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Of the various translations of Camoens Burton says 'all are meager in the
e.xtreme, thev follow like a flock of sheep, they reflect one another like
a band o( Chinamen.'

Sir Richard Burton's own translations of the Lusiads and the Lyrics
of Camoens deserve h\ far the most consideration, as being entirely scholarly.
It so happened that his own personal tra\els formed, as he says, 'a running
and realistic commentary upon the Lusiads.' And again, 'I have not only
visited almost every place named in the Epos of Commerce; in many I
spent months and even years.' Burton speaks of *my Master, Camoens'
and finds in him much of the Orient; its 'havock and its all splendor.
And — regarding his translation — he naively remarks that 'after all, to
speak without due modesty, my most cogent reason for printing this trans-
lation of my Master is, simply, because I prefer it to all that have appeared.'

^'et with all our faith in Richard Burton, we feel the need — when
reading his Camoens — of his wife's strenuous assertions: not that they
convince us; indeed, their very insistance merely confirms our worst fears:
but we need something to explain at least why certain mannerisms were
allowed to interfere with usual lucidity of feeling and expression of the
original text. She says: 'This translation is not a literary tour de force
done against time or to earn a reputation: it is the result of a daily act of
devotion of twenty years.' So far, so good. The scholarly devotion of
Burton has never been questioned. But, 'Whenever my husband has
appeared to coin words, or to use impossible words, they are the exact
rendering of Camoens; in every singularity or seeming eccentricity the
Disciple has faithfully followed his Master: — his object having been not
simply to write good verse, but to give a literal word for word rendering
of his favorite hero. And he has done it to the letter, not only in the words,
but in the meaning and intention of Camoens.' And again, 'To the
unaesthetic, to non-poets, non-linguists, non-musicians, non-artists. Burton's
Lusiads will be an unknown land, an unknown tongue,'

Even in the face of such an impeachment, one cannot refrain from
questioning the 'literal word for word rendering,' and — what is of far
greater importance — the 'meaning and intention of Camoens' in certain
lines. Not to be too prolix on the subject it is but neressary to compare
the following lines from the sonnets:


'Amor, com a esperanca ja perdida.' — Camoens.
(Amor, with Esperance now for aye forlore.) — Burton.

'Com grandes esperancas ja cantey.' — Camoens.
(While ere I sang my song with hope so high.) — Burton.

'Amor, que o gesto humano na Alma Enscreve.' — Camoens.
(Amor, who human geste on soul doth write.) — Burton.

'Tanto de meu estado mecho incerto.' — Camoens.
(I find so many doubts my state enfold.) — Burton.

'Transforma se o amador na cousa amada.' — Camoens.

(Becomes the Lover to the Loved transformed.) — Burton.
But enough about Burton's methods. One either likes Burton or one does
not. With regard to our consideration of Camoens himself, we must
always remember that the epic was in its infancy. Trissino had attempted
the liberation of Italy from the Goths, but with poor success. Ariosto and
his followers had thrown enchantment around the fictions of Chivalry.
Tasso's 'Jerusalem Delivered' had appeared only the year before 'Os
Lusiads.' Verily, Camoens was, as Gerald Massey said:

'the poet of weary wanderers
In perilous lands; and wide-sea voyagers.'


By the end of the sixteenth century the most brilliant period of Portu-
guese poetry had passed away. The Spanish Captivity was like a death-
blow, yet Portuguese literature could not die. When Philip II of Spain
annexed Portugal, it had produced Vasco de Gama and Alfonso de Albur-
querque; and its language had been developed from a Romance dialect
into a literary language by Miranda and Camoens. There was too much
individual strength for Portugal to become lost in Spain. The period
(1580-1640) was one of deep national depression and humiliation: but it
did not become the permanent established order. When, at last, the revolt
against Spanish oppressic)n had been victorious and the Portuguese dynasty
resumed its sway with John V, the first of the House of Braganza, the treaty
of offense and defense between Portugal and her ol dally, I'^iigland, was
renewed; and the crushed national life of Portugal again lifted up its head.

