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fruitful plain of Thessaly: The floods are sent forth, and
the saturated earth refuses to receive the accumulated
waters. Pyrrha in dismay clings to her husband, and con-
soled by him loses until morning her terror in sleep, then
" Morn came : but that broad light which hung so long
In heaven forsook the showering firmament.-
The clouds went floating on their fatal way.
Rivers had grown to seas : the great sea swol'n
for his bound broke on the land,
Roaring and rushing, and each flat and plain
Devoured. Upon the mountains now were seen
Gaunt men, and women hungering with their babes,
Eying each other, or with marble looks
Measuring the space beneath swift-lessening.
At times a swimmer from some distant rock
Less high, came struggling with the waves, but sank
Back from the slippery soil. Pale mothers then
Wept without hope, and aged heads struck cold
By agues trembled like red autumn leaves ;
And infants moaned and young boys shrieked with fear.
Stout men grew white with famine. Beautiful girls
Whom once the day languished to look on, lay
On the wet earth and wrung their drenched hair;
And fathers saw them there, dying, and stole
Their scanty fare, and while they perished thrived.
Then Terror died, and Grief, and proud Despair,
Rage and Remorse, infinite Agony,
Love in its thousand shapes, weak and sublime,
Birth-strangled ; and strong Passion perished.
The young, the old, weak, wise, the bad, the good
Fell on their faces, struck, whilst over them
Washed the wild waters in their clamorous march,” P. 25. The first part of the poem contains the progress of devastation, and ruin by which the towering hills, and the green vallies were alike overwhelmed. The following lines may suffice as a favourable specimen of the manner in which the universal destruction is described.
66 Mankind was dead: “ And birds whose active wings once cut the air,
And beasts that spurned the waters,--all were dead:
And every reptile of the woods had died
Which crawled or stung, and every curling worm :-
The untamed tiger in his den, the mole
In his dark home-were choaked: the darting ounce,
And the blind adder and the stork fell down
Dead, and the stifled mammoth, a vast bulk,
Was washed far out amongst the populous foam:
And there the serpent, which few hours ago
Could crack the panther in his scaly arms,
Lay lifeless, like a weed, beside his prey.
And now, all o'er the deep corpses were strewn,
Wide floating millions, like the rubbish flung
Forth when a plague prevails ; the rest down-sucked,
Sank, buried in the world-destroying seas.'
P. 31. At length the floods abate, and the tidings are borne to the conclave of divinities assembled on Olympus, the poet thus proceeds. • The world IS SAVED, -Millions of spirits sang
All around the skiey halls The World is saved ;
From Deluge ; from the immeasureable wrath
Of Jove ; from Desolation ; from Decay!
They sang, and all the murmuring Zephyrs shook
From off their wings harmonious airs, and sounds
Came streaming from immortal instruments,
All heaven attun'd, and as by Muses' hands
Touched in diviner moments, when the choir
Of Phoebus, from long listening to his lyre,
Are equalled for a space with mightiest Gods.
Even he himself, the Lord of light and song,
For once descending from his sublime state,
Swept in the madness of the hour, such chords
As stung to ravishment and finer joy
Gods, and all else:—The constellations flashed
And trembled; the fierce Giants lost their frown;
And the Fauns shirieked, while thro' Olympian veins
Like light, the quick nectarean spirit flew,
Till each stood forth betrayed—a brighter God,
Startled at his full-shewn Divinity." Deucalion and Pyrrha preserved on their raft, are at length wrecked, but by vigorous effort reaching the summit of a mountain from which the waters had receded, they remain in solitude and terror until the tempests cease, and they descend in safety. “ Recovered from their trance, and so refreshed
As the tired spirit is by food and sleep,
The wanderers looked around. On one fair side
Rose hills, and gentle waters murmured near,
And vernal meadows where the wild rose blew
Spread their fresh carpets. In the midst upsprung
A mountain, whose green head some ancient storm
Had struck in twain: rich forests deck'd its heights,
And laurel wildernesses clothed the sides,
And round it flew harmonious winds, whose wings
Bore inspiration and the sound of song.
Lower, and in the shade of that great hill,
A temple lay; untouched by storm or flood
It seemed, and white as when, just hewn, it caught
Ionian beauty from the carver's skill.
Thither they went, perhaps by some strong star
Drawn, or the spirit of the place unseen,
To ask their doom or own the ruling God:-
Thither they went, first parents, whom no child
Solaced, yet with hearts lighter than of yore;
The woman paler than when first she flung
Her curling arms areund Deucalion's neck,
And he more gravely beautiful, less young,
But nearer heaven and like a dream of Jove."
P. 58. In the description of the birth of the new race of men, and the vision of Deucalion with which the piece concludes, although there can be little claim to the merit of invention in the incidents, Mr. Cornwall has certainly been successful.
