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"Her golden air o'erspread her face,
Her careless arms abroad were cast, Her quiver had her pillow's placed,
Her breast lay bare to every last." *
He approaches softly, steals her arrows,
"Though mountains meet not, lovers may.
And laught that pleasant sight to see." † A drop of archness falls into the medley of artlessness and voluptuous charm; it was so in Longus, and in all that delicious nosegay called the Anthology. Not the dry mocking of Voltaire, of folks who possessed only wit, and always lived in a drawingroom; but the raillery of artists, lovers whose brain is full of color and form, who, when they recount a bit of roguish ness, imagine a stooping neck, lowered eyes, the blushing of vermilion cheeks. One of these fair ones says the following verses, simpering, and we can even see now the pouting of her lips:
"Love in my bosom like a bee
Now with his wings he plays with ne,
Now with his feet.
Within my eyes he makes his rest
His bed amid
my tender breast,
My kisses are his daily feast.
What relieves these sportive pieces is their splendor of imagination. There are effects and flashes which we hardly dare quote, dazzling and maddening, in the Song of Songs:
"Her eyes, fair eyes, like to the purest lights That animate the sun, or cheer the day; In whom the shining sunbeams brightly play, Whiles fancy doth on them divine delights. "Her cheeks like ripened lilies steeped in wine,
Or fair pomegranate kernels washed in milk,
Cupid's Pastime, unknown author, ab. бет. ↑ Ibid Rosalind's Maarigal.
Or snow-white threads in nets of crimson silk, Or gorgeous clouds upon the sur's decline.
"Her lips are roses over-washed with dew, Or like the purple of Narcissus' flower.
"Her crystal chin like to the purest mould, Enchased with dainty daisies soft and white, Whereas embraced his beauties he doth hold. Where fancy's fair pavilion once is pight,
"Her neck like to an ivory shining tower, Where through with azure veins sweet nectan runs,
Or like the down of swans where Senesse Or like delight that doth itself devour.
"Her paps are like fair apples in the prime As round as orient pearls, as soft as down; They never vail their fair through winter's frown,
But from their sweets love sucked his summer time."
"What need compare, where sweet exceeds compare?
Who draws his thoughts of love from sense. less things,
Their pomp and greatest glories doth impair, And mounts love's heaven with overladen wings." t
I can well believe that things had no more beauty then than now; but I am sure that men found them more beautiful.
When the power of embellishment is so great, it is natural that they should paint the sentiment which unites all joys, whither all dreams con. verge,-ideal love, and in particular, artless and happy love. Of all sentiments, there is none for which we have more sympathy. It is of all the most simple and sweet. It is the first motion of the heart, and the first word of nature. It is made up of innocence and self-abandonment. It is clear of reflection and effort. It extricates us from complicated pas. sion, contempt, regret, hate, violent de sires. It penetrates us, and we breathe it as the fresh breath of the morning wind, which has swept over flowery meads. The nights of this perilous court inhaled it, and were enraptured, and so rested in the contrast from their
actions and their dangers. The most severe and tragic of their poets turned aside to meet it, Shakspeare among the evergreen oaks of the forest of Arden, Ben Jonson in the woods of Sher
Green's Poems, ed. R. Bell, Menaphon's Eclogue, p. 41.
tfbid. Melicertus Eclogue, p. 43. As you Like it.
