“Herself shall bring us, hand in
To Him round whom all souls
Kneel—the unnumber’d solemn heads
Bowed with their aureoles:
And Angels, meeting us, shall sing
To their citherns and citoles.
“There will I ask of Christ the
Thus much for him and me:—
To have more blessing than on earth
In nowise; but to be
As then we were,—being as then
At peace. Yea, verily.
“Yea, verily; when he is come
We will do thus and thus:
Till this my vigil seem quite strange
And almost fabulous;
We two will live at once, one life;
And peace shall be with us.”
She gazed, and listened, and then said,
Less sad of speech than mild:
“All this is when he comes.” She ceased;
The light thrilled past her, filled
With Angels, in strong level lapse.
Her eyes prayed, and she smiled.
(I saw her smile.) But soon their flight
Was vague ’mid the poised spheres.
And then she cast her arms along
The golden barriers,
And laid her face between her hands,
And wept. (I heard her tears.)
The Strayed Reveller; and other Poems. By A.—Fellowes, Ludgate-street.—1849.
If any one quality may be considered common to all living poets, it is that which we have heard aptly described as self-consciousness. In this many appear to see the only permanent trace of the now old usurping deluge of Byronism; but it is truly a fact of the time,—less a characteristic than a portion of it. Every species of composition—the dramatic, the narrative, the lyric, the didactic, the descriptive—is imbued with this spirit; and the reader may calculate with almost equal certainty on becoming acquainted with the belief of a poet as of a theologian or a moralist. Of the evils resulting from the practice, the most annoying and the worst is that some of the lesser poets, and all mere pretenders, in their desire to emulate the really great, feel themselves under a kind of obligation to assume opinions, vague, incongruous, or exaggerated, often not only not their own, but the direct reverse of their own,—a kind of meanness that has replaced, and goes far to compensate for, the flatteries of our literary ancestors. On the other hand, this quality has created a new tie of interest between the author and his public, enhances the significance of great works, and confers value on even the slightest productions of a true poet.
That the systematic infusion of this spirit into the drama and epic compositions is incompatible with strict notions of art will scarcely be disputed: but such a general objection does not apply in the case of lyric poetry, where even the character of the subject is optional. It is an instance of this kind that we are now about to consider.