« AnteriorContinua »
IN the foregoing Edition the text of all those pieces, which the Author published in his life-time, is given exactly as he left it in the London and Glasgow editions; and the few added pieces are printed verbatim from his corrected manuscripts. I have also inserted all his explanatory notes at the bottom of their respective pages; but those which only pointed out imitative expressions, have been reserved for these concluding pages, because many of them appeared to me not very material, and therefore would have crouded the text as unnecessarily as my own annotations.
The original manuscript title which Mr. Gray gave to this Ode, was NOONTIDE; probably he then meant to write two more, descriptive of Morning and Evening. His unfinished Ode (vide infra, p. 74,) opens with a fine description of the former: and his Elegy with as beautiful a picture of the latter, which perhaps he might, at that time, have meditated upon for the exordium of an Ode; but this is only conjecture. It may, however, be remarked, that these three capital descriptions abound with ideas which affect the ear more than the eye; and therefore go beyond the powers of picturesque imitation.
1. O'er-canopies the glade.
Stanza 2. 1. 4.
O'er-canopied with luscious woodbine. G.
Shakes. Mids. Night's Dream.
2. How low, how little are the Proud;
How indigent the Great.
Stanza 2. l. 9 and 10.
How low, how indigent the Proud;
How little are the Great.
Thus it stood in Dodsley's Miscellany, where it was first published, The author corrected it on account of the point of little and great. It certainly had too much the appearance of a Concetto, though it expressed his meaning better than the present reading,
3. And float amid the liquid noon,
Nare per æstatem liquidam.
4. Quick-glancing to the sun,
Stanza 3. 1. 7.
Virgil. Georg. lib. iv. G,
Stanza 3. 1, 10,
sporting with quick glance,
Shew to the sun their wav'd coats dropt with gold. Milton's Par. Lost, b. vii. G,
5. To Contemplation's sober eye.
Stanza 4. l. 1,
While insects from the threshold preach, &c.
1. This little piece, in which comic humour is so happily blended with lyrical fancy, was written, in point of time, some years later than the first, third, and fourth Odes; [See Memoirs, Sect. 4. Let. 6.] but as the author had printed it here in his own edition, I have not changed it. Mr. Walpole, since the death of Mr. Gray, has placed the China vase in question on a pedestal at Strawberry-Hill, with the first four lines of the Ode for its inscription.
"Twas on this Vase's lofty side,' &c.
2. Two angel forms were seen to glide.
Two Beauteous forms.
Stanza 3. 1. 2.
First edition in Dodsley's Misc.
1. This was the first English production of Mr. Gray which appeared in print. It was published in folio, by Dodsley, in 1747; about the same time, at Mr. Walpole's request, Mr. Gray sat for his picture to Echart, in which, on a paper which he held in his hand, Mr. Walpole wrote the title of this Ode, and to intimate his own high and just opinion of it, as a first production, added this line of Lucan, by way of motto:
Nec licuit populis parvum te, Nile, videre.
2. And redolent of Joy and Youth.
Phars. lib. x. 1. 296.
Stanza 2. 1. 9.
And bees their honey redolent of spring.
S. And hard unkindness' alter'd eye.
Dryden's Fable on the Pythag. System. G.
Stanza 8. l. 6.
The elision here is ungraceful, and hurts this otherwise beautiful line: One of the same kind in the second line of the first Ode makes the same blemish; but I think they are the only two to be found in this correct writer: and I mention them here, that succeeding Poets may not look upon them as authorities. The judicious reader will not suppose that I would condemn all elisions of the genitive case, by this stricture on those which are terminated by rough consonants, Many there are which the ear readily admits, and which use has made familiar to it.