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556 POETRY FOUNDED ON ANALOGY OF MATTER AND MIND.
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.
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
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 ;
Midst foliage of no kindred hue :
Purpled the moss-beds at his feet.
Rich music fill'd that garden's bowers :
Glittering athwart the leafy glooms;
Then shot a rapture through his frame!
The silence of his soul it broke!
EXPRESSION OF HER SCENERY.
His mother's cabin home, that lay
The patriot girds himself to die,
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;
By mount, and stream, and sea!
O’er each fair sleeping brow;
Where are those dreamers now?
By a dark stream is laid,
Far in the cedar shade.
He lies where pearls lie deep:
O'er his low bed may weep.
Above the noble slain :
On a blood-red field of Spain.
-o'er her the myrtle showers
The last of that bright band !
Beneath the same green tree !
Around one parent knee !
HER LADY OF THE CASTLE.
· They that with smiles lit up the hall,
And cheer'd with song the hearth, -
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)
Let loose, and pouring sunny waves along
Something too much there sits of native scorn,
These may be dreams! But how shall Woman tell
“Her lord, in very weariness of life,