ePub 版
[ocr errors]

Better inuch another man

Make I which no other can."

bic title, misunderstood, has given birth fore withheld from translating any one to a German word. Daring and difficult of them, in illustration. rhymes are now frequently termed Ma- Few of Goethe's minor songs are kamen in German literary society. more beautiful than his serenade, O

Rückert's studies were not confined gib vom weichen Pfühle, where the to the Arabic and Persian languages; interlinked repetitions are a perpetual he also devoted many years to the surprise and charm; yet Rückert has Sanskrit. In 1828 appeared his trans- written a score of more artfully conlation of “ Nal and Damayanti,” and structed and equally melodious songs. some years later, “ Hamasa, or the old- His collection of amatory poems entiest Arabian Poetry," and " Amrilkaïs, tled Liebesfrühling contains some of Poet and King.” In addition to these the sunniest idyls in any language. translations, he published, between the That his genius was lyrical and not years 1835 and 1840, the following origi- epic, was not a fault; that it delighted nal poems, or collections of poems, on in varied and unusual metres, was an Oriental themes, – “Legends of the exceptional perhaps in his case a Morning-Land” (2 vols.), “ Rustem and phenomenal — form of development; Sohrab,” and “Brahminical Stories." but I do not think it was any the less These poems are so bathed in the at- instinctively natural. One of his quamosphere of his studies, that it is very trains runs: difficult to say which are his own inde

Much I make as make the others; pendent conceptions, and which the suggestions of Eastern poets. Where

Makes than I ; but much, moreover, he has borrowed images or phrases, (as sometimes from the Koran,) they are His poetical comment on the translawoven, without any discernible seam, tion of Hariri is given in prose: – “He into the texture of his own brain. who, like myself, unfortunate man ! is

Some of Rückert's critics have as- philologist and poet in the same perserted that his extraordinary mastery son, cannot do better than to translate of all the resources of language oper

My Hariri has illustrated ated to the detriment of his poetical how philology and poetry are compefaculty, — that the feeling to be ex- tent to stimulate and to complete each pressed became subordinate to the skill other. If thou, reader, wilt look upon displayed by expressing it in an unusu- this hybrid production neither too philal form. They claim, moreover, that he ologically nor over-poetically, it may produced a mass of sparkling fragments, delight and instruct thee. That which rather than any single great work. I is false in philology thou wilt attribute am convinced, however, that the first to poetic license, and where the poetry charge is unfounded, basing my opinion is deficient, thou wilt give the blame to upon my knowledge of the poet's sim- philology." ple, true, tender nature, which I learned The critics who charge Rückert with to appreciate during my later visits to never having produced a whole," his home. After the death of his wife, have certainly forgotten one of his the daughter who thereafter assumed works, – “The Wisdom of the Brahher mother's place in the household min, a Didactic Poem, in Fragwrote me frequent accounts of her fa- ments.” The title somewhat describes ther's grief and loneliness, enclosing its character. The “fragments" are manuscript copies of the poems in which couplets, in iambic hexameter, each he expressed his sorrow. These poems one generally complete in itself, yet are exceedingly sweet and touching ; grouped in sections by some connectyet they are all marked by the same ing thought, after the manner of the flexile use of difficult rhythms and un- stanzas of Tennyson's “In Memoriprecedented rhymes. They have nev- am." There are more than six thoner yet been published, and I am there- sand couplets, in all, divided into twen

as I do.



no more,


she went,


ty books, – the whole forming a mass

Was 't mine he captured ?

Or his I raptured ? of poetic wisdom, coupled with such

Half-way both met, in bliss and wonder! amazing wealth of illustration, that this one volume, if sufficiently diluted, would “He came to meet me make several thousand “ Proverbial Phi

In rain and thunder :

Spring-blessings greet me losophies.” It is not a book to read

Spring-blossoms under. continuously, but one which, I should

What though he leave me?

