Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

A coal-pit has not often found its poet; but that it may not want its due honour, Cleiveland has paralleled it with the Sun:

The moderate value of our guiltless ore
Makes no man atheist, and no woman whore ;
Yet why should hallow'd vestal's sacred shrine
Deserve more honour than a faming mine?
These pregnant wombs of heat would fitter be,
Than a few embers, for a deity.
Had he gur pits, the Persian would admire
No sun, but warm's devotion at our fire:
He'd leave the trotting whipster, and prefer,
Our profound Vulcan 'bove that waggoner.
For wants he heat, or light? or would have store
Or both ? 'tis here; and what can suns give more?
Nay, what's the sun but, in a different name,
A coal-pit rampant, or a mine on flame!
Then let this truth reciprocally run,
The sun's heaven's coalery, and coals our sun.

Death, a Voyage :

No family
E’er rigg'd a soul for heaven's discovery,
· With whom more venturers might boldly dare
Venture their stakes, with him in joy to share.

DONNE. Their thoughts and expressions were sometimes grosly abused, and such as no figures or licence can reconcile to the understanding.

A Lover

A Lover neither dead nor alive:

-
Then down I laid my head
Down on cold earth; and for a while was dead,
and my freed soul to a strange somewhere fled :

Ah, sottish soul, said I, i
When back to its cage again I saw it Ay;
Fool to resume her broken chain !
And row her galley here again.

Fool, to that body to return
Where it condemn'd and destin'd is to burn!

Once dead, how can it be,
Death should a thing so pleasant seem to thee,
That thou should'st come to live it o'er again in me?

A Lover's heart, a hand grenado.
Woe to her stubborn heart, if once mine come

Into the self-same room,
'Twill tear and blown up all within, . .
Like a grenado shot into a magazin.
Then shall Love keep the ashes, and torn parts,

Of both our broken hearts :

Shall out of both one new one make:
From her's th’allay ; from mine, the metal take.

Cowley. The poetical Propagation of Light:

The Prince's favour is diffus'd; all,
From which all fortunes, names, and natures fall;
Then from those wombs of stars, the Bride's bright eyes,

At every glance a constellation fies
And sowes the court with stars, and doth prevent

In light and power, the all-ey'd firmament:
First her eye kindles other ladies' eyes,

Then from their beams their jewels lustres rise ;
And from their jewels torches do take fire,
And all is warmth, and light, and good desire.

Donwe. THEY'were in very little care to clothe their notions with elegance of dress, and therefore miss the notice and the praise which are often gained by those, who think less, but are more diligent to adorn their thoughts.

That a Mistress beloved is fairer in idea than in reality, is by Cowley thus expressed;

Thou in my fancy dost much higher stand, ' .
Than women can be plac'd by Nature's hand;

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

And I must needs, I'm sure, a loser be,

To change thee, as thou’rt there, for very thee.
That prayer and labour should co-operate, are thus taught by Donne :

In none but us, are such mixt engines found,
As hands of double office; for the ground
We till with them; and them to heaven we raise;
Who prayerless labours, or, without this, prays,

Doth but one half, that's one.
By the same author, a common topick, the danger of procrastination, is thus
Illustrated :

That which I should have begun
In my youth's morning, now late must be done ;
And I, as giddy travellers must do,
Which stray or sleep all day, and having lost

Light and strength, dark and tir'd, must then ride post All that man has to do is to live and die; the sum of humanity is comprehended by Donne in the following lines :

Think in how poor a prison thou didst lie ;
After enabled but to suck and cry.
Think, when 'twas grown to most, ’owas a poor inn,
A province pack'd up in two yards of skin,
And that usurp'd, or threaten’d with a rage
Of sicknesses, or their true mother, age.
But think that death hach now enfranchis'd thee;
Thou hast thy expansion now, and liberty ;
Think, that a rusty piece discharg'd is Aown
In pieces, and the bullet is his own.
And freely flies ; this to thy soul allow,

Think thy shell broke, think thy soul hatch'd but now... THEY were sometimes indelicate and disgusting. Cowley thus apostro. phises beauty:.

