Imatges de pàgina

god Pan, and is afterwards induced by his sister Peona' to confide to her the secret of the passion which consumes him. The account of the feast of Pan contains passages which in the quality of direct nature - interpretation are scarcely to be surpassed in poetry:

"Rain-scented eglantine
Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing sun;
The lark was lost in him ; cold springs had run
To warm their chilliest bubbles in the grass :
Man's voice was on the mountains; and the mass
Of nature's lives and wonders puls'd tenfold,
To feel this sun-rise and its glories old.”

What can be more fresh and stirring? what happier in rhythmical movement ? or what more characteristic of the true instinct by which Keats, in dealing with nature, avoided word-painting and palette work, leaving all merely visible beauties, the stationary world of colours and forms, as they should be left, to the painter, and dealing, as poetry alone is able to deal, with those delights which are felt and divined rather than seen, with the living activities and operant magic of the earth ? Not less excellent is the realisation in the course of the same episode of the true spirit of ancient pastoral life and worship: the hymn to Pan, in especial, both expressing perfectly the meaning of the Greek myth to Greeks, and enriching it with touches of northern feeling that are foreign to, and yet most harmonious with, the original. Keats having got from Drayton, as I surmise, his first notion of an introductory feast of Pan, in his hymn to that divinity borrowed recognizable touches alike from Chapman's Homer's hymn, from the sacrifice to Pan in Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, and from the hymns in Ben Jonson's masque,

1 Lempriere (after Pausanias) mentions Pæon as one of the fifty sons of Endymion (in the Elean version of the myth); and in Spenser's Faerie Queene there is a Pæana—the daughter of the giant Corilambo in the fourth book. Keats probably had both of these in mind when he gave Endymion a sister and called her Peona.

Pan's Anniversary; but borrowed as only genius can, fusing and refashioning whatever he took from other writers in the strong glow of an imagination fed from the living sources of nature :

“O Thou whose mighty palace roof doth hang
From jayged trunks, and overshadoweth
Eternal whispers, glooms, the birth, life, death
Of unseen flowers in heavy peacefulness;
Who lov'st to see the hamadryads dress
Their ruffled locks where meeting hazels darken;
And through whole solemn hours dost sit, and hearken
The dreary melody of bedded reeds-
In desolate places where dank moisture breeds
The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth;
Bethinking thee, how melancholy loth
Thou wast to lose fair Syrinx-do thou now,
By thy love's milky brow!
By all the trembling mazes that she ran,
Hear us, great Pan!

O Hearkener to the loud-clapping shears,
While ever and anon to his shorn peers
A ram goes bleating : Winder of the horn,
When snouted wild-boars, routing tender corn,
Anger our huntsman: Breather round our farms,
To keep off mildews and all weather harms :
Strange ministrant of undescribed sounds
That come a-swooning over hollow grounds,
And wither drearily on barren moors :
Dread opener of the mysterious doors

1 Book 1, Song 4. The point about Browne has been made by Mr. W. T. Arnold.

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In the subsequent discourse of Endymion and Peona he tells her the story of those celestial visitations which he scarce knows whether he has experienced or dreamed. In Keats's conception of his youthful heroes there is at all times a touch, not the wholesomest, of effeminacy and physical softness, and the influence of passion he is apt to make fever and unman them quite : as indeed a helpless and enslaved submission of all the faculties to love proved, when it came to the trial, to be a weakness of his own nature. He partly knew it, and could not help it: but the consequence is that the love-passages of Endymion, notwithstanding the halo of beautiful tremulous imagery that often plays about them, can scarcely be read with pleasure. On the other hand, in matters of subordinate feeling he shows not only a great rhetorical facility, but the signs often of lively dramatic power; as for instance in the remonstrance wherein Peona tries to make her brother asbamed of his weakness :

“ Is this the cause ?
This all ? Yet it is strange, and sad, alas !
That one who through this middle earth should pass
Most like a sojourning demi-god, and leave
His name upon the harp-string, should achieve
No higher bard than simple maidenhood,
Sighing alone, and fearfully-how the blood
Left his young cheek; and how he used to stray
He knew not where; and how he would say, Nay,
If any said 'twas love: and yet 'twas love;
What could it be but love? How a ring-dove

Let fall a sprig of yew-tree in his path;
And how he died: and then, that love doth scathe
The gentle heart, as Northern blasts do roses.
And then the ballad of his sad life closes
With sighs, and an alas ! Endymion !"

In the second book the hero sets out in quest of his felicity, and is led by obscure signs and impulses through a mysterious and all but trackless region of adventure. In the first vague imaginings of youth, conceptions of natural and architectural marvels, unlocalized and halfrealized in mysterious space, are apt to fill a large part, and to such imaginings Keats in this book lets himself go without a check. A Naiad in the disguise of a butterfly leads Endymion to her spring, and there reveals herself and bids him be of good hope; an airy voice next invites him to descend “Into the sparry hollows of the world;" which done, he gropes his way to a subterranean temple of dim and most un - Grecian magnificence, where he is admitted to the presence of the sleeping Adonis, and whither Venus herself presently repairing gives him encouragement. Thence, urged by the haunting passion within him, he wanders on by dizzy paths and precipices, and forests of leaping, ever-changing fountains. Through all this phantasmagoria, engendered by a brain still teeming with the rich first fumes of boyish fancy, and in great part confusing and inappropriate, shine out at intervals strokes of the true old-world poetry, admirably felt and expressed

“He sinks adown a solitary glen,
Where there was never sound of mortal men,
Saving, perhaps, some snow-light cadences
Melting to silence, when upon the breeze
Some holy bark let forth an anthem sweet
To cheer itself to Delphi,”

or presences of old religion strongly conceived and realized :

“Forth from a rugged arch, in the dusk below,
Came mother Cybele-alone--alone-
In sombre chariot; dark foldings thrown
About her majesty, and front death-pale,
With turrets crowned.”

After seeing the vision of Cybele, Endymion, still travelling through the bowels of the earth, is conveyed on an eagle's back down an unfathomable descent, and alighting, presently finds a “jasmine bower,” whither his celestial mistress again stoops to visit him. Next he encounters the streams, and hears the voices of Arethusa and Alpheus on their fabled flight to Ortygia; as they disappear down a chasm, he utters a prayer to his goddess in their behalf, and then

“He turn'd—there was a whelming sound—he stept,
There was a cooler light; and so he kept
Towards it by a sandy path, and lo!
More suddenly than doth a moment go,
The visions of the earth were gone and filed-
He saw the giant sea above his head."

Hitherto Endymion has been wholly absorbed in his own passion and adventures, but now the fates of others claim his sympathy: first, those of Alpheus and Arethusa, and next, throughout nearly the whole of the third book, those of Glaucus and Scylla. Keats handles this latter legend with great freedom, omitting its main point, the transformation of Scylla by Circe into a devouring monster, and making the enchantress punish her rival, not by this vile metamorphosis, but by death; or rather a trance resembling death, from which, after many ages, Glaucus is

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