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556 POETRY FOUNDED ON ANALOGY OF MATTER AND MIND.

ence.

such an extent, that one half of the epithets by which we familiarly designate moral and physical qualities, are in reality so many metaphors, borrowed reciprocally, upon this analogy, from those opposite forms of exist

The very familiarity, however, of the expression, in these instances, takes away its poetical effect — and indeed, in substance, its metaphorical character. The original sense of the word is entirely forgotten in the derivative one to which it has succeeded; and it requires some etymological recollection to convince us that it was originally nothing else than a typical or analogical illustration. Thus we talk of a sparkling wit, and a furious blast — a weighty argument, and a gentle stream - without being at all aware that we are speaking in the language of poetry, and transferring qualities from one extremity of the sphere of being to another. In these cases, accordingly, the metaphor, by ceasing to be felt, in reality ceases to exist, and the analogy being no longer intimated, of course can produce no effect. But whenever it is intimated, it does produce an effect; and that effect we think is poetry.

It has substantially two functions, and operates in two directions. In the first place, when material qua. lities are ascribed to mind, it strikes vividly out, and brings at once before us the conception of an in. ward feeling or emotion, which it might otherwise have been difficult to convey, by the presentment of some bodily form or quality, which is instantly felt to be its true representative, and enables us to fix and comprehend it with a force and clearness not otherwise attainable; and, in the second place, it vivifies dead and inanimate matter with the attributes of living and sen. tient mind, and fills the whole visible universe around us with objects of interest and sympathy, by tinting them with the hues of life, and associating them with our own passions and affections. This magical operation the poet too performs, for the most part, in one or two ways — either by the direct agency of similes and metaphors, more or less condensed or developed, or by the mere graceful presentment of such visible objects on the

MRS. HEMANS SOUSES IT.

557

scene of his passionate dialogues or adventures, as partake of the character of the emotion he wishes to excite, and thus form an appropriate accompaniment or preparation for its direct indulgence or display. The former of those methods has perhaps been most frequently employed, and certainly has most attracted attention. But the latter, though less obtrusive, and perhaps less frequently resorted to of set purpose, is, we are inclined to think, the most natural and efficacious of the two; and is often adopted, we believe unconsciously, by poets of the highest order ; — the predominant emotion of their minds overflowing spontaneously on all the objects which present themselves to their fancy, and calling out from them, and colouring with their own hues, those that are naturally emblematic of its character, and in accordance with its general expression. It would be easy to show how habitually this is done, by Shakspeare and Milton especially, and how much many of their finest passages are indebted, both for force and richness of effect, to this general and diffusive harmony of the external character of their scenes with the passions of their living agents — this harmonising and appropriate glow with which they kindle the whole surrounding atmosphere, and bring all that strikes the sense into unison with all that touches the heart.

But it is more to our present purpose to say, that we think the fair writer before us is eminently a mistress of this poetical secret; and, in truth, it was solely for the purpose of illustrating this great charm and excellence in her imagery, that we have ventured upon this little dissertation. Almost all her poems are rich with fine descriptions, and studded over with images of visible beauty. But these are never idle ornaments: all her pomps have a meaning; and her flowers and her gems are arranged, as they are said to be among Eastern lovers, so as to speak the language of truth and of passion. This is peculiarly remarkable in some little pieces, which seem at first sight to be purely descriptive — but are soon found to tell upon the heart, with a deep moral and pathetic impression. But it is in truth nearly as

558

MRS. HEMANS

NATURE AND SENTIMENT.

conspicuous in the greater part of her productions ; where we scarcely meet with any striking sentiment that is not ushered in by some such symphony of external nature — and scarcely a lovely picture that does not serve as an appropriate foreground to some deep or lofty emotion. We may illustrate this proposition, we think, by opening either of these little volumes at random, and taking what they first present to us. — The following exquisite lines, for example, on a Palm-tree in an English garden:

“It wav'd not thro' an Eastern sky,

Beside a fount of Araby ;
It was not fann'd by southern breeze
In some green isle of Indian seas,
Nor did its graceful shadow sleep
O'er stream of Afric lone, and deep.
• But far the exild Palm-tree grew

Midst foliage of no kindred hue :
Thro' the laburnum's dropping gold
Rose the light shaft of orient mould,
And Europe's violets, faintly sweet,

Purpled the moss-beds at his feet.
• There came an eve of festal hours

Rich music fill'd that garden's bowers :
Lamps, that from flowering branches hung,
On sparks of dew soft colours flung,
And bright forms glanc'd — a fairy show
Under the blossoms to and fro.
But one, a lone one, 'midst the throng,
Seem'd reckless all of dance or song:
He was a youth of dusky mien,
Whereon the Indian sun had been
Of crested brow, and long black hair
A stranger, like the Palm-tree, there!
* And slowly, sadly mov'd his plumes,

Glittering athwart the leafy glooms;
He pass'd the pale green olives by,
Nor won the chestnut flowers his eye;
But, when to that sole Palm he came,

Then shot a rapture through his frame!
" To him, to him its rustling spoke !

