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"Methought I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
Rescu'd from death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine, as whom, wash'd from spot of childbed taint,
Purification in the old law did save,

And such, as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint ;—
Came, vested all in white, pure as her mind :

Her face was veil'd; yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
So clear as in no face with more delight.
But O, as to embrace me she inclin'd,

I wak'd; she fled; and day brought back my night."-Milton.

A dream! it shall be the poet's dream. And here is Elton's "Dream of Orpheus." He has most happily treated the subject as a dream, with the boldness, the transition, the action of a Greek. He is Greek in his dream, and has given us an English version not to be despised. The poet, in a vision," my visual sense was soul," is amongst strange mountains and forests. He pierces 66 a cavern's

mouth," and visits the subterranean cataracts. So much we consider as the drop-scene indicative of the general character of the piece, for in other respects it is unnecessary. From this he emerges, in his "bodiless, swift presence," and is again upon the mountains, which are poetically described as fit scenery for the agency of the poem.

"The vulture cross'd the azure with his shade,
And eagles from the cliffs the sun survey'd
With fix'd irradiate eye, and from those hills
I saw the lion stooping towards the rills

That boil'd in clefts of rocks, and tigers slow

Stole from the brake, or, crouching, gazed below

On some aërial antelope, anon

Starting, as 'twere a leaf, scarce seen and gone."-Page 181.

He is in the territory of the Bacchants, hears enchanting music, and "with a thought" is before a mountain grotto. There are "nymphs with vine-leaves crown'd." Orpheus, of the music of whose lyre he had heard, is here introduced with effect.


Stags, with their antlers, peep'd; and the streak'd pard
Crouch'd harmless; for before them lean'd a bard

Against the lichen'd rock; within his grasp

A seven-string'd shell; a coil'd and trampled asp

Beneath his foot, the fang still dropping gore."-Págė 182.

There is then silence-afterwards comes the song of the Bacchants, who taunt Orpheus with his absence, and his worship of his unaiding god, when his Eurydice, flying from the shepherd Aristæus, fell under the bite of the asp. They then try their amorous arts to engage him in a new affection. vain

"There was a pause: a silence, fearful, deep,

As though the wilderness were hush'd in sleep;
The youth had grasp'd with agonizing hands
His robe of snowy fleece, while propp'd he stands
Against the granite rock; his frame is shook
With ague thrills; a fire is in his look;
And his wild locks seem curling from his head,
And his cheeks flush with hectic stains of red.
His hand is on his harp and hark!-the clash,
Shrill, loud, and sudden as the thunder-flash!


I fix my eyes upon thee, mighty Sun!

Thou hear'st what these have witness'd, and behold'st
The mockery of their pity! Thou art HE!


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The token is the repossession of Eurydice.

Orpheus breaks from the Bac

chants, throws himself to the branch of a high tree, whence "rock'd giddily,"

"when it bending swept

The verdure-tufted crag, at once he leapt
Sheer from the branch, and felt beneath his feet
Heights which no footsteps but the deer's had beat;
And bounding, where the eagle builds, from sight
He faded upwards into dizzy light.

Then javelins shook and clash'd; a long shrill yell
Was sent through every woodland, cave, and dell;
The hawk flew screaming from his rock; and o'er
The forest growl'd remote a mutter'd mingled roar.

"My sprite was with the bard; I follow'd him
To other mountains, where the sight grew dim
If backward turn'd below: one arm his lyre
Clasp'd close; the sun had touch'd a pine with fire;
He seized a branchy torch; I heard the wave
Dash loud and long and shrill; a yawning cave
Receiv'd him, and I enter'd."—P. 190.

'The poet is in spirit with him, and the description of the descent is truly graphic. Orpheus arrives in confidence at the very centre of Infernal Glory, which is gorgeously painted.

"At length the rock receded over-head;

A sky of amethyst o'er-arching spread

Its concave, studded with strange stars, and bright
With comets, wheeling in concentric light;
And straight before, a palace rear'd on high
Its gold-leav'd doors and walls of porphyry;
And I beheld him, while the valves flew wide,
Across the threshold plant his venturous stride,
And pace, with harp in hand, the jasper floor:
Till, touching a soft stop, he paused before
A veiling arras, that with purpling glow
Checker'd in shifting lights the stone below.
He rais'd it with his arm, and the strong ray
Of starry lamps flash'd out a midnight day;
And supernatural statures caught the eye
Like shadows flung against a mountain sky:
Embodied attributes, strange virtues, powers
Of vengeance such as range the guilty towers
Where crime has left its stain: and some there were
Who wreathed the serpent round their female hair.
The sweet string trembled; all incontinent
Gazed, gestureless and mute; the prophet bent
His forehead; since, above that dream-like crowd,

Steps of pyramidal sweep sustain'd a cloud,

Through whose ensanguined and transparent light
What seem'd a pillar'd throne half met the sight,
Where sate a human shape of doubtful guise,
Tenebrous splendour, and colossal size;
Dazzling, yet dimly seen. The charming rhyme
Melted from Orpheus' lips; he dared to climb
The slope pyramidal of steps, that grew
Beneath his toiling feet, till to my view

He stood diminished; the last stair he trode,

Fainting, and touch'd the footstool of the god."-Pp. 193, 4.

