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even in a treatise. His philosophy is more a religion, an enthusiasm, than an organised scheme of speculation. This gives it a peculiar value at the present time, when so-called materialism has abundantly declared itself in systems, which ignore as insoluble the problems offered by the greatest fact apparent to us, the soul. Such thought too lends itself better to poetical than to prose utterance; and by right of this, then, Mr. Noel ranks as the first philosophical poet of our times in England.
In artistic quality Mr. Noel's work steadily improved, until it culminated in "A Modern Faust." His blank verse strengthened; his lyrics grew in sweetness and fluidity; his command of metre developed in various directions. To a great extent also, he got rid of those awkward grammatical constructions and uncouth phrases, which are a stumbling-block to educated sensibilities. He tried many species of composition, but not with equal success. He does not seem to me to have possessed the dramatic gift, and for this reason "The House of Ravensburg" must be considered a comparative failure. Satire, in the strict sense of that word, was not his forte, although there are powerful passages of satirical description in "The Red Flag," "A Song of Civilisation," and "A Modern Faust." His real strength consists in the combination of full sensuous feeling for the material world with an ever-present sense of the spirit informing it and bringing all its products into vital harmony. This enabled him to paint such pictures of voluptuous beauty and concrete form as 66 Ganymede," "The Nymph and the Boy," or "The Triumph of Bacchus"; and at the same time to chant the mysteries of life and the universe
in "Pan," "The Dweller in Two Worlds," "A Vision of the Desert," and "A Modern Faust."
In my anxiety to present a tolerably complete image of Mr. Noel's genius in its scope and compass, I have left myself no room for minute criticism. Those who care to study my expressed opinions, will find them in three reviews of "Beatrice," "The Red Flag," and "A Modern Faust" (Pall Mall Gazette, Feb. 9, 1869; Academy, Jan. 1, 1873, and Jan. 19, 1889). But, what is far more important, Mr. Noel's books lie open to the public, and deserve attentive study. He is not a poet who can be appreciated in specimens and extracts. It is the volume, matter, variety of his work not merely its finish, its occasional beauties, or its verbal felicities— which give him a considerable place in English literature.
JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS.
Mr. John Addington Symonds died at Rome on the 19th of April, 1893, and the Hon. Roden Noel died at Mayence, in Germany, on the 26th of May, 1894. The above article was written in 1890, during the lifetime of the poet. A few changes of tense have been made.-ED.
A VISION OF THE DESERT.
HON. RODEN NOEL.
METHOUGHT I saw the morning bloom
A solemn wilderness illume,
Desert sand and empty air:
Yet in a moment I was aware
Of One who grew from forth the East,
It swung with silent, equal stride,
Save where through stormlike rifts there came
Then I beheld how on his arm
Living incuriously wise
Under the terrible flame of eyes.
In those sweet early morning hours
Under the mantle: I heard it ask :
But when the sun began to burn,
It whispered, "Father!" but I never heard
Yet if no answer reached the child,
I know not why he lay and smiled,
The shadow moved, and growing less,
Erect he sat, contented now no more
To nestle, and feed upon the homely store:
He searched the lessening distance whence they came, He peered into the clear cærulean flame;
His hand would mingle with the shaggy hair
Of that enormous Living Thing which bare,
His clear young eyes explored with keen delight:
He gazed into the muffled Countenance,
Following with eager, splendour-beaming eyes
Elate with ardour, like unwearying youth,
But ah! the sun beat fierce and merciless
Where many a palm was dallying with air,
Smiled the sweet water in a blinding sky!