« 이전계속 »
men have turned my eyes to-ward Coocord, and have uttered the name of Emerson with the reverence of ciscipies and the gratitude of scholars.
Maeterlinck reflects in his works the international character of his country. Belgium belongs as much to England as to France, and no Jess to Germany, for not only is the money of these countries current among the people, but their ideas also; and so it happens that Maeterlinck has all the glow and fervor of the Roman, the keen human insight of the AngloSaxon, and that peculiar religious mysticism which is a Germanic quality exemplified by Swedenborg Lavater, Jacob Boehme, and by his own noble countryman Johann Ruy.->brock, to whom Maeterlinck has given, not unjustly,'the title of Dr. Ecstaticus.
Maeterlinck's cousin, who guided me through the house, showed me the library shelves upon which are crowded the different editions and translations of the author's works. It is interesting to know that the smallest number of editions was printed in France, that England and America rank first, while Germany is slightly ahead of the country in whose language the books were written.
The smallest book is his first work, a volume of poems which he called "Hothouse Plants," very French in form and spirit, disclosing but little originality, and which, like many others who have achieved greatness, he wishes he had never printed. In 1889 he published his first drama, "Princess Maleine," which, like all those that follow it, is wrapped in fatalistic gloom, the power of the over-simple action lying entirely in suggestions of coming peril, in fear of the impending something, be it life or death, and in displaying the sledge-hammer of destiny and holding its victims under it.
Only a few times have his shadowy pictures passed over the stage, then disappeared forever, for not even a metaphysical German audience could stand having its nerve-strings pulled for two hours almost to the breaking-point, without being able to say to itself, " Why is this thus?"
Much of this intense power is due to the phonetic means employed, the repetition of words senseless and meaningless to the superficial leader, falling upon the car like heavy rhythmic raindrops before a
storm, while wind and wave are expressed by speech rather than by the trick machinery of the stage.
Maeterlinck considers his next two dramas his best; one of them is called "The Blind.7" the other *- The Uncalled." In both of them he reaches the sublimes* height of his own peculiar an. making mere passing shadows and bloodless creatures call forth in the beholder endless thoughts and indefinable emotions. The late Richard Hovey's translation of his dramas will give the English reader a fair idea of their mystic grandeur, but, depending largely upon the power of euphony as they do, much of their mysterious strength is lost.
As formless as are his dramas are also his essays, in which peculiarity alone we would discover the disciple of Emerson. "Out of one subject have grown two or three," he says; and I was tempted to add, " Ad infinitum." The step from the dramas to the essays was a step from sickness to health.
In his "Treasure of the Humble," a book of thirteen essays, one feels the health coming back, though somewhat slowly. On every p.ige one feels the struggling desire of a great power to flow back into its own soul, and then to express itself about the inexpressible.
His eyes have not the vague look of the clairvoyant and spiritualist, but they seem to say, " We have seen," although the lips of this man cannot convey to you just what. Much more clearly these lips spoke in his last volume of essays, "Wisdom and Destiny." Here he shows himself the victor over the dark fatalism in which he was being engulfed, leaning much more closely on Emerson, " whose optimism is good virus for a sluggish spirit."
"It is not so far from 'Wisdom and Destiny ' to ' The Life of the Bee ' as you think;" this was said to me in Paris, where the author is now living in an environment detrimental to soul quiet and introspection.
Here, where so many bees kiss the flowers without bringing home the honey, Maeterlinck has brought his queens from their Italian domains, and surrounded them in true cosmopolitan style by courtiers, workers, and idlers from many lands. Every book written about the bee passed before him, and for the first time in his riper years Maeterlinck saw the things that are, and, with an unsuspected patience, watched his bees clay and night as they passed through the window into the flower market by the Madeleine and back again with their load of sweetness. Thus the dramatist and philosopher became a natural scientist; and nowhere have these three characters been so beautifully blended as in this most delightful book, in which the tragedy of the lowly life has received a masterful interpretation, the wisdom of the guiding hand of God is so .clearly seen and understood, and the minutest action of a multitude of insects is so perfectly recorded.
Maeterlinck does not make the bee speak; you can always hear his own soft, clear voice; he guides you by his own eye, and his reflections are like prismflashings here and there.
I was to discuss this book with the author. "But there is nothing to discuss," he pleaded, so I was merciful to my victim, and looked upon his health-glowing face and into his deep, far-seeing eyes, feeling anew the "eloquence of silence." This I learned in that quiet moment: that Maeterlinck's second sight has become clearer still, that his heart has grown quiet, that he sees order in the universe, and the whole world " shot through with righteousness."
One question I had come to ask—a question which, with its interrogation point, had stuck in my brain ever since I had read his most impressive of all dramas, "The Blind."
A host of despairing, stupefied men walk aimlessly through a forest. They are blind, shaken by the cold, and have lost their way; they want to return to the
asylum, and they call piteously after their father and guide—an aged priest who had led them out and now has disappeared. Around them the ocean roars angrily, the storm is beating about their heads, and snow, like a funeral pall, is falling about them.
The priest is among them, but a corpse, and in their terror they cry, but no one answers. A dog is among them, but he knows not the way; a poet gathers flowers, and shares not their woe; at last the babe of an insane woman leads them by its cry. The significance of the drama was rightly gixssed by me.
"The Blind " is the symbol of a world which has lost its ancient guide the priest, and is now wanckrirg through the forest of unfaith to the brink of the sea. Nothing can replace the lost guide; the animal instinct which is symbolized by the dog will lead them far astiay, the poe'ic fancy will not reach the depth of woe; nothing can waken the dead priest, nothing can keep death from men and from institutions; but " a little child shall lead them." The question I had come all the way to Paris to ask was this: "Mr. Maeterlinck, did the child lead the blind back to the asylum?" The reply was unsatisfactory. "Each man will answer that question according to his own faith. What is your answer?"
"No," I said; "the child does not lead them back to the asylum, but it leads them to a small and unquiet harbor, and upon a large ship." "And then?" "And then they sail on toward the light." The poet smiled his approval of the answer, and the nameless disturber who had carried a question across the Atlantic and then answered it himself passed on into deserved oblivion.
Heroes and Heroines of Recent Fiction
1. Rudyard Kipling's " Kim." A bas-relief in clay by J. L. Kipling.
2. Mary Hamilton—Sarah Orne Jewett's UA Tory Lover."
Drawn by C. H. Woodbury.
3. Mary H. CatherwoodV Lazarre."