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"While he prayed," the master of the ship in which he had served heard of his misfortune, and came and offered to take him as boatswain. Enoch consented at once, "rejoicing at that answer to his prayer." He resolved to sell his boat, set Annie up in a little shop stocked " with all that seamen needed or their wives," and go on a long voyage. Annie disliked the scheme, was sure that evil would come of it, and entreated him not to go. It was in vain.
All his Annie's fears,
Very notable is the stress which the poet lays upon the religion of Enoch. This is an entirely different thing from the virtue of Dickens's poor men, which, except for an enthusiasm about Christmas, dependent chiefly on roast turkey and plumpudding, has no more connection with Christianity than with the gods of Homer. The fact is that, generally speaking, those of our villagers and sailors who arc conspicuous for morality and virtue arc religious men. At last Enoch bids Annie farewell.
"Annie, my girl, cheer up, be comforted.
Before he went he kissed his two elder children; the sickly one, asleep in his cot, he would not waken.
But Annie from her baby's forehead clipt
The sickly child died. Annie had no success in trade, and but for the delicately tendered help of Philip Ray, would have sunk into poverty. When ten years had gone by and nothing had been heard of Enoch, Philip asked her to marry him. In the twelfth year she became his wife. Enoch, meanwhile, had been wrecked upon a tropic island. There, year after year, with bounteous supply of all his animal wants, but infinite hunger of heart, he remained. The sights and sounds of his home haunted him.
Once likewise, in the ringing of his ears,
A ship took him off, and he returned to England. So completely was he changed that it was easy for him to live in the same town with Annie and Philip without being discovered. In the darkness he went and looked in at the window, and saw his wife and children in perfect comfort round Philip's hearth. After this peep into the domestic heaven which he had lost, he crept from the garden "out upon the waste." There he fell prone, and prayed.
"Too hard to bear! why did they take me thence?
He had now a new purpose in life, and with heroic fortitude he set himself to carry it out.
He was not all unhappy. His resolve
But he did not live long. When he knew death to be at hand, he told the woman with whom he had lodged, under promise on the Book of secrecy until after his death, who he was, and bade her give Annie the lock of his dead child's hair by which she might know that it had indeed been he, and to tell her that he died blessing her and his children and Philip. Then "the strong, heroic soul" passed away. He had never accused God; he had never unjustly upbraided man; in the long roll of Christian heroes there is not inscribed a truer hero than Enoch Arden.
Such being the justice done by Tennyson to the peasants, clerks, and seamen of England, may we not say that he is, indeed, a Poet of the People?
THE TWO VOICES.
/^VNE of the strongest and most widely-diffused prejudices of the English mind is a prejudice against metaphysies; and most Englishmen would, I fancy, agree that, if there is one thing more objectionable than metaphysical prose, it is metaphysical poetry. Nevertheless, a large proportion of the best dramatic and reflective poetry in the English language, if not strictly definable as metaphysical poetry, attests a strong metaphysical turn of mind in its authors. No one can have done more than merely skim the surface of Shakspeare's dramas and sonnets, without feeling that the profoundest metaphysical problems had for him an inexhaustible interest. While the whole complicated tissue of man's material existence—the web of passion and motive, with its ever-shifting colors—lay open to the inevitable glance of his supreme intelligence, he never ceased to ponder, in dumb and baffled amazement, upon the mysteries of man's spiritual life, the secrets of the grave, the relation of the human creature to the universe around him. Hamlet is a born metaphysician—so good a metaphysician, one might be tempted to say, as to be good for nothing else. Prospero is a metaphysician:
We are such stuff
If we cannot trace the personality of Shakspeare in Hamlet and in Prospero, we may give up all hope of connecting his character with his dramatic impersonations. Not a little of the most beautiful and imaginative English poetry of the present century was written by Shelley and by Coleridge, and these were almost as much metaphysicians as poets; Wordsworth in his highest mood floated naturally away from the summits of his beloved mountains into the blue infinitude of metaphysies; and Byron, shrewd, practical, sarcastic Byron, proves in Manfred and in Cain that he knew the fitness of the highest questions of speculation to become subjects of poetry. I have no doubt whatever that there is an affinity between the imaginative and the speculative faculties, and that the poet and the metaphysician are brothers. It would certainly be no extravagant assertion that Plato was as imaginative as Homer.
Tennyson's passion for metaphysies—his feeling of the wonder and mystery of things, and habit of speculative musing— can be traced in his juvenile poems. In the companion pieces, Nothing Will Die, and All Things Will Die, he gives melodious expression to that antithesis of fixity and of change—of uniformity and of variety—of birth and of death—about which philosophers have disputed for thousands of years.
When will the stream be aweary of flowing
Under my eye?
Over the sky?
And nature die?
The stream flows,
The wind blows,
The cloud fleets,
The heart beats,
Such is the first half of the antithesis. Change is the sole