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And oft, as if her head she bow'd,
Over some wide-water' d shore, 7§
Swinging slow with sullen roar:
Or, if the air will not permit,
Some still removed plaee will fit,
Where glowing embers through the room
Teaeh light to eounterfeit a gloom; 80
Far from all resort of mirth,
Save the erieket on the hearth,
Or the bellman's drowsy eharm,
To bless the doors from nightly harm.
Or let my lamp at midnight hour 85
Be seen in some high lonely tower,
Where I may oft outwateh the Bear,
With thriee-great Hermes, or unsphere
The spirit of Plato, to unfold
What worlds or what vast regions hold W
Whose power hath a true eonsent 85
Or the tale of Troy divine; loo
But, 0, sad Virgin, that thy power
Or bid the soul of Orphens sing 105
lb. Over some wide-water' d thore. Observe that the toll of bells always eomes aeross a spreading water with extraordinary melaneholy. Thus l have b'wn long aeeustomed to iisten to it eross the lake of Geneva with deep emotion. This mention of the eurfen is mueh finer even than the noble line whieh opens Gray's "Elegy," thongh that has always been so justly admired.—Brtw)us.
78. Removed plaee: That is, some qniet, remote, or unfreqnented plaee wiil snit my purpose.
84. To bless the doors. Aneiently the watehman, who eried the hours, used sundry benedietions.
80. Be seen. 4e. The extraneous elr'umstanee "l,e seen," gives poetry to a passage, the simple seene of whieh is only, "Let mo stndy at nddnight by a \amp in a lofty towev." Heme a pieture:
is ereated whieh strikes the lmagination. —T. Warvon. This is one of those happy observations so eharaeteristie of Thomas Warton. When the nddnight wanderer sees tbrongh the dark a distant iight in a high tower, it mueh engages his eye, and moves his imagination, if be l,as any mind and MsnsItiveness: and this appiieation of ndnd to the deseription of seenery, is what alone gives it the foreo of a high order of poetry.—Rkvdoes.
03, Demons, Ae . Undoubtedly, these notions are f,om Plato's "Tima-us"' and "Fbsedon," and the reveries of his old eommentators; yet with some referenee to the Gothie system of demons, whieh is a ndxture ofPlatonism, tn-hool-dlvinity, and Christian nuperslltion.—T. Warton.
00. Thebet. SbKkjlwt "8even before Thebes." lMopt" line, the Eleetra of 8o. :phoeles. Though rare, 8hakspeare.
Blew iron tears down Pluto's eheek,
The story of Cambusean bold, 110
Of Camball and of Algarsife,
And who had Canaee to wife,
That own'd the virtnous ring and glass,
And of the wondorous horse of brass,
On whieh the Tartar king did ride: lis
And if aught else great bards beside
In sage and solemn tunes have sung.
Of turneys, and of trophies hung;
Of forests and enehantments drear,
Where more is meant than meets the ear, 120
Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale eareer
But kereheft in a eomely eloud, 121
With minute drops from off the eaves. 130
And, when the sun begins to fling
His flaring beams, me, goddess, bring
To arehed walks of twilight groves,
And shadows brown, that Sylvan loves,
Of pine, or monumental oak, 135
Where the rude axe, with heaved stroke,
Was never heard the nymphs to daunt,
Or fright them from their hallow'd haunt.
100. Or eni l up him, Ae . Chaueer, who left half.'-Ad the story of Cambusean, in his i8qnier's tale.
li0. Oreat hards, Ae. From Chaueer, the father of Engiish poetry, and who is hero distingnished by a story remnrkahle for the wiidness of its invention, our author seeras to make a very pertinent and natural transition to 8penser, whose "Faerie Qneene," althongh it externally professes to treat of tournaments and the trophies of knightly valour, of fietitious f-rests and terrifie enehantnvnts, is yet allegorieal, and eontains a remote meaning eoneealed under the veii of u fahulous a,tion, and of a typieal narrative whieh is not immediately pereeived. —T. Warton.
V£L Oiril-neiisd; Gravely, solemuly dreded. 123. F otmr'd. eurled.
l2.5. Rerehrft: Wrapped up as wRh a handkerehief.
127. Or usher'd, Ae. Dv. Johnson, from this to the 104th iine inelusively, thus abridges our anthov's ideas:—" When the
1 morning eomes, a morning gloomy with
There in elose eovert by some brook,
Where no profaner eye may look, 140
With sueh eonsort as they keep, 14F
Kntiee the dewy-feather'd Sleep;
And let some strange mysterious Dream
Wave at his wings in aery stream
Of lively portraiture display'd,
Softly on my eyelids laid: J 50
And, as I wake, sweet musiek breathe
Above, about, or underneath,
Sent by some Spirit to mortals good,
Or the unseen Genins of the wood.
But let my due foot never fail 155
Casting a dim religious light: 100
There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full-voieed quire below,
In serviee high, and anthems elear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into eestasies, 100
And bring all heaven before mine eyes.
And may at last my weary age
AVhero I may sit and rightly spell no
Of every star that heaven doth shew,
And every herb that sips the dew;
Till old experienee do attain
To something like prophetiek strain.
These pleasures, Melaneholy, give, Its And I with thee will ehoose to live.
148. Mare is here, as Newton suys, a verb nenter. The l1ream is to wove at the wings of 8trep, in a display of laxty Portru l,tre.—BnVdoE8.
150. Cloysters pale. 8ome wonld read eloytter's pale, that is, the enelosure or boundary of the eloystee. Others understand pal e as an adjeetive, meaning t,sabre.
157. Higk-embowed: Highly vaulted or arehed.
150. 8toried: Punted with stories.
