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the points of strongest emotion, in which respect it might be a model ; it is a study of sweet pure English, and triumphantly shows the richness, power, and delicacy of the pure Teutonic vocabulary of our speech; and, as we have before said, in rhythmica and melodic structure, it is almost unrivalled.
W. H. B.
The Poems of Henry Timrod. Edited, with a Sketch of the Poet's
Lise, by Paul H. Hayne. New York: E. J. Hale & Sons. Ņo poem which Timrod has ever given to the world can equal the elegy of his life. None of the Chattertons, or Keatses, or Kirke Whites, or Arthur Hallams, who passed away before their morning of promise had neared its noon, have left behind them a life-record touched with deeper pathos. It seems to us the saddest story, as well as one of the tenderest, that the annals of modern literature can show. And yet over all the sadness and disappointment and ruin there is thrown a soft haze of mournful beauty, an Indian-summer veil of amethyst glooms, born of the poet's own soul, which almost reconciles us to the sorrow : since, through the subdued lights of such an atmosphere, his beautiful creations come to us glorified with a higher and lovelier meaning than if seen under the steady shining of a prosperous happiness.
The Sketch of Timrod's life could not have been as fitly prepared by any other hand as that of his friend Mr. Hayne. Indeed, we believe it is mainly owing to the fervor of this friendship that this beautiful little volume of posthumous poems sees the light at all. The editing of it has been purely a labor of love ; and there is nothing, as we have already said, in all the book so full of appealing significance as the life-portrait of the dead poet drawn by the pencil of the living one — a picture as tender with loving and reverent touches as one of Fra Angelico's. It was a felicitous thought to preface the poems by this sketch, for we feel sure that thereby a far deeper human interest will gather about Timrod's name. Many a poet who has passed away before his prime would have died out of men's memories but for the fragrant embalming of some skilsul hand.
We will not here attempt to go over even the most salient points of Timrod's life. We insist upon it that all Southern readers shall learn for themselves, through this volume, the sad, bitter-sweet story of their poet - his ardent enthusiastic boyhood, the golden promise of his ambitious youth, his briefly successful and brilliant manhood, his harrowing war experiences, his courageous struggles, his quiet despairs, not sullen, not splenetic, only utterly and unspeakably hopeless. What a world of heart-break is wrapped up in an expression in one of his letters, written after his sad reverses came upon him !“I would consign every line I have ever written to eternal oblivion for one hundred dollars in hand !” The letter of the poet's sister in which she describes the closing scene of her brother's life, is tragical in its simple pathos. The elder Hallam's account of his son's death, tender though it be, is not touched with such a sacred grace. May we be permitted to quote a sentence or two ?—“And is this to be the end of all (he said) - so soon, so soon! And I have achieved
so little! I thought to have done so much. I had, just before my attack, fallen into a strain of such pure and delicate fancies. I do think this winter I should have done more than I ever have done ; yes, I should have written more purely, and with a greater delicacy. And then I have loved you all so much ; how can I leave you?'... I murmured to him, You will soon be at rest now.' * Yes,' he replied, in a tone so mournful it seemed the wail of a lifetime of desolation, 'yes, my sister ; but love is sweeter than rest!' Once, turning to me, he asked, 'Do you remember that little poem of mine?
Somewhere on this earthly planet,
In the dust of flowers to be,
Waits a solemn hour for me?Never mind,' he said (finding himself unable to swallow the water offered him), 'I shall soon drink of the river of eternal life.' He died at the very hour which, years ago, he had predicted would be his death-hour. The whisper, 'He is gone!' went forth as 'day purpled the zenith.'' We give in full the “little poem” thus hallowed by his own latest memory of it: it is entitled A Common Thought :
Somewhere on this earthly planet,
In the dust of flowers to be,
Waits a solemn hour for me.
I behold it dawn in mist,
Through the darkness – Hist! O, hist!
I am breathing life away :
As I watch the broadening day.