In hterature, her people turned naturally to the period of their past
greatness, and followers of Camoens imitated his great works. A few
Chronicles were written. But the new life was sluggish. One of the forms


it took was a sort of buffoonery in the sonnet writing: and, while most of
this composition is weak and ridiculous, the burlesquing of the old pastoral
poetrv bv Freire de Andrade is said to be often witty and just. This crazy
and bombastic writing was called by Matheus Ribeyro the ' Posia Incuravel.'
But Portugal produced no Cervantes.

Though much was written, not much was written that was fine. Poetry
gained little from the recrudescence. Lyric art in the old national syllabic
meters was entirely abandoned. Patriotic feeling again found its way into
Portuguese life and letters, but, in the verse of Ribeiro de Macedo and Correa
de la Cerda, it became verily ' flat, stale and unprofitable.' This also applies
to the verse of Violante de Ceo, a nun in the Convent da Rosa in Lisbon and
the first woman whose name occurs in the annals of Portuguese literature.
Alveres da Cunha and Jeronymo Bahia also wrote a corrupt form of versifi-

There are, however, a few exceptions to the general deplorable condition;
notably, Barbosa Barcellar (1610-1663) who produced some good sonnets
in the style of Camoens, his most remarkable writings being a kind of elegy
of romantic aspiration called Saudades.

But the Poetic Muse lay gasping for breath. She could not seem to
recover from her bondage. In addition to this enfeebled state, was the
fact that a strong tide of French influence set in among Portuguese men of
letters and the life of the Court. Poor Portugal! So many foreign in-
fluences had been brought to bear upon her at various times; and yet, while
recognizing and to a degree accepting each, she had, nevertheless, held her
own individuality aloof. Now, however, exhausted and almost desperate,
she succumbed just when she was on the eve of a new birthright. From
the Gothic and Romanic she had arisen; borne herself triumphantly in the
presence of the Arabian, the Italian, the Castilian; now to droop quickly
before the French. This French influence is the characteristic of this
period of Portuguese poetry. Toward the end of the seventeenth century
there was a total decay of even the half-hearted attempts of the sonneteers
and the satirists.

The first part of the eighteenth century saw a slightly improved state
of things. Although the divinely creative instinct had gone, apparently
never to return, an historical and, to a certain extent, literary revival did
take place. The so-called Age of Sonnets was succeeded by the Age of
Academies. But when did Academies ever produce poetry .?

In 1720 the Academy of History was founded in Lisbon by John V,
during the reign of whose son, Joseph Emmanuel (1750-1777), lived the
the Marquis of Pombal, who was a patron of literature and music. Pombal


founded the Acadia de Lishoa in 1757, two years after the great earthquake
that demoHshed the greater part of Lisbon and which Voltaire describes
so graphically in 'Candide.' He it was, too, who expelled the Jesuits,
thereby removing — for a time at least — one incubus off the heaving
breast of his mother country. The Arcadia de Lisboa was followed by the
Academia Real des Sciences in 1779, which published many of the old
Portuguese Chronicles. In 17 14 an Academia Portugueza had been formed
on the model of the French Academy with a view to improve the taste for
poetry; and offered prizes to serve this end. Other Academies, on the
Italian plan, followed. There was undoubtedly a great spirit of advance-
ment abroad, but it worked for the most part through the Academicians.

Among the earlier were Antonio Diniz da Cruz e Silva, who took the
name of Elpino Monacrense, and whose best work is his translation of the
Pindaric Odes: Joao Xavier de Matos, who translated a play by M. I'Abbe
Genest and called it 'Penelope' and who wrote a play 'Viriacia': Sebastao
Francisco Mendo Trigozo, who translated Racine; Hippolyto, who trans-
lated Euripides: Domingos dos Reis Quinta, who wrote a three-act tragedy
on Inez de Castro and was well-known; Pedro Antonio Correa Garcao,
who wrote, odes, satires, epistles, sonnets and two dramas, and won the
distinciton of being the first of the moderns to appreciate the purity of his
native language: and Francesco Manoel de Nascimento who took the name
of Elysio on joining the Academicians and who, escaping the earthquake
and the Inquisition, was exiled to France. Among the historians who lived
at this time were Alessandro Herculano, whose history of Portugal is
regarded as the highest authority, the Visconde de Santarem, and Augusto
Rebello da Silva. Among the dramatists was Manoel Maria Barbosa du
Bocage, who wrote the tragedies of * Viriato,' * Alfonso Henriques ' and ' Vasco
da Gama.' Among the poets were Luis Augusto Palmeirim, Jose Soares de
Passos, Jose da Silva, Mendes Leal, Antonio Feliciano de Castildo, Fran-
cesco de Pina de Mello, Joaquim Fortunado de Valdares Gamboa, Nicolao
Tolentino de Almeida, Joao Baptista Gomes, Louren^o Caminha, and
Paulino Cabral de Vasconcellos. Two others — Joao Baptista de Almeida
Garrett and D. Francesco Xavier de Menzes, Conde of Ericeira — stood
head and shoulders above their compeers. The former wrote a ten-canto
poem on Camoens and intended to collect the popular romance poetry of
Portugal as Scott did the minstrelsy of the Border, but failed to do so,
although he left an interesting letter on the subject in his romance of
'Adozindo': and the latter was altogether the most voluminous writer and
most brilhant literary character of his time, succeeding more than his
contemporaries in keeping free from the French influence, holding aloof


