Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Of a shrill pipe he playing heard on height,
And many feet fast thumping the hollow ground;
That through the woods their echo did rebound;
He higher drew, to weet what might it be;
There he a troop of ladies dancing found
Full merrily, and making gladful glee,
And in the midst a shepherd piping he did see.

He durst not enter into the open green,
For dread of them unwares to be descry'd,
For breaking off their dance, if he were seen ;
But in the covert of the wood did bide,
Beheld of all, yet of them unespied :
There he did see (that pleas'd much his sight
That even he himself his eyes envied)
A hundred naked maidens, lily white,
All ranged in a ring, and dancing in delight.

All they without were ranged in a ring
And dancèd round, but in the midst of them
Three other ladies did both dance and sing,
The whilst the rest them round about did hem,
And like a garland did in compass stem ;
And in the midst of those same three were placed
Another damsel, as a precious gem

Amidst a ring most richly well enchaced,
That with her goodly presence all the rest much gracea.

Those were the Graces, daughters of delight,
Handmaids of Venus, which are wont to haunt
Upon this hill, and dance there day and night;
Those three to man all gifts of grace do graunt,
And all that Venus in herself doth vaunt
Is borrowed of them ; but that fair one
That in the midst was placed paravaunt,
Was she to whom that shepherd pip'd alone,
That made him pipe so merrily as never none.

She was, to weet, that jolly shepherd's lass
Which pipèd there unto that merry rout;
That jolly shepherd, which there piped, was
Poor Colin Clout (who knows not Colin Clout?);
He pip'd apace, whilst they him danc'd about.
Pipe, jolly shepherd! pipe thou now apace
Unto thy love, that made thee low to lout ;
Thy love is present there with thee in place,
Thy love is there advaunst to be another grace.38

38 Thy love is there advanc'd,&c.—And there she remains, dancing in the midst of the Graces for ever, herself a Grace, made one by the ordinance of the poor but great poet who here addresses himself under his pastoral title, and justly prides himself on the power of conferring immortality on his love. The apostrophe is as affecting as it is elevating, and the whole scene conceived in the highest possible spirit of mixed wildness and delicacy.

A PLUME OF FEATHERS AND AN ALMOND TREE.

In this instance, which is the one he adduces in proof of his remark on the picturesque, the reader must agree with Coleridge, that the description (I mean of the almond tree), however charming, is not fit for a picture: it wants accessories; to say nothing of the reference to the image illustrated, and the feeling of too much minuteness and closeness in the very distance. Who is to paint the tender locks "every one," and the whisper of " every little breath ?

Upon the top of all his lofty crest
A bunch of hairs discolor'd diversely,
With sprinkled pearl and gold full richly dress'd,
Did shake and seem to dance for jollity.
Like to an almond tree, ymounted high,
On top of green Selinis all alone,
With blossoms brave bedecked daintily,

Whose tender locks do tremble every one,
At every little breath that under heaven is blown.

What an exquisite last line! but the whole stanza is perfection. The word jollity seems to show the plumpness of the plume; what the fop in Molière calls its embonpoint...

Holà, porteurs, holà! Là, là, là, là, là, là. Je pense que ces maraudslà ont dessein de me briser à force de heurter contre les murailles et les paves.

1 Porteur. Dame, c'est que la porte est étroite. Vous avez voulu aussi que nous soyons entrés jusqu'ici.

Mascarille. Je le crois bien. Voudriez-vous, faquins, que j'exposasse l'embonpoint de mes plumes aux inclémences de la saison pluvieuse, et que j'allasse imprimer mes souliers en boue ?--Les Precieuses Ridicules, sc. 7.

[Mascarille (to the sedan chairmen). Stop, stop! What the devil is all this ? Am I to be beaten to pieces against the walls and pavement?

Chairman. Why you see the passage is narrow. You told us to bring you right in.

Mascarille. Unquestionably. Would you have me expose the embonpoint of my feathers to the inclemency of the rainy season, and leave the impression of my pumps in the mud ?]

Our gallery shall close with a piece of

ENCHANTED MUSIC.

