Page images
PDF
EPUB

ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE MONOTONE.

INVOCATION TO LIGHT. Opening of the Third Book of Paradise Lost.”. Hail, holy Light! offspring of heaven first-born, Or of the Eternal co-eternal beam, May I express thee unblamed ? since God is light, And never but in unapproached light Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee, Bright effluence of bright essence increate. Or hear'st thou rather, pure ethereal stream, Whose fountain who shall tell ? Before the sun, Before the heavens thou wert, and at the voice Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest The rising world of waters dark and deep, Won from the void and formless infinite. Thee I revisit now with bolder wing, Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detain'd In that obscure sojourn; while in my flight, Through utter and through middle darkness borne, With other notes than to the Orphean lyre, I sung of Chaos and eternal Night; Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down The dark descent, and up to reäscend, Though hard and rare; thee I revisit safe, And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn; So thick a drop-serene hath quench'd their orbs, Or dim diffusion veil'd. Yet not the more Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill, Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath, That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow, Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget Those other two equall'd with me in fate, So were I equall'd with them in renown, Blind Thamyris, and blind Mæonides, And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old : Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move

Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid,
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair,
Presented with a universal blank
Of nature's works, to me expunged and rased,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Sbine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes; all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight

ARTEVELDE’S FAREWELL TO THE CITIZENS OF GHENT.

Henry Taylor
Then fare ye well, ye citizens of Ghent !
This is the last time you will see me here,
Unless God prosper me past human hope.
I thank you for the dutiful demeanor
Which never — no not once ~in any of you
Have I found wanting, though severely tried
When discipline might seem without reward.
Fortune has not been kind to me, good friends;
But let not that deprive me of your loves,
Or of your good report. Be this the word ;
My rule was brief, calamitous — but just.
No glory which a prosperous fortune gilds,
If shorn of this addition, could suffice
To lift my heart so high as it is now.
This is that joy in which my soul is strong,
That there is not a man amongst you all
Who can reproach me that I used my power
To do him an injustice. If there be
It is not to my knowledge; yet I pray him,
That he will now forgive me, taking note
That I had not to deal with easy times.

DARKNESS.

Byron. I had a dream, which was not all a dream. The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars Did wander, darkling, in the eternal space, Rayless and pathless, and the icy earth Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air; Morn came, and went, — and came, and brought no day, And men forgot their passions, in the dread Of this their desolation; and all hearts Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light. And they did live by watch-fires; and the thrones, The palaces of crowned kings, the huts, The habitations of all things which dwell, Were burned for beacons: cities were consumed, And men were gathered round their blazing homes, To look once more into each other's face: Happy were those who dwelt within the eye Of the volcanoes and their mountain torch: A fearful hope was all the world contained: Forests were set on fire; but, hour by hour, They fell and faded; and the crackling trunks Extinguished with a crash - and all was black. The brows of men, by the despairing light, Wore an unearthly aspect, as, by fits, The flashes fell upon them. Some lay down And hid their eyes, and wept; and some did rest Their chins upon their clinchéd hands, and smiled; And others hurried to and fro, and fed Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up, With mad disquietude, on the dull sky, The pall of a past world; and then again With curses, cast them down upon the dust, And gnash'd their teeth, and howl'd. The wild birds shriek'd And, terrified, did flutter on the ground, And flap their useless wings: the wildest brutes Came tame, and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd And twined themselves among the multitude, Hissing, but stingless — they were slain for food : And War, which for a moment was no more, Did glut himself again:— a meal was bought With blood, and each sat sullenly apart,

Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought — and that was death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails. Men
Died; and their bones were tombless as their flesh:
The meagre by the meagre were devoured.
Even dogs assail'd their masters,— all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds, and beasts, and famished men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws: himself sought out no food,
But, with a piteous, and perpetual moan,
And a quick, desolate cry, licking the hand
That answered not with a caress - he died.
The crowd was famished by degrees. But two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies. They met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place,
Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage. They raked up,
And shivering, scraped, with their cold, skeleton hands,
The feeble ashes; and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery. Then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other's aspects — saw, and shriek’d, and died ;
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void :
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless;
A lump of death, - a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean, all stood still,
And nothing stirr'd within their silent depths.
Ships, sailorless, lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp'd,
They slept on the abyss, without a surge, -
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave;
The moon, their mistress, had expired before;
The winds were wither'd in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd; darkness had no need
Of aid from them — she was the universe.

PITCH, Continued.
The various degrees of pitch may be thus represented :-
Very high a 6-à-delightful, joyous, glorious.
High

á—à— bright, pleasant, cheerful. Middle

á -à-faith, peace, temperance, charity. Low

áà— melancholy, suffering, sadness. Very low

á - à -awe, desolation, woe, horror.

“ That, in the formation of language, men have been much influenced by a regard to the nature of things and actions meant to be represented, is a fact of which every known speech gives proof. In our own language, for instance, who does not perceive in the sound of the words thunder, boundless, terrible, a something appropriate to the sublime ideas intended to be conveyed ? In the word crash we hear the very action implied. Imp, elf, how descriptive of the miniature beings to which we apply them! Fairy, how light and tripping, just like the fairy herself !-the word, no more than the thing, seems fit to bend the grass-blade, or shake the tear from the blue-eyed flower." - Robert Chalmers.

Examples.

Very High Pitch.
“There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower,

There's a titter of winds in that beechen tree,
There's a smile on the fruit and a smile on the flower,

And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea !” -- Bryant. “Ring joyous chords!—ring out again!

A swifter still and a wilder strain !
And bring fresh wreaths! — we will banish all
Save the free in heart from our festive hall.
On through the maze of the fleet dance, on!" - Mrs. Hemans.

“On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase. the glowing Hours with flying feet.” — Byron.

High Pitch.
“A thousand hearts beat happily ; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage-bell.”- Byron.

« PreviousContinue »