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the Via Corta's connection with the night successfully obliterate themmysteries. They undoubtedly would selves in Parma or elsewhere. do so at once, and Douglas could only His own short week in Jilan was at hope that the cobbler and his daughter any rate one to remember. Chambers's Journal.
Charles Edwardes. (The End.)
STEVENSON'S POEMS. *
• When "Underwoods" was first pub see the verses are sane, that is their lished critics did not quite know what strong point." It was their prose merto say about it. Nor has the world yet its, he thought, that sent them into a come to any very sure opinion about second edition. As to the "Ballads," he any of Stevenson's poems, except “1 had a sneaking idea that they were Child's Garden of Verses," which every not altogether without merit. “I don't one is content to enjoy without asking know if they are poetry; but they're questions about it. One thing, how good narrative or I'm deceived." ever, is certain about Stevenson's In fact he professed to be a prose poetry. It is nearly all good reading, writer who made verses for fun but and more interesting than a good deal knew enough of literature not to make of poetry with a higher reputation. dull ones. This may seem poor praise; Some of his blank verse pieces are a but dullness is always a danger immilittle dull--most blank verse is dull - nent to verse; and when verse is not and only a Scotchman can read the dull, when it can be read with real Scotch poems with perfect ease; but pleasure and not merely by way of an the rest, when once you have begun attempt at plain living and high thinkthem, lead you on to the end just like ing, then we may be sure that it is good lais stories and his essays. "I do not set of its kind. Verse making was not up to be a poet,” he said himself, "only Stevenson's peculiar craft; and therean all-round literary man. A man who fore he could but seldom put all the talks, not one who sings." And he weight of his thought and all the knew how to talk in verse as well as strength of his emotion into it; but he in prose. Several times in his letters was not content either to prose in his he insists that his verse was the verse verses, or to leave them rough, like of a prose writer. Writing to Henley some prose writers such as Emerson, in 1883 he says that he is now a great and so commit them to the indulgence writer of verses. "Really. I have be- of the public as the work of an amagun to learn some of the rudiments of teur. He knew that he was not a masthat trade, I have written three or four ter of high lyric song, and he was too pretty enough pieces of octosyllabic conscientious to publish mere rough manonsense, semi-serious, semi-smiling. terial which he could not perfect. A kind of prose Herrick, divested of the Whatever he wrote he finished as gift of verse, and you behold the Bard. highly as he could; and so in verse he But I like it." He explained the sue only attempted what he was capable of Cegs of "Underwoods" by saying “You finishing with his limited craftsman
ship. Being "an all-round literary • "Poems by Robert Louis Stevenson," in cluding "Underwoods,"“Ballads," and "Songs
man," he made no mistakes about what of Travel” (Chatto and Windus, 2s, net).
Was fit for verse and what was not.
We seldom feel about any of his poetry can echo modern poets just as naturally that it would go better in prose, and as old ones. Here, for instance, is al never that it says nothing. Still he tune from "Maud" in "A Visit from was right when he said that it was the Sea": rather speech than song, though speech with a very pleasant musical accompa
Far from the loud sea beaches
Where he goes fishing and crying. niment.
Here in the inland garden These musical accompaniments are
Why is the sea-gull flying? wbat have most puzzled his critics in "Underwoods," because most of them Compare with this the lyric beginning are taken from other poets; and yet they do not make the verse sound stale
Birds in the high Hall-garden or secondhand. On the one hand Ste
When twilight was falling. venson seems to be playing a game, to
True there is a difference of metre, but be making English verses, like an ex
the tune is the same. Then there seems cellent scholar making Latin ones; but
to be an echo from "Ionica" in the poem on the other he manages to express
called "In the States." If Stevenson himself in these verses, and to speak
never read "Ionica” the resemblance is his own thoughts with his own voice,
curious, for in this case the sentiment although to a borrowed tune. “Under
too is exactly that of William Cory. woods” is as full of Stevenson as anything he ever wrote; and yet there With half a heart I wander here never was a book of poems more full is from an age gone by, of echoes. Echoes in this case is just A brother-yet though young in years, the right word, for it was always the An elder brother, I. sound of other poems that Stevenson bad in his mind when he wrote; and to The verses "To Will. H. Low" are that sound he married sense of his own surely written to the tune of Keats's so happily that the two seem to be as “Bards of Passion and of Mirth” and it were, one flesh. He liked to write “Ever let the Fancy roam,” as, for inpoems to old tunes, but he wrote them stance, better to old tunes of verse than to
This is unborn beauty: she old tunes of music. The rhythms and
Now in air floats high and free, cadences of certain poets suited his own
Takes the sun and breaks the blue:-moods so well that he was able to use Late with stooping pinion flew them as moulds of his own thoughts. Raking hedgerow trees, and wet He has told us how in his youth he Her wing in silver streams, and set "played the sedulous ape" to great Shining foot on temple roof. prose writers. In his verse he was content to play the sedulous ape when he Keats, it is true, got the tune from was a grown man. But in verse he did Fletcher and Wither and other Elizanot do it out of mere blind admiration. bethans and only perfected it; but SteHe chose his models to suit what he had venson seems rather to have taken it to say, and chose them so well that no from Keats in its perfected form than one unfamiliar with them would suspect to have adapted it himself from the that they existed.
