Page images
PDF
EPUB

That still on God their anchor hope may hold ;

From him by no dispairefull tempest torn ;
That with wise hartes and willing mindes they may
Think what he did, and what he bidds obey *.

* Sidney Psalms, pp. 143, 144. I have lately met with a description of the last and most dreadful of the plagues of Egypt so sublimely alluded to in this psalm, namely, the destruction of the first-born, which, as possessing very singular merit, and being at the same time little known, I am desirous of bringing forward in this place. It is contained in a little volume entitled "Rural Pictures and Miscellaneous Pieces," printed in 1825, and written by a young man of the name of SLATTER, resident at Oxford, and who, it is somewhat remarkable, pursues the same humble occupation by which Bloomfield supported himself whilst composing his Farmer's Boy. I am induced to hope, indeed, that the spirit of poetry which this specimen will be found to exhibit cannot but incline my readers to refer to the pages whence it is taken, and where I can promise them they will meet with many things claiming in a like degree their notice and approbation.

THE DESTROYING ANGEL.

Where ancient Nile majestic rolls

His undulating wave,
By many a pyramid that holds

The ashes of the brave;

Once in the flight and transient prime

Of days long passed away;

When youth adorned the brow of time,

Unconscious of decay;

Not only, in short, in these, but in a multitude of other passages, may we discover similar anticipations of what are deemed the beauties or novelties

When midnight stealing o'er the ground,

Midst shadows rising dim,

Had hushed, in envy of the sound,
The wild bird's evening hymn;

Led on by death, with all his train,
Yet silent as the blast

That sweeps o'er Afric's sultry plain,
Th' avenging Angel passed.

On heaven's destructive mission bent,
Which Egypt had defied;

His breath invaded every tent,
And withered Egypt's pride.

In rosy sleep, by all its charms
Distinguished as he lay,

The babe that in its mother's arms
Dream'd of returning day,

Before the lightning of his eye
A hapless victim fell,

Nor stayed to breathe a parting sigh,
Nor lisp a last farewell.

Full many a hoary-headed man

Leaned on his staff to weep,

Each tear expressive, as it ran,

Of sorrow wild and deep.

of modern versification. With what exquisite skill, for instance, with what a felicitous structure of

His white hairs waving to the wind,

All withered and forlorn,

With weary eye, and burdened mind,
To wail his eldest born.

But where the captive tribes reposed,
Or watched in silent prayer,
No dreaded power its form disclosed,
Or breathed contagion there.

The sign the minister of death
Observed with piercing eye;
Suspended there his blighting breath,
And passed in mercy by.

So where the sons of God abide,

Though darkness reigns around;

With them the joys of heaven reside,
And light is ever found.

1

With the exception of a slight inaccuracy as to rhyme, occurring in the first stanza, this poem must be pronounced, I think, not only polished and correct, but throughout beautiful and highly impressive. A similar character will apply to the greater part of Mr. Slatter's poetry; and, as the specimen I have just now given is taken from the miscellaneous department of his volume, I will, with the view of doing further justice to his talents, select another from one of his "Rural Pictures," a series which forms the greater portion of the work.

rythm, and with what an admirable turn upon the words, do the following verses from the sixty-second

THE STRANGER MINSTREL.

ON HEARING A ROBIN SING IN A COUNTRY CHURCH DURING DIVINE SERVICE.

Beneath the mouldering roof, at early spring,
The wandering swallow rests her weary wing,
Chirps undisturbed, herself an hallowed guest,
And near the altar builds her little nest :
But, lo! with tuneful bosom, glowing red,
The old roof arching darkly o'er his head,
A favourite minstrel, though a stranger here,
Where holy men with holy views appear,
Perched on the beam, above the choral throng,
Trills sweeter strains and pours a grateful song.
Thy wild and lonely warblings, gentle bird,
In other scenes my listening ear has heard;
From childhood, up to this important hour,
I can remember, when the wintry shower
Drove thee from naked woods to that retreat,
Which storms and tempests render doubly sweet!
Thy annual visits to the darkened room

For scatter'd crums, like sunbeams through the gloom,
Betokening peace, diffused such pleasures there
As grandeur's crowded halls but seldom share.
I've heard thee piping at the shut of eye,
When twilight woods the weary labourers leave,

* Psalm lxxxiv. 3.

and the hundred and nineteenth psalms, come be

fore us, though modulated so far back as in the days of Elizabeth!

From the old ruin's mutilated wall,

A simple strain that held my heart in thrall.
But these delights seem born to be forgot,
On meeting with thee in this hallowed spot.
Though least expected, not less welcome here
Thy slender form, and strains that please the ear.
But let me ask thee, is there no design
In nature, or in Providence divine,

To be in this unusual visit traced,

Clear as the morning beam, and not misplaced?
Say, art thou not commissioned to reprove,
In these wild lays, some hearer's languid love
To him who promises the weary rest,

And wings the storm that spares thy lowly nest?
O that in wisdom, through these fleeting hours,
To his bold schemes and philosophic powers,
While mercy's constant beams around him shine,
Man would but add a gratitude like thine,
And learn, amidst the pomp of human praise,
How far a feathered minstrel's joyful lays
Transcend the song, by taste itself refined,

Which swells to heaven, but leaves the heart behind!

I surely shall not be considered as too sanguine, if I express a confident trust, that poetry like this, and froin such a source, will not be suffered to experience the chilling disappointment of neglect.

« PreviousContinue »