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Which was an image of the mighty world,
And slowly auswered Arthur from the barge:
So said he, and the barge with oar and sail
And on the mere the wailing died away. Between the publication of the series of Arthurian idylls, Mr. Tennyson issued “Enoch Arden, and other Poems' (1864). One of the latter was a piece in the North Lincolnshire dialect, written in the character of a farmer of the old school, and which displayed a vein of broad humour and a dramatic power that surprised as well as gratified the admirers of the poet. He afterwards gave a companion to this bucolic painting by depicting a farmer of the new school, as stolid and selfish, but not quite so amusing, as his elder brother,
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING. The highest place among our modern poetesses must be claimed for MRS. BROWNING, formerly Miss Barrett. In purity and loftiness of sentiment and feeling, and in intellectual power, she is excelled only by Tennyson, whose best works, it is evident, she had carefully studied. Her earlier style reminds us more of Shelley, but this arises from similarity of genius and classical tastes, not imitation. The first publication of this accomplished lady, was an “Essay on Mind, and other Pooms,' said to have been written in her seventeenth year. In
1833 appeared her translation of the 'Prometheus Bound of Æschy. lus, of which she has since given an improved version. In 1858 she ventured on a second volume of original poetry, 'The Seraphim, and other Poems,' woich was followed by The Romance of the Page,' 1839. About this time a personal calamity occurred to the poetess, which has been detailed by Miss Mitford in her ‘Literary Recollections.' She burst a blood vessel in the lungs, and after a twelvemonth's confinement at home, was ordered to a milder climate. She went with some relatives to reside at Torquay, and there a fatal event took place which saddened her bloom of youth, and gave a deeper hue of thought and feeling, especially devotional feeling, to her poetry.' Her favourite brother, with two other young men, his friends, having embarked on board a small vessel for a sail of a few hours, the boat went down, and all on board perished. This tragedy completely prostrated Miss Barrett. She was not able to be removed to her father's house in London till the following year, and on her return home she ‘began that life,' says Miss Milford, 'which she continued for many years-contined to a darkened chamber, to which only her own family and a few (levoted friends were admitted; reading meanwhile almost every book wortli reading in almost every language, studyir.g with ever-fresh delight the great classic authors in the original, and giving herself, heart and soul, to that poetry of which she seemed born to be the priestess.' Miss Mitford had presented her friend with a young spaniel, “Flush, my dog,' and the companionship of this humble but faithful object of sympathy, has been commemorated in some beautiful verses, graphic as the pencil of Landseer:
To Flush, my Dog. Yet, my pretty. sportive friend,
This dog only, crept and crept Litle is'i to such an end
Next a languid cheek that slept,
Sharing in the shadow.
Other dogs of loyal cheer
Bounded at the whistle clear,
Up the woodside hieing. Bnt of thee it shall be said,
This dog only, watched it reach This dog watched beside a bed
Of a faintly uttered speech,
Or a louder sighing.
Dropped upon his glossy ears,
Or a sigh came doubleRoses, gathered for a vase,
Up be sprang in eager haste, In that chamber died apace,
Fawning, fondling, breathing fast,
In a tender trouble.
If a pale thin hand wond glide
Down his dewlaps slopingOther dogs in themy dew
Which he pushed his nose within, Tracked ine bares and followed through After-pla torming his chin Sundy moor or meadow.
On the palun left opea.
The result of those years of seclusion and study was partly seen by the publication in 18+ of two volumes of 'Poenis
, by Elizavetb Barrett,' many of whien bore the inpress of deep and melancholy thought, and of hiyu and ferviu imagination. “Poetry,' said the authoress in her prerace, 'has been us serious a thing to me as life itself ; and life has been a very serious thing. I never mistook pleasure for the final cause of poetry; nor leisure for the hour of the poet. I have done my work so far, as work ; not as mere hand and head work, apart from the personal being; but as the completest expression of that being to which I could attain: and as work I offer it io the public: feeling its shortcomings more deeply than any of my readers, because measured from the height of my aspiration; bui feeling also that the reverence and sincerity with which the work was done, should give it some protection with the reverent and sincere.' To each of the principal poems in the collection explanatory notices were given. Thus, of A Drama of Exile,' she says, the subject was 'the new and strange experience of the fallen humanity, as it went forth from Paradise into the wilderness, with a peculiar reference to Eve's allotted grief, which, considering that self-sacrifice belonged to her womanhood, and the consciousness of originating the Fall to her offence, appeared to me imperfectly apprehended hitherto, and more expressible by a woman than a man. The pervading principle of the drama is love-love which conquers even Lucifer :
ADAM. The essence of all beauty. I call love.
