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FROM "THE SHIPWRECK,' CANTO III.
In vain the cords and axes were prepared,
For every wave now smites the quivering yard ;
High o'er the ship they throw a dreadful shade,
Then on her burst in terrible cascade ;
Across the foundered deck o'erwhelming roar,
And foaming, swelling, bound upon the shore.
Swift up the mountain billow now she flies,
Her shattered top half buried in the skies ;
Borne o'er a latent reef the hull impends,
Then thundering on the marble crag descends :
Her ponderous bulk the dire concussion feels,
And o'er upheavin surges wounded reels
Again she plunges ! hark ! a second shock
Bilges the splitting vessel on the rock-
Down on the vale of death, with dismal cries,
The fated victims shuddering cast their eyes
In wild despair ; while yet another stroke
With strong convulsion rends the solid oak:
Ah Heaven !-behold her crashing ribs divide
She loosens, parts, and spreads in ruin o'er the tide.
Oh, were it mine with sacred Maro's art
To wake to sympathy the feeling heart,
Like him, the smooth and mournful verse to dress
In all the pomp of exquisite distress ;
Then, too severely taught by cruel fate,
To share in all the perils 1 relate,
Then might I with unrivalled strains deplore
The impervious horrors of a leeward shore.
As o'er the surf the bending main-mast hung,
Still on the rigging thirty seamen clung :
Some on a broken crag were struggling cast,
And there by oozy tangles grappled fast ;
Awhile they bore the o'erwhelming billows' rage,
Unequal combat with their fate to ware ;
Till all benumbed, and feeble, they forego
Their slippery hold, and sink to shades below:
Some, from the main yard-arm impetuous thrown
On marble ridges, die without a groan :
Three with Palemon on their skill depend,
And from the wreck on oars and rafts descend;
Now on the mountain-wave on high they ride,
Then downward plunge beneath the involving tide ;
Till one, who seems in agony to strive,
The whirling breakers heave on shore alive :
The rest a speedier end of anguish knew,
And pressed the stony beach-a liseless crew!
Next, o unhappy chief! the eternal doom
Of Heaven decreed thee to the bring tomb:
What scenes of misery torment thy view !
What painful struggles of thy dying crew!
Thy perished hopes all buried in the flood
O’erspread with corses ! red with human blood !
So pierced with anguish hoary Priam gazed,
When Troy's imperial domes in ruin blazed ;
While he, severest sorrow doomed to feel,
Expired beneath the victor's murdering steel-
Thus with his helpless partners to the last,
Sad refuge ! Albert grasps the floating mast.
His soul could yet sustain this mortal blow,
But droops, alas ! beneath superior woe ;
For now strong nature's sympathetic chain
Tugs at his yearning heart with powerful strain ;
His faithful wife, for ever doomed to mourn
For him, alas ! who never shall return;
To black adversity's approach exposed,
With want, and hardships unforeseen, enclosed ;
His lovely daughter, left without a friend
Her innocence to succour and defend,
By youth and indigence set forth a prey
To lawless guilt, that flatters to betray –
While these reflections rack his feeling mind,
Rodmond, who hung beside, his grasp resigned ;
And, as the tumbling waters o'er him rolled,
His outstretched arms the master's legs enfold :
Sad Albert feels their dissolution near,
And strives in vain his fettered limbs to clear,
For death bids every clenching joint adhere :
All faint, to Heaven he throws his dying eyes,
And, 'Oh protect my wife and child !' he cries-
The gushing streams roll back the unfinished sound,
He gasps ! and sinks amid the vast profound.
Five only left of all the shipwrecked throng
Yet ride the mast which shoreward drives along ;
With these Arion still his hold secures,
And all assaults of hostile waves endures :
O’er the dire prospect as for life he strives,
He looks if poor Palemon yet survives-
*Ah wherefore, trusting to unequal art,
Didst thou, incautious ! from the wreck depart?
Alas ! these rocks all human skill defy;
Who strikes them once, beyond relief must die i
And now sore wounded, thou perhaps art tost
On these, or in some oozy cavern lost :'
Thus thought Arion, anxious gazing round
In vain, his eyes no more Palemon found-
The demons of destruction hover nigh,
And thick their mortal shafts commissioned fly:
When now a breaking surge, with forceful sway,
Two, next Arion, furious tears away ;
Hurled on the crags, behold they gasp, they bleed!
And groaning, cling upon the elusive weed ;
Another billow bursts in boundless roar !
Arion sinks ! and memory views no more.
Ha! total ni ht and horror here preside, My stunned ear tingles to the whizzing tide ; It is their funeral knell ! and gliding near Methinks the phantoms vf the dead appear !
But lo! emerging from the watery grave Again they float incumbent on the wave,
Again the dismal prospeci opens round, —
The wreck, the shore, the dying and the drowned !
And see ! enfeebled by repeated shocks,
Those two, who scramble on the adjacent rocks,
Their faithless hold no longer can retain,
They sink o’erwhelmed! and never rise again.
Two with Arion yet the mast upbore,
That now above the ridges reached the shore ;
Still trembling to descend, they downward gaze
With horror pale, and torpid with amaze :
The floods recoil ! the ground appears below!
And life's faint embers now rekindling glow :
Awhile they wait the exhausted waves' retreat,
Then climb slow up the beach with hands and feetas
O Heaven! delivered by whose sovereign hand
Still on destruction's brink they shuddering stand,
Receive the languid incense they bestow,
That, damp with death, appears not yet to glow ;
To Thee each soul the warm oblation pays
With trembling ardour of unequal praise ;
In every heart dismay with wonder strives,
And hope the sickened spark of life revives,
Her magic powers their exiled health restore,
Till horror and air felt no more
(Born at Pallas, county of Longford, Ireland, on the roth of November, 1728; died in his chambers in Brick Court, London, on the 4th of April, 1774. The Traveller was published in December 1764; The Deserted Village, May 1770. The ballad The Hermit first appeared in The Vicar of Wakefield, 1776. The Haunch of Venison, written about 1771, was first published after its author's death, 1776; Retaliation, Goldsmith's last work, was also of posthumous publication, 1774.]
The poems of Goldsmith make but a small fragment of his work ; they are, however, more finely wrought and of a costlier material than the rest. 'I cannot afford to court the draggle-tail Muses,' he said, 'they would let me starve.' And so he turned to the booksellers' task-work, bestowing on that task-work a grace which was all his own ; and, the drudgery ended, he took his wages and was light of heart. But poetry belonged to his higher self, to his affections, to his imagination. Goldsmith could not have written The Deserted Village to the order of Griffiths or Newbery ; and it is told-nor is the story incredible—that he went back with the note for one hundred pounds in his pocket, and insisted that his publisher should not ruin himself by paying 'five shillings a couplet.' The rustic maid Poetry whom he loved was not quite penniless ; still Goldsmith felt that the attachment was imprudent, and she was none the less dear to his foolish heart on that account:
• Dear charming nymph, neglected and decried,
My shame in crowds, my solitary pride,
Thou source of all my bliss and all my woe,
That found'st me poor at first, and keep'st me so.' His poems won for Goldsmith friendships and fame, yet he felt truly that his was not a poetic age. The keenest intellects and the most powerful imaginations of the time found their proper utterance in prose. The high tragedy of that period is Clarissa ; the broadest and brightest study of the comédie humaine is Tom Jones. Johnson in his essays had dignified the minor morals of Addison, and breathed into them the spirit of a courageous melancholy. Burke by breadth of vision and largeness of character was