and following more the traditions of the sixteenth century of Portuguese

Durini:; the latter half of the eighteenth century conditions became even
better. Francisco Vasconcellos, a native of Madeira, belonged to this
period. Diogo de Monroy e Vasconcellos, 'Fhomas de Sousa, Luis Simoes
de A/.evado, Diogo Camacho, Jacinto Freire de Andrade, Simao Torezao
Coelho, Duarte Ribeiro de Macedo, Fernam Correa de la Cerda, Antonio
Telles da Silva and Nunes da Silva, some of whose songs and sonnets are
reallv worthier of a better day, are all named of writers who have sought

^'et, in spite of their vast endeavor and past achievement, we cannot
but realize the truth of what one who knows and loves the Portuguese,
has written :

'Portuguese poetry is like a time-honored olive that in its prime was
rich in luxuriant leaves and fair fruit, but is now drooping to decay; its
foliage thinned, its fruit degenerated, and giving no sign of throwing up
vigorous sapplings from its roots. . . It is, however, sometimes pleasant to
let memory recall, in its declining age, the flourishing time of the good
old tree.'


By Warren Washburn Florer

THE earlier writings of Gustav Frenssen, the pastor poet of
Germany, have influenced thousands of German homes,
because the German people understand them. Frenssen's
books sing of nature and human life, grand, strong, and
true; of confidence in man, in the eternal powers, in God.
Thev sing of a simple, original Christianity — the religion
of Christ, the Man of Galilee. In these writings, the
essential source of which is experience with men, with their sorrows, their
sufferings, their needs, and their hopes, Frenssen fearlessly attacked the
sins, the customs, and the laws of family, church, state, which lay as a heavy
weight upon humanity.

The language of these writings is simple, direct, and natural. The
characters are natural, consistent men and women, therefore psychologically
true. They show development of observation and personality, and there-
fore growth. They betray a search for the truth, sometimes uncertain in
its results, therefore at times obscurity is evident. This is especially
noticeable in the means employed to throw light on the characters, as is
seen in the stories taken too often from the fable world. But withal they
are powerful books and their very weaknesses give hopes of future develop-

After four years of additional observation, research and seeking after
the truth, Frenssen gives his 'larger parish' 'Hilligenlei,' the theme of which
is a search in the mires and struggles, hopes and aspirations of humanity,
for a Holy Land. (Hilligenlei means Holy Land.) One still hears the echo
of the critics, each one striking the note corresponding to his education and
character, therefore to his attitude to literature and the problems of humanity,
especially to religion which is the foundation of the book. Perhaps no book
in the history of German literature has evoked such a storm of criticism.

Frenssen unfolds in this epochmaking work many phases of life of the
entire German people. It contains so much that the reader is unable to
grasp the content, and often one loses the numerous threads of action which
permeate the book. In fact these threads are at times apparently broken,
or at least disconnected. One becomes lost in the network of the experiences
of Kai Jans and the other leading characters. However, there is evident
a mastery of character development in the powerful Pe Ontjes Lau, in the



brilliant, but deceptive Tjark Dusenschon, in the proud and passionate
Anna Boje, and in the beautiful friend of Kai Jans — Heinke Boje.

