Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

of harmony was within, and only waiting its time to come forth in fuller power and more unmistakeable shape.

“Where Claribel low lieth
The breezes pause and die,
Letting the rose leaves fall:
But the solemn oak tree sigheth
Thick leaved—ambrosial,
With an ancient melody
Of an inward agony,
Where Claribel now lieth !”
* * * * *

And so on for several stanzas:—the following tinkletoo is not poetry:

“Airy-fairy Lilian,
Flitting-fairy Lilian,
When I ask her if she love me
Claps her tiny hand above me,
Laughing all she can,
She’ll not tell me if she love me,
Cruel little Lilian.”
* * * *

These lines, however, have a rich lingering beauty of diction quite delicious to the ear.

“Thou art not steeped in golden languor,
No tranc'd summer calm is thine—
Ever varying Madeline
Through light and shadow thou dost range,
Sudden glances, sweet and strange,
Delicious spites and darling angers,
Dancing forms of flitting change—
Smiling, frowning evermore,
Thou art perfect in lovelore.
Revealings deep and clear are thine,
Of wealthy smiles, but who may know
Whether smile or frown be fleeter ?
Whether smile or frown be sweeter 7 -

Who may know?”

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

“Thy dark eyes opened not,
Nor first revealed to English air,
. For there is nothing there
Which from the outward to the inward brought,
Moulded thy lady thought.
Far off from human neighborhood
Thou wert born on a summer morn,
A mile beneath the cedar wood.
Thy bounteous forehead was not fanned
With breezes from our oaken glades,
But thou wert nurst in some delicious land
Of lavish lights and fleating shades:
And flattering thy childish thought,
The oriental fairy brought,
At the moment of thy birth,
From old well heads of haunted rills,
And the hearts of purple hills,
And shadowed coves on a sunny shore,
The choicest wreath of all the earth,
Jewel or shell, or starry ore,
To deck thy cradle Eleanore ?”

In these specimens the poetical reader will find more to admire than to censure; but the critics sometimes are deaf, “charm ye never so wisely” their ears are shut to music, and their eyes to beauty.

Three years afterwards, Mr. Tennyson published another volume, and gave the fullest evidence of his poetical genius. He had been wise enough to profit by the criticism of his friends and enemies, and, consequently, the new volume was received with more favor: it showed a marvellous advance on the previous book, and stamped the author as one of the rising men of our time. In this volume were the exquisite poems of “The Miller's Daughter,” and “The Proud Lady Clara Vere de Vere.” Shortly after he printed a poem called “The Lover's Tale:” this, however, he supprest, contenting himself with giving a few copies away. As he disavows this production, we shall quote nothing from it. It is decidedly unworthy his reputation. Here lapse ten years of Alfred Tennyson's life; silent to the public, but slowly working. In 1843 appeared his two volumes, including many of his old productions previously published, with the addition of many new ones; alterations were also made in those he retained. In this volume he first made audible “The Two Voices,” undoubtedly the greatest poem he has written; we observe that it was composed as far back as 1833; contrasting the union of force and thoughtful subtlety displayed in this poem, with the last of his productions, “The Princess,” the conclusion is forced upon us that the mind of Alfred Tennyson is not progressive. We shall devote some space to its examination, and select instances of the peculiar force with which the poet places before the mind of his readers thoughts of the utmost subtlety. The poem is an argument, pro. and con. between the hopeful and despondent impulses of our nature, one prompting to suicide, the other urging cheerfulness and patience:

“A “still small voice’ spake unto me,
Thou art so full of misery,
‘Were it not better not To Be?”

Then to the still small voice I said:
“Let me not cast in endless shade
What is so wonderfully made.”

To which the voice did urge reply,
“To-day I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.'

An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk—from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.

He dried his wings—like gauze they grew,
Through crofts and pastures wet with dew,
A living flash of light he flew.’

I said, ‘when first the world began,
Young nature through five cycles ran,
And in the sixth she moulded man.

She gave him mind—the lordliest
Proportion, and above the rest,
Dominion in the head and breast.”

Thereto the silent voice replied—
‘Self-blinded are you by your pride;
Look up through night; the world is wide.

This truth within thy mind rehearse,
That in a boundless universe,
Is boundless better—boundless worse.’”

The despondent spirit then goes on to show that the existence

of any particular item is immaterial in so vast an universe. The hope-blest voice demands that some peculiarity gives an individual value to every separate human being.

“To which he answered scoffingly—
“Good soul, suppose I grant it thee,
Who'll weep for thy deficiency?"

Or will one beam be less intense,
When thy peculiar difference
Is cancelled in the world of sense!”

A shower of tears is the poet's reply. Again the Mephistophilean voice urges the despondency of his heart, as a conclusive argument of the insufficiency of human life to attain felicity. The brighter voice consults patience in you,

“Shut the life from happier chance."

« ElőzőTovább »