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He discarded at once the whole machinery of ancient poetry. To him the heathen mythology was of no avail. Instead of its poid and distant deities interfering in the concerns of men, he had scourse to higher, nobler instruments. He looked at man,-stuled the human heart, in all its lofty aspirations and its guilty lepths, and employed the magic of powerful passion, and those ilBions which it suggested, in his vivid descriptions,- descriptions f man's higher nature, which will continue to be read and 'admied, as long as that nature he has so admirably portrayed shall cuinue to exist.
If poetry should concern itself with human happiness; if it hould comprehend mau's higher life, and present it to the world Bits deeper meaning, then indeed does christianity exert a happy afluence upon poetry. That influence carries the poet beyond abere the eye of sense can penetrate, or the lamp of reason shine, and brings life and immortality to light, and thus fills his soul with
"grandeur, melody and love." Bs its all-chastening and subduing influence, it awakens in his bosom the purest feelings and the deepest sympathies for man,
"A sweet, expansive brotherhood of being." Bursting the bonds of bis hitherto imprisoned energies, it turns his thoughts upward to the joys and pleasures of our home in the skies, and thus throws around the character of man, a dignity and ir portance unknown to the heathen world.
The remarks of Prof. Tholuck on this subject, are so just and so appropriate, that we cannot refrain from transcribing them.
* The powers of feeling, in the stricter sense, remained undeveloped sudag tbe heathen. The affections of man receive their highest improvement, when he lives in constant intercourse with his God. This la Fard panting of the heart after a higher and better sphere; the vilg energies and joy in the Holy Ghost, which flow from that world, into the otherwise cold and desolate heart of man; it is these which aford the deepest incitements to the world of our affections, and awaken the most elevated and noble feelings in our bosoms.
Bat of such feelings the heathen knew nothing. They knew neither a holy God, who can unite us to himself, and make us happy, por did they know any thing of the celestial home of the soul, for which it intessantly pants and strives. It was, therefore, the spirit of christianity which gave rise to romantic and sentimental poetry. While the poetry of the ancients constantly exhibited only the relation of man to the external world, the poetry of christianity directed itself to the interior of the breast, and sang the sorrows and the joys of the human heart.' Bibl. Repos. No. 7. 1832.
The poet who would attain to the “height of this great argument,” must draw from the bible, the fountain of fiery inspir as Schlegel calls it. The fire of pure devotion must exist same time with that of the muse, kindled to as intense a glow blazing as high. He must drink in a sacred influence fron pages of the inspired prophets, and attain to a sympathy with miods, in the feelings of highest elevation and deepest humili
If it be objected, as it often has been, that religious subject not fit themes for poetry of the highest character, we adduce Mr. Montgomery, “ the fact that three out of the only four poems, which are daily re-printed for every class of readers as us, are decidedly religious. That fact ought forever to silenccuckoo-note, which is echoed from one mocking-bird of Pam to another,--that poetry and devotion are incompatible. No in his right mind, who knows what both words mean, will a the absurdity for a moment.”
a moment.” “ That man has neither ear heart, nor imagination, to know genuine poetry, or to enjo sweetest, sublimest influences, who can doubt the suprema such passages, as the song of the angels in the third, and morning hymn of Adam and Eve in the fifth book of Para Lost."
“The bymn at the close of the Seasons,' is unquestion one of the most magnificent specimens of verse in any langu and only inferior to the inspired prototype in the book of Psa And Pope's Messiah leaves all his original productions imme rably behind it, in combined elevation of thought, affluence of agery, beauty of diction, and fervency of spirit.'
The influence of christianity is necessary to the poet h sell. To be a poet, and at the same time a happy being man must, we believe, be religious. We speak here of r gion as a conservative principle in this life. The follies misfortunes of this class of men are well known. Their mi are so peculiarly constructed, that nothing but religious princi can save them from total bankruptcy of heart. The celes element of poetry in their minds is above this earth, and destroyed by the grossness of vice. If God be not the c tral sun, from which such bodies receive their light and che ing warmth, and around which they revolve, and to wbi they are bound by a sweet attractive influence; the disturbi force through which they must pass, will most assuredly forev hurl them from their true and proper orbits. The names Burns and Byron occur to our minds as mournful examples of tł fact,-names which we cannot mention without sorrow of heal These men had the soul of poetry in them; their hearts we tremblingly alive with adoration,-but “ there was no temple their understandings.” They were most unhappy men,-mini they had of the very first order, but they wanted the balancin
er of religious principle,—truly splendid were the efforts of
“ To the prophet's eye-ibat nightly saw,
The bible, it is a remark of Schlegel, has exerted the same influnce upon the poetry of our more cultivated times, which Homer id anong the ancients : it has become the fountain, the rule and model of all our figures and images. From this source, the great (nasters of painting and poetry have drawn their scenes, and kindied their sublimity. It was here, that the Florentine caught his aspiration. It was the habitual and yearning contemplation of the sacred volume, which furnished Milton with his finest images, and prepared and animated him for the noblest flight of human genius. I was on Zion's hill, and at Siloa's brook, that he caught that inspiration, which raised him above the Aonian mount. Yes, it was under the refining, elevating influence of the holy oracles, that he make as on an angel's wing, and “soared, like the bird of morn, out of sight, amid the music of his own grateful piety."
