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of picture-drawing and reflection to the writing of tales; but if we were to prescribe to a young poet his course of practice, this would certainly be our advice. The luxuriance of a young fancy delights in description; and the quickness and inexperience of the same age, in passing judgments;—in the one richness, in the other antithesis and effect are too often more sought after than truth: the poem is written rapidly, and correctness but little attended to. But in narration more care must be taken; if the tale be fictitious, the conception and sustainment of the characters, the disposition of the facts, the relief of the soberer parts by description, reflection, or dialogue, form so many useful studies for a growing artist: if the tale be borrowed from history, a more delicate task is added to those just mentioned, in determining how far it may be necessary or safe to interweave the ornaments of fiction with the ground-work of truth, and in skilfully performing that difficult task. In both cases the mind is compelled to make a more sustained effort, and acquires thereby greater vigour, and a more practical readiness in the detail of the art.
The principal poem in this volume is the Abencerrage; it commemorates the capture of Granada by Ferdinand and Isabella, and attributes it in great measure to the revenge of Hamet, chief of the Abencerrages, who had been induced to turn his arms against his countrymen, the Moors, in order to procure the ruin of their king, the murderer of his father and brothers. During the siege he makes his way by night to the bower of Zayda his beloved, the daughter of a rival and hated family; her character is very finely drawn, and she repels with firmness all the solicitations and prayers of the traitor to his country. The following lines form part of their dialogue ;-they are spirited and pathetic, but perfectly free from exaggeration.
* Oh wert thou still what once I fondly deem'd,
All that thy mien express'd, thy spirit seem'd,
My love had been devotion-ill in death
Thy name had trembled on my latest breath.
But not the chief, who leads a lawless band
To crush the altars of his native land;
The apostate son of heroes, whose disgrace
Hath stain’d the trophies of a glorious race;
Not him I lov'd - but one whose youthful name
Was pure and radiant in unsullied tame.
Hladst thou but died ere yet dishonour's cloud
O'er that young name bad gather'd as a shroud,
I then had mouru'd thee proudly-and my grief
In its own loftiness had found relief,
A noble sorrow, cherish'd to the last,
meaner woe had long been past.
Yes, let affection weep-no common tear
She sheds when bending o'er a hero's bier;
Let nature mourn the dead-a grief like this,
To pangs that rend my bosom, had been bliss.'—p. 98.
The next volume in order consists principally of translations,
It will give our readers some idea of Mrs. Hemans's acquaintance
with books, to enumerate the authors from whom she has chosen
her subjects ; they are Camoens, Metastasio, Filicaja, Pastorini,
Lope de Vega, Franciso Manuel, Della Casa, Cornelio Benti-
voglio, Quevedo, Juan de Tarsis, Torquato and Bernardo Tasso,
Petrarca, Pietro Bembo, Lorenzini, Gessner, Chaulieu, Gar-
cilaso de Vega ; names embracing almost every language in
which the Muse has found a tongue in Europe. Many of these
translations are very pretty, but it would be less interesting to se-
lect any of them for citation, as our readers might not be pos-
sessed of, or acquainted with the originals. We will pass on,
therefore, to the latter part of the volume, which contains much
that is very pleasing and beautiful. The poem which we are
about to transcribe is on a subject often treated; and no wonder:
it would be hard to find another which embraces so inany of
the elements of poetic feeling; so soothing a mixture of pleasing
melancholy and pensive hope; such an assemblage of the ideas
of tender beauty, of artless playfulness, of spotless purity, of
transient yet imperishable brightness, of affections wounded, but
not in bitterness, of sorrows gently subdued, of eternal and un-
doubted happiness. We know so little of the heart of man, that
when we stand by the grave of him whom we deem most excel-
lent, the thought of death will be mingled with some awe and un-
certainty; but the gracious promises of Scripture leave no doubt
as to the blessedness of departed infants, and when we think what
they now are, and what they might have been; what they now en-
joy, and what they might have suffered; what they have now
gained, and what they might have lost; we may, indeed, year to
follow them ; but we must be selfish indeed to wish them again!
'constrained' to dwell in these tenements of pain and sorrow. The
dirge of a child, which follows, embodies these thoughts and feel.
ings, but in more beautiful order and language.
• No bitter tears for thee be shed,
Blossom of being! seen and gone !
With flowers alone we strew thy bed,
O blest departed one!
Whose all of life, a rosy ray,
Blushed into dawn, and passed away.
Yes, ihou art gone, ere guilt had power
To stain thy cherub soul and form!
Clos'd is the soft ephemeral flower
That never felt a storm!
The sunbeam's smile, the zephyr's breath,
All that it knew from birth to death.
Thou wert so like a form of light,
That heaven benignly called thee hence,
E'er yet the world could breathe one blight
O'er thy sweet innocence :
And thou that brighter home to bless
Art passed with all thy loveliness.
Oh hadst thou still on earth remain'd,
Vision of beauty, fair as brief,
How soon thy brightness had been stain'd
With passion, or with grief!
Now not a sullying breath can rise
To dim thy glory in the skies.
We rear no marble o'er thy tomb,
No sculptured image there shall mourn,
Ah! fitter far the vernal bloom
Such dwelling to adorn.
Fragrance and flowers and dews must be
The only emblems meet for thee.
