Imatges de pÓgina
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1 Myrrh.

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And in I went to here the birdis song

Which on the braunchis both in plaine and vale
So loude ysang that al the wode
yrong,
Like as it should shiver in pieces smale
And as methoughtin that the nightingale
With so great might her voice began out wrest
Right as her heart for love would all to brest.
The soil was plaine and smoth and wondir soft
All overspread with tapettes that nature
Had made herself, covered eke aloft
With bowis grene, the flouris for to cure.

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There sawe I growing eke the freshe 2 hauthorne
In white motley, that so sote doeth ysmell,
Ash, pine and oak, with many a young acorne
And many a tree mo then I can tell
And me beforne I saw a little well,

That had his course, as I could wele beholde
Undir an hill, with quicke stremis and colde;

2 Mr. Gilpin, in one of his books on Picturesque Painting, condemns the hawthorn; but Chaucer praises it in different parts of his works, and I must own that I agree with our old poet in taste on this occasion.

The gravil gold, the watir pure as glasse,
The bankis rounde the welle invironing,
And soft as velvet was the young ygrasse,
That thereupon lustilie came springyng,
The sute of trees abouten compassyng

There shadowe cast, closyng the well arounde
And all the herbis growing on the grounde;

This may seem too long a digression, but these descriptions in Chaucer have given me singular pleasure.. I think also he was the only one of our English poets, most likely to have succeeded in pastoral poetry if he had attempted it. As it is at present, I do not think we have one good pastoral poem in our language, except the Lycidas of Milton, which is indeed a true pastoral of the sublimer kind, in which he expresses Christian reflections under the veil of heathen mythology. When we talk of rich landscapes, and gay descriptions, we ought to rank among the most excellent the Description of May, by that great and ancient Scotish poet, Bishop (Gowen) Douglas, prefixed as a preface to the seventh book (I think) of his celebrated translation of the Æneid, which no man of taste, who understands it, can read without admiration.

But to return to Theocritus. In the Bucoliastæ (Idyll. viii.) the effect which the presence of a beautiful and beloved person has on our

1 Milton in a glorious passage of his prose works, where he defends his own moral character, says, that he used to rise "with the first lark that rouses," which answers to Theocritus's iyagoμévw xopudara. Chaucer in the Knight's Tale thus describes the approach of morning:

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"The besy larke the messager of day
Saleweth in his songe the morrowe gray,
And firy Phoebus riseth up so bright
That all the orient laugheth of the sight,
And with his stremis drieth in the greves
The silver droppes hanging on the leves.

No poet seems to have taken more pleasure in describing the music of birds than Chaucer. One would think that the unknown author of a most

beautiful copy of verses in the Life of Colonel Gardiner, had this passage of Chaucer in his eye.

"Attend! my soul! the early birds inspire

My groveling thoughts with pure celestial fire:
They from their temperate sleep awake, and pay
Their thankful anthems for the new-born day.
See how the tuneful lark is mounted high
And poet-like salutes the eastern sky:
He warbles through the fragrant air his lays,
And seems the beauties of the morn to praise;

But man more void of gratitude awakes,

And gives no thanks for the sweet rest he takes," &c. &c.

After all our improvements in our language, we must own that our chief original poets who could create, invent, and describe, are Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspeare, Milton, and Thomson.

feelings with respect to the natural objects with which we are sur

rounded, is thus beautifully expressed :

Παντᾷ ἔαρ, παντᾷ δὲ νομοὶ, παντᾷ δὲ γάλακτος
Οὔθατα πλήθουσιν, καὶ τὰ νέα τρέφεται,
Ενθ' & καλὰ παῖς ἐπινίσσεται· αἱ δ' ἂν ἀφέρπῃ

Χὼ ποιμὰν ξηρὸς τηνόθι, χαί βοτάναι.—ν. 41.
When here my fair one comes, spring smiles around,
Meads flourish, and the teats with milk abound ;
My lambs grow fat; if she no longer stay,

Parch'd are the meads, the shepherd pines away.-Fawkes.

We have immediately afterwards, “ καὶ δρύες ὑψίτεραι, the oaks are higher," where a beloved object is present. That the company of a beloved person heightens the pleasure we receive from the beauties of nature, is certain. The cowherd and shepherd in Theocritus, indeed, seem to carry the matter farther, as if such company absolutely changed the objects themselves for the better. Milton has a beautiful passage of this kind.

"As one who long in populous city pent

Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air,
Forth issuing on a summer's morn to breathe
Among the pleasant villages and farms
Adjoin'd, from each thing met conceives delight;
The smell of grain, or tedded grass,' or kine
Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound ;
If chance with nymph-like step fair virgin pass,
What pleasing seem'd, for her now pleases more,
She most, and in her look sums all delight.”

Milt. Parad. Lost, b. ix. v. 445.

In the same Idyllium we meet afterwards with another very striking passage, not much dissimilar to the last which was mentioned.

Κἄμ' ἐκ τῶ ἄντρω σύνοφρυς κόρα ἐχθὲς ἰδοῖσα

Τὰς δαμάλας παρελῶντα, καλὸν καλὸν ἦμες ἔφασκεν.
Οὐ μὴν οὐδὲ λόγον ἐκρίθην ἄπο τὸν πικρὸν αὐτῷ,
̓Αλλὰ κάτω βλέψας, τὰν ἡμετέραν ὁδὸν εἶρπον,
Αδεῖ ἡ φωνὰ τᾶς πόρτιος, ἡδὺ τὸ πνεῦμα·

Αδὺ δὲ χὼ μόσχος γαρύεται, ἀδὺ δὲ χὰ βῶς,

'Αδὺ δὲ τῷ θέρεος παρ ̓ ὕδωρ ῥέον αἰθριοκοιτεῖν.—ν. 72.

