« ZurückWeiter »
* For if I should,' said he,
• Bestow this jewel also on my creature, He would adore my gifts instead of me, And rest in nature, not the God of nature
So both should losers be. Yet let him keep the rest
But keep them, with repining restlessnessLet him be rich and weary; that, at least, If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast.'
like zeal and purity, but his strength was not equal to his self-imposed tasks, and he died at the early age of thirty-nine. His principal production is entitled, The Temple, or Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations. It was not printed till the year after his death, but was so well received, that Walton says twenty thousand copies were sold in a few years after the first impression. The lines on Virtue
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright, are the best in the collection ; but even in them we find, what mars all the poetry of Herbert, ridiculous conceits or coarse unpleasant similes. His taste was very inferior to his genius. The most sacred subject could not repress his love of fantastic imagery, or keep him for half a dozen verses in a serious and natural strain. Herbert was a musician, and sang his own hymns to the lute or viol ; and indications of this may be found in his poems, which have sometimes a musical flow and harmonious cadence. It may be safely said, however, that Herbert's poetry alone would not have preserved his name, and that he is indebted for the reputation he enjoys, to his excellent and amiable character, embalmed in the pages of good old Walton, to his prose work, the Country Parson, and to the warm and fervent piety which gave a charm to his life and breathes through all his writings.
Matin Hymn. I cannot ope mine eyes But thou art ready there to catch My mourning soul and sacrifice, Then we must needs for that day make a match. My God, what is a heart! Silver, or gold, or precious stone, Or star, or rainbow, or a part Of all these things, or all of them in one! My God, what is a heart ! That thou should'st it so eye and woo, Pouring upon it all thy art, As if that thou hadst nothing else to do i Indeed, man's whole estate Amounts (and richly) to serve thee; He did not heaven and earth create, Yet studies them, not him by whom they be. Teach me thy love to know; That this new light wbich now I see May both the work and workman show; Then by a sunbeam I will climb to thee.
Sweet day! so cool, so calm, so bright,
For thou must die.
And thou must die. Sweet spring ! full of sweet days and roses ; A box where sweets compacted lie; Thy music shows ye have your closes ;
And all must die. Only a sweet and virtuous soul, Like season'd timber never gives; But, though the whole world turn to coal,
Then chiefly lives.
Religion. All may of thee partake;
Nothing can be so mean, Which, with this tincture, for thy sake,
Will not grow bright and clean. This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold, For that which God doth touch and own,
Cannot for less be told.
Sunday. O day most calm, most bright, The fruit of this the next world's bud, The indorsement of supreme delight, Writ by a Friend, and with his blood; The couch of time, care's balm and bay: The week were dark, but for thy light;
Thy torch doth show the way.
The other days and thou Make up one man ; whose face thou art, Knocking at heaven with thy brow: The workydays are the back-part; The burden of the week lies there, Making the whole to stoop and bow,
Tiil thy release appear.
Man had straight forward gone To endless death: but thou dost pull And turn us round, to look on one, Whom, if we were not very dull, We could not choose but look on still; Since there is no place so alone,
The which he doth not fill.
Sundays the pillars are, On which heaven's palace arched lies: The other days fill up the spare And hollow room with vanities. They are the fruitful beds and borders In God's rich garden : that is bare,
Which parts their ranks and orders.
The Sundays of man's life,
[Stanzas. ] [Oddly called by Herbert.The Pulley:: When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by, 'Let us," said he, pour on him all we can; Let the world's riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.' So strength first made away; Then beauty flow'd; then wisdom, honour,
pleasure; When almost all was out, God made a stay; Perceiving that alone, of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.
This day my Saviour rose, And did enclose this light for his ; That, as each beast his manger knows, Man might not of his fodder miss. Christ hath took in this piece of ground, And made a garden there for those
Who want herbs for their wound.
The rest of our creation
The brightness of that day
And fit for paradise.
