader; but familiarity will not, in this instance, perform its proverbial function and breed contempt. The more it is read the more it will be loved for its simplicity, its feeling, its imagery, its completeness as a poem. There is not a more perfect composition in our language, and it will live as long as the language in which it is breathed.
ALL thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
Are all but ministers of love,
And feed his sacred flame.
Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o'er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay
Beside the ruin'd tower.
The moonshine, stealing o'er the scene,
Had blended with the lights of eve;
And she was there, my hope, my joy,
My own dear Genevieve!
She leant against the armed man,-
The statue of the armed knight;
She stood and listen'd to my lay,
Amid the lingering light.
Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope! my joy! my Genevieve!
She loves me best, whene'er I sing
The songs that make her grieve.
I play'd a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story-
An old rude song, that suited well
That ruin wild and hoary.
She listen'd with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes, and modest grace;
For well she knew I could not choose
But gaze upon her face.
I told her of the knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand;
And that for ten long years he woo'd
The lady of the land.
I told her how he pined; and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another's love,
Interpreted my own.
She listen'd with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes, and modest grace,
And she forgave me, that I gazed
Too fondly on her face!
But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed the bold and lovely knight, And that he cross'd the mountain woods, Nor rested day nor night;
That sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade, And sometimes starting up at once
In green and sunny glade,
There came and look'd him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright;
And that he knew it was a fiend,
This miserable knight !
And that, unknowing what he did,
He leap'd amid a murderous band,
And saved from outrage worse than death
The lady of the land!
And how she wept, and clasp'd his knees; And how she tended him in vain
And ever strove to expiate
The scorn that crazed his brain:
And that she nursed him in a cave,
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest leaves
A dying man he lay :
His dying words-but when I reach'd
That tend'rest strain of all the ditty,
My faltering voice and pausing harp
Disturb'd her soul with pity!
All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrill'd my guileless Genevieve;
The music, and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve;
And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
Subdued and cherish'd long!
She wept with pity and delight,
She blush'd with love, and virgin shame,
And, like the murmur of a dream,
I heard her breathe my name.
Her bosom heaved; she stept aside,-
As conscious of my look she stept-
Then suddenly, with timorous eye,
She fled to me, and wept.
She half-enclosed me with her arms,
She press'd me with a meek embrace ;
And, bending back her head, look'd up
And gazed into my face.
'Twas partly love, and partly fear,
And partly 'twas a bashful art,
That I might rather feel than see
The swelling of her heart.
I calm'd her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin-pride;
And so I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous Bride!
A STARLIGHT WINTER NIGHT.
Here is one of the finest of the many fine passages in the works of BYRON. What a solemn and pensive grandeur in the scene, and how suggestive of the thoughts it inspires in the poet.
THE stars are forth, the moon above the tops
Of the snow-shining mountains.-Beautiful!
I linger yet with Nature, for the night
Hath been to me a more familiar face
Than that of man; and in her starry shade
Of dim and solitary loveliness,
I learn'd the language of another world.
I do remember me, that in my youth,
When I was wandering,-upon such a night
I stood within the Coliseum's wall,
Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome:
The trees which grew along the broken arches
Waved dark in the blue midnight, and the stars
Shone through the rents of ruin; from afar
The watchdog bay'd beyond the Tiber; and
More near from out the Cæsar's palace came
The owl's long cry, and, interruptedly,
Of distant sentinels the fitful song
Began and died upon the gentle wind.
Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach
Appear'd to skirt the horizon, yet they stood
Within a bow-shot.-Where the Cæsars dwelt,
And dwell the tuneless birds of night, amidst
A grove which springs through level battlements,
And twines its roots with the imperial hearths,
Ivy usurps the laurel's place of growth;—
But the gladiators' bloody circus stands,
A noble wreck in ruinous perfection!
While Cæsar's chambers and the Augustan halls,
Grovel on earth in indistinct decay.-
And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon
All this, and cast a wide and tender light,
Which soften'd down the hoar austerity
Of rugged desolation, and fill'd up,
As 'twere anew, the gaps of centuries,
Leaving that beautiful which still was so,
And making that which was not, till the place
Became religion, and the heart ran o'er
With silent worship.