« AnkstesnisTęsti »
POEMS BY THÉOPHILE GAUTIER.
[To those who watch the ebb and flow of the not as destly and delicately handled as was his currents of critical opinion it is evident that since younger friend and follower's. Obviously a poet of the death of Théophile Gautier, now more than six this sort is most difficult of translation, and a happy years ago, his writings have steadily risen in the ap- rendering of his work in another language is almost preciation of all English and American students of as much a matter of inspiration as the writing of the French poetry. During his life, and even for a time original poem. No one man, however gifted, could after his death, many were prejudiced against him sit down to the translation into English of the whole by the evil report of his novel, “ Mademoiselle de of “ Enamels and Cameos ” with any hope, however Maupin " - an early indiscretion which arose up slight, of success. But it happens-and this is but against him in later years, and effectually barred another instance of the growth of the more general him from the chair in the French Academy, which appreciation referred to above—that various English was surely his by right of genius. This prejudice poets reading Gautier have felt an impulse to bring has ceased to operate, and Gautier is now receiving over into English verse, as best they might, or this more of the study he deserves so abundantly. or that poem which at the moment struck a respon
Gautier has a fourfold claim to posthumous sur- sive chord in them. There are a dozen or more repvival. He was romancer, traveler, critic, and poet. resentative poems of Gautier's translated into Eng. In the first two capacities he has been again and lish by as many different writers, with varying sucagain before the American public in adequate trans- cess, of course, but still giving a fairly adequate lations. His novel “Spirite" has appeared in Ap- presentation of the French poet's work. Among pletons' “ Collection of Foreign Authors,” and his the English poets who have made this attempt are travels in Russia and to Constantinople are both ac- Mr. Austin Dobson, Mr. Frederick Locker, Mr. A. cessible to the American reader in accurate transla- C. Swinburne, and Sir Francis Hastings Doylc. tions. As a critic, either of the acted drama or of Mr. Dobson, whose chaste style and clear-cut workart, plastic and pictorial, his work is so voluminous manship make him akin to Gautier, has given rather that it has not as yet, even in France, been wholly a paraphrase than a close translation of the final gathered into volumes from the newspapers in which effort of Gautier's metrical skill—the beautiful poem he scattered it with the royal liberality of lavish ge- on "Art.” Mr. Swinburne's lyric fervor echoes the nius. But as a poet his work was of necessity far graceful severity of Gautier's song with less aptless-indeed, the best of it, his poetic testament to ness; he, too, has given us an imitation rather than an posterity, is gathered into
the one book by which he exact rendering. It is to be remembered, as giving wished to be judged, “ Émaux et Camées.” It is an added interest to this lyric, that Mr. Swinburne fortunately possible to give good English renderings contributed, to the volume of poetic requiems chantof some of the best and most characteristic of these ed by the French choir over the grave of Gautier, poems, and in so far to reveal Gautier as a poet to poems in Greek, Latin, French, and English-surely those who can not read him in the original. In the one of the most extraordinary tributes ever paid by admirable criticism which Mr. Henry James, Jr., in one poet to the memory of another. We have made his “ French Poets and Novelists,” has given us of also one selection from Mr. Harry Curwen's collecGautier, he says of this volume of “Enamels and tion of "French Love-Songs."] Cameos ” : “Every poem is a masterpiece; it has received the author's latest and fondest care ; all, as
LOVE AT SEA. the title indicates, is goldsmith's work. In Gautier's We are in Love's Land to-day; estimation, evidently these exquisite little pieces are
Where shall we go? the finest distillation of his talent; not one of them
Love, shall we start or stay, but ought to have outweighed a dozen academic
Or sail or row? blackballs. Gautier's best verse is neither senti.
There's many a wind and way, mental, satirical, narrative, nor even lyrical. It is
And never a May but May; always pictorial and plastic-a matter of images, effects,' and color. Even when the motive is an
We are in Love's Land to-dayidea-of course, a slender one-the image absorbs
Where shall we go? and swallows it, and the poem becomes a piece of
Our land-wind is the breath rhythmic imitation. Nearly all his metrical work was clearly chiseled verse, carved in fine lines, with
Of sorrows kissed to death many a curious and recondite suggestion. A su
And joys that were; preme master of style, and worshiping with an Athe
Our ballast is a rose, nian idolatry the severe beauty of form, he reveled Our way lies where God knows in the richness his unrivaled vocabulary-unri
And love knows wherevaled except, it may be, by Victor Hugo's, which is
We are in Love's Land to-day.
