« AnteriorContinua »
He gives it a second time, then runs it five and forty,
To woe, alas, to dark grief, to Jannes, my son,
If thou hast a swift horse, thou wilt find her at table,
The horse began to neigh, and the maiden knew him,
He flies away swift as the wind, the Turks take their guns,
How children love these repetitions which keep up the cadence of the thought, and make the ballad or fairy story musical as rippple after ripple on some little lake!
There are many pretty poems of a playful sort. The Greek grace is seen in these, just as when in the age of Pericles they prefaced the keenest irony with, O best one.
I go into a garden, find an apple tree
The Wish is only to be paralleled in its range with
"Ye gods annihilate both time and space,
Here below, in the neighborhood, below in the street,
My loved, golden, clear moon, now sinking to thy rest,
And now he has left me, like stubble on the empty field,
I meant to curse him, but I feel tenderness again,
May he break in two, like glass, may he melt, like wax!
I passed by thy door and saw thee in anger,
What grief thou hast at heart, that I may bring thee comfort.
DISCOVERY OF LOVE.
O maiden when we met, 't was night, who could have seen us?
The tenderness is just as graceful.
O thou my red pink, my blue hyacinth,
O thou, my red pink, my blue hyacinth,
Bow thyself down to me, let me give thee a sweet kiss,
Come is the day and hour when we must part,
The dying chief cries,
On thy wings let me write three black letters,
He who has a daughter to be wooed and taken in marriage, Let him give her to an old man rather than to a young sailor. The sailor, the unhappy, has many griefs to suffer,
Who eats at noon, eats not at night, who makes his bed, sleeps not;
Unhappy the youth who lies sick upon the deck,
See this mountain, this one here, and there above the other,
The little anchor on the right, the cable on the left,
So we see the Greek did not fail to cast his eye on the blue sea, too.
Two of the best, The Unexpected Marriage, and the Night Journey, I saw long since translated by Sheridan, with great spirit, but with that corruption of their native simple beauty to which a rhymed translation almost always leads.
The song of the Swallow, the Cradle songs, and one "serenade," even, contained in this volume, are of great beauty, but enough have been given to show the character of the whole. The account of the Myriologia corresponds with one of the same ceremonies in a province of France I think, that I saw not long since in a book of Balzac's, "The Country Physician." I suppose the account was meant to be received as stating facts. If it is authentic, the correspondence is striking.
"The poems on funeral occasions are, from their nature, improvisations, painting a new and fresh grief. There are indeed handed down for this purpose, certain forms and common-places in the introductions, transitions, and closes, but the varying circumstances oblige always to inprovise under cover of these. They have a slow, dragging measure, ending in a high tone, as if to express the cry of grief. It is wonderful to see timid and ignorant women at once transformed into poets by these occasions. Grief which, among us, robs the weaker sex even of the power of speech, becomes with them the source of inspiration, of which they had felt no presage in themselves, and they find courage to express their deepest feelings before the crowd who have their eyes upon them, waiting to be agitated and roused to tender emotions.
"It is hardly necessary to say that not all the women of Greece exhibit this wonderful gift in like degree. Some are especially famed for it, and are invited to sing at the funerals of those with whom they are not connected. The women love to practise this art, while at work in the fields, singing their ex
tempore laments in imaginary cases, sometimes for the loss of a friend or neighbor, sometimes of a flower, a bird, or a lamb.
"Few of these poems are preserved; they are the gift of the moment and pass away with it; the poetesses, themselves, can rarely remember what they have sung. Single thoughts or images remain in the memory of the hearers, but seldom the whole song. In the absence of the poems, the account given by a friend of one of these ceremonies, at which he was present, may be acceptable.
"A woman of Mezzovon on Pindos, about five and twenty years of age, had lost her husband, who had left her with two little children. She was a poor peasant of simple character, and had never been in the least remarked for her intellect. Leading her children by the hand, she appeared before the corpse, and began her song of sorrow by the story of a dream, which she addressed to the departed. A little while ago, she said, 'I saw, before the door of our house, a youth of majestic form, with a threatening aspect, and at his shoulders, white, outspread wings. He stood upon the threshold, with a drawn sword in his hand. Woman,' he asked, is thy husband in the house?' 'He is within,' I answered; he is combing our little Nicholas, and coaxing him that he may not cry. But go not in, terrible young man, go not in. Thou wouldst frighten our child.' But the youth, with the white wings, persisted that he would go in. I tried to push him back, but was not strong enough. He rushed into the house, he rushed on thee, my boloved, he struck thee with his sword, thee unhappy. And our son, the little Nicholas, too, he wished to kill.'
"After this beginning, whose tone, as she delivered it, made the hearers tremble, some of whom were looking to the door for the youth with the white wings, she threw herself sobbing on the body, and they with difficulty drew her away from it. Then while her little child clung sobbing to her knees, she renewed her song with still more inspiration. She asked her husband, how she should now live with their children; she reminded him of their wedding day, of all they had done together for their children, of her love for him, and did not cease till she sank exhausted to the ground, pale as the clay of him she bewailed."
The Irish wake, probably, degenerates in this country; but even here, the poor bricklayers and ditch-makers combine with its coarse sociality something of this poetical enjoyment. Only a few months since I heard from one of the most ignorant Irish, an account of a wake almost as poetic as that given above. It was that of a young hus