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'Till the freed Indians in their native groves
To hear the savage youth repeat
Their feather-cinctured chiefs, and dusky loves, says Mr. Gray, most beautifully in his ode; dusky loves is more accurate than sable; they are not negroes.
Warton. Ver. 422. in vain.] This conclusion both of Horace and of Pope is feeble and flat. The whole should have ended with this speech of Thames at this line, 422.
Pope, it seems, was of opinion, that descriptive poetry is a composition as absurd as a feast made up of sauces : and I know many other
persons that think meanly of it. I will not presume to say it is equal, either in dignity or utility, to those compositions that
the internal constitution of man, and that imitate characters, manners, and sentiments. I may however remind such contemners of it, that, in a sister art, landscape-painting claims the very next rank to history-painting, being ever preferred to single portraits, to pieces of still-life, to droll figures, to fruit and flowerpieces; that Titian thought it no diminution of his genius, to spend much of his time in works of the former species; and that, if their
principles VOL. III.
Here cease thy flight, nor with unhallow'd lays Touch the fair fame of Albion's golden days: The thoughts of Gods let GRANVILLE's verse recite, And bring the scenes of op’ning fate to light. My humble Muse, in unambitious strains, Paints the green forests and the flow'ry plains, Where Peace descending bids her olive spring, And scatters blessings from her dove-like wing. 430 Ev’n I more sweetly pass my careless days, Pleas'd in the silent shade with empty praise; Enough for me, that to the list’ning swains First in these fields I sung the sylvan strains.
principles lead them to condemn Thomson, they must also condemn the Georgics of Virgil, and the greatest part of the noblest descriptive poem extant; I mean that of Lucretius.
Wurton. Ver. 434. It is observable that our Author finishes this poem with the first line of his Pastorals, as Virgil closed his Georgics with the first line of his Eclogues.
Referre sermones Deorum et
A Poem purely descriptive has certainly no claim to excellence. But a poem which is at once moral, historical, and picturesque; or, in other words, where description is made subservient to the delighted fancy, the cultivated understanding, and the improved heart, surely no real judge of Poetry would condemn. What beautiful and interesting pieces would such a decision exclude! How marry animating or tender sentiments, how many affecting incidents, how much interesting information, are often connected
with local scenery! The genuine Poet surveys every prospect with the eye and enthusiasm of a Painter; but does he only paint? He connects with the scenery he describes, morality, antiquity, history, the wildest traditions in fancy, or the sweetest feelings of tenderness, or patriotism. If we feel interested by the picture of an Arcadian landscape, which conveys its moral by the introduction of a shepherd's tomb, and the inscription “ Et ego in Arcadia ;” in like manner should we regard a descriptive poem, connected at the same time with wider information, and diversified with more pointed morality.
Pope in his Windsor Forest has description, incident, and history. The descriptive part, however, is too general and unappropriate : the incident, or story-part, is such as only would have been adopted by a young man, who had just read Ovid; but the historical part is very judiciously and skilfully blended, and the conclusion highly animated and poetical ; nor can we be insensible to its more lofty tone of versification.