Alice Christiana Thompson Meynell.

Flower of the Mind online

. (page 1 of 3)
Online LibraryAlice Christiana Thompson MeynellFlower of the Mind → online text (page 1 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

This etext was prepared by David Price, email [email protected]
from the 1893 Grant Richards edition of The Flower of the Mind and
the 1902 John Lane edition of Later Poems.



Partial collections of English poems, decided by a common subject
or bounded by narrow dates and periods of literary history, are
made at very short intervals, and the makers are safe from the
reproach of proposing their own personal taste as a guide for the
reading of others. But a general Anthology gathered from the whole
of English literature - the whole from Chaucer to Wordsworth - by a
gatherer intent upon nothing except the quality of poetry, is a
more rare enterprise. It is hardly to be made without tempting the
suspicion - nay, hardly without seeming to hazard the confession - of
some measure of self-confidence. Nor can even the desire to enter
upon that labour be a frequent one - the desire of the heart of one
for whom poetry is veritably "the complementary life" to set up a
pale for inclusion and exclusion, to add honours, to multiply
homage, to cherish, to restore, to protest, to proclaim, to depose;
and to gain the consent of a multitude of readers to all those
acts. Many years, then - some part of a century - may easily pass
between the publication of one general anthology and the making of

The enterprise would be a sorry one if it were really arbitrary,
and if an anthologist should give effect to passionate preferences
without authority. An anthology that shall have any value must be
made on the responsibility of one but on the authority of many.
There is no caprice; the mind of the maker has been formed for
decision by the wisdom of many instructors. It is the very study
of criticism, and the grateful and profitable study, that gives the
justification to work done upon the strongest personal impulse, and
done, finally, in the mental solitude that cannot be escaped at the
last. In another order, moral education would be best crowned if
it proved to have quick and profound control over the first
impulses; its finished work would be to set the soul in a state of
law, delivered from the delays of self-distrust; not action only,
but the desires would be in an old security, and a wish would come
to light already justified. This would be the second - if it were
not the only - liberty. Even so an intellectual education might
assuredly confer freedom upon first and solitary thoughts, and
confidence and composure upon the sallies of impetuous courage. In
a word, it should make a studious anthologist quite sure about
genius. And all who have bestowed, or helped in bestowing, the
liberating education have given their student the authority to be
free. Personal and singular the choice in such a book must be, not
without right.

Claiming and disclaiming so much, the gatherers may follow one
another to harvest, and glean in the same fields in different
seasons, for the repetition of the work can never be altogether a
repetition. The general consent of criticism does not stand still;
and moreover, a mere accident has until now left a poet of genius
of the past here and there to neglect or obscurity. This is not
very likely to befall again; the time has come when there is little
or nothing left to discover or rediscover in the sixteenth century
or the seventeenth; we know that there does not lurk another
Crashaw contemned, or another Henry Vaughan disregarded, or another
George Herbert misplaced. There is now something like finality of
knowledge at least; and therefore not a little error in the past is
ready to be repaired. This is the result of time. Of the slow
actions and reactions of critical taste there might be something to
say, but nothing important. No loyal anthologist perhaps will
consent to acknowledge these tides; he will hardly do his work well
unless he believe it to be stable and perfect; nor, by the way,
will he judge worthily in the name of others unless he be resolved
to judge intrepidly for himself.

Inasmuch as even the best of all poems are the best upon
innumerable degrees, the size of most anthologies has gone far to
decide what degrees are to be gathered in and what left without.
The best might make a very small volume, and be indeed the best, or
a very large volume, and be still indeed the best. But my labour
has been to do somewhat differently - to gather nothing that did not
overpass a certain boundary-line of genius. Gray's Elegy, for
instance, would rightly be placed at the head of everything below
that mark. It is, in fact, so near to the work of genius as to be
most directly, closely, and immediately rebuked by genius; it meets
genius at close quarters and almost deserves that Shakespeare
himself should defeat it. Mediocrity said its own true word in the

"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

But greatness had said its own word also in a sonnet:

"The summer flower is to the summer sweet
Though to itself it only live and die."

