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“ Oh! that the Desert were my dwelling-place
With one fair Spirit for my minister,
In deeming such inbabit many a spot ?
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan, Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown. “ His steps are not upon thy paths—thy fields
Are not a spoil for him—thou dost arise,
His petty hope in some near port or bay,
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow-
"6 Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests ; in all time,
The monsters of the deep are made ; each zone
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane-as I do here.” These Stanzas may be separated selves bespeak neither satiety nor from the Poem—the feeling of readers hostility: there is "society by the innumerable so separates them—as a deep sea, and music in its roar 1" all HYMN TO THE OCEAN. The passage, quite right. Here is a heart, in its a great effort of a great poet, intends thirst for sympathy, peopling the a final putting forth of all his power desert with sympathisers. Here is - it has been acknowledged and re- expansion of the heart; and the spirit nowned as such; and, if it has failed, that rejoices in the consciousness of life a critique showing this, and showing roused into creative activity. For an the ground of the failure, may be use- ear untuned and untuning, here is ful to you, inexperienced yet in the one that listens out harmonies which criticism of poetry, though all alive to you, languid or inept, might not disits charm.
"Pleasure !" "rapture !" " SOWe observe you delight in the first ciety !" “music !”—a chain of genialiFour Stanzas-ay, you recite them over ties! again after us — and the voice of youth, tremulous in emotion, is pa
“I love not man the less, bat nature more,
From these our interviews.” thetic to the Old Man. He will not seek, by what might seem to you, thus What will you require of kindliest humoved, hypercritical objections to manity from any poet, from any lover some of the words; but, pleased with of nature, that is not here? The savage your pleasure, he is willing to allow you grandeur of earth and sea have their to believe the stanzas entirely good in peril—the fleeing of human homes and expression as in thought. For here haunts — the voluptuous banishment the morbid disrelish of the sated self-imposed the caressing of dear palate is cleansed away. The ob- fancies in secret invisible recesses inscuring cloud of the overwhelmed violable—these tend all to engenderheart is dispersed. The joy of the ing and nurturing an excessive selfwilderness here claimed is not neces- delight akin to an usurping self-love; sarily more or other than that of and the very sublimities of that wonevery powerful and imaginative spirit, derful intercourse, in which, upon the which experiences that solitude is, in one part, stands the feeble dwarf Man, simple truth, by a steadfast law of our in his hour-lived weakness, and upon nature, the condition under which our the other, as if Infinitude itself putsoul is able to wed itself in impas- ting on cognisable forms, the imperishsioned communion effectually to the able Hills and the unchangeable Sea glorious Universe — where, too, the —that intercourse in which he, the subjugating footsteps of man, impair- pigmy, conscious of the divinity within ing the pure domain of free nature, are him, feels himself the greater — he not. “Pathless," " lonely,"—of them. infinite, immortal, and these finite and
vanishing—the power and exultation sweetened. Or, if that be too much to of that intercourse may well engender say, at least man, with all the dissoand nourish Pride. Self-love and nance that hangs by his name and rePride, tempting, decoying, bewilder- collections, is forgotten, suspendeding, devouring demons of the inhuman for the time absolutely lost. If this Waste! But the self-reproved, repent- be not the meaning, what is ? ant pilgrim has well understood these
" And feel dangers. He knows that the delight What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conof woods and waterfalls, of stars and
ceal," storms, may alienate man from his fellow-man. He has guarded himself is indeed powerless writing, and by some wise temperance. He has the stanza merited a better close. found here his golden mean.
From But the whole stanza protests, prothus conversing, he “loves not man
claims the glad healing power of the the less, but nature more.”
Is this a natural world over him. He has deyoung Wordsworth, beginning, in the scribed this as well as he could, and school of nature, to learn the wisdom sums up with saying that by him it is of humanity ?
indescribable. “I derive from these At all events, here is, for the occa
communions a rapturous transformasion, the most express and earnest dis- tion—so great, so wondrous, that my claimer of the mood of misanthropy;
ignorant skill of words is utterly unand we rejoice to hear the Pilgrim able to render it; but, at the same speak of interviews
time, so self-powerful, that, in despite
of this my concealing inability, tones “in which I steal
of it will outbreak, make themselves From all I may be, or have been before."
