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O how more sweet is bird's harmonious moan,
Or the hoarse sobbings of the widow'd dove,
Than those smooth whisp'rings near a prince's throne,
Which good make doubtful, do the evil approve !
O! how more sweet is zephyr's wholesome breath,
And sighs embalm’d, which new-born flow'rs unfold,
Than that applause vain honour doth bequeath!
How sweet are streams to poison drank in gold !
The world is full of horrors, troubles, slights:
Woods' harmless shades have only true delights.”
The sonnets, which dwell upon his own afflictions, are to us very affecting, and as full of true feeling as poetic beauty :
.. “ Sweet Spring, thou com’st with all thy goodly train,
Thy head with flames, thy mantle bright with flow'rs,
The zephyrs curl the green locks of the plain,
The clouds for joy in pearls weep down their show'rs.
Sweet Spring, thou com'st—but, ah! my pleasant hours,
And happy days, with thee come not again ;
The sad memorials only of my pain
Do with thee come, which turn my sweets to sours.
Thou art the same which still thou wert before,
Delicious, lusty, amiable, fair;
But she whose breath embalm’d thy wholesome air,
Is gone; nor gold, nor gems, can her restore.
Neglected virtues, seasons go and come,
When thine forgot lie closed in a tomb.
“ What doth it serve to see the sun's bright face,
And skies enamellid with the Indian gold ?
Or the moon in a fierce chariot rollid,
And all the glory of that starry place?
What doth it serve earth's beauty to behold,
The mountain's pride, the meadow's flow'ry grace,
The stately comeliness of forests old,
The sport of floods which would themselves embrace ?
What doth it serve to hear the sylvans' songs,
The cheerful thrush, the nightingale's sad strains,
Which in dark shades seem to deplore my wrongs?
For what doth serve all that this world contains,
Since she, for whom those once to me were dear,
Can have no part of them now with me here?
“ My lute, be as thou wert when thou didst grow
With thy green mother in some shady grove,
When immelodious winds but made thee move,
And birds their ramage did on thee bestow.
Since that dear voice which did thy sounds approve,
Which wont in such harmonious' strains to flow,
Is reft from earth to tune those spheres above,
What art thou but a harbinger of woe?
Thy pleasing notes be pleasing notes no more,
But orphans' wailings to the fainting ear,
Each stroke a sigh, each sound draws forth a tear,
For which be silent as in woods before: .
Or if that any hand to touch thee deign,
Like widow'd turtle still her loss complain.
O! It is not to me, bright lamp of day,
That in the east thou shew'st thy golden face;
O! it is not to me thou leav'st that sea,
And in those azure lists beginn'st thy race.
Thou shin'st not to the dead in any place ;
And I dead from this world am past away,
Or if I seem (a shadow) yet to stay,
It is a while but to bewail my case.”
Though joyless, forsaken, and deprived of all that put a spirit into life, he finds consolation in the powers of thought that remain to him.
“ As when it happeneth that some lovely town
Unto a barbarous besieger falls,
Who both by sword and flame himself instals, .
And shameless it in tears and blood doth drown;
Her beauty spoil'd, her citizens made thralls,
His spite yet cannot so her all throw down,
But that some statue, pillar of renown,
Yet lurks unmaim'd within her weeping walls :
So after all the spoil, disgrace and wreck,
That time, the world, and death, could bring combin’d,
Amidst that mass of ruins they did make,
Safe and all scarless yet remains my mind : .
From this so high transcendent rapture springs,
That I, all else defac'd, not envy kings."
The opening of the following song, we also think, has great beauty; and the idea, towards the close, “ Night, like a
drunkard, reels beyond the hills,” has something more than beauty :
" Phoebus, arise, .
And paint the sable skies
With azure, white, and red :
Rouse Memnon's mother from her Tython's bed,
That she thy career may with roses spread,
The nightingales thy coming each where sing,
Make an eternal spring.
Give life to this dark world which lieth dead,
Spread forth thy golden hair
In larger locks than thou wast wont before,
And emperor-like decore
With diadem of pearls thy temples fair :
Chase hence the ugly night,
Which serves but to make dear thy glorious light.
This is that happy morn,
That day, long-wished day,
Of all my life so dark,
(If cruel stars have not my ruin sworn,
And Fates my hopes betray),
Which (purely white) deserves
An everlasting diamond should it mark.
This is the morn should bring unto this grove
My love, to hear, and recompense my love.
