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resolution to cherish “ the mighty hopes that make us men.” It will, he feels, be no dishonour to his friend though his heart should glow with new love.
My heart, tho' widow'd, may not rest
But seeks to beat in time with one
That warms another living breast. Immediately after this long piece, he lifts up his voice and speaks with veritable rapture. There is no mention of Arthur in the four superb stanzas in which he calls upon the genial splendour of sunny air to flood his soul with its freshness and joy. The four verses not only constitute a single sentence, but do not contain any punctuating mark except a few commas. The sentence in five stanzas, which I formerly quoted, had several points only less important than the full stop, but there is not even the rest of a semicolon in this long clarion-blast.
Sweet after showers, ambrosial air,
That rollest from the gorgeous gloom
Thro’ all the dewy-tassellid wood,
And shadowing down the horned flood
The full new life that feeds thy breath
Throughout my frame, till Doubt and Death,
To where in yonder orient star
A hundred spirits whisper “Peace.” The second anniversary of the death is by no means so gloomy as the first. The poet thinks of all those to whom the day comes with memories, whether joyful or sorrowful, calls them “kindred souls,” and says that they mourn with him. Before the third Christmas the Tennyson family quit their native Lincolnshire, and their departure affords suggestion for several descriptive lyrics of great beauty.
Unlov'd, by many a sandy bar,
The brook shall babble down the plain,
At noon or when the lesser Wain
And flood the haunts of hern and crake ;
A fresh association blow,
And year by year the landscape grow
His wonted glebe, or lops the glades ;
And year by year our memory fades
From all the circle of the hills. The third Christmas, therefore, is passed in a new land ; and now, though grief is not oppressive, Christmas has lost its old associations, and the poet cannot permit it to be devoted to the old mirth. His mood, however, is not that of sorrow, but of pensive hope, and when Christmas Day has stolen quietly by, he bursts out in those jubilant verses, familiar wherever the English language is spoken, that bid the bells of the new year“ ring in the Christ that is to be." It is still winter when Arthur's birthday arrives, but though the eaves are fringed with icicles, and the “ leafless ribs and iron horns” of the wood make harsh music, the day shall be mirthfully celebrated.
Bring in great logs, and let them lie,
To make a solid core of heat;
Be cheerful-minded, talk and treat
With books and music, surely we
Will drink to him, whate'er he be,
And sing the songs he loved to hear. In the succeeding pieces, to the end of the poem, there is the same crescent glow of hope and strength and joy. Man
is to set his foot on nature, and know himself nature's sovereign. Nature is but “earth and lime ; ” it dies ; “human love and truth” endure. Man has been a giant labouring from his youth ; much has he suffered, much also has he conquered; and now his "attributes of woe ” are “glories,” and the discipline of trouble has but fitted him for higher achievement, if he will
Arise and fly
And let the ape and tiger die. Not inappropriately, and without any break in its pervading and perfect harmony, the work that had death for its suggestion ends with a marriage.
I conceive that this monumental and superlative poem has done more than any literary performance of the nineteenth century to express and to consolidate all that is best in the life of England, its domestic affection, its patriotic feeling, its healthful morality, its rational and earnest religion. Happy the nation whose accepted and greatest poet thus voices its deepest instincts. Let who will adjure Englishmen to galvanise the corpse of Paganism, I shall take my place in the throng of simple folk who listen, well pleased, to the home-bred, heart-felt, honest strains of In Memoriam.
TENNYSON’S DICTION. THE IDYLLS OF THE
CYELDOM has it happened to any author to become, s in his own life-time, a classic to the same extent as Tennyson; and among the many subjects which his works afford to critic, lecturer, and annotator, none, perhaps, yields a richer harvest of remark than his diction. “To describe his command of language,” I wrote many years ago," by any ordinary terms, expressive of fluency or force, would be to convey an idea both inadequate and erroneous. It is not only that he knows every word in the language suited to express his every idea ; he can select with the ease of magic the word that of all others is best for his purpose : nor is it that he can at once summon to his aid the best word the language affords; with an art which Shakespeare never scrupled to apply, though in our day it is apt to be counted mere Germanism and pronounced contrary to the genius of the language, he combines old words into new epithets, he daringly mingles old colours to bring out tints that never were on sea or shore. His words gleam like pearls and opals, like rubies and emeralds. He yokes the stern vocables of the English tongue to the chariot of his imagination, and they become gracefully brilliant as the leopards of Bacchus, soft and glowing as the Cytherean doves. He must have been born with an ear for verbal sounds, an instinctive appreciation of the beautiful and delicate in words, hardly ever equalled. His earliest poems are festoons of verbal beauty,
which he seems to shake sportively, as if he loved to see jewel and agate and almondine glittering amid tropic flowers.”
When these words were written the Idylls of the King had not appeared, and it was only in the Morte D'Arthur that Tennyson had given earnest of what he was one day to achieve in the poetic treatment of old British legend; but, though his later works speak less of the blossom timeshow less of the efflorescence and iridescence, and mere glance and gleam, of coloured words—they display no falling off, but rather an advance, in the mightier elements of rhythmic speech. He does not permit that use of compound epithets, in which he exercises an Elizabethan freedom, to degenerate by frequency into a mannerism. The “ silver-misty morn," the “wan-sallow plant” bitten at the root, the “ satin-shining palm on sallows in the windy gleams of March," the “gloomy-gladed” hollow in the mountain landscape, the “livid-flickering” flash of lightning, the wave “green-glimmering toward the summit," the “sallow-rifted glooms” of evening, the “battle-writhen arms” of the strong knight, are examples of his inventive diction gleaned from the Idylls. “Tenderest-touching,” “ dark-splendid,” “love-royal," "passion-pale,” are single colour-words. Here and there the language of the Idylls is somewhat weakened by the too studious courting of an archaic tone, too scrupulous avoidance of Greek and Latin derivatives, and by the use of words like “reckling,” “roky," "yaffingale,” which have no place in contemporary speech and were unknown to Johnson. If we are constrained to admit that, in expressiveness and picturesqueness, the language not unfrequently reaches the Shakespearian level, we cannot deny that, in variety and wild forest-like freedom, it falls beneath it. No English poet, however, since Milton, can keep the lists against Tennyson as a master of language.
The Morte D'Arthur, which now figures as one of the