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• If thou art blest, my mother's smile
Undimmed' but such inquiries, short as they are, seem too commonplace, and he immediately glides back into his curiosity as to the state of the weather and the forwardness of the spring
• If thou art blessed—my mother's smile
Undimmed—if becs are on the wing ?' No, we believe the whole circle of poetry does not furnish such another instance of enthusiasm for the sights and sounds of the vernal season !—The sorrows of a bereaved mother rank after the blossoms of the woodbine, and just before the hummings of the bee ; and this is all that he has any curiosity about; for he proceeds—
· Then cease, my friend, a little while .. That I may'send my love to my mother,' or 'give you some hints about bees, which I have picked up from Aristæus, in the Elysian Fields,' or
tell you how I am situated as to my own personal comforts in the world below'?-oh nom
• That I may-hear the throstle sing
His bridal song—the boast of spring.
Of bubbling wells that fret the stones, .
Thy words will be—thy cheerful tones
As welcome to—my crumbling bones!'-p. 4. "If any sense in me remains !’–This doubt is inconsistent with the opening stanza of the piece, and, in fact, too modest; we take upon ourselves to re-assure Mr. Tennyson, that, even after he shall be dead and buried, as much sense' will still remain as he has now the good fortune to possess.
We have quoted these two first poems in extenso, to obviate any suspicion of our having made a partial or delusive selection. We cannot afford space—we wish we could—for an equally minute examination of the rest of the volume, but we shall make a few extracts to show—what we solemnly affirm--that every page teems with beauties hardly less surprising.
The Lady of Shalott is a poem in four parts, the story of which we decline to maim by such an analysis as we could give, but it opens thus
• On either side the river lie
That clothe the wold and meet the sky
· And through the field the road runs by.' The Lady of Shalott was, it seems, a spinster who had, under some unnamed penalty, a certain web to weave.
• Underneath the bearded barley,
The reaper, reaping late and early,
Like an angel singing clearly. .
A charmed web she weaves alway;
• She knows not'Poor lady, nor we either
• She knows not what that curse may be,
Therefore she weaveth steadily ;
The Lady of Shalott.'
Sang Sir Launcelot.'-p. 15. The lady stepped to the window to look at the stranger, and forgot for an instant her web :—the curse fell on her, and she died ; why, how, and wherefore, the following stanzas will clearly and pathetically explain :
• A long drawn carol, mournful, holy,
Till her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turned to towered Camelot.
The Lady of Shalott!
The Lady of Shalott.'--p. 19. We pass by two-what shall we call them ?-tales, or odes, or sketches, entitled · Mariana in the South' and · Eleänore,' of which we fear we could make no intelligible extract, so curiously are they run together into one dreamy tissue--to a little novel in rhyme, called • The Miller's Daughter.' Miller's daughters, poor things,
* The same Camelot, in Somersetshire, we presume, which is alluded to by Kent in · King Lear
"Goose ! if I had thee upon Sarum plain,
have been so generally betrayed by their sweethearts, that it is refreshing to find that Mr. Tennyson has united himself to his miller's daughter in lawful wedlock, and the poem is a history of his courtship and wedding. He begins with a sketch of his own birth, parentage, and personal appearance
My father's mansion, mounted high,
Looked down upon the village-spire ;
And son and heir unto the Squire.' But the son and heir of Squire Tennyson often descended from the 'mansion mounted high ;' and
• I met in all the close green ways,
While walking with my line and rod,' A metonymy for rod and line'
• The wealthy miller's mealy face,
Like the moon in an ivytod.
While fishing in the mill-dam water,
And dreamt not of the miller's daughter.'-p. 33. He, however, soon saw, and, need we add, loved the miller's daughter, whose countenance, we presume, bore no great resemblance either to the mealy face' of the miller, or 'the moon in an ivy-tod ;' and we think our readers will be delighted at the way in which the impassioned husband relates to his wife how his fancy mingled enthusiasm for rural sights and sounds, with a prospect of the less romantic scene of her father's occupation.
