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Yet shall some tribute of regret be paid,
The next is by the late Mr. Keats, and was written on the subject of his first reading Chapman's Homer. It is as follows:
“Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.” There still remain to be noticed two poems of Shakespeare: the one called, The Passionate Pilgrim, (being a collection of irregular pieces); and the other, The Lover's Complaint. From the first of these only, we shall make a couple of extracts. The first will speak for itself.
“ As it fell upon a day,
For her griefs, so lively shown, : Made me think upon mine own. Ah! (thought I) thou mourn'st in vain; None take pity on thy pain : Senseless trees, they cannot hear thee; Ruthless beasts, they will not cheer thee; King Pandion, he is dead; All thy friends are lapp'd in lead : All thy fellow birds do sing, Careless of thy sorrowing. Even so, poor bird, like thee, None alive will pity me.
Whilst as fickle fortune smil'd,
If he be addict to vice,
he will weep;
The other consists of a dirge over the turtle and the phenix. The poem from which the extract is taken, is sufficiently mysterious; but this is the sweet and melancholy conclusion :
“ Beauty, truth, and rarity,
Death is now the phoenix' nest;
Leaving no posterity :
Truth may seem, but cannot be;
To this urn let those repair
With these extracts, we shall leave Shakespeare and his poems to the gradual admiration of the reader. Like most writers of sterling excellence, he disdains to take us by a coup de main; but winds his way slowly and surely to the heart.This great poet was beyond all others the master of the affections. Inferior writers have assailed our sympathies with perhaps as much success.
The Germans have excited our terror, the moderns have drawn forth our compassion, equally with (and, it may be, more than) Shakespeare. But, to use a very hacknied word, his sway is more legitimate than theirs. It is founded upon a firmer basis, a better principle. It is an easy thing to drag forth the plain horrors of the hospital or the grave; but to throw round shapes that fine halo with which true poetry invests and illuminates its creations, is altogether a different task. In the first case, the violence of the feeling tends necessarily to hasten its destruction. We are startled into undue pity or apprehension, are afterwards fatigued, and at last disgusted. But in the bright atmosphere of poetry, its figures live for ever: it envelopes them, as the spices and cerements of the east preserved the bodies of Egyptian kings ; save that the limit of the poets' offspring is not known to time, nor are they liable to be rifled or destroyed. They exist, without gold, or gums, or pyramids, superior to the common accidents of death and decay, unwithering and immortal. Much of this, as well as a great deal of the power
and delicacy which distinguish the dramas of Shakespeare, is perceptible in his poems. The quaintness of their age is upon them ; but that is a mere husk, insufficient to deter the real lovers of poetry from seeking to taste the rich kernel beneath. There is a quaintness even in the plays of Shakespeare, as well as in the poems; but we are accustomed to it, and mind it therefore the less. Let us try to accustom our ears to the Tarquin and Lucrece, and to the Sonnets. They are, the reader may be assured, of great value,-a little old-fashioned, but still precious. We prize china which is old, and plate, and ornaments of many kinds. Even dress has its revolutions : why not poetry ? Fashion in general is but a silly matter. It serves only to fill heads which would be empty without it. But if it can be reduced to use (as well as ornament,) and made to bring back to a new renown the dusty glories of former ages, we shall be among the first to turn idolaters, and to vote for some statue or picture to its honour.
END OF VOL. VII.
PRINTED BY D. S. MAURICE, FENCHURCA-STREET.
INDEX TO VOL. VII.
Ackerman, Mr. 65.
Buchan, Dr. 224.
-Sheffield, Duke of, 191. 202.
Bacon, Francis Lord, 34. 42, 44. 64. 75.
lingworth reviewed, 1-13.