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Shall it be counsel then ?'-said the first : .If so, I will tell you in few words how we can bring it about.'
And the other answered, “I plight thee my troth that I will not bewray thee.'
Now,' quoth this wicked hazarder, thou knowest well that we are two, and two of us shall be stronger than one. Look, when he is set down, that thou rise anon, and make as though thou playest with him, and while ye are struggling as in game, I will stab him through his two sides; and do thou do the same with thy dagger. And then, my dear friend, shall this gold be parted 'twixt thee and me; and so shall we be able to fulfil our desires, and play at dice at our own will.
Thus be these two hazarders agreed to slay the third, who, as he went along the road, kept rolling up and down in his heart the beauty of these bright and new florins. O Lord !' quoth he, “that I might but have this treasure to myself alone! There would be no man under the heavens that should live so merry as I.'
And at the last the fiend put it into his thought that he should buy poison to slay his fellows: for the fiend found him living in such a wanton way, that he lusted to bring him to sorrow; therefore he made this hazarder determine to do the homicide, and never to repent. So he went straightways unto an apothecary in the town, and prayed him that he would sell some poison to kill the rats in his house, and there was also a polecat that, as he said, slew his capons, and he would fain be rid of such destroying vermin.
The apothecary answered, “Thou shalt have a thing, that if it be taken by any creature in this world, though it be no more in quantity than a grain of wheat, he shall anon lose his life; yea, he shall wither away in less time than thou wilt go a mile, the poison is so strong and violent.'
Then this cursed man took into his hand the poison in a box, and went into the next street, and borrowed three large bottles, and poured the poison into two of them, keeping the third clean for his own drink. And when with sorry grace he had Alled his great bottles with wine, he repaired again to his fellows.
What need is there to say more ? For even as they had planned his death, even so have they slew him, and that quickly. And when it was done, thus spake the worst of these rioters :
Now let us sit and drink, and make us merry, and afterwards we will hide his body in the ground.'
And with these words he took the bottle where the poison was, and drank, and gave it to his fellow; and anon there came upon them strange signs of poisoning, and they perished.
Thus ended be these two homicides; and also their false companion; and thus did they find Death under the oak in the old grove. *
* They above is a prose modernisation of one of the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer. The reader, who has been deterred from the pages of this great poet, in consequence of the vulgar opinion that they are insurmountably obsolete and difficult, will perhaps be struck with the grand and simple power shewn here; and when he learns that the words are Chaucer's own, he may get rid of his timidity and go at once to the original works, where he will be richly rewarded for a little preliminary trouble. This is the only aim of the above ; for every alteration of Chaucer is an injury.
THE WILD NAVIGATOR.
Why this is very Midsummer maddess !
Oh Father Sea, Ob Father Sea!
Away my little boat and I,
How now, old father !--art thou vext?
Look on me father! how I lie
By thee, Dadda !
Bah! Bah !
. But, safe we are !
A shooting star! What, up again? and bellowing loud, Wilt hurl me up to yonder cloud ? It shall not serve me for a shroud
But victory's car! What, ho !-Curlew !—successful winner Of our dad's spoils, as I'm a sinner, I'm hungry-ask me to thy dinner
Come! close thy weary wing, and sit . .
Brothers we are,
MODERN POETS OF GERMANY.*
In presenting the modern and most popular Poets of Germany to the notice of our English readers, we can scarcely introduce them better than through the medium of the criticisms of their own countrymen. The high reputation which reviewers in general, in Germany, and those of Leipsig in particular, have obtained all over Europe, render little apology necessary for presenting their sentiments and observations to our friends in an English dress. Of the three first poets who are the subjects of the following observations, Pape enjoyed the highest reputation, as will readily be imagined from the circumstance of the Baron de la Motte Fouque's condescending to become his editor and biographer; he was, however, an unfortunate man struggling against poverty and various calamities, which, combined with disease, brought him to the grave in 1817. The brilliant nobleman who is the author of the Lyrical Leaves, is a richer, a happier man; his compositions entitle him to be considered the Moore of Germany.' Heine is an author of great promise, and in a different style no less popular. -The following extracts respecting the several works of these writers are from the · Leipziger Literatur Zeitung,' for Feb. 1823, the most important and best conducted periodical upon the continent.
EXTRACTS FROM GERMAN CRITICISMS. Pape's poems are all of them (for the very few exceptions are scarcely worth a particular notice) imbued with a spirit of melancholy which pervades even the lightest of his compositions. Of these, the trifles entitled “The Gay World,' are unquestionably the best, and their popularity does honor to the simplicity and spirit of the national taste. Of the more important, and indeed of his poems in general, the character cannot better be described than by the following extracts from his `Letters to Sidonia,' which, above all his other works, present a most faithful and impressive picture of the real disposition of the poet, condemned as he was to a dull and monotonous life, and bowed down to the earth by the pressure of overwhelming calamity :
The stream of life, however pure it flow,
Look'st but from these to raise thine eye to Heaven. The dark and gloomy tint thrown by compelling circumstances over his view of life, colours equally his elegies, his songs, and even his romances. However widely we may differ from him in opinion, yet we cannot but allow that there is something in such feelings sadly interesting to ours, and, in
* Poems by Samuel Chris. Pape, with a Biographical Introduction, by the Baron de la Motte Fouqué, Osiander, Tübingen, 1821 ; Lyrical Leaves, by Count Augustus von Platen Hallermünde, Leipsig, 1821; Poems by H. Heine, Maurer, Berlin, 1822.
this instance at least, there is so much that is real, so much that is good, that we cannot be insensible to the value of poetry which appears to speak the language, and receive its existence from the very inmost recesses of the heart. There is something very beautiful, and indeed even original, in the strong expression of that vacancy of soul, that aspiration of heart, that insufficiency of human gratification, that 'longing after immortality,' in short, of which every man (whose mind is not entirely absorbed by human pursuits) must, at some period or other, have been sensible, and which he himself so pathetically describes in his · Warning. Even love, in its most exalted and happiest state, is insufficient to satisfy the human craving for something yet more exalted, something approaching still nearer to felicity. Of the graver poems, the 'Paradise' is the most graceful and pathetic ;-it describes the exiles expelled from Eden, wearied with toil and travel, and heart-broken by the consciousness of their guilt and loneliness, resigning themselves to sleep, and recovering in a blissful dream the felicity they had lost. Then follows the Address to the Loved One snatched from him by Death,' which is exceedingly tender and beautiful; so is the · Last Evening.' • To Sidonia Dying,' and the ‘Answer,' the · Elegy,' and 'Retrospection.' Of the ballads and romances, the best are · Dear Mary,' the Girl of Italy,' the Mourner,' and the Songstress,' who was the poet's mistress; • Homesick' we give entire as the best specimen of the minor poems of our author :
Home ! home, thou blessed land of peace,
Oh! when shall I thy bliss inherit. The · Lyrical Leaves' of the Count von Platen are in a much bolder style, and are easier and smootherin their versification. He himself appears to place a considerable value upon some few, which he distinguishes by a particular title, and to the singular style of which the ear soon becomes accustomed. His anxiety to take the very highest flights of fancy, displays itself in bold and beautiful images, which have all the luxuriance and passion of the oriental writers. We give one of the very simplest of his poems as a specimen:
When in joy of the bright golden goblet I sip,