Our seamen are fledged loves,
Our decks fine gold;
We are in Love's Land to-day.
Or fields near home?
We are in Love's Land to-day.
Land me, she says, where love
One heart, one hand.
A. C. SWINBURNE.
THE SPECTER OF THE ROSE.
“ Soulève ta paupière close,
Qu'effleure un songe virginal ! ”
“ Oui, l'æuvre sort plus belle
When the hard means rebel,
More potent far the spell. O Poet! then forbear
The loosely sandaled verse, Choose rather thou to wear
The buskin-strait and terse. See that thy form demand
The labor of the file ; Leave to the tyro's hand
The limp pedestrian style. Sculptor, do thou discard
The yielding clay-consign To Parian pure and hard
The beauty of thy lineModel thy Satyr's face
In bronze of Syracuse; In the veined agate trace
The profile of thy Muse. Painter, that still must mix
But transient tints anew, Thou in the furnace fix
The firm enamel's hue. Let the smooth tile receive
Thy dove-drawn Erycine; Thy sirens blue as eve
Coiled in a wash of wine. All passes. Art alone
Enduring stays to us; The Bust outlasts the throne
The coin Tiberius. Even the gods must go,
Only the lofty Rhyme, Not countless years
o'erthrownNot long array of time. Paint, chisel then, or write,
But that the work surpass, With the hard fashion fight With the resisting mass.
Those slumbering lids unclose,
Where pure dreams hover so light! A specter am 1-the Rose
That you wore at the ball last night. You took me, watered so late
My leaves yet glistened with dew; And amid the starry fête
You bore me the evening through.
You can not drive me away!
Shall dance till the dawning of day. Yet fear not, nor make lament,
Nor breathe sad psalms for my rest! For my soul is this tender scent,
And I come from the bowers of the Blest.
Would have given their lives away!
For in death on your neck I lay!
A poet came with a kiss :
FRANCIS DAVID MORICE.
Under the thick trees, about it swaying,
A hump-backed hovel crouches low; The roof-tree bends—the walls are fraying,
And on the threshold mosses grow.
Each window-pane is masked by shutters,
Still, as around the mouth in frost The warm breath rises up and flutters,
Life lingers here—not wholly lost. One curl of silver smoke is twining
Its pale threads with the silent air, To tell God that there yet is shining A soul-spark in that ruined lair.
FRANCIS HASTINGS DOYLE.
A WINTER PHANTASY.
Dove, rose, pearl, marble, into ruin dim
Alike dissolve themselves, alike decay;
The unfathomable Life-dust, yearning dumb,
knead Each form that is to come. By slow, slow change, to white and tender flesh
The marble softens down its flawless grain ;
Refigured, blooms again.
Through smiles divinely sweet.
And with soft tyranny the heart control;
Their sisterhood of soul.
Your veil is thick, and none would know
The pretty face it quite obscures ; But if you foot it through the snow,
Distrust those little boots of yours. The telltale snow, a sparkling mold,
Says where they go and whence they came, Lightly they touch its carpet cold,
And where they touch they sign your name. 'Who runs may read! On twinkling feet
You trip where all may soon detect you;
Obedient to the hint some fragrance sends,
Some color, or some ray with mystic power, Atom to atom never swerving tends,
As the bee seeks her flower.
Of moonlight visions round the temple shed,
Of lives linked in the sea, a memory wakes, A PANTHEISTIC PHANTASY.
Of flower-talk flushing through the petals red Deep in the vanished time, two statues white,
Where the bright fountain breaks. On an old temple's front, against blue gleams Kisses, and wings that shivered to the kiss, Of an Athenian sky, instinct with light,
On golden domes afar, come back to rain Blended their marble dreams.
Sweet influence; faithful to remembered bliss, In the same shell imbedded (crystal tears
The old love stirs again.