original sources. In "The Sick Child" Even when you recognize the echoes there is naturally an echo from Blake:they add to your pleasure rather than Mother, mother, speak low in my ear, lessen it, seeming to enrich the verse Some of the things are so great and with their associations; and Stevenson
Some are so small and far away, I have a fear that I cannot say.
Father, O Father, what do we here,
But the poets most constantly echoed in “Underwoods” are Herrick, as Stevenson himself implies, and Marvell even more than Herrick. They were both poets who were often content rather to talk than to sing, but who knew to perfection the difference between prose and verse; and they were also poets who wrote about some of the very things that pleased Stevenson most and in a mood exactly like his. Therefore, when he borrowed their rhythms and cadences, he was pleasing himself; and he pleases us, by calling to mind not merely their art, but also the pleasant things with which that art was concerned. And these rhythms and cadences are like some scent of familiar flowers hanging about his verses, and with the same instant appeal to the memory. He did not attempt to catch the tune of Herrick's airiest songs. He imitated the Herrick who like himself had a childish delight in homely things and places, and who could express it in a simple enumeration of them without any overstrain of sentiment or attempt at a richer music than would suit his theme. Of course Stevenson could not be, even in conscious make-believe, quite so simple-minded as Herrick. There was a good deal of Pepys in Herrick, and clever men cannot be as uncritical of themselves in our time as Pepys was. No poet now could write anything like the couplet on Julia's leg with perfect seriousness. Therefore when Stevenson imitates the simplicity of Herrick as in his “Envoy"—
Go, little book, and wish to all Flowers in the garden, meat in the hall,
A bin of wine, a spice of wit,
then one knows that he is only expressing a mood which he has encouraged for the pleasure it gives him. Herrick in poems of this kind really expressed the chief desires of his life, and there is something pleasing to us in the spectacle of a poet whose enjoyment of little pleasures is so untroubled by thoughts of “whence and, oh heavens, whither”; who never looks away from flowers or the domestic hearth towards the flaming ramparts of the World. Stevenson has told us that he liked to play with toys long after he was Supposed to have outgrown them; and in poems of this kind he makes believe to go back, not into his childhood, but into a past age of simplicity. He plays the Herrick game as if it were a game of soldiers, and takes the same pleasure in it as in one of his fanciful escapes into childhood. Poems like “The Envoy” belong not to the child's garden of verses, but to another garden of the past that Stevenson possessed in his estate of dreams, where with clipped yew hedges he could shut out the roaring and confused present. But it was only for a complete diversion that he liked to play Herrick, to empty his mind of all ideas and stock it only with delightful objects. Often he preferred to philosophize even in his games; and when he was in one of these “semiserious, semi-smiling” moods Marvell was his chief model. He could not have chosen a better; for Marvell also wrote partly for a diversion, and yet managed to throw all the weight of his thought and all the force of his emotion into some of his trifles. Stevenson could not quite do this; and so, when Henley advised him to make a poem more like Marvell, he told Henley to
go to the devil. He had already tried his best, no doubt; and he tried again and again in poems like “The House Beautiful,” “The Canoe Speaks” (which is half Marvell, half Herrick), “To H. F. Brown,” and “To Andrew Lang,” all of which are full of cadences remembered from Marvell and of words used in his manner. Stevenson was playing a game even when he wrote the most serious of these; but then he took life, work and play alike, sickness and travel, duties and pleasures, all as a series of games; and even death itself he liked to think of as the sleep of a tired child among its playthings—
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea, And the hunter home from the hill.
