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The age of tourneys, triumphs, and quaint mafques,
'Thro' blossom’d shades the secret pathway steals.” After paying fimilar qualified compliments to Spenser, Milton, Sir William Temple, the poet comes to the still more modern reformeis in horticulture.
* See Mr. Pope's Epistle on FalseTaste inscribed to the Earl of Burlington, Few readers I suppose need be informed that this line alludes to the following Couplet :
Grove nods to Grove, cach alley has a brother,
And half the platform just reflects the other. + It is said that Mr. Kent frequently declared he caught his taste in gardening from reading the pięturefque description of Spenser. However this may be, the defigns which he made for that poct, are an incontestible proof, that they had no effcct upon his executive powers as a painter.
Which would she emulate, her daring hand
, perchance, to harmonize thy shades
In strains, the beauty of his fcenes inspire." Of the second part of this Poem, we mean, barring injunca tions, to give a Specimen in our next Review.
Poems, confifling chiefly of Translations from the Afiatick Lane
guages. To which are added Two Eláys; I. On the Poetry of the Eastern Nations. II. On the Arts, commonly called Imitas. tive. The Second Edition. 8vo. 58. Conant.
The first edition of this miscellany having made its appearance before the commencement of the London Review, it would be doing injustice to our readers as well as to the author t, did we not embrace the present opportunity of noticing its contents, and of enriching our own work with an extract or two from so fingular and ingenious a publication. In justice to both, therefore, we shall select a passage or two from the author's Essay on the Poetry of the Eastern Nations; adding, by : way of exemplification, as inany specimens of the poetry described.
Of the Arabians our author observes, "6 that their fondness for poetry, and the respect which they show to poets, would be scarce believed, if we were not afl'ured of it by writers of great authority: the
* Mr. Southcote was the introducer, or rather the inventor, of the Ferme orné, for it may be presumed nothing more than the term is of French extraction.
+ William Jones, Efq; of University College, Oxford, author of many other learned and ingenious publications. VOL. VI,
principal occasions of rejoicing among them were formerly, and, vory probably, are to this day, the birth of a boy, the foaling of a mare, the arrival of a guest, and the rise of a poet in their tribe: when a young Arabian has composed a good poem, all the neighbours pay their compliments to his family, and congratulate them upon having a relation capable of recording their actions, and of recommending their virtues to pofterity. At the beginning of the seventh century, the Arabick language was brought to a high degree of perfection by a sort of poetical academy, that used to assemble at itated times, in a place called Ocadh, where every poet produced his best composition, and was sure to meet with the applause that it deserved: the most excellent of thele poems were transcribed in characters of guld upon Egyptian paper, and hung up in the temple of Mecca, whence they were named Modhahebat, or Golden, and Moallakat, or Suspended: the poems of this fort were called Caseide's or eclogues, feren* of which are preserved in our libraries, and are considered as the finest that were written before the time of Mahomed: the fourth of them, composed by Lebid, is purely pastoral, and extremely like the Alexis of Virgil, but far more beautiful, because it is more agreeable to nature: the poet begins with prai. fing the charms of the fair Novara, (a word which in Arabick signifies 'a timorous fawn,) but inveighs against her unkindness; he then interweaves a description of his young camel, which he compares for its swiftness to a itag, pursued by the hounds; and takes occafion afterwards to mention his own riches, accomplishinents, liberality, and valour, his noble birth, and the glory of his tribe: the diction of this poem is easy and fimple, yet elegant, the numbers flowing and musical, and the sentiments wonderfully natural; as the learned reader will see by the following pafiage, which I shall attempt to imitate in verse, that the merit of the poet may not be wholly lost in a verbal trans lation :
Bel enti la tadrina cam mi'lleilatin,
Leoalla minba beina habba neyamoba.
