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neral, wrote only to excite surprise, and those who adopted a more intelligible and familiar manner, as Sir John Suckling and others, were rather celebrated for an easy and sportive levity, that for that impassioned sentiment, which should peculiarly distin guish the strains of Love. It is singular but true, that more than forty years anterior to the period we are speaking of, viz. the period of 1640, a purer taste prevailed in this species of poetry; many of the songs of Shakspeare and Fletcher are exquisitely beautiful, and in the Pastorals of Drayton may be found various passages, which speak the language of passion and simplicity.
Though the production of poems of this kind may be deemed by many an easy and a trifling task, it is certain, that few of our poets have pre-eminently excelled in imparting to these little pieces, the grace and interest they are susceptible of. In the Collections of Amatory poetry we already pos
They were published with the following quaint title, "Idea. The Shepherd's Garland; fashioned in nine Eglogs. Rowland's Sacrifice to the Nine Muses. Lon den, 1593." 4to..
sess, it is seldom that more than one or two compositions are ascribed to the same author, and it was not, indeed, until the appearance of the rustic Burns, that Bard of Nature and of Love, that we could boast of a writer of eminent genius, who had paid due attention to this department of Lyric poetry, and had brought forward numerous speci mens of undoubted excellence. Nor when we consider the difficulties to be encountered in the attempt is this to be wondered at. "The poetical description of a fair form," observes an elegant critic, "requires the comparison of every kindred object of delight, and the richest colouring that art can bestow. The expression of emotions, on the other hand, must be conducted upon a simple plan; the feelings of the soul must declare themselves in artless touches of nature and the real symptoms of passion; and the poets hand must only appear in the delicacy of his strokes, and the softness and harmony of his versification."*
When such are the obstacles to be over
* Aikin on Song-Writing, pages 106 and 107.
come, that even in the most polished stage of society, and when taste has become infinitely more correct and chaste, it is no common occurrence to meet with amatory poetry of superior merit, surprise and pleasure must surely be excited by the singular purity of style, sweetness of versification, and warmth of sentiment, which characterize the following extracts from a poet, who wrote at the commencement of the seventeenth century.
Bid me to live, and I will live
Or bid me love, and I will give
A heart as soft, a heart as kind,
As in the whole world thou can'st find-
Or bid it languish quite away,
Bid me despair, and I'll despair
Or bid me die, and I will dare
Thou art my life, my love, my heart,
The very eyes of me:
And hast command of every part,
The melody of these lines, cannot, I think, for the measure in which they are written, be easily exceeded. The second and fifth stanzas have peculiar merit, and the burst of passion in the last must be felt by every one.
As Herrick alike excels in the light and sportive, as in the more serious and im-. passioned effusion, I shall, for the sake of variety, alternate them, and the next composition which presents itself, can lay claim to no ordinary originality and elegance: it is entitled
THE KISS, A DIALOGUE. 1. Among thy fancies, tell me this, What is the thing we call a kiss? 2. I shall resolve you what it is.
It is a creature born and bred
1. How speaks it, say? 2. Do you but this,
Part your join'd lips, then speaks your kiss; Chor. And this love's sweetest language is.
1. Has it a body? 2. Aye, and wings,
In the ensuing little Dialogue, which is supposed to take place between Herrick and his favourite mistress, Amarillis, there is much pastoral simplicity, a very easy flow in the versification, and the terminating stanza is neat and pointed.
My dearest Love, since thou wilt go,
For love or pity let me know
The place where I may find thee.
Amarill. In country meadows pearl'd with dew,