William Bradley.

The early poems of Walter Savage Landor: a study of his development and debt to Milton online

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perhaps selected this historical personage as the supposed
author, because of the reference to him by Volney, the
French traveller, whose description of Palmyra is men-
tioned in note (u). Wheeler says (p. 132) : ' According
to the French traveller Volney, Daher had a son Othman,
who on account of his extraordinary talent for poetry,
was spared and carried to Constantinople.'

Nothing more is recorded of him, but there was also
another son or grandson, Fazil Bey, whose poem, the
Zenan-Nameh, was first translated into French by J. A.
Decourdemanche [Le Livrc des Femmes : Paris, 1879).
This sings the charms of the women of all nations, and,
even if previously translated, could certainly not have
supplied Landor with his material. The conclusion seems
to be that the poems from the Arabic are imitations
suggested by the translations of Nott and Jones, dis-
playing, however, in subject and in metrical style, much
originahty. Mrs. Browning considered them extremely
beautiful, breathing the true Oriental spirit throughout,
ornate in fancy, graceful and full of unaffected tenderness.
They are written in a style not elsewhere used by Landor,
the versification being free and irregular, and the metre
chiefly anapaestic.

Among the thoughts appear one or two which look like
borrowings from his other poems. Of these, two instances
may be quoted, neither perhaps very striking, but at
least as close resemblances as some of those cited by
Landor himself. In the Unes ' On the Affliction of his
Wife ' he has the following ;

I spanned, as it rose from the cushion, her neck's pale

And fastened it to mine with the enchanting rings of her



The verses in memory of Nancy Jones contain the same

thought :

. . . when lone's locks
Claspt round her neck and mine their golden chain.

The latter was probably written before the Persian poems,
but there is no evidence from which to decide (^).

In the Persian poem, Praise of Abu-Said, occurs the
line :

The beloved of Abu reel with its fragrance ;

while the Arabic verses ' On the Death of his Wife '
contain a similar figure of speech :

And dizzy with the fragrance of her flowering lips;

Even such slight resemblances as these are hardly to
be expected within the limits of a few short poems
derived from two different languages.

The last piece, ' Addressed to Rahdi,' is perhaps the
most pleasing in the volume :

O Rahdi, where is happiness ?

Look from your arcade, the sun rises from Busrah ;

Go thither, it rises from Ispahan.

Alas, it rises neither from Ispahan nor Busrah,

But from an ocean impenetrable to the diver,

O Rahdi, the sun is happiness !

The pursuit of the unattainable had once or twice

previously found expression by Landor. Thus in Gebir,

III. 13-18 :

. . . can any man
Bring back the far off intercepted hills,

Rather can any with outstripping voice
The parting Sun's gigantic strides recall ?

and again in verse 102 :

Like the horizon, which, as you advance.
Keeping its form and colour, yet recedes ;

(') Cf. pp. 7 and 8, ante.


Pope, in the Essay on Man, may have helped to suggest
the finished form seen in the hnes to Rahdi. We find
there (Ep. II. 221) :

But where th' Extreme of Vice, was ne'er agreed ;
Ask Where's the North ? at York, 'tis on the Tweed ;
In Scotland, at the Orcades ; and there.
At Greenland, Zembla, or the Lord knows where.

Whether the author did actually borrow a few ideas
from his own works and those of others is not very
important in connection with the question of authenticity.
The other evidence here collected seems conclusive, and,
taken with Landor's own assertion, can leave no room for
doubt. Accepting this view, we must also admit that
Landor had ceased to regard seriously his poetic vocation.
The publication of a number of imitations to confuse
critics is not consistent with the true spirit of poetry.

Perhaps it would be more correct to say that he was
beginning to devote his gifts rather to criticism, than to
producing works of imagination. But when, a little later,
he calls Gebir the fruit of idleness and ignorance, which,
had he known more of Botany and Mineralogy, had never
been written, it is difficult to avoid thinking that the first
fresh impulse to express himself in song had spent its
force. The volume of 1802 contained little that had not
aheady been composed before the Persian poems, and
its issue rather confirms what is here said. The more
important pieces in it were fragments, which a poet,
conscious of high gifts and jealous of his reputation,
would not have given wilhngly in their unfinished state
to the world.