heard, felt, and understood.” Thus From all ! that is, from all the un
Byron sets the tune of his Address to gracious, the harsh, the unkind, the
the Ocean. The first Four Stanzas, sore, the embittered, the angry, the therefore, be their poetry more or miserable ! Not surely, from all less, required, upon this account, the amiable and all the gladsome; and enucleation; and further, dear Neoespecially not from the whole person- phyte, inasmuch as they are particuality and identity of his character. larly humane, they should take their The picture he had given us of himself effectual place among evidences which was that of a powerful mind, self-set at separate him personally from some of war with its kind, yet within an exas
his poetical Timons. perated hate ever and anon unfolding the Four Stanzas beautiful,—that is
You-dear Neophyte-have called undestroyed, sometimes hardly vitiated, some portion of its original in- enough for us, and they recall to generate faculty of love. Here we be- your heart - you say - the kindred hold him now as God made him, and no
lines of Coleridge — which we call longer possessed by a demon. Change
" beautiful exceedingly.”— his rhyme into our prose~and you do
“ With other ministrations thou ! 0 Nature ! not dislike our prose--and in sober and Healest thy wandering and distemper'd child. sincere sadness the Childe thus speaks Thou pourest on him thy soft influences, -"I steal, under the power of these Thy sunny hues, fair forms, and breathing delicious, renovating, gladdening, hal- sweets, lowing influences, out of myself-out Thy melodies of woods, and winds, and waters, of that evil thing which man had Till he relent, and can no more endure made me-rather, alas! which I had To be a jarring and a dissonant thing made myself into; — and if long Amid this general dance and minstrelsy ; wandering, disuse of humanity, sepa- But, bursting into tears, wins back his way, ration from the scene of my wrongs, His angry spirit heald and harmonised and this auspicious dominion of invio- By the benignant touch of love and beauty." late nature have in these past years Thus-we repeat our words—"Byron already amended me-if I have been sets the tune of his Address to the worse than I am-even that worse Ocean." and that worst these “ interviews' ob- The poem, then, is an Address to the literate and extinguish." The soured Ocean by a Lover of the Ocean. It milk of human kindness is again seems reasonable, then, to ask, first, what is it natural to expect that such and the reason for using it must be a poem should be? And if it proves prominent, definite, and Aashing in all to be something remarkably different, men's eyes. The other method never then to inquire whether any particular can require justifying – this does circumstance or condition has inter- always; and if it fail conspicuously in vened which justifies the poet in fol. aught, the very opposite effect to that lowing an unexpected course. intended is produced, and the eulogy
Now, for natural expectation, the is no laud. You may say, indeed, theme is one of eulogy; and one may and say truly, that all eulogy shall say, therefore, that praise customarily be mixed—that naturally and necesexpresses itself in one or other of two sarily every subject has its title to principal ways-namely, directly or favour by sympathy and by antipathy. indirectly. We praise directly, for Which of the two shall predominate? instance, when, moved by the contem- We need scarcely answer that quesplation of some great or interesting tion. The mood of mind in which subject, we single forth, one after an- the Poet sings must be genial and beother, the qualities of its character, nign, though he may have to deal in or the facts in its history, which have fierce invective. provoked our love, our admiration, Read then, dearest Neophyte, the our joy, our gratitude. Upon the first Four Stanzas-recite them again, other hand, we praise indirectly when for you have them by heart. It is not we extol the subject of our eulogy easy to imagine any thing more comby dispraising another foreign subject, pletely at variance with all that which we oppose to the chosen one preamble for the hymn than the hymn in the way of relief or foil ; whether itself. The poet, imbued, as we have we establish mere comparison of con- seen, with the love of nature and of trast between the two, or cite an op- man, will breathe on both his benedicposition of actual enmity between tion. He will glorify the Sea. And them—as if, in hymning Apollo, we how does he attain the transported should insist upon the horror and and affectionate contemplation of the fury, the earth - pollution and the abyss of waters? By the opposition earth-affliction, of the monster Python. of man's impotence to the might of
A moment of reflection satisfies us the sea; by the opposition of the land that both ways are alike natural subjected to man, mixed up in his both, with occasion, alike unavoid- destinies, and changeable with him, able; but it is impossible to help to the ocean free from all change, exequally seeing that these two ways of cepting that of its own moods, the eulogy differ materially from each free play of its own gigantic will. other in two respects,--the temper of For though, philosophically speaking, inspiration which dictates, animates, the immense mass of waters is in itand supports the one or other manner self inert and powerless ; lifted into of attributing renown, and the motive tides by the sun and moon; lifted into justifying the one eulogistic proce- storm by raging and invisible winds; dure or the other. The temper of yet the poet, lawfully, and by a comdirect praise is always wholly genial; pulsion which lies alike upon all our that of lauding by illaudation has in minds, apprehends in what is invoit perforce an ungenial element. The luntary, self-willed motion, wild motive to direct praise eternally sub- changeable moods, a pleasure of rolling sists and is there, as long as the sub- -sun, moon, and winds, being for the ject enlogised subsists and is there. moment left utterly out of thought; This, then, is the ordinary method. and it may be that Byron here does If any thing has just happened that this well. But, what is the worth, provokes the indirect way-as if Py- what the meaning of the first Four thon has just been vanquished-then Stanzas—in which you bave delighted, good and well; or if the poet, by some because in them the Bard you personal haunting sorrow, or by an love had deliberately and passionunvanquished idiosyncrasy, must ar- ately rejected all hostile regard of rive at pleasure through pain, so be man, and reclaimed for himself his it: but this method is clearly extra- place among the brotherhood—when ordinary and exceptive to the rule; we see that hostile regard in all its bitterness, instantaneously return and needed to borrow a factitions energybecome the predominating character- say wit and scom, the faculties of the istic of the whole wrathful and scorn- satirist. ful song?
