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And Pippa dances. (a mystical tale of the glass-works, in four acts) online

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she has no word of blame for him.
Peer.—

'Cry out all my sins and my trespasses!'
Solveig. —

'In nought hast thou sinned, oh my own only boy!'
Peer.—

'Cry aloud my crime!'
Solveig. —

'Thou hast made all my life as a beautiful song.
Blessed be thou that at last thou hast come!'
The Button-Moulder disappears, and the poem ends with Peer lying in
Solveig's arms, a saved man.

In the fifth act, then, is the birth of the true Peer Gynt. His conception
occurs in the conversation with the Strange Passenger during the shipwreck,
when there is presented for the first time to his mind the idea of dread, or
as Mr. Archer has it in the footnote to his translation of this passage (the
translation I should like to state I have used throughout) 'the conviction
of sin.' It is the moral sense of the soul's obligation to goodness. Peer
does not express this at once, however, and it is found first definitely in his
famous comparison of himself to an onion, which like himself is but an
infinite number of swathings, with never a kernel. Solveig's fidelity to
him makes him realize, but too late, that in her heart had been his kaiser-
dom, and the ex(|uisite thread-ball scene in which the thoughts he should
have thought, and the deeds he should have done rise to reproach him,



392 PEER G\'NT— AN INTERPRETATION

begins with liis own searching analysis of himself as a 'whited sepulchre'
with 'earnest shunned' and 'repentance dreaded.' At last he sees that his
life has been unworthy of perpetuation.

*So unspeakably poor, then, a soul can go

Back to nothingness, into the grey of the mist.

Thou beautiful earth, be not angry with me

That I trampled thy grasses to no avail.

Thou beautiful sun, thou hast squandered away

Thy glory of light in an empty hut.'
Mr. Brandes declares that the thread-ball, and this scene, are out of
harmony with the rest of Peer's character, and are consequently to be taken
as expressions of Ibsen's own regret. It is true that the old Peer Gynt could
not have spoken thus, but the new soul growing within him can, and does.
It has been claimed, too, that Peer's final salvation is too romantic an ending
to be in accord with Ibsen's usual teachings. The logical place for Peer
Gynt seems to be the casting-ladle, yet it must not be forgotten that even
Peer was not saved until there had come upon him the realization of his
own impotence and need.




THE PASSING OF THE GREEN*

By Jeannette Marks

ERE in the sylvan ragged woods and fields is some natural
magic of the wind and of the world, some power incarnate
in sound; in the clapping of the little leaves upon the
treetop, the harsh noise of blown leaves, the broken song
of naked apple boughs, the little voice in the valley and
the tiny piping over bare pastures, the windage of the
uplands with the great rushing wind and the little rustling
wind, the big far-travelling wind and the distant battling wind with its
hollow sound of moving waters and its speech of destiny. Here, too, is
some natural magic in this transformation from the clear green of spring
to the old gold of autumn, in those fields and sunny avenues and endless
alleys of marching apple trees, in this glade of yellow ferns and tall white
birches crowned with yellow autumn leaves, and in these maple trees,
bare now, their spaces filled with the grays and azures of the varying skies.
Even the little stone that has rolled out of its socket of earth arrests the eye
with a sense of something beyond the immediate presence of that which is
seen. An ethereal touch has come and pleasure no longer waits, as in
spring, on the beauty of detail: the appearance of a starry flower, or some
faint change in color, or the coming of a new bird song. Flowers there
still are amidst the fluflF of blown thistles and purple asters, and in the
morning the meadow lark still sings its song. But every little incident
no longer binds the eyes by its beauty and its youth to earth; here is some
power invisible, and separable from our lives. The trees denuded of leaves,
of the exquisite incident of blooming life, the meadows stripped of their
wavering linked grass, the fields razed of their burden of grain, — the
imagination becomes supreme.

And when in the blue mist of twilight, red apples gleam, the mind
looks forward into the 'vague land.' It is as if life had been filled with
the loveliness of concrete objects, — earth enamelled with the bright beauty
of green fields and blue skies and golden sun, and now, with the light
glimmering through the trees on the hill-horizon far away, and the somber
arabesque of moss underfoot, changing swiftly to the monotones of dusk.
Wide flumes of shadow reach up the darkening hills, little shadows lie
motionless, the wind steps softly amongst the corn and its sentinel shadows,
and in the chill luster of moonshine stars hang on the bare branches.

•Copyright by Jeannette Mark«, 1907.

393



394 THE PASSING OF THE GREEN

Life — with the subduing of the colors of autumn, the metamorphosis from
crimsons and glowing yellows to the little pale flames and dun colors of
the wide-spread meadows and woods, with the wind in the corn, and the
shaken cry of the owl at night — life grows suddenly tenuous, sufi^ering
a change into that which abides elsewhere. With the thought of the
repeated bloom and decay of nature, its unceasing revolutions of natural
existence, the mind dwells more and more on that which is shaped in the
spirit, and clouds and seas and mountains disappear, as with Michelangelo,
in that greater sea which is the soul of man, boundless and dim, crossed by
trade-winds 'from eternity.' One feels the vitality of nature apart from
its beauty. Even the very mist is haunted by a shadow of that which is
beyond.

The mind broods on something out of its perception, something that
dwells unseen in the far sound of the pines, in the wail of the wind, in the
surging of branches, in the twitching of little shadows in a twilit room —
something inscrutable and yet mirrored in the settling dusky light and felt
in the altering silences. Beyond the eye, invisible to the eye, a procession
passes, the mind alone beholding the land of its quiet light, its spectral forms
of unknown hills, and the rush of its eternal winds. And gray in the midst of
that procession there is one figure, vast, pervasive, followed by a multitude,
their thoughts obedient, their hearts sighing. And on the path behind is an
eddy as of whirling leaves and the sound of them is like the clatter of the
winter wind. Here with the force of great moments when one stands face
to face with the inexplicable, here is the unrelieved meaning to the end of
life. Sucked into that path of the wind, swept toward those unknown
hills the spirit seems suddenly captive and powerless. Then for the first
times come that pitiful severance between our hearts and the nature about
us; and we are touched with home sickness ever after, knowing that the
beat of the vine on the window pane has been no measure of a human pulse.
The division between our being and nature's is present with us; because
we came we must go.

This is a season of great natural drama; now one is aware of the direc-
tion of all the forces which have been growing, the working out of law.
But there lies something in that dreamy haze, that pensive level light which
finds no sensuous expression — an incommunicable idea, pellucid, misty,
like little treetops caught for an instant in crystal presence on a dusky hill.
Even the shadows have a kind of transparency pale and thin with a spiritual
effect of receding. And beyond the hills beneath the strips of level green
sky is the underlight of an unseen sea. There, in that somewhat of which
nothing is known, is one's certainty of hope — acknowledged ignorance
potent with faith.




THREE DAYS

By Helen Sharpsteen
I

S lilies 'neath the feet of May

Sprang, marking where she trod,
So springs each year a flower-sweet day
Beneath the smile of God.

And it is ours to bend each year
And pluck the warm sweet rose.

Renewing memories fragrant, dear,
The day's heart doth enclose.



II

Dear hands I loved when long ago
You took my heart and me,

Dear eyes through which alone I know
The joys of things to be; —

Take once again, in symbolwise,
This day — which doth renew

The fragrance of those memories, —
All that belongs to you.



Ill

Three days that mark the sum of life,

Marking the sum of love,
A trinity with meanings rife

For us to take thereof.

One day that opened life with love.
One day love's own caress.

And one the sum of all to prove.
To crown, confirm, and bless.

395



THE POETRY OF ROBERT LOUIS

STEVENSON

By Alexander Jessop

LOOKING at the features of Stevenson, one is tempted to
exclaim, in the language of the painter enraptured before
the respondent model, 'Character, character, is what he
has!' As it is true of the man himself, so may it be said
of his writings, 'Character, character is what they have!'
Plainly, Stevenson is a writer with a style — a writer for
the sake of a style, some have been heard to expostulate.
In truth, Stevenson is a writer with several styles, each one of which is best
adapted to set forth the message of its own particular subject. Yet, though
the glow and glitter of language are music to him, they make but tunes after
all; still more to him, one imagines, are the meanings that sing to them,
the life he depicts. 'I never cared a cent for anything but art, and never
shall,' says Stevenson's Loudon Dodd, in 'The Wrecker.' An impression
that one gets from reading Stevenson is that he cares as much for art and
as much for life, each, as Loudon Dodd cared, he says, for art alone. Stev-
enson's two animating passions are youth and courage, if indeed they are
two, and not rather (as Stevenson makes us think) one and indissoluble. t\^^|
All Stevenson's writings have certain characteristics in common. The
poetr}' of Stevenson displays the same animation of youth and courage,
the same felicity of word and phrase that his prose does. But it has in
addition other qualities that his prose writings do not share. Some of these
qualities are, doubtless, those which make the distinction between prose
and poetry, beyond the mere form of utterance. Similarly, his poetry may
be said to lack some of the enticing aspects of his prose writings. For
example, 'The Vagabond,' beginning:

Give to me the life I love,

Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
And the byway nigh me,
has almost exactly the qualities that are to be felt in his essays. Walking
Tours,' ' .^s Triplex,' and others. That poem might just as well have been
written in prose. Not that its qualities are not excellent, but that they are
different from those of pure poetry. But the best of Stevenson's poems
embody the poetry that cannot be or cannot be so well expressed in prose,



ALEXANDER JESSOP 397

as well as his other qualities; the poem, 'The Unforgotten,' for example,
beginning:

She rested by the Broken Brook,

She drank of Weary Well,
She moved beyond my lingering look,
Ah, whither none can tell!
That poem has qualities that could be expressed not only not so well in
prose, but perhaps not at all. The first stanza (the one quoted), at least,
has a lyric spontaneity united with a grave simplicity that is fully equal
to Wordsworth's:

She dwelt among the untrodden ways,

Beside the springs of Dove,
A maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love.
One advantage, of course, that even such a poem as 'The Vagabond' has
over prose utterance on the same theme is, that poetry is more quintessential.
Poetry is a more concise vehicle of expression than prose. That is one
reason why it is so much easier to discern Stevenson's particular char-
acteristics in his poems than in his other writings.

In common with those of Wordsworth and many other writers many of
Stevenson's poems are strongly impressionistic. The tendency to impres-
sionism is now increasingly apparent both in poetry and prose; and, on
the whole, literature gains by it. It is in the direction of emancipation —
a protest against academicism and conventionality. Conventionality never
yet did anything for literature, and never will. On the other hand, it may
be said that impressionism, if too freely followed, is itself in danger of
becoming a convention. But it is most effective when applied sparingly,
as in this poem by Stevenson which bears no title:

Bright is the ring of words

When the right man rings them,
Fair the fall of songs

When the singer sings them.
Still they are caroled and said —

On wings they are carried —
After the singer is dead
And the maker buried.

Low as the singer lies

In the field of heather,
Songs of his fashion bring

The swains together.



39S THE POETRY OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

And when the west is red
With the sunset enihers,
The lover Hngers and sings
And the maid rememhers.
The first two lines of the second stanza are, to my tiiinking, the most effective
ones in that poem, and all the more so from their position among lines not
so strongly stamped with the impressionistic hall-mark. Through every
true lover of poetry, reading that poem for the first time, a wave of compre-
hension and emotion surely passes as he comes to those lines. The effect
and purpose of such impressionism is, of course, to make one feel what is
described or hinted at. Thus it may be seen that it is bound up with the
ver}' essence of utter poetry, which does not appeal primarily to the intellect
(as academic traditions would have us think) but to something more subtle —
the emotions of the heart and of the soul. The reason why this impression-
istic writing, especially in poetry, is most effective when sparingly applied
doubtless is because, giving as it does of the very essence of poetry, the
note cannot be sustained for any length of time, even by the greatest poetic
geniuses. Sometimes it is so sustained, and then a perfect poem is the result.
But most poems have to depend for their effect on a charm that is to be felt
as the total result, rather than as sustained at every point.

Various academic writers have, at intervals during several thousand
years, endeavored to formulate definitions and theories of what constitutes
poetr}'. These specifications have been very useful, no doubt: but without
a doubt, too, they have been felt as a fetter to originality rather than as an
aid and inspiration. It is just what has been written outside of such rules,
without precedent, that has proved of greatest value in poetry. Yet differ-
ence is not always excellence; even originality may be trivial or grotesque.
The difference, in order to be worth while, must be excellent difference.
When a high degree of both difference and excellence is to be found in
the same piece of writing we may be sure that something has been written
that mankind will not willingly forget or value slightly.