We turn to Delphi ; we consult the God ;
The God, omniscient Phoebus, thus repUes.
' Long have your wanderings been o'er wearying seas.
And long o'er earth, Phocaeans, must they be —
5 Where war shall rage around you, treachery lurk.
And kings and princes struggle hard from peace.'

I never shall forget that awful hour.

When Consolation fled calamity,
V And Hope was slow to leave the Delphic shrine.

ID Scarce half the steps surmounted, sprang the roof ;

The gorgeous walls grew loftier every step ;

In gracile ranks of regular advance

The melting pillars rose Uke polisht air :

The floor too, seem'd ascending, seemed to wave
15 It's liquid surface like the heaven-hued sea ;

Throughout reflecting, variously displayed,

Deviceful piety and massive prayers.

Above the rest, beside the altar, stood

The Sardian vases, gift of Croesus, one
20 Of beaten silver, one of burnished gold.

Dazzling without, but dark from depth within.

Alas ! for these Ecbatana should have bowed

Her seven-fold shield and Lydian flames dissolved

The yielding iris of the embattled crown.
25 Too soon hath Croesus found, that once impell'd

By headlong folly or obdurate fate,

All Delphi's tripods, censers, gems, high-piled.

Cannot stop Fortune's swift-descending wheel.

Who but the maniac, then, would strain his throat
30 And rack his heart beneath capricious birds.

And tear disaster from its bowel'd bed !

(!) Reprinted from Poetry by the Author of Gebir : London. 1802,
PP- 37-50- It is there entitled ' Part of Protis's Narrative.'
P.L. I


I hung o'er these proud gifts, and rising, felt

A cold hoarse murmur chide the inconscious sigh.

The people heard with horror the decree,

35 They were undone — and, who himself undo ?
This comes from wisdom ; woe betide the wise !
Why should they thus consult the oracle
When it could give them only toil and grief ?
These were inclined to penance, those to rage.

40 O how near Nature Folly sometimes leads !
Penance seem'd bending with sororial care
To raise the brow of pale Despondency ;
And Rage arous'd them, gave them energy.
Made them unjust, perhaps, but made them great.

45 Not in one city, could we long remain

Ere there occur'd some signal which approved
The Delphic revelation : wcis the crow
Heard on the left, was thunder on the right.
The starts of terror met the scoffs of scorn.

50 Taimt, accusation, contumely, curse.

Questioning stamp and paie-lipt pious sneer,
Confusion, consternation, mystery.
Procession, retrogression, vortexes
Of hurry, wildernesses of delay :

55 Each element, each animal, each glance,

Each motion, now, admonish'd them, each bird
Now bore the thunder of almighty Jove,
Each fibre trembled with Phocaea's fate.
Our parting sails far other prospects cheer'd.

60 Self-courteous Pride, awaiting courtesy,

Charm'd with bland whispers half our pangs away.
What Grecian port that would not hail our ships ?
'Twcis oft debated which high-favor'd land
Should share the honours it might well confer.

65 Some from Cecropian Athens traced our Une,
And said ' Minerva's city §hall rejoice.'
Some Sparta lures — perfection fancy-form'd !
So pure her virtue, and her power so poised.
With Asia's despot how could Sparta join ?

70 Now, from Eurotas driven, whose willows wove
His knotty cradle, where should Freedom fly I
Could Freedom exiled cherish exiled Hope ?
We leave the plains, then, where the sports and flowers
Are faint, untinged with blood ; where naked feet

75 The mountain snow and woodland hoar condense.
And virgin vestures crack the margent grass.
Resolv'd no longer faithless friends to seek.


