Gerhart Hauptmann.

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

. (page 8 of 13)
Online LibraryGerhart HauptmannAnd Pippa dances. (a mystical tale of the glass-works, in four acts) → online text (page 8 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

people on account of having been accused of plagerism from Camoens.
There seems, however, to be no particular foundation for this, and late
students have exonerated him. What we do know with certainty — and
what may have given rise to the accusation — is, that, when Camoens'
first poems appeared, Bernardes was the only one of the classicists who
publicly avow^ed his high appreciation of them.

Jeronymo Cortreal and Pedro Andrade Caminha were two others of
the Classic School, though little more than imitators of Ferreira. Francisco
Manuel do Nascimento was another, who developed much more individuality
of style. And one interesting human thing to note about this group of
Portuguese writers is that there remains now no record to show that there
ever existed among them any literary jealousy. They seem to have been
all friends and co-workers. The last of the distinctive classicists was
Rodriguez Lobo, born in Leiria about the middle of the sixteenth century.
So great a scholar was he and so lasting an influence had he on romantic prose
that he has been ranked next to Camoens and Miranda. Little is known
of him personally except that he lived in retirement in Santarem and met
his death by drowning in the Tagus which he loved and so often had cele-
brated in verse. He wrote ten eclogues in Portuguese and about a hundred
romances in Spanish and founded that excessive accumulation of pastoral
poetry existing in Portugal, doing all in his power to fix the national taste
in that direction. His 'Court in the Country' was the first book of classic
prose to be produced in Portugal; and he also wrote three connected
pastoral romances that are pronounced by Bouterwek to be 'the most
luxuriant blossoms of this old branch of Portuguese poetry.' They are very
long; set in a framework of prose; and entitled 'Primavera' ('Spring')
'O Pastor Peregrine' ('The Wandering Shepherd'), and 'O Desengando'
('The Disenchanted'). They contain several beautiful lyrics: the following
being from 'Primavera' (translated by M. E. M.).
'Now the wished-for sun is bringing

Life to day, and tints to earth;
Leads the shepherd, gaily singing,

To his flocks that wait him, forth.
Now chill night succeeds, and chases

Golden luster from the skies;
Bright-eyed dawn the night replaces

While its radiance glads our eyes.


Learn we thus (and not in vain)

Suns hut set to rise again.
One day flies — the rest that follow

Rtnch us, but are mocking fleet;
Laugliing at my hopes so hollow,

And my visions false, yet sweet.
Still, howe'er, my fate may thwart me

Unconvinced, unchanged, I live;
From those dreams I cannot part me

That such dear delusions give;
Hoping vet in countless years

One bright day unstained with tears.'
There are other poets of this period who do not belong to the Classic School,
notably, Jorge Ferreira de Vasconcellos, Rodriguez de Castro, Gabriel
Pereira de Castro, and Lobe de Soropito. Vasconcellos wrote several
comedies and a romance of the Round Table, Rodriguez de Castro lived
in Italy a good deal and wrote sonnets, odes and eclogues; Gabriel de
Castro wrote the heroic poem 'Ulissea'; and Soropito's chief claim to dis-
tinction is that he published the miscellaneous poems of Camoens.

Such epics as 'Ulissea' and the 'Malacca Conquestada' of Francesco
de Sa de Menzes gave rise, to a certain extent, to the authentic histories
which came into evidence about this time. The 'Asia' of John de Barras
was the first great work containing genuine information relating to the
Portuguese possessions in Asia. Lopez de Castenheda and Antonio
Bocarro gave histories of the Portuguese conquests of India. Alfonso
Albuquerque wrote his Commentaries: Damio de Goez compiled his
account of the reign of Dom Emanuel: Bernardo de Brito wrote his *Mon-
archia Lusitana': Jerome Osorio wrote his history: and last but by no
means least, Manuel de Faria e Sousa wrote his 'Europa Portuguesa.*
Although he was the author of 'Divinas y Humanas Elores,' he was a finer
historian than poet; and also produced a valued commentary on the
miscellaneous poems of Camoens. With him pastoral poetry went into its
grotesque state, as will be seen was inevitable from his remark to the effect
that 'the only (observe the only) things required in poetry are invention,
imager)', pathos, and a display of ever}' kind of knowledge.' It is interesting
to compare this wich the opinion of the Marquis of Santillana who, in his
remarkable and well-known letter, speaks of poetry as 'an invention of useful
things which, being enveloped in a beautiful veil, are arranged, exposed
and concealed, according to a certain calculation, measurement and weight.'
To such straits had poetry come! Although the influence of the Classic


School lingered long in Portuguese literature, it became extinct about the
close of the sixteenth century, and all Portuguese literature was about to
be stricken temporarily dumb.

