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Or let my lamp at midnight hour
What worlds, or what vast regions hold
And of these demons, that are found
Here are no general expressions; all is picturesque, expressive, and concise. One strong point of view is exhibited to the reader; and the impression made, is lively and interesting..
Both Homer and Virgil excel in poetical description. In the second Eneid, the sacking of Troy is so particularly described, that the reader finds himself in The death of Priam is a the midst of the scene. master-piece of description. Homer's battles are all wonderful. Ossian too paints in strong colours, and is remarkable for touching the heart. He thus pourtrays the ruins of Balclutha : "I have seen the walls "of Balclutha; but they were desolate. The fire had resounded within the halls; and the voice of The stream of "the people is now heard no more. "Clutha was removed from its place by the fall of "the walls; the thistle shook there its lonely head; "the moss whistled to the wind. The fox looked "out of the window; the rank grass waved round his "head. Desolate is the dwelling of Moina; silence " is in the house of her fathers."
Much of the beauty of descriptive poetry depends upon a proper choice of epithets. Many poets are often careless in this particular; hence the multitude of unnaning and redundant epithets. Hence the "Liquidi "Fontes" of Virgil, and the "Prata Canis Albicant "Pruinis" of Horace. To observe that water is liquid, and that snow is white, is little better than mere tautology. Every epithet should add a new idea to the word which it qualifies. So in Milton:
Who shall tempt withi wandering feet
Over the vast abrupt?
The description here is strengthened by the epithets. The wandering fect, the unbottomed abyss, the palpable obscure, the uncouth way, the indefatigable wing, are all happy expressions.
THE POETRY OF THE HEBREWS.
IN treating of the various kinds of poetry, that of the Scriptures justly deserves a place. The sacred books present us the most ancient monuments of poetry now extant, and furnish a curious subject of criticism. They display the taste of a remote age and country. They exhibit a singular, but beautiful species of com
position; and it must give great pleasure, if we find the beauty and dignity of the style adequate to weight and importance of the matter. Dr. Lowth's learned treatise on the poetry of the Hebrews ought to be perused by all. It is an exceedingly valuable work both for elegance of style and justness of criticism. We can. not do better than to follow the track of this ingenious author.
Among the Hebrews, poetry was cultivated from the earliest times. Its general construction is singular and peculiar. It consists in dividing every period into correspondent, for the most part into equal members, which answer to each other both in sense and sound. In the first member of a period a sentiment is expressed; and in the second the same sentiment is amplified, or repeated in different terms, or sometimes contrasted with its opposite. Thus, "Sing unto the Lord a new
song; sing unto the Lord all the earth. Sing unto "the Lord, and bless his name; shew forth his salva❝tion from day to day. Declare his glory among the "heathen; his wonders among all people."
This form of poetical composition is deduced from the manner in which the Hebrews sung their sacred hymns. These were accompanied with music, and performed by bands of singers and musicians, who alternately answered each other. One band began the hymn thus: "The Lord reigneth let the earth rejoice;" and the chorus, or semi-chorus, took up the correspond
ing versicle; "Let the multitudes of the isles be "glad thereof."
But, independent of its peculiar mode of construction, the sacred poetry is distinguished by the highest beauties of strong, concise, bold, and figurative expression. Conciseness and strength are two of its most remarkable characters. The sentences are always short. The same thought is never dwelt upon long, Hence the sublimity of the Hebrew poetry; and all writers, who attempt the sublime, might profit much by imitating in this respect the style of the old testament. No writings abound so much in bold and animated figures, as the sacred books. Metaphors, comparisons, allegories, and personifications, are particularly frequent. But, to relish these figures justly, we must transport ourselves into Judea, and attend to particular circumstances in it. Through all that region little or no rain falls in the summer months. Hence, to represent distress, frequent allusions are made to a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; and hence, to describe a change from distress to prosperity, their metaphors are founded on the falling of showers, and the bursting out of springs in a desert. Thus in Isaiah, "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, "and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. "For in the wilderness shall waters break out, and "streams in the desert; and the parched ground shall "become a pool; and the thirsty land springs of water;
"in the habitation of dragons there shall be grass with "rushes and reeds."
Comparisons, employed by the sacred poets, are generally short, touching only one point of resemblance. Such is the following: "He that ruleth over men, "must be just, ruling in the fear of God; and he shall "be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth ;
even á morning without clouds; as the tender grass "springing out of the earth by clear shining after ❝rain."
Allegory is likewise frequently employed in the sacred books; and a fine instance of this occurs in the lxxxth Psalm, wherein the people of Israel are compared to a vine. Of parables, the prophetical writings are full; and, if to us they sometimes appear obscure, we should remember that in early times it was universally the custom among all eastern nations, to convey sacred truths under mysterious figures.
The figure, however, which elevates beyond all others the poetical style of the scriptures, is personification. The personifications of the inspired writers exceed in force and magnificence those of all other poets. This is more particularly true when any appearance or op. eration of the Almighty is concerned. "Before him "went the pestilence. The waters saw thee, O God, and were afraid. The mountains saw thee, and they "trembled. The overflowings of the waters passed by;