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These were cup-bearers undying,
And my Plato, the divine one,—
Yet, your Chrysostom, you praised him,
And we both praised our Synesius,
Do you mind that deed of Até,
For we sometimes gently wrangled;
The learning, then, of Miss Barrett does not stand in the way of her womanly nature, but is rather a severe discipline which refines, elevates that nature, and puts not a pebble in the way of its natural course.
By this plea, that she is a woman, a true, natural woman, albeit a learned one, yet one in whom the intellect has not burnt up the heart, Miss Barrett justifies herself in approaching the great theme of the Fall of Man. “My subject was the new and strange experience of the fallen humanity, as it went forth from Paradise into the wilderness; with a peculiar reference to Eve's allotted grief,
vol. 1.-no. 1.
which, considering that self-sacrifice belonged to her womanhood, and the consciousness of originating the fall to her offence, appeared to me imperfectly apprehended hitherto, and more expressible by a woman than a man. There was room at least for lyrical emotion in those first steps into the wilderness, in that first sense of desolation after wrath, in that first audible gathering of the recriminating ‘groan of the whole creation,'— in that first darkening of the hills from the recoiling feet of angels, and in that first silence of the voice of God. And I took pleasure in driving in, like a pile, stroke upon stroke, the Idea of Exile, admitting Lucifer as an extreme Adam, to represent the ultimate tendencies of sin and loss, that it might be strong to bear up the contrary Idea of the Heavenly love and purity.” he “Drama of Exile” is cast in a form resembling that of the Grecian. tragedy, a form which allows great latitude to the lyrical portions and permits an argumentative metaphysical strain in the remaining passages. The ancient chorus has been the incentive to Miss Barrett's lyrical poems, and not the old English song-writing. The persons of the drama are Adam, Eve, Gabriel, Lucifer, Angels, EdenSpirits, Earth-Spirits, and Phantasms, and the Saviour introduced in a vision. The scene is the outer side of the gate of Eden within the “sword glare,” and in the region immediately beyond. Gabriel, the good angel, and the malignant, sneering Lucifer, are first introduced.
Lucifer. Hail, Gabriel, the keeper of the ate : Now that the fruit is pluck'd, prince Gabriel, I hold that Eden is impregnable Under thy keeping. Gabriel. Angel of the sin, Such as thou standest—pale in the drear light Which rounds the rebel's work with Maker's wrath, Thou shalt be an Idea to all souls;– A monumental melancholy gloom Seen down all ages; whence to mark despair, And measure out the distances from good! Go from us straightway. Lucifer. Wherefore ? Gabriel. Lucifer, Thy last step in this place trod sorrow up. Recoil before that sorrow, if not this sword. Lucifer. Angels are in the world—wherefore not I? 6
There's a brave earth to sin and suffer on :
I chose this ruin: I elected it
own In virtue of her misery, as I hers, In virtue of my ruin turn from both, ‘That bright impassive, passive angelhood And spare to read us backward any more “Of your spent hallelujahs.
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Gabriel. Yet, thou discovered one, by the truth in me, Which God keeps in me, I would give away All,—save that truth, and His love over it: To lead thee home again into the light,
Hearken, oh hearken! let your souls behind
The yearning to a beautiful, denied you,
The Spirits of the Trees utter their song in words borrowed from the musical winds that stir their leaves! These lines are extremely melodious.
Spirits of the Trees.
And the Flower Spirits sing their farewell to the lost inhabitants of Eden:
Farewell ! the flowers of Eden Ye shall smell never more.
There is silence. ADAM and Eve fly on, and never look back. Only a colossal shadow, as of the dark Angel passing quickly, is cast upon the swordglare.
At the extremity of the sword-glare Eve reposes upon Adam, reading a deeper dread in his face than in the glittering terror of the wall of angels.
Adam. Hast thou strength, Beloved, to look behind us to the gate 7 Eve. I have strength to look upward to thy face. Adam. We need be strong: yon spectacle of cloud Which seals the gate up to the final doom, Is God's seal in a cloud. There seem to lie A hundred thunders in it, dark and dread; The unmolten lightnings vein it motionless; And, outward from its depth, the self-moved sword Swings slow its awful gnomen of red fire From side to side,-in pendulous horror slow. # * # * * * What is this, Eve? thou droppest heavily. Eve. O Adam, Adam : by that name of Eve— Thine Eve, thy life—which suits me little now, I do adjure thee, put me straight away, Together with my name. Sweet, punish me ! O Love, be just and, ere we pass beyond The light cast outward by the fiery sword, Into the dark which earth must be to us, Bruise my head with thy foot, -as the curse said My seed shall the first tempter's: strike with curse, As God struck in the garden : Adam. My beloved, Mine Eve and life—I have no other name For thee or for the sun than what ye are — * * * # * *
Shall I who had not virtue to stand straight
I, standing here between the glory and dark,+ Lift up to Thee the hands from whence hath fallen Only creation's sceptre, thanking Thee That rather Thou hast cast me out with her, Than left me lorn of her in Paradise.
Music, “tender as a watering dew,” from a chorus of invisible angels follows. Lucifer appears tortured with metaphysical doubts and agonies, the Miltonic punishment of fallen angels, and the morning star, the beloved of Lucifer, takes his farewell in a song of fine imaginative power. They go further on. A wild open country is seen vaguely in the approaching night. Adam. How doth the wide and melancholy earth Gather her hills around us, gray and ghast, And stare with blank significance of loss Right in our faces. Is the wind up 7 re. Nay. Adam. And yet the cedars and the junipers Rock slowly through the mist, without a noise ; And shapes, which have no certainty of shape, Drift duskly in and out between the pines, And loom along the edges of the hills, And lie flat, curdling in the open ground— Shadows without a body, which contract And lengthen as we gaze on them. Ere. O Life, Which is not man's nor angels: What is this?