Thou art a day of mirth : And where the week-days trail on ground, Thy flight is higher, as thy birth : o let me take thee at the bound, Leaping with thee from seven to seven, Till that we both, being toss'd from earth,
Fly hand in hand to heaven !
WILLIAM HABINGTON (1605-1654) had all the vices of the metaphysical school, excepting its occasional and frequently studied licentiousness. He tells us himself (in his preface) that, if the innocency of a chaste muse shall more acceptable, and weigh heavier in the balance of esteem, than a fame begot in adultery of study, I doubt I shall leave no hope of competition.' And of a pure attachment, he says finely, that 'when love builds upon the rock of chastity, it may safely contemn the battery of the waves and threatenings of the wind; since time, that makes a mockery of the firmest structures, shall itself be ruinated before that be demolished.' Habington's life presents few incidents, though he came of a plotting family. His father was implicated in Babington's conspiracy; his uncle suffered death for his share in the same transaction. The poet's mother atoned, in some measure, for these disloyal intrigues; for she is said to have been the writer of the famous letter to Lord Monteagle, which averted the execution of the Gun. powder Plot. The poet was educated at St Omer's, but declined to become a Jesuit. He married Lucia, daughter of the first Lord Powis, whom he had celebrated under the name of Castara. Twenty years before his death, he published his poems, consisting of The Mistress, The Wife, and The Holy Man. These titles include each several copies of verses, and the same design was afterwards adopted by Cowley. The life of the poet seems to have glided quietly away, cheered by the society and affection of his Castara. He had no stormy passions to agitate him, and no unruly imagination to control or subdue. His poetry is of the same unruffled descriptionplacid, tender, and often elegant--but studded with conceits to show his wit and fancy. When he talks of meadows wearing a 'green plush,' of the fire of mutual love being able to purify the air of an infected city, and of a luxurious feast being so rich that heaven must have rained showers of sweetmeats, as if
Heaven were Blackfriars, and each star a confectioner we are astonished to find one who could ridicule the 'madness of quaint oaths,' and the fine rhetoric of clothes,' in the gallants of his day, and whose sentiments on love were so pure and noble, fall into such absurd and tasteless puerilities.
Mortification. How soon doth man decay! When clothes are taken from a chest of sweets
To swaddle infants, whose young breath
Scarce knows the way :
They are like little winding-sheets,
When boys go first to bed,
Sleep binds them fast ; only their breath
Makes them not dead :
Successive nights, like rolling waves, Convey them quickly, who are bound for death.
When youth is frank and free,
All day exchanging mirth and breath
That music summons to the knell, Which shall befriend him at the house of death.
When man grows staid and wise, Getting a house and home, where he may move
Within the circle of his breath,
Schooling his eyes ;
That dumb enclosure maketh love Unto the coffin, that attends his death.
When age grows low and weak, Marking his grave, and thawing ev'ry year, Till all do melt, and drown his breath
When he would speak ;
A chair or litter shows the bier,
Man, ere he is aware,
And dress'd his hearse, while he hath breath
As yet to spare.
Yet, Lord, instruct us so to die,
[Epistle to a friend.] [Addressed to his noblest friend, J. C., Esq.'] I hate the country's dirt and manners, yet I love the silence; I embrace the wit And courtship, flowing here in a full tide, But loathe the expense, the vanity and pride. No place each way is happy. Here I hold Commerce with some, who to my care unfold (After a due oath ministred) the height And greatness of each star shines in the state, The brightness, the eclipse, the influence. With others I commune, who tell me whence The torrent doth of foreign discord flow; Relate each skirmish, battle, overthrow, Soon as they happen; and by rote can tell Those German towns, even puzzle me to spell. The cross, or prosperous fate, of princes, they Ascribe to rashness, cunning, or delay; And on each action comment, with more skill Than upon Livy did old Machiavel.