The reproof here is too sure; not always does it touch so quick,
but it is not seldom manifest, and it makes exclusion a simple
task. Inclusion, on the other hand, cannot be so completely
fulfilled. The impossibility of taking in poems of great length,
however purely lyrical, is a mechanical barrier, even on the plan
of the present volume; in the case of Spenser's Prothalamion, the
unmanageably autobiographical and local passage makes it
inappropriate; some exquisite things of Landor's are lyrics in
blank verse, and the necessary rule against blank verse shuts them
out. No extracts have been made from any poem, but in a very few
instances a stanza or a passage has been dropped out. No poem has
been put in for the sake of a single perfectly fine passage; it
would be too much to say that no poem has been put in for the sake
of two splendid passages or so. The Scottish ballad poetry is
represented by examples that are to my mind finer than anything
left out; still, it is but represented; and as the song of this
multitude of unknown poets overflows by its quantity a collection
of lyrics of genius, so does severally the song of Wordsworth,
Crashaw, and Shelley. It has been necessary, in considering
traditional songs of evidently mingled authorship, to reject some
one invaluable stanza or burden - the original and ancient surviving
matter of a spoilt song - because it was necessary to reject the
sequel that has cumbered it since some sentimentalist took it for
his own. An example, which makes the heart ache, is that burden of
keen and remote poetry:

"O the broom, the bonnie, bonnie broom,
The broom of Cowdenknowes!"

Perhaps some hand will gather all such precious fragments as these
together one day, freed from what is alien in the work of the
restorer. It is inexplicable that a generation resolved to forbid
the restoration of ancient buildings should approve the eighteenth
century restoration of ancient poems; nay, the architectural
"restorer" is immeasurably the more respectful. In order to give
us again the ancient fragments, it is happily not necessary to
break up the composite songs which, since the time of Burns, have
gained a national love. Let them be, but let the old verses be
also; and let them have, for those who desire it, the solitariness
of their state of ruin. Even in the cases - and they are not few -
where Burns is proved to have given beauty and music to the ancient
fragment itself, his work upon the old stanza is immeasurably finer
than his work in his own new stanzas following, and it would be
less than impiety to part the two.

I have obeyed a profound conviction which I have reason to hope
will be more commended in the future than perhaps it can be now, in
leaving aside a multitude of composite songs - anachronisms, and
worse than mere anachronisms, as I think them to be, for they patch
wild feeling with sentiment of the sentimentalist. There are some
exceptions. The one fine stanza of a song which both Sir Walter
Scott and Burns restored is given with the restorations of both,
those restorations being severally beautiful; and the burden,
"Hame, hame, hame," is printed with the Jacobite song that carries
it; this song seems so mingled and various in date and origin that
no apology is needed for placing it amongst the bundle of Scottish
ballads of days before the Jacobites. Sir Patrick Spens is treated
here as an ancient song. It is to be noted that the modern, or
comparatively modern, additions to old songs full of quantitative
metre - "Hame, hame, hame," is one of these - full of long notes,
rests, and interlinear pauses, are almost always written in
anapaests. The later writer has slipped away from the fine,
various, and subtle metre of the older. Assuredly the popularity
of the metre which, for want of a term suiting the English rules of
verse, must be called anapaestic, has done more than any other
thing to vulgarise the national sense of rhythm and to silence the
finer rhythms. Anapaests came quite suddenly into English poetry
and brought coarseness, glibness, volubility, dapper and fatuous
effects. A master may use it well, but as a popular measure it has
been disastrous. I would be bound to find the modern stanzas in an
old song by this very habit of anapaests and this very
misunderstanding of the long words and interlinear pauses of the
older stanzas. This, for instance, is the old metre:

"Hame, hame, hame! O hame fain wad I be!"

and this the lamentable anapaestic line (from the same song):

"Yet the sun through the mirk seems to promise to me -."

It has been difficult to refuse myself the delight of including A
Divine Love of Carew, but it seemed too bold to leave out four
stanzas of a poem of seven, and the last four are of the poorest
argument. This passage at least shall speak for the first three:

"Thou didst appear
A glorious mystery, so dark, so clear,
As Nature did intend
All should confess, but none might comprehend."

