« AnteriorContinuar »
SPECIMENS OF SONNETS
FROM THE MOST EMINENT POETS OF ITALY.
Nume non v'è, dicea fra sè lo stolto,
Nume non v'è? de' fiumi i puri argenti,
THERE is no God, the fool in secret said-
Is there no God?-the stars in myriads spread,
Whilst his own features in the mirror read,
Is there no God?-the stream that silver flows,
And eloquent his dread existence shows:
Greco Cantor! qualora io fisso aperte
Scuopri, e opache spelonche, e piagge apriche,
E valli, e monti, promontori, e liti;
Che quasi par, tanto hai le Muse amiche,
POET of Greece! whene'er thy various song
Seas, rivers, cities, villas woods among,
'T would seem, so loves the Muse thy genius bold! That Nature's self but copied from thy stores, Thou first great painter of the scenes of old!
Fiume, che all' onde tue ninfe e pastori
Col cui consiglio il suo bel crin vid' io
Se a tuoi cristalli in su gli estivi ardori
Nel tuo fugace argento, ond' io l' adori.
Ahi, tu mei nieghi? Io credea crudi i mari,
Che 'n te si specchia ad esser crudo impari:
SWEET stream, whose murmurs soft and waters fair
My Phillis bind with flowers her beauteous hair:
Thou heed'st me not? I only cruel thought
I ever prove, whilst ye deny me aught,
LORENZO DE MEDICI.
Spesso mi torna a mente, anzi giammai
Quel che paresse allor, Amor, tu 'l sai,
Quando sopra i nevosi ed alti monti
Il tempo e 'l luogo non convien ch'io conti,
OFT on the recollection sweet I dwell,
Yea, never from my mind can aught efface
The dress my mistress wore, the time, the place
Where first she fix'd my eyes in raptured spell.
How she then look'd, thou, Love, rememb'rest well, For thou her side hast never ceased to grace ;
Her gentle air, her meek, angelic face,
When o'er the mountain peaks deep-clad in snow
Apollo pours a flood of golden light,
So down her white-robed limbs did stream her hair:
THE INDIFFERENCE OF NATURE.
From the French of Chênedollé.
She is gone; and her life is past away
In the blooming morn of her youthful day;
She is gone; and youth, which had seem'd to spread
And riches, and beauty, and children's charms,
Ah! and is this so short-lived bloom,
A young and a tender mother's doom?
And is the loss to Nature so light,
That nothing is changed where we turn the sight?
I look as before on the garden bowers,
And see them gemm'd with the self-same flowers;
SCHILLER'S LIFE AND WRITINGS.
FROM HIS SETTLEMENT AT MANHEIM TO HIS SETTLEMENT AT JENA, (1783-1790.)
IF to know wisdom were to practise it,-if fame brought true dignity and peace of mind,--or happiness consisted in nourishing the intellect with its appropriate food, and surrounding the imagination with ideal beauty, a literary life would be the most enviable which the lot of this world affords. But the truth is far otherwise. The man of letters has no immutable, all-conquering volition, more than other men; to understand and to perform are two very different things with him as with every one. His fame rarely exerts a favourable influence on his dignity of character, and never on his peace of mind: its glitter is external, for the eyes of others; within, it is but the aliment of unrest, the oil cast upon the evergnawing fire of ambition, quickening into fresh vehemence the blaze which it stills for a moment. Moreover, this man of letters is not wholly made of spirit, but of clay and spirit mixed his thinking faculties may be nobly trained and exercised, but he must have affections as well as thoughts to make him happy, and food and raiment must be given him, or he dies. Far from being the most enviable, his way of life is, perhaps, among the many modes by which an ardent mind endeavours to express its activity, the most thickly beset with suffering and degradation. Look at the biography of authors! Except the Newgate Calendar, it is the most sickening chapter in the history of man. The calamities of these people are a fertile topic; and too often their faults and vices have kept pace with their calamities. Nor is it difficult to see how this has happened. Talent of any sort is generally accompanied with a peculiar fineness of sensibility; of genius this is the most essential constituent; and life in any shape has sorrows enough for hearts so formed. The employments of literature sharpen this natural tendency; the vexations that accompany them frequently exasperate it
into morbid soreness. The cares and toils of literature are the business of life; its delights are too ethereal and too transient to furnish that perennial flow of satisfaction, coarse, but plenteous and substantial, of which happiness in this world of ours is made. The most finished efforts of the mind give it little pleasure, frequently they give it pain; for men's aims are ever far beyond their strength. And the outward recompense of these undertakings, the distinction they confer, is of still smaller value: such desires are insatiable even when successful; and, when baffled, they issue in jealousies and envy, and every pitiful and painful feeling. So keen a temperament with so little to restrain or satisfy, so much to distress or tempt it, produces contradictions which few are adequate to reconcile. Hence the unhappiness of literary men, hence their faults and follies.
Thus literature is apt to form a dangerous and discontenting occupation even for the amateur. But for him whose rank and worldly comforts depend on it, who does not live to write, but writes to live, its difficulties and perils are fearfully increased. Few spectacles are more afflicting than that of such a man, so gifted and so fated, so jostled and tossed to and fro in the rude bustle of life, the buffetings of which he is so little fitted to endure. Cherishing, it may be, the loftiest thoughts, and clogged with the meanest wants; of pure and holy purposes, yet ever driven from the straight path by the pressure of necessity, or the impulse of passion; thirsting for glory, and frequently in want of daily bread; hovering between the empyrean of his fancy and the squalid desart of reality; cramped and foiled in his most strenuous exertions; dissatisfied with his best performances, disgusted with his fortune, this man of letters too often spends his weary days in conflicts with obscure misery;
• Continued from the Number for October, 1823.