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INTRODUCTION.

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many lips, in maturer life, whisper that simple prayer learned in infancy at a mother's knee-

"Now I lay me down to sleep.”

So also formulas in science and facts in history are frequently more firmly fixed in the memory by the aid of verse.

Nor is the charm of poetry confined to childhood. Youth blooming into maturity is emphatically the poetic age. The unimpaired senses drink in the delights of earth, and air, and sky. The vivid fancy throws its coloring over every scene, and the warm affections seek a fervent utterance. Few are there in such an age who have not essayed to clothe some of their thoughts in the robe of poesy. And in advanced life how many of the wisest and strongest have uttered their noblest sentiments and highest imaginings in such a form, either to satisfy their own internal promptings, or to delight and instruct the millions of the coming youth? Even in old age, many a distinguished Christian has spoken his experience and his

hopes in the form of some well-remembered verse, and said, in life’s failing moments, with a dying Wesley,–

"I the chief of sinners am,

But Jesus died for me."

Every land has its legends and songs. The wild Indian chief speaks in poetic figures when he proudly terms the sun his father and the earth his mother. The old Greek felt the inspiration of the spirit of poetry, as he sat upon his mountain summits and looked forth over his island-gemmed seas. As he listened to the dashing of the bold waves and the wild whistling of the winds, he fancied the mountains and oceans to be filled with gods. Pan piped in his forests, and Apollo played at the sparkling fountains. The Gaelic tribes, in their northern abodes, had fancies of elf, and fairy, and enchanted circles; and they embodied in verse those romantic legends which served as the type of those since known as Ossian's Poems. And oriental nations, in the warm climate of "Araby the Blest,” had their Aladdin's lamp and ring of

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Gyges, and signets of wondrous power. Their very prose is filled with figures and imagery, fanciful and hyperbolical.

Everywhere, and in all ages, the human breast swells with the love of the beautiful. Poetry and flowers are daughters of the beautiful. Flowers are the poetry of the gardens and fields; and poetry forms its loveliest garlands of the flowers of speech. The essence of each is its power to excite the emotions of beauty and delight. The flower is alike admired, as a flower, whether it be medicinal, poisonous, or simply ornamental ;-whether it grows on the briar, the vine, or the tree of precious fruit. It may be more highly prized for its associated virtues; but as a flower, its form, its fragrance, and its hues determine its value. So is it with poetry. Alike it may enrobe the loftiest teachings or the most sensual conceptions. It imparts beauty alike to the heroic verse of Homer, or to the amorous songs of Anacreon--to the pure and sublime utterances of a Milton, or to the fascinating yet tainted imaginings of a Byron. It adorns alike the songs which are

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heard in the temple of God, or the lays which add excitement to Bacchanalian feasts.

The poet should be a true man- a lover of his race--a pure, elevated, and holy teacher. But as a poet, having been impressed with the beautiful and the sublime, he simply writes either to gratify his own taste or to delight others. It is true, a poem may abound in historic information, pure precepts, strong arguments, and scientific illustrations; yet these are not poetry. They may be uttered without its form. So, too, poetry may exist without these high accompaniments. If he writes to please himself, the poet gives us some picture of his own heart. If that heart be unrenewed, his fancyings will be of the “ earth, earthy.” If the fountain is impure, the stream cannot be of crystal. If he writes to please the masses, he will find, in their depraved and vitiated taste, an apology for utterances which offend the ear of virtue. Many such allusions, especially in the older poets even of mightiest mind, are found in pages which else are resplendent with thoughts grand and sublime. Many for a time

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soar with the sun-gazing eagle, but sink to earth again, and, with soiled plumage, take rank with birds of night.

Much of the poetry in general circulation is either light, heartless, and valueless, or alluring, captivating, and pernicious. Too frequently vice is enrobed in beauty-vain and wicked amusements are represented as refined and elevating —and even, with Circean skill, the poisonous cup is wreathed with fragrant flowers. Of poetry, as well as of song, it may be said,

“ Wicked, and lewd, and light the lay

Tends to the soul's undoing,
Widens and strews with flowers the way

Down to eternal ruin."

To secure the beautiful, and yet to reject the poisonous, selections of poetic flowers may form bouquets of fragrant odor and of richest hue, alike personally delightful, and suited for presents to younger friends. Such a collection is this bouquet of “Hill-side Flowers.” It has been arranged by ladies of high intellectual culture and of refined taste. As a general rule, it has not been prepared from works in ordinary circula

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