Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;
Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm;
Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.
So I triumphed, ere my passion sweeping thro' me left me dry,
Left me with a palsied beart, and left me with the jaundiced eye;
Eye to which all order festers, all things here are out of joint,
Science moves, but slowly, slowly, creeping on from point to point;
Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion, creeping nigher,
Glares at one that nods and winks behind a slowly-dying fire.
Yet I doubt not thro’ the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the process of the suns.
What is that to him that reaps ot harvest of his youthful joys,
Tho' the deep heart of existence beat forever like a boy's?
Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore,
And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.
Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and he bears a laden breast,
Full of sad experience, moving toward the stillness of his rest.
Hark, my merry comrades call me, sounding on the bugle-horn,
They to whom my foolish passion were a target for their scorn:
Shall it not be scorn to me to harp on such a moulder'd string?
I am shamed thro' all my nature to have loved so slight a thing.

a

Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward, let us range. Let the great world spin forever down the ringing grooves of change. Thro’ the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day: Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay. Mother-Age, (for mine I know not) help me as when life begun: Rift the hills, and roll the waters, flash the lightnings, weigh the sunOh, I see the crescent promise of my spirit hath not set. Ancient founts of inspiration well thro' all my fancy yet. Howsoever these things be, a long farewell to Locksley Hall! Now for me the woods may wither, now for me the roof-tree fall. Comes a vapor from the margin, blackening over heath and holt, Cramming all the blast before it, in its breast a thunderbolt. Let it fall on Locksley Hall, with rain or hail or fire or snow; For the mighty wind arises, roaring seaward, and I go.

LESSON 66. MORRIS AND OTHERS. “Within the last ten years, the impulse given in '32 has died away. The vital interest in theological and social questions, in human questions of the present has decayed; and the same thing which we find in the case of Keats has again taken place. A new class of literary poets has arisen, who have no care for a present they think dull, for religious questions to which they see no end. They too have gone back to Greek and mediæval and old Norse life for their subjects. They find much of their inspiration in Italy and in Chaucer; but they continue to love poetry and the poetry of natural description. No English poetry exceeds SWINBURNE's in varied melody; and the poems of ROSSETTI, within their limited range, are instinct with passion at once subtle and intense.

Of them all WILLIAM MORRIS is the greatest, and of him much more is to be expected. At present he is our most delightful story-teller. He loses much by being too long, but we pardon the length for the ideal charm. The Death of Jason and the stories told month by month in the Earthly Paradise, a Greek and mediæval story alternately, will long live to give pleasure to the holiday times of men.

It is some pity that it is foreign and not English story, but we can bear to hear alien tales, for Tennyson has always kept us close to the scenery, the traditions, the daily life, and the history of England; and his last poem, the drama of Queen Mary, 1875, is written almost exactly twelve hundred years since the date of our first poem, Cædmon's Paraphrase. To think of one and then of the other, and of the great and continuous stream of literature that has flowed between them, is more than enough to make us all proud of the name of Englishmen.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY. ROSSETTI.—Stedman's Vic. Poets; Cath. World, May, 1874; Fras. Mag., May, 1870; Fort. Rev., v. 13, 1870; West. Rev., v. 95, 1871; Contem. Rev., v. 18,

1871.

MORRIS. -Ed. Rev., v. 133, 1871; Fort. Rev., July, 1867; Contem. Rev., Dec., 1874; Fras. Mag., v. 79, 1869; New Englander, v. 30, 1871; Scrib. Mo., Feb., 1875; West. Rev., v. 90, 1868

SWINBURNE.—Lowell's My Study Windows, Stedman's Vic. Poets; Lond. Quar. Rev., Jan., 1869; Cath. World, Dec., 1874; Fras. Mag., v.71, 1865; and 74, 1868; Galaxy, Dec., 1866; Nat. Quar. Rev., v. 14, 1867; West. Rev., v. 87, 1867.

From Morris's Life and Death of Jason.*
But when they reached the precinct of the God,
And on the hallowed turf their feet now trod,
Medea turned to Jason, and she said, -

O love, turn round, and note the goodlihead
My father's palace shows beneath the stars.
Bethink thee of the men grown old in wars,
Who do my bidding; what delights I have,
How many ladies lie in wait to save
My life from toil and carefulness, and think
How sweet a cup I have been used to drink,
And how I cast it to the ground for thee.
Upon the day thou weariest of me,
I wish that thou mayst somewhat think of this,
And ’twixt thy new-found kisses, and the bliss
Of something sweeter than thine old delight,
Remember thee a little of this night
Of marvels, and this starlit, silent place,
And these two lovers, standing face to face.”

