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Yea, one of his own faith,of Lombard birth, Un di sua fè, nel suol Lombardo nato,
Onde s' è tolto per la santa guerra, Is this same youthful knight, whose hopeful E' il giovin cavalier da lui salvato worth
In si lontana abbandonata terra. He snatched from death in saddest plight Dacchè ramingo senza nome e stato so far
Profugo e tristo pel Levante egli erra, From his lov'd home. He too all lost to Dolce all'orecchio mai, mai non gli
mirth, An exiled wanderer 'neath the eastern star, Il caro accento del natìo paese. Felt it most sweet to hear the native sound Of his own language dear, on foreign ground. And now, after the lapse of long sad years E or dopo il volger di tanti anni amari Passed mid the trembling hopes, deluded Fra il trepido desir sempre deluso, still,
D'una dolcezza cui null'altra è pari Of promised joy, to which none like appears, Il purissimo fonte gli fia schiuso, That joy iows glad as a fresh sparkling rill. E'l suono inebbriante udrà dei cari Long treasured names-fond memory that Nomi ch' ei porta in cor per si lungo uso, endears
E finalmente pur fia che ritorni Youth's early scenes--all throng his fancy, Alle memorie de' suoi primi giorni.? till
Cant. i. st. 42. He seems once more to pace that hallowed
ground As when a boy--and hears each well-known
There are few poets who might not be proud of having composed the three following stanzas, which contain a description of the onset of the celebrated battle of Antioch. It relates to the moment when the outposts of the Saracen army being put to flight, the Christians rush out of the walls of the city to commence a general assault, while the Infidels as busily hasten to defend themselves from the unexpected attack. "With tumult fierce and wild barbaric sound, • Di feroci barbarici ululati Hoarse echo the surrounding vallies far, Echeggiando le valli orrendamente, As thronging rush from all sides to the A caterve accorrean da tutti i lati ground
Gl’infedeli a sembianza di torrente: The pagan hosts to mingle in the war:
Nitrir cavalli a gran furor cacciati, Like mountain streams that burst their Timpani e trombe strepitar si sente, neighbouring bounds,
E’l suon dell' armi a quel fragor si In fury driven, loud neigh the steeds, and
Che ad ogni istanta più s'avanza e The onset, urg'd by shrilly fife and drum,
cresce. And clashing arms that near and nearer
come. Like the fierce lioness with cubs in lair, "Come leona che de' figli al pido That hears from far the terrors of the chase, Stormendo approssimarse oda la cacia, The mingled bay of dogs - the hoarse shouts E de' veltri il latrar diffuso e 'l grido where
De' cacciator correnti alla sua traccia, The hunters follow on her secret trace,
Leva il muso odorando il vento infido, She suifis the wind, growls low, and pricks Soffia, e di cupo fremito minacia, the ear;
Erte le orecchie, digrignando i denti, Trembling with rage, she shifts and shifts Ritto il pel, l' ugne stese, e gli occhi her place,
ardenti; Summons her fury-gnashes with her jaws, With hair erect, bright eyes, and out
stretched claws. So the fierce Saracens updaunted stand, Tal la crociata in generosa e fiera All eager for the onset of the foe
Sembianza a repulsar l'oste s' appresta,
Strung every bow, each vizor lower'd, each Teso ogni arco, calata ogni visiera, hand
Levati i brandi e con le lancie in resta : With brand or lance in rest, prepared to Terribile dal fitto d'ogni schiera, show
Quasi tuon che precorra la tempesta, The terrible front, the charge of every band, Esce un rombar consuso, escon feroci Still as the air, ere tempests 'gin to blow, Nitriti e suoni e fragor d'armi e voci.' When hark, how wildly comes the fearful
Cant. x, st. 15. crash, The din of arms,all shouting onward dash.
