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Pastoral Poetry.

mean, and makes his shepherds abusive and immodest. Virgil, on the contrary, preserves the pastoral simplicity without any offensive rustieity.

Modern writers of pastorals have in general imitated the ancient poets. Sannazarius, how- . ever, a Latin poet in the age of Leo X. attempted a bold innovation by composing piscatory eclogues, and changing the scene from the woods to the sea, and the character from shepherds to fishermen. But the attempt was so 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 İdyls. His seenery is striking, and his descriptions 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 barren ; 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 Pope, 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 Tasso's Aminta.“ Both possess great beauties; but the latter is the

Lyric Poetry

preferable poem, because less intricate, and less affected; though not wholly free from Italian refinement. As a poem, however, it has great merit. The poetry is pleasing and gentle, and the Italian language confers on it much of that softness which is suited to the pastoral.

The Gentle Shepherd of Allen Ramsay is a pastoral drama which will bear comparison with any composition 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 relish it. It is full of natural description, and excels in tenderness of sentiment. The characters are well drawn, the incidents affecting, the scenery and manners lively and just.


THE ode is a species of poetry, which has much digoity, and in which many writers in every age have distinguished themselves. Ode 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 recites not actions. Its spirit and the manner of its execution marks its character. It

Lyric Poetry.

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. Hyinns addresed to God, or composed on religious subjects. 2. Heroic odes, which concern the celebration of heroes and great actions. 3. Moral and philosophical odes, which refer chiefly to virtue, friendship, and humanity. 3. Festive and amorous odes, which are calculated merely for amusement and pleasure.

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

Didactic Poetry.

dignity, touches a gay one with felicity, and has the art of trifling most agreeably. His language too is most fortunate.

Many Latin poets of latter ages have imitated him. Casimir, a Polish poet of the last century, is of this number, and discovers a considerable degree of original 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 Pindarie compositions. His Anacreontic odes are happier, and perhaps the most agreeable and perfect in their kind of all his poems.


Or 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 rego ular treatise on some philosophical, grave, or use


Didactic Poetry.

fol 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 trival 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 montibns humor
Liquitur, et Zephyro putris se gleba resolvit;
Depresso incipiat jam tum mihi Taurus aratro
Ingemere, et sulco attritus splendescere vomer.


In all didactic works such method is requisite as will clearly exhibit a connected train of instruction. With regard to episodes and embellishments, writers of didactic poetry are indulged great liberties. For in a poetical performance a continued series of instruction without embellishment soon fatigues. The digressions in the Georgics of Virgil are his principal beauties.—The happiness of a country life, the fable of Aristeus, and the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, cannot be praised too much.

A didactic poet ought also to connect his episodes with his subject. In this, Virgil is eminent. Among modern didactic poets, Akenside and Armstrong are distinguished. The former is rich and poetical; but the latter maintains great

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