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While action, like the roaring south-west wind,
With the two following lines beautifully descriptive of winter, we must reluctantly close our notice of this very interesting little volume, returning Mr. Kingsley our sincere thanks, and expressing the hope that he may not leave us long without another occasion for drawing attention to his great merits.
Beneath her eider robe the patient earth
And gaze up with her at the changeless heaven,
Until this tyranny be overpast.”—Act III. Scene 3, p. 162. Mr. Trench's story of Justin Martyr is a short poem of great merit. It is too long to give in full, and we should be afraid to spoil its unity and charm by quoting a part of it, when it is all so well worth perusal. The truth of the feeling, the beauty of the language, and the deep spiritual meaning it contains, all claim for it a high place among the poems of the present day. It belongs to the highest kind of poetry, and is in truth of a rare quality. Unfortunately it stands alone in the volume; no other poem having by any means equal merit. Mr. Trench belongs to Wordsworth's school of poetry, and has fallen into the same error of publishing too much. He gives us indirectly to understand in some pleasing lines which close the volume, that he does not write for fame, but for a sacred influence. We believe, however, it is a mistake to suppose that religious feeling or thought will influence through poetry, merely as metrical composition, when of an indifferent or third-rate description. Poetry is not read by every one; only by those who would throw aside at once
serious poetry, not inspired either by the glow of enthusiasm, or the hues of fancy, or the pictures of imagination. Such a simple story as that of Honor Neale would tell much better in prose. As a tract it might be useful, especially among the poor. Here Mr. Trench, whose view of things is always spiritual, follows Wordsworth too closely: but what has not inspired himself is not likely to inspire another. "The Monk and Bird," and "A walk in the Churchyard," contain beautiful verses well worth perusal : they exhibit at once the style of the author's writing, and the religious aspect in which fiction or truth alike strike upon his serious mind. Among the many sonnets we would refer the reader to five addressed to a lady singing (p. 136-9), and two upon the perception of beauty everywhere (p. 142-3), containing some of Mr. Trench's best thoughts, expressed in his best language. The two last verses of an Ode to Sleep are beautifully descriptive (vid. p. 152-3). At the close of the volume, where the verses are exclusively religious, the author seems to us most at home (see especially p. 260-3). There are some beautiful verses in the Day of Death, to which we would particularly direct attention (p. 264). As a specimen of Mr. Trench's descriptive power and spiritual application we select the following sonnet:
THE HERRING-FISHERS OF LOCHFYNE.
"Deem not these fishers idle, though by day
Weary, and leaning o'er their vessels' side."-P. 68.
We cannot understand why Mr. Trench always uses the word spiritual as one of two syllables, where the metre is constantly broken by its introduction : of this there are numberless examples.
The same serious spirit, the same sense of mystery, the same vivid consciousness of the Unseen in which we live and move-which characterises the poetry of Mr. Kingsley and Mr. Trench-appear in the little volume called "Ambarvalia." Mr. Clough's poems are generally more remarkable for spiritual than for poetical thought: his language is often stiff, and his ideas obscure and involved, which makes it difficult to arrive at his meaning. He is too fond of alliteration, e. g. these phrases occur-" mortal moral strife," "sure assured," "seem to see," "dare not dare," "wills thy will," "priceless prize," "dreamier dreams," "bloomiest bloom," ," "primal prime," and are certainly awkward and unpoetical. The first poem we like much: it expresses well that mystery in which the mind gets entangled, in endeavouring to solve the difficulties which press upon the thoughtful."Qui laborat orat" (p. 18) contains a true and noble thought, and reveals (as do all this writer's lines) a lowly yet manly and aspiring soul. He has more concentration of thought and expression than Mr. Trench, more metaphysical subtlety, but less of the poetical temperament. There are some fine verses under the title "When Israel came out of Egypt" (p. 23). The most poetical piece of all we think is the "Silver Wedding" (p. 28), celebrated in Germany when a couple have been married five-and-twenty years;-there is true poetical and deep human feeling in it, doing justice to our highest nature: it is too long to quote here. "Qua cursum ventus," (p. 50,) lines suggested by a common experience of life, is forcible and earnest as well as beautiful; it is the only specimen we have space for in this short notice of Mr. Clough's miscellaneous effusions, where, it must be candidly allowed, that a want of taste is sometimes discernible :
"As ships, becalmed at eve, that lay
When fell the night, upsprung the breeze,
E'en so-but why the tale reveal
At dead of night their sails were filled,
To veer, how vain! On, onward strain,
But O blithe breeze! and O great seas!
One port, methought, alike they sought,
We should say that Mr. Burbidge (to repeat an expression already frequently used for want of a better) had a more decidedly poetical temperament than Mr. Clough his lines. throughout flow more easily, and there is more fancy and imagination, and less metaphysical thought in his poems. We like his opening lines upon Florence, and others further on in the volume (p. 95 and 116), suggested also in that city, when walking in the Boboli gardens. The following lines entitled "Portraiture" (p. 71) we think must be admired:
"With pain her gloomy eyes did she uplift,
There stood before her the enquiring child :
Lay no weight heavier than a light surprise;
Hung on his sunbright face, or in a (floating) wreath
A rock long-bearded with cold weeds marine,
And which the morning mists are loth to leave."
The verses next following, p. 72-79, have all more or less beauty in them. Those headed "Aspiration" are in the finest style of serious thought, in Mr. Clough's manner, with more simplicity of diction than he generally employs, although we do not comprehend the fifth verse. We should like to know what Mr. Burbidge would express by "the crystal wall." He assumes rather a free poetical license (in p. 81) where he uses or rather coins the word " promont" for promontory
"As I upon a promont of creation,
Where it o'erjects the inexistent void
This is not like Mr. Burbidge's usual style of writing, and ought to be avoided. Some lines entitled "I would" (p. 87) are well worth perusal for the beauty of the sentiment expressed in them. From among many sweet verses, and some beautiful sonnets, animated by a lofty religious spirit, we can only further select the following specimens of the Burbidge's poetical powers (Sonnet, No. XIV. p. 143; and No. VII. p. 154), to close our review :"Searching the skiey depths all night in vain, The starry seer hath known this mysteryThat the sky orb, which over half the sky
Had baulked his chase and mocked his utmost pain,
Into the empty concave of the night)
Which Thought and Patience strove in vain to find,