Stevenson's poetry is excellent, and it is largely different from the poetry
of any other poet. Like all good poetry, it has something in common with
the work of other poets, great or fine — it contains the universal prime
essence. But Stevenson's point of view is highly original. That it is which
constitutes his claim to remembrance in this highest department of literary
art. All single definitions must partly fail when the attempt is made to
foist one of them upon so wide and intangible a thing as poetry. Yet, if
I were to give a definition of poetry's quintessence in a single sentence,
from a single point of view, I should say, 'The spirit of poetry is loneliness,



ALEXANDER JESSOP 399

a world-aloofness.' In the midst of commonness we feel the uncommon —
the stars are above the plain, and in the midst of sordidness we feel the ideal
beckoning on. The purpose of poetry, then, is to represent the ideal as it
is to be found in the ordinary — that is, in life. If we consider the highest
flights of poetry in this age, or in any age, we will find that they all more or
less uphold that definition. Other definitions, too, might be truthfully
applied; but, as I have already tried to indicate implicitly, suggestiveness
is the finest quality not only of poetry but of prose definitions about it.

For melody, for successful impressionism, for utter pathos, Stevenson's
'Wandering WiUie' is unsurpassed, not only among his own poems but in
all poetry:

Home no more home to me, whither must I wander ?

Hunger my driver, I go where I must.
Cold blows the winter wind over hill and heather;

Thick drives the rain, and my roof is in dust.
Loved of wise men was the shade of my roof-tree.

The true word of welcome was spoken in the door —
Dear days of old, with the faces in the firelight.
Kind folks of old, you come again no more.

Home was home, then, my dear, full of kindly faces.

Home was home, then, my dear, happy for the child.
Fire and the window bright glittered on the moorland; '

Song, tuneful song, built a palace in the wild.
Now, when day dawns on the brow of the moorland.

Lone stands the house, and the chimney-stone is cold.
Lone let it stand, now the friends are all departed.

The kind hearts, the true hearts, that loved the place of old.

Spring shall come, come again, calling up the moor-fowl,

Spring shall bring the sun and rain, bring the bees and flowers;
Red shall the heather bloom over hill and valley,

Soft flow the stream through the even-flowing hours;
Fair the day shine as it shown on my childhood —

Fair shine the day on the house with open door;
Birds come and cry there and twitter in the chimney —

But I go forever and come again no more.

I do not incaii the word 'pathos' in its original Greek sense, of course, but
in its modern English application. Does this poem somewhat pale beside



400 THE POETRY OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

such supreme achievements treating of a similar suhject as Tennyson's
'A Farewell,' 'In the Vallev of Cauteretz,' 'Break, Break, Break,' 'Tears,
Idle Tears,' etc. ? The difference hetween those poems and Stevenson's
is a difference in kitiJ rather than in quality. The greatest poetry appeals
to the universal soul of man; somewhat below these highest peaks of song
comes that poetr>- that appeals primarily to the heart; the lower heights
are occupied by the dreary academicism whose appeal is mostly to the
intellect. What might be very effective in prose may be wholly out of place

as poetry.

The truth may as well be confessed. Wonderfully impressionistic as
is Stevenson's poetn' at its best, its appeal is rather to the emotions of the
heart than of the soul. His poetry, even at its best, is somewhat lacking
in austerity. This quality at times comes perilously near to academicism
and pretentiousness. But, at its truest and best, it is of the essence of the
greatest song. Stevenson, to be sure, writes a good deal about austerity.
But that does not make his art austere. But what the poems of Stevenson
lack in austerity they make up in their warmth of human appeal; they are
the intimate poetry of personal relations. That is what constitutes their

uniqueness.

If 'Wandering Willie' has a rival among Stevenson's poems, it is the
one entitled 'In Memoriam. F. A. S.':

Yet, oh, stricken heart, remember, oh, remember,

How of human days he lived the better part.
April came to bloom and never dim December

Breathed its killing chills upon the head or heart.
Doomed to know not Winter, only Spring, a being

Trod the flow^ery April blithely for a while.
Took his fill of music, joy of thought and seeing,

Came and stayed and went, nor ever ceased to smile.

Came and stayed and went, and now when all is finished,

You alone have crossed the melancholy stream,
Yours the pang, but his — oh, his the undiminished,

Undecaying gladness, undeparted dream.
All that life contains of torture, toil, and treason,

Shame, dishonor, death, to him were but a name.
Here, a boy, he dw-elt through all the singing season

And ere the day of sorrow departed as he came.

