Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

on,

"Then it behoves us both to be quick left the head uncovered. When the with it."

filling-in rose so high that it began to Twilight was coming

They appear out of the gloom of the trench, might not now wait for the night. Has- he pushed the spade into Roland's tily they made their rude funeral prep- hand, saying: arations. Job tore a broad plank from "Mak a finish o' t' wark whilst I rest the side of a rough penthouse which mysel." leant against the back of the cottage; Roland took a timid spadeful and that was the bier. They laid the dead looked down. At the bottom of the man on it, first putting a white cloth dark hole he saw a little glimmer of over his face to hide that awful simu- white. It was from the cloth that lation of life which the glassy eyes covered the face, but it seemed like the gave it. By his side they placed his

face itself looking up. He felt the claymore. The man and the boy stag. same horror as if his spadeful had gered under the terrible burden, but it been meant to choke the breath in livwas no time to give way. As they ing nostrils. He let the spade empty bore it forth, the moor gently rising itself into the snow. before them looked black already "I can't anyhow do it," he said. against the woolly sky. It was but a We hanna no time to stand," said journey of a short two furlongs, and Job. “Gie't to me." He took the Roland's memory kept no record of it spade from Roland and shuddered. “A save the contradictory impression of a shoolful o' black earth is a faw kuss heavy blank. Job had dug that second on a mon's mouth." He shut his eyes. grave only a few yards from the spot “Now tak me byť hond an' turn me where the dead man had lain and se- about." cretly bled. It was behind a slight

Roland did so. hump, enough to screen them on the "Nay," said Job, “it's t' same place; I Langsett side and give lodgment to a know it well. Turn me again." considerable snowdrift. That narrow

Roland did so. sballow trench, banked round by "Nay,” said Job, “it's noan better. freshly upturned black frozen clods, I seem to gleg it thorough my eyelids. made a sorry blot on the pure white. Turn me about more an' better; twizThey lowered the corpse with an awe- zle me round twyst; disguise it from stricken clumsiness, trembling both of

me." them. Job drew Roland a few yards

Roland turned him twice, and once aside, as though he might be overheard, again. and whispered hoarsely in his ear:

"Nay,” cried Job desperately, “I “ 'Tis a fearsome thing to lay honds know he's a-lookin' up at me; I can to t'mon yo've killed.”

see bis een skimmerin'.10 Faith an' He broke off a twig of heather, re

trawth, 'tis toota uncouth, when a mon turned to the grave and dropped it in. canna hinder hissel from seein'."

“I did t' same by Mary," he said. Such delay was likely to cost them "They say 'at rosemary if yo can come

dear. Roland took the spade from by't is best for to mak ť sperrit rest.

him, nerved himself and with open eyes But they dunnot say 'at rosemary ull cast a spadeful in, then another and an. bring 'em back."

other. Then he took the spade and began "Forgie's, poor Highlan'mon," said bastily to shovel the earth in. There Job. "Dust to dust, ass to ass." was craft in his method; he busily

9 Foul (ugly) kiss. heaped earth upon the feet but carefully 10 Glimmering.

His eyes came open in his own des- of pottery, then laid his hand on what pite. The glimmer of white at the he was in search of and brought it to bottom was blotted out. He received the door, a paltry chimney ornament, a the spade back and soon the pit was poor little paint-smudged sheperdess filled in, heaped up. A few snowflakes with absurd hoop and beribboned fluttered down and lay, unnoticeable crook. save on that mound of newly turned "That's it!" said Job. 'Tis wunnerearth.

ful like her; partic'lar t’ mouth." “Ay,” said Job, “if t snow ud fall He put it in his pocket, then picked again an' cover wer ugly job we should up a small harden bag which he had be all reet. Yet it irks me, poor cra- crammed with such portable property tur.

T snow's a co'd, co'd happin'. as he most needed or valued, thrust a Howsumever-in sure an' sartain hope stake through under the knot and o'-summat." He took up spade and lifted it to his shoulder. Roland took pick. “Now coom your ways."

with him nothing of the dead man's but Roland stood for a moment by the his pistol, powder and shot and the graveside with bared head in silence, inoney, which last was only a partial then turned away and followed his restitution of what he had been robbed companion over the moor. The snow of. The rest of that donatio pro mortis was already falling fast. Job stood causa he had buried with its late posat the open door and looked into the sessor. dark house.

"Now we're boun' for Wakefield," “Does't mind thee of oat?" he said. said Job. “Ay," answered Roland.

"Is it on the way to Scotland?" asked "It doe me. I canna, an' yit I mun." Roland.

“We have lingered too long al- “Ay, sure 'tis." ready."

"How do you know?" I know that ower well. But I "Nay, I'm noan purtendin' to know. canna; an' yit I mun.”

