Page:Some soldier poets.djvu/137
Of spirit too capacious to require
That Destiny her course should change; too just
To his own native greatness to desire
That wretched boon, days lengthened by mistrust.
So were the hopeless troubles, that involved
The soul of Dion, instantly dissolved.
Released from life and cares of princely state,
He left this moral grafted on his Fate:
'Him only pleasure leads, and peace attends,
Him, only him, the shield of Jove defends
Whose means are fair and spotless as his ends.' "
What magnificent language and rhythm! Nevertheless this poem, compared with the Ode on the Intimations of Immortality, may be classed as unknown; yet it contains more and better poetry.
Unfortunately the last three lines, if not clay, are not pure gold; for it is not true that pleasure leads and peace attends, or that the shield of Jove defends the clean-handed hero, and we notice something trite in the enunciation of the thought. Wordsworth should have found it obviously false, since he accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the perfect type. Yet, means fair and spotless as the end proposed are ideal requirements both in art and heroism. The contention that this scrupulousness, the ideal beauty of which is freely recognised, should control business, is probably the hardest bone of contention with which humanity is provided—the one about which every compromise of necessity begs the question.
Brutus, Dion and Samson (who for Milton represented Cromwell) are such tragic figures because the beauty of their heroism became tarnished and ended in failure.For my fault-finding with Wordsworth I hope you will think I have made amends; I would fain do as much for Browning, but time and capacity fail me for reading his magnificent Artemis Prologizes, perhaps the most splendid
- Poems of the Imagination, xxxii.