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Farewell, farewell, fair Ines,
That vessel never bore
So fair a lady on its deck,
The smile that blest one lover's heart
"The Haunted House," by the same author, is one of the truest poems ever written—one of the truest-one of the most unexceptionable one of the most thoroughly artistic, both in its theme. and in its execution. It is, moreover, powerfully ideal-imaginative. I regret that its length renders it unsuitable for the purposes of this Lecture. In place of it, permit me to offer the universally appreciated "Bridge of Sighs."
One more Unfortunate,
Take her up tenderly,
Look at her garments
Touch her not scornfully;
Make no deep scrutiny
Still, for all slips of hers,
Loop up her tresses
Who was her father?
Where the lamps quiver
From window and casement,
The bleak wind of March
Made her tremble and shiver;
In she plunged boldly,
Take her up tenderly,
Ere her limbs frigidly
Smooth, and compose them;
Through muddy impurity,
And leaving, with meekness,
The vigor of this poem is no less remarkable than its pathos. The versification, although carrying the fanciful to the very verge of the fantastic, is nevertheless admirably adapted to the wild insanity which is the thesis of the poem,
Among the minor poems of Lord Byron, is one which has never received from the critics the praise which it undoubtedly deserves:
Though the day of my destiny's over,
The faults which so many could find;
Then when nature around me is smiling,
I do not believe it beguiling,
Because it reminds me of thine;
And when winds are at war with the ocean,
If their billows excite an emotion,
It is that they bear me from thee.
Though the rock of my last hope is shivered,
They may crush, but they shall not contemn-
Though human, thou didst not deceive me,
Yet I blame not the world, nor despise it,
From the wreck of the past, which hath perished,
It hath taught me that which I most cherished
In the desert a fountain is springing,
In the wide waste there still is a tree,
And a bird in the solitude singing,
Which speaks to my spirit of thee.
Although the rhythm, here, is one of the most difficult, the versification could scarcely be improved. No nobler theme ever engaged the pen of poet. It is the soul-elevating idea, that no man can consider himself entitled to complain of Fate while, in his adversity, he still retains the unwavering love of woman.
From Alfred Tennyson-although in perfect sincerity I regard him as the noblest poet that ever lived-I have left myself time to cite only a very brief specimen. I call him, and think him the noblest of poets-not because the impressions he produces are, at all times, the most profound-not because the poetical excitement which he induces is, at all times, the most intense-but because it is, at all times, the most ethereal-in other words, the most elevating and the most pure. No poet is so little of the
earth, earthy. What I am about to read is from his last long "The Princess:"
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
Dear as remember'd kisses after death,
Thus, although in a very cursory and imperfect manner, I have endeavored to convey to you my conception of the Poetic Principle. It has been my purpose. to suggest that, while this Principle itself is, strictly and simply, the Human Aspiration for Supernal Beauty, the manifestation of the Principle is always found in an elevating excitement of the Soul-quite independent of that passion which is the intoxication of the Heart-or of that Truth which is the satisfaction of the Reason. For, in regard to Passion, alas! its tendency is to degrade, rather than to elevate the Soul. Love, on the contrary-Love-the true, the divine Eros-the Uranian, as distinguished from the Dionæan Venus-is unquestionably the purest and truest of all poetical themes. And in regard to Truth-if, to be sure, through the attainment of a truth, we are led to perceive a harmony where none was apparent before, we experience, at once, the true poetical effect-but this effect is referable to the harmony alone, and not in the least degree to the truth which merely served to render the harmony manifest.
We shall reach, however, more immediately a distinct concep
tion of what the true Poetry is, by mere reference to a few of the simple elements which induce in the Poet himself the true poetical effect. He recognises the ambrosia which nourishes his soul, in the bright orbs that shine in Heaven-in the volutes of the flower in the clustering of low shrubberies-in the waving of the grain-fields in the slanting of tall, Eastern trees-in the blue distance of mountains-in the grouping of clouds-in the twinkling of half-hidden brooks-in the gleaming of silver rivers-in the repose of sequestered lakes-in the star-mirroring depths of lonely wells. He perceives it in the songs of birds-in the harp of Eolus-in the sighing of the night-wind-in the repining voice of the forest-in the surf that complains to the shore-in the fresh breath of the woods-in the scent of the violet-in the voluptuous perfume of the hyacinth-in the suggestive odor that comes to him, at eventide, from far-distant, undiscovered islands, over dim oceans, illimitable and unexplored. He owns it in all noble thoughts—in all unworldly motives-in all holy impulses—in all chivalrous, generous, and self-sacrificing deeds. He feels it in the beauty of woman-in the grace of her step-in the lustre of her eye-in the melody of her voice-in her soft laughter-in her sigh--in the harmony of the rustling of her robes. He deeply feels it in her winning endearments-in her burning enthusiasms -in her gentle charities-in her meek and devotional endurances -but above all-ah, far above all-he kneels to it—he worships it in the faith, in the purity, in the strength, in the altogether divine majesty-of her love.
Let me conclude by the recitation of yet another brief poemone very different in character from any that I have before quoted. It is by Motherwell, and is called "The Song of the Cavalier." With our modern and altogether rational ideas of the absurdity and impiety of warfare, we are not precisely in that frame of mind best adapted to sympathize with the sentiments, and thus to appreciate the real excellence of the poem. To do this fully, we must identify ourselves, in fancy, with the soul of the old cavalier.
Then mounte! then mounte, brave gallants, all,
And don your helmes amaine:
Deathe's couriers, Fame and Honor, call
Us to the field againe.