wood, amid the wide shady glades, | were not minute imitators, students o the shining leaves and the moist flow- manners: they created; the country ers, trembling on the margin of lonely for them was but a setting, and the springs. Marlowe himself, the terrible complete picture came from their fanpainter of the agony of Edward II., the cies and their hearts. Romantic it impressive and powerful poet, who may have been, even impossible but wrote Faustus, Tamerlane, and the Jew it was on this account the more charmof Malta, leaves his sanguinary dramas, ing. Is there a greater charm than his high-sounding verse, his images of putting on one side this actual world fury, and nothing can be n.ore musical which fetters or oppresses us, to float and sweet than his song. A shepherd, vaguely and easily in the azure and the to gain his lady-love, says to her: light, on the summit of the cloud "Come live with me and be my Love, capped land of fairies, to arrange thing And we will all the pleasures prove according to the pleasure of the mo That hills and valleys, dale and field, ment, no longer feeling the oppressive And all the craggy mountains yield. laws, the harsh and resisting frame There we will sit upon the rocks, work of life, adorning and varying And see the shepherds feed their flocks, By shallow rivers, to whose falls every thing after the caprice and the re Melodious birds sing madrigals. finements of fancy? That is what is There will I make thee beds of roses done in these little poems. Usually And a thousand fragrant posies, A cap of flowers, and a kirtle the events are such as happen nowhere Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle. or happen in the land where kings turr A gown made of the finest wool, shepherds and marry shepherdesses Which from our pretty lambs we pull, The beautiful Argentile is detained Fair linéd slippers for the cold, With buckles of the purest gold. at the court of her uncle, who wishes A belt of straw and ivy buds, to deprive her of her kingdom, and With coral clasps and amber studs: commands her to marry Curan, a boor And if these pleasures may thee move, Come live with me and be my Love. in his service; she flees, and Curan ir The shepherd swains shall dance and sing despair goes and lives two years among For thy delight each May-morning: the shepherds. One day he meets a If these delights thy mind may move, beautiful country-woman, and loves Then live with me and be my Love" t her; gradually, while speaking to her, he thinks of Argentile, and weeps; he describes her sweet face, her lithe fig ure, her blue-veined delicate wrists, and suddenly sees that the peasant girl is weeping. She falls into his arms, and says, "I am Argentile." Now Curan was a king's son, who had disguised himself thus for love of Argentile. He resumes his armor, and defeats the There never was a wicked king. braver knight; and they both reigned From a long in Northumberland. Im-hundred such tales, tales of the spring time, the reader will perhaps bear with me while I pick out one more, gay and simple as a May morning. The Prin cess Dowsabel came down one morning into her father's garden; she gathers honeysuckles, primroses, violets, and daisies; then, behind a hedge, she heard a shepherd singing, and that_so finely that she loved him at once. promises to be faithful, and asks for a
The unpolished gentlemen of the period, returning from hawking, were more than once arrested by such rustic pictures; such as they were, that's to say, imaginative and not very citizenlike, they had dreamed of figuring in them on their own account. But while entering into, they reconstructed them; they reconstructed them in their parks, prepared for Queen Elizabeth's entrance, with a profusion of costumes and devices, not troubling themselves to copy rough nature exactly. probability did not disturb them; they
The Sad Shepherd. See also Beaumont
Thou in those groves, by Dis above,
* Chalmers English Poets, William War ner, Fourth Brok of Albion's England. xx. p. 551.
kiss. Her cheeks became as crimson | my hangings. My tradesmen will let you have
13 a rose:
"With that she bent her snow white knee,
Nothing more; is it not enough? It
One day Monsieur Jourdain, having turned Mamamouchit and learned orthography, sent for the most illustrious writers of the age. He settled himself in his arm-chair, pointed with his finger at several folding-stools for them to sit down, and said:
their bills; don't fail to put them in. I shal be glad to read in your works, all fally and naturally set forth, about my father's shop, who, like a real gentleman, sold cloth to oblige his friends; my maid Nicolle's kitchen, the genteel behavior of Brusquet, the little dog of my neighbor M. Dimanche. You might also explain my domestic affairs: there is nothing more interesting to the public than to hear how a million may be scraped together. Tell them also that my daughter Lucile has not married that little rascal Cléonte, but M. Samuel Bernard, who made his fortune as a fermier-gén éral, keeps his carriage and is going to be a minister of state. For this I will pay you liberally, half-a-louis for a yard of writing. Come back in a month, and let me see what my ideas have suggested to you."
We are the descendants of M. Jourdain, and this is how we have been talking to the men of genius from the beginning of the century, and the men of genius have listened to us. Hence arise our shoppy and realistic novels I pray the reader to forget them, to forget himself, to become for a while poet, a gentleman, a man of the six teenth century. Unless we bury the M. Jourdain who survives in us, we shall never understand Spenser.
