« PreviousContinue »
in others, the poet alludes to his profession of an For through his mane and tail the high wind sings, actor, and all bear the impress of strong passion and Fanning the hairs, who wave like feather's wings. deep sincerity. A feeling of premature age seems to liave crept on Shakspeare
[Venus's Prophecy after the Death of Adonis.] That time of year thou may'st in me behold
Since thou art dead, lo ! here I prophesy,
Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend ;
Ne'er settled equally, but high or low :
That all love's pleasure shall not match his woe. Which by and by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
It shall be fickle, false, and full of fraud, In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
Bud and be blasted in a breathing while, That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
The bottom poison, and the top o'erstraw'd As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
With sweets that shall the truest sight beguile. Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
The strongest body shall it make most weak, This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong, Strike the wise dumb, and teach the fool to speak. To love that well which thou must leave ere long. It shall be sparing, and too full of riot, He laments his errors with deep and penitential Teaching decrepit age to tread the measurcs ; sorrow, summoning up things past to the sessions. The staring ruffian shall it keep in quiet, of sweet silent thought, and exhibiting the depths Pluck down the rich, enrich the poor with treasures ; of a spirit "solitary in the very vastness of its sym- Make the young old, the old become a child.
It shall be raging mad, and silly mild, pathies.' The W. H.' alluded to by Thorpe, the publisher, has been recently conjectured to be It shall suspect, where is no cause of fear ; William Herbert, afterwards Earl of Pembroke, who It shall not fear, where it should most mistrust; (as appears from the dedication of the first folio of It shall be merciful, and too severe, 1623) was one of Shakspeare's patrons. This con- And most deceiving when it seems most just : jecture has received the assent of Mr Hallam and Perverse it shall be, when it seems most toward, others; and the author of an ingenious work on the Put fear to valour, courage to the coward. sonnets, Mr C. Armitage Brown, has supported It shall be cause of war, and dire events, it with much plausibility. Herbert was in his And set dissension 'twixt the son and sire : eighteenth year, when Meres first notices the son- Subject and servile to all discontents, nets in 1598; he was learned, of literary taste, and As dry combustious matter is to fire. gallant character, but of licentious life. The son- Sith in his prime, death doth my love destroy, nets convey the idea, that the person to whom they They that love best, their love shall not enjoy. were addressed was of high rank, as well as personal beauty and accomplishments. We know of only one objection to this theory—the improbability that the
[Selections from Shakspeare's Sonnets.] publisher would address William Herbert, then Earl When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, of Pembroke, and a Knight of the Garter, as Mr I all alone beweep my outcast state, W. H.' Herbert succeeded his father in the earl. And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, dom in 1601, while the sonnets, as published by And look upon myself, and curse my fate, Thorpe, bear the date, as already stated, of 1609. Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
The composition of these mysterious productions Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd, evinces Shakspeare's great facility in versification Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope, of a difficult order, and they display more intense With what I most enjoy contented least ; feeling and passion than either of his classical Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, poems. They have the conceits and quaint turns of Haply I think on thce-and then my state expression, then common, particularly in the sonnet; (Like to the lark at break of day arising but they rise to far higher flights of genuine poetry From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate ; than will be found in any other poet of the day, and for thy sweet love remember'd, such wealth brings, they contain many traces of his philosophical and That then I scorn to change my state with kings. reflective spirit.
Alas, 'tis true, I have gone here and there, [The Horse of Adonis.]
And made myself a motley to the view,
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear, Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
Made old offences of affections new. In limning out a well-proportion'd steed,
Most true it is, that I have look'd on truth His art with Nature's workmanship at strife, Askance and strangely; but, by all above, As if the dead the living should exceed ;
These blenches gave my heart another youth, So did this horse excel a common one
And worst essays prov'd thee my best of love. In shape, in courage, colour, pace, and bone.
Now all is done, save what shall have no end : Round-hoof'd, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long, Mine appetite I never more will grind Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide, On newer proof, to try an older friend, High crest, short ears, strait legs, and passing strong, A God in love, to whom I am confined. Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide: Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best, Look what a horse should have, he did not lack, E'en to thy pure and most most loving breast. Save a proud rider on so proud a back.
O for my sake do thou with fortune chide, Sometimes he scuds far off, and there he stares; The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds, Anon he starts at stirring of a feather.
That did not better for my life provide, To bid the wind a basel he now prepares,
Than public means, which public manners breeds. And whe'r he run, or fly, they know not whether. Thence comes it that my name receives a brand, i to bid the wind a base: i.e. to challenge the wind to con
And almost thence my nature is subdued tend with him in speed : base-prison-base, or prison-dars, was To what it works in, like the dyer's hand. rustic game, consisting chiefly in running.
