Foremost among the translations are a number of his songs, rendered with a finesse and a literalness that are rarely combined. Four years later, at the age of twenty-one, she published her second volume, "Admetus and Other Poems," which at once took rank as literature both in America and England, and challenged comparison with the work of established writers.
Of classic themes we have "Admetus" and "Orpheus," and of romantic the legend of Tannhauser and of the saintly Lohengrin. All are treated with an artistic finish that shows perfect mastery of her craft, without detracting from the freshness and flow of her inspiration. While sounding no absolutely new note in the world, she yet makes us aware of a talent of unusual distinction, and a highly endowed nature,—a sort of tact of sentiment and expression, an instinct of the true and beautiful, and that quick intuition which is like second-sight in its sensitiveness to apprehend and respond to external stimulus.
But it is not the purely imaginative poems in this volume that most deeply interest us. We come upon experience of life in these pages; not in the ordinary sense, however, of outward activity and movement, but in the hidden undercurrent of being. Difficult to analyze, difficult above all to convey, if we would not encroach upon the domain of private and personal experience, is the drift of this poem, or rather cycle of poems, that ring throughout with a deeper accent and a more direct appeal than has yet made itself felt.
It is the drama of the human soul,—"the mystic winged and flickering butterfly," "flitting between earth and sky," in its passage from birth to death. A golden morning of June!
Such is youth, a June day, fair and fresh and tender with dreams and longing and vague desire. The morn lingers and passes, but the noon has not reached its height before the clouds begin to rise, the sunshine dies, the air grows thick and heavy, the lightnings flash, the thunder breaks among the hills, rolls and gathers and grows, until. Now we have the phases of the soul,—the shock and surprise of grief in the face of the world made desolate.
Loneliness and despair for a space, and then, like stars in the night, the new births of the spirit, the wonderful outcoming from sorrow: the mild light of patience at first; hope and faith kindled afresh in the very jaws of evil; the new meaning and worth of life beyond sorrow, beyond joy; and finally duty, the holiest word of all, that leads at last to victory and peace. The poem rounds and completes itself with the close of "the long, rich day," and the release of. We have dwelt at some length upon this poem, which seems to us, in a certain sense, subjective and biographical; but upon closer analysis there is still another conclusion to arrive at.
In "Epochs" we have, doubtless, the impress of a calamity brought very near to the writer, and profoundly working upon her sensibilities; not however by direct, but reflex action, as it were, and through sympathetic emotion—the emotion of the deeply-stirred spectator, of the artist, the poet who lives in the lives of others, and makes their joys and their sorrows his own.
Before dismissing this volume we may point out another clue as to the shaping of mind and character. The poem of "Admetus" is dedicated "to my friend Ralph Waldo Emerson. As she afterwards wrote: "To how many thousand youthful hearts has not his word been the beacon—nay, more, the guiding star—that led them safely through periods of mental storm and struggle! Left, to a certain extent, without compass or guide, without any positive or effective religious training, this was the first great moral revelation of her life. We can easily realize the chaos and ferment of an over-stimulated brain, steeped in romantic literature, and given over to the wayward leadings of the imagination.
Who can tell what is true, what is false, in a world where fantasy is as real as fact? Emerson's word fell like truth itself, "a shaft of light shot from the zenith," a golden rule of thought and action. His books were bread and wine to her, and she absorbed them into her very being. She felt herself invincibly drawn to the master, "that fount of wisdom and goodness," and it was her great privilege during these years to be brought into personal relations with him.
From the first he showed her a marked interest and sympathy, which became for her one of the most valued possessions of her life. He criticised her work with the fine appreciation and discrimination that made him quick to discern the quality of her talent as well as of her personality, and he was no doubt attracted by her almost transparent sincerity and singleness of soul, as well as by the simplicity and modesty that would have been unusual even in a person not gifted. He constituted himself, in a way, her literary mentor, advised her as to the books she should read and the attitude of mind she should cultivate.
For some years he corresponded with her very faithfully; his letters are full of noble and characteristic utterances, and give evidence of a warm regard that in itself was a stimulus and a high incentive. But encouragement even from so illustrious a source failed to elate the young poetess, or even to give her a due sense of the importance and value of her work, or the dignity of her vocation.
We have already alluded to her modesty in her unwillingness to assert herself or claim any prerogative,—something even morbid and exaggerated, which we know not how to define, whether as over- sensitiveness or indifference.
Once finished, the heat and glow of composition spent, her writings apparently ceased to interest her. She often resented any allusion to them on the part of intimate friends, and the public verdict as to their excellence could not reassure or satisfy her.
Notes & Interviews
The explanation is not far, perhaps, to seek. Was it not the "Ewig-Weibliche" that allows no prestige but its own? Emma Lazarus was a true woman, too distinctly feminine to wish to be exceptional, or to stand alone and apart, even by virtue of superiority. A word now as to her life and surroundings. She was one of a family of seven, and her parents were both living. Her winters were passed in New York, and her summers by the sea. In both places her life was essentially quiet and retired. The success of her book had been mainly in the world of letters.
