1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Maria Porter

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Review of Porter, Ballad-Romances; The Monthly Review 67 (March 1812) 325-26.



Miss Porter's Ballads display less invention than her other poems; and in "the Knight of Malta," which is the best of them, she hazards the following description of a "green and yellow melancholy:"

His cheek was once like the orange red,
But now like the olive pale.
And his heart that erst with pity bled,
Now heaves through pitiless mail.—

Yet this volume contains much that is elegant and pleasing; the ingenious allegory of Youth has many beautiful lines; the Address to a Regiment going on Foreign Service is both spirited and pathetic; while the Lines written after reading the Corinne of Madame de Stael, and the Psyche of the late Mrs. Henry Tighe, are fraught with so much taste, feeling, and generous enthusiasm, that we should be glad to extract them at some length. We shall, however, present our readers with a part of the apostrophe to the authoress of Psyche:

Ah, sounds divine! whence flow ye, from yon copse,
Steal on the depth of night, melodious sighs
From Love's own bosom heaved: the warbled lay,
First softly wooing, then lamenting sad,
Now trembling with delight, with hope, half bliss,
With dear persuasion of partaken joy,
Soars and descends by turns: all nature melts
To softer charm, beneath its influence pure;
With tenderer light, looks down the pensive moon;
With gentler murmur glide the silver streams;
More balmy breathe the flowers; and stiller stand
The listening trees; the human breast o'erflows
With holy rapture; virtue, love, and joy,
All swell together, till in tears dissolved,
The sweet emotions find their happy way.—
Nightingale of Rosanna! thou art gone!
Snatched 'mid thy tuneful life, to sing above!—
Earth's guilty echoes, dared not answer thee;
(Echoes, so oft devote to Passion's voice,
Tuneful indeed, but lawless, and profane.—)