William Julius Mickle

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William Julius Mickle (29 September 173428 October 1788) was a Scottish poet.

Quotes[edit]

  • The dews of summer night did fall,
    The moon, sweet regent of the sky,
    Silvered the walls of Cumnor Hall
    And many an oak that grew thereby.
    • Cumnor Hall (1784), st. 1. Compare: "Jove, thou regent of the skies", Alexander Pope, The Odyssey, book ii, line 42; "Now Cynthia, named fair regent of the night", John Gay, Trivia, book iii; "And hail their queen, fair regent of the night", Charles Darwin, The Botanic Garden, part i, canto ii, line 90.
    • This ballad was the inspiration for Walter Scott's Kenilworth.
  • But are ye sure the news is true—
    And are ye sure he's weel?
    Is this a time to think o' wark?—
    Ye jades, fling by your wheel!
    • The Mariner's Wife (1769), st. 1
  • For there's nae luck about the house,
    There's nae luck at a';
    There's little pleasure in the house
    When our gudeman's awa'.
    • The Mariner's Wife (1769)
  • His very foot has music in't
    As he comes up the stairs.
    • The Mariner's Wife (1769), st. 5
  • And will I see his face again!
    And will I hear him speak!
    • The Mariner's Wife (1769), st. 5
  • The present moment is our ain,
    The neist we never saw!
    • The Mariner's Wife (1769), st. 6

The Lusiads (1776)[edit]

The Lusiad Or, The Discovery of India: an Epic Poem, Mickle's translation of Camoes's The Lusiads (1572).
A nobler hero's deeds demand my lays
Than e'er adorn'd the song of ancient days;
Illustrious GAMA, whom the waves obey'd,
And whose dread sword the fate of empire sway'd.
  • Arms and the Heroes, who from Lisbon's shore,
    Thro' Seas where sail was never spread before,
    Beyond where Ceylon lifts her spicy breast,
    And waves her woods above the watery waste,
    With prowess more than human forc'd their way
    To the fair kingdoms of the rising day:
    What wars they wag'd, what seas, what dangers past,
    What glorious empire crown'd their toils at last,
    Vent'rous I sing, on soaring pinions borne,
    And all my country's wars the song adorn.
    What Kings, what Heroes of my native land
    Thunder'd on Asia's and on Afric's strand:
    Illustrious shades, who levell'd in the dust
    The idol temples and the shrines of lust;
    And where, erewhile, foul demons were rever'd,
    To Holy Faith unnumber'd altars rear'd:
    Illustrious names, with deathless laurels crown'd,
    While time rolls on in every clime renown'd!

    Let Fame with wonder name the Greek no more,
    What lands he saw, what toils at sea he bore;
    No more the Trojan's wandering voyage boast,
    What storms he brav'd on many a per'lous coast:
    No more let Rome exult in Trajan's name,
    Nor Eastern conquests Ammon's pride proclaim;
    A nobler hero's deeds demand my lays
    Than e'er adorn'd the song of ancient days;
    Illustrious GAMA, whom the waves obey'd,
    And whose dread sword the fate of empire sway'd.

    And you, fair nymphs of Tagus, parent stream,
    If e'er your meadows were my pastoral theme,
    While you have listen'd, and by moonshine seen
    My footsteps wander o'er your banks of green,
    O come auspicious, and the song inspire
    With all the boldness of your hero's fire:
    Deep and majestic let the numbers flow,
    And, rapt to heaven, with ardent fury glow;
    Unlike the verse that speaks the lover's grief,
    When heaving sighs afford their soft relief,
    And humble reeds bewail the shepherd's pain:
    But like the warlike trumpet be the strain
    To rouse the hero's ire; and far around,
    With equal rage, your warriors' deeds resound.

    • Book I, opening lines.
  • The crown, of heaven's own pearls, whose ardent rays,
    Flam'd round his brows, outshone the diamond's blaze:
    His breath such gales of vital fragrance shed,
    As might, with sudden life, inspire the dead.
The moon, full orb'd, forsakes her watery cave,
And lifts her lovely head above the wave.
The snowy splendours of her modest ray
Stream o'er the glistening waves, and quivering play:
Around her, glittering on the heaven's arched brow,
Unnumber'd stars, enclosed in azure, glow,
Thick as the dew-drops of the April dawn,
Or May-flowers crowding o'er the daisy-lawn:
The canvas whitens in the silvery beam,
And with a mild pale red the pendants gleam:
The masts' tall shadows tremble o'er the deep;
The peaceful winds a holy silence keep.
  • The moon, full orb'd, forsakes her watery cave,
    And lifts her lovely head above the wave.
    The snowy splendours of her modest ray
    Stream o'er the glistening waves, and quivering play:
    Around her, glittering on the heaven's arched brow,
    Unnumber'd stars, enclosed in azure, glow,
    Thick as the dew-drops of the April dawn,
    Or May-flowers crowding o'er the daisy-lawn:
    The canvas whitens in the silvery beam,
    And with a mild pale red the pendants gleam:
    The masts' tall shadows tremble o'er the deep;
    The peaceful winds a holy silence keep;
    The watchman's carol, echo'd from the prows,
    Alone, at times, awakes the still repose.
    • Book I.
  • O piteous lot of man's uncertain state!
    What woes on Life's unhappy journey wait!
    When joyful Hope would grasp its fond desire,
    The long-sought transports in the grasp expire.
    By sea what treacherous calms, what rushing storms,
    And death attendant in a thousand forms!
    By land what strife, what plots of secret guile,
    How many a wound from many a treacherous smile!
    O where shall man escape his numerous foes,
    And rest his weary head in safe repose!
    • Book I, closing lines.
  • Ah! fraudful malice! how shall wisdom's care
    Escape the poison of thy gilded snare!
    • Book II.
  • Adown her neck, more white than virgin snow,
    Of softest hue the golden tresses flow;
    Her heaving breasts of purer, softer white,
    Than snow hills glistening in the moon's pale light,
    Except where covered by the sash, were bare,
    And love, unseen, smil'd soft, and panted there.
    Nor less the zone the god's fond zeal employs,
    The zone awakes the flames of secret joys.
    As ivy tendrils, round her limbs divine
    Their spreading arms the young desires entwine:
    Below her waist, and quivering on the gale,
    Of thinnest texture flows the silken veil:
    (Ah! where the lucid curtain dimly shows,
    With doubled fires the roving fancy glows!)
    The hand of modesty the foldings threw,
    Nor all conceal'd, nor all was given to view.
    • Book II; of Venus.
Death of Inês de Castro
  • Dragg'd from her bower by murderous ruffian hands,
    Before the frowning king fair Inez stands;
    Her tears of artless innocence, her air
    So mild, so lovely, and her face so fair,
    Moved the stern monarch; when with eager zeal,
    Her fierce destroyers urged the public weal;
    Dread rage again the tyrant's soul possest,
    And his dark brow his cruel thoughts confest;
    O'er her fair face a sudden paleness spread,
    Her throbbing heart with generous anguish bled,
    Anguish to view her lover's hopeless woes,
    And all the mother in her bosom rose.
    Her beauteous eyes, in trembling tear-drops drown'd,
    To heaven she lifted, but her hands were bound;
    Then on her infants turn'd the piteous glance,
    The look of bleeding woe; the babes advance,
    Smiling in innocence of infant age,
    Unawed, unconscious of their grandsire's rage.
    • Book III.
  • In tears she utter'd—as the frozen snow
    Touch'd by the spring's mild ray, begins to flow,
    So just began to melt his stubborn soul,
    As mild-ray'd pity o'er the tyrant stole;
    But destiny forbade: with eager zeal,
    Again pretended for the public weal,
    Her fierce accusers urged her speedy doom;
    Again dark rage diffused its horrid gloom
    O'er stern Alonzo's brow: swift at the sign,
    Their swords unsheathed around her brandish'd shine.
    O foul disgrace, of knighthood lasting stain,
    By men of arms a helpless lady slain!
    • Book III; of Inez de Castro.
  • And who can boast he never felt the fires,
    The trembling throbbings of the young desires,
    When he beheld the breathing roses glow,
    And the soft heavings of the living snow;
    The waving ringlets of the auburn hair,
    And all the rapturous graces of the fair!
    Oh! what defence, if fixt on him, he spy
    The languid sweetness of the stedfast eye!
    Ye who have felt the dear luxurious smart,
    When angel-charms oppress the powerless heart,
    In pity here relent the brow severe,
    And o'er Fernando's weakness drop the tear.
    • Book III.
Statue of Adamastor by Júlio Vaz Júnior
  • I spoke, when rising through the darken'd air,
    Appall'd, we saw a hideous phantom glare;
    High and enormous o'er the flood he tower'd,
    And 'thwart our way with sullen aspect lower'd
    An earthy paleness o'er his cheeks was spread,
    Erect uprose his hairs of wither'd red;
    Writhing to speak, his sable lips disclose,
    Sharp and disjoin'd, his gnashing teeth's blue rows;
    His haggard beard flow'd quiv'ring on the wind,
    Revenge and horror in his mien combin'd;
    His clouded front, by with'ring lightnings scar'd,
    The inward anguish of his soul declar'd.
    His red eyes, glowing from their dusky caves,
    Shot livid fires: far echoing o'er the waves
    His voice resounded, as the cavern'd shore
    With hollow groan repeats the tempest's roar.
    Cold gliding horrors thrill'd each hero’s breast,
    Our bristling hair and tott'ring knees confess'd
    Wild dread, the while with visage ghastly wan,
    His black lips trembling, thus the fiend began...
    • Book V; description of Adamastor, the "Spirit of the Cape".

Quotes about Mickle[edit]

  • [There's nae luck about the house] is positively the finest love ballad in that style in the Scottish or perhaps any other language.
    • Robert Burns, in The Works of Robert Burns (1831), p. 213.
  • I am glad, Sir, it has fallen into your hands.
    • Samuel Johnson, reply to Mickle when told of his plans to translate The Lusiads into English. (Dr. Johnson "had much earlier proposed to translate the work himself".) Vide The Samuel Johnson Encyclopedia (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996), p. 264.
  • I have had occasion lately to look into Mickle's translation of the Lusiad. It is easily and gracefully versified, but properly speaking is not a translation, but a very free paraphrase, or rifacimento of the original. I have been amazed to find what long passages of his own the writer has interpolated into the work. He does not even follow the division into stanzas, but recasts the whole into English couplets. This, to me, is a fatal error.
  • Mickle, with a vein of great facility, united a power of verbal melody which might have been envied by bards of much greater renown.
    • Walter Scott, "Introductory Remarks on Popular Poetry", in Historical Ballads (1807), p. 69.
  • Mickle's facility of versification was so great, that, being a printer by profession, he frequently put his verses into types without taking the trouble previously to put them into writing; thus uniting the composition of the author with the mechanical operation which typographers call by the same name.
    • Walter Scott, "Introductory Remarks on Popular Poetry", in Historical Ballads (1807), p. 69.
  • A man of genius, whose memory is without a spot, and whose name will live among the English poets.
  • Mr. Mickle's translation [Lusiad] promises well to stand in competition with any made in the English language. His characters are well preserved and strongly marked; his speeches have great force and spirit, his descriptions are masterly and sublime; his verse is written in a nervous and lofty diction, and in a fine harmony of numbers.
    • D. Z., "An Essay on Translation" in Gentleman's Magazine (August 1771).

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