Pity me then, and wish I were renew'd ;
Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink
Nor did I wonder at the lilies white, Potions of eysell,i 'gainst my strong infection; Nor praise the deep verznilion in the rose ; No bitterness that I will bitter think,
They were but sweet, but figures of delight, Vor double penance to correct correction.
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those. Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye,
Yet seem'd it winter still, and, you away, Een that your pity is enough to cure me.
As with your shadow I with these did play. When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming; I summon up remembrance of things past,
I love not less, though less the show appear: I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
That love is merchandized, whose rich esteeming And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
The owner's tongue doth publish everywhere. Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays ;
As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,
And stops his pipe in growth of riper days :
Not that the summer is less pleasant now
Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night, And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
But that wild music burdens every bough,
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight. But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
Therefore, like her, I sometimes hold my tongue,
Because I would not dull you with my song.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Or bends with the remover to remove :
O no ! it is an ever-fixed mark, The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken ; As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
It is the star to every wandering bark, Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. When summer's breath their masked buds discloses ; | Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks But, for their virtue only is their show,
Within his bending sickle's compass come ; They live unwoo'd and unrespected fade ;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out e’en to the edge of doom.
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
[Selections from Shakspeare's Songs.] No longer mourn for me when I am dead,
[From · As you like it.'] Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell Give warning to the world, that I am fled
Blow, blow, thou winter wind, From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell!
Thou art not so unkind,
As man's ingratitude !
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh, ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly, When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly. Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
Then heigh, ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot! Then hate me when thou wilt ; if ever, now;
Though thou the waters warp, Now while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
Thy sting is not so sharp Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
As friend remember'd not.
Heigh, ho! &c. &c.
[At the end of Love's Labour Lost.] Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
When icicles hang by the wall, To linger out a purposed overthrow.
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail, If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
And Tom bears logs into the hall, When other petty griefs have done their spite,
And milk comes frozen home in pail; But in the onset come ; so shall I taste
When blood is nipt, and ways be foul, At first the very worst of Fortune's might;
Then nightly sings the staring owl, And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,
Tu-whoo! Compared with loss of thee, will not seem so.
Tu-whit! tu-whoo! a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marion's nose looks red and raw;
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit! tu-whoo! a merry note,
The judgment and fancy are reconciled, and the (In • Much Ado about Nothing.')
imagery of the poem seems to start more vividly Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more ;
from the surrounding shades of abstraction. The Men were deceivers ever;
versification of the poem (long quatrains) was One foot in sea, and one on shore,
afterwards copied by Davenant and Dryden. Mr
Southey has remarked that 'Sir John Davies and
Sir William Davenant, avoiding equally the opposite
faults of too artificial and too careless a style, wrote
in numbers which, for precision, and clearness, and Converting all your sounds of woe
felicity, and strength, have never been surpassed.'
The compact structure of Davies's verse is indeed
remarkable for his times. In another production,
entitled Orchestra, or a Poem of Dancing, in a DiaThe fraud of men was ever so,
logue between Penelope and One of her Wooers, he is Since summer first was leavy.
much more fanciful. He there represents Penelope Then sigh not so, &c.
as declining to dance with Antinous, and the latter
as proceeding to lecture her upon the antiquity of [In Cymbeline.']
that elegant exercise, the merits of which he deFear no more the heat o' th' sun,
scribes in verses partaking, as has been justly reNor the furious winter's rages ;
marked, of the flexibility and grace of the subject. Thou thy worldly task hast done,
The following is one of the most imaginative pas-
[The Dancing of the Air.]
And now behold your tender nurse, the air, Care no more to clothe and eat,
And common neighbour, that aye runs around,
How many pictures and impressions fair
Within her empty regions are there found,
Which to your senses dancing do propound;
For what are breath, speech, echoes, music, winds,
But dancings of the air in sundry kinds ?
For when you breathe, the air in order moves,
Now in, now out, in time and measure true ;
And when you speak, so well she dancing loves, Consign to thee, and come to dust.
That doubling oft, and oft redoubling new,
With thousand forms she doth herself endue :
For all the words that from your lips repair,
Are nought but tricks and turnings of the air.
Hence is her prattling daughter, Echo, born,
That dances to all voices she can hear :
There is no sound so harsh that she doth scorn,
Nor any time wherein she will forbear (From 'As you Like it."]
