« PreviousContinue »
THE ISLES OF THE SEA FAIRIES.
AMONG the isles of the golden mist Where an earlier race of the fairy kings I lived for many a year;
Made their great treasury. And all that chanced unto me there, 'Tis well that ye should hear.
Oh, beautiful isles! when the waning moo!
Sinks down from the vales of earth, I dwelt in a hall of silvery pearl,
She rises upon those fairy seas,
And gives to their daylight birth.
There comes no cloud to dim her rays,
She shines forth pure and bright; The old carbuncle lit the dome
The silver moon she shines by day, Where I was sworn a king;
And the golden mist by night! And my crown was wrought of the pale sea gold,
Oh, beautiful isles! and a fairy race, And so was my fairy ring.
As the dream of a poet fair,
Now hold the place by a charmed spell, And she who was set on my right hand, That has power o'er sea and air.
As the morning star was fair; She was clothed in a robe of shadowy light, Their boats are made of the large pearl. And veiled by her golden hair.
That the waters cast to land;
Than the work of mortal hand.
They skim along the silver waves
Without or sail or oar;— Far off, in the ocean solitudes,
Wherever the fairy voyager would, They lie—a glorious seven !
The pearl ship comes to shore. Like a beautiful group of sister stars In the untraced heights of heaven. They taught me the song which is their
speechFor the mariner sails them round about, A tone of love divine; But he comes not them anigh;
They set me down at their banquet board, They are hid far off in a secret place
And poured me out fairy wine;-Of the sea's immensity.
The wine of the old sea vintage red, Oh, beautiful isles! where there comes no That was made long years ago; death,
More rich than the blood in kingly veins, Where no winter enters in;
Yet pure and cool as snow!
I loved that idle life for a time;
But when that time was by,
And for human sympathy.
They brought me then a glorious form,
And gave her for my bride;-
That I was to earth allied.
I snatched the crown they offered me;
I forgot what I had been
That she might he a queen.
For many a year and more, I dwelt So passed before my mind the shapes
Of this bright heresy.
In vain I told the mariners
No man to me would list:
And at the golden mist.
Tossed on the dreary main;
And pitied me because my fate
Had crazed my 'wildered brain.
The minds of men had grown,
I locked these things within my soul,
For my own thought alone
And soon a wondrous thing I saw:
I now was old and gray
A man of three-score years and ten, At length it chanced that, as my boat A weak man in decay.
Went on its charmed way, I came unto the veil of mist
And yesterday, and I was young! Which round the Seven Isles lay.
Time did not leave a trace
Upon my form, while I abode
Within the charmed place.
I trembled at the fearful work
Of three-score years and ten;
I asked for love--but I had grown
An alien among men.
I passed among the busy crowds,
I marked their care and pain,
And how they waste their manhood's “Oh, take me hence, ye Christian men!”
strength, I cried, in spiritual want;
To make but little gain.
I saw besotted men mistake
For gold, unworthy clay; The little boat wherein I sate
And many more, who sell their souls
For the pleasures of a day.
I saw how years on years roll on,
As a tale that has been told; Those Christian mariners, amazed,
And then at last they start, like me,
To find that they are old.
Said I, “These men laugh me to scorn,
My wisdom they resist;
Within a golden mist!”
Oh, up, and save yourselves! even now
The ship goes hurrying by, As one that, in delirious dreams,
And I hear the hymn of the souls redeemed, Strange things doth hear and see,
Who are bound for Eternity!
POETRY AND SCIENCE.
If you will believe some, whose zeal is not according to knowledge, science is antagonistic to poetry. The diamond is for the chemist no better than lamp black;—the sapphire and the ruby only crystallized clay. The Medicean Venus, and the Apollo Belvidere, “ the statue that enchants the world,” “the god of the unerring bow,” are interesting to him only as grand stalactites, curious solely because each of them contains twenty-two parts of carbonic acid, and twenty-eight of lime. A thunder storm has for him neither terror, nor beauty, nor sublimity ;-it is only the union of so much positive and negative electricity. If you go with him to his laboratory, he will show you it all with his glass machine or his voltaic battery. It is true it will be on a somewhat smaller scale. “The fire and cracks of sulphurous roaring” will be rather dim and faint; and the “thunder, that deep and dreadful organ pipe,” will be somewhat shrill. But you can set off against this, that you may sit comfortably at the fireside, and see and hear it all, without risk of danger from the lightning, or any fear of wetting from the thunder-plump.
