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In the present edition this beautiful verse is sacrificed apparently to a love of uniformity, in order that each picture may have one stanza, and one only, appropriated to it. The theory of the Palace of Art' is as true as the development of that theory is impressive. It is directed against the crying sin of intellectual men, the love of the beautiful to the exclusion of the good. The soul
'A glorious devil large in heart and brain,'
has erected for her, in a solitary and unapproachable spot, a mansion κar' cxhv, decked with the choicest gifts of nature, and furnished with every appliance of art. Here, in epicurean seclusion from her fellows, she gives herself up to æsthetic enjoyment for a season, but at length
'DEEP dread and loathing of her solitude
And by strange fears, ending in utter despair, she is taught her own insufficiency:
'REMAINING utterly confused with fears
She howl'd aloud, 'I am on fire within,
'With others.' She no longer thinks of enjoying her treasures alone. They cease to be treasures unless she can share them with her kind:
'PERCHANCE I may return with others there,
Alas! after all the old ADAM clings to her. As if the Soul of man were able to purge herself! How much would the last line have been improved by a slight change:
'Perchance I may return with others there,
We suspect that the idea of this magnificent poem was first suggested to TENNYSON by the sight or recollection of Fonthill Abbey, the mansion of the late Mr. BECKFORD. Some friends who had the good fortune to obtain a view of this remarkable place, have described it to us as more like a dream of Fairy Land, or a gorgeous vision of the Arabian Nights, than any thing which can be supposed to exist at the present day. The parallel too, holds good in more points than one, for probably no man had ever more reason to exclaim, 'I am on fire within than the author of Vathek.'
The second volume opens with what we consider TENNYSON's chef d'œuvre, Morte d'Arthur.' If it indeed be the concluding book of an epic founded on the old romance, of which the other eleven have been destroyed by the author's over-rash modesty, we can only hope that the loss is not irreparable, and that they will all make their appearance in good time. The fragment now published is HOMER, reproduced in an English garb; and if any non-classical reader, who derives his knowledge of the the blind old bard' from that singular poem of POPE' which some people have still the fatuity to call a translation, wishes to know what HOMER really is like, let him read ‹ Morte d'Arthur.' Yet is not this poem a mere imitation, a 'faint Homeric echo, nothing worth ;' for at the conclusion we have a glorious burst of that high philosophy which, as we said, ever holds sway in TENNYSON.
To his faithful follower, who laments that 'the true old times are dead,' the departing king makes answer:
'The old changeth, yielding place to new,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
If, knowing GOD, they lift not hands in prayer
We would fain say something of 'Sir Galahad,' a poem remarkable both for its own merits, and in connexion with St. Agnes,' and 'St. Symeon Styletes,' also of Locksley Hall, that vivid picture of sad personal experiences. But the space we had in our mind's eye devoted to TENNYSON is already exceeded, and we must hasten to speak briefly of the class of poems which chiefly compose the second volume, viz: the Pastoral. The very mention of pastoral poetry may excite a smile among a people like ourselves, all whose associations are of an opposite tendency; but the reader who wishes to see what can be done in that department, is recommended to the eighth Idyll of THEOCRITUS (in the original of course) the song in MICHAEL DRAYTON'S Shepherd's Sirena,' beginning :
'NEAR to the silver Trent
and the Roundelay in SPENSER'S ́ Shepherd's Calendar,' (December:)
'IT was upon a Holy eve,
When holy fathers wont to shrieve,
TENNYSON has judged, and judged rightly, that England still possesses materials to suggest and minds to appreciate poetry of this sort, and accordingly he has produced 'The Gardener's Daughter,' 'Dora,' The Lord of Burleigh,' and other pieces, which will live as long as England remains England. The great characteristic of these poems is their simplicity, and with this charm it is wonderful how the oldest and apparently most common-place themes assume a new and strange interest. The story of the Lord of Burleigh had been previously worked up in a hundred shapes by thousands of writers in 'prose and numerous' alas! too numerous 'verse.' Among others MoORE has attempted it. We chanced upon the performance some weeks ago, while turning over an old volume of the 'Melodies.' Very smooth and flowing were the lines, and great the amount of fine language; but it passed over us utterly without impression. With much cudgelling of our brains, we can barely contrive to recall one line:
'And ELLEN is lady of Rosna hall.'
