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Gently the windings of those curls unfold,
Ere yet to silver envious Time shall change them. * The third ridicules those descriptions which are sometimes introduced when neither the poet nor the reader can tell why or wherefore.
Down to a valley from the mountain's height
There happened to me--nothing, I declare. Of all Lope's works, Lord Holland tells us his burlesque pieces are those which are most generally admired by his countrymen. The Gatomaquia, he adds, is esteemed the best, and often cited as a model of versification. In this point indeed the author is never deficient : but in structure this mock heroic is as faulty as his epic attempts, and we do not recollect any poem of the kind of which the conceptiou is so silly. It is a war between two cats for love of a third: one of them rides in full dress upon a monkey to visit her, and each raises an army to fight for her.
For an account of the Corona Tragica we must refer the reader to the work before us, where he will find a masterly translation of one of the best passages in Lope de Vega's writings. Our limits will only permit us to notice, and that briefly, one other of his longer compositions, the Dorothea. This is not a pastoral, as it might be supposed to be from the manner in which Lord Holland mentions it-it is what the author calls an Accion en prosa, a story told in dialogue, having nothing of the regularity even of a Spanish drama, and far exceeding all dramatic bounds in length: there exist several specimens of such works both in Spanish and Portugueze. In the Eclogue to Claudio, Lope calls this his last and his favourite work:
* A un peyne que no sabia el Poeta si era de box, o de marfil.
Forma por la madexa sendas de oro
+ Describe un nonte, sin que, ni para que. Caen de un monte a un valle entre pizarras Que las que salen de Españolas barras. Guarnecidas de fragiles elechos
Tiene este monte por vasallo á un prado, A su margen carambanos deshechos
Que para tantas flores le importuna Que cercan olmos y silvestres parras; Sangre las venas de su pecho elado. Nadan en su cristal Ninfas bizarras Y en este monte y liquida laguna. Compitiendo con el candidos pechos, Para decir verdad, conjo hombre honrado, Dulces naves de amor, en mas estrechos Jamas me sucedió cosa ninguna.
• Postuma de mis Musas, Dorotea,
Ultima de mi vida.' Fernando, the hero of the piece, is a young poet richer in genius than in fortune, very much in love with Dorothea, who is equally in love with him, though it appears, much to the surprize of the reader, in the course of the story, that she has a husband living abroad. Fernando is at the same time the favourite of a rich and handsome widow named Marfisa; he draws upon her bounty; and a hypocritical procuress contrives to introduce Don Bela, a wealthy creole, to Dorothea, and by dint of costly presents to obtain for him a gracious reception. Both parties have their fits of jealousy, with apparent reason on both sides. Fernando leaves Madrid, and returns to it. A friend who had studied astrology casts his vativity; the horoscope is to this purport, that Dorothea and her mother will persecute him till he is banished from the realm; a little before this bavishment he will marry, much to the displeasure of his relations, and lose his wife to his own excessive grief seven years afterwards. He will then return to Madrid, where Dorothea, being then a widow, will wish to marry him, but the sense of honour and resentment on his part will resist all the temptation of her caresses and her wealth. He will afterwards be very unfortunate in love, but by the help of prayer will come out of these troubles well, and enter into a different state of life. Marfisa is to marry twice, and be murdered by her last husband for jealousy. The story, disposes of two other personages more speedily. Don Bela is killed in a chance quarrel, and the old procuress falls into a well and is drowned. This was the end of Don Bela, Martisa, and Gerarda. What remains are the troubles of Don Fernando. The poet could not fail in truth, for the story is true.-Look to the example, for which end it hath been written.' In these words Fame addresses the imaginary spectators at the end. Such is the story of the Dorothea, which has neither plan, interest, nor catastrophe; and why it should have been the author's favourite is incomprehensible, unless in the person of Fernando he has related some of the adventures of his own early life. Many pieces of poetry are inserted with little artifice in the Do
rothea, rothea, indeed some of his most admired minor poems are to be found in this work and in the Arcadia. But the characteristic merits and faults of this remarkable writer are no where more strikingly exemplified than in his Rimas Sacras, where he has written sometimes with the utmost extravagance of fancy and perversion of taste; at other times, with a strength of religious feeling which commands from the reader something more than approbation. By the dedication of this volume to Frey Martin de San Cirilo, it appears that this Carmelite was the person who effected his conversion from the world : be offers it to him as the fruits of that field which his paternity had cultivated. Among the extraordinary compositions in this collection is a sonnet to St. Sebastian, in which God and man are described shooting at him as at a mark, and he dies by the arrows of divine love before those of human cruelty can reach him. There is a sermon of the Archbishop of Toledo's, versified in trinal rhyme by the poet in the course of the day in which he heard it delivered. There is a Villanesca (which may perhaps in this place be best translated a Carrol) al Santissimo Sacramento; it begins by addressing the wafer as a knight in masquerade, and ends in a sort of epigram, which it is more fitting to transcribe than to translate.
