2 OCTOBER 1880, Page 23

POETIIY. — The Defence of Rome, and Other Poems. By Ernest Myers.

(Macmillan.)—Mr. Myers has found a fine subject, and handled it worthily. The dactylic metre which he uses, and uses with no little mastery of its resources, has both melody and strength, though its lack of variety of pauses, has a certain tendency to monotony, a defect which does not make itself felt in a short poem. The Defence of Rome does not reach five hundred lines. We have in it a fine, sonorous flow of verse, which stirs the heart as one reads, and which is a signal relief after the tedious spinnings.out of subtle or morbid thought with which the young poets of the day so often afflict us. The poet singe of great deeds and great men with something of Homeric fire. We shall quote the description of Garibaldi, choosing it because it gives us a specimen of Mr. Myers' power of delicate word-painting when occasion offers :— "Two chiefs for her Arm and her Voice she sought for, and found them then,

Garibaldi son of the lightning, Mazzini lover of men.

By the fair Ligurian gulf were the lives of the twain began, On the God-wrought Terrace gigantic, the ledges that look to the sun,

Where the gold fruits gleam thro' the woods dark-leaved o'er the red sea-

caves, And the mild sea laughs to the mountain with numberless laughter of waves ; Where the opaline light of the olive leaps forth to the stir of the breeze, And above and beneath thro' its boughs shines the blue of the skies and the Where Columbus roamed and mused till his lonely purpose was grown [seas; To the height of his great achievement, the finding of worlds unknown.

Long time he too. Garibaldi, beyond the Atlantic: foam In the worlds of Columbus wandered, but now to the land of his home He was come in the hour of her need with the west-wind out of the sea To smite, nor stay from the smiting, till Italy's children be free.

Nor ever was champion or chief since the story of battles began More apt for a perilous venture, more lionlike lordly a man."

The "Armour of Aces" is a translation of the Eighteenth Book of "The Iliad," and an attempt to utilise, for the purpose of Homeric rendering, the metre which is used so successfully in the chief poem of the volume. In one respect, it is a worthy represen- tative of the Homeric hexameters. It has the true "lilt," but no variety of pause is felt. Notwithstanding, we regard the attempt as a decided success. There. can be no doubt that it is a pleasure to read such verse as the following, which we take, not as being better than the rest, but as likely to be well known :—

"But the walls of the other city two armies had girded about,

Bright in the sheen of their arms. And their counsel was sundered in doubt, Whether to utterly waste it or whether divide for a prey

All the spoil they should seize in the fastness. But those not vet would obey,

But armed them anon for an ambush : their wives and their cilfildren small They left within with the aged to stand and defend the wall : Then they went forth, and Athene and Area led them to war. Golden the Gods were wrought and golden the raiment they bore

Goodly and great with their arms, clear-seen like Gods in the shield

Showed they, while smaller behind them the men followed on to the field. And they came to the place of the ambush, where cattle to drink were wont, And sat down in the bed of a river : two scouts apart in the front Kept watch till the flocks of the sheep and the crook-horned oxen they spied.

Then the herds came anon to the water, and herdsmen twain by their side

Playing their pipes as they went, and they took no thought of the snare. But the others saw them and sallied, the herds and the white flocks fair

They cat off round about from their keepers, and slaughtered the men thereby.

But the rest in their place of assembly could hear from the water a cry, And drave forth their high-stepping horses, and swiftly were come to the bank, And there by the side of the river each stood and fought in his rank,

Harting his bronze-tipped spear ; and among them mingling were seen

Furies of Strife and of Onset, and Death with remorseless mien.

One wounded, another unwounded, he grasped yet alive for his proy. And another fallen and dead he dragged by his feet thro' the fray."

—Maiden Ecstasy. By Thomas Gordon Hake. (Chatto and Windus.)—Dr. Hake has thought which is not seldom strikingly novel, but his powers of expression commonly fall short of it ; nor does the thought reach any height of ethereal dignity. It is subtle and imaginative, but it seems to want a sterling value. We do not feel mentally or spiritually richer for reading these elaborate efforts, while the failure of the poet to make his words quite adequate to what be seeks to express makes a great deduction even from the im- mediate pleasure. We look in vain for a quite satisfactory poem, even a quite satisfactory stanza. And it must be saicIthat the fancy, varied and not as it is, sometimes becomes affected and unreal. We quote a few stanzas from "The Maid of Song" :— " Whoa Autumn leaves are crisp and dry,

And hop like famished sparrows o'er the grass; When murky streams, turned noiselessly awry, Round little icebergs pass;

When hungry winds creep stealthily along And paw the shivering rushes,—wooded dale Hears not the Maid of Song ;

Mute in the silence of the nightingale.