Adam wanders in terror with Eve till the surrounding phantasms figure themselves in the sign of the zodiac.
- - - - - - - - - - - That phantom, there, Presents a lion,-albeit, twenty times As large as any lion,--with a roar Set soundless in his vibratory jaws, And a strange horror stirring in his mane! And there, a pendulous shadow seems to weigh— Good against ill, perchance; and there, a crab Puts coldly out its gradual shadow-claws, Like a slow blot that spreads,-till all the ground, Crawled over by it, seems to crawl itself; A bull stands horned here with gibbous glooms; And a ram likewise; and a scorpion writhes Its tail in ghastly slime, and stings the dark : This way a goat leaps, with wild blank of beard ; And here fantastic fishes duskly float,
Using the calm for waters, while their fins Throb out slow rhythms along the shallow air!
The spirits of organic and inorganic nature arise from the ground, and, as in the bold figures of a Hebrew psalm, the beasts, rivers, birds “with viewless wings of harmonies,” the “calm cold fishes of a silver being,” witness against man. The pathetic appeal of Eve in reply is exceedingly beautiful:
. . . . Sweet, dreadful Spirits! I pray you humbly in the name of God; Not to say of these tears, which are impure— Grant me such pardoning grace as can go forth From clean volitions toward a spotted will, From the wronged to the wronger; this and no more ; I do not ask more. I am 'ware, indeed, That absolute pardon is impossible From you to me, by reason of my sin,_ And that I cannot evermore, as once, With worthy acceptation of pure joy, Behold the trances of the holy hills Beneath the leaning stars; or watch the vales, Dew-pallid with their morning ecstasy; Or hear the winds make pastoral peace between Two grassy uplands,-and the river-wells Work out their bubbling lengths beneath the ground— And all the birds sing, till, for joy of song, They lift their trembling wings, as if to heave The too-much weight of music from their heart And float it up the aether! I am 'ware That these things I can no more apprehend, With a pure organ, into a full delight; The sense of beauty and of melody Being no more aided in me by the sense Of personal adjustment to those heights Of what I see well-formed or hear welltuned,— But rather coupled darkly, and made ashamed, By my percipiency of sin and fall, And melancholy of humiliant thoughts. But, oh! fair, dreadful Spirits—albeit this Your accusation must confront my soul, And your pathetic utterance and full gaze Must evermore subdue me; be content— Conquer me gently—as if pitying me, Not to say loving: let my tears fall thick As watering dews of Eden, unreproached; And when your tongues reprove me, make
It will not be amiss in you who kept The law of your own righteousness, and keep The right of your own griefs to mourn themselves,< To pity me twice fallen,_from that, and this, From joy of place, and also right of wail, “I wail” being not for me—only “I sin.” Look to it, O sweet Spirits!— For was I not, At that last sunset seen in Paradise, When all the westering clouds flashed out in throngs Of sudden angel-faces, face by face, All * and solemn, as a thought of o Held them suspended,—was I not, that hour, The lady of the world, princess of life, Mistress of feast and favor? Could I touch A rose with my white hand, but it became Redder at once Could I walk leisurely Along our swarded garden, but the grass Tracked me with greenness? Could I stand aside A moment underneath a cornel-tree, But all the leaves did tremble as alive, With songs of fifty birds who were made glad * stood there? Could I turm to loo With these twain eyes of mine, now weeping fast, Now good for only weeping—upon man, Angel, or beast, or bird, but each rejoiced Because I looked on him? Alas, alas! And is not this much wo, to cry “alas!” Speaking of joy! And is not this more shame, To have made the wo myself, from all that
joy 7 To #. stretch'd my hand, and pluck'd it from the tree, And chosen it for fruit? Nay, is not this Still most despair, to have halved that bitter fruit, And ruined, so, the sweetest friend I have, Turning the GREATEST to mine enemy?
The vision of CHRIST appears, and Adam blesses Eve in that Presence.
But, go to thy love Shall chant itself its own beatitudes, After its own life-working. A child's kiss, Set on thy sighing lips, shall make thee lad : A r: man, served by thee, shall make thee rich; An old man, helped by thee, shall make thee strong ; Thou shalt be served thyself by every sense Of service which thou renderest. Such a crown
I set upon thy head, Christ witnessing
With the words of the Saviour, we close this remarkable Drama.
Look on me ! As I shall be uplifted on a cross In darkness of eclipse and anguish dread, So shall I list up in my pierced hands, Not into dark, but light—not unto death, But life, beyond the reach of guilt and grief, The whole creation. name Take courage, O thou woman,—man, take hope: Your graves shall be as smooth as Eden's sward Beneath the steps of your prospective thoughts; And one step past them, a new Eden-gate Shall open on a hinge of harmony, And let you through to mercy. Yeshall fall No more, within that Eden, nor pass out Any more from it. In which hope, move on, First sinners and first mourners. Live and love, Doing both nobly, because lowlily; Livo work, strongly,–because patienty! And, for the deed of death, trust it to God, That it be well done, unrepented of, And not to loss. And thence, with constant prayers Fasten your souls so high, that constantly
Henceforth in my