« ZurückWeiter »
O poets, from a maniac's tongue was poured the deathless
singing ! O Christians, at your cross of hope, a hopeless hand was clinging ! O men, this man in brotherhood your weary paths beguiling,
Groaned inly while he taught you peace, and died while ye were smiling !
“The Cry of the Children’’ is another of her great lyrics, breathing a love of humanity that stirred the hearts of men as profoundly as did Hood's “Song of the Shirt.” It was the cry of the children of the mines:
Do you hear the children weeping, O my brothers,
The whole poem gleams with pathos and beauty
and exalted feeling. Other favorites of these
poems not easily to be forgotten when once read
are “Isobel's Child,” “The Duchess May,” “Bertha in the Lane,” “Romance of the Swan’s Nest,” “Hector in the Garden" and “To Flush, My Dog.” Elizabeth Barrett was singularly precocious, and when a mere child began to write. She read Greek at eight, and when she was nine, as she relates in her poem “ Hector in the Garden,” it suggested to her that the Greeks were nine years in besieging Troy. Nine years old The first of any Seem the happiest years that come ; Yet when I was nine, I said No such word ' I thought instead
That the Greeks had used as many
Many of her poems show that she had a fine classical education. One of her childish efforts was an epic on the battle of Marathon, after the style of Pope's Homer, and from that time forward she cultivated the art of poesy. She published a volume of poems when nineteen, which was well received by the English critics. Her principal volume of poems was published in 1846, the year she married Robert Browning, when she was in her fortieth year. The readers of Poe's criticisms will remember the high praise he bestowed on
Elizabeth Barrett for that volume of poems. He 244
was one of the first of critics to justly appreciate her genius. After her marriage her life was spent at Florence, where she wrote her two long poems, “Casa Guidi Windows" and “Aurora Leigh.” She died in 1861 in her fifty-fifth year. Her popularity long preceded that of her husband, if, indeed, it can be said that Browning ever became a popular poet at all. Her name was known where his was not, and there have been wide circles of readers who were acquainted with her poetry but not with his. Her place on Mount Parnassus is but little below that of Tennyson and Robert Browning.
LOVE LETTERS OF TWO POETS.
No one can gainsay that letters are often—perhaps always—the most authentic part of biography and history. They are “human documents” written on the spot and amid surroundings that time nor fraud can thereafter change. This is what makes the value of Walpole's letters, of Cowper's, of Lamb's, of Franklin's and Washington's and Jefferson's, and this is why “The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett,” are of such exceeding great interest to-day. The son, Robert Barrett Browning, has been somewhat criticised for thus giving to the gaze of the world the sacred utterances of his father and mother delivered in the privacy of courtship, but we can see no fault in him. A more ideal courtship, a more beautiful love story, was never imagined by poet or novelist, and it is perfectly fitting that it should be known to those who have so long admired and loved these two poets. When this correspondence commenced in January, 1845, Miss Barrett was
much the better known poet of the two. One
cannot say she was popular in the sense that everyone read her poetry, but she had a high place in the public esteem—which Browning had not. His first poem, “Pauline,” had fallen stillborn from the press, and his second, “Paracelsus,” had not met with much better fortune. People complained then, as since, that they could not understand him, and he seemed to take but little pains to make his enigmas plainer. At this time Miss Barrett was approaching her fortieth year, and for twenty-five years had been an invalid unable to walk. When she was fifteen she had been thrown from a pony, the fall injuring her spine. The two poets had never met. The correspondence commenced January Io, 1845, with a letter from Browning in praise of a volume
of poems by Miss Barrett then just published.
I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett— and this is no offhand, complimentary letter I shall write— whateven else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius, and there a graceful and natural end of the thing. Since the day last week when I first read your poems, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning and turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me, for in the first flush of delight I thought I would this once get out of my habit of purely passive enjoyment, when I do really enjoy, and thoroughly justify my admiration —perhaps even as a loyal fellow craftsman should,