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They say that when Duke Guido saw them come,
TO THE GRASSHOPPER AND CRICKET.
Green little vaulter in the sunny grass,
When even the bees lag at the summoning brass;
Nick the glad silent moments as they pass.
One to the fields, the other to the hearth,
In doors and out, summer and winter,-mirth.
We are the sweet flowers,
(Think, whene'er you see us, what our beauty saith ;)
We fill the air with pleasure by our simple breath;
Unto sorrow we give smiles, and unto graces, graces.
All, and sweetly voiceless,
Though the March winds pipe, to make our passage clear;
Not a whisper tells
Where our small seed dwells,
Nor is known the moment green when our tips appear.
We thread the earth in silence,
In silence build our bowers,
And leaf by leaf in silence show, till we laugh a-top, sweet flowers.
THE AUTHOR IN PRISON.
I papered the walls with a trellis of roses; I had the ceiling colored with clouds and sky; the barred windows were screened with Venetian blinds; and when my bookcases were set up, with
their busts and flowers, and a pianoforte made its appearance, perhaps there was not a handsomer room on that side the water. I took a pleasure, when a stranger knocked at the door, to see him come in and stare about him. The surprise, on issuing from the borough and passing through the avenues of a jail, was dramatic. Charles Lamb declared there was no other such room except in a fairy tale. But I had another surprise, which was a garden. There was a little yard outside, railed off from another belonging to the neighboring ward. This yard I shut in with green palings, adorned it with a trellis, bordered it with a thick bed of earth from a nursery, and even contrived to have a grass plot. The earth I filled with flowers and young trees. There was an apple-treefrom which we managed to get a pudding the second year. my flowers, they were allowed to be perfect. A poet from Derbyshire (Mr. Moore) told me he had seen no such heart's-ease. I bought the "Parnaso Italiano" while in prison, and used often to think of a passage in it while looking at this miniature piece of horticulture
"Mio picciol orto,
A me sei vigna, e campo, e silva, e prato."-Baldi.
"My little garden,
To me thou'rt vineyard, field, and wood, and meadow."
Here I wrote and read in fine weather, sometimes under an awning. In autumn, my trellises were hung with scarlet runners, which added to the flowery investment. I used to shut my eyes in my arm-chair, and affect to think myself hundreds of miles off. But my triumph was in issuing forth of a morning. A wicket out of the garden led into the large one belonging to the prison. The latter was only for vegetables, but it contained a cherry-tree, which I twice saw in blossom.
THE POET'S MISSION.
It is with the poet's creations, as with nature's, great or small. Wherever truth and beauty, whatever their amount, can be worthily shaped into verse, and answer to some demand for it in our hearts, there poetry is to be found; whether in productions grand and beautiful as some great event, or some mighty, leafy solitude, or no bigger and more pretending than a sweet face or a bunch of violets; whether in Homer's epic or Gray's Elegy, in the enchanted gardens of Ariosto and Spenser, or the very pot-herbs of the Schoolmistress of Shenstone, the balms of the simplicity of a cottage. Not to know and feel this, is to be deficient in the universality of Nature herself, who is a poetess on the smallest as well as the largest scale, and who calls upon us to admire all her productions: not indeed with the same degree of admiration, but with no refusal of it, except to defect.
Milton has said that poetry, in comparison with science, is "simple, sensuous, and passionate." By simple, he means unperplexed and self-evident; by sensuous, genial and full of imagery; by passionate, excited and enthusiastic. I am aware that different constructions have been put on some of these words; but the context seems to me to necessitate those before us.
What the poet has to cultivate above all things is love and truth; what he has to avoid, like poison, is the fleeting and the false. He will get no good by proposing to be "in earnest at the moment." His earnestness must be innate and habitual; born with him, and felt to be his most precious inheritance. "I expect neither profit nor general fame by my writings," says Coleridge, in the Preface to his Poems; "and I consider myself as having been amply repaid without either. Poetry has been to me its own exceeding great reward; it has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied and refined my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude; and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me."