Eftsoons they heard a niost melodious sound
Of all that might delight a dainty ear.
Such as, at once, might not on living ground,
Save in this paradise be heard elsewhere :
Right hard it was for wight which did it hear
To weet what manner music that might be,
For all that pleasing is to living ear
Was there consorted in one harmony;
Birds, voices, instruments, winds, waters, all agree.

The joyous birds, shrouded in cheerful shade
Their notes unto the voice attempred sweet:
Th' angelical, soft, trembling voices made
To th' instruments divine respondence meet ;
The silver sounding instruments did meet.
With the base murmur of the water's fall;
The water's fall, with difference discreet,
Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call ;
The gentle warbling wind low answered to all.39

39 « The gentle warbling wind,&c. This exquisite stanıza is a specimen of perfect modulation, upon the principles noticed in the description of Archimago's Hermitage. The reader may, perhaps, try it upon them. “Compare it,” says Upton, “ with Tasso's Gierusalemme Liberata, canto 16, st. 12." Readers who understand Italian will gladly compare it, and see how far their countryman has surpassed the sweet poet of the south.

MARLOWE,

BORN, ACCORDING TO MALONE, ABOUT 1565,—DIED, 1593.

If ever there was a born poet, Marlowe was one. He perceived things in their spiritual as well as material relations, and impressed them with a corresponding felicity. Rather, he struck them as with something sweet and glowing that rushes by ;perfumes from a censer,-glances of love and beauty. And he could accumulate images into as deliberate and lofty a grandeur. Chapman said of him, that he stood

Up to the chin in the Pierian flood.

Drayton describes him as if inspired by the recollection :

Next Marlowe, bathed in the Thespian springs,
Had in him those brave translunary things,
That the first poets had ; his raptures were
All air and fire, which made his verses clear
For that fine madness still he did retain,
Which rightly should possess a poeťs brain.

But this happy genius appears to have had as unhappy a will, which obscured his judgment. It made him condescend to write fustian for the town, in order to rule over it; subjected him to the charge of impiety, probably for nothing but too scornfully treating irreverent notions of the Deity; and brought him, in the prime of his life, to a violent end in a tavern. His plays abound in wilful and self-worshipping speeches, and every one of them turns upon some kind of ascendency at the expense of other people. He was the head of a set of young men from the university, the Peeles, Greens, and others, all more or less possessed of a true poetical vein, who, bringing scholarship to the

theatre, were intoxicated with the new graces they threw on the old bombast, carried to their height the vices as well as wit of the town, and were destined to see, with indignation and astonishment, their work taken out of their hands, and lone better, by the uneducated interloper from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Marlowe enjoys the singular and (so far) unaccountable honor of being the only English writer to whom Shakspeare seems to have alluded with approbation. In As You Like It, Phæbe says,

Dead Shepherd ! now I know thy saw of might,
“ Who ever lov'd that lov'd not at first sight?"

The “saw” is in Marlowe's Hero and Leander, a poem not comparable with his plays.

The ranting part of Marlowe's reputation has been chiefly owing to the tragedy of Tamburlaine, a passage in which is laughed at in Henry the Fourth, and has become famous. Tamburlaine cries out to the captive monarchs whom he has yoked to his car,

Hollo, ye pampered jades of Asia,
What! can ye draw but twenty miles a-day,
And have so proud a chariot at your heels,
And such a coachman as great Tamburlaine ?

Then follows a picture drawn with real poetry:

The horse that guide the golden eye of heaven,
And blow the morning from their nostrils (read nosterils),
Making their fiery gait above the clouds,
Are not so honor'd in their governor,
As you, ye slaves, in mighty Tamburlaine.

It has .atterly been thought, that a genius like Marlowe could have had no hand in a play so bombastic as this huffing tragedy. But besides the weighty and dignified, though monotonous tone of his versification in many places (what Ben Jonson, very exactly as well as finely, calls “ Marlowe's mighty line,”') there are passages in it of force and feeling, of which I doubt whether any of his contemporaries were capable in so sustained a degree, though Green and Peele had felicitous single lines, and occa

« AnteriorContinuar »