Page images

BEFORE I Conclude, I would say something in favour of the old-fashioned triplet, which I have here ventured to use so often. Dryden seems to have delighted in it, and in many of his poems has used it much oftener than I have done, as for instance in the Hind and Panther,* and in Theodore and Honoria, where he introduces it three, four, and even five times in succession.

If I have erred any where in the structure of my verse from a desire to follow yet earlier and higher examples, I rely on the forgiveness of those in whose ear the music of our old versification is still sounding.†

Pope used to mention this poem as the most correct specimen of Dryden's versification. It was indeed written when he had completely formed his manner, and may be supposed to exhibit, negligence excepted, his deliberate and ultimate scheme of metre.-JOHNSON.

+ With regard to trisyllables, as their accent is very rarely on the last, they cannot properly be any rhymes at all: yet nevertheless I highly commend those, who have judiciously and sparingly introduced them, as such, -GRAY.


I. 1.

HENCE, to the realms of Night, dire Demon, hence!

Thy chain of adamant can bind

That little world, the human mind,

And sink its noblest powers to impotence.
Wake the lion's loudest roar,

Clot his shaggy mane with gore,

With flashing fury bid his eye-balls shine;
Meek is his savage, sullen soul, to thine!
Thy touch, thy deadening touch has steeled the breast,
Whence, thro' her April-shower, soft Pity smiled;
Has closed the heart each godlike virtue blessed,
To all the silent pleadings of his child.†

At thy command he plants the dagger deep,

At thy command exults, tho' Nature bids him weep!

• Written in 1785.

+ The sacrifice of Iphigenia.

I. 2.

When, with a frown that froze the peopled earth*, Thou dartedst thy huge head from high,

Night waved her banners o'er the sky,

And, brooding, gave her shapeless shadows birth. Rocking on the billowy air,

Ha! what withering phantoms glare!

As blows the blast with many a sudden swell,

At each dead pause, what shrill-toned voices yell! The sheeted spectre, rising from the tomb, Points to the murderer's stab, and shudders by; In every grove is felt a heavier gloom, That veils its genius from the vulgar eye: The spirit of the water rides the storm, And, thro' the mist, reveals the terrors of his form.

I. 3.

O'er solid seas, where Winter reigns,
And holds each mountain-wave in chains,
The fur-clad savage, ere he guides his deer
By glistering star-light thro' the snow,
Breathes softly in her wondering ear

* Lucretius, I. 63.

Each potent spell thou bad'st him know.
By thee inspired, on India's sands,

Full in the sun the Bramin stands;

And, while the panting tigress hies

To quench her fever in the stream,
His spirit laughs in agonies,

Smit by the scorchings of the noontide beam.
Mark who mounts the sacred pyre,*

Blooming in her bridal vest:

She hurls the torch! she fans the fire!
To die is to be blest:

She clasps her lord to part no more,
And, sighing, sinks! but sinks to soar.
O'ershadowing Scotia's desert coast,
The Sisters sail in dusky state,†

And, wrapt in clouds, in tempests tost,

Weave the airy web of Fate;

While the lone shepherd, near the shipless main,

Sees o'er her hills advance the long-drawn funeral


The funeral rite of the Hindoos.

+ The Fates of the Northern Mythology. See MALLET'S Antiquities.

An allusion to the Second Sight.

II. 1.

Thou spak'st, and lo! a new creation glowed.

Each unhewn mass of living stone

Was clad in horrors not its own,

And at its base the trembling nations bowed.
Giant Error, darkly grand,

Grasped the globe with iron hand.

Circled with seats of bliss, the Lord of Light
Saw prostrate worlds adore his golden height.
The statue, waking with immortal powers,*
Springs from its parent earth, and shakes the spheres;
The indignant pyramid sublimely towers,

And braves the efforts of a host of years.

Sweet Music breathes her soul into the wind; And bright-eyed Painting stamps the image of the mind.

II. 2.

Round the rude ark old Egypt's sorcerers rise!
A timbrelled anthem swells the gale,

And bids the God of Thunders hail;†
With lowings loud the captive God replies.

* Æn. II. 172, &c.

The bull, Apis.

« PreviousContinue »