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Eaters. There he paints the inward vision; and
With this exception, it is only the accustomed
The second is not Lincolnshire :
One show'd an iron coast and angry waves.
You seem'd to hear them climb and fall,
That seems to be a piece of the coast of Yorkshire, outside of his own country. It is good, but if he had belonged to the Yorkshire coast, and loved it like the glimmering lands of Lincoln with the lowhung moon, the second line would have been better done. The next is full Lincolnshire, and might be a motto for the art of De Wint :
And one, a full fed river winding slow
By herds upon an endless plain,
With shadow-streaks of rain.
The next is from the South. “Hoary in the wind" is the vision of the grey underside of the olive-leaf tossed upwards over a whole hillside by the gust into the sunlight.
And one, the reapers at their sultry toil.
In front they bound the sheaves. Behind
And hoary to the wind.
The whole is, however, not clear; he does not see it as vividly as the rest, and there is little sentiment in it.
But the next-could it be better ? And how drenched it is in the sentiment of England !
And one, an English home-gray twilight pour'd
On dewy pastures, dewy trees,
A haunt of ancient Peace.
This is Tennyson in love with his subject, and the quality of the poetry rises with his love. Moreover, it is delightful to see him stretch out his hand to Virgil, who was as fond of his country as Tennyson of England—“Softer than sleep."
Again, we stand on the long shallow sands of the sea-coast near his early home, and there is no better, briefer, yet more finished picture in all his work :
A still salt pool, lock'd in with bars of sand,
Left on the shore; that hears all night
Their moon-led waters white.
These are properly pictures, but the immense improvement in the description of Nature which took place between 1830 and 1833 is more fully seen in poems where Nature and human affections are woven together, as in The May Queen and better still in The Miller's Daughter, both of this year.
The girl's cottage is on the hillside, above the valley and the meadowy stream. The land is full of flowers and grass. The cowslip and the crowfoot are all over the hill, the honeysuckle is round the porch, the faint sweet cuckoo-flowers grow beside the meadow trenches; "And the wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in swamps and hollows gray.” Where in the world can we place this except in England-half in Lincoln, half in Kent?
Fond as he was of the common flowers, he was even fonder of the birds. The red cock crows, in this poem, from the farm upon the hill :
The building rook 'll caw from the windy tall elm-tree,
Every line is a picture in a new style of art, something which had not been done before in this fashion and finish; no, not even by Wordsworth whose love of flowers and birds is less pictorial, but more instinct with the spirit of the thing he describes. Nor could Wordsworth, who is the mountain poet, have made us feel the landscape of the lower English lands as Tennyson does—with our pity for the dying girl woven through it all-in these four lines, so clear and fine :
When the flowers come again, mother, beneath the waning
light You'll never see me more in the long gray fields at night; When from the dry dark wold the summer airs blow cool, On the oat-grass and the sword-grass, and the bulrush in
Still more of England and of the scenery of the chalk-lands, which whosoever loves, loves well, is all the landscape in The Miller's Daughter. In this poem, as in the last, there is no special picture made of the landscape, for the human interest is first. But we might, culling from verse to verse our indications, paint the whole of the country-side round the mill, so careful is Tennyson in his drawing, so deeply has the scene sunk into his imagination. It is owing to this full digestion, in contemplation, of the landscape, that the human figures—the miller, the lover, the maiden-are so much felt, as we read, to be at union with the natural world round them, even to be partly made into what they are by dwelling with it for so long. Tennyson, who himself, with regard to the Nature he described, was in part a product of that Nature, knew how to do this artistic thing, and it gives an extraordinary unity to a great number of his poems.
Had he not absorbed his scenery in this fashion, he could not have had the capacity, not only to see the minuter things, as the colour of ash-buds in March, a capacity which was not fully developed till ten years after this volume, but to give, in a line or two, the very image of the whole country its essential marks :
The white chalk-quarry from the hill
Gleam'd to the Aying moon by fits
On the chalk-hill the bearded grass
Is dry and dewless. Let us go.
Night and day, the whole country lies before us. This is one of the great art-powers, the power of choosing out of a multitude of impressions that single thing which will awaken all the rest of the landscape, with its sentiment, before the eyes. It is partly natural gift, but it is also the result of long indrinking of the special landscape, and years of inward contemplation of it. And in this matter of living with Nature in one place for years, and out of the incessant observation of love of actually creating in poetry a portion of England, with its birds and flowers, its skies, woodland, meadows and streams, and so vividly and truly that every touch tells; every adjective, the sound of the words, the pauses in the line, enhancing the life of the whole description—for this reproduction of a whole land and of the final impression made by it after many years upon the soul, and for the power of making us feel the land as the poet felt it—we must get back, if we would find a comparison, to Wordsworth. Wordsworth