It's that fur off a mon canna be ex“What do you want?"

pected to know. I nobbut mane 'tis 'Tis on t' chimley-shelf. I allus the way I should choose. If I were tho't it favored her a wee bit.”

forced to choose." Roland thought he knew; he entered “Where does it lie?" hastily, struck against the table, over- Job pointed almost opposite to the turned a stool, clumsily groping found quarter in which the sun had died the chimney, reached up to the shelf, wintrily out. knocked something off with a metallic "Then lead on, with the best speed clatter and something else with a crash you may."

(To be continued.)

POETRY AND THE MODERN NOVEL. *

It is a very remarkable fact that, even at this stage of æsthetic accuracy, we are still unable to define to everybody's satisfaction the most vital ele.

• The substance of this paper was given as an address to the Poets'club on March 28th, 1912.

ment of Art. We are tolerably sure what is and is not Music; we have no hesitation, even in Sackville Street, in recognizing what is and is not Painting. Sculpture, Dancing, and Architecture present no problems in their definition; but Poetry, escaping from would like to take this opportunity to the pigeon-holes of fixed denomination reprobate very strongly the barbarous like the creature of fire and air it is, phrase "poetical prose." I confess I eternally eludes us. No doubt dif- scarcely know what it can mean. If it ferences of language are partly to be intended to describe prose infused blame. Poetry alone of the arts lacks with the spirit of poetry, it would a universally recognized outward sign surely never have acquired the odium of its spiritual existence; and, like cer- that is attached to it. If it mean tain wines, it is very impatient of prose mimicking the regular stresses translation. Color is the same for us and rhythms and assonances of verse, as it was for Venice four hundred it can surely only be called prose by years ago. The symphonies of Bee- the courtesy or avarice of the printer. thoven sound with equal majesty in But I believe that “poetical prose" is London and Berlin. Praxiteles and generally used to signify prose in a Rodin wrought their monuments from condition of hysterical excitement, lansimilar material. But Heine may be guage in an epilepsy: so why the meanunintelligible where Herrick enchants ing of poetical should be disgracefully the listener; and so widely do not debased it is difficult to imagine. merely the tongues of mankind but In primitive times all the noblest acalso the national standards of beauti- tions and emotions of humanity were ful language vary, that the application expressed in metrical forms for the of any test of words alone is almost reason that, recitation being the meuseless. In England we have poetic dium of distribution, it was necessary words and unpoetic words, and for this to make an obviously rhythmical apreason, perhaps, English poetry is more peal. Moreover, superficially, it is readily recognized than any other na- easier to write verse than prose: the tion's. For this reason, too, perhaps less exhausting intervals are a great we have in England the best of the aid to the expression of simple ideas. world's poetry and a good deal of the It is worth noting, too, that with the worst: ambidexterity does not help a growth of complications moral, mental, language when ostentatiousness eugenic, rational, which has been called veals its weakness. In France, where civilization, verse has been more and poetry has always suffered from an more completely puzzled to hold its over-elaboration of pure technique and own with prose. Now to argue that a devotion to barren forms, genius is this is bad is to argue that progress is often dissected like a jigsaw and put bad. No doubt the proposition is detogether by a tenth muse called In- fensible; but it lies outside our proygenuity. How much of French poetry ince, and I am only anxious to persuade is Rhetoric curbed by the reins of me- you that, though verse is perhaps no tre.

longer the dominant æsthetic influence I wonder whether comparisons apply on our period, it by no means follows to poetry—that is, whether we actually that the supremacy enjoyed since the have any justification for speaking of beginning of Art by Poetry is in any good and bad poetry, as I myself did a danger of destruction. I wonder if I moment ago. Surely the only antithe- can make my meaning clearer by analsis to poetry is not-poetry; and is prose ogies from other arts. I should be necessarily not-poetry? It might be tempted to say that the earlier comsafer to contrast prose with verse. I posers like Bach wrote in verse; that do not believe that poetry is discover- Beethoven wrote sometimes in prose, able in externals, and, incidentally, I but mostly in verse; that Schumann

re

wrote sometimes in verse, but mostly which always achieves its own design in prose; that Wagner wrote, and with greater labor and less conscious. Strauss writes, entirely in prose. ness of it in the making. I believe Again, Rodin is a prose sculptor; Tur- that Browning wrote in verse primaner and Whistler are prose painters. rily on account of the manifest rhythm And if you feel that these analogies

of the past. are too fantastic, let me remind you of You are, no doubt, perfectly aware by certain phases in the history of Eng- this time that I cannot identify poetry lish literature.