And not renouncing, yet, the oracle ;
Not yet forgetting, that, from Greece expeil'd,
80 War was to rage around us — could there aught
Be markt so plainly as the Enusian isle :
So near our native land too ! all exclaim
There take we refuge : here we take revenge.
Again we trust the winds and tempt the waves ;
85 Again behold our country — first ascends
Melaena's promontory, frowning dark.
And threatening woe to foreign mariners.
Now lengthen out thy Ught unwarhke walls,
And, as the clouds fly over thee or lower,
go Leucas ! so glance they forward or retire.
Myrina next, and Cumae, and, beyond,
Larissa — nearer still, yet stands unseen, (i)
(If aught be standing of her blest abodes)
Phocaea : Yes ! — air, sea, and sky, resound
95 ' Phocaea ' ! — honor'd o'er the Gods was he
Who the first temple s faintest white descried.
What tears of transport, shouts of extasy,
O what embraces now ! foul Enmity
At that sweet sound flew murmuring far away,
100 And the proud heart the precious moment seized
To burst the brutal chains itself imposed.
Dear native Land ! last parent, last — but lost !
What rivers flow, what mountains rise, hke thine ?
Bold rise thy mountains, rich thy rivers flow,
105 Fresh breathes thy air, and breathes not o'er the free !
Love, vengeance, sweet desires, and dear regrets,
Crowded each bosom from that pleasant shore :
We touch the extremest shadow of its hills.
And taste the fragrance of their flowering thyme,
no We see the enemy ; we hear his voice ;

His arrows now fly round us ; now his darts :
We rush into the port with pouncing prow.
Faint ring the shields against our hooked poles ;
We dash from every pinnace, and present
115 A ridge of arms above a ridge of waves.

Now push we forward ; now, the fight, like fire.

Closes and gapes and gathers and extends.

Swords clash, shields clang ; spears whirr athwart the

And distant helmets drop like falling stars.

(') Phocaea stands at the furthest end, and at a curvature of the bay,
on the borders and from of which are Cumae, Myrina, and Larissa — the
first objects that appear.


1 20 Along the sands, and midst the rocks, arise
Cries of dismay, and cries of plangent pain ;
Shouts of discovery, shouts of victory —
While, seen amid the ranks, and faintly heard.
Thunders the bursting billow's high-archt bound.

125 They flee ; we follow : where the fray retreats
Torrents of blood run down, and mark its course.
And seize the white foam from the scatter d sand,
And bear it floating to the sea unmixt :
While many a breathless corse of warrior bold

130 Dashes, with hollow suUen plunge, beneath

The hostile gods dark-frowning from our prows.

O how deUghtful to retrace the steps

Of childhood ! every street, and every porch

And every court, still open, every flower

135 Grown wild within ! O worse than sacrilege
To tear away the least and lowUest weed
That rears its wakeful head between the stones !
He who receiv'd undaunted, and surveyed
With calmly curious eye the burning wound,

140 And open'd and inspected it, shed tears
Upon the deep worn step, before the gate,
That often whetted, once, his trusty sword.

The trumpet calUng, the Phocaean barks
Reach, v^th reluctant haste, the Enusian shore.

145 Here the good Prodicus, whose prudent eye
Foresaw that we were giving to the winds
Our inconsiderate sail, and who advised
To seek our safety from the Delphic shrine.
Died ! — those who living fiU'd the smallest space

150 In death have often left the greatest void.

The honest crew was gloomy ; thro' such gloom
We best discern, and weigh, and value, tears.
When from his dazzling sphere the mighty falls.
Men, proud of shewing interest in his fate,

155 Run to each other and wdth oaths protest
How wretched and how desolate they are.
The good departs, and silent are the good.
Here none with labour'd anguish howl'd the dirge.
None from irriguous Ida, cypress-crown 'd,

160 Blew mournfully the Mariandyne pipe ;

Yet were there myrtles, poUsht from the fleece
Of many flocks, successive, and the boughs
Of simple myrtle twined his artless bier.


Some scoopt the rock, some gather'd wondrous shells ;
165 Warm was their study, warm were their disputes ;
This was unpohsht ; this unsound ; 'twas askt
With finger bent, and drawing tacit shame,
Were shells like that for men hke Prodicus ?
Respect drew back, dishearten'd ; Reverence paused :
170 To features harsh and dark clung first-bom tears,
And fond contention soften'd where they fell.
Amid these funerals, four aged men
Came out of Chios ; olive in their hands.
Around their shoulders flow'd the Persic robe.
175 They said, report had reacht the Chian state
Of our arrival at its subject isles ;
That, before Cyrus, at his footstool, sworn
In war his soldiers as his slaves in peace.
Charged with the king's high mandate they appear'd.
180 He said — ' Obey me. and ye still retain
Freedom ; ye lose it when ye disobey.
Therefore ye Grecian states of Asia's realm.
Should ye presume to countenance my curse.
Or dare to succour him whom I disclaim.
185 Mark me aright, ye perish ! go, demand,
Ye men of Chios, if the isle be yours.
That those who late escaped our scymetar.
Fly thence, or bend submissive to our sway.
Should they resist, or hesitate, the fleet
190 Of every city, from the Sestian stream
To Gaza, shall attack them, or pursue,
Nor furl the sail till conquest crown the mast.'
To whom Pythermus, bursting from the throng.
' Go, tell thy master, go, thou self-bom slave,
195 Thou (1) subject ! soon his dreaded foe departs.
Give him this opiate that thy hoary hairs
Have gather'd from the way— but neither fear
Of Persian swords nor Chian ships will urge
Fresh flight, but famine dire from friends dismayed.
200 We want not protestations : spare to lift

