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“POEMS OF MANY YEARS” was the title of the volume privately printed in 1838 and published in 1840 ; but the years were few in the ordinary computation of life, though many in the impressions, the desires, and the inspirations of youth. They are here reproduced with certain additions and omissions, together with the “ Memorials of a Tour in Greece," the two latter published in 1834, and “ Palm Leaves ” in 1844, counting on the interest of those who have a local acquaintance and historic sympathy, rather than on the gratification of the general reader. I have found a certain familiarity with my writings among those who have trodden the same ground and felt the same associations, which otherwise I had no hope to attain.
The Grecian poems have their date in that period of life which, in a cultivated Englishman, is almost universally touched and coloured by the studies and memories of the classic world ; and the scenes and personages they commemorate are, as it were, the most natural subjects of his poetic thought and illustration. They were accompanied, as first given to the public, with a considerable amount of prose narration and some antiquarian research ; but the country has since then been so thoroughly explored by travellers and archæologists, that I am glad to avoid what would be a profitless repetition. There were, too, at that time, earnest expectations of a regenerated Greece, to which not only the visionary poet, but the sober politician must now look back with disappointment; and the agreeable associations of a glorious ideal past, with an approximate interesting future, may be said to have passed away. Greece may, indeed must, have its part in the important political changes that overhang the east of Europe, but there will be never again an untoward battle of Navarino, or a Poethero of Missolonghi.
The majority of the Italian poems were inspired by a long residence in Venice, the delightful city whose special historical interests may perhaps be weakened by that regeneration of Italy, which I am thankful to have lived to witness; and whose "ruins without antiquity,” as described by a cynical German, may lose something of their picturesqueness in a revival of material prosperity. My experience belongs to the period when the traveller only saw in the sad beauties of the present the monuments of a past magnificence of civic and artistic life. I have purposely omitted some Roman poems, published in previous editions, not in disregard of the thoughts and feelings they might record, but because they seemed to invest a transitory state of mind with more meaning than it deserved. The personal inclinations of the moment are no fit themes for verse.
It is otherwise with the poems on Oriental subjects. There the Western writer can only be the interpreter of thoughts and feelings historically alien to his own civilisation, and to which his subjective relation can be but imperfect and accidental. The translation, indeed, may exhibit as wide a variety of excellence and worth as an original production; its merit may range from the shadowy infidelity of Moore's “ Lalla Rookh,” to the truth and power of Goethe's “Westöestliche Divan ;" but no skill or ingenuity can impart to it the full satisfaction of the poetry of Western life. In the East unconscious passion, undoubted duty, unchallenged faith, complete the history of humanity; -there the reality of objects has remained unquestioned, and mankind is, as it were, a portion of eternal nature, with but higher faculties and a larger destiny. There have, indeed, been mystics in the East, asserting the right and power of spiritual intuition above the restriction of positive ordinance ; but the motive forces of that world have ever been Facts, and not Ideas, thus accounting for the absence of, and even animosity to, the forms of Art, and the habitual confusion between the notions of truth and power.
In my attempt to delineate the great theistic religion which Christianity so long persisted in confounding with Paganism, and which Roman Catholic dogmatists have lately defined as the most extensive Protestant heresy, I was perhaps somewhat in advance of the present state of opinion, both with regard to the genius of the faith and the character of the Prophet. There is not perhaps much merit in the recognition of Mohammed as other than an impostor or fanatic, for Mr. Carlyle's Lectures on Hero-Worship had made that vulgar estimate no longer possible ; but it is to the more elaborate work of such writers as Sprenger and Muir that we must