Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

Wordsworth, with more evidence of a fine lyric ear. They flow with all the spontaneity ascribed to them in the Introduction ;

Piping down the valleys wild,

Piping songs of pleasant glee ;
On a cloud I saw a child,

And he laughing said to me;
* Pipe a song about a lamb!'

So I piped with merry cheer ;
Piper, pipe that song again ;

So I piped ; he wept to hear.”
"And I made a rural pen,

And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs,

Every child may joy to hear.” They are all in the same simple diction and marked by the same simple childlike spirit. The new enthusiasm of worship, and the sense of the brotherhood of man and of the kinship of all nature are through them all. The Little Black Boy expresses the idealism that afterwards developed into mysticism, and held material things but a dream, and spirit the true reality ;

“And we are put on earth a little space
That we may learn to bear the beams of love ;
And these black bodies and their sunburnt face
Are but a cloud and like a shady grove.
For when our souls have learned the heat to bear,

The cloud will vanish, we shall hear his voice”.
The Lamb, A Cradle Song, The Divine Image, On
Another's Sorrow express the same idealist religion, the same
sense of the omnipresence of a loving God;

“ Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,

And thy Maker is not by ;
Think not thou canst weep a tear,

And thy Maker is not near”.
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell,

There God is dwelling too
The Echoing Green, The Chimney-sweeper, and The
Laughing Song are tinged with simple humour and cheer-

6. Over the Songs of Experience (1794) the shadow of his mysticism falls. He has begun to see visions and dream dreams, and the meaning of them he makes no effort to render clear. In his poetical Introduction he does not

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

speak or think with the simplicity of that to his first book of Songs; now it is the prophet and seer who sings;

“Hear the voice of the Bard

Who present, past, and future sees ;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word,

That walked among the ancient trees”.
The voice calls “the lapsed soul”, the Earth, to return;

"The starry floor, the watery shore

Are given thee till the break of day”. “Earth's Answer” follows. It is out of “darkness, dread, and drear”, “her locks covered with grey despair"; she accuses “the father of the ancient men ” of jealousy and cruelty to her, of binding "free love with bondage”. A number of the songs have the same themes and metre as The Songs of Innocence; but they are dim allegories and not spontaneous outbursts of a child-like nature. In The Clod and The Pebble, the clod “trodden with the cattle's feet” sings of love's unselfishness building "a hell in heaven's despair”, the inference being that those that suffer and are lowly feel most the beauty of love and love most unselfishly. Holy Thursday is a lament over the woes of children born

а in poverty ; it is filled with the new revolutionism;

“For where'er the sun does shine,

And where'er the rain does fall,
Babes should never hunger there,

Nor poverty the mind appal”. The Little Girl Lost and The Little Girl Found paint the universal brotherhood of innocence, the lion watching over and protecting the little child. The Chimney-sweeper is an attack on the pharisaism that worships God and yet neglects and oppresses His little ones ;

And because I am happy and dance and sing,

They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God, and his priest and king,

Who make up a heaven of our misery”. This is the cry of the little child against his parents who have “clothed him in the clothes of death”. The Fly is an allegory of the fate of human life ;

“ For I dance and drink and sing,

Till some blind hand shall brush my wing".

[ocr errors]


The Tiger is a question as to the purpose of the creation of such ravening power and beauty;

" When the stars threw down their spears,

And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see ?

Did he who made the lamb make thee?" The Little Vagabond is a suggestion that the combination of the alehouse and the church might make the poor religious. “London" is a lament over the sins and sorrows of the great city. The Human Abstract is an obscure allegory of the evil that grows “in the human Brain”. Christian Forbearance, and A Little Boy Lost are as mystical ; but seem to be attacks on the intolerant spirit of Christian churches. A Little Girl Lost seems to allegorise the terrorising effect of the common idea of God, as against the beauty of love. A Divine Image is another attack on the harsh ideas of most religions;

“ The human dress is forgéd iron,

The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace sealed,

The human heart its hungry gorge”. A Cradle Song has not the simple faith of its prototype; it ends in a pessimistic cry;

“Oh the cunning wiles that creep

In little heart asleep!
When the little heart doth wake,

Then the dreadful light shall break”. The School-boy is an appeal for less school and more intercourse with nature for children. To Tirzah is an indignant cry of a child against the "mother of its mortal part imprisoning his soul“ in senseless clay” and “betraying” it to "mortal life".

