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The vitiated taste of the present age for Cockney songs
their vulgarity—the negro melodies—the lyrics of
Burns as the poet of the Humorous and the Social.....,
The Influence of Woman on Burns as a poet...
Our Lyrical Poetry and Poets
The power of Lyrical poetry—the Elizabethan age
Shakspere, Carew, Jonson, &c.
It is generally acknowledged by those best acquainted with the subject, that Lyrical Poetry has more power over the human heart than any other species of poetical literature. The lyre had its origin in remote ages, when the bards or minstrels of old, by the light of their own inspiration, sang of passing events or the heroic achievements of warriors, and thus, at the same time, gave birth both to Poetry and Music.
At a more advanced period, when “burning Sappho loved and sung," and when Pindar and Anacreon composed their inimitable odes, such effusions were generally sung and accompanied by the lyre, a musical instrument much in vogue at that time in Greece, and from the name of which instrument the poetry now denominated Lyrical owes its present appellation. Since that distant age our lyrical literature has been enriched by the best poets with the sweetest poetic strains, so pure in diction, so just in sentiment, and
so truthful to Nature that outliving even the pyramids and the most enduring marble monuments they will be valued and admired as long as there are human bearts to feel their power and appreciate their beauty.
The Lyric is undoubtedly the purest and highest order of Poetry. It requires the most exalted genius to excel in it. While the productions of the Epic Muse have sprung into existence and soon been no more, we see the rich parterre of her lyric sister still glowing with the choicest flowers of Poesy, blooming in perennial beauty, ever fresh and ever fair! How are we to account for this? The reason is obvious. The effusions of the latter Muse speak to the heart in the simple language of Truth and with all the force of musical expression. When energetic, how trumpet tongued are her strains—when plaintive, how touching and tender—and when, like a seraph from heaven, she strikes her divine harp to Love, how beautiful, how exquisitely she gives utterance to "thoughts that breathe and words that burn!”
One of our most popular writers, when speaking on this subject, says, “ The world must become prosaic indeed, our railways, our other mechanical triumphs, and our political economy, must produce the worst effects foretold by our darkest prophets before the genuine lyric—the Song—will lose its hold on the human heart. It is the genuine offspring of the heart, and therefore it will never be forgotten.” The truth of these observations is established by facts that cannot be well contradicted. “Give me the making of the national ballads," said an illustrious statesman,
"and I care not who makes the laws.” In this utilitarian age many will think this remark extremely foolish and extravagant. Those who think so, however, are generally apt to consider even the best Poetry as mere nonsense, and all the time dedicated to Music as time idly wasted, and which might be better and more profitably spent. But those who have paid more attention to this subject--who have deeply felt in their hearts the potent, inexpressible power of “immortal verse married to immortal song"—those who have deeply felt this power, will at once acknowledge there is more justness, more wisdom, and more truth in the emphatic words just quoted than some are aware of or others are disposed to admit.
Innumerable instances, both from ancient and modern history, might here be cited to prove what we have advanced; but two or three of a modern date must suffice. It is a well-known fact, that the bands of the Swiss regiments were strictly forbidden to play the “Ranz des Vasches," as this national air brought to their recollection the happy scenes of Home, with all its endearing associations, and thus with a strong impulse they wished to return to their native country. What, during the latter part of the last century, so much contributed to hurl the Bourbons from the throne of France? The Marseilles Hymn. What greatly accelerated in that kingdom the downfall of the unfortunate Louis Philip? The spirit of Liberty burning in that hymn like a volcanic fire. What contributed to quell the mutiny of the Nore, and induced our disaffected seamen to return to a state of subordination ? The naval songs of Dib