with verse, and you have possibly reAfter the dramatic outburst of the marked how many fences I have tried Elizabethans, that reflected in poetic to leap to avoid a plain definition. drama the suddenly heightened action Poetry, for me, is the quintessence of of contemporary politics, an age of com. life displayed and preserved in a relparatively degenerate verse succeeded, iquary of beautiful words; and for the from which emerged the solitary figure purposes of this definition, I will say of Milton, that great eclectic and de- that life consists of action, emotion cadent. Contemporary with him was and thought, together with their corolthe greatest age of English prose laries of experience, tranquillity and which, learning from the Authorized contemplation, against a background of Version new and stupendous bar- divine and human beauty. To me great monies, contained the real poetry of poetry seems to happen when a perthe time. During the eighteenth cen- fection of utterance or expression comtury verse fell farther and farther pletely coincides with the capacity for away from poetry, and was content experience, the sense of tranquillity and with the insignificant treatment of im- the power of contemplation. portant subjects, as in Pope's "Essay Now you will not, I hope, deny that on Man,” or with the elaboration of

prose may contain all these. unimportant subjects, as in the same dominance of action will give drama; poet's “Rape of the Lock." And the exaltation of emotion will produce where was poetry hiding? I confess lyric poetry; the battles of thought the Muses were in strange company; may effect a philosophy. I am not for Calliope was riding pillion behind going to claim for the novel a likely Henry Fielding, and Melpomene was supremacy in any one of these condigossiping over a counter with Samuel tions. It would not be fair to expect Richardson. The Romantic revival for a guinea the right to change as offlamed up in a profusion of glorious ten as you like works that combine verse, and with the renewed worship Macbeth, the Ode to a Skylark, and the of the past, with all the best inspira- Phoedo. But I do ask that the modern tion of poetry going into verse, prose novel may be free to utilize all these, stood still, stifled by the rhetoric of and, furthermore, that the novelist's chattering statesmen all agog with the complete works, bound exquisitely in French Revolution and the rise of the édition definitive, may one day conBonaparte.

front their creator as his epical conAt this point I am inclined to haz. tribution to the poetry of his time. ard a generalization, and say that I do not believe that the epic, as prose nearly always occupies itself written for the last time by Milton, with the reflection of the present. The

possesses any chance of revival in the past presents itself for us mostly in traditional form. The complexity of patterns, and verse is better able to modern life has made it inconceivable; take advantage of patterns than prose, for the epic was invented to record

The pre

cause

splendidly splendid deeds and simple Jones is mostly to be found in its prothoughts. Sincerity is necessary to found vitality and passionately normal all art; but an epic is sincerity. The humanity. After kings and instituoriginal epics were produced casually, tions, after new worlds and new relialmost as after-dinner speakers would gions, it seemed suddenly to strike persuade us that they produce their Fielding as worth while to write of the speeches. The later epics were be- ultimate

of all the surging gotten by belief in an idea, by the change, the ordinary man's ordinary obsession of an overwhelming reality. actions. Almost at the same time Such was the Divina Commedia. Such Richardson thought it worth while to was Paradise Lost. What idea or real- write of the ordinary woman. Tom ity have we now in this empirical age? Jones has often enough been called an There is one only-Man. And I would epic. The parallel is plain enough ask you to believe that no twelve to establish a platitude. But Clarissa books of great blank verse will suffice Harlowe, perhaps because of its awkto sing the epic of democracy.

ward epistolary form, has never seemed Our contemporary epic is the united to justify any comparison with the output of fiction. We plant more and epic. Yet the “soul with all its malmore saplings every year, but few sur- adies," the strife of character, the subvive August drought or Christmas servience of action to motive, the realfrost; and such trees as we leave be- ity of the protagonists, the pageant of hind will depend for their growth on domestic life, indicated to posterity a the forestry of the future. The Eng- potential development of the novel lish novel has always leaned towards which all the spacious sanity of Fieldthe epic, and was invented just as cas- ing never promised. His is the poetry ually. I do not believe it marked a of Shakespeare's comedy, of green continuation of that steady growth England, of simplicity and grossness which, beginning with Milesian tales, and normality; but Clarissa claims comdeveloped through Petronius and Apul- parison with Hamlet, and hers is the eius and Boccaccio, and bad reached al. poetry of the human soul. I wish I ready its culmination with Cervantes. had space to examine the long list of The foundations of the English novel successors to Fielding and Richardson, seem to me to rest on a far less obvious to show you how, in my opinion, the basis than the conte, and to represent a immortality of any novelist depends revolt against the Georgian devotion almost entirely on his poetry. I will to compartments. In the eighteenth refer instead to a brilliant exposition century Literature and Politics, Mo- of the theory of ecstasy in literature, rality, Religion and Society, all had to to Mr. Arthur Machen's Hieroglyphics. show a greatest common factor of com- You will find there much to dissent mon sense. Poetry does not flourish from, but you will also find much more in periods when mankind is engaged to endorse and many lines of critical in auditing his history and, as it were, development finely indicated. putting an extravagantly managed bus- I am inclined to say that Balzac iness on a sound commercial footing. really gave us the form of the modern This craze for arrangement was bound novel. If Fielding was the Homer, he to set the world off again, when the was the Dante. He wrote in a frenzy leisurely recuperation from the effects of creation. He deliberately and con. of two stormy centuries began to mani. sciously imagined an epic, and in his fest itself in a certain boisterousness of Comédie Humaine directly challenged too good health. The poetry of Tom comparison with the Florentine. Bal.

« ElőzőTovább »