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VEN when the farmer, now secure of fear,
Sends in the swains to spoil the finish'd year,
From all the warring winds that sweep the skies.
A STORM IN HARVEST.
The heavy harvest from the root is torn,
The rising rivers float the nether ground;
And rocks the bellowing voice of boiling seas rebound.
JOHN DRYDEN. [Translated from "Virgil."]
[TO JOHN DRYDEN, a great poet and most unfortunate courtier, is due the credit of having produced, in "Absalom and Achitophel," the best satirical poem in the English language. What a masterly description is that he gives of Shaftesbury-the wise judge!"Unbribed, unsought, the wretched to redress, Swift of despatch, and easy of access;" but the bad statesman, who
"Grown weary to possess
A lawful fame, and lazy happiness,
What more withering than his denunciation of the poet Shadwell, whom he accuses of disloyal practices, telling him at the same time, "Hadst thou the glories of thy king exprest, thy praises had been satire at the best!" The glorious "Alexander's Feast," written at the age of sixty-six, would alone have been sufficient to immortalise its author. And yet Dryden died poor, at the age of sixty-nine, and had not, like Milton, the consolation that his poverty had been caused by his independence. Unfortunately for his happiness and fame, this great master of the English tongue devoted himself to the service of a
HE king was on his throne,
The satraps thronged the hall;
In Judah deemed divine-
The godless Heathen's wine!
In that same hour and hall,
And wrote as if on sand:
The fingers of a man ;
A solitary hand
Along the letters ran,
And traced them like a wand.
The monarch saw and shook,
And bade no more rejoice;
Which mar our royal mirth.'
court where licentiousness and frivolity reigned paramount, and where not even his mighty pen could remain uncontaminated by the miasma of vice that overhung everything. Unhappily, conforming to the spirit of the time, he defaced his writings without improving his fortunes. His subservience to James II., and his suspicious conversion to Popery, became unavailing on the accession of William III. Deprived of his laureateship, and reduced to poverty, his last days were devoted to literary drudgery, and he was compelled, in his old age, to write for bread!]
Chaldea's seers are good,
But here they have no skill;
And Babel's men of age
Are wise and deep in lore ;
They saw-but knew no more.
A captive in the land,
A stranger and a youth,
The Mede is at his gate!
The Persian on the throne!"
[LORD BYRON was born in Holles Street, London, in 1788, and succeeded to the title on the death of his granduncle, in 1798. His earliest publication, "Hours of Idleness," was harshly criticised in the Edinburgh Review; whereupon the youthful poet retaliated in the satire, "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers." The chief portion of his life was spent in foreign travel in the south of Europe, his poems being sent home at intervals for publication. A sad mystery hangs over the career of Byron. His separation from his wife, the charitable and amiable lady who so lately passed away from among us, excited great, and not undeserved, hostility against him; and he quitted England with a determination to return no more. Poems, sometimes soaring to the heights of poetic genius, at others trailing through the very slough of impurity and coarseness, gave evidence, from time to time, of the workings of the mighty but ill-regulated spirit, till, in 1824, England was startled by the intelligence of the premature death of a poet, whose powers, though frequently abused, were still marvellously great.]
To a Bee.
THOU wert out betimes, thou busy, busy bee!
As abroad I took my early way, Before the cow from her resting-place
Had risen up, and left her trace
On the meadow, with dew so grey,
Saw I thee, thou busy, busy bee.
Thou wert working late, thou busy, busy
After the fall of the cistus flower,
When the primrose of evening was ready to
I heard thee last, as I saw thee first;
In the silence of the evening hour,
Heard I thee, thou busy, busy bee.
Thou art a miser, thou busy, busy bee!
Late and early at employ;
Still on thy golden stores intent,
Thy summer in keeping and hoarding is spent,
Wise lesson this for me, thou busy, busy bee!
Little dost thou think, thou busy, busy bee!
What is the end of thy toil.
When the latest flowers of the ivy are gone,
Thy master comes for the spoil;
Woe, then, for thee, thou busy, busy bee!