The history of English poetry bears ample testimony to the enobling influence of christianity on this divine art ;-an influence Llar has produced some of the finest, sweetest strains to be found within the whole range of poetry. We would not undervalue the originality and elegance of the Grecian muse, but we cannot repress the feeling that in all the scenes of domestic tenderness of moral sublimity,-in all that is calculated to excite and agitate the soul
, or to move the softer and more gentle affections of the heart, the British poets stand unrivaled. Homer may be more dramatic, and Virgil more correct; but in Milton there is a sube limity, a moral grandeur of conception, which we believe is reached by any other uninspired poet.
Our English poetry, as a whole, is indeed a rich inheritance,tender legacy of the master spirits of by-gone days. But while thus express our admiration, we must not forget that there are 1 things in this poetry which only move our abhorrence. Insta there are, and not a few either, of moral dignity coupled with disy ing coarseness ;-strains that might seem to come from higher reg even from a seraph's lyre, are followed by scenes which valg itself would not stoop to own! Genius is indeed an awful t and most sincerely do we hope to see the day, when its crea powers shall be employed only in doing good, and in warn into higher and holier action the minds of men.
We hope the time is not far distant, when pure christianity pour its blessed influences into every mind and heart, and like fabled soul of the world, move and actuate the whole mas society; “when there will be a want of sympathy with works which have not been quickened by this heavenly influen when it shall be felt that the poet has known little of nature, — he has seen it only under clouds, if he has not seen it under 1 celestial light; when, in fine, it shall be everywhere felt a acknowledged in our literature, that man, when viewed in sepa tion from his Maker and bis end, can neither be understood 1 portrayed."
ART. IV.-SPIRITUAL SONGS FOR Social WORSHIP.
Spiritual Songs for Social Worship; adapted to the use of families and price
circles, in seasons of revival,—to missionary meetings, to the monthly conce and to other occasions of special interest. Words and Music arranged Thomas Hastings of New York, and Lowell Mason of Boston.
This work was commenced about three years since, and designe to be published, as then announced, in a series of numbers, eight i the whole, comprising such tunes, with their appropriate hymns, a might appear to the editors adapted to the more private wants o American christians. From their high reputation as editors ant composers of music, we were led to expect an interesting and valuable collection; and we are happy to say that these expectations have been fully realized. “ In our larger and more dignified assemblies,” say they, in their preface, “psalmody will continue and hold its appropriate place; but for social and private uses, something is needed which is more familiar, more melodious, and more easy of execution.” This object, which Messrs. Hastings and Mason have for many years been laboring to accomplish, we cordially approve; and we are desirous to give our aid to sustain and
eure the reform which they have so happily begun. We de-
The Lyre, as the only book designed to meet those wants, was of course necessarily introduced into very many congregations. Its influence, on the whole, has no doubt been of service to the cause of musical reform. One of the benefits which we think has attended its circulation, is, that many persons are now enabled to sing, who otherwise could not share in this part of worship. In some sections of the country, where protracted meetings have been attended with happy results, a large class of the converts, and choristers eten, were acquainted with no other music than some of the tunes contained in the Lyre. These tunes, therefore, they must use, or not sing at all. And we think that none, even of those possessing the most delicate and refined taste, could object for a moment to these babes in Christ praising their Redeemer in songs such as they might chance to know, whether modeled according to a correct standard or not. The only alternative left to them, was, either to sing these tunes, or be deprived of this part of worship. We believe, therefore, that the publication of the Lyre has been productive of good, in this particular, if in no other. But the christian commumty, at least a portion of it, is now looking for and desiring a kind of music which is more elevated and chaste in its character,-muVol. VI.