Mr Elton has made the most advantageous use of the Orphic Remains, and has embodied with high poetical conception the zus of the ancient Greek. The following lines are extremely beautiful, and the dream-like visionary transmutation of the distinct yet blended powers of the One are in the true spirit of poetry :

"He saw a monarch in his pomp of place
Propt on a staff of gold; he saw the face
Of Jove-Apollo in his subterrene
Presence of two-sex'd aspect: a dark queen
Sate, gazing pensive on him, Pluto's spouse;
Arch'd on her forehead met her raven brows,
And languishingly look'd her fawn-like eyes
Through long-fring'd eyelids dipt in hyacinth dyes;
Her tower-tress'd hair was diadem'd.


The apparition of that shape was gone;
And through the fire-red vapour, mantling round
The chair of burnish'd adamant, there frown'd

A giant king, whose spiky crown was set

O'er locks that dropp'd in rings of clustering jet;
Thus, in their violet robes enwrapt, the pair

Sate twain, or one; with crisp'd, or flowing, hair;

Or stern, or melancholy mild: each came

And went alone; each different, yet the same;

Nor e'er at once were those grand phantoms seen

A lonely king, a solitary queen.

One only lean'd upon that staff of gold,

And whom you late beheld, you still behold:

Her sandal'd feet still press the agate stair,

And his those raven brows, that tower-wreathed hair;
The lineaments by involution strange

Of form and sex, pass'd with alternate change

And reappear'd; and still a disc of rays

Haloed each brow-a faint and flickering blaze;
And in that sign the ravish'd prophet knew
His priesthood pure, his inspirations true.
He look'd upon the self-dividing one,

The female Jove of hell, the subterranean Sun;
And, as he twitch'd the chords with ivory rod,

Lifted his plaintive chant, and hailed the goddess-god."-Pp. 194, 6.

The "Song of Orpheus," excepting the first few lines of the poem, we think a failure. It sadly wants dignity. The metre offends, and meets with little apology in the matter. It is of the common sing-song elegiac; and as good verses may be found in every village album amongst its fairhanded specimens of youthful and virgin talent. Nor do we see any charm in the speech of Proserpine, who tells Orpheus that, under spell, his Eurydice "flits behind him"

"But beware lest haste

The spell dissever,
Or, unembraced,

She is dead for ever!"-P. 201. From this point Mr Elton reassumes his poetical dignity and power. The dreaming Poet had been disengaged from the Bard Orpheus during the upward passage, left therefore undescribed. He awaits him at the entrance of the enormous cavern, the roarings of whose subterranean waves


"Faintlier heard; when from within the


A harp rang out; a youth with hurried tread

Sprang into day, and, gasping, turn'd his head.

The very heart within me seem'd to break At the shrill sadness of that following shriek."-P. 201.

The shriek, and misty figure, "veiled in snowy white," melting into blindest, blackest, shade," is certainly an improvement upon the too palpable and speech-making Eurydice of the older versions. The Pontiff youth, under the despairing passion of his grief, tearing away his harp strings, is finely conceived.

The charm of the Lyre has departed

from him.

"The serpent cast Her venom on him, as he bounding pass'd Beneath the gnarl'd o'erbranching oaks; the glare

Of panthers met him from their briery lair."-P. 202.

The paths lead him by the loathed image of the human Bacchus-he finds himself in the holiest place amongst the slumbering Bacchants-he awakes them and drags their idol of Bacchus from its base, and tramples in the earth the "mortal-visaged God." The Bacchants, infuriate, pour forth the Dithyrambic rage, seize and tear him in pieces. Mr Elton does not forget the bodiless head floating down the Hebrus, and the "frigida lingua," still crying "Ah, miseram Eurydicen!"nor is he deterred by the burlesque of Gay in his Trivia.

"Headless he sank; but woods, and glades,
and rocks,

Told back the voice of his last agony-
'Eurydice! ah, poor Eurydice !'
The last, the only sounds his tongue had

Still quiver'd on the lip when life escap'd.
The stream, that his departed visage roll'd
Along its ruddy tides, that echo told;
And all the wild roar died along the steep,

And those who wreaked the vengeance
paused to weep."-P. 204.

The heathen poets here terminate the story-but the immortality of the soul was a part of the Orphic creed. Mr Elton, therefore, justly and with great beauty extends his vision. The poet is again with Orpheus where, in the cavern, the descent, the brazen door is passed. His footsteps are on the jasper floor; all vanishes in mist;

and the eternal regions of the blessed expand before him, and around him, and all is love.

