Lectures on the English Poets eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 304 pages of information about Lectures on the English Poets.

      But had I wist before I kist,
        That love had been sae hard to win;
      I’d lockt my heart in case of gowd,
        And pinn’d it with a siller pin. 
      And oh! if my poor babe were born,
        And set upon the nurse’s knee,
      And I mysel in the cold grave! 
        Since my true-love ’s forsaken me.”

The finest modern imitation of this style is the Braes of Yarrow; and perhaps the finest subject for a story of the same kind in any modern book, is that told in Turner’s History of England, of a Mahometan woman, who having fallen in love with an English merchant, the father of Thomas a Becket, followed him all the way to England, knowing only the word London, and the name of her lover, Gilbert.

But to have done with this, which is rather too serious a subject.—­ The old English ballads are of a gayer and more lively turn.  They are adventurous and romantic; but they relate chiefly to good living and good fellowship, to drinking and hunting scenes.  Robin Hood is the chief of these, and he still, in imagination, haunts Sherwood Forest.  The archers green glimmer under the waving branches; the print on the grass remains where they have just finished their noon-tide meal under the green-wood tree; and the echo of their bugle-horn and twanging bows resounds through the tangled mazes of the forest, as the tall slim deer glances startled by.

      “The trees in Sherwood Forest are old and good;
        The grass beneath them now is dimly green: 
        Are they deserted all?  Is no young mien,
      With loose-slung bugle, met within the wood?

      No arrow found—­foil’d of its antler’d food—­
        Struck in the oak’s rude side?—­Is there nought seen
        To mark the revelries which there have been,
      In the sweet days of merry Robin Hood?

      Go there with summer, and with evening—­go
        In the soft shadows, like some wand’ring man—­
        And thou shalt far amid the forest know
      The archer-men in green, with belt and bow,
        Feasting on pheasant, river-fowl, and swan,
        With Robin at their head, and Marian.” [9]

[9] Sonnet on Sherwood Forest, by J.H.  Reynolds, Esq.


      “No more of talk where God or Angel guest
      With man, as with his friend, familiar us’d
      To sit indulgent.”------

Genius is the heir of fame; but the hard condition on which the bright reversion must be earned is the loss of life.  Fame is the recompense not of the living, but of the dead.  The temple of fame stands upon the grave:  the flame that burns upon its altars is kindled from the ashes of great men.  Fame itself is immortal, but it is not begot till the breath of genius is extinguished.  For fame is not popularity, the shout of the multitude, the

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Lectures on the English Poets from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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