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Forgetful of the hungry rage, which late
As the god of my life? Why hath he me abhorr'd ?"29
28" Yet she," &c. Coleridge quotes this stanza as a good instance of what he means "in the following remarks in his Lectures :-" As characteristic of Spenser, I would call your particular attention in the first place to the indescribable sweetness and fluent projections of his verse, very clearly distinguishable from the deeper and more inwoven harmonies of Shakspeare and Milton." Good, however, as the stanza is, and beautiful the second line, it does not appear to me so happy an instance of what Coleridge speaks of as many which he might have selected.
The verses marked in the second stanza are one of the most favorite quotations from the Faerie Queene.
29" As the god of my life," &c. Pray let not the reader consent to read this first half of the line in any manner less marked and peremptory. It is a striking instance of the beauty of that "acceleration and retardation of true verse " which Coleridge speaks of. There is to be a hurry on the words as the, and a passionate emphasis and passing stop on the word god; and so of the next three words.
Character, Young and Innocent but Conscious and Sensuous Beauty, Painter, Correggio.
Behold how goodly my fair love does lie
Like unto Maia, when as Jove her took
NIGHT AND THE WITCH DUESSA,
TAKING SANSJOY IN THEIR CHARIOT TO ESCULAPIUS TO BE RESTORED TO LIFE.
Character, Dreariness of Scene; Horridness of Aspect and Wicked Beauty, side by side; Painter, Julio Romano.
Then to her iron waggon she betakes
And with her bears the foul well-favored witch:
So well they sped, that they be come at length
So lay him in her chariot, close in night conceal'd.
And all the while she stood upon the ground,
"Each to each unlich.” Unlike.
Then turning back in silence soft they stole,
By that same hole, an entrance, dark and base,
By that same way the direful dames do drive
Their mournful chariot fill'd with rusty blood,31
To gaze on earthly wight, that with the night durst ride.
30" So filthy and so foul."-Why he should say this of Night, except, perhaps, in connection with the witch, I cannot say. It seems to me to hurt the "abhorred face." Night, it is true, may be reviled, or made grand or lovely, as a poet pleases. There is both classical and poetical warrant for all. But the goddess with whom the witch dared to ride (as the poet finely says at the close) should have been exhibited, it would seem, in a more awful, however frightful guise.
31 “Their mournful chariot fill'd with rusty blood.”—There is something wonderfully dreary, strange, and terrible, in this picture. By "rusty blood" (which is very horrid) he must mean the blood half congealing; altered in patches, like rusty iron. Be this as it may, the word "rusty," as Warton observes, .“ seems to have conveyed the idea of somewhat very loathsome and horrible to our author."
VENUS IN SEARCH OF CUPID, COMING TO DIANA.
Character, Contrast of Impassioned and Unimpassioned Beauty— Cold and Warm Colors mixed; Painter, Titian.
(Yet I know not whether Annibal Caracci would not better suit the demand for personal expression in this instance. But the recollection of Titian's famous Bath of Diana is forced upon us.)
Shortly unto the wasteful woods she came,
She having hung upon a bough on high
Soon as she Venus saw behind her back,
She was asham'd to be so loose surpris'd,
Be overtaken soon her garments loose 32
32 "Soon her garments loose," &c.-This picture is from Ovid; but the lovely and beautifully colored comparison of the garland is Spenser's own.
Character, Budding Beauty in male and female; Animal Passion; Luminous Vernal coloring; Painter, the same.
Then came fair May, the fairest maid on ground,33
33" Then came," &c.-Raphael would have delighted (but Titian's colors would be required) in the lovely and liberal uniformity of this picture, the young goddess May supported aloft; the two brethren on each side; animals and flowers below; birds in the air, and Cupid streaming overhead in his green mantle. Imagine the little fellow, with a body of Titian's carnation, tumbling in the air, and playfully holding the mantle, which is flying amply behind, rather than concealing him.
This charming stanza beats the elegant but more formal invocation to May by Milton, who evidently had it in his recollection. Indeed the latter is almost a compilation from various poets. It is, however, too beautiful to be omitted here.
Now the bright morning-star, day's harbinger,
Hail beauteous May, that dost inspire