On this theme, which had been tumbled and pawed over by so many rhymesters and magazinists, TENNYSON laid his artistic hands. He wanted no would-be-romantic improvements on the narrative, no fancy names. The real story and the real names were good enough for him. What the result was, we trust our readers know; but it will do them no harm to read it again.
Or, to take a subject still more thread-bare, inasmuch as it is not connected with the legends of any particularly country, but is applicable to every age and nation. For what a world of comment has 'she never told her love' been the text! For how much hapless paper-staining have these few lines of SHAKSPEARE been the apology! Why, not three months
ago, we saw, copied from some western paper, a quantity of the regular business,' headed with this identical quotation, thickly spiced with the usual vocabulary, and ending with some grand flourish about 'Time's scythe being still on wave,' the last word having been clearly suggested by a providential interposition, as an elegant and appropriate' rhyme for 'FANNY'S Grave! Reader, if you would know what a true poet can make of this muchabused theme, read Tennyson's EDWARD GRAY.' There is not a word in it but a child can understand, nor a line in it but goes to the heart.
Having said thus much in praise of TENNYSON, we are in duty bound to mention his great defect, one which forces itself upon us unpleasantly more than once in the course of the second volume. He has scarcely a spark of humor. We say scarcely, for Amphion,' though ending lamely, begins with some genuine fun. But the 'Goose,' the Walk to the Mail,' and other pieces wherein he attempts the ludicrous, are sad failures. His admirers might be disposed to maintain that this absence of humor, provided he attempts such composition no more - and the unanimous condemnation of friend and foe has been a sufficient hint to him on this point is rather a gain than a loss to him in his vocation. The tendency to satire and parody, springing from overflowing humor, has injured many a poet; WILSON, AYTOWN,* and our own HALLECK, are obvious examples. But unfortunately this deficiency of humor prevents TENNYSON from detecting those unlucky anti-climaxes to which the best poets are sometimes prone. BYRON, as his correspondence shows, was continually making such slips, but he always found them out in time himself. TENNYSON and WORDSWORTH make them, and the reviewers have to find them out for them. Thus in the 'Dream of Fair Women,' IPHIGENIA describes her sacrifice:
THE tall masts quivered as they lay afloat,
'We should think it was quite enough,' said he of the Quarterly, and we agree with him, that the lady could hardly be expected to ask for more,' under the circumstances.† A less flagrant but sufficiently obvious example mars the otherwise uninterrupted beauty of the Lord of Burleigh.' The supposed portrait-painter is welcomed home by
'Many a gallant gay domestic ;'
a line which to an Englishman, or one who has resided in England, suggests unfortunate associations with fat flunkies in plush breeches.
Next to TENNYSON, (proxima sed longo,') comes MISS ELIZABETH BARRETT BARRETT. In genius she may be nearly his equal, in mere power she is his superior; but her genius, utterly unaided by art, is continually running wild, and cannot display itself to proper advantage. She has studied scHYLUS, (not over critically perhaps, but where scholars cannot agree, ladies may be excused for mistranslating,) and is frequently at least as wild and puzzling as her master. If asked to describe her poetry to one who had not read it, we should define her as a Christian Shelley without Shelley's art. In her writings we find thrilling description, intense pathos, wonderful effectiveness in the management of the supernatural, and equally wonderful psychological knowledge; but we also find multitudes of half-formed thoughts thrown out upon society to make themselves understood if they can; numerous passages which, in their trial of our ingenuity to extract a meaning from them, fairly distance PINDAR and ÆSCHYLUS, and must be left to those wise men and women who profess to understand EMERSON; lines which defy the most dex
* WELL known as a classical translator for BLACKWOOD, and more recently a contributor to TAIT, under the signature of BON GAULTIER.' His Hermotinus (BLACKWOOD, 1839,) is a very striking poem. Unfortunately his Aristophanic humor (it really deserves to be called Aristophanic) has fairly run away with him, and his strength is now frittered away on light magazine articles, full of merciless satire on every body and every thing.
THIS is the passage to which we alluded as the only one of those attacked by the reviewer which has not been since altered.
terous reader to shape it into metre; strange affectations of quaint words and quainter uses of legitimate words, and combinations of syllables standing in place of rhymes, which to call even very imperfect rhymes, taxes our courtesy to its utmost. Thus a great part of the Drama of Exile' is not to be understood. In one of the most impressive passages in that thrilling goblin legend, The Brown Rosarie,' we are horrified by the cockney rhyme of o'er her' and Onora.' The final g in rhyming terminations is every where utterly disregarded: E. G. 'Children' and 'bewildering.' The lovely story of The Lost Bower' is disfigured with affectations like these:
'If it were a bird-ah, skeptic!