As it brightens on the lawn,
! As to any actual criticism of Timrod's poems, we shall not attempt it: we are too much overshadowed by the gentle solemnity of his beautiful passing away, to sit calmly down to the work of dissection. We would as soon think of addressing ourselves to a Tyndall-like analysis of the shafts of light after a golden sunset had melted into our heart, or botanise over a splendid Devonshire rose after our senses have been witched by its subtle power. Thus much, however, we will say, that these poems are wonderfully free from the “problemhaunted” spirit and the vague unrest and the perplexing mysticism which underlie so much of modern poetry. They remind us in their freshness, their unstrained pathos, their vivid but natural emotion, their clear directness, their polished but simple rhythms, of a school of poets widely removed from that of the immediate present. Mr. Hayne speaks of Timrod as having been at one time an ardent disciple of Wordsworth ; but he must have outgrown his enthusiasm, for we trace in the present volume none of the old Laker's influence. Here and there we perceive an echo — nothing more — of the Tennysonian ring, as in The Arctic Voyager : which, however, was written at an immature age, and in Hark to the Shouting Wind. This little lyric is so full of a fathomless sorrow that we must quote it:
Hark to the shouting Wind !
Hark to the flying Rain !
A bright blue sky again!
That are not for human speech;
And the roar upon the beach.
And oh, to be with that ship
That I watch through the blinding brine !
Shout on, thou pitiless Wind,
To the frightened and flying Rain !
A calm blue sky again ! To The Vision of Poesy we feel inclined to grant higher praise than Mr. Hayne claims for it. As a whole, it is of very unequal merit, but the bit of blank verse which links the two parts together is very beautiful; and in part second there are some very subtle verses. Some of the sonnets are as artistically put together as even the requirements of Dante Rossetti demand. Here is one which comes to us with the sacred association of having been written only three weeks before the poet's death :
A stricken household mourns thee; but its loss
Is Heaven's gain, and thine. Upon the Cross
To quench that diadem's celestial light,
To hush thy song, and stay thy heavenward flight,
Ah, no! Ah, no! Chant on! Soar on! Reign on!
And haply from the splendor of thy throne,
Something may fall upon us, like the calm To which thou shalt, hereafter, welcome us! Into his war poems Timrod threw his intensest vigor, and they glowed with a fiery earnestness and a consuming patriotism which ought, even now, though his vatic utterance proved no prophecy, to endear him to the people whose hearts he was once able so to thrill. If he were living now, the refrain of his Carolina would become on his lips a wail of woe : "happier thus" that he is not here to witness her desolations.
Had New-England claimed Timrod as a native, his name would stand high upon the calendar of her canonised poets; had he been British-born, all cultured Englishmen would treasure his fame from Land's End to John O'Groat's. As it is, are we Southern people so rich in home-born singers that we can afford to let the volumes of our dead Charleston poet lie on the publisher's shelves unappreciated, unbought, unread ?
MARGARET J. PRESTON.
On the Eve. By I. S. Turgénieff. New York: Holt & Williams.
The readers of the SOUTHERN MAGAZINE are not unfamiliar with the masterly workmanship of Ivan Turgénieff. His “Lear of the Steppes," which we lately published, must have made a deep impression upon all who read it. All of his works which we have read are powerful in their kind, and each bears that distinct impress of individuality and originality which is the prerogative of genius. Each great writer handles his material in a way which is his own and is like the way of no other writer. Judged by this, the artistic touch, which is none the less distinctly recognisable because it is undefinable, Turgénieff is a man of high genius. He is not a pleasing writer ; his subjects are often painful ; he is above all things a morbid anatomist, and prefers to demonstrate the obstructive tumors of a system rather than its functional beauties of nice adaptation ; and his characters move heavily to their fates in a. murky atmosphere. But he does the work he has appointed himself like an artist, with a fidelity that is unapproachable, a truth not to be impeached, and a realism so startling as to be a perpetual surprise, a frequent shock.