The wave of national prosperity, material and intellectual, was receding.
Several events had transpired that were lost sight of at the immediate time,
but that had a most disastrous effect on the national life. In 1540 the Jesuits
had been introduced. During the reign of John III the Inquisition had
been established, with the Holy Office in Lisbon. The Jews were finally
expelled from the Peninsular. The growth of the absolute monarchial
principle; the evils of the slave trade; and the depopulation due to the
emigrations to the newly established colonies; had all sapped the vigor of
the kingdom. Then came the misplaced ambition of Dom Sebastian to
conquer Africa and his complete defeat in 1578: with the entailed Spanish
Captivity (1580-1640). It had long been a veritable 'castle in Spain'
with Philip II to subjugate Portugal and, Sebastian's death having left the
Portuguese throne open to various pretenders, he now availed himself of
his neighbor to accomplish his desires.

A few there were who foresaw the utter downfall of Portuguese greatness
and independence; who could stand aside and objectively view the unhappy
trend of coming events. Camoens was one of these; and, just before the
grip of Spain killed the material prosperity and lyric life of the Portuguese
people, he lifted up his voice — like the fabled song of the expiring swan —
and gave to all the world his great poem 'Os Lusiads.'


Camoens can no more be dealt with in short space than can Shakespeare.
He is the climactic arrival; the whole that contains the lesser parts; the
last of the adventurous spirits; the master of Portuguese literature.

Briefly, Luiz de Camoens came of a good Galician family and was
born in Lisbon, in the 'Mouraria' or Moorish part of the city, in 1524.
His university days were spent in Coimbra, where an uncle of his was the
principal Chancellor of the University. They were probably the happiest
years of his life. Then came his love affair. On a Good Friday, in the
Church of Christ's Wounds in Lisbon, on April nth, 1542, he first beheld
Dona Caterina de Ataide, one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting. Laws
at that time were 'very severe upon anyone who encouraged amours within
the palace' and because of some misdemeanor in connection with his love
affair, Camoens was banished from Court. This formed a pretext for the
family of the lady to terminate all intercourse between them; but, in the
hour of parting, Caterina confessed her love. It was natural that in his


banishment he should seek the countn^ of the 'Rihatejo' or banks of the
Tamils above Lisbon, for his mother Dona Anna de Sae Macedo, was of the
noMe family of the Macedos of Santaren. From his retirement he sought
and obtained permission to accompany King John III agamst the African
Moors, in which expedition Camoens lost his right eye from splinters from
the deck of the ship on which he was stationed. His conduct was so brave,
that he was at last recalled to Court: — only to learn of the death — at the
age of twenty — of his Caterina. After this he became a voluntary wanderer
and exile. The so-called cave in which Camoens is said to have written
his crreat poem of the Lusiads is still shown in Macao, in Portuguese India,
in a'^garden just above the church of St. Antonio. From it there is a view
of the sea and the dim outhnes of fair islands. To the south and west lies
the Inner Harbor; to the north the Barrier and small walled town. In
1569 Camoens returned to his native land, to find the Plague raging in Lis-
bon. He survived his return eight years, 'living in the knowedge of many
and the society of few' and dying at the age of fifty-five. Of his country's
sad estate he had so clear a vision that he wrote to his friend. Dr. Francesco
de Almeida, a few days before his death: 'You will all see that I so loved
my mother country-, that I came back, not only to die in it, but with it.*
And only one year after his death, Philip II of Spain was proclaimed King
of Portugal. It is recorded that on his entrance into Lisbon, Philip asked
for Camoens and was grieved at hearing of his death.

The last days of Camoens, like those of many another gifted man,
were spent in neglect and poverty. Antonio, his Javanese servant, remained
with him to the end, actually begging in the streets for bread: and the
winding sheet in which he was wrapped was obtained in alms from the
house of D. Francesco de Portugal. On his gravestone in the Francescan
Convent Church of Sta. Anna is carved:

'Here lies Luiz Camoens: Prince of the Poets of his time.
He lived poor and miserable, and so he died.'

In the first edition of the Lusiads there was a note, written by one who
was present at his death-bed. The book was left by this person, F. Josepe
Judio, in the convent of the bare-footed Carmelites at Guadalaxara, and
is now in Lord Holland's collection. It reads:

'What can be more lamentable a thing than to see so great a genius
ill rewarded! I saw him die in a hospital at Lisbon, without a winding
sheet to cover him, after having triumphed in India and sailed 5500 leagues
by sea. What a great lesson for those who weary themselves day and night
in studying without profit, as a spider is weaving its web to catch flies.'