As I heard that virelay.
You might stoop your pride to pardon, for the guilt would pass away.'
In the very touching 'Lay of the Children,' Miss BARRETT attempts the long German trochaic, a magnificent metre, but one which allows no liberties to be taken with it. By turning the first foot into an iambus,
'The old tree is leafless in the forest,'
of which sort of lines half-a-dozen or more occur together in more than one place, she utterly destroys the metre.*
Miss BARRETT says that writing is to her no easy task. Certainly, reading her is any thing but an easy task. She requires to be studied like any classical author. When we have become used to her mannerisms, the meanings of many passages before unintelligible, begin to unfold themselves. Thus in the opening of 'The Dutchess May' we are told that the castle of Linteged
'FIVE hundred years had stood mute adown each hoary wood,
An ordinary reader is apt to be puzzled as to the point of the comparison. But one who knows, from a careful study of the author, that one of her most common styles of simile is from the various states of the human soul to inanimate objects, soon discovers that the second line is exegetical of the word 'mute' in the first.
If Miss BARRETT's sins in rhythm and expression sprang from mere carelessness, our hopes of her might be more sanguine; but of the many pieces which she has retouched, none of them except one (the House of Clouds') seems to be a gainer by the process. The additions, especially, appear to us not always in the best taste. The Brown Rosarie,' for instance, if we are not greatly mistaken, originally ended with those powerful verses in which the demon spell is broken by the indignant renunciation of the fatal vow, and
'THE fiends tried to laugh at the choristers' hymn,
As the poem stands at present, it is weakened by a conclusion which provokes unfortunate comparisons with the similarly-added conclusion of TENNYSON'S May Queen.' It is questionable whether the last-mentioned poem gained by the addition, but at any rate it was suitable to the character of all that preceded it. In Miss BARRETT'S conclusion we feel, and we trust such feeling is no sign of a Puritanic or vindictive spirit, that ONORA has escaped too cheaply from the consequences of her apostacy. The calm and peaceful extinction, a sinking into slumber rather than death, well befitted the village maid, whose worst sins had been vanity and coquetry; but we naturally expect a more stormy end in the case of one who had deliberately vowed that
'SHE would not thank Gop in her weal, nor seek GOD in her wo.' In short, we feel ready to despair of Miss BARRETT as an artist.
* IT is some excuse for Miss BARRETT, that hitherto only one man (AYTOWN) has succeeded in this stanza. BULWER attempts it inhis translation of GOETHE's 'Bride of Corinth,' and breaks down in the very first line.
But whatever her faults may be, it is impossible for any one to read her volumes through, (many people are frightened off at once, by stumbling on some unlucky passage,) without feeling great admiration for her genius. Margaret,'The Lost Bower,' 'The Page,' 'The Cloudy House,''Onora,' spite of its blemishes, and most of all, the 'Dutchess May,' with its wonderfully adapted refrain; these are poems to be read and felt. We have read them, we are ashamed to say how often, and like them even better than before. Let us therefore pray that Miss BARRETT may learn to make all her thoughts explain themselves, all her lines scan, and all her rhymes rhyme. So shall TENNYSON not have all his ' aureole,' (to speak Barrettice) to himself.
COVENTRY PATMORE's is a remarkable book. On every page you find glaring sins against the laws of metrical and poetic propriety; lines that cannot be made to scan, expressions hopelessly prosaic, abrupt descents of bathos. Yet on the whole, you rise from the volume with the impression that the young man has it in him,' and will eventually turn the laugh upon his assailants, if he can only be persuaded to take his time and keep his temper. Amid all his vagaries we see signs, not to be mistaken, of great power in ethical delineation and knowledge of the human heart. Nor is he wanting in picturesqueness, as the opening of his first poem, 'The River,' shows. It is a perfect painting of its kind:
With the different aspects of the river, in different seasons, a story of unfortunate love is interwoven. The lady of the manor is loved by one
'Who loves too much to sue.'
Misconceiving him, she has given her hand to another; and when 'November and the rains are come,' and all around the river is desolation, the discarded lover stands in the leafless park, listening to the revelry within :
He takes the last desperate leap: the sullen stream goes on as before:
'ALONG, along, swiftly and strong