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STONEHENGE, A Newdigate Prize Poem, recited at the Theatre,
Oxford, June, 1823, by T. S. Salmon.
We give this poem as a specimen of that classic elegance, refined taste, and correct imagination, which our modern schools of poetry affect to despise ; but nothing is more natural than to affect indifference for every thing that is placed beyond our reach. The author of the Fox and the Grapes" was not ignorant of this truth.---ED.
Wrapt in the veil of time's unbroken gloom,
Obscure as death, and silent as the tomb,
Where cold oblivion holds her dusky reign,
Frowns the dark pile on Sarum’s lonely plain.
Yet think not here with classic eye to trace
Corinthian beauty, or Ionic grace ;
No pillar'd lines, witb sculptured foliage crown’d,
No fluted remnants deck the hallowed ground;
Firm, as implanted by some Titan's might,
Each rugged stone uprears its giant height,
Whence the pois’d fragment, tottering, seems to throw
A trembling shadow on the plain below.
Here oft, when evening sheds her twilight ray,
And gilds with fainier beam departing day,
With breathless gaze, and cheek with terror pale,
The lingering shepherd startles at the tale,
How at deep midnight, by the moon's chill glance,
Unearthly forms prolong the viewless dance ;
While on each whispering breeze that murmurs by,
His busied fancy hears the hollow sigh.
Rise from thy haunt, dread genius of the clime,
Rise magic spirit of forgotten time!
'Tis thine to burst the mantling clouds of age,
And fling new radiance on tradition's page:
See! at thy call from fable’s varied store,
In shadowy train the mingled visions pour:
Here the wild Briton, ʼmid his wilder reign,
Spurns the proud yoke, and scorns the oppressor's chain:
Here wizard Merlin, where the mighty fell,
Waves the dark wand, and chants the thrilling spell.
Hark! 'tis the bardic lyre, whose harrowing strain
Wakes the rude echoes of the slumbering plain;
Lo! 'tis the Druid pomp, whose lengthening line
In lowliest homage bend before the shrine.
He comes,--the priest:-amid the sullen blaze
His snow-white robe in spectral lustre plays;
Dim gleam the torches through the circling night,
Dark curl the vapours round the altar's light;
O’er the black scene of death each conscious star,
In lurid glory rolls its silent car.
'T'is gone! e'en now the mystic horrors fade
From Sarum's loneliness, and Mona's glade;
Hushed is each note of Taliesin's lyre,
Sheath'd the fell blade, and quench'd the fatal fire.
On wings of light Hope's angel form appears,
Smiles on the past, and points to happier years ;
Points with uplifted hand, and raptured eye,
To yon pure dawn that floods the opening sky,
And views, at length, the sun of Judah pour
One cloudless noon o'er Albion's rescued shore.
DESCRIPTION OF A MISSIONARY.
From the AUSTRALASIA, a Poem which obtained the
Chancellor's Medal, at the Cambridge Commencement, 1823, by Winthrop Mackworth Praed, of Trinity College.
This description appears to us to be the best passage in the Australasia." It wants, however, that “ weighty bullion” which alone gives life and energy to English verse, though it has none of the tinsel of the romantic school. Stonehenge is evidently before it in strength and dignity. The second line, however, is exquisitely beautiful and picturesque. Many have beheld “the calm wind wandering o'er" the silver bair” of age to whom the circumstance never suggested a poetic image or association of any description ; yet, the moment it is thus described, we are sensible of an impression which the real circumstance itself would have never excited. Whence is this effect? Evidently from the power of association to which the mere observer pays no attention. The wind is here endowed with life. It wanders through the hair of the old man, as if to cool him gently, or as if in love with his venerable and silver locks. This is attributing knowledge and life to the wind. Besides, the quality of calmness attributed to it is admirably con
trasted with the piety and age of the old man, over $ whose hair it delights to wander. All inanimate objects become poetic the moment we endow them with those attributes which are the peculiar and distinctive inheritance of man. There are, indeed, few qualities in nature which may not be attributed to man, whence he has been properly called the little world; but some of these qualities are peculiar to himself, while he possesses the rest in common with being in general. Whenever those qualities which are peculiarly his own, are transferred to inani
mate objects, they are immediately translated into the poetic world, and become objects, not only of a different, but of a more exalted species than they were before ---ED.
With furrowed brow, and cheek serenely fair,
The calm wind wandering o'er his silver hair,
His arms uplifted, and his moistened eye
Fixed in deep rapture on the golden sky.
Upon the shore, through many a billow driven,
He kneels at last, the messenger of heaven!
Long years, that rank the mighty with the weak,
Have dimmed the flush upon his faded cheek,
And many a dew, and many a noxious damp,
The daily labour, and the nightly lamp,
Have reft away, for ever reft, from him
The liquid accent, and the buoyant limb.
Yet still within him aspirations swell,
Which time corrupts not, sorrows cannot quell;
The changeless zeal, which on, from land to land,
Speeds the faint foot, and nerves the withered hand,
And the mild charity, which, day by day,
Weeps every wound, and every stain away, :
Rears the young bud on every blighted stem,
And longs to comfort where she must condemn.
With these, through storms, and bitterness and wrath,
In peace and power he holds his onward path,
Curbs the fierce soul, and sheathes the murderous steel,
And calms the passions he had ceased to feel.
Yes, he hath triumphed, while his lips relate
The sacred story of his Saviour's fate,
While in the search of that tumultuous horde
He opens wide the everlasting word,
And bids the soul drink deep of wisdom there,
In fond devotion, and in fervent prayer.
In speechless awe the wonder-stricken throng
Check their rude feasting, and their barbarous song
Around his steps the gathering myriads crowd,
The chief, the slave, the timid, and the proud;
Of various features and of various dress,
Like their own forest-leaves, confused and numberless.
Where shall your temples, where your worship be,
Gods of the air, and rulers of the sea.
In the glad dawning of a kinder light,
Your blind adorer quits your gloomy rite,
And kneels in gladness on his native plain,
A happier votary at a holier fane,
WHOEVER is the writer of the “ Unknown Grave,” it possesses a merit to which it is difficult to do adequate justice, whether we consider the sentiments, the poetry, or the moral. Perhaps he is neither Byron, Campbell, Scott, nor Moore; but however highly we respect these names, we imagine they could not easily improve the following lines, without disturbing the harmony and repose that reign throughout. We do not mean by this to say, that the author could produce “ Don Juan,” “ the Pleasures of Hope, “ Marmion,” or “ the Loves of the Angels;" but we mean to say, that we should not feel ourselves justified in supposing him incapable of them, though we are well aware that excellence may be attained in a short production by him who is unequal to a work of greater magnitude. We would object to the epithet “gloweth,”
“A moral lesson gloweth here;"