As to UTILITY, no man recognizes the worth of it more than the poet he only desires that the meaning of the term may not come short of its greatness, and exclude the noblest necessities of his fellow-creatures. He is quite as much pleased, for instance, with the facilities for rapid conveyance afforded him by the railroad, as the dullest confiner of its advantages to that single idea, or as the greatest two-idead man who varies that single idea with hugging himself on his "buttons" or his good dinner. But he sees also the beauty of the country through which he passes, of the towns, of the heavens, of the steam-engine itself, thundering and fuming along like a magic horse, of the affections that are carrying, perhaps, half the passengers on their journey, nay, of those of the great two-idead man; and, beyond all this, he discerns the incalculable amount of good, and knowledge, and refinement, and mutual consideration, which this wonderful invention is fitted to circulate over the globe, perhaps to the displacement of war itself, and certainly to the diffusion of millions of enjoyments.
"And a button-maker, after all, invented it!" cries our friend. Pardon me-it was a nobleman. A button-maker may be a very excellent, and a very poetical man, too, and yet not have been the first man visited by a sense of the gigantic powers of the combination of water and fire. It was a nobleman who first thought of this most poetical bit of science; it was a nobleman who first thought of it, a captain who first tried it, and a button-maker who perfected it. And he who put the nobleman on such thoughts was the great philosopher Bacon, who said that poetry had "something
FOR fastidiousness of taste and elaborateness of finish, few poets of the present century excel Alaric Watts; and he has written some pieces no less distinguished for true pathos. "He has given abundant proof," says Mr. Moir, "if not of high creative strength, of gentle pathos, of cultivated intellect, and an eye and ear sensitively alive to all the genial impulses of nature, of home-bred delights, and heartfelt happiness: he is always elegant and refined, and looks on carelessness— as every man of taste and accomplishment should-as a vice unworthy of an artist; for poetry, assuredly, requires the learned skill, intuitive as that may occasionally seem, as well as the teeming fancy."
Mr. Watts's publications are "Lyrics of the Heart, and other Poems;" "Poetical Album, Two Series," (a most judicious and tasteful selection of the fugitive poetry of living English poets;) "Sketches," and "Scenes of Life, and Shades of Character," two volumes.
DEATH OF THE FIRST-BORN.
"Fare thee well, thou first and fairest."-BURNS.
My sweet one, my sweet one, the tears were in my eyes
When first I clasp'd thee to my heart, and heard thy feeble cries;—
I turn'd to many a wither'd hope, to years of grief and pain,
I gazed upon thy quiet face, half blinded by my tears,
Till gleams of bliss, unfelt before, came brightening on my fears:
As stars dart down their loveliest light when midnight skies are round them.
My sweet one, my sweet one, thy life's brief hour is o'er,
And for the hopes, the sun-bright hopes that blossom'd at thy birth,—
She would have chid me that I mourn'd a doom so blest as thine,
Then placed around thy beauteous corse flowers not more fair and sweet,-
Though other offspring still be ours, as fair perchance as thou,
The First! How many a memory bright that one sweet word can bring
Pure as the snow-flake ere it falls and takes the stain of earth,
My sweet one, my sweet one, my fairest and my first!
When I think of what thou might'st have been, my heart is like to burst; But gleams of gladness through my gloom their soothing radiance dart, And my sighs are hush'd, my tears are dried, when I turn to what thou art!
TO A CHILD BLOWING BUBBLES.
Thrice happy babe! what radiant dreams are thine,
To be, like thee, a careless child once more?
To share thy simple sports and sinless glee;
Thy breathless wonder, thy unfeign'd delight,
In swift succession, from thy straining sight;—
To feel a power within himself to make,
Like thee, a rainbow wheresoe'er he goes;
To brighter visions, from his charm'd repose ;
Who would not give his all of worldly lore,
The hard-earn'd fruits of many a toil and care,-
Thy guileless thoughts and blissful ignorance share!
Yet life hath bubbles, too, that soothe awhile
The sterner dreams of man's maturer years;
Thrice happy child! a brighter lot is thine;
What new illusion e'er can match the first?