No partings grieve me, — imagine, no educated German could

No path can lead our hearts asunder!” live without possessing. I never open its pages without the certainty of re- The Irish poet, James Clarence Manfreshment. Its tone is quietistic, as gan, (whose translations from the Germight readily be conjectured, but it is man comprise both the best and the the calm of serene reflection, not of in- worst specimens I have yet found,) difference. No work which Rückert has been successful in rendering one ever wrote so strongly illustrates the of Rückert's ghazels.

of Rückert's ghazels. I am specially incessant activity of his mind. Half of tempted to quote it, on account of the these six thousand couplets are terse curious general resemblance (accidental, and pithy enough for proverbs, and no doubt) which Poe's “ Lenore" bears their construction would have sufficed to it. for the lifetime of many poets.

"I saw her once, a little while, and then no more : With the exception of “ Kaiser Bar

'T was Eden's light on earth awhile, and then no barossa," and two or three other ballads, the amatory poems of Rückert have Amid the throng she passed along the meadowattained the widest popularity among Spring seemed to smile on earth awhile, and then his countrymen. Many of the love

But whence she came, songs have been set to music by Men


garb she wore, delssohn and other composers. Their

I noted not; I gazed awhile, and then no more. melody is of that subtile, delicate quality which excites a musician's fancy,

"I saw her once, a little while, and then no more :

’T was Paradise on earth awhile, and then no suggesting the tones to which the words should be wedded. Precisely for this Ah! what avail my vigils pale, my magic lore? reason they are most difficult to trans

She shone before mine eyes awhile, and then no late. The first stanza may, in most The shallop of my peace is wrecked on Beauty's cases, be tolerably reproduced; but as

shore ;

Near Hope's fair isle it rode awhile, and then no it usually contains a refrain, which is repeated to a constantly varied rhyme, throughout the whole song or poem,

I saw her once, a little while, and then no more : the labor at first becomes desperate,

Earth looked like Heaven a little while, and then and then impossible. An example (the

Her presence thrilled and lighted to its inmost original of which I possess, in the author's manuscript) will best illustrate

My desert breast a little while, and then no more.

So may, perchance, a meteor glance at midnight this particular difficulty. Here the me

o'er tre and the order of rhyme have been Some ruined pile a little while, and then no more. strictly preserved, except in the first

“I saw her once, a little while, and then no more : and third lines.

The earth was Eden-land awhile, and then no “ He came to meet me In rain and thunder :

O, might I see but once again, as once before, My heart 'gan beating

Through chance or wile, that shape awhile, and In timid wonder :

then no more! Could I guess whether

Death soon would heal my grief : this heart, now Thenceforth together

sad and sore,
Our paths should run, so long asunder ? Would beat anew, a little while, and then no
“He came to meet me
In rain and thunder,

Here, nevertheless, something is sac-
With guile to cheat me, -
My heart to plunder.

rificed. The translation is by no means




no more.



more !”

literal, and lacks the crispness and fresh- of its qualities. He admitted that its ness of Oriental antithesis. Rückert, I chances for becoming the dominant fear, will never be as fortunate as Ha- tongue of the world were greater than riri of Bosrah.

those of any other. Much that he said When, in 1856, I again visited Ger- upon this subject interested me greatly many, I received a friendly message at the time, but the substance of it has from the old poet, with a kind invitation escaped me. to visit him. Late in November I found When I left, that evening, I looked him, apparently unchanged in body and upon his cheerful, faithful wife for the spirit, — simple, enthusiastic, and, in last time. Five years elapsed before I spite of his seclusion, awake to all the visited Coburg again, and she died in movements of the world. One of his mar- the interval. In the summer of 1861 ried sons was then visiting him, so that I had an hour's conversation with him, the household was larger and livelier chiefly on American affairs, in which than usual ; but, as he sat, during the he expressed the keenest interest. He evening, in his favorite arm-chair, with had read much, and had a very correct pipe and beer, he fell into the same bril- understanding of the nature of the strugliant, wise strain of talk, undisturbed by gle. He was buried in his studies, in a all the cheerful young voices around small house outside of the village, where him.