It is to be regretted that Signor Grossi did not favour us with more similes, like the one above quoted. The single blemish which we have remarked, consists in the .de veltri il latrar,' because it is known that greyhounds never bark at all during the chase ; neither are they formidable enemies to the lioness. These, however, are trifles. In some instances, perhaps, his lines are hardly sufficiently studied. We are not pleased to meet with such passages as the following:
'Annunzian la vittoria le campane,'
"Sentono la sua fervida presenza,' with others of a similar description. Moreover, we could have wished to have seen fewer familiar and low expressions put into the mouths of the principal personages. Raymond calls Pagano a coward ; and the latter had previously bestowed the epithet of
infamous wretch' upon the other. Peter the Hermit arrives, and apostrophises them as
A vile race depraved, From hell's most deep abyss in vengeance sprung? Cherboja calls the ambassador Peter “a dog ;' which the latter retorts upon him with you obscure, creeping worm. The same Peter applies to the first crusaders the terms of impious, voracious robbers—a generation of vipers, traitors, and counter-parts of Judas, with similar elegant phraseology. Tancred calls his common soldiers, among the crusaders, pests of the camp, coward populace, impious race of vipers, greedy and villain souls, a reprobate race, &c. &c.
The Romantici of Italy have so often asserted and repeated that it is only by following their school, that a poet must pretend to invention; and they have accused so loudly their opponents of servile imitation, that we should have expected at least originality from a Romantico. What, then, was our surprise on reading Signor Grossi's poem, the most important of any which we have yet received from an. Italian of the romantic school! If poetry ought to be characterised as invention, we are sorry to declare, that the fifteen Cantos in verse, by Signor Grossi, are not poetry, inasmuch as they lay claim to no ilegree of invention. From the first to last, both the principal facts and most minute circumstances, even il
flagellarsi flagellarsi a due mani,' by Pagano, all are copied from the histories of the crusades or legends of the middle ages; or from the productions of the poets already known, for the most part Italian, and even from that great Tasso, with whom Signor Grossi has ventured to compete. Yet, while in his character of a Romantico, he is by word obliged to decry the merits, in fact he renders to him the greatest homage by his frequent imitation, not only of the ideas, but of the versification and style, even to the very phraseology. We should, however, have supposed that the example of Lucan would have sufficed to deter any other writer from pursuing a similar track. All the incidents, however, are narrated with minute historical accuracy, in the style of a chronicler, embracing the least circumstance, if we only except the battle of Ascalon. This omission is not owing to the Lombards having borne no part in it, but because one of them, namely Pagano, took no part in it, being then about to expire of the wounds which he had received at the capture of Jerusalem. And, indeed, he richly deserved to have taken leave of the world some twenty years before, by the hand of the common hangman.
Should these observations fall under the eye of Signor Grossi, we would earnestly suggest to him, to be cautious how he suffers himself to be carried away by the metaphysical precepts of a school foreign to the genius of Italy. Italian poetry has its peculiar character already formed, of which it is impossible to deprive it without destroying its entire principles, its very language, and its literature, by means of another middle age. This genius is founded upon the works of about six of the greatest poets in the world, whether we choose to refer them to the classical or to the romantic school. These formed themselves upon the schools of the Greeks and the Romans, and followed paths very opposite to those pursued by the modern Italian romantici. They left works of a stamp wholly distinct from what is now imprest upon the poetical works of Italy, by our authors of the romantic school. We would advise Signor Grossi not to be elevated by the praises of a few fanatical innovators, and not to imagine that to succeed in pleasing his contemporaries, is enough to constitute the reputation of a great poet. None were ever more extolled, or more popular than Marini : who is there at this time bold enough to commend his works? We could wish Signor Grossi, then, to reflect, that between the servile imitation of the ancients, and the extravagance that scorns every rule, there exists, a just medium, which we could desire to see him pursue, no less out of regard to his own reputation than for the honour of Italy.
Art. XI.—E. J. Stagnelii Samlade Skrifter. The collected
Works of E. J. Stagnelius. Edited by L. Hammarsköld.
