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Iphigenie. Carriere further names, under this head, The Merchant of Venice, Cymbeline, and Measure for Meas
In these a threatened danger is averted, partly through Providence, partly through the energy of the characters themselves. In these plays, too, we have some of Shakspere's noblest women put in the forefront of the action :- Portia, Imogen and Isabella. — With Goethe's Faust, finally, we reach the subjective drama. It is the development of a human soul : not tragedy, not comedy, — but the subjective drama, teaching the lesson of incessant individual struggle to higher stages of life and action, — "evermore to strive towards the highest existence." 1 This poem comes as near as a poem well can to perfect reconciliation of tragedy and comedy: it is a drama of the human soul wrestling with all the problems of life.
$ 11. OTHER FORMS OF THE DRAMA. Not strictly dramatic, but tending in that direction are such forms of poetry as the Idyll. The Idyll is mainly literary — for reading, not for acting. It is originally a dialogue of shepherd and shepherdess, or of similar characters, and has a strong epic flavor (cf. I. § 5]. A charming example of the dramatic Idyll in its highest form is the famous Fifteenth Idyll of Theocritus. Then there are Eclogues - much like the last, except that Eclogues are confined to shepherds and their friends, while the Idyll just noted had for characters a couple of city dames, and contained a song and abundant action. The Eclogue is quiet and rural. In English we have Spenser's Shepherd's Calender.
1 “Zum höchsten Daseyn immerfort zu streben.” Faust, II. Act I.
Finally, there arose a regular Pastoral Drama, whose origin“was purely literary.” Famous as models of this sort were Tasso's Aminta and Guarini's Pastor Fido. Love and Allegory were the main ingredients. In England there were two branches:— the Mask (already noticed) and the regular Pastoral Drama, of which the best examples are Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess and Ben Jonson's Sad Shepherd (fragmentary). The splendid Mask of Comus soars above its fellows by reason not only of its exquisite versification and diction, but also of its lofty moral tone. Properly speaking, this sort of poetry should be only a dance-song with masks. But the masks give a character to each dancer-he must sing, or speak, in conformity with this character -- and so comes the dramatic element.
Nowadays this Pastoral Drama is unknown. But combined with music it is still common enough. We mean, of course, The Opera. The opera, says Schlegel, is “the anarchy of the arts; since music, dancing and decoration, struggling to outrank one another, make up [its] real character.” Recently, Wagner has tried to reconcile the best poetry — both in subject and treatment with the best music. But in general the opera has no literary merit.
We need not consider at length the minor forms of dramatic poetry. Such are the Tagelied (Provencal, Alba) or Daybreak-Songs of parting lovers, very popular among the troubadours and certain German Minnesänger :--for example, the bold figures and masterly diction of Wolfram. A specimen in English is the parting scene of Romeo and Juliet, III. 5. Similar is the Serenade, where lover and mistress sing alternate
stanzas : there is a pretty specimen by Sir P. Sidney. With more epic treatment, the same dramatic form is shown in R. Browning's In a Gondola.
Lastly, we have what may be termed Mock-Tragedy. All dramatic forms are used, but in broad burlesque. Carey and Fielding mocked the stilted tragic style of Lee and others in two amusing plays ; — the title of Fielding's is “ The Tragedy of Tragedies, or the Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great. With the Annotations of H. Scribblerus Secundus." It is to be borne in mind that the fact of two persons talking to each other does not constitute a drama, is not even necessarily dramatic in any degree. Hence a dialogue, or exchange of opinions in verse, belongs to the didactic class, and is, as a rule, not even poetry (cf. Chap. I. § 4).
§ 12. OUTWARD FORM OF THE DRAMA. We saw that Tragedy tends to verse, and Comedy (though not always) to prose. Further, the drama may avail itself of the Chorus, the Monologue, or the Dialogue. The first, as we saw, is much used in the classic, especially the Greek drama. In modern drama it is not common (cf. § 8); though here and there met with,in Gorboduc, where it is imitated from the tragedies of Seneca; or in Henry V., where it is a chorus only in name, and simply helps to explain the action. The Monologue is more common. Hamlet is remarkable in this respect. But the great favorite is the Dialogue, which, in its rapid movement and shifting character, lends itself better to the purposes of imitated action than any other form of speech.
POETRY, then, may treat its subject-matter as an Epic, -- by narration : or as Lyric, — by addressing it, expressing certain feelings about it : or as Drama, — by letting it speak for itself.
We now ask whether there is anything noteworthy in the words and phrases by which poetry treats its subject; that is, we consider Poetical Style. In the third and last division of this book we shall treat the harmony of sounds, the laws of verse. So that of the three elements of poetry, we have considered the Thought, have yet to consider the Sounds, and now busy ourselves with Words — whether separately or in combination. Prof Sylvester calls these elements Pneumatic, Rhythmic, and Linguistic.
The study of poetical style must be to some extent a study of words and their origin. Comparative Philology has shown us that all our words go back to descriptions of natural things, to pictures. With the currency
of words, their pictorial suggestion wears away. They become mere counters for the game of conversation ; thus caprice is now for most of us (though cf. As You Like It, III. 3. 6) a symbol of an abstract thought,
not the picture of a lively animal. So, too, with that old word “daughter": it is now a class-name, whereas once, we are told, it meant “milkmaid.” Even words brought into our speech in later times suffer a like process, and lose their color and force. We are not prepared to talk with Herrick about the “candor" of Julia's teeth ; or as Bacon does, about the ejaculations of the eye, or even with Milton, about “elephants endorsed with towers."
Poetry instinctively shrinks from colorless and abstract talk. Prose concerns itself with the sense alone; but poetry always seeks a concrete image. Therefore it tries to restore a fresh and suggestive force, a pictorial force, to our speech. It leaves the beaten track of language, turns away from it. Hence the word trope, from the Greek trepo, -to turn.
Now we may turn away from the ordinary meanings of words, that is, we may use a different kind of word, to make up our poetical style; or we may adopt a different arrangement of words. In ordinary speech we say directly : “A troop came swinging their broadswords." In poetical, vivid style, we say: "Came a troop with broadswords swinging." There is a turning from the ordinary arrangement, and a consequent vigor of style. Inversions like this are also used in vivid conversation ; but no one would ever say in common speech, as Milton says in poetry
· Erroneous there to wander and forlorn."
Poetical style is therefore distinguished from ordinary speech by the use (1) of a different kind, and (2) of a different arrangement of words. The two terms which