Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

off in the way of smooth and polished rhyme. But they are an ambitious race these transatlantic kinsmen of ours, commonly called Americans; they like to have the best that can be obtained in

every

department, and they do not dislike to vaunt of their possessions; and now that their great literary want is supplied in the person of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, they may glorify themselves to their heart's content, certain that every lover of poetry, whether born under the red-cross banner of Queen Victoria, or the stripes and stars of the States, will join the general All Hail !

I do not know a more enviable reputation than Professor Longfellow has won for himself in this country--won too with a rapidity seldom experienced by our own native poets. The terseness of diction and force of thought delight the old ; the grace and melody enchant the young; the unaffected and all pervading piety satisfy the serious ; and a certain slight touch of mysticism carries the imaginative reader fairly off his feet. For my own part, I confess, not only to the being captivated by all these qualities (mysticism excepted), but to the farther fact of yielding to the charm of certain lines, I cannot very well tell why, and walking about the house repeating to myself such figments as this :

“I give the first watch of the night

To the red planet Mars,”

VOL. I.

;

as if I were still eighteen. I am not sure that this is not as great a proof of the power of the poet as can be given.

In speaking of Professor Longfellow's popularity in England, I refer chiefly to the smaller pieces, which form, however, the larger portion of his collected works. The “Spanish Student," although beautifully written, is too little dramatic, and above all, too Spanish for our national taste ; and “Evangeline," with its experiments in English versification, and its strange union of a semi-ideal passion with the most real and positive of all Dutch painting, must be regarded as still upon its trial.

The shorter poems are enough. I would fain have enriched my pages with the “Excelsior” and the" Psalm of Life," but they have been long enough printed to have found their way to many hearths and hearts. I prefer, therefore, quoting from the later volumes, which have only recently become known in England, although I could not resist the temptation of inserting the noble tribute to the painter and the bard, which makes the glory of the stirring lyric on Nuremberg.

NUREMBERG.

In the valley of the Pegnitz, where across broad meadow-lands Rise the blue Franconian mountains, Nuremberg the ancient

stands.

Quaint old town of toil and traffic, quaint old town of art and

song, Memories haunt thy pointed gables, like the rooks that round

them throng;

Memories of the Middle Ages, when the emperors, rough and

bold, Had their dwelling in thy castle, time-defying, centuries old;

And thy brave and thrifty burgers boasted, in their uncouth

rhyme, That their great imperial city stretched its hand through every

clime.

In the court-yard of the castle, bound with many an iron band, Stands the mighty linden, planted by Queen Cunigunda’s

hand :

On the square the oriel window, where in old heroic days
Sat the poet Melchior singing Kaiser Maximilian's praise.

Everywhere I see around me rise the wondrous world of artFountains wrought with richest sculpture standing in the

common mart;

And above cathedral doorways, saints and bishops carved in

stone, By a former age commissioned as apostles to our own.

In the church of sainted Sebald sleeps enshrined his holy dust, And in bronze the Twelve Apostles guard from age to age their trust :

In the church of Sainted Lawrence stands a pix of sculpture

rare, Like the foamy sheaf of fountains, rising through the painted

air.

Here, when art was still religion, with a simple reverent

heart, Lived and laboured Albrecht Dürer, the Evangelist of Art.

Hence in silence and in sorrow, toiling still with busy

hand, Like an emigrant he wandered, seeking for the Better

Land.

Emigravit is the inscription on the tombstone where he

lies;

Dead he is not--but departed—for the artist never dies.

Fairer seems the ancient city, and the sunshine seems more

fair That he once has trod its pavement, that he once has breathed

its air !

Through these streets so broad and stately, these obscure and

dismal lanes Walked of yore the Master-Singers, chanting rude poetic

strains.

From remote and sunless suburbs came they to the friendly

guild, Building nests in Fame's great temple, as in spouts the

swallows build.

As the weaver plied the shuttle, wove he too the mystic

rhyme, And the smith his iron measures hammered to the anvil's

chime;

Thanking God, whose boundless wisdom makes the flowers of

poesy bloom

In the forge's dust and cinders, in the tissues of the loom.

Here Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, laureate of the gentle

craft, Wisest of the Twelve Wise Masters in huge folios sung and

laughed.

But his house is now an ale-house, with a nicely sanded floor, And a garland in the window, and his face above the door;

Painted by some humble artist, as in Adam Puschman's song, As the old man, grey and dove-like, with his great beard white

and long

And at night the swart mechanic comes to drown his cark

and care,

Quaffing ale from pewter tankards, in the master's antique

chair.

Vanished is the ancient splendour, and before my dreamy

eye Wave these mingling shapes and figures, like a faded tapestry.

Not thy Councils, not thy Kaisers win for thee the world's

regard, But thy painter, Albrecht Dürer, and Hans Sachs thy cobbler

bard.

« AnteriorContinuar »