« ZurückWeiter »
When I behold the violet past prime,
There is a tenderness of feeling in the following sonnet, that must touch the coldest reader.
“That time of year thou may'st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang,
To love that well, which thou must leave e'er long.” There is much grace and ingenuity in the following apology for his long silence. The line in Italics is truly exquisite.
“ My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming,
I love not less, though less the show appear:
The imagery and the harmony of the first two lines of the sunnet to Time are almost perfect.
“Oh! carve not with thine hours my love's fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen.” The pathos and melody of the ensuing sonnet will be immediately acknowledged by every reader of taste and sensibility.
“No longer mourn for me when I am dead,
Then you shall bear the sullen surly bell
Avd mock you with me after I am gone." The next brief extract, in which the poet expresses his willingness to bear all the blame of his forced separation from his friend, is equally touching. There is great force in the line in Italics.
Knowing thy will,
And haply of our old acquaintance tell." There is a freshness and beauty as of vernal breezes and blue skies in the first half of the following sonnet.
“ From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Yet nor the lays of bird, nor the sweet smell
The following is a fine burst of poetry, and is characterized by that easy force of style, and exuberance of fancy, and that almost miraculous felicity of diction which seem peculiar to this mighty genius. His descriptions of morning come upon us like the dawn itself.
“Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
But instead of particularising in this way the various gems in these sonnets, I will now heap a few more together, and let the reader make his own comments on their beauty.
“ Like as the waves make to the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end.”
“ Great princes' favorites their fair leaves spread
But as the marigold at the sun's eye:
“ So flatter I the swart-complerioned night."
" Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste :
Thou by thy dial's shady stealth may'st know
« Three winters cold
“ And truly not the morning sun of heaven
Better becomes the grey cheeks of the East,
“O call not me to justify the wrong,
That thy unkindness lays upon my heart;
“ Ah! do not when my heart hath 'scaped this sorrow
Come in the rearward of a conquered woe.”
“ Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye,
'Gainst which the world can ne'er hold argument,” &c.
Those persons to whom I may have the good fortune to introduce Shakespeare as a sonnet-writer, will feel no little surprise at the extreme elegance and accuracy of his verse. There is an occasional smartness, terseness and antithesis in many of his poems, that people are apt to consider peculiar to the moderns. There is a balanced harmony, a point and opposition, in the following couplets, that have not been excelled by Pope or Darwin. And yet they were written upwards of two centuries ago !
“ The worth of that, is that which it contains,
And that is this, and this with thee remains.
I am to wait, though waiting so, be hell;
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
For we, that now behold these present days,
But thence I learn, and find the lesson true,
Him have I lost; thou hast both him and me;
For I have sworn thee fair; more perjured I,
Come there for cure, and this by that I prove
Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope
After these specimens, to which I could add a thousand others, Johnson's talk about the rude state of English versification before the time of Waller and Pope is worse than foolish. It was disgraceful in a writer who set himself up as the historian of poetry and poets, to pass over the age of Shakespeare in the way he has done.
I have as yet confined myself to a consideration of their poetical merit, but though I do not propose to enter fully into the question at present, I cannot help subjoining a few passages to support Schlegel's position, that much of the poet's personal history and private feelings is revealed in these condemned and neglected sonnets.
The following lines contain an affecting allusion to his profession as an actor, an acknowledgment of his follies, which he no doubt rightly attributes to the influence of his unfortunate circumstances, and an intimation of profound repentance. Pope has observed that “ Shakespeare was obliged to please the lowest