We cannot but blame in one instance, the introduction of the Holiest of Names in the midst of fiction and fable. After relating the progress of crime on earth, the poet proceeds,
“ Such sin was never done, nor stain beheld
Thro' wide creation since the world began,
Save when Jehovah shot his fiery rain
Down on Gomorrah, and that city razed
And ruined, and its tenants all destroyed.”
There are few faults more to be reprobated than the mixture
of Scripture facts with the wild and incoherent tales of pagan
tradition. Heathen mythology may still be allowed as the
vehicle of poetry, and as a field for the excursions of fancy,
but it must never come into collision with any thing which
relates to a purer, and more enlightened faith. It is in vain
that any one should plead the example of Milton, for the
violation of this rule, since the best and wisest of critics,
have blamed this as one of the chief faults of the mighty
poet, and in fact it is an instance in which he was influenced
by the bad taste of the times in which he lived.
The second poem
is founded on a circumstance which we believe is originally related in a French work on Lupacy. It is the story of a girl of Provence, who on seeing the statue of the Belvidere Apollo, conceived a passion for it, and at length ended her existence in this frantic delusion. The opening lines are among the best.
“ If there be aught within thy pleasant land,
Fair France, which to the poet help may be
If thou art haunted by a Muse, --command
That now she cast her precious spell on me:
Bid that the verse I write be fair and free;
So may I, an untravelled stranger, sing
Like one who'drinketh of Apollo's spring.
“ For,-tho' I never beneath eastern suns
Wandered, nor by Parnassus hill so high,
Nor where in beauty that bright fountain runs
Struck by the winged horse that scaled the sky,
Nor ever in the meads of Arcady,
In flowery Enna, or Thessalian shade,
Heard sweet the pastoral pipe at evening played,
" Yet have I chosen, from the throngs of tale
Which crowded on me in life's dreaming hours,
One-sad indeed, but such as may not fail
To attest the peerless kipg's undying powers,
Who, like a light amongst Elysian bowers
Still moveth, while the sun (his empty throne)
Floats onwards, in its weary round, alone.” P. 577. The effect of insanity upon an ardent and delicate mind is well pourtrayed. The unhappy girl indulging the aberration of her fancy, beguiled her sorrow by imagining that the marble image was not insensible to her affection.
“ She was Apollo's votary, (so she deemed)
His bride, and met him in his radiant bowers,
And sometimes, as his priestess pale beseemed,
She strewed before his image, like the Hours,
Delicate blooms, spring buds and summer flowers,
Faint violets, dainty lilies, the red rose,-
What time his splendour in the Eastern glows.
“ And these she took and strewed before his feet,
And tore the laurel (his own leaf) to pay
Homage unto its God, and the plant sweet
That turns its bosom to the sunny ray,
And all which open at the break of day,
And all which worthy are to pay him due
Honour,-pink, saffron, crimson, pied, or blue.
• And ever, when was done her flowery toil,
She stood (idolatress!) and languished there,
She and the God, alone ;-„nor would she spoil
The silence with her voice, but with mute care
Over his carved limbs a garment fair
She threw, still worshipping with amorous pain,
Still watching ever his divine disdain.”
P. 117. Of the remaing poems the letter of Boccaccio is the best. It is supposed to be addressed to Mary of Arragon, of whom tradition says that the poet was enamoured. Among the most pleasing passages we may select this,
“ Would I might call unto thy heart the hours,
Those pleasant hours, when we roamed so free,
Listening and talking by the Naples' sea!
Or gathering from thy father's gardens flowers
To braid thy hair on some feast-coming night:
Oh! still most dear are those gone hours to me;
Yet dearer those when at the young eve-light,
Seated familiar near thy cedar tree,
We watched the coming moon, and saw how she
Journeyed above us on her sightless track,
And chased with serene looks the fleecy rack,
Or smiled as might the huntress-queen of Heaven
Floating, attended by her starry court,
O'er plain and mountain where their shadowy sport
Is again revealed, or when all passion-driven,
Leaving the azure moors she seeks her way
Through cloud and tempest and the peal'd alarms
Of thunder, and the lightning's quivering wrath,
Guided by Love unto the Latmian's arms.-
Oh! so wast thou by love and duty guided,
And we were ruled by thee; for each one prided
Himself upon obedience,-not in vain,
For thou wast as a virtue without stain,
A visible perfection shining clear,
A creature fairer than man worships here.” P. 14 The fall of Saturn is founded on fable too far remote from human scenes and human feelings to be very interesting. We are seldom affected by fiction, unless we can conceive ourselves as actors in the events of which it is composed. The following lines however are very poetical.
“ Here, on this dusty earth, perhaps the Spirit
Of Love may droop, or soil its radiant wings:
Perhaps a-something it may chance inherit
Of what is around :- and yet the bird that sings
In prison learneth a melodious strain,
And often its sweetest song is born of pain.