But when the passage birds of Spring Burst like warm winds into the melting wood, That thaws to hanging verdure while they sing To earn love's livelihood, 'Tis then the joyous Maid of Song reveals Her passion-notes, and covers the blank day With sweetly trilling Peals: As flowers drop off the early blossomed May.

She loves her voice, the trees shall lead

To it their leafy ears,' the shaking bough,

As 'neath the weight of singing-bird, shall bend It seeks of them no vow ; No heart but hers its ceaseless ringing saps I She has no nest whereof to guard the keep ; When her tired notes relapse, They break not on her mate's enchanted sleep.

She knew 'twas love so wildly sprang

From her heart's voice ; so must no other hear Her secret: even the while she softly sang She ofttimes stopped in fear.

As of the liWattiat build from chirp of morn 'Mid sounds of bliss, their concert-woven neat, Her love was virgin-born,- The first full passion of her childish breast."

But it is only fair to say that Dr. Hake's work is one which cannot be justly judged from extracts.—Collected Versa, by Violet Pane. (Smith, Elder, and Co.) —There is no little beauty of expression, delicacy of fancy, and even thought of feeling in these poems ; yet they seem somewhat wanting in reality, And here and there are curious de- fects of taste, which so clever a writer ought not to have allowed to pass. How incongruous, for instance, is the last word in the following !—

" The bare Burgundian vines, Like antlers of a buried herd, Pierced through their chilly counterpane."

But sometimes a true thought is expressed happily, and without a flaw. Such a poem is "Divined," " Rest " is a quite harmonious utterance of feeling, in which we have nothing to criticise, unless it is putting "laburnums raining their golden showers" alongside of "dahlias and tall red hollybocks."—Gwynnedd, a Tragedy, and Other Poems. By the Author of "Margaret's Engagement," &c. (Moxon and Saunders.) The writer has attained more than usual success in writing a drama that may be read with pleasure. The scene of " Gwynnedd" is laid in Roman Britain, and the drama, which turns on the love of a Boman for a British princess, is effectively managed. The blank verse is fairly good, though the writer is far too fond of the superfluous syllable at the end of the line. Sometimes it comes nine or ten times in succession. There is real imagination in "Earth's Angels," which may be called a cry of "groaning and travailing creation," and

considerable power of language in the humourous poems, though the humour is not very intelligible to the uninitiated reader.—Getuntra

and The Duke of Guise : Two Tragedies. (C. Kogan Paul and Co.)— In Gene era, the scene of which is laid in Paris at the time of the "St. Bartholomew," the writer has achieved a certain success in the

character of the King, whose madness is pourtrayed with skill. In other respects, we cannot give the play high praise. The metre is lamentably defective in parts :—

" Irksome task to raise his sluggish nature,"

" 'Tivizt the Queen-mother and Philip of Spain," "Catherine de Medicis might conquer,"

can scarcely be scanned ; and the list of examples might be extended indefinitely.—We have also received Allaooddeen : a Tragedy, and Other Poems, by the Author of "Constance," &c. (Smith, Elder, and Co); Cabinet Poems, by En&ne H. Munday (Lippincott, Philadel- phia); Legends and Myths of- the Aborigiruzl Indians of British Guiana, collected and edited by the Rev. William Brett, B.D. (W. W. Gardner) ; L'earchus, a Romance of Athens, by J. Williams (Wyman and Sons) Dolly, and Other Poems, by "J. M." (J. Maclehose, Glasgow) ; Shadows from the Cross, by the Author of "The Ministry of the Bible" (Remington and Co.) ; and a volume of very careful, and apparently successful, Translations from Dante, Petrarch, Michael Angelo, and Vittoria Colonna (C. Kagan Paul and Co.), to which we would willingly, had there been an opportunity, have given more attention.