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be a difficult one, but it will finally succeed. cry of disloyalty to win the temporary supA great majority of our people have no sym | port of their constituents ; and I think it is pathy with either of our present political better so; it is a question which will not parties, as the dictum of each is self ; but bear being approached in a party spirit ; it the man or the party who first earnestly must be dealt with on the broadest and espouses the cause of independence, will most liberal basis, and we must wait for the soon attract the support of all those who time when the best men of all parties, sinkare now lukewarm, and who take no interest | ing their petty differences, will unite to give in the welfare of their country.'

birth to the new nationality. I have mentioned this conversation be A question which involves so much cause it represents theideas of many whom I could only be superficially treated in the met in the different provinces ; and know compass of a short article like this, which ing that the feeling in favor of independence is only intended to call the attention of the is not only entertained, but favorably enter people to the ideas which have been almost tained, by so many of the people, I am sur insensibly growing and maturing amongst prised that it has not attained more promi them; and any discussion of the merits or nence as a public question ; and I am con demerits of the question, or of the form of vinced that in a very short time it will be government which would be most desirable the great question to be decided by the in the event of our becoming independent, Canadian people.

can well be left until the question has come At present the leaders of each party seem | more prominently before the people. to fer to approach the subject, as they think their opponents will make use of the

ARGUS.

THE POETRY OF ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE.

TIVERY poet, paradoxical as the asser- | 'A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden U tion may at first seem, is essentially

want ;'* and inevitably more or less a philosopher. and the very fact that an important section The higher his verse, the more important of our modern poets has found it necessary is the thought-or, we should rather say, deliberately to 'trundle back their souls faith-which underlies and inspires it. A | some hundred years '—to seek inspiration skylark may sing out of pure fulness of in classic or mediæval times, ignoring the heart ; no man ever did. And the reason present age, so pregnant with vast and mois surely plain enough. The mystery of mentous issues—simply shows us that these being, the riddle of this painful earth, can | writers are making a futile attempt to do never be wholly overlooked by the human away, by artificial means, with the metamind, much less by the clear and suscepti physical and speculative element which has ble soul of the true singer. Chaucer, existed in poetry from all time, and which Spenser, Keats, and several others, are not, must exist so long as man possesses the as some critics have held, exceptions to this | faculties of reason and imagination. This theory, although they may appear so to the granted, it must be evident that the works careless reader. The joyous Paganism' of any specially original and representative · which has been attributed to these sensuous poet are valuable, not only on account of poets, is clouded ever and anon by shadows their intrinsic beauty, but as indications of of grief and doubt, by blank inward ques- the course of what Mr. Matthew Arnold tionings, yearning cries that rise up sud- calls the Time-spirit. The great poet is denly to fall back again unanswered and the avant-courier of the Time-spirit-the unanswerable by the writers. It is—.

* Shelley.

seer whose clear spiritual vision enables author. Higher class periodicals, however, him to lead the van of the great army of were divided in their opinions ; nearly all, thinkers in all ages.

it should be said, conceding — what the A very important school of poets has penny press generally ignored-the true risen into prominent notice within the last | genius and originality of the poet, even ten years, commonly spoken of as the pre- / while condemning the immorality of his Raphaelite group. The appropriateness of work. In the United States the book met such a name to the literary work of the with hardly less notice, but, as a rulemas school is not very apparent, nor are we was natural in a country less imbried with aware that the designation is acknowledged prejudice-the judgment of the public was by its leaders. It probably arose from the more favourable. The reception accorded fact that Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the eldest to the book in some quarters was such as of the three poets to whom we refer, origi- to induce the publishers—Moxon & Co.nated the pre-Raphaelite movement in to withdraw it from sale. A younger firm painting some thirty-five years ago. About | espoused the cause of the questionable 1843, he, in conjunction with his sisters poet, and issued the ‘Poems and Ballads.' Maria and Christina Rossetti and several in exactly similar form ; and the result others, started a little serial entitled the fully justified their enterprise, for in a Germ, which had a short but brilliant ex very short time the volume went through istence. In it appeared, if we remember no less than seven editions. The fact rightiy, Mr. Rossetti's famous poem, "The that the book had been judged unfit Blessed Damosel'—which is, it must be for public perusal, was enough to create admitted, a word-painting conceived very public curiosity, and no circulating library much after pre-Raphaelite ideas.

