« AnteriorContinuar »
Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
I insert this poem on account of the exquisite imaginative picture in the third and fourth lines, and the terseness and melody of the whole. Here we have a specimen of a perfect style,-unsuperfluous, straightforward, suggestive, impulsive, and
But how the writer of such verses could talk of “work without hope," I cannot say. What work had he better to do than to write more ? and what hope but to write more still, and delight himself and the world? But the truth is, his mind was too active and self-involved to need the diversion of work; and his body, the case that contained it, too sluggish with sedentary living to like it; and so he persuaded himself that if his writings did not sell, they were of no use. Are we to disrespect these self-delusions in such a man? No; but to draw from them salutary cautions for ourselves, — his inferiors.
BORN, 1792,-DIED, 1822.
Among the many reasons which his friends had to deplore the premature death of this splendid poet and noble-hearted man, the greatest was his not being able to repeat, to a more attentive public, his own protest, not only against some of his earlier effusions (which he did in the newspapers), but against all which he had written in a wailing and angry, instead of an invariably calm, loving, and therefore thoroughly helping spirit. His works, in justice to himself, require either to be winnowed from what he disliked, or to be read with the remembrance of that dislike. He had sensibility almost unique, seemingly fitter for a planet of a different sort, or in more final condition, than ours : he has said of himself,—so delicate was his organization,– that he could
' hardly bear
and the impatience which he vented for some years against that rough working towards good, called evil, and which he carried out into conduct too hasty, subjected one of the most naturally pious of men to charges which hurt his name, and thwarted his philanthropy.
Had he lived, he would have done away all mistake on these points, and made every body know him for what he was,—a man idolized by his friends,-studious, temperate, of the gentlest life and conversation, and willing to have died to do the world a service. For my part, I never can mention his name without a transport of love and gratitude. I rejoice to have partaken of his cares, and to be both suffering and benefiting from him at this moment; and whenever I think of a future state, and of the great and good Spirit that must pervade it, one of the first faces I humbly hope to see there, is that of the kind and impassioned man, whose intercourse conferred on me the title of the Friend of Shelley.
The finest poetry of Shelley is so mixed up with moral and political speculation, that I found it impossible to give more than the following extracts, in accordance with the purely poetical design of the present volume.
Of the poetry of reflection and 1
tragic pathos, he has abundance; but even such fanciful productions as the Sensitive Plant and the Witch of Atlas are full of metaphysics, and would require a commentary of explanation. The short
pieces and passages, however, before us, are so beau-
in his tragedy of the Cenci. Unfortunately, in his indignation against every conceivable form of oppression, he took a subject for that play too much resembling one which Shakspeare had taken in his youth, and still more unsuitable to the stage; otherwise, besides grandeur and terror, there are things in it lovely as heart can worship; and the author showed himself able to draw both men and women, whose names would have become “ familiar in our mouths as household words.” The utmost might of gentleness, and of the sweet habitudes of domestic affection, was never more balmily impressed through the tears of the reader, than in the unique and divine close of that dreadful tragedy. Its loveliness, being that of the highest reason, is superior to the madness of all the crime that has preceded it, and leaves nature in a state of reconcilement with her ordinary
The daughter, who is going forth with her mother to execution, utters these final words :
Give yourself no unnecessary pain,
The force of simplicity and moral sweetness cannot go further than this. But in general, if