From Christ's Victory in Heaven of Giles Fletcher (out of reach for
its length) it is a happiness to extract here at least the passage
upon "Justice," who looks "as the eagle

"that hath so oft compared
Her eye with heaven's";

from Marlowe's poem, also unmanageable, that in which Love ran to
the priestess

"And laid his childish head upon her breast";

with that which tells how Night,

"deep-drenched in misty Acheron,
Heaved up her head, and half the world upon
Breathed darkness forth";

from Robert Greene two lines of a lovely passage:

"Cupid abroad was lated in the night,
His wings were wet with ranging in the rain";

from Ben Jonson's Hue and Cry (not throughout fine) the stanza:

"Beauties, have ye seen a toy,
Called Love, a little boy,
Almost naked, wanton, blind;
Cruel now, and then as kind?
If he be amongst ye, say;
He is Venus' run-away";

from Francis Davison:

"Her angry eyes are great with tears";

from George Wither:

"I can go rest
On her sweet breast
That is the pride of Cynthia's train";

from Cowley:

"Return, return, gay planet of mine east"!

The poems in which these are cannot make part of the volume, but
the citation of the fragments is a relieving act of love.

At the very beginning, Skelton's song to "Mistress Margery
Wentworth" had almost taken a place; but its charm is hardly fine

If it is necessary to answer the inevitable question in regard to
Byron, let me say that in another Anthology, a secondary Anthology,
the one in which Gray's Elegy would have an honourable place, some
more of Byron's lyrics would certainly be found; and except this
there is no apology. If the last stanza of the "Dying Gladiator"
passage, or the last stanza on the cascade rainbow at Terni,

"Love watching madness with unalterable mien,"

had been separate poems instead of parts of Childe Harold, they
would have been amongst the poems that are here collected in no
spirit of arrogance, or of caprice, of diffidence or doubt.

The volume closes some time before the middle of the century and
the death of Wordsworth.