The damsels Number'd, but we fip'd again : * I have a fine copy of these seven poems, clearly transcribed, with explanatory notes : the names of the seven pocts arc, Amralkcis, Tarafa, Zoheir, Lebid, Antara, Amru, and Hareth,
Tbe waking birds, that sung on every tree
Their early notes, were not jo blithe as que. The first poem in this collection, entitled Solima, affords a more copious specimen of the Arabick poetry. It is, indeed, a beautiful composition, both with respect to sentiment and harmony of numbers ; although only a pasticcio, if we may so venture to call it, of figures and descriptions taken from the Ara
The Persians, Turks, and Indians, are said to have done little more than imitate the stile and adopt the expressions of the Arabians.
Speaking of Persia, our author obferves that “ the fame difference of climate, that affects the air and soil of this extenfive country, gives a variety also to the persons and temper of its natives: in suine provioces they have dark complexions, and harsh features; in others they are exquisitely fair, and well-made; in some others, nervous and robuft: but the general character of the nation is that fofings, and love of pleasure, that indolence, and effeminacy, which have made them an easy prey to all the weitern and northern swarms, that have from time to time invaded them. Yer they are not wholly void of martial spirit ; and, if they are not naturally brave, they are at least extremely docile, and might, with proper discipline, be made excellent soldiers: but the greater part of them, in the short intervals of peace that they happen to enjoy, conftantly fink into a state of inactivity, and pass their lives in a pleafurable, yet studious, retirement; and this may be one reafon, why Persia has produced more writers of every kind, and chiefly poets, than all Europe together, since their way of life gives them leisure to pursue those arts, which cannot be cultivated to advantage, without the greatest calmness and serenity of mind : and this, by the way, is one cause, among many others, why the poems in the preceding col. lection are less finished; fince they were composed, not in bowers and fhades, by the side of rivulets or fountains, but either amidst the confusion of a metropolis, the hurry of travel, the diffipation of publick places, the avocations of more necessary studies, or the attention to more useful parts of literature. To return: there is a manuscript at Oxford * containing the lives of an hundred and thirty-five of the finest Perfian poets, most of whom left very ample collections of their
poems behind them: but the versifiers, and mderate poets, if Horace will allow any
such men to exist, are without number in Perfia. “ This delicacy of their lives and sentiments has insensibly affected their language, and rendered it the foftest, as it is one of the richest, in the world: it is not possible to convince the reader of this truth, by quoting a passage from a Persian poet in European characters ; lince the sweetness of sound cannot be determined by the light, and many words, which are soft and musical in the mouth of a Persian, may appear very harsh to our eyes, with a number of consonants and gut. turals: it may not, however, be abfurd to set down in this place, an
* In Hyperoo Bodl. 128. There is a prefatory discourse to this curious vork, which comprises the lives of ten Arabian poets.
Ode of the poet Hafez, which, if it be not fufficient to prove the delicacy of his language, will at least show the liveliness of his poetry:
Ai bad nesîmi yâr dari,
Ai feru, to ba kaddi bulendesh,
That is, word for word: O sweet gale, thou bearest the fragant feent of my beloved; thence it is that ihou hast this musky odour. Beware! do not steal: what hast thou to do with ber tresses? O rose, what art thou, to be compared with her bright face? She is fresh, and thou art rough with thorns, O narcisus, what art thou in comparison of her languishing eye 2 Her eye is only sleepy, but thou art fick and faint. O pine, compared with her graceful stature, what honour bast thou in the garden? o wisdom, what woulăf thou choose, if to choose were in thy power, in preference to ber love? O sweet bafil, what art ihou, to be compared with ber fresh cheeks? they are perfect muk, but thou art foon withered. Q.Hafez, thou wilt one day attain the objeet of thy defire, if thou cans but fupport thy pain with patience. This little song is not unlike a sonnet, ascribed to Shakespeare, which deserves to be cited here, as a proof that the Eastern imagery is not so different from the European as we are apt to imagine.
The forward violet thus did I cbide :
Sweet thief! whence didst thou steal thy fweet that fmells,
my love's veins thou hast too grolly dyed."
A vengeful canker eat him up to death.