« AnteriorContinuar »
But when its auld, it waxeth cauld,
And fades awa' like the morning dew. Whan cockle-shells turn siller bells,
And muscles grow on every tree, Whan frost and snaw sall warm us aw,
Then sall my love prove true to me.
Now Arthur seat sall be my bed,
The sheets sall ne'er be fyld by me: Saint Anton's well sall be my drink,
Since my true love's forsaken me. Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blaw,
And shake the green leaves aff the tree? O gentle death, whan wilt thou cum,
And tak' a life that wearies me!
'Tis not the frost that freezes sae,
Nor blawing snaw's inclemencie, 'Tis not sic cauld, that makes me cry,
But my love's heart grown cauld to me. Whan we came in by Glasgow town,
We were a comely sight to see, My love was clad in black velvet,
And I myself in cramasie.
But had I wist before I kist,
That love had been sae hard to win; I'd lockt my heart in case of gowd,
And pinn'd it with a siller pin. And oh! if my poor babe were born,
And set upon the nurse's knee, And I mysel in the cold grave!
Since my true love's forsaken me.”
The finest modern imitation of this style is the Braes of Yarrow; and perhaps the finest subject for a story of the same kind in any modern book, is that told in Turner's History of England, of a Mahometan woman, who having fallen in love with an English merchant, the father of Thomas à Becket, followed him all the way to England, knowing only the word London, and the name of her lover, Gilbert.
But to have done with this, which is rather too serious a subject. The old English Ballads are of a gayer and more lively turn. They are adventurous and romantic; but they relate chiefly to good living and good fellowship, to drinking and hunting scenes. Robin Hood is the chief of these, and he still, in imagination, haunts Sherwood Forest. The archers green glimmer under the waving branches, the print on the grass remains where they have just finished their noon-tide meal under the green-wood tree, and the echo of their bugle horn and twanging bows resounds through the tangled mazes of the forest, as the tall slim deer glances startled by.
« The trees in Sherwood Forest are old and good;
The grass beneath them now is dimly green:
Are they deserted all? Is no young mien, With loose-slung bugle, met within the wood?
No arrow found-foil'd of its antler'd food
Struck in the oak's rude side? Is there nought seen
To mark the revelries which there have been,
Go there with summer, and with evening-go
In the soft shadows, like some wand'ring man
And thou shalt far amid the forest know
Feasting on pheasant, river-fowl, and swan,
* Sonnet on Sherwood Forest, by J. H. Reynolds, Esq.
LECTURE VIII. .
ON THE LIVING POETS.
“ No more of talk where God or Angel guest
GENIUS is the heir of fame, but the hard condition on which the bright reversion must be earned is the loss of life. Fame is the recompense not of the living, but of the dead. The temple of fame stands upon the grave: the flame that burns
its altars is kindled from the ashes of great men. Fame itself is immortal, but it is not begot till the breath of genius is extinguished. For fame is not popularity, the shout of the multitude, the idle buzz of fashion, the venal puff, the soothing flattery of favour or of friendship; but it is the spirit of a man surviving himself in the minds and thoughts of other men, undying and imperishable. It is the power which the intellect exer
cises over the intellect, and the lasting homage which is paid to it, as such, independently of time and circumstances, purified from partiality and evil-speaking. Fame is the sound which the stream of high thoughts, carried down to future ages, makes as it flows—deep, distant, murmur. ing evermore like the waters of the mighty ocean. He who has ears truly touched to this music, is in a manner deaf to the voice of popularity.—The love of fame differs from mere vanity in this, that the one is immediate and personal, the other ideal and abstracted. It is not the direct and gross homage paid to himself, that the lover of true fame seeks or is proud of; but the indirect and pure homage paid to the eternal forms of truth and beauty as they are reflected in his mind, that gives him confidence and hope. The love of na
. ture is the first thing in the mind of the true poet: the admiration of himself the last. A man of genius cannot well be a coxcomb; for his mind is too full of other things to be much occupied with his own person. He who is conscious of great powers in himself, 'has also a high standard of excellence with which to compare his efforts: he appeals also to a test and judge of merit, which is the highest, but which is too remote, grave, and impartial, to flatter his self-love extravagantly, or puff him up with intolerable and vain conceit.