The airy pavement with her feet to wear : Under the green-wood tree
And yet her hearing sense is nothing quick, Who loves to lie with me,
For after time she endeth ev'ry trick. And tune his merry note
And thou, sweet Music, dancing's only life, Unto the sweet bird's throat,
The ear's sole happiness, the air's best speech,
Loadstone of fellowship, charming rod of strife,
The soft inind's paradise, the sick mind's leech,
With thine own tongue thou trees and stones can But winter and rough weather.
teach, Who doth ambition shun,
That when the air doth dance her finest measure, And loves to live i’ the sun;
Then art thou born, the gods' and men's sweet Seeking the food he eats,
pleasure. And pleas’d with what he gets, Come hither, come hither, come hither;
stly, where keep the Winds their revelry,
Their violent turnings, and wild whirling hays,
But in the air's translucent gallery?
Where she herself is tum'd a hundred ways, But winter and rough weather.
While with those maskers wantonly she plays :
Yet in this misrule, they such rule embrace,
As two at once encumber not the place.
we come to logical truths so well illustrated by in Up to the moon, and on her fixed fast: genious similes, that we know not whether to call And as she danceth in her pallid spheres the thoughts more poetically or philosophically just. So danceth he about the centre here.
Sometimes his proud green waves in order set,
[The Dignity of Man.)
Oh! what is man, great Maker of mankind ! And to make known his courtly love the more, That thou to him so great respect dost bear ;
He oft doth lay aside his three-fork'd mace, That thou adorn'st him with so bright a mind,
And with his arms the timorous earth embrace. Mak'st him a king, and even an angel's peer! The poem on Dancing is said to have been written Oh! what a lively life, what heav'nly pow'r, in fifteen days. It was published in 1596. The How great, how plentiful, how rich a dow'r
What spreading virtue, what a sparkling fire, Nosce Teipsum, or Poem on the Immortality of the
Dost thou within this dying flesh inspire ! Soul, bears the date (as appears from the dedication to the Queen) of 1602. The fame of these works Thou leav'st thy print in other works of thine, introduced Sir John Davies to James I., who made But thy whole image thou in man hast writ; him successively solicitor-general and attorney-ge- There cannot be a creature more divine, neral for Ireland. He was also a judge of assize, Except, like thee, it should be infinite : and was knighted by the king in 1607. The first But it exceeds man's thought, to think how high Reports of Law Cases, published in Ireland, were God hath rais'd man, since God a man became; made by this able and accomplished man, and his The angels do admire this mystery, preface to the volume is considered the best that And are astonish'd when they view the same : was ever prefixed to a law-book.'
Nor hath he given these blessings for a day,
Nor made them on the body's life depend ; [Reasons for the Soul's Immortality.]
The soul, though made in time, survives for aye ;
And though it hath beginning, sees no end.
JOAN DONNE was born in London in 1573, of a
Catholic family; through his mother he was reAll moving things to other things do move
lated to Sir Thomas More and Heywood the epiOf the same kind, which shows their nature such ; grammatist. He was educated partly at Oxford So earth falls down, and fire doth mount above, and partly, at Cambridge, and was designed for the Till both their proper elements do touch.
law, but relinquished the study in his nineteenth And as the moisture which the thirsty earth
year. About this period of his life, having carefully
considered the controversies between the Catholics Sucks from the sea to fill her empty veins,
and Protestants, he became convinced that the latter From out her womb at last doth take a birth,
were right, and became a member of the established And runs a lymph along the grassy plains,
church. The great abilities and amiable character Long doth she stay, as loath to leave the land, of Donne were early distinguished. The Earl of From whose soft side she first did issue make; Essex, the Lord Chancellor Egerton, and Sir Robert She tastes all places, turns to every hand,
Drury, successively befriended and employed him; Her flowery banks unwilling to forsake.
and a saying of the second of these eminent persons
respecting him is recorded by his biographers—that Yet nature so her streams doth lead and carry
he was fitter to serve a king than a subject. He As that her course doth make no final stay,
fell, nevertheless, into trouble, in consequence of Till she herself unto the sea doth marry,
secretly marrying the daughter of Sir George Moore, Within whose wat’ry bosom first she lay.
lord lieutenant of the Tower. This step kept him for E'en so the soul, which, in this earthly mould, several years in poverty, and by the death of his The spirit of God doth secretly infuse,
wife, a few days after giving birth to her twelfth Because at first she doth the earth behold,
child, he was plunged into the greatest grief. At And only this material world she views.
the age of forty-two, Donne became a clergyman,
and soon attaining distinction as a preacher, he was At first her mother earth she holdeth dear,
preferred by James I. to the deanery of St Paul's ; And doth embrace the world and worldly things ; in which benefice he continued till his death in 1631, She flies close by the ground, and hovers here,
when he was buried honourably in Westminster And mounts not up with her celestial wings : Abbey. Yet under heaven she cannot light on aught
The works of Donne consist of satires, elegies, That with her heavenly nature doth agree ;
religious poems, complimentary verses, and epiShe cannot rest, she cannot fix her thought,
grams: they were first collected into one volume She cannot in this world contented be.
