« PreviousContinue »
As in that lov'd Athenian bow'r,
You learn'd an all-commanding pow'r,
Thy mimic soul, O nymph endear'd!
Can well recal what then it heard.
Where is thy native simple heart,
Devote to virtue, fancy, art?
Arise, as in that elder time,
Warm, energetic, chaste, sublime !
Thy wonders in that godlike age,
Fill thy recording sister's page-
'Tis said, and I believe the tale,
Thy humblest reed could more prevail,
Had more of strength, diviner rage,
Than all which charms this laggard age,
Ev'n all at once together found
Cæcilia's mingled world of sound-
O, bid our vain endeavours cease,
Revive the just designs of Greece,
Return in all thy simple state,
Confirm the tales her sons relate !"
Poetic pieces, besides requiring the observance of all the rules for reading Prose, demand particular attention to the Quantities and Pausés.
Long quantity signifies the prolongation of sound on accented letters, as the pāle mōōn; short quantity the contraction of sound, as, on the tall tree; and accentual stress, a percussion of the voice on accented syllables, as possible, tòlerable.
The due observance of these quantities, and the difference between simple prolongation of sound and accentual stress, is essential to poetic harmony. The finest specimens of poetry, if read without regard to these accidence, lose half their beauty. The regular recurrence of accented and unaccented syllables, intermingled with long and short quantity, constitute, decidedly, the strongest beauties of poetic reading.
And to these must be added Pauses.
The cæsural, or primary pause, occurs at or near the middle of the line, as will be seen in the following example:
On her white breast-a sparkling cross she wore,
Which Jews might kiss-and infidels adore;
Her lively looks-a sprightly mind disclose,
Quick as her eyes-and unfix'd as those.
Favours to none-to all she smiles extends,
Oft she rejects-but never once offends,
The secondary pauses occur, the one before, and the other after the primary one.
Still-on thy breast-enamour'd-let me lie,
From storms-a shelter-and from heat-a shade.
And besides these pauses, one generally falls at the end of every line generally, I say, for the intimate connection between two lines, in some instances, renders such a pause improper. This will be seen in the following example:
Blest is the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love:
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium's capital had gathered then
Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men :-
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage-bell;
But hush! hark! ... a deep sound strikes like a rising
Did ye not hear it?-No; 'twas but the wind,
Or the car rattling o'er the stony street:
On with the dance! let joy be unconfin'd;
No sleep till morn, when youth and pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet-
But, hark!-that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat.
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before!
Arm! arm! it is-it is-the cannon's opening roar !
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness:
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and chocking sighs
Which never might be repeated-who could guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise?
And there was mounting in hot haste; the steed,
The must'ring squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
And the deep thunder, peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
While thronged the citizens with terror dumb
Or whispering with white lips" The foe! They come !
they come !"
And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves,
Dewy with nature tear-drops, as they pass,
Grieving if aught inanimate e'er grieves,
Over the unreturning brave,-alas!
Ere evening to be trodden like the
Which now beneath them, but above shall grow
In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
Of living valour rolling on the foe
And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and low.
Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Last eve in beauty's circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The morn the marshalling in arms,—the day
Battle's magnificently-stern array!
The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent,
The earth is covered thick with other clay,
Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent,
Rider and horse,-friend, foe,-in one red burial blent!
Forced from home and all its pleasures,
Afric's coast I left forlorn ;
To increase a stranger's treasures,
O'er the raging billows borne.
Men from England bought and sold me,
Paid my price in paltry gold;
But, though slave they have enrolled me,
Minds are never to be sold.
Still in thought as free as ever,
What are England's rights, I ask,
Me from my delights to sever,
Me to torture, me to task?
Fleecy locks and black complexion
Cannot forfeit Nature's claim;
Skins may differ, but affection
Dwells in white and black the same.
Why did all-creating Nature
Make the plant for which we toil}
Sighs must fan it, tears must water,
Sweat of ours must dress the soil.
Think, ye masters iron-hearted,
Lolling at your jovial boards;
Think how many backs have started
For the sweets your cane affords.
Is there, as you sometimes tell us,
Is there one who reigns on high?
Has he bid you buy and sell us,
Speaking from his throne the sky?
Ask him, if your knotted scourges,
Matches, blood-extorting screws,
Are the means that duty urges
Agents of his will, to use?
Hark! he answers-wild tornadoes,
Strewing yonder sea with wrecks;
Wasting towns, plantations, meadows,
Are the voice with which he speaks.
He, foreseeing what vexations
Afric's sons should undergo,
Fix'd their tyrants' habitations
Where his wHIRLWINDS answer-NO,
By our blood in Afric wasted,
Ere our necks received the chain;
By the mis'ries that we tasted,
Crossing in your barks the main ;
By our sufferings since ye brought us
To the man-degrading mart;
All, sustained by patience, taught us
Only by a broken heart?
Deem our nation brutes no longer,
Till some reason ye shall find
Worthier of regard, and stronger
Than the colour of our kind.
Slaves of gold, whose sordid dealings
Tarnish all your boasted powers,
Prove that you have human feelings,
Ere you proudly question ours!
At midnight, (in his guarded tent,)
The Turk was dreaming of the hour,
When Greece, (her knee in suppliance bent,)
Should tremble at his power;
In dreams, through camp and court, he bore
The trophies of a conqueror;
In dreams his song of triumph heard;
Then wore his monarch's signet ring,-
Then pressed that monarch's throne,-a king;
As wild his thoughts, and gay of wing,
As Eden's garden bird.
An hour passed on-the Turk awoke;
That bright dream was his last;
He woke to hear his sentry's shriek,
"To arms! they come! the Greek! the Greek!"
He woke to die midst flame and smoke,
And shout, and groan, and sabre stroke,
And death shots falling thick and fast
As lightnings from the mountain cloud;
And heard, with voice as trumpet loud,
Bozzaris cheer his band;
"Strike-till the last armed foe expires,