Abbildungen der Seite

as though from the old stock he had plucked as much bloom and greenness as he could find, or as little as he could appreciate, and placed it, with what formal ornament he had, in the dry garden of his artificial and fanciful design. The two poems are the antithesis of art and rhetoric. A subtile-witted friend says that the difference between them is the difference between a rose and a dahlia. There is in this more symbolic truth than fanciful analogy. A dahlia is the most artificiallooking flower in the garden, most often likened to wax or velvet, exactly rewarding and always suggesting the tampering of florists, — drawing the roving eye by superficial gorgeousness, not chaining long regard with sweet breath and fragrant sentiment; - a flower without the marvel of color which lies in delicate shading; without the grace of various form and bending stalk; with no reserve of beauty, but giving all its worth at once, within the formal set of its crimped leaves. But a rose always looks natural, grown up by its own sweet will, not put together and painted by the gardener's skill; even when he has done his best and curiousest, it asserts the triumph of Nature, showing how she deigns to reward and to tempt again the patience and labor of Art, and is still, in the conservatory as at the road-side, her darling and pride; it withholds its beauty, and makes a mystery of it, in the manifold curves and convolutions of its petals, recesses where the color may lurk and deepen, inviting the search to the heart, where the

“hue angrie and brave Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,”

or a tempered and soft delicacy of creamy tints falls upon the sight like healing; it is the most unconventional of flowers, never wearisome with monotonous obtrusion of one type, unfolding ever some new refreshment or charm.

This floral contrast touches the salient differences between the two poems. But if we were, out of the body of them, to select what might best express their unlikeness, we should take a characteristic song from each, and set them side by side. One should be Elaine's, where the lily maid of Astolat sighs out all the mingled and confused bliss and pain of her love-lorn state. It shows how genius can pluck out the heart of so fine a spiritual mystery, and put it in form with a delicacy in which there is no hint of jar or flaw:

“ Sweet is true love, though given in vain, in vain ;
And sweet is death who puts an end to pain :

I know not which is sweeter, no, not I.

“Love, art thou sweet? then bitter death must be :
Love, thou art bitter; sweet is death to me.

O Love, if death be sweeter, let me die.

“Sweet love, that seems not made to fade away,
Sweet death, that seems to make us loveless clay,

I know not which is sweeter, no, not I.

“I fain would follow love, if that could be;
I needs must follow death, who calls for me ;

Call and I follow, I follow! – let me die.”

The other song should be the lament, in “ King Arthur," where the Etruscans, in their secret glen of the Alps, mourn for the royal maid, Ægle, whose love also is fatal to her. It proves whạt may be done with consummate elegance by talent equipped with graceful and correct classic learning, and skilled in all precepts which may prevent any slip from traditional proprieties. We select four stanzas from “ The Etrurian Næniæ":

“ Where art thou, pale and melancholy ghost ?

No funeral rites appease thy tombless clay ;
Unburied, glidest thou by the dismal coast,

O exile from the day?
" There, where the voice of love is heard no more,

Where the dull wave moans back the eternal wail,
Dost thou recall the summer suns of yore,

Thine own melodious vale ?

“ Thine are the nuptials of the dreary shades,

Of all thy groves what rests ? — the cypress tree!
As from the air a strain of music fades,

Dark silence buries thee!

[blocks in formation]

Beside Elaine's song, there are three others in these new poems of Tennyson, which, by melody of verse, fineness of sentiment, and exactness of expression, assert their place with those matchless songs in “ The Princess.” May not these four serve, in some sort, as index to the “ Idyls of the King," and as illustrative of their poetic excellence ?

Enid's song of “Fortune and her wheel” may tell what poor estate and noble pride waited on her maidenhood, but recall also the equal dignity and steadfastness with which her wifely love patiently bore or joyfully met the turning fortunes of Geraint's frown or favor.

“ Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel, and lower the proud;
Turn thy wild wheel through sunshine, storm, and cloud ;

Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.
“ Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel, with smile or frown;
With that wild wheel we go not up or down;

Our hoard is little, but our hearts are great.
“ Smile and we smile, the lords of many lands;

Frown and we smile, the lords of our own hands;
For man is man, and master of his fate.
“Turn, turn thy wheel above the staring crowd;
Thy wheel and thou are shadows in the cloud;

Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.” Vivien's song of “ Trust me not at all, or all in all,” may summon the story of her harlot love, whose craft, feigning the persuasions of true affection, turns the wise man to a fool, and tempts Merlin, through his passion, to the loss of “life and use and name and fame."

“ In Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,

Faith and unfaith can ne'er be equal powers :
Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all.
ti It is the little rift within the lute

That by and by will make the music mute,

And, ever widening, slowly silence all. 6. The little rift within the lover's lute,

Or little pitted speck in garnered fruit,

That rotting inward slowly moulders all.
“ It is not worth the keeping: let it go :

But shall it? Answer, darling, answer, no.
And trust me not at all, or all in all.”

Elaine's song of “ Love and Death,” already quoted, may bring to mind that earlier swan-song of the Lady of Shalott,

“a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,

Turned to towered Camelot;"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and narrate in little the long story and all the bitter-sweet of her true love (but fatal) for Lancelot. And the novice's song to the Queen, of “ Late! so late!” may, in its long-drawn pleading and tearful lament of the foolish virgins, fixed in their doom of outer darkness, call up all Guinevere's guilty love, and her inexorable outlawry from Arthur's presence and from fair repute.

“ Late, late, so late! and dark the night and chill!
Late, late, so late! but we can enter still.

Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.
“ No light had we : for that we do repent;

And learning this, the bridegroom will relent.

Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.
“ No light : so late! and dark and chill the night!
O let us in, that we may find the light!

Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.
“ Have we not heard the bridegroom is so sweet?

O let us in, though late, to kiss his feet!

No, no, too late! ye cannot enter now.” The charm of these lyrics is matched by the charm of the poems in which they are set. Since their midsummer publication, that charm has worked with many among the hills and at the sea-side, where the loveliness or sublimity of nature mingled with the grace and power of their art, and criticism had no place. Yet, with any surroundings, even he who is nothing if not critical must cease from his office in the presence of so full and pure an enjoyment. It is the inherent pnrpose of the Idyls to give a refined and genial delight. And this they must continue to serve, with the large bounty of their joined poetic strength and beauty.


[ocr errors]

Portraits Littéraires des plus célèbres Prédicateurs contemporains, et

Etudes sur la Prédication au XIX® Siècle. Par M. L'ABBÉ C. Martin. Paris. 1858. 8vo. pp. 384.

In a recent issue we offered some views of the modern French pulpit, and discussed the general characteristics of French preaching. The discussion of that subject seems to require, as an appropriate supplement, some notice of the most eminent pulpit orators in France, both in the Catholic and Protestant churches. Very few of these are familiar, even by name, to American readers, and of not more than three or four have any works been translated. The great French preachers, if known at all beyond the limits of the Empire, are known only by the merest fragments of their sayings. Channing is read by the Catholics of France, and their leading journals explain his views and illustrate his genius. But where is the Protestant journal, in England or America, which. has taken heed of the recent loss to the French Church in the death of Father Ravignan, in every respect one of the most remarkable men of the present century, and comparable to the best of Catholic saints? The American press has given a selection from the sermons of Adolph Monod, that gentle and charitable mystic, the John of the Oratoire; but in vain we look for any account in our tongue of Colani of Strasburg, a far more able thinker and eloquent writer than Monod. The best French preachers are not the best known; and most of the names that we mention will doubtless seem wholly new. We shall be compelled, in the limited space

the limited space allowed us, to confine our notices of the eminent French preachers to a dozen names among the Catholics and a half-dozen among the Protestants, though this number by no means includes all who are worthy of mention. There are twenty preachers in Paris alone who surpass, in all the qualities of good oratory, the Rev. Mr. Bellew and his associates, so graphically illustrated in the work of Rev. Henry Christmas. The Basils and Chry

* Examiner for July, 1859. VOL. LXVII. - 5TH S. VOL. V. NO. III.


« ZurückWeiter »