"I have read your little productions, gentle- Spenser belonged to an men. They have afforded me much pleasure. I wish to give you some work to do. I have family, allied to great houses; was a given some lately to little Lulli, t your fellow- friend of Sidney and Raleigh, the two laborer. It was at my command that he intro- most accomplished knights of the age duced the sea-shell at his concerts, a melo--a knight himself, at least in heart; dious instrument, which no one thought of before, and which has such a pleasing effect. I insist that you will work out my ideas as he has worked them out, and I give you an order for a roem in prose. What is not prose, you know, is verse; and what is not verse, is prose. When I say, 'Nicolle, bring me my slippers and give me my nightcap,' I speak prose. Take this sentence as your model. This style is much more pleasing than the jargon of unfinished lines which you call verse. As for the subject, let it be myself. You will describe my flowered dressing-gown which I have put on to receive you in, and this little green velvet undress which I wear underneath, to do ry morning exercise in. You will set down has this chintz costs a louis an ell. The decription, if well worked out, will furnish some ery pretty paragraphs, and will enlighten the public as to the cost of things. I desire also that you should speak of my mirrors, my carpets,
who had found in his connections, his friendships, his studies, his life, every thing calculated to lead him to ideal poetry. We find him at Cambridge, where he imbues himself with the noblest ancient philosophies; in a north. ern country, where he passes through a deep and unfortunate passion; at Penshurst, in the castle and in the society where the Arcadia was produced; with Sidney, in whom survived entire the romantic poetry and heroic generosity of the feudal spirit; at court, where all the splendors of a disciplined and gorgeous chivalry were gathered about the throne; finally, at Kilcolman, on the borders of a beaut ful lake, in a lonely castle, from which the view embraced an amphitheatre of mountains, and he half of Ireland. Poor on the other hand,* not * It is very doubtful whether Spenser was so Lulli, a celebrated Italian composer of the poor as he is generally believed to have been.-. ime of Molière.-TR.
Chalmers English Poets, M. Drayton's Fourth Eclogue, iv. p. 436.
† Mons. Jourdain is the hero of Molière's Comedy, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, the type of a vulgar and successful upstart; Mamamouchi is a mock title.-TR.
"For that same goodly hew of white and red, With which the cheekes are sprinckled, shalı decay,
fit for court, and though favored by man insults them, he calls to their aid the queen, unable to obtain from his nature and the gods. Never does he patrons any thing but inferior employ-bring them on his stage without adorn ment; in the end, wearied of solicita- ing their name with splendid eulogy tions, and banished to his dangerous He has an adoration for beauty worthy property in Ireland, whence a rebelf on of Dante and Plotinus. And this, be expelled him, after his house and child cause he never considers it a mere har had been burned; he died three mony of color and form, but an emana months later, of misery and a broken tion of unique, heavenly, imperishable near.* Expectations and rebuffs, many beauty, which no mortal eye can see, and sorrows and many dreams, some few which is the masterpiece of the great joys, and a sudden and frightful calam- Author of the worlds.* Bodies only ity, a small fortune and a premature render it visible; it does not live in end; this indeed was a poet's life. them; charm and attraction are not in But the heart within was the true poet things but in the immortal idea which -from it all proceeded; circumstances shines through them: furnished the subject only; he transformed them more than they him; he received less than he gave. Philosophy and landscapes, ceremonies and ornaments, splendors of the country and the court, on all which he painted or thought, he impressed his inward nobleness. Above all, his was a soul captivated by sublime and chaste beauty, eminently platonic; one of these lofty and refined souls most charming of all, who, born in the lap of nature, draw thence their sustenance, but soar higher, enter the regions of mysticism, and mount instinctively in order to expand on the confines of a loftier world. Spenser leads us to Milton, and thence to Puritanism, as Plato to Virgil, and thence to Christianity. Sensuous beauty is perfect in both, but their main worship is for moral beauty. He appeals to the Muses:
'Revele to me the sacred noursery
Where it in silver bowre does hidden l▼
From view of men and wicked worlds dis
And those sweete rosy leaves, so fairly spred
Shall turne to dust, and lose their goodly
But that faire lampe, from whose celestiall
That light proceedes, which kindleth lovers
Shall never be extinguisht nor decay;
In presence of this ideal of beauty, love
"For Love is lord of Truth and Loialtie,
good, and fine, and noble. It is the prime source of life, and the eternal soul of things. It is this love which He encourages his knight when he pacifying the primitive discord, has sees him droop. He is wroth when he created the harmony of the spheres Bees him attacked. He rejoices in his and maintains this glorious universe justice, emperance, courtesy. He in- It dwells in God, and is God Himself troduces in the beginning of a song, come down in bodily form to regenerate long stanzas in honor of friendship the tottering world and save the human and justice. He pauses, after relating a race; around and within animated be .ovely instance of chastity, to exhortings, when our eyes can pierce outward women to modesty. He pours out the wealth of his respect and tenderness at the feet of his heroines. If any coarse
"He died for want of bread, in King Street." Ben Jonson, quoted by Drummond.