As a rule, the Portuguese do not seem to think so much of the minor


poems of Camoens. They are apt to neglect his smaller compositions and
to undervalue their originality of sentiment and the beauty of their expres-
sion. But, as Viscount Strangford has truly pointed out, the real circum-
stances of Camoens' life are mostly to be found in his own minor com-
positions: and Robert Southey is of the opinion 'that to most imaginations,
Camoens will never appear so interesting as when he is bewailing his first
love. It is in these moments that he is most truly a poet.' Southey has
himself translated one of the sonnets of this emotion:
'Meet spirit, who so early didst depart.
Thou art at rest in Heaven: 1 linger here
And feed the lonely anguish of my heart;
Thinging of all that made existence dear.
All lost! If in that happy world above
Remembrance of this mortal world endure.
Thou wilt not then forget the perfect love
Which still thou seest in me, — O spirit pure!
And, if the irremediable grief,
The woe, which never hopes on earth relief.
May merit aught of thee; prefer thy prayer
To God, who took thee early to his rest,
That it may please him soon among the blest
To summon me, dear maid, to meet thee there.'
Another poem on the death of D. Caterina is as follows:

'Those charming eyes, within whose starry sphere
Love whilom sat and smiled the hours away.
Those braids of light that shamed the beams of day,
That hand benignant, and that heart sincere;
Those Virgin cheeks, which did so late appear

Like snow-banks, scattered with the blooms of May,
Turned to a little cold and worthless clay,
Are gone — forever gone — and perish here:
But not unbathed by Memory's warmest tear!
Are gone — forever gone — and perish here:
But not unbathed by Memory's warmest tear!
Death! thou hast torn, in one unpitying hour,
That fragrant plant, to which, while scarce a flower.
The mellower fruitage of its prime was given;
Love saw the deed — and, as he lingered near,
Sighed o'er the ruin, and returned to heaven!'


And yet a third has an unmistakably direct bearing on his ' affair of the heart. '
'Sweeth' \vas heard the anthem's choral strain,
And myriads bow'd before the sainted shrine*
In solemn reverence to their Sire divine,
Who gave the Lamb for guilty mortals slain;
When, in the midst of God's eternal fane,
Ah, little weening of his fell design!
Love bore the heart (which since hath ne'er been mine)
To one who seemed of heaven's elected train:
For sanctity of place or time were vain,

'Gainst that blind archer's soul-consuming power-
Which scorns and soars all circumstance above,
O, lady! since I've worn thy gentle chain

How oft have I deplored each wasted hour
When I was free: — and had not learned to love!'
Two of what may be called his nature sonnets are peculiarly indicative of
Camoens' temperamental nature, the one beginning:
*Mondego, thou, whose waters cold and clear
Gird those green banks where fancy fain would stay,'
and the lyric cry that has been translated by Richard Garnett:
*0, for a solitude so absolute,

Rapt from the spite of Fate so far away,
That foot of man hath never entered, nay,
Untrodden by the foot of every brute:
Some wood of aspect lowering and mute,
Or lonely glen not anywhere made gay,
With plot of pleasant green, or water's play;
Such haunt, in fine, as doth my anguish suit!
Thus is the entrail of the mountain locked.
I, sepulchred in life, alive in death.
Freely might breathe my plaint: perceiving there
The grief whose magnitude nought measureth
Less by the brilliance of the bright day mocked,
Soothed by the dark day more than otherwise,'
There are many random lines throughout his writings that give insight
to Camoens the man as well as to Camoens the poet. Observe, as examples :
'In lonely cell bereaved of liberty,

Error's meet recompense, long time I spent:
Then o'er the world disconsolate I went.
Bearing the broken chain that left me free.'

Sonnet 5.


'But my disastrous star whom now I read: —
Blindness of death, and doubtfulness of life,
Have made me tremble when I see a joy,'

Sonnet 5.
'All things from hand to hand incessant pass.'

Sonnet 195.
'And wind hath taken what to wind was given.'

Sonnet 173.
'Thought built me castles soaring from the ground,
That ever, when the cope-stone should be laid,
Crumbled and lay upon the earth as dust.'

Sonnet 177.
'Ocean I roamed and isle and continent,
Seeking some remedy for life unsweet.
But he whom fortune will not frankly meet.
Vainly by venture woos her to his bent.'

