« ZurückWeiter »
No one until he has read these sensuous sonnets can know the majesty, melody, emotion and loveliness of our language. Rossetti has sounded depths of meaning in our tongue that approaches Shakespeare, and by that token is worthy of remembrance. One cannot quote these sonnets so as to represent the poet faithfully. All must be read together. The radiant “Portrait,” the gracious and joyous “Love Letter,” the tender “Birthday Bond,” the fervent “Day of Love,” the delicate “Love's Bauble,” the spiritual “The Love-Moon” and the varied beauty of “Broken Music ’’ and “Death-in-Love" must all be taken as a whole and as one poem, as in fact, they are intended to be. Where in all poetry is there a deeper expression of the mere littleness of human life and of its helplessness than in the following:
Is it this sky's vast vault or ocean's sound
The lifted shifted steeps and all the way ?
Upon the devious coverts of dismay ?
Shelley himself has never expressed the mighty heart of music more exquisitely than Rossetti has done here.
Rossetti's lyrics all have a superb and musical quality, words that almost sing themselves. “The Song of the Bower” is full of passion and music, and the lines linger in the ear like the whispering of sea shells.
Say, is it day, is it dusk in thy bower,
Oh, be it light, be it night, 'tis Love's hour,
How replete with passion and color the whole poem is It appeals to the heart and memory of almost every reader.
We cannot describe fully for want of space some of the more passionate of these poems, such as “Jenny,” “Sister Helen” and “Eden Bower,” They are terrible in their tragical power and effect, unmatched for pathos and beauty, they are indeed masterpieces. One sonnet, however, must be recalled, so full is it of serene beauty and pathos. It is entitled “Raleigh's Cell in the Tower”:
Here writ was the World's History by his hand
How superb the lines “Till hence, through unjust death unfeared, did pass his spirit to the only land unknown.”
Rossetti was one of the leaders of men—a poet-painter, a painter-poet. His poems will long preserve his memory in English literature.
THE biography of William Morris, by J. W. Mackall, is an intensely interesting story of a very remarkable man, poet, artist, architect and master workman, a man whose sense of beauty in things around him was the greatest characteristic of his nature. As the biographer says:
Morris did not graduate as a professional architect, nor in all his life did he ever build a house. But for him then and always the word architecture bore an immense, and one might also say a transcendental, meaning. Connected at a thousand points with all the other specific arts which ministered to it out of a thousand sources, it was in itself the tangible expression of all the order, the comeliness, the sweetness, nay, even the mystery and the law, which sustain man's world and make human life what it is. To him the House Beautiful represented the visible form of life itself. Not only as a craftsman and manufacturer, a worker in dyed stuffs and textiles and glass, a pattern designer and decorator, but throughout the whole range of life, he was from first to last the architect, the master craftsman, whose range of work was so phenomenal and his sudden transitions from one to another form of productive energy so swift and perplexing, because, himself secure in the center, he struck outward to any point of the circumference with equal directness, with equal precision, unperplexed by artificial subdivisons of art and untrammeled by any limiting rules of professional custom.
In other words, Morris felt and illustrated in his life that all the arts are united and are so many means of expressing the sense of beauty. “If a chap cannot write an epic poem while he is weaving tapestry,” Morris would say, “he had better shut up ; he'll never do any good at all.”
William Morris was born March 24, 1834, his father being a prosperous banker in London of Welsh descent. He was educated at a private school and at Exeter College, Oxford, though he did not take a degree. His most intimate associate at college was Edward Burne-Jones, and they continued to be lifelong friends. “From the first,” Burne-Jones has written, “I knew how different he was from all the men I had ever met. He talked with vehemence, and sometimes with violence. I never knew him languid or tired. He was slight of figure in those days ; his hair was dark brown and very thick ; his nose was straight; his eyes hazel colored ; his mouth ex
ceedingly delicate and beautiful.”