could afford to be without two or three In 1856, Mr. William Morris published copies of a work which had been placed in a selection of ballads, and somewhere the Index Expurgatorius. Mr. Swinburne's about 1863, Mr. Rossetti came to the front tragedy of 'Chastelard,'though received with again with a volume of translations from the same objections in the same quarters,bethe early Italian poets, ‘Dante and his came nearly as popular. 'Atalanta in Circle.' Still the school, as a poetical one, Calydon,' another tragedy based on Greek had created little stir, although pre-Raphael models, evoked quite a different expression ite art was quite the rage, more especially of opinion. There were no grounds on which in fashionable society. About the same to lay a charge of immorality, although a time the poet referred to at the head of | few immaculate critics objected, somewhat our sketch-Algernon Charles Swinburne unreasonably one would think, to the spirit made his first appearance before the public. of classic paganism with which the poem is The volume was a modest one, entitled | imbued. In or about 1868 was published 'The Queen Mother and Rosamond,' and 'A Song of Italy,' dedicated to Mazzini; contained two tragedies executed after the then came an Ode to the French ReElizabethan model. They were dedicated public ;' and, in 1870, Songs before Sunto Mr. Rossetti, but at that time received rise,' a volume of republican verse. In little or no attention from the world of let 1874 was published 'Bothwell,'a companion ters. To the merits and significance of tragedy to · Chastelard ;' and a year or so this work, and those subsequently pub afterwards 'Erectheus,' a Greek play after lished, we shall afterwards allude, content the model of Atalanta.' Since then Swining ourselves meanwhile with an outline of burne has written no poetry, save several Mr. Swinburne's literary life and labours. | fugitive pieces in periodicals. His prose In the beginning of 1865 was published the works are' William Blake, a Study'; Notes volume entitled “Poems and Ballads.' on Poems and Ballads,' a reply to the critics Such a contention as then arose amongst of that work ; ' Essays and Studies,' a colthe critics is probably almost without paral- | lection of fugitive pieces ; ' Under the Milel in the history of modern letters. The croscope,'a satire directed against his critics; English press raised its powerful voice in an essay upon the Elizabethan dramatist, almost absolute condemnation, and more | George Chapman; a pamphlet entitled than one newspaper scribbler vented his Notes of an English Republican on the petty venom in scurrilous abuse of the Muscovite Crusade,' in effect a reply to Mr. Carlyle's letter to the Times upon the | Repelled perhaps at first by the unfamiliarEastern question ; and his latest brochure, lity of sentiment, and the chaotic melodies “A Note on Charlotte Brontë.'

of verse, most readers, after a second or In giving our judgment as to the above third perusal, will be drawn towards these works, it is not our purpose to do more than al poems with a strange fascination. Few, it lude to the controversy which has lately been is true, will find themselves in sympathy raging as to the aim and end of art. Some | with the tide of fierce and infinite desire of Mr. Swinburne's most startling theories that throbs through the cadences of that are placed beyond the reach of serious ex- | most musical paraphrase of Sappho-'Anacamination, if we admit that he writes solely toria ;' nor will they find much pleasure in as an artist. But the plea is surely a poor | such passages as this : " one. Shelley, as we know, was never tired

Ah! ah ! thy beauty-like a beast it bites, of inculcating the doctrine of "art for art's Stings like an adder, like a serpent smites. sake; ' but some of his works are a standing refutation of the theory that true poetry

That I could eat thy body, and could taste, cannot afford to be didactic. We may be

The faint flakes from thy bosom to thy waist. ready to admit that art is not to be made a

Still, as the poet has himself explained, the handmaid to religion, or morality, or sci- | poem from which these lines are taken is ence. But no art, unless it be purely simply the outcome of his endeavor to renimitative, can exist without conveying some

der fitly the spirit of the most passionate lesson. And here we come back to the

ode ever sung by the most passionate sinpoint from which we started. Mr. Morris / ger of ancient Greece. In the lingering professes the negation of all philosophy; but melody of ‘Dolores' we find more of Charles in such lines as

Baudelaire than of Sappho. In apostro

phising Dolores, our Lady of Pain-an Kiss me, love, for who knoweth What thing cometh after death?