The breathing flower, in crimson lips recast,
Lives, to herself revealed. In the fresh pleasaunce, by Granada's river, Close to the low - voiced fountain's silver Where the laugh plays a glittering mouth within showers,
The pearl reclaims her luster softly bright; Two roses, from Boabdil's garden, ever
The marble throbs, fused in a maiden skin Mingled their murmuring flowers.
As fresh, and pure, and white. Upon the domes of Venice, in a nest
Under some low and gentle voice the dove
Has found an echo of her tender moan; Where Love from age to age has had his day,
Resistance grows impossible, and love Two white doves, with their feet of pink, found
Springs up from the unknown. rest
O thou whom burning, trembling, I adore ! Through the soft month of May.
What shrine, what sea, what dome, what
Saw us, as mingling marble, joined of yore, * This translation appeared several years ago in the "Journal," but its singular beauty and fitness for our
As pearl, or bird, or flower? present purpose are our excuse for repeating it.
FRANCIS HASTINGS DOYLE.
TO THE BUTTERFLIES.
Flitting merrily over the hollow,
By the blue airy pathway you follow. Sweet, where all joys and all beauties dwell,
If the gay butterflies would but try me, Can not your wonderful deep eyes tell
As to whither away I would hie me?
Over valleys and forests that lie there,
The bird drinks at my cup; and now, who
knows, After this rush through grass and flowers, I may become a giant stream, that flows
Past rocks and valleys, woods and towers !
Thus the young rivulet prattled as it went,
With countless hopes and fancies fraught;
A FOUNTAIN bubbles forth, hard by the lake,
Between two stones up-sparkling ever,
As if to launch some famous river.
It was so cold and dark below;
Bright skies upon my mirror glow;
But close upon the cradle frowns the tomb;
A babe the future Titan dies,
F. H. DOYLE.
A public alterance of their notions of our people frany
ard, for instance, is doubtless well acquainted with PATRIOTS ABROAD.
“international stage-rights,” and hence his recent
utterance on that topic before the International Lit. MERICAN gentlemen abroad sometimes give erary Congress in London was entitled to considera
Mr. Howard is a writer of plays, some of and the Federal Government. There is no harm in which have been successful ; and it is entirely probthis, of course, provided these gentlemen speak judi- able that he has given the subject of stage-rights adciously and with knowledge. Lecturers and after- equate attention. But Mr. Howard, when he talks dinner orators at home may misrepresent, without about the peculiarities of the American Government, much danger of misleading; but abroad the foreigner simply repeats the loose utterances he has heard in is apt to assume that an American speaking of Ameri- the clubs or read in the newspapers ; and, when he cans is one having authority, and hence accepts his enters the domain of international copyright, he with dicta as the law and the fact. It is desirable, there. equal ease makes gossip do service for knowledge. fore, that Americans who in foreign lands elect them- of the National Government he speaks as follows: selves to the position of American representatives should have some knowledge of the subjects upon
Our Government is not intended to be a govwhich they undertake to enlighten their listeners.
ernment by intellectual leaders. We have no confi. It is not at all surprising that a sojourner abroad should dence in the adequate wisdom of what are called
great men” for the government of a great people. know nothing about our national politics-for, if there we have tried to substitute for this wisdom what is a person anywhere that substitutes a mass of erro- we consider a much better thing—the average comneous notions for exact knowledge, it is your culti- mon sense of the entire population. The effort to vated American when discoursing of the nature and give expression to this common sense in our national conditions of our Government—but it is a little ex- population represented there by men who actually
Legislature compels us to have small fractions of the asperating that he can not consent to hold his tongue reside among the people whose opinions they must until he is authorized to speak. Mr. Bronson How- reflect. For this purpose the entire country is divided into small “ Congressional districts." Each of to Congress its great men — -its Clays, Douglases, these districts must send one of its own residents to Bentons, Haynes, Hunters, not to speak of its WebWashington. Many districts have no men to send who can be counted among leading thinkers ; but sters, or of those who now shine conspicuously in it, they all have men who can, and who đo, express their Conkling, Blaine, Edmunds, Stephens, Bayard, and own and their neighbors' opinions on affairs that others. No modern people are so fond of intel. affect the local or general interests of the country, lectualism as the American people, no representaThat is all we expect from them. On the aggregate tives anywhere have been so generally drawn from the of the commonplace opinions thus gathered, and not distinctly intellectual class as with us—ideas and acon the concerted wisdom of a few brilliant leaders, is based the political prosperity, and, as we think, quirements always having in our politics more weight the political safety of the United States.
than property or social standing.