A girl with close-join'd eye-brows from the grotto spying me also yesterday,

When driving my cows, said that I was handsome, handsome :

I made her no sharp auswer;

But with down-cast looks I crept on my way.

1 Αδεῖ ̓ ἁ φωνὰ τὰς πόρτιος, ἀδὺ τὸ πνεῦμα. Theocritus.

Sweet is the voice of the heifer and sweet her breath;

Sweetly the calf lows and sweetly the cow,

And sweet it is in the summer to sleep in the open air by a flowi

stream.

The same turn of expression occurs again in the 9th Idyllium verse 7, and also a third time in the beginning of the 12th Idyllium. Οσσον ἔαρ χειμῶνος, ὅσον μῆλον βραβύλοιο Ἥδιον, ὅσσον ἔϊς σφετέρης λασιωτέρη αρνὸς, Οσσον παρθενικὴ προφέρει τριγάμοιο γυναικὸς, Οσσον ἐλαφροτέρη μόσχου νεβρὸς, ὅσσον ἀηδὼν Συμπάντων λιγύφωνος ἀοιδοτάτη πετεηνῶν, Τόσσον ἔμ' εὔφρηνας σύ—Idyll. xii. v. 3.

As much as the spring is sweeter than winter, the apple than the plumb As much as the sheep has a thicker fleece than the lamb;

As much as a virgin excels a thrice-married woman,

As much as the melodious nightingale is the most musical of birds, So much your presence delights me.

This turn of expression Milton appears to have certainly imitated, but he has greatly improved it by a beautiful repetition with some change.

"Sweet is the breath of morn! her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herbs, tree, fruit, and flower,
Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild; then silent night
With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon,
And these the gems of heaven, her starry train:
But neither breath of morn, when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds; nor rising sun
On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower
Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful evening mild; nor silent night
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon
Or glittering star-light, without thee is sweet."
That I

may not appear tedious, I shall only add two more instances of beautiful scenery in Theocritus. The first is from the Cyclops (Idyll. xi.): Polyphemus, in his address to the nymph Galatea, thus invites her :

Τὰν γλαυκὰν δὲ θάλασσαν ἔα ποτὶ χέρσον ὀρεχθεῖν.
“Αδιον ἐν τὤντρῳ παρ' ἡμῖν τὰν νύκτα διάξεις
Ἐντὶ δάφναι τηνεὶ, ἐντὶ ῥαδιναὶ κυπάρισσοι·
Ἐντὶ μέλας κισσός, ἔντ ̓ ἄμπελος & γλυκύκαρπος
Εντὶ ψυχρὸν ὕδωρ, τό μοι & πολυδένδρεος Αἴτνα
Λευκᾶς ἐκ χιόνος, ποτὸν ἀμβρόσιον, προΐητι.

å

"Suffer the azure sea to dash against the shore;

More pleasantly you will spend the night with me in the cave;

Here are laurels, here are spiry cypresses,

Here is the black ivy, and the vine with sweet fruit;
Here is cold water, which woody Ætna

Pours down from the white snow, as ambrosial drink.

The last instance is the fourth epigram of Theocritus, in which there is a most agreeable assemblage of objects, expressed in the most beautiful language, though it is exceptionable in other respects. A part of it I shall transcribe.

Τήναν τὴν λαύραν τῶς αἱ δρύες, αἰπόλε, κάμψας
Σύκινον εὑρήσεις αρτιγλυφες ξόανον,

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Σακὸς δ' εὖ ἱερὸς περιδέδρομεν· ἀέναον δὲ
Ῥεῖθρον ἀπὸ σπιλάδων πάντοσε τηλεθάει
Δάφναις καὶ μύρτοισι καὶ εὐώδει κυπαρίσσῳ.
Ένθα πέριξ κέχυται βοτρυόπαις ἕλικι
Αμπελος" εἰαρινοὶ δὲ λιγυφθόγγοισιν αοιδαῖς
Κόσσυφοι αχεῦσιν ποικιλότραυλα μέλη.
Ξουθαὶ ἀηδονίδες μινυρίσμασιν ἀντιαχεῦσι,

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Μέλπουσαι στόμασιν τὰν μελίγηρυν ὄπα. &c. &c.

Per illum vicum, ubi quercus sunt, o caprarie, deflectens
Ficulneam invenies recens-sculptam statuam;

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-Ædes autem sacra pulchre circumcurrit, et perenne
Fluentum, e saxis undique viret

Lauris et myrtis, et odorata cupresso,

Ubi circumcirca diffusa est racemosa cum capreolis

Vitis; vernæ autem stridulis cantibus.

Merulæ modulantur varie sonora carmina :

Flavæ lusciniæ sibiles ex adverso canunt

Cantantes gutture suavissimum sonum.

If any persons, who relish the poets of reason only, such as Boileau and Pope, should blame me for dwelling so much on mere scenery, I will ask them in the words of an elegant French poet;—

"Avez-vous donc connu ces rapports invisibles,
Des corps inanimés et des êtres sensibles?
Avez-vous entendu des eaux, des prés, des bois,
La muette éloquence et la secrette voix ?"

Les Jardins, Chant I. par l'Abbé de Lille.

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