A. M.


The first carol
Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618)
Verses before death
Edmund Spenser (1553-1599)
Fresh spring
Like as a ship
John Lyly (1554?-1606)
The Spring
Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)
True love
The moon
Sweet judge
Wat'red was my wine
Thomas Lodge (1556-1625)
Rosalynd's madrigal
The solitary shepherd's song
I saw my lady weep
George Peele (1558?-1597)
Farewell to arms
Robert Greene (1560?-1592)
Sephestia's song to her child
Christopher Marlowe (1562-1593)
The passionate shepherd to his love
Samuel Daniel (1562-1619)
My spotless love
Michael Drayton (1563-1631)
Since there's no help
Joshua Sylvester (1563-1618)
Were I as base
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth
O me! What eyes hath love put in my head
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
When in the chronicle of wasted time
That time of year thou may'st in me behold
How like a winter hath my absence been
Being your slave, what should I do but tend
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
They that have power to hurt, and will do
Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye
The forward violet thus did I chide
O lest the world should task you to recite
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
How oft, when thou, my music, music play'st
Full many a glorious morning have I seen
The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Come away
Full fathom five
Dirge (Fear no more the heat o' the sun)
Song (Take, O take those lips away)
Song (How should I your true love know)
Tom o' Bedlam
Thomas Campion (circa 1567-1620)
Kind are her answers
Her sacred bower
When thou must home
Western wind
Follow your saint
Thomas Nash (1567-1601?)
John Donne (1573-1631)
This happy dream
Hymn to God the father
The funeral
Richard Barnefield (1574?-?)
The nightingale
Ben Jonson (1574-1637)
Charis' triumph
Epitaph on Elizabeth L. H.
Hymn to Diana
On my first daughter
Echo's lament for Narcissus
An epitaph on Salathiel Pavy, a child of Queen Elizabeth's
John Fletcher (1579-1625)
Invocation to sleep, from Valentinian
To Bacchus
John Webster (-?1625)
Song from the Duchess of Malfi
Song from the Devil's Law-case
In Earth, dirge from Vittoria Corombona
William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585-1649)
Song (Phoebus, arise!)
Sleep, Silence' child
To the nightingale
Madrigal I
Madrigal II
Beaumont and Fletcher (1586-1616)-(1579-1625)
I died true
Francis Beaumont (1586-1616)
On the tombs in Westminster Abbey
Sir Francis Kynaston (1587-1642)
To Cynthia, on concealment of her beauty
Nathaniel Field (1587-1638)
Matin song
George Wither (1588-1667)
Sleep, baby, sleep!
Thomas Carew (1589-1639)
Song (Ask me no more where Jove bestows)
To my inconstant mistress
An hymeneal dialogue
Ingrateful beauty threatened
Thomas Dekker (-1638?)
Sweet content
Thomas Heywood (-1649?)
Robert Herrick (1591-1674?)
To Dianeme
To meadows
To blossoms
To daffodils
To violets
To primroses
To daisies, not to shut so soon
To the virgins, to make much of time
In silks
Corinna's going a-maying
Grace for a child
Ben Jonson
George Herbert (1593-1632)
Holy baptism
The pulley
The collar
James Shirley (1596-1666)
Anonymous (circa 1603)
Lullaby (Weep you no more, sad fountains)
Sir William Davenant (1605-1668)
Edmund Waller (1605-1687)
The rose
Thomas Randolph (1606-1634?)
His mistress
Charles Best (-?)
A sonnet of the moon
John Milton (1608-1674)
Hymn on Christ's nativity
Il penseroso
On his blindness
On his deceased wife
On Shakespeare
Song on May morning
Invocation to Sabrina, from Comus
Invocation to Echo, from Comus
The attendant spirit, from Comus
James Graham, Marquis of Montrose (1612-1650)
The vigil of death
Richard Crashaw (1615?-1652)
On a prayer-book sent to Mrs. M. R.
To the morning
Love's horoscope
On Mr. G. Herbert's book
Wishes to his supposed mistress
Quem Vidistis Pastores etc.
Music's duel
The flaming heart
Abraham Cowley (1618-1667)
On the death of Mr. Crashaw
Hymn to the light
Richard Lovelace (1618-1658)
To Lucasta on going to the wars
To Amarantha
To Althea, from prison
A guiltless lady imprisoned: after penanced
The rose
Andrew Marvell (1620-1678)
A Horatian ode upon Cromwell's return from Ireland
The picture of T. C. in a prospect of flowers
The nymph complaining of death of her fawn
The definition of love
The garden
Henry Vaughan (1621-1695)
The dawning
The night
The eclipse
The retreat
The world of light
Scottish Ballads
Helen of Kirconnell
The wife of Usher's well
The dowie dens of Yarrow
Sweet William and May Margaret
Sir Patrick Spens
Hame, hame, hame
Border Ballad
A lyke-wake dirge
John Dryden (1631-1700)
Ode (Thou youngest virgin-daughter of the skies)
Aphre Behn (1640-1689)
Song, from Abdelazar
Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
Hymn (The spacious firmament on high)
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
William Cowper (1731-1800)
Lines on receiving his mother's picture
Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825)
William Blake (1757-1828)
The land of dreams
The piper
Holy Thursday
The tiger
To the muses
Love's secret
Robert Burns (1759-1796)
To a mouse
The farewell
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Why art thou silent?
Thoughts of a Briton on the subjugation of Switzerland
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free
On the extinction of the Venetian Republic
O friend! I know not
Surprised by joy
To Toussaint L'ouverture
With ships the sea was sprinkled
The world
Upon Westminster bridge, Sept. 3, 1802
When I have borne in memory
Three years she grew
The daffodils
The solitary reaper
Elegiac stanzas
To H. C.
'Tis said that some have died for love
The pet lamb
Stepping westward
The childless father
Ode on intimations of immortality
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
Proud Maisie
A weary lot is thine
The Maid of Neidpath
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
Kubla Khan
Youth and age
The rime of the ancient mariner
Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864)
Rose Aylmer
Child of a day
Thomas Campbell (1767-1844)
Earl March
Charles Lamb (1775-1835)
Allan Cunningham (1784-1842)
A wet sheet and a flowing sea
George Noel Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1823)
The Isles of Greece
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Wild with weeping
To the night
To a skylark
To the moon
The question
The waning moon
Ode to the west wind
Rarely, rarely comest thou
The invitation, to Jane
The recollection
Ode to heaven
Life of life
Stanzas written in dejection near Naples
Dirge for the year
A widow bird
The two spirits
John Keats (1795-1821)
La Belle Dame sans merci
On first looking into Chapman's Homer
To sleep
The gentle south
Last sonnet
Ode to a nightingale
Ode on a Grecian urn
Ode to Autumn
Ode to Psyche
Ode to Melancholy
Hartley Coleridge (1796-1849)
She is not fair



