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appear to me the most exquisite, in which moral sentiments, affections, or feelings, are deduced from, and associated with, the scenery of Nature. Such compositions generate a habit of thought highly favourable to delicacy of character. They create a sweet and indissoluble union between the intellectual and the material world. Easily remembered from their briefness, and interesting alike to the eye and the affections, these are the poems which we can "lay up in our heart, and our soul," and repeat them “when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, and when we rise up." Hence, the Sonnets of Bowles derive their marked superiority over all other Sonnets; hence they domesticate with the heart, and become, as it were, a part of our identity.
Respecting the metre of a sonnet, the writer should consult his own convenience.-Rhymes, many or few, or no rhymes at all whatever the chastity of his ear may prefer, whatever the rapid expression of his feelings will permit;—all these things are left at his own disposal. A sameness in the final sound of its words is the great and grievous defect of the Italian languge. That rule therefore, which the Italians have established, of exactly four different sounds in the Sonnet, seems to have arisen from their wish to have as many, not from any dread of finding more. But surely it is ridiculous to make the defect of a foreign language a reason for our not availing ourselves of one of the marked excellencies of our own. “ The Sonnet (says Preston) will ever be cultivated by those who write on tender pathetic subjects. It is peculiarly adapted to the state of a man violently agitated by a real passion, and wanting composure and vigor of mind to methodize his thought. It is fitted to express a momentary burst of passion,” &c. Now, if there be one species of composition more difficult and artificial than another, it is an English Sonnet on the Italian model. Adapted to the agitations of a real passion! Express momentary bursts of feeling in it! I should sooner expect to write pathetic axes or pour forth extempore eggs and altars! But the best confutation of such idle rules is to be found in the Sonnets of those who have observed them, in their inverted sentences, their quaint phrases, and incongruous mixture of obsolete and Spenserian words: and when, at last, the thing is toiled and hammered into fit shape, it is in general racked and tortured Prose rather than any thing resembling Poetry.
The Sonnet has been erer a favourite species of composition with me; but I am conscious that I have not succeeded in it. From a large number I have retained ten only, as beneath mediocrity. Whatever more is said of them, ponamus lucro.
My heart has thank'd thee, Bowles ! for those soft strains
Whose sadness soothes me, like the murmuring
Of wild-bees in the sunny showers of spring!
For hence not callous to the mourner's pains
Thro’ Youth's gay prime and thornless paths I went :
And when the darker day of life began,
And I did roam, a thought-bewilder'd man !
Their mild and manliest melancholy lent
A mingled charm, which oft the pang consign'd
To slumber, tho' the big tear it renewd:
Bidding such strange mysterious pleasure brood
Over the wavy and tumultuous mind,
As made the soul enamour'd of her woe
No common praise, dear Bard! to thee I owe!
ON A DISCOVERY MADE TOO LATE.
Thou bleedest, my poor Heart! and thy distress
Reas’ning I ponder with a scornful smile
And probe thy sore wound sternly, tho’the while
Swoln be mine eye and dim with heaviness.
Why didst thou listen to Hope's whisper bland ?
Or list’ning, why forget the healing tale,
When Jealousy with fev'rish fancies pale
Jarrod thy fine fibres with a maniac's hand ?
Faint was that Hope, and rayless ! - Yet 'twas fair
And sooth'd with many a dream the hour of rest ;
Thou should'st have loved it most, when most oppress'd.
And nurs'd it with an agony of Care,
Ev'n as a Mother her sweet infant heir,
That wan and sickly droops upon her breast !
Thou gentle Look, that didst my soul beguile,
Why hast thou left me? Still in some fond dream
Revisit my sad heart, auspicious Smile!
As falls on closing flowers the lunar beam :
What time, in sickly mood, at parting day
I lay me down and think of happier years;
Of Joys, that glimmer'd in Hope's twilight ray
Then left me darkling in a vale of tears.
O pleasant days of Hope-for ever flown!
Could I recall you !-But that thought is vain.
Availeth not Persuasion's sweetest tone
To lure the fleet-wing’d Travellers back again :
Yet fair, tho' faint, their images shall gleamn
Like the bright Rainbow on an evening stream.
Dear native Brook! wild Streamlet of the West!
How many various-fated years have past,
What blissful and what anguish'd hours, since last
I skimm'd the smooth thin stone along thy breast,
Numbering its light leaps! Yet so deep imprest
Sink the sweet scenes of Childhood, that mine eyes
I never shut amid the sunny blaze,
But straight with all their tints thy waters rise,
Thy crossing plank, thy margin's willowy maze,
And bedded sand that, vein'd with various dies,
Gleam'd thro' thy bright transparence to the gaze !
Visions of Childhood ! oft have ye beguild
Lone Manhood's cares, yet waking fondest sighs,
Ah! that once more I were a careless Child !
COMPOSED WHILE CLIMBING THE LEFT ASCENT OF BROCK.
LEY COOMB, IN THE COUNTY OF SOMERSET,
With many a pause and oft reverted eye
I climb the Coomb's ascent: sweet songsters near
Warble in shade their wild-wood melody:
Far off th’unvarying Cuckoo soothes my ear.
Up scour the startling stragglers of the Flock
That on green plots o'er precipices browze:
From the forc'd fissures of the naked rock
The Yew tree bursts! beneath its dark green boughs
(Mid which the May-thorn blends its blossoms white)
Where broad smooth stones jut out in mossy seats,
I rest.-And now have gain'd the topmost site.
Ah! what a luxury of landscape meets
My gaze! Proud Towers, and Cots more dear to me;
Elm-shadow'd Fields, and prospect-bounding Sea!
Deep sighs my lonely heart: I drop the tear:
Enchanting spot! O were my Sara here!
Sweet Mercy ! how my very heart has bled
To see thee, poor Old Man and thy grey hairs
Hoar with the snowy blast; while no one cares
To cloathe thy shrivell'd limbs and palsied head.
My father! throw away this tatter'd vest
That mocks thy shiv'ring! take my garment-use
A young man's arm! I'll melt these frozen dews
That hang from thy white beard and numb thy breast.
My Sara too shall tend thee, like a Child :
And thou shalt talk, in our fire side's recess,
Of purple Pride, that scowls on Wretchedness.--
He did not scowl, the Galilæan mild,
Who met the Lazar turn'd from rich man's doors,
And call’d him Friend, and wept upon his sores!
Pale Roamer, thro' the Night! thou poor Forlorn!
Remorse that man on his death-bed possess,
Who in the credulous hour of tenderness
Betray'd, then cast thee forth to Want and Scorn .
The world is pityless; the Chaste one's pride,
Mimic of Virtue, scowls on thy distress:
Thy Loves and they, that envied thee, deride :
And vice alone will shelter Wretchedness!
0! I am sad to think, that there should be
Cold-bosom'd lewd ones, who endure to place