"In vain," indeed! Imagination Was his previous confession of faith beholds ten thousand fleets sweeping utterly false and hollow? If sincere over the ocean-or a hundred of them, and substantial, what in a moment or one--and man's exulting spirit shattered it ?
feels that it was not in vain. The “ Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean- purposes for which fleets do sail-to roll!
carry commerce, to carry war, to Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee."
carry colonies, to carry civilisation, This is good in temper so far-norumphantly prospered; and, of course,
to bring home knowledge, have triin aught inconsistent with the spirit are not in the meaning of the poet, pervading the introductory Stanzas; if the ten thousand fleets are presented in the meaning of the word. But,
although properly they alone are for the magnificence of the picture. perversely enough, the imagination of But are they? No, already for spleen. the reader accepts for an instant the The full verse is
pomp of the representation—"ten “ Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee—in thousand fleets sweep over thee "vain !"
for good, as an adjunct of the ocean's In vain! for what end in vain? Why, magnificence; and in the confusion of for one that never was contemplated by thought and feeling which characthem, nor by any rational being—that terises the passage, this verse of of leaving the bosom of the deep per- mockery tells to the total resulting manently furrowed by their wakes ! impression, in effect, like a verse of This is a minuteness of thinking we passion. The reverence which is not shudder to put down-but mend the intended not the contempt which is matter if you can. Try to imagine intended-for these majestic human something great, if not intelligible creations, is acknowledged at last. that the attempt which has failed was, The poet, with his living fraternal in some titai and mysterious way, to shadow beside him, is sitting upon have established a dominion of man the Italian promontory - love and over the sea, to have yoked it like the wonder look through his eyes upon earth under his hand, ploughed it, set that sea rolling under that sky—and vines and sown corn fields, and built up he speaks accordingly,– towered cities. But that thought is unstable, and deserts us quite." " In
“ Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean
roll !" vain," whatever it means, or if it means nothing-(and will no one tell Roll thy gentle tides on, sweet Medius what it means ?)—still proposes the terranean Sea! to beat in murmurs at sea in conflict with an adversary, and my weary feet! Roll, in thine own does not contemplate it for its own unconfined spaces, Atlantic Ocean! pure great self.
The whole Hymn with placid swell or with mounting is founded on contrast, and there- billows, from pole to pole! Roll, cirfore of indirect inspiration. To cumambient World-Ocean! embracing aggrandise the sea, Byron knows of in thy liquid arms our largest contino other way than to disparage the nents as thine islands, and immantling earth; and there is equally a want of our whole globe. A fair, gentle, setruth, and of imagination and passion. date beginning; and at the very next If he had the capacity of worthily step--war to the knife ! praising nature, if he had the genuine The confused, unstudied impression love and admiration for her beauty left upon you is that of a powerful and greatness which he proudly claims, mind moving in the majesty of its he has not shown this here ; and we power. But it is not moving in are induced to think that there were the majesty of power, after one step in his mind, faculties, intellectual and taken straight forwards, at the semoral, stronger there than the poeti- cond to wheel sharply round and cal, and upon which the poetical faculty march off in the opposite direction. needed to stay itself— from which it How otherwise, Homer, Pindar, Mil