Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

The footsteps of simplicity, impressed
Upon the yielding herbage (so they sing),
Then were not all effaced. Then speech
profane

And manners profligate were rarely found
Observed as prodigics, and soon reclaimed.
Vain wish! those days were never airy
dreams

406

Sat for the picture; and the poet's hand,
Imparting substance to an empty shade,
Imposed a gay delirium for a truth.
Grant it I still must envy them an age 410
That favored such a dream, in days like
these

414

Impossible, when virtue is so scarce
That to suppose a scene where she presides
Is tramontane, and stumbles all belief.
No. We are polished now. The rural lass,
Whom once her virgin modesty and grace,
Her artless manners and her neat attire,
So dignified, that she was hardly less
Than the fair shepherdess of old romance,
Is seen no more. The character is lost. 420
Her head adorned with lappets pinned aloft
And ribbons streaming gay, superbly raised
And magnified beyond all human size,
Indebted to some smart wig-weaver's hand
For more than half the tresses it sustains;
Her elbows ruffled, and her tottering form
Ill propped upon French heels; she might be
deemed

427

[blocks in formation]

* * *

But slighted as it is, and by the great Abandoned, and, which still I more regret, Infected with the manners and the modes It knew not once, the country wins me still.

440

I never framed a wish or formed a plan That flattered me with hopes of earthly

bliss,

But there I laid the scene. There early strayed

446

My fancy, ere yet liberty of choice
Had found me, or the hope of being free.
My very dreams were rural, rural too
The first-born efforts of my youthful muse,
Sportive, and jingling her poetic bells
Ere yet her ear was mistress of their pow-

[blocks in formation]

To Nature's praises. Heroes and their feats
Fatigued me, never weary of the pipe
Of Tityrus, assembling as he sang
The rustic throng beneath his favorite beech
Then Milton had indeed a poet's charms:
New to my taste, his Paradise surpassed 456
The struggling efforts of my boyish tongue
To speak its excellence; I danced for joy.
I marveled much that, at so ripe an age
As twice seven years, his beauties had then
first
Engaged my wonder, and admiring still,
And still admiring, with regret supposed
The joy half lost because not sooner found.
Thee, too, enamored of the life I loved,
Pathetic in its praise, in its pursuit
Determined, and possessing it at last
With transports such as favored lovers feel,
I studied, prized, and wished that I had
known

460

465

Ingenious Cowley: and though now, reclaimed

471

By modern lights from an erroneous taste,
I cannot but lament thy splendid wit
Entangled in the cobwebs of the schools.
I still revere thee, courtly though retired,
Though stretched at ease in Chertsey's silent
bowers,

476

Not unemployed, and finding rich amends
For a lost world in solitude and verse.
'Tis born with all. The love of Nature's
works

Is an ingredient in the compound, man,
Infused at the creation of the kind.
And though the Almighty Maker has
throughout

480

[blocks in formation]

Is still the livery she delights to wear, Though sickly samples of the exuberant whole.

What are the casements lined with creeping herbs

The prouder sashes fronted with a range
Of orange, myrtle, or the fragrant weed,
The Frenchman's darling? are they not all
proofs

511

That man, immured in cities, still retains
His inborn, inextinguishable thirst
Of rural scenes, compensating his loss
By supplemental shifts, the best he may? 515
The most unfurnished with the means of
life,

And they that never pass their brick-wall bounds

To range the fields, and treat their lungs with air,

Yet feel the burning instinct: over-head Suspend their crazy boxes planted thick 520 And watered duly. There the pitcher stands A fragment, and the spoutless tea-pot there: Sad witnesses how close-pent man regrets

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

GEORGE CRABBE (1754-1832)

When Goldsmith sat down to sketch for all time the picture of his native village, it was after an absence of eighteen years and he saw it through a tinted haze of retrospect and soft sentimental reflection. Crabbe came to his task fresh from the hardships of his youth; he wrote with his eye on the object'; and he painted the cotas Truth will paint it and as Bards will not, in all the reality of its hard and sordid detail. The Village was Aldborough, a rude fishing port on the frowning coast' of Suffolk. Here Crabbe was born, the eldest child of a collector of salt-duties. After a scattered education which consisted partly in loading butter and cheese in the neighboring port, he was apprenticed, at fourteen, to a surgeon near Bury St. Edmunds, who employed him in 'hoeing turnips.' After some years of study he set up as a surgeon in his native village; but his rewards were meager and he desired to marry. In the meantime, he had begun to cultivate the Muses and he resolved to try his lot in London. On the verge of starvation, he was taken up by Burke, who introduced him to his distinguished friends, aided the publication of his first successful poem, The Library (1781), and induced him to exchange the knife for the prayer-book. Returning to Aldborough as a curate, he became, shortly after, through Burke's introduction, a protégé of the Duke of Rutland, and was never again in want. His literary fame, during most of his life, was based on The Village, which he published in 1783 and followed with a silence of twenty-four years, broken only by the publication of a trifling poem, The Newspaper (1785). During these years he wrote and destroyed large quantities of verse and a treatise on botany and busied himself with domestic life, but was especially occupied in healing both the minds and bodies of the poor of his various parishes. His second period of publication, beginning with The Parish Register (1807), including The Borough (1810) and Tales in Verse (1812), and concluding with Tales of the Hall (1819), brought him into the world of Wordsworth, Byron, and Scott. He outlived the second and died in the same year with the last.

[ocr errors]

Crabbe's powerful realism has been greatly admired by the men of his own craft. He has, as Tennyson said, a world of his own.' It is a far more populous world than that of Cowper or even of Wordsworth and it is not more unlovely than that of Burns; but he brought to its interpretation little of the tenderness of the first, the internal brightness' of the second, or the human tears and laughter of the third. We may be stunned or impressed by Crabbe's world, but we will never love it.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »