Page images
PDF
EPUB

145

You husbands, match not but for love,
Lett some disliking after prove ;
Women, be warn'd when you are wives,
What plagues are due to finful lives :

Then, maids and wives, in time amend,
For love and beauty will have end.

XXVII.
CORYDON'S DOLEFUL KNELL.

This little simple elegy is given, with some corre&tions, from two copies, one of which is in The golden garland of princely delights."

The burthen of the fong, DING DONG, &c. is at present appropriated to burlesque subjects, and therefore may excite only ludicrous ideas in a modern reader ; but in the time of our poet it usually accompanied the most folemn and mournful strains. Of this kind is that fine aërial Dirge in ShakeSpear's Tempest:

" Full fadom five thy father lies,

Of his bones are corrall made ;
66 Those are pearles that were his eyes ;

Nothing of him, that doth fade,
" But doth suffer a fea-change

Into fomething rich and flrange :

« Sea

Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell, Harke now I heare them, Ding dong bell.

Burthen, Ding dong."

I make no doubt but the poet intended to conclude the above air in a manner the most solemn and expressive of melancholy.

[ocr errors]

Y Phillida, adieu love!

For evermore farewel !
Ay mel I've lost my true love,
And thus I ring her knell,
Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong,

My Phillida is dead!
I'll stick a branch of willow

At my fair Phillis' head,

[merged small][ocr errors]

For my fair Phillida

Our bridal bed was made:
But 'stead of filkes so gay,
She in her shroud is laid.

Ding, &c.

[ocr errors]

Her corpse shall be attended

By maides in fair array,
Till the obsequies are ended,
And she is wrapt in clay.

Ding, &c.

15

Her

[blocks in formation]

* It is a cuflom in many pa is of England, to carry a fictuery garland before tbe corpse of a woman who dies unmarried.

+ See above, preface to No. XI. Book II. p. 178.

Instead

ON THE ALLITERATIVE METRE,

WITHOUT RHYME,
IN PIERCE PLOWMAN'S VISIONS.

WE learn from Wormius(a), that the ancient Islandic poets used a great variety of measures: he mentions 136 different kinds, without including RHYME, or a correspondence of final fyllables: yet this was occasionally used, as appears from the Ode of Egil, which Wormius hath inserted in his book,

He hath analysed the structure of one of these kinds of verse, the harmony of which neither depended on the quantity of the syllables, like that of the ancient Greeks and Romans; nor on the rhymes at the end, as in modern poetry; but consisted altogether in alliteration, or a certain artful repetition of the founds in the middle of the verses. This was adjusted according to certain rules of their prosody, one of which was, that every distich Mould .contain at least three words beginning with the same letter or sound. Two of these correspondent sounds might be placed either in the first or second line of the distich, and one in the other : but all three were not regularly to be crowded into one line. This will be best undara food by the following examples (b).Meire og Minne

ri Gab Ginunga Mogu leimdaller."

Enn Gras huerge."

There were many other little niceties observed by the Mandic poets, who as they retained their original language and peculiarities longer than the other nations of

Gothic

(a) Literatura Rurica. Hain'æ 1636, 410.-1651, fol. The ISLANDIC language is of thef.:me (riginas our ANGLO-SAXON, being both dialects of the anciert Gornic or TEUTONIC. Vid. Hicke fii Fiæfat. io Grammat. Anglo-Sixon, & Moelo Gub. 4to, 1689.

16) Vid. Hickes Antiq. Literatur. Suple:itrional. Tom. I. p. 217.

Gothic race, had time to cultivate their native poetry more, and to carry it to a higher pitch of refinement, than any

of the rest, Their brethren the Anglo-Saxon poets occasionally used the same kind of alliteration, and it is common to meet in their writings with fimilar examples of the foregoing rules.

Take an instance or two in modern cha. racters (c):

“ Skeop tha and Skyrede

Skyppend ure.”

« Ham and Heahsetl

Heofena rikes."

I know not however that there is any where extant an entire Saxon poem all in this measure. But distichs of this fort perpetually occur in all their poems of any length.

Now, if we examine the versification of Pierce Plowman's VISIONS, we shall find it constructed exactly by these rules; and therefore each line, as printed, is in reality a diftich of two verses, and will, I believe, be found distinguished as such, by some mark or other in all the ancient MSS. viz.

« In a Somer Season, I when hot (d) was the Sunne,
« I Shope me into Sbroubs, | as I a Shepe were;
« In Habite as an Harmet , un Holy of werkes,
“ Went Wyde in thys world | Wonders to heare, &c.

So that the author of this poem will not be found to have invented any new mode of versification, as some have fupposed, but only to have retained that of the old Saxon and Gothic poets ; which was probably never wholly laid aside, but occasionally used at different intervals':

1c) Ibid.

(d) So I would read with Mr. Warton, rather than either soft,' as in MS. or set,' as in PCC. VOL. II.

T

though

« PreviousContinue »