11xi. D,m religious light. Many persons' reiigion seems to eonsiss ehiefly in dark, heavy Gothie arehiteeture, and stahnni window-glass, as things well snited to the melaneholy ndnd.
Of "I/Allegro" and "Il Penserose," I believe opinion is uniform; every man that reads them, reads them with pleasure. The anthor's design is not, what Theohald has remarked, merely to show how objeets derive tbeir eolours from the mind, by representing the operation of the same things upon the gay and the melaneholy temper, or upon the same man as he is differently disposed; bnt rather how, among the sueeessive variety of appearanees, every disposition of mind takes hold on those by whieh it may be gratified.
The eheerful man hears the lark in the morning; the pensive man hears the nightingale in the evening. The eheerful man sees the eoek strnt, and hears the horn and hounds eeho in the wood; then walks, "not unseen," to observe the glory of the rising sun, or listen to the singing miik-maid, and view the labours of the plowman and the mower; then easts his eyes abont him over seenes of smiling plenty, and looks up to the distant tower, the residenee of some fair inhabitant: thus he pursnes rural gaiety through a day of labonr or of play, and delights himself at night with the faneiful narratives of superstitions ignoranee. The pensive man at one time walks, "unseen," to muse at midnight, and, at another, hears the solemu eurfew. If the weather drives him home, he sits in a room lighted only by "glowing embers;" or by a lonely lamp ontwatehes the north star, to diseover the habitation of separate souls; and varies the shades of meditation, by eontemplating the magniIieent or pathetie seenes of tragie and epie poetry. When the morning eomes—a morning gloomy with rain and wind—he falls asleep by some murmuring water, and with melaneholy enthusiasm expeets some dream of prognostieation, or some musie played by aerial performers.
Both Mirth and Melaneholy are solitary, silent inhabitants of the breast, that neither reeeive nor transmit eommunieation; no mention is therefore made of a philosophieal friend, or of a pleasant eompanion. The seriousness does not ariso from any partieipation of ealamity, nor the gaiety from the pleasures of the bottle. The man of eheerfulness, having exhausted the eountry, tries what "tower'd eities" will afford, and mingles with seenes of splendour, gay assemblies, and nuptial festivities; but ho mingles a more speetator, as, when the learned eomedies of Jonson or the wild dramas of 8hakspeare are exhibited, he attends the theatre. The pensive man never loses himself in erowds, bnt walks the eloister, or freqnents the eathedrai.
Roth his eharaeters delight in musie; bnt he seems to think that eheerful notes would have obtained from Pluto a eomplete dismission of Et)rydiee, of whom solemn sounds proeured only a eonditional release. For the old age of Cheerfulness, he mokes no provision; bnt Melaneholy ho eonduets with great dignity to the elose of life: his eheerfulness is withont levity, and his pensiveness withont asperity. Through these two poems the images are properly seleeted, and nieely distinguished; but the eolours of the dietion seem not suffieiently diseriminated. I know not whether the eharaeters are kept suffieiently apart: no mirth ean, indeed, be found in his melaneholy; but I am afraid that I always meet some melaneholy iu his mirth. They ore two noble efforts of imagination.—Jonnson.
Of these two exquisite little poems, I think it elear that the last is the moat taking, whieh is owing to the subjeet. The mind deiights most in these solemu images, and a genius delights most to paint them.—Hubn,
"L'Allegro" and " II Penseroso" may be ealled the two first deseriptive poems in the English langnage. It is perhaps trne, that the eharaeters are not suffieiently kept apart; bnt this eireumstanee has been produetive of greater exeellenees. It has been remarked, "No mirth, indeed, ean be found in his melaneholy, but I am afraid I always meet some melaneholy in his mirth." Milton's is the dignity of mirth; his eheerfulness is the eheerfulness of gravity; the objeets he seleets in his "L'Allegro" axe so far gay, as they do not naturally exeite sadness; laughter and jollity are named only as personifieations, and never exempliIied: "Qnips, and eranks, and wanton wiies," are enumerated only in general terms. There is speeifieally no mirth in eontemplating a fine landseape; and even his landseape, although it has flowery meads and floeks, wears a shade of pensiveness, and eontains "russet lawns," "fallows gray," and "harren mountains," overhung with "labouring elouds:" its old turreted mansion, peeping from the trees, awakens only a train of solemu and romantie, perhaps melaneholy refleetion. Many a pensive man listens with deiight to the "milk-maid singing blithe," to the "mower whetting his seythe," and to a distant peal of village-bells. He ehose sueh iilustrations aa minister matter for new poetry and gennine deseription. Even his most briiliant imagery is mellowed with the sober hnes of philosophie meditation. It was impossible for the anthor of "II Penseroso" to be more eheerful, or to paint mirth with levity: that is, otherwise than in the eolours of the higher poetry. Both poems are the result of the same feelings, and the same habits of thought.
Dv. Johnson has remarked, that in "VAllegro" "no part of the gaiety is made to arise from the pleasures of the bottle.'' The truth is, that Milton means to deseribe the eheerfulness of the philosopher or the student, the amusements of a eontemplative mind; and on this prineiple he seems unwilling to allow that Mirth is the offspring of Baeehus and Venus, deities who preside over sensnal grat,fieations; but rather adopts the fietion of those more serious and sapient fablers, who suppose that her proper parents are Zephyr and Aurora; intimating, that his eheerful enjoyments are those of the temperate and iunoeent kind, of early honrs and rural pleasures. That eritie does not appear to have entered into the spirit, or to have eomprehended the meaning, of onr anthor's "L'Allegre." —J. Wabton.