appearances, we behold it as a living light, penetrating and embracing every *Hymns of Love and Beauty; of heavenis Love and Beauty.
A Hymne in Honour of Beautie, 1. 92-105 ↑ A Hymne in Honour of Love, L ́ 196-183.
creature. We touch here the sublime sharp sunimit where the world of mind and the world of sense unite; where man, gathering with both hands the loveliest flowers of either, feels himself at the same time a pagan and a Christian.
of that time, Shakspeare at their head, act thus. Spenser remains calm in the fervor of invention. The visions which would be fever to another, leave him at peace. They come and unfold themselves before him, easily, entire, uninterrupted, without starts. He is So much, as a testimony to his heart. epic, that is, a narrator, not a singer But he was also a poet, that is, pre-like an ode-writer, nor a mimic like a eminently a creator and a dreamer, play-writer. No modern is more like and that most naturally, instinctively, Homer. Like Homer and the great anceasingly. We might go on for- epic-writers, he only presents consecu ever describing this inward condition tive and noble, almost classical images, of all great artists; there would still so nearly ideas, that the mind seizes remain much to be described. It is a them unaided and unawares. Like sort of mental growth with them; at Homer, he is always simple and clear: every instant a bud shoots forth, and on he makes no leaps, he omits no arguthis another, and stil! another; each ment, he robs no word of its primitive producing, increasing, blooming of it- and ordinary meaning, he preserves the self, so that after a few moments we natural sequence of ideas. Like Hofind first a green plant crop up, then a mer, again, he is redundant, ingenuous, thicket, then a forest A character even childish. He says every thing, he appears to them, then an action, then a puts down reflections which we have landscape, then a succession of actions, made beforehand; he repeats without characters, landscapes, producing, com- limit his grand ornamental epithets. pleting, arranging themselves by in- We can see that he beholds objects ir. stinctive development, as when in a a beautiful uniform light, with infinite dream we behold a train of figures detail; that he wishes to show all this which, without any outward compul- detail, never fearing to see his happy sion, display and group themselves be- dream change or disappear; that he fore our eyes. This fount of living traces its outline with a regular moveand changing forms is inexhaustible ment, never hurrying or slackening. in Spenser; he is always imaging; it He is even a little prolix, too unmindis his specialty. He has but to close ful of the public, too ready to lose his eyes, and apparitions arise; they himself and dream about the things he abound in him, crowd, overflow; in beholds. His thought expands in vast vain he pours them forth; they con- repeated comparisons, like those of the tinually float up, more copious and more old Ionic poet. If a wounded giant dense. Many times, following the in- falls, he finds him exhaustible stream, I have thought of the vapors which rise incessantly from the sea, ascend, sparkle,commingle their golden and snowy scrolls, while underneath them new mists arise, and others again beneath, and the splendid procession never grows dim or ceases.
But what distinguishes him from all others is the mode of his imagination. Generally with a poet his mind ferments vehemently and by fits and starts; his ideas gather, jostle each other, suddenly appear in masses and heaps, and burst forth in sharp, piercing, concentrative words; it seems that they need these sudden accumulations to imitate the unity and life like energy of the objects which they reproduce; at least almost all the noets
"As an aged tree, High growing on the top of rocky clift, Whose hart-strings witli keene steele nigh hew The mightie trunck halfe rent with ragged rift, Doth roll adowne the rocks, and fall with feare full drift.
Or as a castle, reared high and round,
Her hastie ruine does more neavie make,
The stedfast globe of earth, as it for feare did quake."*
He develops all the ideas which he handles. All his phrases become pe * The Faerie Queene, i. c. 8, st. 22, 23.