abstraction, of which it were best, perhaps,

not to attempt definition—the poet cries, and in his quaint but beautiful play, ‘Love

somewhat hysterically, is enough,' he has laid down the lines of a very distinct and intelligible creed. The

What ailed us, O Gods, to desert you

For creeds that refuse and restrain ? theory that art is a law unto itself was ad

Come down and redeem us from virtue, vanced by the defenders of Swinburne's

Our Lady of Pain ! verse, and is, we believe, the doctrine of the

Yet another phase of sentiment, as morbid poet himself. But that a man, in the ex

as the last : ercise of his art, should bring forward new principles and denounce old ones, and yet

From too much love of living,

From fear of death set free, be responsible in no rational sense for

We thank with brief thanksgiving these, seems to be the height of absurdity.

Whatever Gods there be, The least important of this poet's works

That no man lives forever, are his early tragedies—' The Queen Mo

That dead men rise up never,

That even the weariest river, ther' and 'Rosamond.' While displaying

Winds somewhere safe to sea. some dramatic energy, along with a wonderful glow of generous warmth throughout,

These lines may be simply a dramatic'exthey are immature and diffuse. There are,

pression of sentiment; but they seem more however, several magnificent passages

likely to represent in reality the fluctuations throughout the latter poem—as witness the

of a poetical and unsatisfied soul-moods subdued pathos and mournful music of

of fantastic sadness, nothing worth.' * King Henry's closing speech as he bids

In 'Atalanta in Calydon' the erotic elefarewell to the corpse of Rosamond. In

ment is almost entirely absent. It is a 'Poems and Ballads' we enter, as it were,

Sophoclean tragedy, imbued throughout into a strange and stormy sea ;

with the thoroughly Greek sentiment of

patient submission to an inexorable Fate, But see, while above us

save in one chorus, which is a passionate The waves roar and whirl, A ceiling of amber,

protest against the idea of a personal Deity. A pavement of pearl, *

He who * Matthew Arnold.

1 * Arnold.

Smites without sword, and scourges without rod, Yet, though the thrones and towers of nations fall, The supreme evil, God.

Death hath no part in all,

In heaven, nor in the imperis hable sea, That this is not altogether a dramatic ex Nor Italy, nor thee. pression of feeling, but rather the utterance of the author's own belief, is evident enough, Mr. Swinburne's greatest and most characas a Greek chorus could hardly.be expected teristic work is, to our mind, the “Songs to declaim against the one Deity. 'Chaste before Sunrise.' In the prologue to this lard,' again, is a poem of quite a different volume, which may be regarded as allegoristamp. Its luscious and effeminate verse cal, are these lines—which may, or may not, is well adapted to the theme, and the luck contain a piece of personal spiritual history : less lover of Mary Queen of Scots might have written the delicate little French

Then he stood up, and trod to dust,

Fear and desire, mistrust and trust, chansons which are sprinkled through the

And dreams of bitter things and sweet ; drama. The poem, however, we are in

And shod, for sandals on his feet, clined to think, might, of all Mr. Swin

Patience, and knowledge of what must, burne's works, be best spared. Each of the

And of what may be, in the heat

And cold of years that rot and rustvolumes referred to, nevertheless, is of value as showing the state of the poet's The time is past when such an one can mind at the time of their production. A sport with Amaryllis in the shade, or with passionate, intensely poetical-soul—for we the tangle's of Neæra's hair.'* The existbelieve, since the time of Shelley, no man ence of Humanity, its claims for assistance has been born with so boundless an enthu and pitv, have at length dawned. upon the siasm for his art as Swinburne-such a soul,

dreamer. The next piece to the prologue let loose upon the world in this nineteenth is an ode, of some length, in which the poet century, breathes an uncongenial atmos- calls upon the nations of Europe to join in phere. The Philistines are upon him if the Republic, One and Indivisible,' which he worships other gods than theirs. His shall gather together and regenerate man. mind may find refuge only in idealism of