In no wise tricked out to catch the public eye, her writings had not yet made her a conspicuous figure, but were destined slowly to take their proper place and give her the rank that she afterwards held. For some years now almost everything that she wrote was published in "Lippincott's Magazine," then edited by John Foster Kirk, and we shall still find in her poems the method and movement of her life.
Nature is still the fount and mirror, reflecting, and again reflected, in the soul. We have picture after picture, almost to satiety, until we grow conscious of a lack of substance and body and of vital play to the thought, as though the brain were spending itself in dreamings and reverie, the heart feeding upon itself, and the life choked by its own fullness without due outlet. Happily, however, the heavy cloud of sadness has lifted, and we feel the subsidence of waves after a storm.
She sings "Matins:"—. Nature is the perpetual resource and consolation. She gives us the breath of the pines and of the cool, salt seas, "illimitably sparkling. Like "Epochs," it is a cycle of poems, and the verse has caught the very trick of music,—alluring, baffling, and evasive.
This time we have the landscape of the night, the glamour of moon and stars,—pictures half real and half unreal, mystic imaginings, fancies, dreams, and the enchantment of "faerie," and throughout the unanswered cry, the eternal "Wherefore" of destiny. Dawn ends the song with a fine clear note, the return of day, night's misty phantoms rolled away, and the world itself, again green, sparkling and breathing freshness.
In she published "Alide," a romance in prose drawn from Goethe's autobiography. It may be of interest to quote the letter she received from Tourgeneff on this occasion:—. About this time occurred the death of her mother, the first break in the home and family circle.
In August of she made a visit to Concord, at the Emersons', memorable enough for her to keep a journal and note down every incident and detail. Very touching to read now, in its almost childlike simplicity, is this record of "persons that pass and shadows that remain. Emerson himself meets her at the station, and drives with her in his little one-horse wagon to his home, the gray square house, with dark green blinds, set amidst noble trees.
A glimpse of the family,—"the stately, white-haired Mrs. Emerson, and the beautiful, faithful Ellen, whose figure seems always to stand by the side of her august father.follow link
She meets the little set of Concord people: Mr. Alcott, for whom she does not share Mr. Emerson's enthusiasm; and William Ellery Channing, whose figure stands out like a gnarled and twisted scrub-oak,—a pathetic, impossible creature, whose cranks and oddities were submitted to on account of an innate nobility of character. I do not know whether I was most touched by the thought of the unique, lofty character that had inspired this depth and fervor of friendship, or by the pathetic constancy and pure affection of the poor, desolate old man before me, who tried to conceal his tenderness and sense of irremediable loss by a show of gruffness and philosophy.
He never speaks of Thoreau's death," she says, "but always 'Thoreau's loss,' or 'when I lost Mr.
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Thoreau,' or 'when Mr. Thoreau went away from Concord;' nor would he confess that he missed him, for there was not a day, an hour, a moment, when he did not feel that his friend was still with him and had never left him. And yet a day or two after," she goes on to say, "when I sat with him in the sunlit wood, looking at the gorgeous blue and silver summer sky, he turned to me and said: 'Just half of the world died for me when I lost Mr. None of it looks the same as when I looked at it with him. He took me through the woods and pointed out to me every spot visited and described by his friend.
Where the hut stood is a little pile of stones, and a sign, 'Site of Thoreau's Hut,' and a few steps beyond is the pond with thickly-wooded shore,—everything exquisitely peaceful and beautiful in the afternoon light, and not a sound to be heard except the crickets or the 'z-ing' of the locusts which Thoreau has described. Farther on he pointed out to me, in the distant landscape, a low roof, the only one visible, which was the roof of Thoreau's birthplace.
He had been over there many times, he said, since he lost Mr. Thoreau, but had never gone in,—he was afraid it might look lonely! But he had often sat on a rock in front of the house and looked at it. Channing gave her a package, which proved to be a copy of his own book on Thoreau, and the pocket compass which Thoreau carried to the Maine woods and on all his excursions. Before leaving the Emersons she received the proof-sheets of her drama of "The Spagnoletto," which was being printed for private circulation.
She showed them to Mr. Emerson, who had expressed a wish to see them, and, after reading them, he gave them back to her with the comment that they were "good. He laughed, and said he did not know of any; but he went on to tell her that he had taken it up, not expecting to read it through, and had not been able to put it down.
Every word and line told of richness in the poetry, he said, and as far as he could judge the play had great dramatic opportunities. Early in the autumn "The Spagnoletto" appeared,—a tragedy in five acts, the scene laid in Italy, UK's alcohol shame: Britons are heavier drinkers than most of the world and down almost one litre of pure Husband, 46, decapitates wife, 42, 'puts her head in her lap' and slits their five-year-old daughter's Girl, two, died of a twisted bowel after NHS service call handlers failed to spot symptoms or call an Thousands of British children face flu vaccine delay as officials tell schools to reschedule November Journalist discovers she has a huge cyst that needs urgent surgery after a viewer spotted a lump on her neck From soap geek to dance-phwoar god!
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Perfectly in tune! Meghan Markle shuffles closer to Prince Harry after receiving a subtle nod from her Meghan Markle has handled herself with 'grace, control and poise' amid controversy and 'we should all learn Proud Harry and Meghan share details of six-month-old son as they pay Royal blue!
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