the best is when I glide from out them,
Cross a step or two of dubious twilight,
Come out on the other side, the novel
Silent silver lights and darks undreamed of,
Where I hush and bless myself with silence.” (vol. iv. p. 305.)
“PROSPICE” (look forward) is a challenge to spiritual conflict, exultant with the certainty of victory, glowing with the prospective joy of re-union with one whom death has sent before. We cannot doubt that this poem, like the preceding, came from the depths of the poet’s own heart.
“NUMPHOLEPTOS” (caught by a nymph) is passionately earnest in tone, and must rank as lyrical in spite of the dramatic, at least fantastic, circumstance in which the feeling is clothed. It is the almost despairing cry of a human love, devoted to a being of superhuman purity; and who does not reject the love, but accepts it on an impossible condition: that the lover shall complete himself as a man by acquiring the fullest knowledge of life, and shall emerge unsullied from its experiences. This woman, more or less than mortal, belongs rather to the “fairyland of science” than to the realm of mythology. She stands, in passionless repose, at the starting-point of the various paths of earthly existence. These radiate from her, many-hued with passion and adventure, as light rays scattered by a prism; and, in the mocking hopes with which she invests their course, she seems herself the cold white light, of which their glow is born, and into which it will also die. She bids her worshipper travel down each red and yellow ray, bathe in its hues, and return to her “jewelled,” but not smirched; and each time he returns, not jewelled, but smirched; always to appear monstrous in her sight; always to be dismissed with the same sad smile: so pitying that it promises love, so fixed that it bars its possibility. He rebels at last, but the rebellion is momentary. He renews his hopeless quest.
“PROLOGUE” is a fanciful expression of the ideas of impediment visible and invisible, which may be raised by the aspect of a brick wall; such a one, perhaps, as projects at a right angle to the window of Mr. Browning’s study, and was before him when he wrote.
“NATURAL MAGIC” attests the power of love to bring, as by enchantment, summer with its warmth and blossoms, into a barren life.
“MAGICAL NATURE” is a tribute to the beauty of countenance which proceeds from the soul, and has therefore a charmed existence defying the hand of time.
The INTRODUCTION to the “TWO POETS OF CROISIC,” (reprinted under the title of “Apparitions,”) recalls the sentiment of “Natural Magic.” The “TALE” with which it concludes is inspired by the same feeling. Its circumstance is ancient, and the reader is allowed to imagine that it exists in Latin or Greek; but it is simply a poetic and profound illustration of what love can do always and everywhere. A famous poet was singing to