I have not attempted to speak of 'A Child's Garden of Verses.' The
best of their kind, those 'poems' are not to be judged as poetry proper so



SARA TEASDALE 401

much as delightful reminiscences of childhood, which happen to be written
m verse. The remarks in the present essay do not, therefore, apply to them.
Stevenson's poetry is not very reminiscent of the work of other poets.
But It is remmiscent of all the more tender and animated aspects of life —
the mtimate, vital emotions of the heart. And, as its best, the charm and
pathos of It are irresistible. As long as idealism and romance are unfailing
m their appeal it will not, it cannot, be forgotten.




SILENCE

By Sara Teasdale
To Ehonora Duse

E are anhungered after solitude,

Deep stillness pure of any speech or sound,
Soft quiet hovering over pools profound;
The silences that on the desert brood;
Above the windless hush of empty seas.
The broad unfurling banners of the dawn;

A faery forest where there sleeps a Faun;

Our souls are fain of sohtudes like these.

O woman who divined our weariness.

And set the crown of silence on your art,

From what undreamed of depths within your heart

Have you sent forth the hush that makes us free

To hear an instant, high above earth's stress,

The silent music of infinity .?




HYMN TO THE WINGED NIKE

By Florence Kiper

I

N earth-hound priestess, hampered and secure,
I scarcely dare approach thee, sovereign form,
I scarcely dare essay the rapturous joy
Of movement and of hre that is thy heart.

Yet know
There burns in me the glow.
The restless glow that feedeth thy desire, -
Pulsating, winged heart of joy and fire.

I too aspire
As thou, O goddess; I too feel the urge
Of passions and of utterances high
That break through to the Infinite and cry
Against the clouds their pulsing movements vast,
My soul has wings like thine.
And those full limbs that flaunt
The fluttering drapery
And that deep bosom free

Are mine, are mine!

II

What quickeneth the urge

Within thee ? — dost thou feel the sweep and surge

Of the vast flowing of illimitable life.

Life beyond life, and striving beyond strife ?

Ah, from what amplitude of powers emerge

That stern and glorious strength that thrills through thee,

Thou vivid, burning song of victory!

Large freedom's high imagination thou,

Sweeping the cleaved air with haughty stroke,

As if thy great life broke

Free from our prisoning cells that bruise and bow.

The poet thou, —
The poet's soul all vivid things above, —

4.02



FLORENCE KIPER 403

More vivid and more vital in its love
Than love of woman who has waked to love.
Triumph of burning justice and its might!
Triumph of soul and its august decrees:

Triumph of right!
Ah, what vast things to be are in thy sight!

Ill

Art thou indeed the Godhead, molded strong
In the calm marble which must needs be white
Because it focuses all shades of light
The crimson passion and the yearning hue

Of the pale spiritual blue!

Dost all to thee belong ? —
Emotion and emotion, strong or weak ? —

All powers and shades of song ?

Ah, could'st thou speak:
Speak to me, bend above me, touch my lips,
Anoint me with thy presence, consecrate

My soul unto thy state,
And I shall burst into such power of words
As men have waited for with eager hearts
Since last the gods walked big among us.

It may not be!
I may not see thee naked-free and pure, —
An earth-bound priestess, hampered and secure.

'Tis but for me to see
The splendor keen that darts
From out thy garment folds;
Some touch upon my hand I know, same far

Faint rustle of thy gown,

And yet my quick heart holds
Its yearning, aching, passionate dream of thee.



RECENT WORKS BY GERMAN

WRITERS

By Amelia von Enoe

NEW works by authors who have long passed the zenith of
their powers make one reaHze the rapid pace at which we
are moving along in the procession. It seems but yester-
dav that students of German were ravished by the poetic
sentiment and verbal beauty of 'Die braune Erika.' Yet
what a distance Wilhelm Jensen has covered since the
publication of that exquisite little story, and from what
a distance the readers look back to him, who was then thirty-one, now that
he has reached his threescore and ten and has one hundred and fifty volumes
to his credit. It must be admitted, also, that although the radiance of his
name may at intervals have been totally eclipsed by the newer and noisier
fame of novices, the sound of it still falls upon the ear with something of
a tender caress, for it recalls visions of beauty which at that time only his


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