by Tonson in 1719. His reputation as a poet, great
in his own day, low during the latter part of the For who did ever yet, in honour, wealth,
seventeenth, and the whole of the eighteenth cenOr pleasure of the sense, contentment find ?
turies, has latterly in some degree revived. In its Who ever ceased to wish, when he had health, days of abasement, critics spoke of his harsh and Or, having wisdom, was not vex'd in mind ?
rugged versification, and his leaving nature for conTben, as a bee which among weeds doth fall,
ceit: Dryden even hints at the necessity of transWhich seem sweet flow'rs, with lustre fresh and gay,
lating him into numbers and English. It seems She lights on that, and this, and tasteth all,
to be now acknowledged that, amidst much rubbish, But, pleased with none, doth rise and soar away.
there is much real poetry, and that of a high order,
in Donne. He is described by a recent critic as So, when the soul finds here no true content,
imbued to saturation with the learning of his age,' And, like Noah's dove, can no sure footing take, endowed with a most active and piercing intellect She doth return from whence she first was sent, -an imagination, if not grasping and comprehenAnd flies to him that first her wings did make. sive, most subtle and far-darting-a fancy, rich,
vivid, and picturesque—a mode of expression terse, it is a mere conceit. Perhaps we should not be far simple, and condensed—and a wit admirable, as well from the truth, if we were to represent this style as for its caustic severity, as for its playful quickness the natural symptoms of the decline of the brilliant —and as only wanting sufficient sensibility and taste school of Sackville, Spenser, and Shakspeare. All to preserve him from the vices of style which seem the recognised modes, subjects, and phrases of poetry,
introduced by them and their contemporaries, were now in some degree exhausted, and it was necessary to seek for something new. This was found, not in a new vein of equally rich ore, but in a continuation of the workings through adjoining veins of spurious metal.
It is at the same time to be borne in mind, that the quality above described did not characterise the whole of the writings of Donne and his followers. These men are often direct, natural, and truly poetical-in spite, as it were, of themselves. Donne, it may be here stated, is usually considered as the first writer of that kind of satire which Pope and Churchill carried to such perfection. But his satires, to use the words of a writer already quoted, are rough and rugged as the unhewn stones that have just been blasted from the quarry.
The specimens which follow are designed only to exemplify the merits of Donne, not his defects :
Address to Bishop Valentine, on the day of the marriage
of the Elector Palatine to the Princess Elizabeth
The household bird with his red stomacher ;
Thou mak’st the blackbird speed as soon, to have beset him. Donne is usually considered as This day more cheerfully than ever shine ;
As doth the goldfinch or the halcyon ; the first of a series of poets of the seventeenth cen. This day which might inflame thyself, old Valentinel tury, who, under the name of the Metaphysical Poets, fill a conspicuous place in Erglish literary nistory. The directness of thought, the naturalness of description, the rich abundance of genuine poeti
Valediction-Forbidding Mourning. cal feeling and imagery, which distinguish the poets As virtuous men pass mildly away, of Elizabeth's reign, now begin to give way to cold And whisper to their souls to go; and forced conceits, mere vain workings of the in Whilst some of their sad friends do say, tellect, a kind of poetry as unlike the former as The breath goes now—and some say, no; punning is unlike genuine wit. To give an idea of these conceits—Donne writes a poem on a familiar
So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move; popular subject, a broken heart." Here he does not advert to the miseries or distractions which are pre
'Twere profanation of our joys sumed to be the causes of broken hearts, but starts
To tell the laity our love. off into a play of conceit upon the phrase. He Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears, entered a room, he says, where his mistress was Men reckon what it did, and meant; present, and
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent. love, alas! At one first blow did shiver it [his heart] as glass.
Dull, sublunary lover's love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit Then, forcing on șis mind to discover by what means
Absence, because it doth remore the idea of a heart broken to pieces, like glass, can
Those things which alimented it. be turned to account in making out something that But we're by love so much refined, will gingle on the reader's imagination, he proceeds That ourselves know not what it is ;1 thus :
Inter-assured of the mind,
Careless eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
Our two souls, therefore (which are one)
Though I must go, endure not yet Those pieces still, though they do not unite :
A breach, but an expansion, And now, as broken glasses show
Like gold to airy thinness beat. A hundred lesser faces, so
If they be two, they are two so My rags of heart can like, wish, and adore,
As stiff twin compasses are two; But after one such love can love no more.
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show There is here, certainly, analogy, but then it is
To move, but doth, if th' other do. an analogy which altogether fails to please or move :
i That is, absence.