The character of Kai jans is not intended to be 'fertig.' His entire
life is a restless search for the Holy. It is a manifold development. He
is uncertain, introspective and lacks confidence. He sees his lofty con-
ception of human nature marred at every turn by the actions of men and
the cruelty of man to man. In the portrayal of Kai Jans, Frenssen shows
strength and consistency, not literar}' weakness.

The reader who considers 'Schwung,' freely translated "well-rounded
sentences,' as an essential characteristic of good style will take exception
to the simple, direct language. He will criticize also the figures and meta-
phors employed to interpret ideas and characters. An undesirable feature,
indeed, is the copious use of adjectives in description. A lack of discrimi-
nation in the language used by the different characters is a decided weakness.
This causes a certain smoothness of style, but it is obtained at the cost
of individuality.

Men are unfortunately not interested in child life, which is but man's
life in miniature, and so the introductory chapters may seem monotonous.
Men are not interested in the accounts of the life of Christ in the New
Testament, so the 'manuscript' with all its beauties and power may prove
to be tedious. Again one may smile at the fictitious village Hilligenlei,
with its peculiar characters, classes, institutions and episodes, but it is true
to nature. One may observe similar incidents and conditions in one's
own town.

Those who do not know, as Goethe said in defense of his Clarchen,
that there is a class between a 'Gottin' and a 'Dime,' will find many a
choice morsel to roll under their tongues in this book which treats naive
human impulses of strength and purity. Many who have experienced
but little of the world will deem much which is so commonplace as impossible,
firmly convinced that only that is possible which they meet in their narrow
walks of life. The life which Frenssen unfolds to them will be but a Marchen.

It is true that Frenssen has treated Sinnengier, not because he 'delighted
to depict the errors and sin of youth and men, but out of pity, in order that
one might be able to see the healthy and the natural.' The poet reformer
unveils a picture of social conditions which is appalling, and, if true, will
eventually lead, unless improved, to a disintegration of German society and
government, for these conditions are gnawing at the very foundation of all
society and government — the home.

Frenssen's purpose is to uplift humanity. Strengthened by the con-
ception that art has a moral purpose, he continues to attack the conditions


which tend to dull the moral sense of the people and to retard a healthy
development of the individual. Frenssen's ideal is that men and women
should enjoy the good and strong impulses of nature given them by the
eternal powers; should live a natural, therefore a moral life; should always
endeavor to search for a Holy Land, even through the valley of the shadow
of death. The rod and staff of comfort are wanting, because the people
have no religion. Yea, even worse, the youth laugh at religion and have
no respect for Christ.

Hilligenlei will not appeal to the average novel reader of our country.
It offers too serious food for thought and reflection. As a work of art it
will not satisfy many aesthetic readers. As in Germany it will evoke the
same opposition from the orthodox pastors of the land. But to men
interested in the progress of man and in the evolution of social conditions
it will prove to be a book full of rich treasures, a book which, if heeded,
will be a boon to our country, inasmuch as it treats conditions which are
already influencing American life.

At the very first the poet treats the old problem of society and literature,
the preying upon the natural instincts of human nature, the result of which
is too often illegitimate offspring. This offspring robbed of its natural
rights is either bitter or unscrupulous. Likewise the poet condemns 'Sitte'
(conventional morality) as one of the enemies of home life and the primary
cause of the Jungweibernot throughout the land.

The dire influences of the saloon upon the inhabitants of Hilligenlei
and upon the workmen in Berlin are depicted. In Hilligenlei one finds
the saloon the moving factor in the affairs of the village. Here are as-
sembled both old and young men. One beholds the hundreds who pass
on the highways of Slesvig-Holstein, lazy and intoxicated. One witnesses
the untimely death of the teacher Boje, just because a man was drunk.
The sad faces of women and children relate the influences of drink, drink
which fills the asylums and prisons, and poisons the morals and health of
countless thousands.

The young men, corrupted by these conditions, have false conceptions
of happiness and success. They strive for mere honor and money. The
principle of Tjark Dusenschon, 'one must take money wherever one can
get it,' the principle of graft, is true for hundreds of young men of this
generation and is encouraged by business men and by society. However,
in this age of unsafe finance, one hears the wise words of the merchant who
never fi)rgot the highest standard of his profession. He cared that no goods
should perish and that the wares of the earth should be distributed over the
entire world for the welfare of all, that they should become useful to men,
ward off need and increase the joys of life.