Mas siendo verdad que un dia
Verbum caro factum est,
No es mucho que en Pan se de. There is a song to St. Francisco, a personage whose history, gloss it as the Romanists may, is one of the most audacious instances of Romish impiety and imposture. A young merchant, says Lope, wishes to be married; two beautiful damsels are proposed to him; Humility is the one, Poverty the other: he marries them both; the articles being made for him by Chastity. Christ comes to give them away, and pledges his five wounds for their dowry; the writings are made by God himself upon his hands and his feet and his side.
A la boda, a la boda,
ay grandes fiestas.
Virtues so fair,
And there's merry-making there.
soul!* And there is a sonnet upon a relic of St. Lorenzo, recently, as it appears, acquired by the crown of Spain, which may vie with any specimen of this peculiar class of poems. It calls upon the angels to spread a clean table for Christ that he may eat of the victim, the smoke of which is ascending in an aromatic cloud. • It takes a rose colour upon the gridiron; Love has seasoned it; broil it quickly; turn it on the other side that it may be done; and when the table is ready, O ye angels, say that the meat must be eaten with all speed, because the most Christian king is waiting for a bone'!
Yet in this same volume there are strains of sober piety and elevated devotion, in which a true Christian might devoutly join, and bless the man who has expressed for him so well the aspirations of hope and faith. Such, for instance, are these lines in the Introduction.
Even as a culprit strives to reach
The surest refuge was with thee.f Such too is the following Sonnet, though it falls feebly at the close.
My mother bore me mortal; the free sky
* Entonces con fuego ardiente
En el cuerpo a Christo muerto,
Y en el alma a Christo vivo.
Tal suele obediente cera
Mostrar el blason antiguo
Sobre la nema a su dueño
Eu un instante esculpido, How little is the mythology of this abominable Church at this time known in England; and how little, in consequence of this ignorance, is its real character understood ! + Qual delinquante que passa
Luego en esto bien senti
De essa tu bondad inmensa,
Porque no ay mayor defensa
Que contigo, para ti,
The body nothing is, nor aught desires.
Nature restores a like equality.* Such too is this other, with which, being best as well as last, we shall conclude our specimens of Lope de Vega's poetry.
I must lie down and slumber in the dust,
That leads to poor Mortality's abode.t Here then we conclude. It would be too wide a field to enter upon Lope's dramatic works, and it is the less needful because it is that part of his writings upon which Lord Holland has dwelt most at length. And we conclude the more willingly with this sonnet, because we could imagine nothing which would leave upon the reader an impression more favourable to the poet,---or more salutary to himself (let us be permitted to add) if he should, in some degree, partake of the feeling with which it has been translated as well as written.
* Hombre mortal mis padres me engendra- Yo dormire en el polvo, y si mañana ron,
Me buscares, Señor, sera possible Ayre comun y luz los cielos dieron, No hallar en el estado convenible Y mi primera voz lagrimas fueron,
Para tu forma la materia humana. Que assi los Reyes en el mundo entraron. Imprime agora, O Fuerza soberana, La tierra y la miseria me abrazaron, Tus efetos en mi, que es impossible Paños, no piel o pluma me embolvieron; Conservarse mi ser incorruptible, Por huesped de la vida me escrivieron, Viento, humo, polvo, y esperanza vana. Y las horas y passos me contaron.
Bien se que he de vestirme el postrer dia Assi voy prosiguiendo la jornada,
Otra vez estos huessos, y que verte A la immortalidad el alma asida,
Mis ojos tienen, y esta carne mia. Que el cuerpo es nada, y no pretende Esta esperanza vive en ni tan fuerte, nada,
Que con ella, no mas tengo alegria
En las tristes memorias de la niuerte.