Stockholm. 1824-25-26. STAGNELIUS was one of those truly poetic beings to whom
Goëthe's beautiful comparison, likening the life of a poet to the gentle, ever-working existence of the silkworm, may be justly applied. He was so thoroughly a poet, that all his thoughts, words, deeds, and even his errors and excesses, bore the stamp of poetic impulse. He is remarkable for a strain of deep melancholy, a profound mystical intuition of life and nature, and a longing for the moment when the imprisoned anima might burst its earthly tenement, and soar to the pleroma, as he terms itthe purer regions of celestial air. These sentiments, cherished by the philosophy of Schelling, and the gnostic doctrines of the Nazareens, contained in the Adam's Book,* distinguish the poems of Stagnelius from all that we have seen of Swedish poetry. Among foreign poets, we can only compare him with the German Novalis. Both thought they saw in this visible world merely the symbolic expression of a more ecstatic order of things, and both were early summoned to those blissful regions after which they so fervently aspired—whose bright effulgence seems to have enchanted their mental gaze while yet inhabitants of earth.
Of the three volumes before us, the first contains the epic poems of Stagnelius, which are, Wladimir the Great, Blenda and Gunlög, with two epic fragments; the second, his dramatic pieces, among which are five tragedies; and the third, his didactic poems, the Lilies of Sharon (a collection of religious lyrics), elegies, idyls, sonnets, romances, and translations. This valuable treasure was the fruit of a poetic career of about eleven years, from 1812 to 1823.
His epic poems are, we think, his least successful efforts. Among them, Wladimir occupies the first place for vivid description, and also for the purity of the hexameter. The subject of the poem is, the Campaign of Wladimir, the famous Russian prince, against the Byzantine towu of Theodosia, ‘and his conversion to Christianity by the beautiful sister of the Greek Emperor Basilius. • Blenda' is founded on a Swedish story of the Valiant Women of Smaland, who, by a kind of Sicilia Vesper, destroyed the Danes who had invaded their country during the absence of the Smalandian Warriors.
* Edited by the late Dr. Norberg, the famous Swedish orientalist, and published at Lund. VOL, I. NO. I.
The subject of Gunlög is taken from the northern mythology, but this poem is left unfinished, and is chiefly remarkable for the enthusiastic love of his art which the poet displays throughout.
As a dramatic writer, we cannot give Stagnelius that high rank to which we think him entitled as a lyrical poet. In his dramatic efforts, indeed, he resembles an enthusiastic sculptor, who, with a strong intuitive conception of his art, knows neither the kind of marble he should use, nor what implements are most proper to give life to his conception. Yet, with all their deficiencies in execution, these dramas bear the marks of unquestionable genius; and, in order to estimate them fairly, we should consider the peculiar opinions of the author concerning the Old Classic and New Romantic Tragedy. In the introduction to The Bacchants,' these opinions are expressed in the following words, which may serve as a specimen of his mystical style of criticism :
• There are only two kinds of poetry, the Classic and the Romantic. They are distinguished solely by their direction. The former descends from a supernatural world, to reflect its beauty in the tide of time and things. It metamorphoses the internal into the exterior, the ideal into the real ; while the latter works in a directly opposite ratio. Classic poetry is a Venus, descending to the vales of Spring—the romantic, on the contrary, is an Astræa, returning from bloodstained plains into her native skies. Both have equal claims on our admiration, both are beautiful in their different kinds, and both belong to one common country. To prefer the one to the other would be vain, for they are the poles of conception and fancy.
Classic tragedy aims for effect, not at individuals, but nations. The Romantic, on the contrary, addresses itself solely to individuals. The relation in which these dramatic forms stand towards each other, is sufficiently demonstrated by the subjective nature of the one, and the objectiveness of the other. The one descends fondly from the skies—the other fondly returns thither. It is said in the Eastern tale, genius may more easily put on material clothing than lay it aside. Hence, the astonishing difference between the simplicity of the classic, and the party-coloured appearance of the romantic poetry.'
In The Bacchants,' Orpheus, after having enchanted Orcus, seeks, by the power of his heavenly art, to free mankind from the rude religious Orgies, with which the bearers of the Thyrsus worshipped Dionysius, and to give them a purer intuition of the Deity through a profound perception of all Nature. He falls a victim to the vengeance of the God whom he had slighted