Page images


2 3



4 6

5 7




whist: hushed, quieted.

Rouse Memnon's mother: Awaken the Dawn from the dark Earth and the clouds where she is resting. This is one of that limited class of early mythes which may be reasonably interpreted as representations of natural phenomena. Aurora in the old mythology is mother of Memnon (the East), and wife of Tithonus (the appearances of Earth and Sky during the last hours of Night). She leaves him every morning in renewed youth, to prepare the way for Phoebus (the Sun), whilst Tithonus remains in perpetual old age and grayness.

1. 23 by Peneus' stream: Phoebus loved the Nymph Daphne whom he met by the river Peneus in the vale of Tempe. L. 27 Amphion's lyre: He was said to have built the walls of Thebes to the sound of his music. L. 35 Night like a drunkard reels: Compare Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 3: The grey-eyed morn smiles,' &c.-It should be added that three lines, which appeared hopelessly misprinted, have been omitted in this Poem.

Time's chest: in which he is figuratively supposed to lay up past treasures. So in Troilus, Act III, Scene 3, 'Time hath a wallet at his back' &c. In the Arcadia, chest is used to signify tomb.

A fine example of the highwrought and conventional Elizabethan Pastoralism, which it would be unreasonable to criticize on the ground of the unshepherdlike or unreal character of some images suggested. Stanza 6 was perhaps inserted by Izaak Walton.

8 This beautiful lyric is one of several recovered from the very rare Elizabethan Song-books, for the publication of which our thanks are due to Mr. A. H. Bullen (1887, 1888).

12 One stanza has been here omitted, in accordance with the principle noticed in the Preface. Similar omissions occur in a few other poems. The more serious abbreviation by which it has been attempted to bring Crashaw's 'Wishes' and Shelley's 'Euganean Hills,' with one or two more, within the scheme of this selection, is commended with much diffidence to the judgment of readers acquainted with the original pieces.

13 Sidney's poetry is singularly unequal; his short life, his frequent absorption in public employment, hindered doubtless the development of his genius. His great contemporary fame, second only, it appears, to Spenser's, has been hence obscured. At times he is heavy and even prosaic; his simplicity is rude and bare; his verse unmelodious. These, however, are the defects of his merits.' In


a certain depth and chivalry of feeling,-in the rare
and noble quality of disinterestedness (to put it in
one word), he has no superior, hardly perhaps an
equal, amongst our Poets; and after or beside
Shakespeare's Sonnets, his Astrophel and Stella, in the
Editor's judgment, offers the most intense and power-
ful picture of the passion of love in the whole range
of our poetry.-Hundreds of years:
'The very
rapture of love,' says Mr. Ruskin; 'A lover like
this does not believe his mistress can grow old
or die.'

12 19 Readers who have visited Italy will be reminded of more than one picture by this gorgeous Vision of Beauty, equally sublime and pure in its Paradisaical naturalness. Lodge wrote it on a voyage to 'the Islands of Terceras and the Canaries;' and he seems to have caught, in those southern seas, no small portion of the qualities which marked the almost contemporary Art of Venice,-the glory and the glow of Veronese, Titian, or Tintoret.-From the same romance is No. 71: a charming picture in the purest style of the later Italian Renaissance.

The clear (1. 1) is the crystalline or outermost heaven of the old cosmography. For a fair there's fairer none: If you desire a Beauty, there is none more beautiful than Rosaline.

14 22 Another gracious lyric from an Elizabethan Songbook, first reprinted (it is believed) in Mr. W. J. Linton's 'Rare Poems,' in 1883.

15 23 that fair thou owest: that beauty thou ownest. 16 25 From one of the three Song-books of T. Campion, who appears to have been author of the words which he set to music. His merit as a lyrical poet (recognized in his own time, but since then forgotten) has been again brought to light by Mr. Bullen's taste and research :-swerving (st. 2) is his conjecture for changing in the text of 1601. the star Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken: apparently, Whose stellar influence is uncalculated, although his angular altitude from the plane of the astrolabe or artificial horizon used by astrologers has been determined.

20 31

20 32 This lovely song appears, as here given, in Puttenham's 'Arte of English Poesie,' 1589. A longer and inferior form was published in the 'Arcadia' of 1590 but Puttenham's prefatory words clearly assign his version to Sidney's own authorship.

23 37 24 39


keel: keep cooler by stirring round.
expense: loss.

prease press.

25 41 Nativity, once in the main of light when a star has risen and entered on the full stream of light;another of the astrological phrases no longer familiar.


26 42

[ocr errors]

Crooked eclipses: as coming athwart the Sun's apparent course.

Wordsworth, thinking probably of the 'Venus' and the 'Lucrece,' said finely of Shakespeare: 'Shakespeare could not have written an Epic; he would have died of plethora of thought.' This prodigality of nature is exemplified equally in his Sonnets. The copious selection here given (which from the wealth of the material, required greater consideration than any other portion of the Editor's task),—contains many that will not be fully felt and understood without some earnestness of thought on the reader's part. But he is not likely to regret the labour.

upon misprision growing: either, granted in error, or, on the growth of contempt.

43 With the tone of this Sonnet compare Hamlet's 'Give me that man That is not passion's slave' &c. Shakespeare's writings show the deepest sensitiveness to passion:-hence the attraction he felt in the contrasting effects of apathy.

26 41 grame: sorrow. Renaissance influences long impeded the return of English poets to the charming realism of this and a few other poems by Wyat.

28 45 Pandion in the ancient fable was father to Philomela.

