صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

mistress and his friend ; as he draws on in life the ascetic element which betrayed itself in him from the first, gains in strength, he throws this life scornfully behind him, and his thoughts fasten themselves more and more exclusively upon death and immortality.

From a purely literary point of view, Habington only rarely reaches high water mark in poetry. There are no glaring faults in his verse, and few conceits. The mass of his work is fluent, ingenious, tolerable poetry. It does not often attain to the inner music which can only proceed from a born singer, or to the flawless expression of a noble thought. Perfect literary tact Habington does not possess ; he will follow up a fine stanza with a lame and halting one, apparently without sense of the incongruity. It takes a strong furor poeticus to uplift him wholly, and keep him at a high level throughout an entire poem, however short. He excels greatly sometimes in single lines or couplets. He now and then surprises us with expressions like the weeping magic of my verse'; or so sonorous a line as

• and keep Strayed honour in the true magnificke way’; or a delicious commencement of a poem which falls off as it proceeds, such as

• Where sleepes the north wind when the south inspires
Life in the spring, and gathers into quires

The scattered nightingales’; or a strange and impressive thought like that comparison of virtue, which, lost to the world by his friend Talbot's death, only lives still in some solitary hermit's cell

• So 'mid the ice of the far northern sea
A star about the arctic circle may
Than ours yield clearer light, yet that but shall

Serve at the frozen pilot's funeral.' It is quite consistent with this that the couplets which terminate a poem are with him sometimes extraordinarily vigorous and happy. In more than one case this final line or couplet stitutes the entire value of the poem. Take this, for instance :

And thus there will be left no bird to sing
Farewell to the waters, welcome to the spring';

or this

• All her vows religious be
And her love she vows to me';

[blocks in formation]

or this

• But virtuous love is one sweet endless fire;' or this

The bad man's death is horror; but the just

Keeps something of his glory in his dust.' But his inadequate sense of poetic form does not allow him often to attain to a perfect whole. He is too fond of awkward elisions, and endeavours to force more into a line than it will fairly hold. His sonnets, one or two of which rank among the best efforts, are formally speaking, not sonnets at all, but strings of seven rhyming couplets. He does not sufficiently know, he has not sufficiently laboured at, the technical business of his art. 'Quoi qu'on en puisse dire, la poésie est un art qui s'apprend, qui a ses méthodes, ses formules, ses arcanes, son contre point et son travail harmonique. L'inspiration doit trouver sous ses mains un clavier parfaitement juste, auquel ne manque aucune corde.' Habington is one of the many English poets whose imperfect realisation of this aspect of the truth has left their achievement inferior to their talent.



Ye blushing virgins happy are
In the chaste nunnery of her breasts,
For he'd profane so chaste a fair,
Who e'er should call them Cupid's nests.
Transplanted thus how bright ye grow,
How rich a perfume do ye yield ?
In some close garden cowslips so
Are sweeter than ith’ open field.
In those white cloisters live secure
From the rude blasts of wanton breath,
Each hour more innocent and pure,
Till you shall wither into death.
Then that which living gave you room
Your glorious sepulchre shall be:
There wants no marble for a tomb,
Whose breast has marble been to me.


Nimble boy, in thy warm flight
What cold tyrant dimmed thy sight?
Had'st thou eyes to see my fair,
Thou would'st sigh thyself to air,
· Fearing, to create this one,
Nature had herself undone.
But if you, when this you hear,
Fall down murdered through your ear,
Beg of Jove that you may have
In her cheek a dimpled grave.
Lily, rose, and violet
Shall the perfumed hearse beset ;
While a beauteous sheet of lawn
O’er the wanton corpse is drawn :
And all lovers use this breath ;
'Here lies Cupid blest in death.'


Like the violet which alone
Prospers in some happy shade ;
My Castara lives unknown,
To no looser eye betrayed,

For she's to her self untrue,
Who delights i’ th' public view.

Such is her beauty as no arts
Have enriched with borrowed grace ;
Her high birth no pride imparts,
For she blushes in her place.

Folly boasts a glorious blood,
She is noblest, being good.

Cautious, she knew never yet
What a wanton courtship meant ;
Nor speaks loud to boast her wit,
In her silence eloquent :

Of her self survey she takes
But 'tween men no difference makes.

She obeys with speedy will
Her grave parents' wise commands ;
And so innocent that ill
She nor acts nor understands;

Women's feet run still astray
If once to ill they know the way.

She sails' by that rock, the court,
Where oft honour splits her mast :
And retiredness thinks the port,
Where her fame may anchor cast:

Virtue safely cannot sit,
Where vice is enthroned for wit.

She holds that day's pleasure best
Where sin waits not on delight ;
Without mask, or ball, or feast,
Sweetly spends a winter's night :

O’er that darkness, whence is thrust

Prayer and sleep, oft governs lust.
She her throne makes reason climb,
While wild passions captive lie;
And each article of time
Her pure thoughts to Heaven fly:

All her vows religious be,
And her love she vows to me.


Forsake me not so soon ; Castara, stay,
And as I break the prison of my clay
I'll fill the canvas with my expiring breath,
And sail with thee o'er the vast main of Death.
Some cherubin thus, as we pass, shall play:
'Go, happy twins of love !'—the courteous sea
Shall smooth her wrinkled brow; the winds shall sleep,'
Or only whisper music to the deep ;
Every ungentle rock shall melt away,
The sirens sing to please, not to betray ;
The indulgent sky shall smile ; each starry quire
Contend, which shall afford the brighter fire.

While Love, the pilot, steers his course so even
Ne'er to cast anchor till we reach at Heaven.


Castara weep not, tho’ her tomb appear
Sometime thy grief to answer with a tear :
The marble will but wanton with thy woe.
Death is the sea, and we like rivers flow
To lose ourselves in the insatiate main,
Whence rivers may, she ne'er, return again.

« السابقةمتابعة »