« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
[ANNE FINCH, Countess of Winchilsea, was born about 1660, at Sidmonton, Hants, the residence of her father, Sir William Kingsmill. She married Heneage Finch, fourth Earl of Winchilsea, who survived her six years. She died on the 5th of August, 1720, leaving no issue. Her works consist of The Spleen, a pindaric ode, 1701; The Prodigy, 1706; Miscellany Poems, 1713; and Aristomenes, a tragedy.]
In that invaluable Essay which Wordsworth appended to his Lyrical Ballads in 1815, he says that 'excepting the Nocturnal Reverie of Lady Winchilsea, and a passage or two in the Windsor Forest of Pope, the poetry of the period intervening between the publication of the Paradise Lost and the Seasons does not contain a single new image of external nature. This remark, although rather acute than exact, since the poet forgets both Gay and Parnell, did eminent service in restoring to the list of English poets a name entirely and unworthily forgotten. Since Wordsworth's mention of Lady Winchilsea, the one piece that he cites has been often reprinted in collections of verse, but it cannot be said that any further effort has been made to investigate the claims of the neglected authoress. Her poems have never been edited or described, and we believe that our present selection will reveal to almost all our readers a writer positively unknown to them. Yet she was a poetess of singular originality and excellence; her lines To the Nightingale have lyrical qualities which were scarcely approached in her own age, and would do credit to the best, while her odes and more weighty pieces have a strength and accomplishment of style which make the least interesting of them'worth reading.
Lady Winchilsea was one of the last pindaric writers of the school of Cowley. Her odes display that species of writing in the
Fair Chloe blushed : Euphelia frowned :
I sung and gazed : I played and trembled :
And Venus to the Loves around
Remarked, how ill we all dissembled.
As after noon, one summer's day,
Venus stood bathing in a river ;
Cupid a-shooting went that way,
New-strung his bow, new-filled his quiver.
With skill he chose his sharpest dart :
With all his might his bow he drew:
Swift to his beauteous parent's heart
The too-well-guided arrow flew.
I faint ! I die! the goddess cried ;
O cruel, could'st thou find none other
To wreck thy spleen on? Parricide !
Like Nero, thou hast slain thy mother.
Poor Cupid sobbing scarce could speak;
Indeed, mamma, I did not know ye:
Alas! how easy my mistake!
I took you for your likeness, Chloe.
Dear Chloe, how blubbered is that pretty face !
Thy cheek all on fire, and thy hair all umcurled : Pr’ythee quit this caprice ; and (as old Falstaff says)
Let us e'en talk a little like folks of this world.
How can'st thou presume, thou hast leave to destroy
The beauties, which Venus but lent to thy keeping ? Those looks were designed to inspire love and joy :
More ordinary eyes may serve people for weeping.
Tie than the ‘Answer to Chloe jealous,' which usyally precedes it.
TO THE NIGHTINGALE.
Exert thy voice, sweet harbinger of Spring!
This moment is thy time to sing,
This moment I attend to praise,
And set my numbers to thy lays ;
Free as thine shall be my song,
As thy music, short or long ;
Poets, wild as thou, were born,
Pleasing best when unconfined,
When to please is least designed,
Soothing but their cares to rest ;
Cares do still their thoughts molest,
And still the unhappy poet's breast
Like thine, when best he sings, is placed against a thorn.
She begins ! Let all be still !
Muse, thy promise now fulfil !
Sweet! oh sweet! still sweeter yet!
Can thy words such accents fit?
Canst thou syllables refine,
Melt a sense that shall retain
Still some spirit of the brain,
Till with sounds like those it join?
'Twill not be! then change thy note,
Let division shake thy throat !
Hark! division now she tries,
Yet as far the Muse outflies !
Cease then, prithee, cease thy tune,
Trifler, wilt thou sing till June?
Till thy business all lies waste
And the time of building's past ?
Thus we poets that have speech, -
Unlike what thy forests teach,-
If a fluent vein be shown
That's transcendent to our own,
Criticise, reform or preach,
Censuring what we cannot reach.
Fair Tree! for thy delightful shade
'Tis just that some return be made ;
Sure some return is due from me
To thy cool shadows, and to thee.
When thou to birds dost shelter give
Thou music dost from them receive;
If travellers beneath thee stay
Till storms have worn themselves away,
That time in praising thee they spend,
And thy protecting power commend ;
The shepherd here, from scorching freed,
Tunes to thy dancing leaves his reed,
Whilst his loved nymph in thanks bestows
Her flowery chaplets on thy boughs.
Shall I then only silent be,
And no return be made by me?
No! let this wish upon me wait,
And still to flourish be thy fate,
To future ages mayst thou stand
Untouched by the rash workman's hand,
Till that large stock of sap is spent,
Which gives thy summer's ornament ;
Till the fierce winds, that vainly strive
To shock thy greatness whilst alive,
Shall on thy lifeless hour attend,
Prevent the axe and grace thy end,
Their scattered strength together call,
And to the clouds proclaim thy fall,
Who then their evening dews may spare,
When thou no longer art their care,
But shalt, like ancient heroes, burn
And some bright hearth be made thy urn.
In such a night, when every louder wind
Is to its distant cavern safe confined,
And only gentle Zephyr fans his wings,
And lonely Philomel, still waking, sings,
Or from some tree, framed for the owl's delight,
She, hollowing clear, directs the wanderer right,-
In such a night, when passing clouds give place,
Or thinly veil the heaven's mysterious face,
When in some river, overhung with green,
The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen,
When freshened grass now bears itself upright,
And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite,
Whence spring the woodbind and the bramble-rose,
And where the sleepy cowslip sheltered grows,
Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes,
Yet chequers still with red the dusky brakes,
Where scattered glowworms,—but in twilight fine,-
Shew trivial beauties, watch their hour to shine,
While Salisbury stands the test of every light,
In perfect charms and perfect beauty bright;
When odours, which declined repelling day,
Through temperate air uninterrupted stray ;
When darkened groves their softest shadows wear,
And falling waters we distinctly hear;
When through the gloom more venerable shows
Some ancient fabric awful in repose ;
While sunburned hills their swarthy looks conceal,
And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale ;
When the loosed horse now, as his pasture leads,
Comes slowly grazing thro' the adjoining meads,
Whose stealing pace and lengthened shade we fear,
Till torn-up forage in his teeth we hear ;
When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
And unmolested kine rechew the cud;