he spent half of every day alone, and inThe conversation gradually wandered accessible to every one ; but his youngaway from the Orient to the modern est daughter ventured to summon him languages of Europe. I remarked the away from his books. special capacity of the German for de- Two years later (in June, 1863) I paid scriptions of forest scenery, — of the my last visit to Neuses. He had then feeling and sentiment of deep, dark passed his seventy-fifth birthday; his woods, and woodland solitudes. frame was still unbent, but the waves

“May not that be,” said he, “be- of gray hair on his shoulders were thincause the race lived for centuries in ner, and his step showed the increasing forests ? A language is always richest feebleness of age. The fire of his eye in its epithets for those things with was softened, not dimmed, and the long which the people who speak it are most and happy life that lay behind him had familiar. Look at the many terms for given his face a peaceful, serene expreshorse' and 'sword' in Arabic.”

sion, prophetic of a gentle translation “ But the old Britons lived also in into the other life that was drawing forests," I suggested.

So I shall always remember him, " I suspect,” he answered, “while the scholar and poet, strong with the best English language was taking shape, the strength of a man, yet trustful and acpeople knew quite as much of the sea cessible to joy as a child. as of the woods. You ought, therefore, Nothwithstanding the great amount to surpass us in describing coast and of Rückert's contributions to literature sea-scenery, winds and storms, and the during his life, he has left behind him motion of waves."

a mass of poems and philological papers The idea had not occurred to me be- (the latter said to be of great interest fore, but I found it to be correct. and value) which his accomplished son,

Though not speaking English, Rück- Professor Rückert of the University of ert had a thorough critical knowledge Breslau, is now preparing for publicaof the language, and a great admiration tion.





C Paino 'ONCORD, August 5, 1842. — A at home among spirits than among

rainy day, - a rainy day. I am fleshly bodies, came hither a few times, commanded to take pen in hand, and I merely to welcome us to the ethereal am therefore banished to the little ten- world ; but latterly she has vanished foot-square apartment misnamed my into some other region of infinite space. study; but perhaps the dismalness of One rash mortal, on the second Sunday the day and the dulness of my solitude after our arrival, obtruded himself upon will be the prominent characteristics of us in a gig. There have since been what I write. And what is there to three or four callers, who preposterously write about ? Happiness has no suc- think that the courtesies of the lower cession of events, because it is a part world are to be responded to by people of eternity; and we have been living in whose home is in Paradise. I must eternity ever since we came to this old not forget to mention that the butcher manse. Like Enoch, we seem to comes twice or thrice a week; and we have been translated to the other state have so far improved upon the custom of being, without having passed through of Adam and Eve, that we generally death. Our spirits must have fitted furnish forth our feasts with portions away unconsciously, and we can only of some delicate calf or lamb, whose perceive that we have cast off our mor- unspotted innocence entitles them to tal part by the more real and earnest the happiness of becoming our suste life of our souls. Externally, our Para