Frenssen treats the conflicts of the rich and the poor. He traces the
underlying causes of the existing hatred and distrust, for example, the
excessive riches on one side, and on the other abject poverty, as seen in the
tenements of large cities. He believes that men are the real cause of sins
and sufferings in that they deprive their fellowmen of land and force them
to live in the pitiless, narrow streets. At the same time he cannot under-
stand why the men do not desire to go out into the country, into Holy land,
where the fresh air is like unto the breath of God, where the sunny houses
are situated in the open fields and on forest edges, where men have strong,
clear eyes and loft}', peaceful thoughts. He knows what stands in the way
of the progress of the workingmen. They avoid and hector one another.
In no class is there so much jealousy as in the workingman's class. The
life they lead drives earnestness out of the daily work and reverence out of
life. There is no desire to progress. Looking for relief, they stare upon
the officials and academicians. They should know that active energy can
further their cause more than plodding learning.

Frenssen rightly discerns the importance of the economic revolution
of Germany. A revolution which is affecting all classes, yes, springing from
all classes. A revolution evident in every artery of German life. Along
with this great economic revolution comes the worst religious confusion
at the very time when scientific investigation has undermined the dogmas of
churches. Men are without religion, and therefore bitter and discontented.
He emphasizes the confusion in the entire domain of morals, in art, in edu-
cation and how, as in every century, there passes a spirit of unrest through
the people — a fever, but a fever which leads to health. He has caught
the longing of the people to rejuvenate the three powerful forces which
it begets — government, religion, morality. He has observed a will, a wish,
permeating the people to come to nature, to a simple religion, to social
justice, to a noble Germanic humanity. Frenssen holds, however, that
a regeneration is impossible as long as the foundation upon which it must
rest is false. For him this foundation is religion, the faith of Christ, the man.

In 'Jorn Uhl' Frenssen attacks the pastors in the pulpit because they
do not know life and the needs of the hearers. In 'Hilligenlei* he reveals
the attitude of the people toward religion. This attitude is a pitiful one
and has its natural causes. One may shudder, but it is true, not only for
Hilligenlei and Berlin, but for America.

The children make God the servant of their own will, and half of them
do not believe what is said in the confirmation class. The words of Anna
Boje, as a child, are touching and natural: 'I believe everything because
the pastor says it. But, do you know what makes me sad .? God is really


a triune God, not so ? Sometimes I am so afraid, because at night I am so
tired and do not keep the right order. I beHeve I pray least to the Holy
Ghost, and he certainly is angry with me.'

Even the common workingmen question the teachings about the Virgin
Mary, deeming them impossible. They do not respect the teachings of
Christ because the church does not represent the Savior as human, but as
a golden image. Again, the church seems to be on the side of the rich and
has not a v^^ord or deed for the poor.

All progressive elements among the people — the w^orkingmen, the
seamen, the merchants, the students, the scholars and the artists question
the dogmas of the church. The entire folk is falling away from the old
faith of the church. The foundation of life is false, because the people
have no faith. The minds of men go restlessly from one meaning to another.
The priests have a false control over men, and error reigns supreme.

Frenssen relates of one, who in the midst of these conditions, restless
and full of hope, is searching for the Holy. He thus advances another step.
In * J'"rn Uhl' he demonstrated that the trials our people undergo for us are
worth the trouble' and that simple, deep life is worth relating and struggling
for. Here amidst all these struggles is an additional one, a search for the
Holy from childhood on, the task of Kai Jans, the task of Gustav Frenssen.

Step by step Frenssen, with almost laborious painstaking, prepares
Kai Jans to write the life of Christ. Kai Jans experiences the need and
oppression of a long life and of the entire nation. The poet equips him
with those pictures of life which Christ must have witnessed from childhood
on, in the country, in the village, and in the city. He initiates him into
the advance guard of higher criticism. But with all his learning Kai Jans
retains his childlike faith and simple heart. He also experiences the secret
of the most beautiful of God's nature, the love of a pure girl. But, in order
to write the life of Christ, which is a drama, Kai Jans is not permitted to
be happy in this love. Otherwise his Frau Sorge would leave him, and

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Online LibraryGerhart HauptmannAnd Pippa dances. (a mystical tale of the glass-works, in four acts) → online text (page 9 of 13)