That sea, which in other men's minds gives birth to so many deep and unspeakable emotions ;-that sea which recalls to all others Miriam's rejoicing song when Pharaoh and his host “ sank as lead in the mighty waters;"—that sea which the ten thousand Greeks welcomed with so glad and exulting a shout, when, footsore and weary, they beheld it again ;—that sea which wrecked a Spanish Armada, and saved us from becoming the prey of the spoiler;—that sea whereon the fleets of the nations have careered; which carried the ship of Columbus to a new hemisphere, and wafted Vasco de Gama round the Cape of Storms; which bore the little Mayflower and the Puritan Fathers to the unshackled freedom of the New World, and has floated so many other vessels, from Noah's Ark down to the Queen's Fairy steamer ;—that sea, with its Archimedes-screw steamboats and its missionary barques, its
goodly merchant ships and gallant men-of-war ; with its battles of the Nile and its battles of the Baltic, its glories of Camperdown and mournful triumph of Trafalgar ;-Shakspeare's “ wild and wasteful ocean," Coleridge's "silent sea," Shelley's "sunny sea,"
“ Wordsworth's “everlasting sea,” Byron's “deep sea" with “music in its roar,” Campbell's sea where “our flag has braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze;" the Bride of Venice, whom poetry, and painting, and sculpture, and music have never grown weary of adorning ;-What is this a great sea" to the chemist?
—What “ Why, only a great pool or puddle, filled with a solution of table salt and Epsom salts!
To these declarations, that the “looks and thoughts” of the chemist, like those of Milton's Mammon before he fell from his first estate, are “always downward bent, admiring more the riches of heaven's pavement, trodden gold, than aught divine or holy,” what can I answer? I would reply, “I am a chemist. Hath not a chemist eyes ? Hath not a chemist hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions ? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same summer and winter as the If you prick us, do we not bleed ? if
us, do we not laugh ? if you poison us, do we not die ? and if you wrong us, will we not revenge ?” The revenge we take is, to affirm that between the true poet and the true philosopher there never has been, or can be, cause of feud. It has been the poetaster on the one hand, the dabbler in science on the other, who have involved the lovers of truth and of beauty in a most needless and foolish dispute.
All things in nature are like Janus, two-faced, and have a double aspect for us. In the one, they are plain facts calmly apprehended by the cool intellect; in the other, they are truths which set heart and brain on fire.
A halleluiah chorus, considered in the one aspect, is the result of certain aërial pulses, set in motion by the vibration of tubes of wood and of metal; is the sum of certain effects produced by a stream of wind modulated by levers, and wires, and stops, and valves, and keys, and pedals, moved by the fingers and feet of the
poet is ?
performer, and accompanied by the voices of singing men and singing women. Considered in the other light, it is a glorious combination of sounds the most melodious and harmonic, which stir our souls from their inmost depths, and fill our hearts with awe and wonder. In like manner, the sea is in one sense only so much water saturated with salts; in another, it is the mirror and image of the Eternal, and we cannot find words adequate even to so much as the naming of the indescribable feelings which it kindles within us.
Poetry and science, then, stand in direct contrast, but not in opposition to each other. The aim of science is truth. The desire of poetry is beauty; and in a glorious sense all truth is beautiful, and all beauty is true. It is not necessary to destroy the truth, before we can discern the beauty,--to bid farewell to the beauty, before we can discover the truth. Poetry no more requires that science shall be annihilated before it can flourish, than music asks that painting shall be abolished in order that it may come into being.
DR. GEORGE Wilson.
MANUFACTURES AND COMMERCE, CONTRASTED
WITH CHIVALRY. In the middle ages, the Levant and the Netherlands were indisputably the two great marts of natural and created riches; and whether the spices came from Bruges, or the cloths from Damascus, was a matter of sovereign indifference to the baron of those times, provided always that they passed within reachable distance for him either to seize or ransom. I have often wondered how commerce could continue to exist while so little security was afforded to the merchant. But it would seem that there was a general feeling, even in those rude times, that it would not do to annihilate traffic altogether; from which sprang, I doubt not, that system of ransom which the trader placed to his general account, if not of outlay, at least of risk, and advanced the price of his goods accordingly.
The Flemish towns of the middle ages gave rise and dignity, among the Transalpines, to the commercial spirit. The northern