• How dear to me in youth, my love,
Was everything about the mill;
The pool beneath that ne'er stood still ;
The dark round of the dripping wheel,
Made misty with the floating meal!!-p. 36. The accumulation of tender images in the following lines appears not less wonderful:
• Remember you that pleasant day
When, after roving in the woods, ('Twas April then) I came and lay
Beneath those gummy chestnut-buds ?
Plunged in the stream. With idle care,
I saw your troubled image there.
. . If you remember, you had set,' .
Upon the narrow casement.edge,
And you were leaning on the ledge. The poet's truth to Nature in his gummy' chestnut-buds, and to Art in the long green box’ of mignonette--and that masterly touch of likening the first intrusion of love into the virgin bosom of the Miller's daughter to the plunging of a water-rat into the mill-dam—these are beauties which, we do not fear to say, equal anything even in Keats.
We pass by several songs, sonnets, and small pieces, all of singular merit, to arrive at a class, we may call them, of three poems derived from mythological sources—Enone, the Hesperides, and the Lotos-eaters. But though the subjects are derived from classical antiquity, Mr. Tennyson treats them with so much originality that he makes them exclusively his own. Enone, deserted by
Beautiful Paris, evilhearted Paris, sings a kind of dying soliloquy addressed to Mount Ida, in a formula which is sixteen times repeated in this short poem..
• Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die.' She tells her dear mother Ida,' that when evilhearted Paris was about to judge between the three goddesses, he hid her (Enone) behind a rock, whence she had a full view of the naked beauties of the rivals, which broke her heart.
• Dear mother Ida, hearken ere I die :
It was the deep mid noon: one silvery cloud
How beautiful they were! too beautiful
O mother Ida, hearken ere I die.'--p: 56. In the place where we have indicated a pause, follows a description, long, rich, and luscious—Of the three naked goddesses ? Fye for shame—no—of the • lily flower violet-eyed,' and the singing pine,' and the overwandering ivy and vine,' and 'festoons,' and * gnarlèd boughs,' and 'tree tops,' and · berries,' and ' flowers,' and all the inanimate beauties of the scene. It would be unjust to the ingenuus pudor of the author not to observe the art with which he has veiled this ticklish interview behind such luxuriant trellis-work, and it is obvious that it is for our special sakes he has entered into these local details, because if there was one thing which mother Ida' knew better than another, it must have been
her own bushes and brakes. We then have in detail the tempting speeches of, first "The imperial Olympian,
With archèd eyebrow smiling sovranly,
Full-cyèd Here; secondly of Pallas— · Her clear and barèd limbs .. O'er-thwarted with the brazen-headed spear,' and thirdly— 'Idalian Aphrodite ocean-born,
Fresh as the foam, new-bathed in Paphian wells—' for one dip, or even three dips in one well, would not have been enough on such an occasion--and her succinct and prevailing promise of—
• The fairest and most loving wife in Greece ;'- . upon evil-hearted Paris's catching at which prize, the tender and chaste Enone exclaims her indignation, that she herself should not be considered fair enough, since only yesterday her charms had struck awe into— “A wild and wanton pard,
Eyed like the evening star, with playful tailand proceeds in this anti-Martineau rapture
" Most loving is she?'
Dear mother Ida! hearken ere I die !'~p. 62. . After such reiterated assurances that she was about to die on the spot, it appears that Enone thought better of it, and the poem concludes with her taking the wiser course of going to town to consult her swain's sister, Cassandra-whose advice, we presume, prevailed upon her to live, as we can, from other sources, assure our readers she did to a good old age.
In the · Hesperides' our author, with great judgment, rejects the common fable, which attributes to Hercules the slaying of the dragon and the plunder of the golden fruit. Nay, he supposes them to have existed to a comparatively recent period—namely, the voyage of Hanno, on the coarse canvas of whose log-book Mr. Tennyson has judiciously embroidered the Hesperian romance. The poem opens with a geographical description of the neighbourhood, which must be very clear and satisfactory to the English reader; indeed, it leaves far behind in accuracy of topography and melody of rhythm the heroics of Dionysius Periegetes.
The north wind fall'n, in the new-starrèd night.' Here, we must pause to observe a new species of metabolé with which Mr. Tennyson has enriched our language. He suppresses the E in fallen, where it is usually written and where it