Imatges de pÓgina
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therefore, I have made the balance incline in favour of these.

Jeffrey, reviewing Crabbe in the Edinburgh Review, once spoke of him as our Rembrandt in poetry, He meant, I suppose, that Crabbe, like Rembrandt, excels in touching the depths of things," while depicting minutely the most commonplace people in the most everyday surroundings and episodes. But his purely light comedies are also excellent reading. One of the most perfect of them, “The Frank Courtship,” has been included in this volume.

To resume, then, it has been my endeavour to put together such a selection as may lead those who are not acquainted with Crabbe to find pleasure in his poetry; and to those who know him well may be of service as a single volume containing, I hope, that which they like best. If, in some degree, the book serves these

purposes I shall be well satisfied.

BERNARD HOLLAND.

1899.

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210

HOUSE OF CRABBE's FATHER AT ALDBOROUGH

From Picture by C. Stanfield, R.A.

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CRABBE'S

POEMS

SMUGGLERS AND LABOURERS

Lo! where the heath, with withering brake grown

o'er,

Lends the light turf that warms the neighbouring

poor; From thence a length of burning sand appears, Where the thin harvest waves its wither'd ears; Rank weeds, that every art and care defy, Reign o'er the land, and rob the blighted rye: There thistles stretch their prickly arms afar, And to the ragged infant threaten war; There poppies nodding, mock the hope of toil; There the blue bugloss paints the sterile soil; Hardy and high, above the slender sheaf, The slimy mallow waves her silky leaf; O'er the young shoot the charlock throws a shade, And clasping tares cling round the sickly blade; With mingled tints the rocky coasts abound, And a sad splendour vainly shines around.

Where are the swains, who, daily labour done, With rural games play'd down the setting sun?

Where now are these?—Beneath yon cliff they stand,
To show the freighted pinnace where to land ;
To load the ready steed with guilty haste,
To fly in terror o'er the pathless waste,
Or, when detected, in their straggling course,
To foil their foes by cunning or by force;
Or, yielding part (which equal knaves demand),
To gain a lawless passport through the land.

Here, wand'ring long, amid these frowning fields,
I sought the simple life that Nature yields;
Rapine and Wrong and Fear usurp'd her place,
And a bold, artful, surly, savage race
Who, only skill'd to take the finny tribe,
The yearly dinner, or septennial bribe,
Wait on the shore, and, as the waves run high,
On the tost vessel bend their eager eye,
Which to their coast directs its vent'rous way;
Theirs, or the ocean’s, miserable prey.

As on their neighbouring beach yon swallows stand, And wait for favouring winds to leave the land; While still for flight the ready wing is spread : So waited I the favouring hour, and fled; Fled from these shores where guilt and famine reign, And cried, Ah ! hapless they who still remain; Who still remain to hear the ocean roar, Whose greedy waves devour the lessening shore; Till some fierce tide with more imperious sway, Sweeps the low hut and all it holds away.

But these are scenes where Nature's niggard hand Gavę a spare portion to the famish'd land;

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