“ The death of Jesus set me free,

Then what have I to do with thee?" 7. The book of Thel which had already been published (1789) is the least obscure of all his mystical writings, though it is, like the rest, in Ossianesque rhythm and language, and has its meaning hidden in only halftransparent allegory. It seems to be an expression of that extreme idealism which grew upon him and many of his age, like Shelley, and which bewails the mixed nature of man,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and his imprisonment in flesh, leading as this does to the woes to be seen in human life. Thel is the youngest of the daughters of the Seraphim and laments the destiny of her loveliness; shé must pass away “like a smile upon an infant's face”. The lily of the valley chides her for her complaint, and says "I love to dwell in lowly vales", "Yet I am visited from heaven", and shall “flourish in eternal vales". The little cloud that fades away in an hour rejoices in its immortality; it fades “to ten-fold life, to love, to peace and raptures holy”. Thel still mourns that she “only lives to be at death the food of worms”. And the cloud bids her rejoice;

If thou art the food of worms, O virgin of the skies,

How great thy use, how great thy blessing !
Everything that lives

Lives not alone nor for itself". The worm is called ; but the clod of clay answers for him, “bowing over the weeping infant”, and “her life exhaling in milky fondness”. "We live not for ourselves”;

My bosom of itself is cold and of itself is dark ;

But he that loves the lowly pours his oil upon my head,

And kisses me”.
" But how this is I know not and I cannot know";

" I live and love". The “matron clay” bids Thel enter her house and fear nothing ; “ Thel entered in and saw the secrets of the land unknown; She saw the couches of the dead and where the fibrous root Of every heart on earth infixes deep its restless twists;

A land of sorrows and of tears where never smile was seen ”. She came to her own “grave-plot", and heard a voice asking the various questions that trouble the thoughtful man, why evil exists, and why the soul is wrapped with “a little curtain of flesh”. Thel flees shrieking and the poem ends.

8. The strength of the new transcendentalism that was to master English imaginative literature was never more apparent than in Blake and his poetry. All matter is to him a latent energy preparing a life beyond life. Only in man, the meeting-point of the ethereal and the fleshly, does it come into hostile relations with the higher element, spirit. Divinity is everywhere, inspiring, guarding all that is, even


[ocr errors]


the lowliest; thus he anticipates the pantheism of Wordsworth and of the nature-school of idealists. But divinity exists most in the soul of man which has pre-natal existence; thus he gives the fundamental thought of the Ode on the Intimations of Immortality long before it was conceived by the Lake poet. The soul is the true man, and to it all the earthly, fleshly elements should yield their service; and it is the breach of this duty of the universe that leads to the woes so apparent in human life from birth to death. It is earthliness that has given us tyrannies and cruelties, universal oppression and

It is materialism that has engendered gross thought and life and all the curse that lies upon mankind. He almost hates Bacon and Locke and Newton for teaching it as a philosophy and resting all knowledge on the senses. They are to him “the three great teachers of atheism or Satan's doctrine”. Nothing is to be gained by trusting to the senses but everlasting doubt, the foe of that inner intuition, that power of vision and of seeing the ethereal, which comes from God and belongs to the divine in man. He could himself see, and he painted, the spirits of the dead, even of dead animals. He was of "imagination all compact”, and it was only this “muddy vesture of decay” that marred the vision in most men. He came almost to live in the sphere of spirit and imagination, and hence perhaps his later inability to embody his ideas for the ordinary intelligence of men. His art, equally with his literary expression, became more and more ethereal and obscure. A dozen different interpretations might be attached to any one of his later pictures and to any one of his later poems.

In fact he came to hate all sensuous expression. Rubens and Correggio with their fleshly and effeminate forms and colours were an abhorrence to him. It was Raphael and Michael Angelo that were to him the divine painters; they saw the spirit, as he saw it, shining through its earthly vesture.

9. His horror of the sensuous grows in his poems. Only the immortal essence of matter makes him endure it. Through all nature breathes the divine spirit. Animal life is sacred to him as to Cowper and Burns, as being from the hand of the Divine. And only this materiality of man, the

« AnteriorContinuar »