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For which it long had thirsted ’nnid the strife
Yet I strangely thought
(1) The personification of the different inanimate objects is very delicately and gracefully managed.
(2) Citadel-an ingenious application of the term to the ant-hill, as being the insect's place of refuge, or stronghold.
(3) Compare Byron's lines on Solitude, p. 181.
(4) Listening-synonymous with hearing-endeavouring or being disposed to hear ; hearing-simply catching a sound, whether voluntary or not. Hence we may listen without hearing, and hear without listening-but we never listen without giving attention. The “listening heart" is disposed to hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of his works.
(1) The inversion of the style occasions some obscurity in this passage. The meaning is—that the heart that feels not at that sight is stone, and feels, or can feel at no sight whatever.
(2) Grave, carve, hack, hew, all different modes of cutting, may be thus distinguished :
To grave is to cut into, or hollow out, with a view to execute some design. To carve is to cut a thing so as to shape it into some new form. To hack is to cut for the purpose of injurying or destroying the existing form. To hew is to cut down, or off, for the purpose of removal. Hence, we may correctly say that the names were “graven” or “carved," and the bench “hacked," or notched and “hewed."
(3) Devious, from Latin de and via, from or out of the way; here, on one side, not straight forward. Dryden (see p. 359) wittily says :
“ The rest to some faint meaning make pretence,
But Shadwell never deviates into sense."
THE SPANISH CHAMPION
The warrior bowed his crested head, and tamed his heart of fire,
“ Rise, rise! even now thy father comes, a ransomed man this day
came and went; He reached that grey-haired chieftain's side, and there, dismount
ing, bent; A lowly knee to earth he bent-his father's hand he took,What was there in his touch that all his fiery spirit shook ? That hand was cold-a frozen thing-it dropped from his like
lead; He looked up to the face above-the face was of the dead ! A plume waved o’er the noble brow—that brow was fixed and
white;He met at last his father's eyes—but in them was no sight!
(1) The celebrated Spanish champion, Bernardo del Carpio, renowned for his exploits against the no less famous French hero Roland, as well as against the Moors in Spain, lived in the reign of Alonzo II., King of Leon.
(2) Sire–The count of Saldana, Bernardo's father, who had been imprisoned by the king for many years.
(3) Fortress keys—Bernardo, after many ineffectual efforts to procure his father's release, had taken up arms in despair, but at length assented to the king's proposal to give up the on of his father in exchange for the Castle of Carpio.
(4) Steed, charger—a steed is a horse for the stud, of fine shape and high mettle ; a charger, a heavy war-horse, used for bearing down upon, or charging the enemy in battle.
Up from the ground he sprang, and gazed, but who could paint
that gaze ? They hushed their very hearts that saw its horror and amaze; They might have chained him, as before that stony form he stood, For the power was stricken from his arm, and from his lip the
“Father!” at length he murmured low—and wept like childhood
then,Talk not of grief till thou hast seen the tears of warlike men !He thought on all his glorious hopes, and all his young renown; He flung the falchion from his side, and in the dust sat down.
Then covering with his steel-gloved hands his darkly-mournful brow, “No more, there is no more,” he said, " to lift the sword for now: My king is false, my hope betrayed, my father, oh! the worth, The glory, and the loveliness, are passed away from earth! “I thought to stand where banners waved, my sire! beside thee
yet; I would that there our kindred blood on Spain's free soil had met,Thou wouldst have known my spirit then,-for thee my fields were
won,And thou hast perished in thy chains, as though thou hadst no son!” Then, starting from the ground once more, he seized the monarch’s
rein, Amidst the pale and wildered looks of all the courtier train; And with a fierce o’ermastering grasp, the rearing war-horse led, And sternly set them face to face,—the king before the dead ! “Came I not forth upon thy pledge, my father's hand to kiss ?Be still! and gaze thou on, false king! and tell me what is this? The voice, the glance, the heart I sought-give answer, where are
they ?If thou wouldst clear thy perjured soul, send life through this cold
clay! Into these glassy eyes put light,-be still ! keep down thine ireBid these white lips a blessing speak—this earth is not my sire ! Give me back him for whom I strove, for whom my blood was
shed, Thou canst not-and a king ?-His dust be mountains on thy head!"
He loosed the steed; his slack hand fell,-upon the silent face He cast one long, deep, troubled look,—then turned from that sad
place; His hope was crushed, his after-fate untold in martial strain,His banner led the spears no more amidst the hills of Spain.
TO THE CUCKOO.1
I hear thee and rejoice :
Or but a wandering voice ?
Thy loud note smites my ear :
At once far off and near!
I hear thee babbling to the vale
Of sunshine and of flowers;
Of visionary hours.
Even yet thou art to me
A voice, a mystery.
(1) Some elegant lines on the same subject, by the Scottish poet, Logan, may be found in “ Select Poetry for Children," p. 7. The above poem is of a higher order than Logan's—though scarcely superior in point of interest and execution -because it is more suggestive, that is, awakens a less obvious train of thought, though when pointed out, not less natural and pleasing. Many hear the cuckoo and are pleased with that well-known note, which is so associated with the return of spring ;-Wordsworth hears it, and is reminded, in addition, of “the golden time "—the spring-tide of his youth-when the bird was first an object of intense interest to the boy.
(2) Babbling—from Hebrew Babel, where confusion of tongues first arose ; hen to babble is to talk confusedly and inarticulately. There is much beauty in the use of the word here. Thou babblest-confusedly talkest—to the vale, but to me thy language is distinct and definite, reminding me of my early years,—which appear as it were in a vision, and are here called "visionary hours."