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A damsel with a dulcimer

In a vision once I saw ;

It was an Abyssinian maid,

And on her dulcimer she play'd,

Singing of Mount Abora.

That is but one note of a music ever sweet, yet never


It ceas'd; yet still the sails made on

A pleasant noise till noon,

A noise like of a hidden brook

In the leafy month of June,

That to the sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet tune.

The stanzas of the poem from which this extract is made (The Ancient Mariner) generally consist of four lines only; but see how the "brook" has carried him on with it through the silence of the night.

I have said a good deal of the versification of Christabel, in the Essay prefixed to this volume, but I cannot help giving a further quotation.

it was a lovely sight to see
The lady Christabel, when she
Was praying at the old oak tree.
Amid the jagged shadows
Of massy leafless boughs,
Kneeling in the moonlight

To make her gentle vows:
Her slender palms together press'd,
Heaving sometimes on her breast;
Her face resigned to bliss or bale-
Her face, O call it fair, not pale!

And both blue eyes more bright than clear,

Each about to have a tear.

All the weeping eyes of Guido were nothing to that. But I shall be quoting the whole poem. I wish I could; but I fear to trespass upon the bookseller's property. One more passage, however, I cannot resist. The good Christabel had been undergoing a trance in the arms of the wicked witch Geraldine :

A star hath set, a star hath risen,

O Geraldine! since arms of thine
Have been the lovely lady's prison.

O Geraldine! one hour was thine-
Thou hast thy will! By tarn and rill-
The night-birds all that hour were still.

(An appalling fancy)

But now they are jubilant anew,

From cliff and tower tu-whoo! tu-whoo!
Tu-whoo! tu-whoo! from wood and fell.

And see! the lady Christabel

(This, observe, begins a new paragraph, with a break in the


Gathers herself from out her trance;

Her limbs relax, her countenance

Grows sad and soft; the smooth thin lids
Close o'er her eyes; and tears she sheds-
Large tears that leave the lashes bright!
And oft the while she seems to smile,
As infants at a sudden light.

Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep,
Like a youthful hermitess

Beauteous in a wilderness,

Who praying always, prays in sleep.
And, if she move unquietly,

Perchance 't is but the blood so free
Comes back and tingles in her feet.
No doubt she hath a vision sweet:
What if her guardian spirit 't were?
What if she knew her mother near?
But this she knows, in joys and woes,
The saints will aid, if men will call,
For the blue sky bends over all.

We see how such a poet obtains his music. Such forms of melody can proceed only from the most beautiful inner spirit of sympathy and imagination. He sympathizes, in his universality, with antipathy itself. If Regan or Goneril had been a young and handsome witch of the times of chivalry, and attuned her

violence to craft, or betrayed it in venomous looks, she could not have beaten the soft-voiced, appalling spells, or sudden, snakeeyed glances of the lady Geraldine,-looks which the innocent Christabel, in her fascination, feels compelled to “imitate.”

A snake's small eye blinks dull and shy,

And the lady's eyes they shrank in her head,
Each shrank up to a serpent's eye;

And with somewhat of malice and more of dread,
At Christabel she look'd askance.

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This is as exquisite in its knowledge of the fascinating tendencies of fear as it is in its description. And what can surpass a line quoted already in the Essay (but I must quote it again!) for very perfection of grace and sentiment?—the line in the passage where Christabel is going to bed, before she is aware that her visitor is a witch.

Quoth Christabel,-So let it be !
And as the lady bade, did she.
Her gentle limbs did she undress,
And lay down in her loveliness.

Oh! it is too late now; and habit and self-love blinded me at the time, and I did not know (much as I admired him) how great a poet lived in that grove at Highgate; or I would have cultivated its walks more, as I might have done, and endeavored to return him, with my gratitude, a small portion of the delight his verses have given me.

I must add, that I do not think Coleridge's earlier poems at all equal to the rest. Many, indeed, I do not care to read a second time; but there are some ten or a dozen, of which I never tire, and which will one day make a small and precious volume to

put in the pockets of all enthusiasts in poetry, and endure with the language. Five of these are The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Kubla Khan, Genevieve, and Youth and Age. Some, that more personally relate to the poet, will be added for the love of him, not omitting the Visit of the Gods, from Schiller, and the famous passage on the Heathen Mythology, also from Schiller. A short life, a portrait, and some other engravings perhaps, will complete the book, after the good old fashion of Cooke's and Bell's editions of the Poets; and then, like the contents of the Jew of Malta's casket, there will be

Infinite riches in a little room.


All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,

Are all but ministers of Love,

And feed his sacred flame.

Oft in my waking dreams do I

Live o'er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay,
Beside the ruin'd tower.

The moonlight stealing o'er the scene,
Had blended with the lights of eve;
And she was there, my hope, my joy,
My own dear Genevieve!

She leant against the armèd man,

The statue of the armèd knight;
She stood and listen'd to my lay,
Amid the lingering light.

Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope! my joy! my Genevieve
She loves me best whene'er I sing

The songs that make her grieve.

I play'd a soft and doleful air,

sang an old and moving storyAn old rude song, that suited well That ruin wild and hoary.

She listen'd with a flitting blush,

With downcast eyes and modest grace, For well she knew I could not choose But gaze upon her face.

I told her of the knight that wore

Upon his shield a burning brand; And that for ten long years he woo'd The lady of the land.

I told her how he pin'd, and—ah !
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another's love,
Interpreted my own.

She listen'd with a flitting blush,

With downcast eyes and modest grace, And she forgave me, that I gaz'd Too fondly on her face!

But when I told the cruel scorn

That crazed that bold and lovely knight, And that he cross'd the mountain-woods, Nor rested day nor night:

That sometimes from the savage den,

And sometimes from the darksome shade,

And sometimes starting up at once

In green and sunny glade,

There came and look'd him in the face

An angel beautiful and bright;

And that he knew it was a fiend,
This miserable knight!

And that, unknowing what he did,
He leap'd amid a murderous band,

And sav'd from outrage worse than death
The lady of the land!

And how she wept and claspt his knees; And how she tended him in vain—

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