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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 5
OLD ENGLISH POETRY *
In common with all the world, we have been much delighted with "The Shepherd's Hunting" by Withers--a poem partaking, in a remarkable degree, of the peculiarities of "Il Penseroso." Speaking of Poesy the author says:
"By the murmur of a spring,
Walled about with disrespect;
But these lines, however good, do not bear with them much of the general character of the English antique. Something more of this will be found in Corbet's "Farewell to the Fairies!" We copy a portion of Marvell's "Maiden lamenting for her Fawn," which we prefer-not only as a specimen of the elder poets, but in itself as a beautiful poem, abounding in pathos, exquisitely delicate imagination and truthfulness-to anything of its species:
"It is a wondrous thing how fleet
How truthful an air of lamentations hangs here upon every syllable! It pervades all.. It comes over the sweet melody of the words-over the gentleness and grace which we fancy in the little maiden herself-even over the half-playful, half-petulant air with which she lingers on the beauties and good qualities of her favorite-like the cool shadow of a summer cloud over a bed of lilies and violets, "and all sweet flowers." The whole is redolent with poetry of a very lofty order. Every line is an idea conveying either the beauty and playfulness of the fawn, or the artlessness of the maiden, or her love, or her admiration, or her grief, or the fragrance and warmth and _appropriateness _of the little nest-like bed of lilies and roses which the fawn devoured as it lay upon them, and could scarcely be distinguished from them by the once happy little damsel who went to seek her pet with an arch and rosy smile on her face. Consider the great variety of truthful and delicate thought in the few lines we have quotedthe _wonder _of the little maiden at the fleetness of her favorite-the "little silver feet"--the fawn challenging his mistress to a race with "a pretty skipping grace," running on before, and then, with head turned back, awaiting her approach only to fly from it again-can we not distinctly perceive all these things? How exceedingly vigorous, too, is the line,
"And trod as if on the four winds!"
A vigor apparent only when we keep in mind the artless character of the speaker and the four feet of the favorite, one for each wind. Then consider the garden of "my own," so overgrown, entangled with roses and lilies, as to be "a little wilderness"--the fawn loving to be there, and there "only"--the maiden seeking it "where it _should _lie"--and not being able to distinguish it from the flowers until "itself would rise"--the lying among the lilies "like a bank of lilies"--the loving to "fill itself with roses,"
"And its pure virgin limbs to fold
and these things being its "chief" delights-and then the pre-eminent beauty and naturalness of the concluding lines, whose very hyperbole only renders them more true to nature when we consider the innocence, the artlessness, the enthusiasm, the passionate girl, and more passionate admiration of the bereaved child--
"Had it lived long, it would have been Lilies without, roses within."