(M It will probably be thought that, after calling anyone a self-born
slave, the word suhjea could hardly be used as a term o^^sevcre reproach.
But it must also be recollected what people these Ph"'^''^^"^^,^^^^ ,
that in their hostility to regular governments. If "^ticularly to that ot
Cvrus who generously offered to take them under his proteclion. they
were ko fierce and refractory as in the paroxism of the.r rage and
f^llV to have reasoned thus: Subjects are by convention what slaves
are bv compulsion ; slaves are unwilling subjects; subjects are willing
slaves-rey must indeed have reasoned thus, before they could have
used any such expression.


Those eyes to heaven that roll in vows dissolved,
Those ready hands that trembling creak with wreaths
Were not those hands against right counsel rais'd.
Were they not joined before the conqueror's throne ?

205 Phocaeans venerate not empty age ;

Age for the ark of virtue was designed,

And virtuous how they value, best declare

These rites, these robes, and, look around, these tears.

Heist thou forgotten how when Thales spake,

210 Best of the good and wisest of the wise.
And bade aloud the colonies unite
In Teios, middlemost of Asia's marts.
Against his equable and sound demand
Ye stood, and bargain 'd freedom for a bale.

215 Else federal faction and rich rivalry

Had murmur'd, but fiow'd down ; equahty
Had lessen 'd danger and diSused success ;
And inland Temperance and mountain Strength
Cherisht those arts which Avarice confined —

220 Confined for riot, ravishment, and spoil.
The fruit of commerce, in whatever cUme,
Ripening so sweet, so bitter in decay.
Enervates, pampers, poisons, who partake :
Thine, Freedom ! rais'd by Toil and Temperance,

225 Bright as the produce of the Hesperian Isles,
FiUs the fond soul with sweet serenity.
And mortals grow immortal from its shade.

O from what height descend I to ourselves !
Alas, for Chios swore our fates to share.

230 Heaven grant obUvion to the ungenerous race
Who spum'd that Liberty their fathers clasp'd
With extacy, with madness, with despair —
For sure they thought such blessing was not man's :
They felt 'twas theirs — and love was jealousy.

235 O people, lost to glory, lost to shame.
Neglect the living, but respect the dead.
Your fathers' ghosts the breaking bond will hear.
But, heavenly powers ! whose silent orbs controul
The balanced billows of the boundless sea,

240 Who framing all things, o'er each state preside.
And, ruling all things, rule man's restless heart —
O ! if your servant, still, for follies past.
Unconscious faults, or vices unatoned,
Must suffer, — wander stiU, still groan repulse,

245 Ne'er, Powers of Mercy ! may from kindred hand



But from the fiercest foe that arrow fly ! ' (i)
The men of Chios heard him, and retired.
Again come groundless fears and dark debates.
Part is undaunted ; swearing to abide

250 The threats of Cyrus, anchor'd in the bay :
Others walk near, and o'er the crowd descry
The hoary heights of storied Sipylus ;
And every tufted lair and tippling stream
Comes from afar before the fondling eye.

255 Well they remember how the moulten mass
Of ardent iron from Hephestus' fane
Was plung'd into the port, and how they swore
They and their children, while the struggling fire
Seiz'd the white column of the crumbling wave,

260 That sooner should it rise again, and glow
Upon the surface, than would they return.
Or e'er, tiara'd Median, bend to thee.
Now it repents them, now it grieves them ! years
Are more, and hopes are fewer ! they withdraw

265 One after one, slow creeping to the coast,
Firm against oaths, and fixt to be forsworn.
This when the braver, better part beheld.
First with entreaties, then with threats, they try
To turn the coward counsel back in time :

270 Those, so intent on ruin, so resolved

Against compulsion and against consent,

Would fight their brethren while they court their foe.