He played a game in his stories as well as in his poems. He always treated the English language as if he were playing a game with it, and liked to fit words together like parts of a brightly colored puzzle. But we enjoy his games, as we enjoy the games of a child, because he threw his whole heart into them. All that he wrote was a little artificial. His romance is to the romance of natural epic or saga what sport is to the hunting of men who can get no food otherwise; and this artificiality is plainer in his poems than elsewhere. Yet, in spite of it, he expressed himself in them, as in all that he wrote: for games became to him a natural means of expression. No doubt his ill-health made him feel that all his life was a little unreal, and that the best philosophy, for one so eager for the fulness of life and so seldom able to experience it, was to content himself with games. Thinking never seemed to him to be real life. Theories and ideas were well enough, but not serious business like the encountering of dangers. Therefore he was seldom in deadly earnest when he
expressed his ideas about life, however serious these ideas might be. “The Celestial Surgeon” has a theme as serious as any one could wish; and yet Stevenson is content, in expressing it, to throw himself back into a seventeenth century state of mind and to write like Herbert–
Lord, thy most pointed pleasure take
The idea in the poem is expressed by means of a series of symbols, and the very style is a symbol of the fact that Stevenson is trying to take life more simply than a man of his age, his training, and his nature could really take it.
That was always his desire, to take life simply; and that was the reason why he had such a love of games and toys, for they seemed to provide him with a version of life simpler than the reality. In his later poetry there are fewer echoes, but there is the same attempt at simplicity. In the ballads he tells very simple stories; but he could not find a narrative style in verse as he found one in prose, and there for once one feels that he has mistaken his medium and ought to be writing prose. They are good narrative, as he said, but when he doubted whether they were poetry his doubts were justified. His later lyrical poems are more uneven than “Underwoods.” Some of them are mere failures. You can see what he is aiming at in them and you can see that he has failed. But in some the air of simplicity expresses the desire for simplicity with a peculiar though indirect poignancy.
I will make you brooches and toys for your delight
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
I will make a palace fit for you and me was not a great poet; but he had the or green days in forests and blue days power of expressing himself in verse at sea
as in prose, and the very indirectness
of the expression when he makes beAnd then there is the beautiful song "In lieve to be simpler and happier than he the highlands, in the country places," is and to be contented with toys when where he ceases to play the game of he cannot get the reality, this moves us simplicity, and confesses that the life more perhaps than the greater and more he longs for can never be his, that he direct eloquence of poets, who cry out is a child of the North exiled among the for what they lack without restraint children of the South Seas, not to be and think there is nothing in life so consoled with their games or with the well worth doing as weeping because alien beauties of their country. He Paradise is unattainable here and now.
THE AMERICAN WOMAN.
The American woman is often repre. in character, intelligence, and individsented as playing in the European mar- uality; and the complacency with which riage-market the same triumphant and the American man will accept and endevouring rôle which the Hebrew man dorse this testimony to his inferiority plays in the money-market. Indeed, is accepted as quite conclusive conthe dramatization of the feelings of firmation of his judgment. When so the aristocratic English matron with keen and so experienced an observer as marriageable daughters towards the Mr. Henry James chronicles “the abforward policy of Transatlantic con- dication of man,” and the completeness querors has become a hackneyed topic of "this failure of the sexes to keep of modern comedy. This, however, is a pace socially," further questioning of small and incidental aspect of the far fact may seem unnecessary. America more interesting theme, the place and has produced its sort of man, a creature influence of the American woman in of business and politics, but as a man, her own country. Upon few social he is pronounced a failure; the woman “phenomena” do we find a larger cho alone is a conspicuous success. Yet, rus of enthusiastic agreement; nowhere “male and female created He them.” is there exhibited a more general fail. The natural history aspect of this uniure to realize the underlying facts of sexual evolution ought at least to stir the situation. That women play a more some curiosity, perhaps to evoke some commanding part in American society inquiry into the standard of "success" is obvious to the casual visitor; both in that is applied. the home and in each wider social circle Such inquiry, pushed from the field she not merely reigns but rules; and of biology into the adjoining sociology the males of her kind appear as admir- would, we more than conjecture, upset ing, submissive, and rather unworthy the whole fabric of illusory estimates subjects. European visitors use lan supporting this false valuation of the guage which suggests that the women sexes in America. What strikes the are a distinct and a superior human sometimes envious English woman as species to the men, superior not only in the most extraordinary achievement of grace and physical attractiveness, but her American sister, the fact that she