Thou tyrant, which leav'st no man free!
Thou subtle chief, from whom nought safe can be!

Thou murtherer, which hast kill'd, and devil, which wouldst damn me. Thas he addresses his Mistress :

Thou who, in many a propriety,
So truly art the sun to me,
Add one more likeness, which I'm sure you can,

And let me and my sun beget a man.
Thus he repre’ents the meditations of a Lover:

Though in thy thoughts scarce any tracts have been
So much as of d:iginal sing

Such

Such charms thy beauty wears as might
Desires in dying confest saints excite.

Thou with strange adultery
Dost in each breast a brothel keep;

Awake, all men do list for thee,
And some enjoy thee when they sleep.

The true Taste of Tears.
Hither with crystal vials, lovers, come,

And take my tears, which are love's wine,
And try your mistress' tears at home;
For all are false, that taste not just like mine,

LONN: This is yet more indelicate : :

As the sweet sweat of roses in a still,
As that whicn from chaf'd musk.cat's pores doth trill,
As the almighty balm of th' early East,
Such are the sweet drops of my mistress' breast.
And on her neck her skin such lustre sets,
They seem no sweat.drops, but pearl coronets ;
Rank sweaty froth thy inistress' brow defiles.

Dorne. THEIR expressions sometimes raise horror, when they intend perhaps to be pathetic:

As men in hell are from diseases free,

So from all other ills am I,

Free from their known fòrmality :
But all pains eminently lie in thee.

Cowley. THEY were not always strictly curious, whether the opinions from wbich they drew their illustrations were true; it was enough that they were populai. Bacon remarks, that some falsehoods are continued by tradition, because they supply commodious allusions.

It gave a piteous groan, and so it broke;
In vain it something would have spoke : :
The love too strong for 't was,
Like poison put into a Venice-glass.

COWLEY.
In forming descriptions, they looked out not for image, but, for conceits.
Night has been a common subject, which poets have contended to adorn.
Dryden's Night is well known; Donne's is as follows:

Thou seest me here at midnight, now all rest : '.
Time's dead low-water; when all minds divest

To-morrow's

[ocr errors]

my

To-morrow's business, when the labourers have
Such rest in bed, that their last church-yard grave,
Subject to change, will scarce be a type of this,
Now when the client, whose lase hearing is
To-morrow, sleeps; when the condemned man,
Who when he opes his eyes, must shut them then
Again by death, although sad watch he keep,
Doth practise dying by a little sleep,

Thou at this midnight seest me. It must be however confessed of these writers, that if they are upon com. mon subjects often unnecessarily and unpoetically subtle; yet where scholastick speculation can be properly admitted, their copiousness and acuteness may be justly admired. What Cowley has written upon Hope, shews an unequalled feruility of invention :

Hope, whose weak being ruin'd is,

Alike if it succed, and if it miss ;
Whom good or ill does equally confound,
And both the horns of Fate's dilemma wound.

Vain shadow, which dost vanquish quite,
Both at full noon and perfect night!
The stars have not a possibility

Of blessing thee;
If things then from their end we happy call,
'Tis Hope is the most hopeless thing of all.
· Hope, thou bold taster of delight,

Who, whilst thou should'st but taste, devour'st it quite ! ,
Thou bring'st us an estate, yet leav'st us poor,
By clogging it with legacies before !
The joys which we entire should wed,
Come deflower'd virgins to our bed;
Good fortunes without gain imported be,
Such mighty custom's paid to thee :
For joy, like wine, kept close does better taste ;

If it take air before, its spirits waste. To the following comparison of a man that travels, and his wife that stars at home, with a pair of compasses, it may be doubted whether absurdity or. ingenuity has the better claim:

Our two souls therefore, which are one,

Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expanson,

Like gold to airy thinness beat...
If they be iwo, they are two so,

As stiff twin-compasses are two,
Thy soul the fixt foot, makes no show ,

To move, but doth, if th' other do.

And

« PreviousContinue »