So, without love, is beauty andiscerned
LUCIPER. Love! what is love? I lose it. Beauty and love!
(He fades away while a low musin enende, Adam. Thou art pale. Eve.
Eve. The precipice ot ill
ADAM Think that we have not fallen so. By the hope
Eve ‘Happier we are than he is. by the death.
ADAM Or rather, by the life of th Lord God I
Of music swept him back into the dark. Notwithstanding a few fine passages, ‘A Drama of Exile' cannot be considered a successful effort. The scheme of the poetess was imperfectly developed, and many of tue colloquies of Adam and
Eve, and of Lucifer and Gabriel, are forced and unnatural. The lyrics interspersed throughout the poem are often harsh and unmusical, and the whole drama is deficient in action and interest. la 'A Vision of Poets,' Miss Barrett endeavoured to vindicate the necessary relations of genius to suffering and self-sacrifice. I have attempted,' she says, 'to express in this poem my view of the mission of the poet, ot the duty and glory of what balzac has beautifully and truly called “ la patience angélique du génie," and of the obvious truth, above all, that if knowledge is power, suffering should be acceptable as a part of knowledge. The discipline of suffering and sorrow which the poetess had herself undergone, suggested or coloured these and similar speculations. The afiliction which saddened had also purified the heart, and brought with it the precious fruits of resignation and faith. This is an old and familiar philosophy, and Miss Barrett's prose exposition of it must afterwards have appeared to ber superfluous, for she omitted the preface in the later editions of her works. The truth is, all such personal revelations, though sanctioned by the examples of Dryden and Wordsworth, have inevitably an air of egotism and pedantry. Poetry is better able than painting or sculpture to disclose the object and feeling of the artist, and no one ever dreamt of confining those arts--the exponents of every range of feeling, conception, and emotion-to the mere office of administering pleasure. A Vision of Poets' opens thus beautifully: A port could not sleep arig' t.
Where, sloping np the darkest glades. For his soul kept up too much light The moon had drawn long colonnades, Under his eyelids for the nigbit.
Upon whose floor the verdure fades, And thus he rose disquieted
To a faint silver-pavement fair With sweet rhymes ringing through his The antique wood-nymphs scarce would
head, And in the forest wandered.
To foot-print o'er, had such been there. He meets a lady whose mystical duty it is to crown all poets to their worth,' and he obtains a sight of some of the great masters of song—the dead kings of melody'—who are characterised in brief but felicitous descriptions. A few of these we subjoin:
Here. Homer, with the broad en pense
The moderns, from Milton down to 'poor proud Byron,' are less happily portrayed; but in spite of many vieinishes, and especially the waut of carei ui artistic linisuing, this poem is one of great excellence. There are other imaginative pieces of the authoress of a more popular character—as the Rhyme of the Duchess May,'a romantic ballad full of passion, incident, and melody; and Bertha in the Lane,' a story of the transfer of affection from one sister to another, related by the elder and dying sister in a strain of great beauty and pathos.
One stanza will shew the style and versification of this poem:
And, dear Bertha, let me keep
On my hand this little ring,
I can still see glittering:
All the Dark up, day and night. There are parts of this fine poem resembling Tennyson's May Queen,' but the laureate would never have admitted such an incon. gruous and spasmodic stanza as that with which Miss Barrett un. happily closes her piece :
Jesus, Victim, comprehending.
Love's divine self-abnegation,
And absorb the poor libation !
Wind my thread of life op higher,
I aspire while I expire. The most finished of Miss Barrett's smaller poems apart from the sonnets-are the verses on Cowper's Grave,' which contain not one jarring line or expression, and The Cry of the Children,' a pathetic and impassioned pleading for the poor children who toil in mines and factories. In individuality and intensity of feeling, this piece resembles Hood's 'Song of the Shirt, but it infinitely sur passes it in poetry and imagination.
The Cry of the Children.
Ere the sorrow comes with years ?
And that cannot stop their tears.
They are weeping bitterly!
In the country of the free.
And we cannot run or leap.
To drop down in them and sleep.