Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

III.

THE LAST FRUIT OFF AN OLD TREE.

1853.

(xiv.) Joy is the blossom, sorrow is the fruit, Of human life; and worms are at the root.

(xv.) Why do I smile ?To hear you say One month, and then the shortest day !. The shortest, whate'er month it be, Is the bright day you pass with me.

(xxxiv.) To his young Rose an old man said, " You will be sweet when I am dead : Where skies are brightest we shall meet, And there will you be yet more sweet, Leaving your winged company To waste an idle thought on me.”

(xcv.) Death stands above me, whispering low

I know not what into my ear : Of his strange language all I know

Is, there is not a word of fear.

(EPIGRAMS.)

(Lxxx.) There is a flower I wish to wear,

But not until first worn by youHearts-ease-of all earth's flowers most rare;

Bring it; and bring enough for two.

IV.
DRY STICKS.

(VARIOUS.)

1858.

(11.)
UNDER the lindens lately sat
A couple, and no more, in chat;
I wondered what they would be at

Under the lindens.

I saw four eyes and four lips meet,
I heard the words How sweet! how sweet!
Had then the Faeries given a treat

Under the lindens ?

I pondered long and could not tell
What dainty pleased them both so well :
Bees! bees ! was it your hydromel

Under the lindens ?

(x11.)
Children, keep up that harmless play ;
Your kindred angels plainly say,
By God's authority, ye may.
Be prompt His holy word to hear,
It teaches you to banish fear;
The lesson lies on all sides near.
Ten summers hence the sprightliest lad
In Nature's face will look more sad,
And ask where are those smiles she had.
Ere many days the last will close ;-
Play on, play on; for then (who knows ?)
You who play her may here repose.

[ocr errors]

V.

FINAL POEMS.

1863.

(Lxvi.)

ON THE DEATH OF JANTHE.
I DARE not trust my pen, it trembles so,
It seems to feel a portion of my woe,
And makes me credulous that trees and stones
At mournful fates have utter'd mournful tones.
While I look back again on days long past
How gladly would I yours might be my last.
Sad our first severance was, but sadder this,
When death forbids one hour of mutual bliss

(LXXVII.) To my ninth decade I have totter'd on,

And no soft arm bends now my steps to steady; She, who once led me where she would, is gone, So when he calls me, Death shall find me ready.

(ci.) Well I remember how you smiled

To see me write your name upon The soft sea-sand, —"O! what a child !

You think you're writing upon stone!" I have since written what no tide

Shall ever wash away, what men Unborn shall read o'er ocean wide And find lanthe's name again.

(cxxviii.) No truer word, save God's, was ever spoken, Than that the largest heart is soonest broken.

a

Charles Lamb. .

1775-1834.

The continued appreciation of the genius of Charles Lamb is a proof that he had more of the universal faculty than was suspected by his contemporaries, and that his quaint and peculiar humour, was, as he intended it should be, subservient to the deeper and more thoughtful suggestions which it was designed to illustrate. His readers discover that the quips and oddities with which at first sight he seems to turn from his subject, throw upon it vivid “side-lights,” and that his flashes of subtle and original humour rather illuminate than obscure the more serious or pathetic sentiments of his poems. Lamb possessed the power of exquisite condensation and of that felicity of expression which conveys more in a parenthesis than a heavier writer could include in a solid page. He had a fine sense of what was due to the judgment and the imagination of the reader, and knew when to leave off. He wrote comparatively little. All his works may be contained in one goodly volume; but there is more significance in them than will be found in many heavy tomes of more uncompromising moralists.

It is of course true that his popularity rests more with his essays than with his poems, which form only the smaller portion of his writings, but

a

the same qualities which make his prose such delightful reading are found crystallised and perfected in his verse. His distinctive characteristic is quaint originality, coloured, but not formed by his keen appreciation of, and familiar acquaintance with, the works of our old poets and dramatists. He never has any tendency to fall into the manner of “the lake poets,” though he was the intimate friend of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey. He was not insensible to the beauties of nature, or to the charm of fine scenery; but he was more at home amidst the world of books and the haunts of men. The quiet repose of his humble room in the Temple, alternating occasionally with the pleasure of the company of a few chosen friends, -a night at the play, the aspect of the multitudinous life of Fleet Street and the Strand, or a walk about Hampstead, Enfield, or the pastoral scenes of “Mackery End in Hertfordshire,” sufficed him. His world was a small one in respect of geographical extent. It was concentrated as his work was, but like his work it was full of living interests. The circumstances of his life and the pathetic conditions of it account for his disposition, and for the tone of thought that pervades many of his poems; for the seriousness-the fits of deep depression, the in. domitable perception of all that is ludicrous even amidst profound grief; the teeming gentle fancies, and wayward, almost fantastic imaginings: the physical weakness and social eccentricities, which were but accidents of one of the kindest hearts and the tenderest souls that ever existed.

Charles Lamb was born on the ioth of February, 1775, in the Temple, where his father was employed

« PredošláPokračovať »