Would that I were permitted dise has very much the aspect of a to record the celestial dainties that pleasant old domicile on earth. This kind Heaven provided for us on the antique house — for it looks antique, first day of our arrival! Never, surely, though it was created by Providence was such food heard of on earth, -- at expressly for our use, and at the precise least, not by me. Well, the above-mentime when we wanted it — stands be- tioned persons are nearly all that have hind a noble avenue of balm-of-Gilead entered into the hallowed shade of our trees; and when we chance to observe avenue ; except, indeed, a certain sina passing traveller through the sunshine ner who came to bargain for the grass and the shadow of this long avenue, his in our orchard, and another who came figure appears too dim and remote to with a new cistern. For it is one of disturb the sense of blissful seclusion. the drawbacks upon our Eden that it Few, indeed, are the mortals who contains no water fit either to drink or venture within our sacred precincts. to bathe in; so that the showers have George Prescott, who has not yet grown become, in good truth, a godsend. I earthly enough, I suppose, to be de- wonder why Providence does not cause barred from occasional visits to Para- a clear, cold fountain to bubble up at dise, comes daily to bring three pints our doorstep; methinks it would not of milk from some ambrosial cow; oc- be unreasonable to pray for such a casionally, also, he makes an offering favor. At present we are under the of mortal flowers. Mr. Emerson comes ridiculous necessity of sending to the sometimes, and has been feasted on our outer world for water. Only imagine nectar and ambrosia. Mr. Thoreau Adam trudging out of Paradise with a has twice listened to the music of the bucket in each hand, to get water to sphenes, which, for our private conven- drink, or for Eve to bathe in! Intolerience, we have packed into a musical able! (though our stout handmaiden box. EH, who is much more really fetches our water). In other respects Providence has treated us pretty so much as a narrow strip of glistolerably well ; but here I shall expect tening sand in any part of its course; something further to be done. Also, but it slumbers along between broad in the way of future favors, a kitten meadows, or kisses the tangled grass would be very acceptable. Animals of mowing-fields and pastures, or bathes (except, perhaps, a pig) seem never out the overhanging boughs of elder-bushes of place, even in the most paradisiacal and other water-loving plants. Flags spheres. And, by the way, a young and rushes grow along its shallow marcolt comes up our avenue, now and gin. The yellow water-lily spreads its then, to crop the seldom-trodden herb- broad, flat leaves upon its surface; and age; and so does a company of cows, the fragrant white pond-lily occurs in whose sweet breath well repays us for many favored spots, — generally selectthe food which they obtain. There are ing a situation just so far from the likewise a few hens, whose quiet cluck river's brink, that it cannot be grasped is heard pleasantly about the house. except at the hazard of plunging in. A black dog sometimes stands at the But thanks be to the beautiful flower farther extremity of the avenue, and for growing at any rate. It is a marlooks wistfully hitherward; but when I vel whence it derives its loveliness and whistle to him, he puts his tail between perfume, sprouting as it does from the his legs, and trots away. Foolish dog! black mud over which the river sleeps, if he had more faith, he should have and from which the yellow lily likebones enough.

wise draws its unclean life and noisome

odor. So it is with many people in this Saturday, August 6. — Still a dull world : the same soil and circumstances day, threatening rain, yet without en- may produce the good and beautiful, ergy of character enough to rain out and the wicked and ugly. Some have right. However, yesterday there were the faculty of assimilating to themselves showers enough to supply us well with only what is evil, and so they become their beneficent outpouring. As to the as noisome as the yellow water-lily. new cistern, it seems to be bewitched; Some assimilate none but good influfor, while the spout pours into it like a ences, and their emblem is the fra. cataract, it still remains almost empty. grant and spotless pond-lily, whose I wonder where Mr. Hosmer got it; very breath is a blessing to all the perhaps from Tantalus, under the eaves region round about. . . . . Among the of whose palace it must formerly have productions of the river's margin, I stood; for, like his drinking-cup in must not forget the pickerel-weed, which Hades, it has the property of filling it- grows just on the edge of the water, self forever, and never being full. and shoots up a long stalk crowned

After breakfast, l'took my fishing- with a blue spire, from among large rod, and went down through our or- green leaves. Both the flower and the chard to the river-side ; but as three leaves look well in a vase with pondor four boys were already in possession lilies, and relieve the unvaried whiteof the best spots along the shore, I did 'ness of the latter; and, being all alike not fish. This river of ours is the most children of the waters, they are perfectly sluggish stream that I ever was ac- in keeping with one another. quainted with. I had spent three weeks I bathe once, and often twice, a day by its side, and swam across it every in our river ; but one dip into the salt day, before I could determine which sea would be worth more than a whole way its current ran; and then I was week's soaking in such a lifeless tide. compelled to decide the question by I have read of a river somewhere the testimony of others, and not by (whether it be in classic regions or my own observation. Owing to this among our Western Indians I know torpor of the stream, it has nowhere not) which seemed to dissolve and steal a bright, pebbly shore, nor is there away the vigor of those who bathed in

« 上一頁繼續 »