"And one of roseate cheek and sunny hair, With starr'd and azured vestments, lean'd her head

O'er a wan youth, who waked as from the

Drew life and love like sun-light at his eyes,
And held his breath in speechless ecstasies,
Then dove-like murmured, while delight
grew pain,

'Eurydice! thou then art mine again!'"

P. 205.

Nothing can be happier than this conclusion; a word more would have been an interruption to that perfect bliss of reunion-at once the poet's

happiness, his dream, and his belief!

Oh, that he should awake from this and feel the chill of the gray morning cold upon his widowed breast!

Much as we admire the Orpheus, we are almost tempted to recommend Mr Elton to give a rifacimento of this fascinating poem. The superiority of those portions that are in blank verse will be striking to every reader. We do not object to rhyme-we would not disenchant the tale of rhyme-but we would ever have rhyme tell. When it comes not with its due pause, it is trifling; its beauty is that it gives precision to thought, and encloses it, supplying the place of the more distinct ictus of the Greek and Latin prosody. When rhyme terminates a sentiment or an action it gives it the muse's stamp, securing it from addition or interruption as a poetic axiom: it has a final value. We cannot approve of the innovation of ineffective rhyming by which the imitators of the Shelley school make it a passing impertinence, with no apparent object but an unnecessary intrusion. The monotony of periodical termination may be better avoided by transferring the rhymes, making their recurrence irregular, as in Lycidas (but Milton's ear was perfect; his sense of hearing was probably sharpened by the deprivation of sight), and also by the use of the triplet, in which Dryden is so happy, and so expressively and finally closes the sense of a passage.

But why may we not speak a few words of Orpheus himself-Orpheus the Poet! Who was Orpheus? What did he do? The Poet, the modern Sophist, the Utilitarian, will variously


Some deny his existence, and some read all poetry by the rule of contrary. We envy not such, who would too severely put poetry to the question, and who think they confer a benefit on mankind by stripping her more naked than ever she was born, and subjecting her limbs to the torture to chronicle her miserable confessions as truth. We are content to know that trees followed him, tigers danced and crouched before his lyre. Neither do we envy the success of that exact enquiry by which some have pretended to have discovered, that the music of Orpheus arose not from his lyre but from the pestle and mortar! who resolve the recovery of Eurydice from Hades, or, according to the advertisements, "from under the ribs of death," into the efficacy of medicine administered by the first Apothecary, Orpheus!

The powers ascribed to Orpheus, making every allowance for poetical embellishments, are, indeed, extensive enough; he asserts in the Argonautics, with sufficient gravity, that he had "trod the dark way of Tartarus into Hell for the sake of his spouse, trusting to his harp." Certainly, nothing has come down to us indicative of his wonderful charm. The most whimsical power ascribed to a verse of Orpheus, "the wise mage," is in the Cyclops, where the coward Satyr proposes the repetition as a charm to bid the monster's eye walk out of his head of its own accord. We are not likely to meet with panthers in our walks ; but, if Mr Wombwell's van should break down and pour forth its mon

sters, we should be loth to trust to the most concentrated extracts of his power from any of the works that bear his name. Repeat some of his best lines with the volume in hand in a pretty thick wood, and never suspect that the trees will follow you, nor fear complaints before magistrates of your oral depredations!

There are some strong and picturesque passages in the Argonautics, for instance, the Cave of Chiron ; but, excepting some few isolated scenes, there is little poetry in the work. There is a pretty story in the argument (why so called we know not) to his Lithics, which, though told with great simplicity, shows a very successful attempt at descriptive precision and even studied sweetness and elegance of versification.

Orpheus, in his way to offer his annual sacrifice to the Sun, meets Theodamas, whom he persuades to accompany him. He gives a very interest ing and graphic narrative of the cause which led his father to offer sacrifice on the altar of that deity. This introduces a discussion, and leads the way to the poems that follow, on the merits and powers of various stones, the possession of which will lead to the attainment of the owner's wishes, and guard him from the dangers of poison. The scenery of the place of sacrifice, and the accompaniment of the two dogs, who attend of their own accord, conclude the little narrative with some exquisitely beautiful lines, as expressive as any in the range of pastoral poetry. We offer a translation:

I love the converse of a man of sense,
Better than gold, that masters all who seek it—
For, being bent on sacrifice to the Sun,

I met my prudent friend Theodamas,

Towards the city, from the country wending.
I took him by the hand, and spake him thus:
"Townward to-morrow, my good friend, unless
Most urgent business call you there to-day;
For now, methinks, the very god himself
Sent thee to meet me bent on festival.
Consent, then, come with me, for blessedness
Attends the sacrifice that good men offer;
And the immortal gods rejoice, when men
The worthiest do these processions lead.
Nor shall I take you far aside; for, see
The hill, above my grounds, whither I tend.
There, when I was a stripling, once alone
I ventured, following two birds escaped-
My two tame partridges: each, as heard
Its name (I called to them), stood still awhile,

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