O love,” he said, “ by what thing shall I swear
That while I live thou shalt not be less dear
Than thou art now?

“Nay, sweet,” she said, “let be;
Wert thou more fickle than the restless sea,
Still should I love thee, knowing thee for such;
Whom I know not, indeed, but fear the touch

* Pelias dethroned his brother Æson, King of Tolchos, and sought the life of Jason, Æson's son. The boy was concealed, and, reaching maturity, demanded the crown.

Pelias promised it to him if he would fetch him a famous golden fleece-that of a ram sacrificed to Jupiter and given to Æëtes, King of Colchis. Jason organized an expedition, and set sail in the ship Argo. Arriving at Colchis, Jason wins the love of Medea, daughter of Æëtes, and is helped by her to perform the hard tasks imposed by her father as a condition of receiving the fleece. The tasks performed, Æëtes refuses the reward. The going of Jason and Medea to the temple where the treasure was kept, the charming of the monster that guarded it, the capture of the fleece, and their escape are described in the į assage quoted.

I

[ocr errors]

Of Fortune's hand when she beholds our bliss,
And knows that nought is good to me but this.

But now be ready, for I long full sore
To hear the merry dashing of the oar,
And feel the freshness of the following breeze
That sets me free, and sniff the rough salt seas.
Look! yonder thou mayst see armed shadows steal
Down to the quays, the guiders of thy keel;
Now follow me, though little shalt thou do
To gain this thing, if Hecate be true
Unto her servant. Nay, draw not thy sword,
And, for thy life, speak not a single word
Until I bid thee, else may all be lost,
And of this game our lives yet pay the cost.”

Then toward the brazen temple-door she went, Wherefrom, half-open, a faint gleam was sent; For little need of lock it had forsooth, Because its sleepless guardian knew no ruth, And had no lust for precious things or gold. Whom, drawing near, Jason could now behold, As back Medea thrust the heavy door, For

prone he lay upon the gleaming floor, Not moving, though his restless, glittering eyes Gave unto them no least hope of surprise. Hideous he was, where all things else were fair; Dull-skinned, foul-spotted, with lank, rusty hair About his neck; and hooked yellow claws Just showed from 'neath his belly and huge jaws, Closed in the hideous semblance of a smile. Then Jason shuddered, wondering with what wile That fair king's daughter such a beast could tame, And of his sheathed sword had but little shame.

But being within the doors, both mantle grey And heavy gown Medea cast away, And in thin clinging silk alone was clad, And round her neck a golden chain she had, Whereto was hung a harp of silver white. Then the great dragon, at that glittering sight, Raised himself up upon his loathly feet, As if to meet her, while her fingers sweet Already moved amongst the golden strings,

Preluding nameless and delicious things.
But now she beckoned Jason to her side,
For slowly towards them 'gan the beast to glide,
And when close to his love the hero came,
She whispered breathlessly, “On me the blame
If here we perish; if I give the word,
Then know that all is lost, and draw thy sword,
And manlike die in battle with the beast;
So dying shalt thou fail to see at least
This body thou desiredst so to see,
In thy despite here mangled wretchedly.
Peace, for he cometh. O thou Goddess bright,
What help wilt thou be unto me this night?” -

So murmured she, while ceaselessly she drew
Her fingers through the strings, and fuller grew
The tinkling music; but the beast, drawn nigh,
Went slower still, and, turning, presently
Began to move around them in a ring.
And as he went, there fell a strange rattling
Of his dry scales; but, as he turned, she turned,
Nor failed to meet the eyes that on her burned,
With steadfast eyes, and, lastly, clear and strong
Her voice broke forth in sweet melodious song:

“O evil thing, what brought thee here
To be a wonder and a fear
Unto the river-haunting folk?
Was it the God of Day that broke
The shadow of thy windless trees,
Gleaming from golden palaces,
And shod with light, and armed with light,
Made thy slime stone, and day thy night,
And drove thee forth unwillingly
Within his golden house to lie?

Or rather, thy dull, waveless lake
Didst thou not leave for her dread sake
Who, passing swift from glade to glade,
The forest-dwellers makes afraid
With shimmering of her silver bow
And dreadful arrows? Even so
I bid thee now to yield to me,
Her maid, who overmastered thee,

« PredošláPokračovať »