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vinces us the poet has failed in the great object of poetry. We do not consider the blank verse of Tennyson as a success; it is feeble and diluted; even the more felicitous passages are open to many objections; the sweetness of occasional lines cannot redeem the want of vigor and rythm. In Dora the poet has carried his style to a scriptural simplicity. From these extracts it will be made evident that the characteristics of this fine poet are delicacy, refinement, and a subtilty which etherialises all his conceptions. We do not expect that he will ever produce any great work; his mind is unequal to a long flight; he is master of one or two instruments, and his power over them is perfect; his orchestra is not, however, full enough to bring out that mighty volume of sound which sleeps in the Epic and the Drama. His last production, “The Princess, a medley,” has been a great disappointment to his friends, as it convinces them he is unequal to a sustained undertaking. We do not see why they should be surprised or grieved at the failure; this is not an age for long narratives, it is essentially the “age of emphasis,” every production now must be intensed. Men will not sit to be lectured or read asleep; they want to be aroused, excited and kept awake. They do not look for instruction, they demand power and sensation — delight is their object, not quiescence or tranquillity. Soothing syrups are past: electrical flashes are in vogue. We have epics, dramas, narrative poems, and sermons in abundance; we require some new truths, or at all events some old facts presented in a novel and startling shape; or else we want common every day life shaped and heightened into beauty: listen to an old fact, a reality, made ideal and immortal by Tennyson: it is founded on the marriage of the Marquis of Exeter's grandfather to the daughter of a respectable farmer. Here the poet enrolls this sweet creature into one of God's nobility, a Duchess of Arcadia's Aristocracy.
Robert Browning, the author of some of the most singular poems in the English language, was born at Camberwell, a village near London, in 1812. His father, who is a clerk in the Bank of England, seems to have had prophetic impression of his son's poetical genius, for he resolved to set him apart for a life of study. His family abound with little anecdotes of the poet's precocity, and we were told by his mother that at four years old, when compelled by her to take some medicine, he said, with much heroic gravity,
“Good people, if you wish to see
These little anecdotes may be considered as trifling, but they show the current of the early mind, and are sure evidences of the existence of the poetical vein.
Till his fourteenth year he was educated at a daily school in Dulwich, where he made great progress in his studies. Even in his eighth year some of his translations from Horace are remarkable for that peculiarity of mirth which he has since carried out to a fatal mannerism.
From this school he was removed to the London University, where he completed his routine of classical education. So far as
our recollection serves, he is the only man of genius that college can boast.
In his twentieth year he published a poem called “Pauline,” which he has never acknowledged, and of which he now appears to be ashamed. It has little merit beyond a certain faint evidence of sensuous feeling running through it; that kind of murmuring music which ever accompanies a poet in his walk through life. In 1836 his first acknowledged poem appeared, called “Paracelsus,” and it is the opinion of many of the critics of the day that this will be the work by which he will be the most remembered. A critic has remarked, that one of the finest thoughts of modern times is embalmed in three lines in this poem. “There are two points in the adventure of a diver, First when a beggar he prepares to plunge, Then when a prince he rises with his pearl. Festus, I plunge!” An eminent poet remarked that Mr. Browning had lost the chief force of the thought by the first line, which he maintained was very prosaic; he suggested that it ought to be altered, as
“There are two moments in a diver's life,” &c.
This is a point for the author. We named this to Mr. Browning, who acknowledged his own line was feeble. Mr. Browning's Paracelsus excited little attention. Mr. Forster, of the Examiner, praised it, Mr. Fox, of the Monthly Repository, and Heraud's New Monthly Magazine—and there was an end of the matter. It, however, gave the poet a quiet pedestal for his future station, and he is now so proud of his young creation that he generally places it as his peculiar characteristic, and calls himself author of Paracelsus. To Paracelsus succeeded a tragedy, called Strafford, which, owing to Mr. Forster's influence with Mr. Macready, was performed. The great tragedian acted Strafford—but all his efforts were unavailing. It was the tragedy of spasms; the want of personal interest is too deeply felt to allow of any doubt, and the work of a strong mentality
“There lies a vale in Ida, lovelier far
In “ Locksley Hall,” we have the indignant rebuke which a young poet pours out to the world, qccasioned by the lady of his love marrying another—a dull every-day sort of husband. The hopeless desolation of the abandoned lover is finely expressed. The sufferer, invoking his betrayer, her loveliness and her falsehood, by the memory of their former happiness, says that such a memory
is a crown of sorrow—
“Drug thy memories lest thou learn it, lest thy heart be put to proof,
In no poem has Tennyson displayed more the peculiarity of his genius than in the lotos-eaters: the truth of the picture is heightened by the fascinations thrown round it; like a supernatural por
trait, you know it to be such by the light of its halo. There is a haunting music in the lines, which seem to droop beneath the weight of their drowsy perfume.