Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

poems—a sort of literary twins—without wishing again and again, and again, that we had actors and a stage. Besides '' The Blot on the Scutcheon" which has been successfully produced at two metropolitan theaters, " Colombe's Birthday" and " Lucia" show not only what he has done, but what with the hope of a great triumph before him he might yet do as a dramatist. I could show what I mean by transcribing the last act of " Colombe's Birthday." I could make my meaning clearer still by transcribing the whole play. But as these huge borrowings are out of the question, I must limit myself to a couple of dramatic lyrics, each of which tells its own story:

MY LAST DUCHESS.—FERRARA.

That's my last Duchess painted on the wall
Looking as if she were alive; I call
That piece a wonder now: Fra Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Willi please you sit and look at her 1 I said
"Fra Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you but I),
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst
How such a glance came there; so not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek; perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say " Her mantle laps
Over my lady's wrist too much," or "Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat;" such stuff
Was courtesy she thought; and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say 1—too soon made glad,
Too easily imprest; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! my favor at her breast
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
,Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush at least. She thanked men—good; but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked

My gift of a nine-hundred years old name

With any body's gift. Who'd stoop to blame

This sort of trifling 1 Even had you skill

In speech—(which I have not)—to make your will

Quite clear to such an one, and say: "Just this

Or that in you disgusts me;—here you miss

Or there exceed the mark;" and if she let

Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set

Her wits to yours forsooth and made excuse,

—E'en then would be some stooping, and I choose

Never to stoop. Oh, Sir, she smiled no doubt

Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without

Much the same smile 1 This grew; I gave commands,

Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands

As if alive. Will't please you rise 1 We'll meet

The company below, then. I repeat

The Count your master's known munificence

Is ample warrant that no just pretense

Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;

Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed

At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go

Together down, Sir! Notice Neptune though

Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity

Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me.

Poor dead Duchess! and poor living one too! for that complaisant embassador who listened so silently would hardly give warning, even if the father were likely to take it; and we feel as they walk down the palace stairs that another victim comes. The pathos of the next lyric is of a different order.

HOW THEY BROUGHT THE GOOD NEWS FROM GHENT TO AIX. [16-.]

I sprang to the stirrup, and Ioris and he;

I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;

"Good speed!" cried the watch as the gate-bolts undrew,"Speed!" echoed the wall to us galloping through;Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest And into the midnight we galloped abreast.

Not a word to each other: we kept the great pace
Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place,
I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,
Then shortened each stirrup and set the pique right
Rebuckled the check-strap, chained slacker the bit
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit

'Twas moonset at starting, but while we drew near

Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear;

At Boom a great yellow star came out to see;

At Duffeld 'twas morning as plain as could be;

And from Mechelm church-steeple we heard the half chime,

So Ioris broke silence with "Yet there is time!"

At Aerschot, up leaped of a sudden the sun
And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare through the mist at us galloping past,
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last
With resolute shoulders, each butting away
The haze as some bluff river headland its spray.

And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track j
And one eye's black intelligence,—ever that glance
O'er its white edge at me, his own master, askance!
And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon
His fierce lips shook upward in galloping on.

By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Ioris, "Stay spur!Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not in her We'll remember at Aix"—for one heard the quick wheeze Of her chest, saw the stretched neck, and staggering knees, And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank, As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.

So we were left galloping, Ioris and I,

Past Loos and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;

The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,

'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff;

Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white,

And "Gallop," gasped Ioris, "for Aix is in sight!

"How they'll greet us!"—and all in a moment his roan
Rolled neck and crop over, lay dead as a stone;
And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight
Of the news, which alone could save Aix from her fate,
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim.

Then I cast loose my buff-coat, each holster let fall,

Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,

Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,

Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer;

Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise bad or good,

Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood.

And all I remember is friends flocking round,

As I sate with bis bead twixt my knees on the ground,

And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,

As I poured down his throat one last measure of wine,

Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)

Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent.

Although we have cause to hope that the good steed recovered, yet his trial of speed and strength is too painful to conclude with. I add a few lines from the "Englishman in Italy," a long poem so pulpy, so juicy, so full of bright color and of rich detail, that it is just like a picture by Rubens. Selection is difficult—but I choose the passage in question because its exceeding truth was first pointed out to me by Mr. Ruskin.

But to-day not a boat reached Salerno,

So back to a man
Came our friends with whose help in the vineyards

Grape-harvest began:
In the vat half-way up on our house-side

Like blood the juice spins.
While your brother all bare-legged is dancing

Till breathless he grins
Dead beaten in effort on effort

To keep the grapes under,
Since still when he seems all but master

In pours the fresh plunder
From girls who keep coming and going

With basket on shoulder—
* * * »

Meanwhile see the grape-bunch they've brought you,—

The rain-water slips
O'er the heavy blue bloom on each globe,

Which the wasp to your lips
Still follows with fretful persistence—

Nay taste while awake
This half of a curd-white smooth cheese-ball,

That peels flake by flake
Like an onion's each smoother and whiter;

Next sip this weak wine
From the thin green flask with its stopper

A leaf of the vine—
And end with the prickly pear's red flesh,

That leaves through its juice
The stony black seeds on your pearl teeth—

and so on.

XV.

PROSE PASTORALS. Sir Philip Sydney's AroadiaIsaac Walton's Complete

ANGLER.

During this warm summer, and above all during this dry burning harvest weather, which makes my poor little roadside cottage (the cottage which for that reason among others I am about to leave) so insupportable from glare, and heat, and dust in the fine season, I have the frequent, almost daily habit of sallying forth into the charming green lane, the grassy, turfy, shady lane of which I have before made mention, and of which I share the use and the enjoyment with the gipsys. Last summer I was able to walk thither, but in the winter I was visited by rheumatism, and can not walk so far without much heat and fatigue; so my old poney-phaeton conveys me and my little maid, and my pet-dog Fanchon, and my little maid's needle-work of flounces and fineries, and my books and writing-case, as far as the road leads, and sometimes a little farther; and we proceed to a certain green hillock under down-hanging elms, close shut in between a bend in the lane on our own side, and an amphitheater of oak and ash and beech trees opposite; where we have partly found and partly scooped out for ourselves a turfy seat and turfy table redolent of wild-thyme and a thousand fairy-flowers, delicious in its coolness, its fragrance, and its repose.

Behind the thick hedge on the one hand stretch fresh watermeadows, where the clear brook wanders in strange meanders between clumps of alder-bushes and willow-pollards; fringed by the blue forget-me-not, the yellow loosestrife, the purple willowherb, and the creamy tufts of the queen of the meadow; on the other hand we catch a glimpse over gates of large tracts of arable land, wheat, oat, clover, and bean fields, sloping upward

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »