« AnteriorContinuar »
iHard by yon wood, now siniling as in scořit,
Wayward, — Independant of control. Way. ward properly means, desirous of having his own way.
" One morn I missed him, on the custom'd hill,
The next with dirges due, in' sad array,
Dirges due.-Dirge means solemn, mournful music; such as sometimes attends funerals.
Sad array.--The funeral procession.
In these five stanzas, the poet speaks of him. self-He says, if any person of a mind similar to his owl should inquire for the author of these lines, perhaps some aged villager, will point out his tombstone, and desire the stranger to read his epitaph, and will tell hin all that was known of him in the neighbourhood; will tell him, that he was often seen wandering at an early hour through the fields, or resting under the shade of an aged beech, in careless slumber, sometimes looking with seeming earnestness upon the passing stream; sometimes rambling near a neighbouring wood, expressing the thoughts and fancies of his mind in his countenance, and speaking to himself; some-. times smiling indignantly, sometimes moping in melancholy.--One morning he was absent froin his usual haunts; two days passed without his appearing under his favourite tree. On the third, his funeral was seen passing by; and here, says the ancient villager, speaking to the stranger, who is supposed to be inquiring for the poet, here are his tomb and epitaph :
* Here rests his head, upon the lap of earth,
“ Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
• No farther seek his merits to disclose,
The epitaph is obscure. The sense is as follows:- Here lies buried, a youth of humble birth and fortune, not ignorant of science, but of a melancholy mind ; he had a generous heart, though he had but little beside compassion to bestow; Heaven recompensed his good intentions by bestowing upon him a true friend *. Seek no farther into his history, whatever were his faults or merits, they were known to God, whose sentence on the great day of retribution he awaits with hope mixed with holy fear.
* Mr. Mason.
In this poem, and that which follows, the passions are continually personified, or spoken of as if they were persons, or as heathen deities.
“ Hence loathed Melancholy,
In Stygian cave forlorn; 'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy,
Find out some uncouth cell,
And the night raven sings;
As ragged as thy locks,
* Fly hence, hateful Melancholy! thoa offspring of the dog Cerberus ; born in some lonely cave; upon the banks of Styx, in the midst of monsters and dismal screains. Go and dwell, far from me, in the Cimmerian desert, under the shadow of rocks that hàng down in separate crags, divided like thy black and parted locks."
Stygian--belonging to Styx, the river af Hell. This river was supposed to divide the infernal (lower) regions. The gods swore by Styx; and such an oath was considered as irrevocable, even by Jupiter.
Cimmerian desert.-Cimmeria was that part of ancient Scythia, which is on the Palys Meotis, and is now called the Crimea. The name of Krim, or Crimea, may be a corruption of the ancient name Cimmeria. This part of the world is represented by the ancients as a cold and dreary desert, coyered with black and gloomy forests.
“ But come thou goddess fair and free,
The frolic Wind that breathes the spring,
" But come thou fair and free goddess ycleped (called) in heaven' Euphrosyne, and known among men by the name of Mirth, come hither. Thou art, as some suppose, descended from Bacchus and Venus, and thou art one of the sister Graces ; or as others think, thou art sprung from Zephyr, the frolic or playful western wind, which blows in the spring of the year, and Aurora the goddess of the dawn.
The young reader will observe, that as these are the fictitious or allegorical parents of Mirth, the poet means 'to point out, that Mirth is found by some to arise at convivial meetings from the exhilirating effects of wine, of which Bacchus was the deity; and that it arises amongst others (who are wiser) from exercise and from the healthful breezes of early morning, Zephyr and Aurora.
Milton seems particularly fond of early morning : he says elsewhere,