Turgénieff is a Russian and a patriot. In his philosophy it is evident that pessimism is a necessary corollary of the above. He draws Russians as they appear to him ; it is quite apparent that he thinks some of his characters — his typical Russians - not much too good to ornament an average dunghill, yet at the same time he does not conceal his opinion that his Russians are at least as good as the people of other nationalities whom he has studied, if not better. He paints you a character as Titian is reputed to have painted his portraits, laying on touch by touch of color till the picture stands out an unmistakable likeness, a thoroughly distinct individuality. But the burthen of circumstance and destiny is too heavy for his characters; they are never able to make nor to counterfeit a sunshine of their own, but are borne down to the earth, heroically struggling against an implacable evil. So, each of his tales is a tragedy, with some sort of tremendous irony for its emphasis, and not relief enough in the background of dull leaden Russian atmosphere in which it is acted out. On the Eve is of this sort. It is a tale of love that never flies, for its wings are clipped ; of heroism beating itself to death against the bars of a prison; of devotion dragged down to the dust, of duty having no goal, and self-sacrifice unrewarded — nay more, unrewarding. The title itself is significant. What Russia wants, the book insists, is men; the conclusion of the tale brings us so near to men that we are on the eve of getting them; there is a hope, but it is a hope that the author does not permit us to realise. The hero, the man of action, is not a Russian, but a Bulgarian, who has set himself for
life's work to free his country. But nothing comes of his unbending patriotism and stern purpose; nothing comes of Ellen's rare unquestioning beautiful love, which casts the bread of her life upon the waters and sees it sink like lead to the bottom, where not even the little fishes will profit by a crumb of it. Nothing comes of Bersieneff's magnanimous self-abnegation, for it does not bring contentment of mind even to himself. No more comes of Shoubine's artistic gifts. Shoubine in fact, the trifling artist, full of power when roused, but for whose failure the author prepares us at the start, succeeds in the end quite as much as the rest. That is to say, he succeeds not at all, but his failure is no more conspicuous than that of those whose deserts so far transcend his as to admit of no comparison between them.
We think this is Turgénieff's mistake. His world is consistent with itself, but it is not merely a bad world to live in ; it is a world which no sensible man would endure to live in while there was a rope or a razor within reach. It is a world of mud and mist and fog, with no happy hunting.grounds beyond. It is a world where virtue has to stand and shiver in desolate nakedness - no promise of reward from without, no fountain within of exceeding recompense. Perhaps virtue could endure even that, shining against the sun and sky, a white statue upon a promontory of Greece, pedestalled, serene, and fair; but it is asking rather more than human nature is capable of, to present virtue clumsily chiselled by Russian fists of frigid blue limestone, sink it waist deep in a Russian quag, and require it to freeze in Hyperborean sleet and storm.
The World-Priest. Translated from the German of Leopold Schefer,
author of "The Layman's Breviary." By Charles T. Brooks.
Boston: Roberts Brothers. This is a very German book. It is well suited to the spiritual needs of that large and perhaps increasing class of readers who take comfort in and strength from the mystical side of religion ; who find themselves reflected in Madame Guyon, Böhme, Swedenborg, etc. Those who are outside the sphere of such influences will not perhaps find a great deal in The World-Priest. The poetry is exceedingly subordinate to the author's purpose; the rhythm is pretty much "according as it drops"; the imagery is poor and commonplace, and the occasional sublime passages are in the author's sense of his sublime theme, not in his treatment of it. We are not able to explain why it is that religious poetry should commonly exonerate itself from the ụsual obligations imposed by the laws of art, but such is the case, and this book of Schefer's is no exception. Apples of gold, it might seem, would not suffer by being served in dishes of silver, but “ the poets with a purpose " think so differently that their common earthenware would often be improved by the simple process of scouring.
Schefer was a sort of chaplain to Prince Pückler-Muskau, who, some fifty or sixty years ago, when princes were fancied to be less aménable than they are now to the laws of our common humanity, cut quite a figure by staining his patrician fingers with ink. He wrote a book of