« ZurückWeiter »
Yet there, to thy romantic spot
Shall Fancy oft retire, And hail the bower, the stream, the grot, Where Earth's sole Lord the world forgot,
And Horace smote the lyre.
THE GROTTO OF EGERIA.
Can I forget that beauteous day,
Stranger! that roam’st in solitude !
Shalt hear the gather'd ice-drops fall
ADDRESS TO NAPLES.
Naples! awake! awake! Each stone whereon thy swarms in sunbeams sleep, Sprung from the riven womb of central night; Where'er thou turn'st thy sight, Round thee thy earth, thy sea, thy every isle, One element of fire.—On yonder brow The blazing flood, that drank the deep below, Tower'd in its rage o'er Epomeo's pile; The blast sulphureous from Agnano flows, And green
Astroni's woods the crater's womb enclose. Ask of yon palace, round whose marble crest The sea-winds softly breathe ; On what foundation based, securely rest The pillars of its strength ?-Securely rest! On Herculaneum-on a sea of fire, Whose deluge swept the revellers from earth In madness of their mirth: Their gods, their arts, their science, swept away. Their winding-sheet a flame; and on their grave, Where never earth-worm pierced th' unyielding clay, And banqueted on death, the lava lay; Nor aught remain'd for future time to trace A relic of the race, Save when relentless toil forced up to light Through the rent rock, whose subterranean bed Dissevers day from night, The living from the dead,
Th’equestrian statue, and the fire-bound scroll:
THE SYREN'S SONG.
Rest, Wanderer, rest! all nature sleeps :
'Tis noon-tide's slumberous hour:
No serpent stirs the bower;
No cloud through heaven's blue zone
And walks in light alone:
While lazy suns wheel by,
And wake, and find her nigh:
Sweet notes, and sad, there dwell;
Sad as his breathed farewell:
Athens of Italy! where Dante's urn? Was thine the gate that on the Exile closed ? The gate that never witness’d his return? Not on thy lap his brow in death reposed : Not, where his cradle rock'd, Death seal'd his eyes; Beneath Ravenna’s soil Hetruria’s glory lies.
Yet-when o'er stranger earth the Exile stray'd
What recks it that thy sons, in after age,
A FANCY SKETCH.
I knew a gentle maid : I ne'er shall view
Her like again : and yet the vulgar eye
Might pass the charms I traced, regardless by:
Nor flash'd her nameless graces on the sight:
Expression, every look instinct with thought:
Though oft her mind, by youth to rapture wrought, Struck forth wild wit, and fancies ever new, The lightest touch of woe her soul would melt:
And on her lips, when gleam'd a lingering smile, Pity's warm tear gush'd down her cheek the while: Thy like, thou gentle maid! I ne'er shall view.
One of the most important characteristics of the literary world in the present day is, the universality with which literature is cultivated. Readers are no longer composed of the select few, but of the many, so that the expression of “the reading public," is almost tantamount to that of the public at large. And such is also the case with authorship. It is no longer the exclusive vocation of him who has devoted the greater part of his life to retirement and study, or of the poor and unbefriended scholar to whom no other of the numerous outlets of active life is patent. But people of both sexes, and of every occupation—the soldier, the sailor, the senator, the merchant, the artisan—all write, print, publish, and add their peculiar forms of thought to the general mass of intellect, which thus grows and expands beyond all former conception. And one of these novel additions to be found in the walks of literature is, the author of The Pleasures of Memory. A hundred years ago it would have been deemed an astounding phenomenon for a wealthy banker to be also an eminent poet.
Samuel Rogers was born in London, in 1762. Little or nothing is known of the manner in which he spent his early days. That his education was carefully attended to, and conducted upon the most liberal scale, is evident, from his taste and acquirements. During his youth, he enjoyed the society of the talented men of the last age-of Sheridan, Fox, Windham, and their renowned compeers, as at a latter period he was the companion of Byron and the illustrious of the present century. As poetry had occupied much of his early attention, Rogers had naturally composed verses, and at last he ventured before the public in his Ode to Superstition, and other Poems, which was published in 1786. This work was so favourably received, that the author was encouraged to persevere, and in 1792 appeared his principal poem, The Pleasures of Memory, which was received by the public with extraordinary approbation. In 1798, he published An Epistle to a Friend, and other Poems; and in 1812, The Voyage of Columbus. It will be seen, from these dates, that the works of Rogers appeared after considerable intervals; but this was owing to that fastidious delicacy of taste which appears in every line of his writings, and which forms one of the principal qualifications of his works. Two years afterwards he published, in the same volume with Byron's Lara, the poem of Jacqueline—a poem in itself possessing considerable merit, but which showed to great disadvantage on account of the splendid production with which it was associated. Indeed, no two authors could have been more strongly contrasted than Rogers and his noble friend; and the fastidious delicacy and cautious smoothness of the former appeared almost ludicrous, when contrasted with the dashing, fearless energy, and powerful light and shade, of the latter. Jacqueline, therefore, came into the world a dead twin in company with its vigorous, long-lived brother. This failure, however, was amply redeemed by Rogers' next poem, entitled Human Life, and by his subsequent work, Italy, the last and also the best of his productions, which was published in 1823. This last poem was also published in 1830, in a very splendid form, illustrated with numerous engravings from Turner and Stothard, and, on account of the expense of such a bold experiment, it was feared that the work would prove a complete failure. But, contrary to all expectation, it became one of the most profitable literary specuiations of modern times. His other poems were therefore published on a similar plan in 1834. This zealous subserviency of painting and sculpture as faithful handmaids to poetry, is one of the grateful indications of improving taste, which are so abundant in the present day.
As a poet, Rogers is scarcely entitled to the praise of boldness and vigour. For this he is too scrupulous and careful, and he never ventures beyond sight of his land-mark. Such, indeed, were the extreme care and labour which he bestowed upon The Pleasures of Memory, that not satisfied with his own corrections, he read the poem many times over with a learned friend, and in every variety of mood and situation, before he ventured to commit it to the press. But if correctness, delicacy, and tenderness, can compensate for those high lights of imagination which constitute the chief requisite of poetry, and in which he is wanting, Rogers in these minor qualities will be found superior to any poet of the present day.