« PreviousContinue »
And holy Genii guard the rock,
On which that ancient trump he reached was hung; Thither oft his glory greeting,
From Waller's myrtle shades retreating,
With many a vow from Hope's aspiring tongue,
And Heaven and Fancy, kindred Powers,
MASON'S ODE TO MEMORY.
RISE, hallow'd MILTON! rise, and say, How, at thy gloomy close of day; How, when 'depress'd by age, beset with wrongs;' When 'fallen on evil days and evil tongues :' When Darkness, brooding on thy sight, Exiled the sovereign lamp of light;
Say, what could then one cheering hope diffuse?
Hence the rich spoils, thy studious youth
Hence all thy busy eye could pleased explore,
EPISTLE ON THE ENGLISH POETS.
ADDRESSED TO CHRISTOPHER ANSTEY, ESQ.
POET of other times! to thee I bow
COWPER'S TABLE TALK.
AGES elapsed ere Homer's lamp appear'd,
THE SAME AUTHOR'S TASK, B. III.
In the pure fountain of eternal love,
eyes indeed; and, viewing all she sees As meant to indicate a GOD to man,
Gives HIM his praise, and forfeits not her own.
THE measure is English heroic verse without rhyme, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin rhyme being no necessary adjunct, or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age to set off wretched matter and lame metre ; graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse than else they would have expressed them. Not without cause, therefore, some both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rhyme both in longer and shorter works: as have also long since our best English tragedies; as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial, and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables,
* The first edition of Paradise Lost, in 1667, was without this apology for the verse. In 1668, when a new title-page was prefixed to the edition, it was added with the following address of the printer to the reader: "Courteous Reader, there was no Argument at first intended to the Book; but for the satisfaction of many that have desired it, I have procured it, and withal a reason of that which stumbled many others, why the Poem rimes not."
+ Milton is here thought by Mr. Todd, to mean the tragedies of Shakspeare, which he commends in Il Penseroso as having" ennobled the buskin'd stage."
and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings; a fault avoided by the learned ancients, both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rhyme so little is to be taken for a defect (though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers), that it is rather to be esteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem, from the troublesome and modern bondage of rhyming.