Stung by disdain and anguish, I exclaim'd

' What would ye more encounter ? ye have borne

275 War, exile, persecution ; would ye bear
(O last calamity of minisht man !)
The hand of pardon on your abject (2) head ?
Disease, affliction, poverty, defeat.
Leaving behind them unadopted shame,

280 Stamp not thus basely low the breathing clay.
Man bend to man ! forbid it righteous heaven !
T' endure each other hard calamity
Is great, is glorious ; others are from high.
Let us contend in these who best can bear,

285 Contend in that who bravest can withstand.'
Again, appearing shadowingly, return
Spirit and mild remorse, and decent pride :
The young that waver'd, turn their eyes, and find

(') The inverted commas are absent in the original.
(-') Misprinted ' object ' in original.


Most still unmoved — enough that most remain.

290 Slow, and abasht, and silent, they rejoin

Their bold companions ; timorous age believes
They just return to bid their friends farewell :
They (^) join ; and unsuspicious youth believes
They only went to bid the old adieu.

295 None are so stedfast in the servile strife.
As those who, coldly pious, closely draw
The cowl o'er failings from themselves conceal'd ;
Who deeming oaths most sacred, deem that oaths
Are made and broken by the same decree :

300 Wroth at each Ught-paced laughing folly's name,
They lay a nation's counsel'd crimes on heaven :
They think they worship, while they wrong, the Gods,
And think they pity, while they hate, mankind.
With these go all who, reckoning in themselves

305 Unfavor'd wealth or wisdom undiscem'd.
Are grown disdciinful to have met disdain ;
Who, spuming most from others what they most
Hug in themselves, and feed to plethory,
Join stubborn patience with intolerant zeal.

310 These were the men, who, when the tyrant came
Against their country and their freedom, call'd
Debate sedition, acquiescence peace.
Twelve barks, for twelve sufficed them, were decreed
To bear away infirmity and fear,

315 And falsehood from the crew — twelve feeble barks —
Twice thirty more of stoutest bulk remain.
With these we, buoyant on unbounded hopes.
Ocean's vast wilds by friendly stars retrace.
First, vows and offerings to the powers above,

320 As to Poseidon, last, were duly paid :

Nor seldom, when >ve saw the cynosure, (-)
Thales ! the grateful heart thy name recall'd.
Blest above men, who gainedst from the Gods

(1) ' Their ' in original.

(2) According to Diogenes Laertius, the poet Callimachus had some-
where attributed to Thales the first discovery, or rather, I should sup-
pose, the first application to any nautical purpose, of the Ursa Minor.
Whether the mariners observed the Cynosure or Helice,

' Ex his altera apud Graios Cynosura vocatur.
Altera dicitur esse Helice,'
their remembrance of Thales would be natural. I have preferred the
Cynosure as the more obvious. The quarter from which they sailed
must also be considered. Major Pelasgis apta, Sidoniis minor. (Seneca)
Regit altera Graias —
Altera Sidonias, utraque sicca, rates.


Power, more than heroes, tho' their progeny,
325 Power over earth, power over sea and sky.

They gave thee wisdom — this thou gavest men,
They gave thee Virtue — this too thou wouldst give :
They called thee aside, and led thy steps
Where never mortal steps were led before,
330 And shew'd the ever-peaceful realm of light.

Amidst the Gods thou lookedst down on Earth —
(Their glory could absorb but half thy soul)
Thou lookedst down, and viewing from afar
Earth struggling with Ambition, didst implore
335 Now that another country must be sought.
And other counsel taken, (thine disdained)
That they woiild chain up danger from the night,
- And strengthen with new stars the watery way.

With surer sail, the daring mariners,
340 Leaving the green ^Egaean, isle-begemm'd,

Explore the middle main : remembering Greece,
They swell with fiercer pride and fresh disdain ;
They scorn the shelter of her mountain-tops.
They curse with closer teeth the bitter blast,
345 Nor hail the fairest gales that blow from Greece.




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Online LibraryWilliam BradleyThe early poems of Walter Savage Landor: a study of his development and debt to Milton → online text (page 9 of 9)