Fair king, who all preserves,
But shew thy blushing beams,
And thou two sweeter eyes
Shalt see than those which by Peneus' streams
Did once thy heart surprise :
Nay, suns which shine as clear
As those when two thou did'st to Rome appear.
Now, Flora, deck thyself in fairest guise.
If that, ye winds, would hear
A voice surpassing far Amphion's lyre,
Your furious chiding stay,
Let Zephyr only breathe,
And with her tresses play,
Kissing sometimes those purple ports of death.
The winds all silent are;
And Phæbus in his chair
Eusaffroning sea and air,
Makes vanish every star:
Night, like a drunkard, reels
Beyond the hills, to shun his flaming wheels.
The fields with flowers are deck'd in every hue,
The clouds with orient gold spangle their blue.
Here is the pleasant place;
And nothing wanting is, save she, alas !" Feeling, as we have before observed, is the very essence of Drummond's poetry; where he did not feel, or where he affected to do more than feel, he not unfrequently fails altogether. His ode on the Death of Gustavus Adolphus is of this class; and the madirgals and epigrams, beginning at page 99, are the worst part of the volume. Tears on the Death of Mæliades* are infinitely better. There are a great many well-measured and highsounding lines which, after poetry, are the next best thing; but of poetry itself,--of that holy and consecrating essence, which gives life and beauty to the “meanest flower that blows;" (and in proof of what we mean, we offer the “young eye-speaking lovers” in this very elegy ;) which ennobles the lowest, and neither seeks, nor needs, the majesty of language, though enriched by it, to give it universal currency, or to touch the heart, there is very little.—That little,
Th’immortal amaranthus, princely rose,
Sad violet, and that sweet flow'r that bears
In sanguine spots the tenor of our woes, it is probable that the young Milton remembered when he wrote Lycidas. One other whole poem we must extract;-it is full of imagination and delicacy, and the recurrence of the same rhymes throughout, we feel as making more touching its subdued and quiet feeling :
“ Sith gone is my delight and only pleasure,
The last of all my hopes, the cheerful sun
That clear'd my life's dark sphere, nature's sweet treasure,
More dear to me than all beneath the moon;
What resteth now, but that upon this mountain
I weep, till Heaven transform me to a fountain?
Fresh, fair, delicious, crystal, pearly fountain,
On whose smooth face to look she oft took pleasure,
Tell me (so may thy streams long cheer this mountain-
So serpent ne'er thee stain, nor scorch thee sun-
So may with wat’ry beams thee kiss the moon !)
Dost thou not mourn to want so fair a treasure? •
* Miles à Deo—an anagram chosen by Prince Henry, and used by him in his martial sports.
While she here gazd on thee, rich Tagus' treasure
Thou need'st not envyếnor yet the fountain,
In which that hunter saw the naked moon;
Absence hath robb’d thee of thy wealth and pleasure,
And I remain, like marigold, of sun
Depriv'd, that dies by shadow of some mountain.
Nymphs of the forests, nymphs who on this mountain
Are wont to dance, shewing your beauty's treasure
To goat-feet sylvans, and the wond'ring sun,
Whene'er you gather How'rs about this fountain,
Bid her farewell who placed here her pleasure,
And sing her praises to the stars and moon.
Among the lesser lights as is the moon,
Blushing through muffling clouds on Latmos' mountain ;
Or when she views her silver locks for pleasure
In Thetis' streams, proud of so gay a treasure:
Such was my fair, when she sat by this fountain
With other nymphs, to shun the amorous sun.
As is our earth in absence of the sun,
Or when of sun deprived is the moon ;-
As is without a verdant shade a fountain,
Or, wanting grass, a mead, a vale, a mountain ;
Such is my state, bereft of my dear treasure,
To know whose only worth was all my pleasure.
Ne'er think of pleasure, heart; eyes, shun the sun;
Tears be your treasure, which the wand'ring moon
Shall see you shed by mountain, vale, and fountain." .
We feel it to be particularly difficult to do justice to Drummond by extracts. Many of his poems are admirable for what we may, perhaps, be allowed to call the stately march of language and thought; but without any of those brilliant passages that enchain the fancy and delight the reader. Others, in which the most exquisitely beautiful passages are to be found, 'are, by length, or other circumstances, unsuited to our purpose. “ Forth Feasting,” which Jonson commended, is one of these. The opening, spoken by the River God, is, however, as good as laureate poems usually are.
“What blustering noise now interrupts my sleeps ? :
What echoing shouts thus cleave my crystal deeps,
And seem to call me from my wat’ry court ?
What melody-what sounds of joy and sport, .." ...
VOL. IX. PART II.