busy folly! Why do I my brain Perplex with the dull policies of Spain,
Or quick designs of France ! Why not repair
V SIR JOHN SUCKLING. SIR JOHN SUCKLING (1608-1641) possessed such a natural liveliness of fancy, and exuberance of ani. mal spirits, that he often broke through the artificial restraints imposed by the literary taste of his times, but he never rose into the poetry of passion and imagination. He is a delightful writer of what have been called 'occasional poems.' His polished wit, playful fancy, and knowledge of life and society, enabled him to give interest to trifles, and to clothe familiar thoughts in the garb of poetry. His own life seems to have been one summer-dayYouth at the prow,
and pleasure at the helm. He dreamt of enjoyment, not of fame. The father of Suckling was secretary of state to James I., and comptroller of the household to Charles I. The poet was distinguished almost from his infancy; and at sixteen he had entered on public life! His first appearance was as a soldier under the celebrated Gustavus Adolphus, with whom he served one campaign. On his return, he entered warmly into the cause of Charles I., and raised a troop of horse in his support. He intrigued with his brother cavaliers to rescue the Earl of Strafford, and was impeached by the House of Commons. To evade a trial, he fled to France, but a fatal accident took place by the way. His servant having robbed him at an inn, Suckling, learning the circumstance, drew on his boots hurriedly, to pursue him; a rusty nail, or (according to another account) the blade of a knife, had been concealed in the boot, which wounded him, and produced mortification, of which he died. The works of Suckling consist of miscellaneous poems, five plays, and some private letters. His poems are all short, and the best of them are dedicated to love and gallantry. With the freedom of a cavalier, Suckling has greater purity of expression than most of his contemporaries. His sentiments are sometimes too voluptuous, but are rarely coarse; and there is so much elasticity and vivacity in his verses, that he never becomes tedious. His Ballad upon a Wedding is inimitable for witty levity and choice beauty of expression. It has touches of graphic description and liveliness equal to the pictures of Chaucer. One well-known verse has never been excelled
Description of Castara.
For she's to herself untrue,
Who delights i’ th' public view.
Folly boasts a glorious blood,
She is noblest, being good. Cautious, she knew never yet What a wanton courtship meant; Nor speaks loud, to boast her wit ; In her silence eloquent :
Of herself survey she takes,
But 'tween men no difference makes. She obeys with speedy will Her grave parents' wise commands ; And so innocent, that ill She nor acts, nor understands :
Women's feet run still astray,
If once to ill they know the way. She sails by that rock, the court, Where oft honour splits her mast; And retir'dness thinks the port, Where her fame may anchor cast :
Virtue safely cannot sit,
Where vice is enthron'd for wit.
O'er that darkness, whence is thrust
Her feet beneath her petticoat, Like little mice, stole in and out,
As if they fear'd the light; But oh! she dances such a way, No sun upon an Easter-day
Is half so fine a sight I*
* Herrick, who had no occasion to steal, has taken this image from Suckling, and spoiled it in the theft
Her pretty feet, like snails, did creep
Like Sir Fretful Plagiary, Herrick had not skill to steal with taste. Wycherley also purloined Herrick's simile for one of his plays The allusion to Easter-day is founded upon a beautiful old superstition of the English peasantry, that the sun danoce upon that morning.
SIR JOHN SUCKLING.
| The maid, and thereby hangs a tale, V For such a maid no Whitsun-alel
Could ever yet produce :
Nor halt so full of juice.
It was too wide a peck :
About our young colt's neck.
As if they feard the light: But oh! she dances such a way ! No sun upon an Easter-day
Is half so fine a sight.
[SONG.—'Tis now, since I sat down before.] Tis now, since I sat down before
That foolish fort, a heart,
And still I did my part,
Unto her lip did rise ;
The language of her eyes ;
My tongue was engineer;
By whispering in the ear.
Great cannon-oaths, and shot
And still it yielded not.
By cutting off all kisses,
And all such little blisses.
I drew all batteries in :
As if no siege had been.
