« PreviousContinue »
cautiously out of reach of that weapon, of which he had so lately felt the force ; while he showed his purpose of waging a distant warfare with missile weapons of his own. Planting his long 155 spear in the sand at a distance from the scene of combat, he strung with great address a short bow, which he carried at his back, and, putting his horse to the gallop, once more described two or three circles of a wider extent than formerly, in the course of which he discharged six arrows at the Christian with 160 such unerring skill that the goodness of his harness alone saved him from being wounded in as many places. The seventh shaft apparently found a less perfect part of the armor, and the Christian dropped heavily from his horse.
16. But what was the surprise of the Saracen, when, dismount- 165 ing to examine the condition of his prostrate enemy, he found himself suddenly within the grasp of the European, who had had recourse to this artifice to bring his enemy within his reach. Even in this deadly grapple, the Saracen was saved by his agility and presence of mind. He unloosed the sword-belt, in which 170 the Knight of the Leopard had fixed his hold, and thus eluding his fatal grasp, mounted his horse, which seemed to watch his motions with the intelligence of a human being, and again rode off. But in the last encounter the Saracen had lost his sword and his quiver of arrows, both of which were attached to the 175 girdle, which he was obliged to abandon. He had also lost his turban in the struggle. These disadvantages seemed to incline the Moslem to a truce : he approached the Christian with his right hand extended, but no longer in a menacing attitude.
17. “There is truce* betwixt our nations," he said, in the lingua 180 franca commonly used for the purpose of communication with the crusaders ; “wherefore should there be war betwixt thee and me? Let there be peace betwixt us."
“I am well contented,” answered he of the Couchant Leopard ; “but what security dost thou offer that thou wilt observe 185 the truce ?"
“ The word of a follower of the Prophet was never broken,” answered the emir. “ It is thou, brave Nazarene,* from whom I
LITERARY ANALYSIS.—155-162. Planting ... places. Improve this rather long and loose-jointed sentence by breaking it up into two sentences.
should demand security, did I not know that treason seldom dwells with courage."
18. The crusader felt that the confidence of the Moslem made him ashamed of his own doubts.
“ By the cross of my sword,” he said, laying his hand on the weapon as he spoke," I will be true companion to thee, Saracen, while our fortune wills that we remain in company together.”
“By Mohammed, Prophet of God, and by Allah, God of the Prophet,” replied his late foeman, “ there is not treachery in my heart towards thee. And now wend we to yonder fountain, for the hour of rest is at hand, and the stream had hardly touched my lip when I was called to battle by thy approach."
19. The Knight of the Couchant Leopard yielded a ready and courteous assent; and the late foes, without an angry
look or gesture of doubt, rode side by side to the little cluster of palmtrees.
LITERARY ANALYSIS.—201–204. In the last paragraph which words are of Anglo-Saxon, and which of classical, origin?
CHARACTERIZATION BY CRAIK.' 1. Coleridge's poetry is remarkable for the perfection of its execution, for the exquisite art with which its divine spirit is endowed with formal expression. The subtly woven words, with
478 et seq.
all their sky colors, seem to grow out of the thought or emotion, as the flower from its stalk, or the flame from its feeding oil. The music of his verse, too, especially of what he has written in rhyme, is as sweet and as characteristic as anything in the language, placing him for that rare excellence in the same small band with Shakespeare, and Beaumont and Fletcher (in their lyrics), and Milton, and Collins, and Shelley, and Tennyson.
2. It was probably only quantity that was wanting to make Coleridge the greatest poet of his day. Certainly, at least, some things that he has written have not been surpassed, if they have been matched, by any of his contemporaries. And (as, indeed, has been the case with almost all great poets) he continued to write better and better the longer he wrote : some of his happiest verses were the produce of his latest years. Not only, as we proceed from his earlier to his later compositions, does the execution become much more artistic and perfect, but the informing spirit refined and purified, the tenderness grows more delicate and deep, the fire brighter and keener, the sense of beauty more subtle and exquisite. Yet from the first there was in all he wrote the divine breath which essentially makes poetry what it is. There was “the shaping spirit of imagination,” evidently of soaring pinion and full of strength, though as yet sometimes unskilfully directed, and encumbered in its flight by an affluence of power which it seemed hardly to know how to manage ; hence an unselecting impetuosity in these early compositions, never indicating anything like poverty of thought, but producing occasionally considerable awkwardness and turgidity of style, and a declamatory air, from which no poetry was ever more free than that of Coleridge in its maturer form.
3. Of Coleridge's poetry, in its most matured form, and in its best specimens, the most distinguishing characteristics are vividness of imagination and subtlety of thought, combined with un rivalled beauty and expressiveness of diction, and the most exquisite melody of verse. With the exception of a vein of melancholy and meditative tenderness, flowing rather from a contemplative survey of the mystery—the strangely mingled good and evil-of all things human than connected with any individual interests, there is not in general much of passion in his compo
sitions, and he is not well fitted, therefore, to become a very popular poet, or a favorite with the multitude.
4. His love itself, warm and tender as it is, is still Platonic and spiritual in its tenderness, rather than a thing of flesh and blood. There is nothing in his poetry of the pulse of fire that throbs in that of Burns; neither has he much of the homely every-day truth, the proverbial and universally applicable wisdom of Wordsworth. Coleridge was, far more than either of these poets, “ of imagination all compact.” The fault of his poetry is the same that belongs to that of Spenser—it is too purely or unalloyedly poetical. But rarely, on the other hand, has there existed an imagination in which so much originality and daring were associated and harmonized with so gentle and tremblingly delicate a sense of beauty. Some of his minor poems especially, for the richness of their coloring combined with the most perfect finish, can be compared only to the flowers which spring up into loveliness at the touch of “great creating nature.” The words, the rhyme, the whole flow of the music seem to be not so much the mere expression or sign of the thought as its blossoming or irradiation of the bright essence, the equally bright though sensible effluence.
1. All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
And feed his sacred flame,
LITERARY ANALYSIS.—To what class of poetry does this poem belong? Ans. It belongs to the class of lyric poetry.
State the versification of the poem. Ans. The poem is written in stanzas of four lines, the first three of which are iambic tetrameter, while the fourth is an iambic trimeter; the fourth and second lines rhyme.
What are the chief characteristics of the poem? Ans. They are a fine union of passion with delicacy, and of both with the sweetest, richest music.
1-4. All... flame. What kind of statement is made in the first stanza, a particular or a general statement? What purpose does this stanza serve ? Point out an example of personification in these lines.-Explain “ministers” as here used.