He abounds in imagery of oriental gorgeousness; and if, in personality, he may be compared to his own Peri, or one of “the beautiful blue damsel flies” of that poem, he has given to his unfriendly critics a judgment of his own style, in a criticism made by Fadladeen of the young poet’s story to Lalla Rookh;—“it resembles one of those Maldivian boats—a slight, gilded thing, sent adrift without rudder or ballast, and with nothing but vapid sweets and faded flowers on board.” “The effect of the whole,” says one of his biographers, speaking of Lalla Rookh, “is much the same as that of a magnificent ballet, on which all the resources of the theatre have been lavished, and no expense spared in golden clouds, ethereal light, gauze-clad sylphs, and splendid tableaux.”
Moore has been felicitously called “the poet of all circles,” a phrase which shows that he reflected the general features of his age. At no time could the license of Anacreon, or the poems of Little, have been so well received as when “the first gentleman in Europe” set the example of systematic impurity. At no time could Irish Melodies have had such a furore of adoption and applause, as when Repeal was the cry, and the Irish were firing their minds by remembering “the glories of Brian the Brave;” that Brian Boroimhe who died in the eleventh century, after defeating the Danes in twenty-five battles.
Moore’s Biographies, with all their faults, are important social histories. Lalla Rookh has a double historical significance: it is a reflection—like Anastasius and Vathek, like Thalaba and The Curse of Kehama, like The Giaour and The Bride of Abydos—of English conquest, travel, and adventure in the East. It is so true to nature in oriental descriptions and allusions, that one traveller declared that to read it was like riding on a camel; but it is far more important to observe that the relative conditions of England and the Irish Roman Catholics are symbolized in the Moslem rule over the Ghebers, as delineated in The Fire Worshippers. In his preface to that poem, Moore himself says: “The cause of tolerance was again my inspiring theme; and the spirit that had spoken in the melodies of Ireland soon found itself at home in the East.”
In an historic view of English Literature, the works of Moore, touching almost every subject, must always be of great value to the student of his period: there he will always have his prominent place. But he is already losing his niche in public favor as a poet proper; better taste, purer morals, truer heart-songs, and more practical views will steadily supplant him, until, with no power to influence the present, he shall stand only as a charming relic of the past.
THE NEW ROMANTIC POETRY (CONTINUED).
Robert Burns. His Poems.
His Career. George Crabbe. Thomas Campbell.
Samuel Rogers. P. B. Shelley. John Keats. Other Writers.