Sonnet 100.
'Summoning the number of the wasted days;
They pass like shadows on the silent ways,

Nor fruit of them doth their slow march reveal.
Save this — they are no more!'

Sonnet 355 (Composed in prison).
'But the free soul, how far soe'er it range,
Thought-winged, flies lightly over land and sea.
And in your current doth her plumage lave.'

Sonnet 133.
*Yet am I storing up in sunny hour
Sweet thought of thee against the cloudy day.'

Sonnet 136 (On revisiting Cintra,
after the death of Caterina).
'Confessing with a silent tear
That heaven and hell are wondrous near!'

'It was a little smile that stole
The cherish'd sweets of rest.'

Camocns wrote many of his minor poems in Spanish, and some in a blend
of the two languages when he walks — as he expresses it — 'with one foot
in Portugal and the other in Spain.' The sonnets have been translated
by many different scholars and poets. His lyrics fall into two main classes,


accorclinn to Burton, those written in Italian meters and those in the trochaic
hnes and strophic forms of the Peninsular. The first class is contained
in the 'Parnasso,' which comprises 358 sonnets, 22 canzones, 27 elegies,
12 odes, 8 octaves, 15 idvls, — all of which tesify to the strong influence
of the Italian School and, especially, of Petrarch. The second class is
contained in the 'Cancioneiro,' or song book, and includes more than 150
compositions in the national peninsular manner. He never prepared an
edition of his ' Rimas' and the manuscript he is said to have arranged during
his sojourn in Mozambique from 1567 to 1569 is said to have been stolen. In
1595 Fernao Rodrigues Lobo Soropita collected from Portugal and India,
and published in Lisbon, a volume of 172 songs by Camoens, four of which
are not by Cameons and others of which are doubtful.

All Camoens' lyrics have been translated into German by Dr. Wilhelm
Storck of the University of Munster: and in English there are innumerable
versions. But, as w^e all know, ' translation for the most part is an expedient
equally fallacious and impotent.' And Lord Byron observed that 'it is to
be remarked that the things given to the public as poems of Camoens'
are no more to be found in the original Portuguese than in the Songs of


This holds particularly good with regard to the versions given by Lord
Viscount Strangford, the British Plenipotentiary at Lisbon during the
War of the Spanish Succession. Burton says amusingly: 'There is, how-
ever, nothing objectionable in his excerpts from Camoens' except their
perfect inadequacy.'

Strangford, indeed, cannot be called a translator. He was an adapter.
Camoens suggested to him a motif for his own gallant and amorous experi-
ences. Says Strangford of the minor poetry of Camoens': 'The general
characteristic is ease: not the studied carelessness of modern refinement,
but the graceful and charming simplicity of a Grecian muse.' This ease —
the first kind — Strangford presumes upon and applies to his own renderings
of Cameons' meanings, the most flagrant example being, perhaps, 'The
Lady who Swore by Her Eyes.' It is a very pleasing little poem — as
Strangford's. It is also very pleasing in the Portuguese of Camoens'.
But they are very, ver)^ different from each other.

Camoens somewhat admits of this sort of juggling. In his minor verse
he has the simplicity of the Troubadours with the elegance of the Italian
School. He was fond of the Troubadour poetry; and, in the days of his
young manhood, there was a certain Peninsular revival of interest in the
Troubadour forms, brought about through the Counts of Barcelona be-
coming by marriage Counts of Provence.


Strangford's little volume of translations was most severely criticised,
shortly after it appeared, in the Edinburgh Review (1803) and a literal
version given of one of the poems by Camoens with Strangford's paraphrase.
Camoens reads:

'When the sun, overcast, is showing to the world a tranquil and dubious
light, to go along a beautiful meadow, figuring to myself my enemy — here
have I seen her composing her tresses — here, with her face upon her hand,
so beautiful — here talking cheerfully — there thoughtful — now standing
still — now walking — here was she seated — there she beheld me, as she
raised those eyes, so indifferent — here somewhat she moved — there secure —
here she grew sorrowful — there she smiled. — And, in short, in these
wear}' thoughts I pass this vain life, which lasts forever.'

Camoens seems to have taken this from Petrarch; and Strangford
thinks that Petrarch may be indebted for the idea to Ovid. Strangford's
rendering is:

'When day has smiled a soft farewell,

And night-drops bathe each shutting bell,
The shadows sail along the green,

And birds are still, and woods serene,
I wander silently.

And while my lone step prints the dew.