Written by Spensor on his marriage in Ireland, Elizabeth Boyle of
Kilcoran, who survived him, married one Roger Seckerstone, and was
again a widow. Dr. Grosart seems to have finally decided the
identity of the heroine of this great poem. It is worth while to
explain, once for all, that I do not use the accented e for the
longer pronunciation of the past participle. The accent is not an
English sign, and, to my mind, disfigures the verse; neither do I
think it necessary to cut off the e with an apostrophe when the
participle is shortened. The reader knows at a glance how the word
is to be numbered; besides, he may have his preferences where
choice is allowed. In reading such a line as Tennyson's

"Dear as remembered kisses after death,"

one man likes the familiar sound of the word "remembered" as we all
speak it now; another takes pleasure in the four light syllables
filling the line so full. Tennyson uses the apostrophe as a rule,
but neither he nor any other author is quite consistent.


It may please the reader to think that this frolic, rich, and
delicate singer was Shakespeare's very Rosalind. From Dr. Thomas
Lodge's novel, Euphues' Golden Legacy, was taken much of the story,
with some of the characters, and some few of the passages, of As
You Like It.


This splendid poem (from the same romance), written on the poet's
voyage to the Islands of Terceras and the Canaries, has the fire
and freshness of the south and the sea; all its colours are clear.
The reader's ear will at once teach him to read the sigh "heigh ho"
so as to give the first syllable the time of two (long and short).


George Peele's four fine stanzas (which must be mentioned as
dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, but are better without that
dedication) exist in another form, in the first person, and with
some archaisms smoothed. But the third person seems to be far more
touching, the old man himself having done with verse.


The sixth stanza is perhaps by Izaak Walton.


The author of this exquisite song is by no means certain. The
second stanza is not with the first in Shakespeare, but it is in
Beaumont and Fletcher.


These verses are a more subtle experiment in metre by the musician
and poet, Campion, than even the following, Laura, which he himself
sweetly commended as "voluble, and fit to express any amorous
conceit." In Kind are her Answers the long syllables and the
trochaic movement of the short lines meet the contrary movement of
the rest, with an exquisite effect of flux and reflux. The
"dancers" whose time they sang must have danced (with Perdita) like
"a wave of the sea."


I have followed the usual practice in omitting the last and less
beautiful stanza.


Campion's "airs," for which he wrote his words, laid rules too
urgent upon what would have been a delicate genius in poetry. The
airs demanded so many stanzas; but they gave his imagination leave
to be away, and they depressed and even confused his metrical play,
hurting thus the two vital spots of poetry. Many of the stanzas
for music make an unlucky repeating pattern with the poor variety
that a repeating wall-paper does not attempt. And yet Campion
began again and again with the onset of a true poet. Take, for
example, the poem beginning with the vitality of this line,
"touching in its majesty"-

"Awake, thou spring of speaking grace; mute rest becomes not thee!"

Who would have guessed that the piece was to close in a jogging
stanza containing a reflection on the fact that brutes are
speechless, with these two final lines -

"If speech be then the best of graces,
Doe it not in slumber smother!"

Campion yields a curious collection of beautiful first lines.

"Sleep, angry beauty, sleep and fear not me"

is far finer than anything that follows. So is there a single
gloom in this -

"Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow!"

And a single joy in this -

"Oh, what unhoped-for sweet supply!"

Another solitary line is one that by its splendour proves Campion
the author of Cherry Ripe -

"A thousand cherubim fly in her looks."

1 3

Online LibraryAlice Christiana Thompson MeynellFlower of the Mind → online text (page 1 of 3)