Then we have ‘Messidor,' with its fugue-like one sort or another. Like Shelley, he may movement, and grand burden, "Put in idealise humanity, and worship it in the ab

ity, and worship it in the ab- the sickles and reap. The influence of stract; or like Keats he may throw his soul Victor Hugo, to whom the book is dediout towards nature. Mr. Swinburne, in his cated, is clearly discernible in the most youth, seems to have followed the example magnificent piece of all—Mater Triumof the latter. But his spirit had not the phalis'-beginning thus : divine tranquillity of Keats; the injustice and folly of men around him, real or fan Through the long years, the centuries brazen-gated, cied, broke rudely into this dreamland of

Beside the barred inexorable doors,

From the morning till the evening have we waited, his, and roused his excitable temperament

Lest thy foot haply sound on the awful floors. to what was almost a temporary frenzy. Doubt, however, is in most men but a The floors untrodden of the sun's feet glimmer, transient condition of mind. Mr. Swin

The star-unstricken pavements of the night,

Do the lights burn inside yet? The lights wax burne, like Byron and like Shelley, soon

dimmer, found a theme worthy of his powers, and On festal faces withering out of sight. his muse lighted her torch at the flame on the altar of Liberty—then burning brighter

The crowned heads lose the light on them ; it

may be than for many a year. The enthusiasm

Dawn is at hand to strike the loud feast dumb, which spread all over England during that To blind the torch-lit centuries till the day be, glorious struggle for Italy's independence, | The feasting kingdoms till thy kingdon come. of which Garibaldi and Mazzini were the leaders, touched the lips of this poet as with

The poet has at length found his ideal, fire, and gave us the clarion-like music of

and embraces it with all the passionate the 'Song of Italy,' dedicated to the great

energy of his naturerepublican writer :

I have no spirit of skill with equal fingers

At time to sharpen or to slacken strings, Earth shall grow dim with all her golden things,

Pale people and hoar kings;

* Milto n.

darken.

I keep no pace of song with gold-perched singers, Your night is as night that disperses when light is Or chirps of linnets on the wrist of kings.

alive in the air. I am thy storm-bird in the days that darken, And after a torrent of incrimination unThe petrel in the wind that bears thy bark

equalled in eloquence, even if false in sentiTo port through night and tempest; if thou hearken My voice is in thy heavens before the lark.

ment, the poem closesMy song is in the mist that hides thy morning,

Glory to man in the highest, for man is the master My cry is up before the day for thee,

of things ! I have heard thee and beheld ttee and give warning

Those who have studied, even in the Before thy wings divide the sky and sea.

slightest degree, the more modern developBirds shall rise after, voiced and feathered fairer,

ments of thought in England, will at once To see in summer what I see in spring,

perceive that this poem is simply Positivism I have eyes, and heart to endure thee, O thunder set to music. This visionary poet has, after bearer,

all, reached the same conclusions as that And they shall be who shall have tongues to sing.

school of philosophy, which, based on the The philosophy of this latter-day poet is

writings of Auguste Comte, prides itself still more completely shown forth in a

above all things on the tangible and

practical nature of its teachings. rather long piece entitled ' The Hymn of

The Man,' written, as he tells us, during the ses

religion of Humanity, as expounded by sion of the Ecumenical Council at Rome.

Mr. John Morley and his like, is a

cult devoid of mystery, and unattracThe poem is a diatribe against the religious

tive to idealists. It changes the basis of or rather the theistic-idea, and a prophecy

Faith and Hope as understood by Christhat it shall not much longer dominate the mind of Man. To any orthodox reader the

tians. It sinks the individual in the comsentiment of the Hymn of Man,' must be

munity and pitilessly regulates all human inexpressibly shocking, and for boldness the

effort to its one object. It may be an illus

tration of the law of extremes, that such a supreme blasphemy' of the closing part is without a parallel in contemporary litera

faith should find its poet-laureate in one ture. The orthodox conception of God is to

who has hitherto been distinguished by his the poet a hateful thing ; man, according

avowed opposition to all restriction imposed to Mr. Swinburne, is to shake off the theis

on the individual. At any rate, he is certic 'superstition :'

tain to act as interpreter of the new religion

to that large order of minds which are more For his face is set to the east, his feet on the past imaginative than critical, and for this reason, and its dead,

if for no other, the works of this latter-day The sun re-arisen is his priest, and the light

poet possess some interest, and must be rethereof hallows his head.

garded as an important contribution to Who are ye that would bind him with curses, or | modern literature. blind him with vapour of prayer,

GEORGE H. B. GRAY.

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