Dear are the dreams that bless my view,
To memory's eye the maid appears,

For whom have sprung my sweetest tears,
So oft, so silently.

I see her as, with graceful care,

She binds her braids of sunny hair;
I feel her harp's melodious thrill

Strike to my heart; — and thence be still.
Re-echoed faithfully.

I meet her mild and quiet eye,

Drink the warm spirit of her sigh,
See young love beating in her breast

And wish to mine its pulses prcst.

God knows how fervently!


Such are my hours of dear delight,

And noon hut makes me wish for night,
And think how swift the minutes flew
When, last among the dropping dew,
I wandered silently.'
Pleasing as such versification may be in itself, there can be no apology
adequate to excuse calling it a translation, and the only explanation of such
a proceeding is that in the early part of the nineteenth century, when the
attention o\' all Europe was fixed on the Spanish Peninsular because of the
Napoleonic wars, Portugal became the literary fashion in England, and,
because hitherto so unknown, English writers felt that almost any extrava-
gance might be perpetrated in her name. On a par with Strangford's so-
called translations, is Mrs. Browning's extravaganza of emotion which she
called 'Sonnets from the Portuguese,' and which never had any origin in
Portuguese literature, save that the Portuguese have ever written sonnets
and are impassioned in their love.

A translation by Strangford that is much more accurate in both feeling
and expression than the foregoing, is this Canzonet:
'I whispered her my last adieu,
I gave a mournful kiss;
Cold showers of sorrow bathed her eyes,
And her poor heart was torn with sighs;
Yet strange to tell — 'twas then I knew
Most perfect bliss.

For love, at other times suppress'd.
Was all betrayed at this —
I saw him weeping in her eyes,
I saw him breathe amongst her sighs.
And every sob which shook her breast
Thrilled mine with bliss.

The sigh which keen affection clears,
How can it judge amiss ?
To me it pictured hope; and taught
My spirit this consoling thought,
That Love's sun, though it rise in tears,
May set in bliss!'
And a Rondeau, that seems to have been suggested by a hint from the
Troubadour Ausian March, is too charming to be omitted, even in


Strangford's translation — indeed, how far because of Strangford's trans-
lation, is an open question.

'Just like Love is yonder rose,

Heavenly fragrance round it throws;
Yet tears its dewy leaves disclose.
And in the midst of briars it blows,
Just like Love.

Culled to bloom upon the breast,

Since rough thorns the stem invest
They must be gathered with the rest

And, with it, to the heart be press'd,
Just like Love.

And when rude hands with twin-buds sever,
They die — and they shall blossom never —

Yes, the thorns be sharp as ever,
Just like Love.
Strangford never translated the Lusiad, except a few stanzas. This great
poem deals with the adventures of Vasco de Gama and is, almost incidentally
an epitome of the achievements of the Portuguese nation. Camoens dedi-
cated it to Dom Sebastian. The three greatest episodes in it are the Legend
of the Floating Island, The Spirit of the Cape and Inez de Castro. La
Harpe, who figures as one of the French translators of the Lusiads, says
that, although it lacks 'action, character and interest' as a whole, he prefers
its well-known episode of Dona Inez de Castro to the whole of 'Paradise
Lost.' Voltaire has also criticised the machinery of the Lusiads. But
Voltaire has also made Cameons born a Spaniard and a comrade of Vasco
de Gama who, as a matter of fact, died before Camoens was born. Southey,
although a Spanish scholar, was better acquainted with Mickle's poor
English heroic couplets than with the Portuguese of the Lusiads. La Harpe
did not know Portuguese at all (so says Sir Richard Burton), his so-called
translation being nothing more than a new rendering of the literal version
by D'Hermilly: and Voltaire knew the Lusiads only through Mickle's
translation. Adamson says (in 1820) that there are one Hebrew translation
of the Lusiads, five Latin, six Spanish, four Italian, three French, four
German, and two English. The oldest English version is by Sir Richard
Fanshaw (1655) who was the English Embassador sent to Lisbon to arrange
for the marriage of Cliarlcs II of England with Catherine of Braganza.
By the time of the third Centennial Celebration in Portugal of the death


of Camocns (i 580-1880) there were seven complete English translations.
At this time, also, there was brought out in Lisbon the best complete edition
ot Camoens' works, tlie ' Bibliotheca Camoneana,' by Juromenha, in seven
volumes. It contains a list ot all works upon, and translations of, Camoens.

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryGerhart HauptmannAnd Pippa dances. (a mystical tale of the glass-works, in four acts) → online text (page 8 of 13)