How is it, then, that we hear so much about our Now, it is quite true that the entire country is better people withholding from politics ? Because divided into Congressional districts, in which, how- it is assumed that what is true of three or four lead. ever, there is nothing peculiar; and it is also true ing cities is also true of the whole country. All that that each district must elect one of its own residents, we have said, for instance, is not true of the city of which is different from the English custom. But the New York, where politics are almost exclusively in real peculiarity of the district system with us is that the hands of inferior men ; and as the self-confident it selects leading men more effectually than European young men who lounge at clubs, who go abroad to systems do, where in numerous cases the representa- air their patriotism in Pall Mall and on the Bouletive is simply the traditional Conservative, who is vart des Italiens, imagine their own set to be the conservative because his family has been so before whole world, and naturally delight in showing conhim; or the traditional Liberal who also is liberal tempt for qualities exhibited elsewhere, there has because his family has been liberal. In social cul- come to be prevalent in these would-be high circles ture the members of the House of Commons are a notion that America is in the hands of ignoramuses superior to our Representatives, but there are abso- —that popular suffrage must inevitably by the law of lutely in proportion much fewer men of genuine gravitation place in office incumbents no higher than parts at Westminster than at Washington. The real the level of the voters. This is asserted again and intellectual work in the House of Commons is done again. Foreigners who come here and are introduced by a small group of strong men. The great body have to our higher circles hear this uttered repeatedly as no opinions except the party war-cries ; they are not if it were the very corner-stone of democracy; and intellectual ; exhibit little breadth or knowledge; and, neither home critics nor foreign critics take the pains
; having but few ideas and no skill in uttering those to carefully analyze the facts to see if the current they do have, are unable to take part in the debates. indictment is true or not. Mr. Howard simply reThey, accord exactly with Mr. Howard's notion of peats this gospel of Fifth Avenue, but, like those the American representative—that is, they are men from whom he quotes, has no knowledge nor percepof sturdy common sense, and go to Parliament to tion of the facts as they are. reflect the sturdy common sense of their constitu- In regard to international copyright, Mr. Howard ents.
quotes current notions as glibly and as ignorantly as The American representative, on the other hand, in the domain of politics. We append a few senis usually some young lawyer with the gift of speech- tences : making, one who has shown talent at the bar, and
American literary piracy — true patriotism does knows how to hold a popular assembly under a per
not prevent me from calling a spade a spade; I suasive tongue. A very large proportion of our Con- speak not to foreigners, but among my fellow citigressmen are lawyers, all of whom first won their zens in the republic of letters; and I decline, furtherspurs in some local legal contest. It has often been more, to treat our literary pirates as representative deplored by critical observers that our rural com- Americans by screening their crimes under a softer munities, instead of selecting representatives of good mies within its own lines. The Messrs. Harper Broth
name-American literary piracy has developed enesolid standing, must fall victims to the showy elo
ers have suddenly discovered that the competition quence or brilliant parts of lawyers or professional of irresponsible, petty speculators, small piratical men. Intellectualism in some form or other—not privateers so to speak, is more expensive to them always of the highest or soundest character, but nev- than the honest payment of royalties to foreign authors
would be, ertheless a form of intellectualism-is exactly the qual.
Other great publishers have made the
same discovery. The promise now is that there will ity that captivates our rural and semi-rural commu
be no one in Washington hereafter to present the nities. Certain men who are fluent of speech, abound- old arguments against international copyright. Our ing in ideas, ambitious and active-minded, constitute reformed and suddenly upright publishers will now themselves leaders. They are the local speech-mak, prove to the practical American law-maker, who still ers, the defenders and expounders of party theories and knows and cares nothing about the matter, that the party principles ; and it is commonly because they national profit is on the other side. are supposed to be eloqucnt and wise that they final- The italics are our own, Mr. Howard might ly reach Washington, where they have longed to dis- easily have learned, had he so wished, that American play their powers. Some of these men are fighty publishers for years past have been accustomed to and light-headed ; but the selection in this way of pay royalties to foreign authors, that every British men of parts has been the very thing that has given author whose writings possess any certain mercantile