Page images

“ Those lines are very elegant, my love," said Mr. C., and very apropos, particularly the last stanza, to our present situation.”

They may be classed under descriptive poetry, may they not, papa ?" said Clara; “ for surely they are sweetly descriptive of this lovely evening and of the feelings which now arise in my bosom on thinking of my dear sister Helen, and of my brothers, Charles and Edward. I recollect that in the last conversation we had respecting poetical compositions, you said we should some day talk about their classification, but I do not know how it has happened that we have never done so yet. Are not the stanzas Maria has repeated to be placed under descriptive poetry, papa?”

“Yes, my dear: but by that term we do not mean any one particular species or form of composition, because description is most frequently introduced into poetry by way of ornament, rather than made the subject of a regular work. But though it seldom forms a separate species of writing, yet it enters into every sort of poetical composition, epic, dramatic, didactic, pastoral, lyric, or what not, and often possesses in each a very considerable and conspicuous place, though in some, of course, more than in others. It is the peculiar characteristic of descriptive poetry to give life, animation, or reality, to the object described ; to place it before us in such a light that a painter might copy after it, and to lead the imagination to picture to itself the scenes it describes, even without the aid of personal evidence,

“I will, if you please, give you a specimen of true descriptive poetry, such as will convey to you an exact notion of what it really is."

(Mr. C. repeats.) “ Freighted with passengers of every sort, A motley throng, thou leay'st the busy port. Thy long and ample deck, where scatter'd lie, Baskets, and cloaks, and shawls of scarlet dye ; Where dogs and children through the crowd are

straying, And, on his bench apart, the fiddler playing, While matron dames to tressel'd seats repair,Seems, on the gleamy waves, a floating fair, “ Its dark form on the sky's pale azure cast, Towers from this clust'ring group thy pillar'd mast. The dense smoke issuing from its narrow vent Is to the air in curly volumes sent, Which coiling and uncoiling on the wind, Trails like a writhing serpent far behind. Beneath, as each merg'd wheel its motion plies, On either side the white-churn'd waters rise, And, newly parted from the noisy fray, Track with light ridgy foam thy recent way, Then far diverged, in many a welted line Of lustre, on the distant surface shine. « Thou hold'st thy course in independent pride ; No leave ask'st thou of either wind or tide. To whate'er point the breeze, inconstant veer, Still doth thy careless helmsman onward steer ;

As if the stroke of some magician's wand
Had lent thee power the ocean to command.
What is this power which thus within thee lurks,
And, all unseen, like a mask'd giant works?
E'en that which gentle dames at morning's tea,
From silver urn ascending, daily see
Like tressy wreathings playing in the air,
Like the loosed ringlets of a lady's hair ;
Or rising from the enamell’d cup beneath,
With the soft fragrance of an infant's breath :
That which within the peasant's humble cot
Comes from th' uncover'd mouth of say'ry pot,
As his kind mate prepares his noonday fare,

and cat, and rosy urchins share :
That which, all silver'd with the moon's pale beam,
Precedes the mighty Geyser's upcast stream,
What since, with bellowing din exploded forth,
It decks the midnight of the frozen north,
Whilst travellers from their skin spread couches

rise To gaze upon the sight with wondering eyes." *

“ Ha! ha! this is the description of a steam-vessel, or rather an address to one !" exclaimed several of the children as Mr. C. concluded.- “The very steam

Which cur,

[ocr errors]

* Poems, edited by Miss Baillie.

vessel in which we are travelling !-how excellent-how natural-how correct !" “ Beneath, as each merg'd wheel its motion plies, On either side the white-churn'd waters rise.”

Oh, how well that describes the foam and spray caused by the motion of the machinery in the water !"

“ These are the lines I particularly like," said Fanny, « • Thou hold'st thy course in independent pride; No leave ask'st thou of either wind or tide."

" Are they not good ?- The steamboat, in which we are now travelling, glides smoothly and rapidly across the bosom of the ocean without the assistance of either sails or wind. I am sure, papa,

that I am, in this instance, quite willing to acknowledge the propriety of your favourite axiom, that truth is beauty. I should never have understood those lines so perfectly if we had not actually been on board à steam-vessel

« PreviousContinue »