And thought the place mine own,
And smil'd at all was done.
These hopes, and this relief!
sed did command in chief. lierch, march (quoth 1); the word straight give,
Let's lose no time, but leave her ;
And hold it out for ever.
As will no siege abide ;
Only to feed her pride.
Her cheeks so rare a white was on,
Who sees them is undone ;
The side that's next the sun.
Some bee had stung it newly ;
Than on the sun in July, Her mouth so small, when she does speak, Thou'dst swear her teeth her words did break,
That they might passage get : But she so handled still the matter, They came as good as ours, or better,
And are not spent a whit.
A Ballad upon a Wedding.
Oh, things without compare !
Be it at wake or fair.
There is a house with stairs ;
Vorty at least, in pairs. Amongst the rest, one pest'lent fine, (His beard no bigger, though, than thine)
Walk'd on before the rest : Our landlord looks like nothing to him : The king, God bless him, 'twould undo him,
Should he go still so drest.
Passion, oh me ! how I run on !
I trow, besides the bride :
Nor was it there denied.
His summons did obey ;
Presented, and away.
To stay to be intreated !
The company were seated,
The bride's came thick and thick ;
And who could help it, Dick ?
Then dance again, and kiss.
And ev'ry man wish'd his.
But wot you what the youth was going To make an end of all his wooing;
The parson for him staid : Yet by his leave, for all his haste, He did not so much wish all past,
Perchance, as did the maid.
1 Whitsun-ales were festive assemblies of the people of wholo parishes at Whitsunday.
By this time all were stol'n aside
But that he must not know :
Above an hour or so.
Constancy. Out upon it, I have lov'd
Three whole days together ; And am like to love three more,
If it prove fair weather.
Ere he shall discover
Such a constant lover.
Is due at all to me;
Had it any been but she. Had it any been but she
And that very face, There had been at least ere this
A dozen in her place.
The Careless Lover.
She's fair, she's wond'rous fair,
I fairly will forego it.
She's fair, &c.
She's fair, &c.
She's fair, &c.
She's fair, &c.
She's fair, &c.
I prithee send me back my heart,
Since I can not have thine,
Why then should'st thou hare mine? Yet now I think on't, let it lie,
To find it were in vain ;
Would steal it back again.
And yet not lodge together! Oh love! where is thy sympathy,
If thus our breasts thou sever ?
I cannot find it out;
I then am in most doubt.
I will no longer pine ;
As much as she has mine.
When wanton blasts have tost it!
When ruder winds have crost it!
Or the foxes sleeping ?
Or the dove by his bride,
Prithee, why so pale ?
Looking ill prevail ?
Prithee, why so pale ? Why so dull and mute, young sinner ?
Prithee, why so mute ? Will, when speaking well can't win her,
Saying nothing do't ?
Prithee, why so mute ! Quit, quit for shame, this will not move,
This cannot take her;
Nothing can make her:
Detraction Execrated. Thou vermin slander, bred in abject minds, Of thoughts impure, by vile tongues aniinate, Canker of conversation ! could'st thou find Nought but our love whereon to show thy hate ! Thou never wert, when we two were alone; What canst thou witness then ? thou, base dull aid, Wast useless in our conversation, Where each meant more than could by both be said. Whence hadst thou thy intelligence—from earth i That part of us ne'er knew that we did love : Or, from the air ! our gentle sighs had birth From such sweet raptures as to joy did move ; Our thoughts, as pure as the chaste morning's breath, When from the night's cold arms it creeps away, Were clothed in words, and maiden's blush, that hath More purity, more innocence than they. Nor from the water could'st thou have this tale; No briny tear has furrowed her smooth cheek; And I was pleas'd : I pray what should he ail, That had her love ; for what else could he seek ! We shorten'd days to moments by love's art, Whilst our two souls in amorous ecstacy Perceiv'd no passing time, as if a part Our love had been of still eternity.