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When their reputation was high, they had undoubtedly more imitators than time has left behind. Their immediate successors, of whom any remembrance can be said to remain, were Suckling, Waller, Denham, Cowley, Cleiveland, and Milton. Denham and Waller sought another way to fame, by improving the harmony of our numbers. Miiton tried the metaphysic style only in his lines upon Hobson the carrier. Cowley adopted it, and excelled his predecessors, having as much sentiment and more music. Suckling neither improved versification, nor abounded in conceits. The fashionable style remained chiefly with Cowley ; Suckling could not reach it, and Milton dis. dained it.
CRITICAL remarks are not easily understood without examples; and I have therefore collected instances of the modes of writing by which this species of poets (for poets they were called by themselves and their admirers) was eminently distin. guished.
As the authors of this race were perhaps more desirous of being admired than uns derstood, they sometimes drew their conceits from recesses of learning not very much frequented by common readers of poetry. Thus Cowley on Knowledge.
The sacred tree 'midst the fair orchard grew,
The phoenix Truth did on it rest,
And th' apples were demonstrative:
On Anacreon continuing a lover in his old age.
Love was with thy life entwin’d,
In the following verses we have an allusion to a rabbinical opinion concerning manna.
Variety I ask not: give me one
Thus Donne shows his medicinal knowledge in some encomiastic verses.
In every thing there naturally grows
If 'twere not injur'd by extrinsique blows'
But you, of learning and religion,
A mithridate, whose operation
Though the following lines of Donne, on the last night of the year, have something in them too scholastic, they are not inelegant.
This twilight of two years, not past nor next,
Some emblem is of me, or I of this,
Whose what and where in disputation is,
If I should call me any thing, should miss.
Debtor to th’ old, nor creditor to th’ new.
Yet more abstruse and profound is Donne's reflection upon man as a microcosin,
If inen be worlds, there is in every one i
Of thoughts so far-fetched, as to be not only unexpected, but unnatural, all their books are full.
To a Lady who made Posies for Rings.
For it wanteth one as yet,
The Sun which is esteem'd the god of wit,
The difficulties, which have been raised about identity in philosophy, are by Cowley with still more perplexity applied to love.
Five years ago (says Story) I lov'd you,
The love of different women is, in geographical poetry, compared to travels through different countries.
Hast thou not found each woman's breast
Or wild, and uninhabited ?
Rages with immoderate heat;
In others makes the cold too great.
A lover, burnt up by his affection, is compared to Egypt.
The fate of Egypt I sustain,
And never feel the dew of rain
The lover supposes his lady acquainted with the ancient laws of augury and rites of sacrifice.
And yet this death of mine, I fear,
That the chaos was harmonised, has been recited of old; but whence the different sounds arose remained for a modern to discover.
Thungovern'd parts no correspondence knew,
The tears of lovers are always of great poetical account; but Donne has cx. tended them into worlds. If the lines are not easily understood, they may be read again.
On a round ball
An Europe, Afric, and an Asia,
So doth each tear,
Which thee doth wear,
On reading the following lines, the reader may perhaps cry out--Confusion worse tonfounded.
Who but Donne would have thought, that a good man is a telescope ?
Though God be our true glass, through which we see
Who would imagine it possible, that in a very few lines so many remote ideas could be brought together?
Since 'tis my doom, Love's undershriere,
• Why this reprieve ?
By candle's end,
Life's taper out?
Of enormous and disgusting hyperboles, these may be examples :
By every wind that comes this way,
Send me at least a sigh or two,
As shall themselves make winds to get to you.
Upon a paper written with the juice of lemon, and read by the fire :
Nothing yet in thee is seen,
Here buds an L, and there a B, .
Here spouts a V, and there a T,
As they sought only for novelty, they did not much inquire whether their allusions were to things high or low, elegant or gross: whether they compared the little to the great, or the great to the little.