Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

in lyrical sweetness, he frequently rivalled them in the exuberance of his fancy, and may be said to have generally excelled them in occasional passages of remarkable elegance and refinement. He was one of the University pens' who were accused of overloading the drama with classical lore, an error of taste which was afterwards carried to the last extremity by Marston, and which helped materially, when a more natural style was introduced, to destroy the popularity of their productions. They smelt too much of that writer Ovid,' says a droll, in one of the stage satires of the day, ' and that writer Metamorphosis,' and talk too much of Proserpine and Jupiter. Why, here's our fellow Shakspeare can put them all down, ay, and Ben Jonson too.'

"

The novels of Robert Greene were even more popular in his own time than his plays, although they have long since gone down into oblivion. Written to secure a temporary success, with an utter indifference to the verdicts of posterity, they were constructed on the fashionable model, and abound in euphuistic affectations of diction and sentiment. The language is generally stilted and pedantic, and the style crude and obscure. But they are not without special merits, which may still be recognised and admired. The plots are ingenious and skilfully conducted, and the conceits, which weary and offend the modern reader, are sometimes relieved by passages of much grace and beauty. They must also be regarded with interest as the medium through which nearly all Greene's poems, not of a dramatic kind, were published.

These pieces are scattered over the stories, in some places taking up the argument of the narrative, in others expressing the emotions and feelings of the characters; sometimes a song, sometimes a remonstrance or panegyric, and everywhere interleaving the action to brighten its progress. In no part of his works is Greene more unequal; and no where else, on the other hand, does he display so much true poetical feeling. Haste and negligence are visible throughout; yet there are few of these snatches of verse that are not worth preserving for some slight trait of excellence, either in the thought or

[ocr errors]

the expression. His association with Lodge, probably, led him to cultivate pastoral subjects, which he here occasionally touches with a truthfulness and simplicity hardly to be expected from the author of so many meretricious love pamphlets. The poems are entirely free from the ranting extravagance that runs through his plays; and, although he often overlays a passion with artificial images, he sometimes delineates with reality and tenderness. Greene's versification cannot be included amongst his merits. He wants variety, fulness, and fluency. But his irregular measures are more agreeable than his blank verse, which is, for the most part, flat and monotonous.

In addition to the poems extracted from Greene's novels and the fragments which appeared in the anthology called England's Parnassus, printed in 1600, the present edition. contains a piece of some magnitude and importance not previously included in any collection. The Maiden's Dream is the only poem by Greene known to have been published in an independent form, and is by far the longest and most ambitious of his metrical productions. For the recovery of this interesting relic the public are indebted to the researches of Mr. James P. Reardon, who communicated his discovery to the Shakspeare Society in the year 1845.

POEMS

OF

ROBERT GREENE.

FROM MORANDO, THE TRITAMERON OF LOVE.*

THE DESCRIPTION OF SILVESTRO'S LADY.

HE

A

ER stature like the tall straight cedar trees, Whose stately bulks do fame th' Arabian groves; pace like princely Juno when she braved The Queen of love 'fore Paris in the vale; A front beset with love and courtesy; A face like modest Pallas when she blushed A seely shepherd should be beauty's judge; A lip sweet ruby-red, graced with delight; A cheek wherein for interchange of hue A wrangling strife 'twixt lily and the rose; Her eyes two twinkling stars in winter nights, When chilling frost doth clear the azured sky; Her hair of golden hue doth dim the beams That proud Apollo giveth from his coach; The Gnidian doves, whose white and snowy pens Do stain the silver-streaming ivory,

• Morando, the Tritameron of Love. Wherein certain pleasant conceits, uttered by divers worthy personages, are perfectly discoursed, and three doubtful questions of love most pithily and pleasantly discussed. Showing to the wise how to use love, and to the fond how to eschew lust; and yielding to all both pleasure and profit. By Robert Greene, Macter of Arts in Cambridge. 1584.

May not compare with those two moving hills,
Which topped with pretty teats discover down a vale,
Wherein the god of love may deign to sleep;
A foot like Thetis when she tripped the sands
To steal Neptunus' favour with her steps;
A piece despite of beauty framed,

To show what nature's lineage could afford.

LACENA'S RIDDLE.

THE
HE man whose method hangeth by the moon,
And rules his diet by geometry;

Whose restless mind rips up his mother's breast,
To part her bowels for his family;
And fetcheth Pluto's glee in fro the grass

By careless cutting of a goddess' gifts;
That throws his gotten labour to the earth,

As trusting to content for others' shifts:
'Tis he, good sir, that Satan best did please,
When golden world set worldlings all at ease;
His name is Person, and his progeny,
Now tell me, of what ancient pedigree.

VERSES.

UNDER THE PICTURE OF FORTUNE.

THE
'HE fickle seat whereon proud Fortune sits,
The restless globe whereon the fury stands,
Bewrays her fond and far inconstant fits;

The fruitful horn she handleth in her hands,
Bids all beware to fear her flattering smiles,
That giveth most when most she meaneth guiles;
The wheel that turning never taketh rest,

The top whereof fond worldlings count their bliss. Within a minute makes a black exchange,

And then the vile and lowest better is; Which emblem tells us the inconstant state Of such as trust to Fortune or to fate.

33

FROM MENAPHON.*

APOLLO'S ORACLE.

WHEN Neptune riding on the southern seas,

Shall from the bosom of his leman yield Th' Arcadian wonder, men and gods to please,

Plenty in pride shall march amidst the field, Dead men shall war, and unborn babes shall frown, And with their falchions hew their foemen down.

When lambs have lions for their surest guide,

And planets rest upon th' Arcadian hills,
When swelling seas have neither ebb nor tide,

When equal banks the ocean margin fills;
Then look, Arcadians, for a happy time,
And sweet content within your troubled clime.

MENAPHON'S SONG.

SOME say, Love,

Foolish Love,

Doth rule and govern all the gods;
I say Love,
Inconstant Love,

Sets men's senses far at odds.

• Menaphon. Camilla's alarum to slumbering Euphues, in his melancholic cell at Silexedra. Wherein are decyphered the variable effects of Fortune, the wonders of Love, the triumphs of inconstant Time. Displaying in sundry conceited passions, figured in a conti nuate history, the trophies that virtue carrieth triumphant, maugre the wrath of Envy, or the resolution of Fortune. A work worthy the youngest ears for pleasure, or the gravest censurer for principles. Robertus Greene, in Artibus Magister. Omne tulit punctum. 1587This piece was afterwards printed under the title of Arcadia, by which name it is now more generally known.

D

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »