If ever there was a poet
born, he was that man; he attained without study a smoothness of
versification, which, with Pope, was the result of the intensest
analysis and most artistic care. Nor do the most majestic and
resounding lines of Dryden equal some of his in majesty of volume. The
most harmonious lines of Dryden, that I know of, are these: -
"When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
His listening brethren stood around,
And wondering, on their faces fell,
To worship that celestial sound.
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell
Within the hollow of that shell,
That spoke so sweetly and so well."
The first four lines of this always seem to me magnificently
harmonious. But almost any verse at random in Dr. Watts's paraphrase
of the one hundred and forty-eighth Psalm exceeds them, both in melody
and majesty. For instance, take these lines: -
"Wide as his vast dominion lies,
Let the Creator's name be known;
Loud as his thunder shout his praise,
And sound it lofty as his throne.
Speak of the wonders of that love
Which Gabriel plays on every chord:
From all below and all above,
Loud hallelujahs to the Lord."
Simply as a specimen of harmonious versification, I would place this
paraphrase by Dr. Watts above every thing in the English language, not
even excepting Pope's Messiah.