The silence of his soul it broke!
It whisper'd of his own bright isle,
That lit the ocean with a smile;
Aye, to his ear that native tone
Had something of the sea-wave's moan!

66

EXPRESSION OF HER SCENERY.

559

His mother's cabin home, that lay
Where feathery cocoas fring'd the bay;
The dashing of his brethren's oar;
The conch-note heard along the shore;
All thro' his wakening bosom swept ;
He clasp'd his country's Tree

and wept!
"Oh! scorn him not ! — The strength, whereby

The patriot girds himself to die,
Th' unconquerable power, which fills
The freeman battling on his hills-
These have one fountain, deep and clear

The same whence gush'd that child-like tear!” The following, which the author has named “Graves of a Household,” has rather less of external scenery, but serves, like the others, to show how well the graphic and pathetic may be made to set off each other:

* They grew in beauty, side by side,

They fillid one home with glee;
Their graves are sever'd, far and wide,

By mount, and stream, and sea!
“ The same fond mother bent at night

O’er each fair sleeping brow;
She had each folded Hower in sight,

Where are those dreamers now?
“One, midst the forests of the West,

By a dark stream is laid,
The Indian knows his place of rest,

Far in the cedar shade.
“ The sea, the blue lone sea, hath one !

He lies where pearls lie deep:
He was the lov'd of all, yet none

O'er his low bed may weep.
“One sleeps where southern vines are drest

Above the noble slain :
He wrapt his colours round his breast,

On a blood-red field of Spain.
And one-

-o'er her the myrtle showers
Its leaves, by soft winds fann'd;
She faded 'midst Italian flowers, –

The last of that bright band !
“And parted thus they rest, who play'd

Beneath the same green tree !
Whose voices mingled as they pray'd

Around one parent knee !

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MRS. HEMANS

HER LADY OF THE CASTLE.

66

9

· They that with smiles lit up the hall,

And cheer'd with song the hearth, -
Alas! for Love, if thou wert all,

And nought beyond, oh earth!" We have taken these pieces chiefly on account of their shortness: But it would not be fair to Mrs. Hemans not to present our readers wiih one longer specimen — and to give a portion of her graceful narrative along with her pathetic descriptions. This story, of “ The Lady of the Castle,” is told, we think, with great force and sweetness :

• Thou seest her pictur'd with her shining hair,

(Fam'd were those tresses in Provençal song)
Half braided, half o'er cheek and bosom fair

Let loose, and pouring sunny waves along
Her gorgeous vest. A child's right hand is roving
'Midst the rich curls, and, oh! how meekly loving
Its earnest looks are lifted to the face,
Which bends to meet its lip in laughing grace!
Yet that bright lady's eye methinks hath less
Of deep, and still, and pensive tenderness,
Than might beseem a mother's : On her brow

Something too much there sits of native scorn,
And her smile kindles with a conscious glow.

These may be dreams! But how shall Woman tell
Of woman's shame, and not with tears ? — She fell !
That mother left that child ! — went hurrying by
Its cradle -- haply not without a sigh ;
Haply one moment o'er its rest serene
She hung — But no! it could not thus have been,
For she went on! - forsook her home, her hearth,
All pure affection, all sweet household mirth,
To live a gaudy and dishonour'd thing,
Sharing in guilt the splendours of a king."

“Her lord, in very weariness of life,
Girt on his sword for scenes of distant strife;
He reck'd no more of Glory : Grief and shame
Crush'd out his fiery nature, and his name
Died silently. A shadow o'er his halls
Crept year by year; the minstrel pass'd their walls ;
The warder's horn hung mute :- Meantime the child,
On whose first flow’ring thoughts no parent smild,
A gentle girl, and yet deep-bearted, grew
Into sad youth ; for well, too well, she knew
Her mother's tale! Its memory made the sky
Seem all too joyous for her shrinking eye ;

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