Thy grave shall be a blessed shrine,
Adoru'd with nature's brightest wreath,
Each glowing season shall combine
Its incense there to breathe;
And oft upon the midnight air
Shall viewless harps be murmuring there.
And oh! sometimes in visions blest,
Sweet spirit, visit our repose,
And bear from thine own world of rest
Some balm for human woes.
What form more lovely could be given
Than thine to messenger of heaven!'-p. 61. Had Mrs. Hemans stopped here, she might have claimed a considerable share of praise for elegant composition; but her last two publications are works of a higher stamp-works, indeed, of which no living poet need to be ashamed. The first of them is entitled the Sceptic, and is devoted, as our readers will easily anticipate, to advocating the cause of religion. Undoubtedly the poem must have owed its being to the circumstances of the times, to a laudable indignation at the course which literature in many departments seemed lately to be taking in this country, and at the doctrines disseminated with industry, principally (but by no means exclusively, as has been falsely supposed,) among the lower orders. Mrs. Hemans, however, does not attempt to reason learnedly or laboriously in verse; few poems, ostensibly philoso
phical, or didactic, have ever been of use, except to display the ingenuity and talent of the writers; people are not often taught a science or an art in poetry, and much less will an infidel be converted by a theological treatise in verse. But the argument of the Sceptic is one of irresistible force to confirm a wavering mind; it is simply resting the truth of religion on the necessity of it, on the utter misery and helplessness of man without it. This argument is in itself available for all the purposes of poetry; it appeals to the imagination and passions of man, it is capable of interesting all our affectionate hopes and charities, of acting upon all our natural fears. Mrs. Hemans has gone through this range with great feeling and ability, and when she comes to the mind that has clothed itself in its own strength, and relying proudly on that alone in the hour of affliction, has sunk into distraction in the contest, she rises into a strain of moral poetry not often surpassed.
• Oh what is nature's strength? the vacant eye
By mind deserted hath a dread reply,
The wild delirious laughter of despair,
The mirth of phrenzy-seek an answer there!
Turn not away, though pity's cheek grow pale,
Close not thine ear against their awful tale.
They tell thee, reason wandering from the ray
or faith, the blazing pillar of her way,
In the mid-darkness of the stormy wave
Forsook the struggling soul she could not save.
Weep not, sad moralist, o'er desert plains
Strew'd with the wrecks of grandeur-mouldering fanes
Arches of triumph, long with weeds o'ergrown-
And regal cities, now the serpent's own :
Earth has more awful ruins-one lost mind
Whose star is quench'd, hath lessons for mankind
Of deeper import, than each prostrate dome
Mingling its marble with the dust of Rome.'--p. 17. After a few more lines to this effect, she addresses the maniac himself in a passage almost too long for citation, yet which we cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of transcribing.
“Spirit dethroned, and check'd in mid career,
Son of the morning, exiled from thy sphere,
Tell us thy tale! perchance thy race was run
With science in the chariot of the sun:
Free as the winds the path of space to sweep,
Traverse the untrodden kingdoms of the deep,
And search the laws that nature's springs controul ;
There tracing all-save Him who guides the whole.
Haply thine eye its ardent glance had cast
Through the dim shades, the portals of the past;
By the bright lamp of thought thy care had fed
From the far beacon-lights of ages fled,
The depths of time exploring, to retrace
The glorious march of many a vanish'd race.
Or did thy power pervade the living lyre,
Till its deep chords became instinct with fire,
Silenced all meaner notes, and swelld on high
Full and alone their mighty harmony,
While woke each passion from its cell profound
And nations started at th' electric sound?
Lord of the Ascendant! what avails it now,
Though bright the laurels wav'd upon thy brow?
What, though thy name, through distant empires heard,
Bade the heart bound, as doth a battle-word?
Was it for this thy still unwearied eye
Kept vigil with the watch-fires of the sky,
To make the secrets of all ages thine,
And commune with majestic thoughts that shine
O'er time's long shadowy pathway ? Hath thy mind
Severed its lone dominions from mankind
For this—to woo their homage? Thou hast sought
All, save the wisdom with Salvation fraught-
Won every wreath, but that which will not die,
Nor aught neglected save eternity.
And did all fail thee, &c.
Lift the dread veil no further! hide, oh hide
The bleeding form, the couch of suicide-
The dagger grasp'd in death-the brow, the eye
Lifeless, yet stamp'd with rage and agony;
The soul's dark traces left in many a line
Grav'd on his mien who died “ and made no sign !”
Approach not, gaze not, lest thy fever'd brain
Too deep that image of despair retain.
Angels of slumber!-o'er the midnight hour
Let not such visions claim unhallow'd power,
Lest the mind sink with terror, and above
See but the Avenger's arm, forgot th’ Atoner's love.'-p. 18. We must venture upon one extract more. It is from a part of the poem in which the writer is supplicating for the aids which Heaven alone can bestow to sustain her at the hour of death; and she naturally and truly asserts that that hour is most awful and distressing to unsupported nature.
In the pride
of youth and health, by sufferings yet untried,
We talk of death, as something which t’were sweet
In glory's arms exultingly to meet;
A closing triumph, a majestic scene,
Where gazing nationis watch the hero's mien,