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in the age of Leo X. attempted a bold innovation by!composing piscatory eclogues, and changing: the scene from theswoods to the sea, and the character from shepherds to fishermen. But the attempt was iso unhappy that he has no followers. The toilsome life of fishermen has nothing agreeable to present to the imagination. Fishes and marine productions have nothing poetical in them. Of all the moderns, Gesner, a poet of Switzerland, has, been the most happy in pastoral composition. Many, new ideas are introduced in his Idyls. and his descripHERONE IS S tions lively. He is pathetic,, and writes to the heart. Neither the pastorals of Pope, nor of Philips, do much honour to English poetry. The pastorals, of Pope are barron; their chief merit is the, smoothness of the numbers. Philips attempted to be more simple and natural than Pope; but wanted genius to support the attempt. His topics, like those of Bope, are beaten; and, instead of being natural or simple, he is flat and insipid. Shenstone's pastoral ballad is one of the most elegant poems of the kind in the English language.
In latter times pastoral writing has been extended, into regular drama; and this is the chief improvement the moderns have made in it. Two pieces of this kind, are highly celebrated, Guarini's Pastor Fido, and Tas-, so's Aminta. Both possess great beauties; but the latter is the preferable poem, because less intricate, and, less affected; though not wholly free from Italian re
finement. As a poem, however, it has great merit. The poetry is pleasing and gentle, and the Italian lan guage confers on it much of that softness which is suit> ed to the pastoral. gablo abirea c
The Gentle Shepherd of Allan Ramsay is a pastoral drama which will bear comparison with any composi tion of the kind in any language. To this admirable poem it is a disadvantage, that it is written in the old rustic dialect of Scotland, which must soon be obsolete; and it is a farther disadvantage, that it is formed so entirely on the rural manners of Scotland, that none, but a native of that country, can thoroughly understand and refish it. It is full of natural description, and excels in tenderness of sentiment. The characters are well drawn, the incidents affecting, the scenery and manhers lively and just.
THE ode is a species of poetry, which has much dignity, and in whith many writers in every age have distinguished themselves. Óde in Greek is the same with song or hymn; and lyric poetry implies that the verses are accompanied with a lyre, or musical instrument. In the ode, poetry retains its first form, and its original union with music. Sentiments commonly constitute its subject. It recités not actions. Its spirit
and the manner of its execution mark its character. It admits a bolder and more passionate strain than is allowed in simple recital. Hence the enthusiasm that belongs to it. Hence that neglect of regularity, those digressions, and that disorder, it is supposed to admit.
All odes may be classed under four denominations. 1. Hymns addressed to God, or composed on religious subjects. 2. Heroic odes, which concern the celebration of heroes and great actions. 3. Moral and phi losophical odes, which refer chiefly to virtue, friendship, and humanity. 4. Festive and amorous odes, which are calculated merely for amusement and plea
Enthusiasm being considered as the characteristic of the ode, it has often degenerated into licentiousness. This species of writing has above all others been infected by want of order, method, and connexion. The poet is out of sight in a moment. He is so abrupt and eccentric, so irregular and obscure, that we cannot follow him. It is not indeed necessary that the structure of the ode be so perfectly regular as an epic poem. But in every composition there ought to be a whole; and this whole should consist of connected parts. The transition from thought to thought may be light and delicate, but the connexion of ideas should be preserved; the author should think, and not rave.
Pindar, the father of lyric poetry, has led his imitators into enthusiastic wildness. They imitate his disorder without catching his spirit. In Horace's odes every thing is correct, harmonious, and happy. His elevation is moderate, not rapturous. Grace and elegance are his characteristics. He supports a moral sentiment with dignity, touches a gay one with felicity, and has the art of trifling most agreeably. His language too is most furtunate.
Many Latin poets of later ages have imitated him. Casimir, a Polish poet of the last century, is of this number; and discovers a considerable degree of origi nal genius and poetic fire. He is, however, far inferior to the Roman in graceful expression. Buchanan in some of his lyric compositions is very elegant and classical.
In our own language, Dryden's ode on St. Cecilia is well known. Mr. Gray in some of his odes is celebrated for tenderness and sublimity; and in Dodsley's Miscellanies are several very beautiful lyric poems. Professedly Pindaric odes are seldom intelligible. Cowley is doubly harsh in his Pindaric compositions. His Anacreontic odes are happier, and perhaps the most agreeable and perfect in their kind of all his poems.
OF didactic poetry, it is the express intention to convey instruction and knowledge. It may be executed in different ways. The poet may treat some instructive subject in a regular form; or without intending a great or regular work he may inveigh against particular vices, or make some moral observations on human life and characters.
The highest species of didactic poetry is a regular treatise on some philosophical, grave, or useful subject. Such are the books of Lucretius de Rerum Natura, the Georgics of Virgil, Pope's Essay on Criticism, Akenside's Pleasures of the Imagination, Armstrong on Health, and the Art of Poetry by Horace, Vida, and Boileau.
In all such works, as instruction is the professed object, the chief merit consists in sound thought, just principles, and apt illustrations. It is necessary however that the poet enliven his lessons by figures, incidents, and poetical painting. Virgil in his Georgics embellishes the most trivial circumstances in rural life. When he teaches that the labour of the farmer must begin in spring, he expresses himself thus:
Vere novo gelidus canis cum montibus humor