29 47 In the old legend it is now Philomela, now Procne (the swallow) who suffers violence from Tereus. This song has a fascination in its calm intensity of passion; that 'sad earnestness and vivid exactness' which Cardinal Newman ascribes to the master-pieces of ancient poetry.

31 50 proved: approved.

51 censures judges.

52 Exquisite in its equably-balanced metrical flow. 32 53 Judging by its style, this beautiful example of old simplicity and feeling may, perhaps, be referred to the earlier years of Elizabeth. Late forgot: lately. 35 57 Printed in a little Anthology by Nicholas Breton, 1597. It is, however, a stronger and finer piece of work than any known to be his.-St. 1 silly: simple; dole grief; chief: chiefly. St. 3 If there be . obscure Perhaps, if there be any who speak harshly of thee, thy pain may plead for pity from Fate. This poem, with 60 and 143, are each graceful variations of a long popular theme.

36 58

37 59

That busy archer: Cupid. Descries: used actively; points out. The last line of this poem is a little obscured by transposition. He means, Do they call ungratefulness there a virtue?' (C. Lamb).

[ocr errors]

White Iope: suggested, Mr. Bullen notes, by a passage in Propertius (iii, 20) describing Spirits in the lower world:

Vobiscum est Iope, vobiscum candida Tyro.


38 62 cypres or cyprus,-used by the old writers for crape: whether from the French crespe or from the Island whence it was imported. Its accidental similarity in spelling to cypress has, here and in Milton's Penseroso, probably confused readers.

39 63 41 66

ramage: confused noise.

'I never saw anything like this funeral dirge,' says Charles Lamb, 'except the ditty which reminds Ferdinand of his drowned father in the Tempest. As that is of the water, watery; so this is of the earth, earthy. Both have that intenseness of feeling, which seems to resolve itself into the element which it contemplates.'

43 70 Paraphrased from an Italian madrigal

Non so conoscer poi

Se voi le rose, o sian le rose in voi.

44 72 crystal: fairness. stare: starling.

45 73

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]



This 'Spousal Verse' was written in honour of the
Ladies Elizabeth and Katherine Somerset. Nowhere
has Spenser more emphatically displayed himself as
the very poet of Beauty: The Renaissance impulse
in England is here seen at its highest and purest.
The genius of Spenser, like Chaucer's, does itself
justice only in poems of some length. Hence it is
impossible to represent it in this volume by other
pieces of equal merit, but of impracticable dimen-
sions. And the same applies to such poems as the
Lover's Lament or the Ancient Mariner.

entrailed: twisted. Feateously: elegantly.
shend shame.

a noble peer: Robert Devereux, second Lord Essex,
then at the height of his brief triumph after taking
Cadiz hence the allusion following to the Pillars of
Hercules, placed near Gades by ancient legend.

Elisa Elizabeth.

twins of Jove: the stars Castor and Pollux: baldric, belt; the zodiac.

52 79 This lyric may with very high probability be assigned to Campion, in whose first Book of Airs it appeared (1601). The evidence sometimes quoted ascribing it to Lord Bacon appears to be valueless.

Summary of Book Second.

THIS division, embracing generally the latter eighty years of the Seventeenth century, contains the close of our Early poetical style and the commencement of the Modern. In Dryden we see the first master of the new in Milton, whose genius dominates here as Shakespeare's in the former book,— the crown and consummation of the early period. Their splenA A

did Odes are far in advance of any prior attempts, Spenser's excepted they exhibit that wider and grander range which years and experience and the struggles of the time conferred on Poetry. Our Muses now give expression to political feeling, to religious thought, to a high philosophic statesmanship in writers such as Marvell, Herbert, and Wotton: whilst in Marvell and Milton, again, we find noble attempts, hitherto rare in our literature, at pure description of nature, destined in our own age to be continued and equalled. Meanwhile the poetry of simple passion, although before 1660 often deformed by verbal fancies and conceits of thought, and afterwards by levity and an artificial tone,-produced in Herrick and Waller some charming pieces of more finished art than the Elizabethan: until in the courtly compliments of Sedley it seems to exhaust itself, and lie almost dormant for the hundred years between the days of Wither and Suckling and the days of Burns and Cowper. That the change from our early style to the modern brought with it at first a loss of nature and simplicity is undeniable yet the bolder and wider scope which Poetry took between 1620 and 1700, and the successful efforts then made to gain greater clearness in expression, in their results have been no slight compensation.


58 85 1. 8 whist: hushed.






[ocr errors]

1. 32 than: obsolete for then: Pan: used here for the Lord of all.

1. 38 consort: Milton's spelling of this word, here and elsewhere, has been followed, as it is uncertain whether he used it in the sense of accompanying, or simply for concert.

1. 21 Lars and Lemures: household gods and spirits of relations dead. Flamens (1. 24) Roman priests. That twice-batter'd god (1. 29) Dagon.

1. 6 Osiris, the Egyptian god of Agriculture (here, perhaps by confusion with Apis, figured as a Bull), was torn to pieces by Typho and embalmed after death in a sacred chest. This mythe, reproduced in Syria and Greece in the legends of Thammuz, Adonis, and perhaps Absyrtus, may have originally signified the annual death of the Sun or the Year under the influences of the winter darkness. Horus, the son of Osiris, as the New Year, in his turn overcomes Typho. L. 8 unshower'd grass: as watered by the Nile only. L. 33 youngest-teemed: last-born. Bright-harness'd (1. 37) armoured.

64 87 The Late Massacre: the Vaudois persecution, carried on in 1655 by the Duke of Savoy. No more mighty Sonnet than this collect in verse,' as it has been justly named, probably can be found in any language. Readers should observe that it is constructed on the original Italian or Provençal model. This form, in a

« PreviousContinue »