上一级

讨论区

本书首页    Previous    Next    Chinese


THE MUSE OF THE NEW CENTURY

 

THE Muse of the New Centuryas our children's childrenperhaps even a more distant generationthough not weshall know herwhen will she reveal herselfIn what form will she appearWhat will she singWhat chords of the soul will she touchTo what elevation will she lift the age she lives in

So many questions in our busy timeA time in which Poetry stands almost solitary and aloneand in which one knows with certainty that much of the immortalversewritten by poets of the present daywill perhaps in the fu-ture exist only in charcoal inscriptions on prison wallsseen and read by a few inquisitive souls

Poetry must join in the bustle tooat least take someshare in the way of partieswhere blood or ink flows

That is a one-sided opinion,”many will say;“Poetry is not forgotten in our time.”

Nothere are still peoplewho on their free days feel a desire for Poetry andwhen they perceive this spiritual grumbling in the nobler part of their beingcertainly do send to the bookseller and buy a whole threepenny worth of poetryof the kind that is most recommendedSome are quite content with as much as they can get for nothingor are satisfied with reading a fragment on the paper bag from the grocer'sthat is a cheaper wayand in our busy time some regard must be paid to cheapnessThe desire is felt for what we haveand that is enoughThe poetry of the futurelike the music of the futurebelongs to the stories of Don Quixoteto speak about it is just like talking about voyages of discovery in Uranus

The time is too short and valuable for the play of fancyand if we are to speak quite sensiblywhat is PoetryThese rhymed outpourings of feelings and thoughts are merely the movements and vibrations of the nervesAll enthusiasmjoypaineven the material strivingarethe learned tell usvibrations of the nervesEach of us isa stringed instrument

But who touches these stringsWho makes them vibrate and trembleThe Spiritthe invisible divine Spiritwhich lets its emotionits feelingsound through themand that is understood by the other stringed instrumentsso that they also sound in harmonious tones or in the strong dissonances of oppositionSo it has beenand so it will bein the progress which humanity makes in the consciousness of freedom

Every centuryevery thousand yearsone may sayfinds in Poetry the expression of its greatnessborn in the period that is closingit steps forward and rules in the period that is coming

In the midst of our busy timenoisy with machineryshe is thus already bornthe Muse of the New CenturyWe send her our greetingLet her hear itor read it some dayperhaps among the charcoal iscriptions we spoke of above

The rockers of her cradle stretched from the farthest point which human foot had trod on North Polar expeditions to the utmost limit of human vision in theblack coal-sackof the Polar skyWe did not hear the sound of the cradle for the clattering of machinesthe whistling of railway enginesthe blasting of real rocks and of the old fetters of the mind

She has been born in the great factory of the present agewhere steam exerts its powerwhere Master Blood-lessand his workmen toil by day and night

She has in her possession the great loving heart of womanwith the Vestal's flame and the fire of passionShe received the lightning flash of intellectendowed with all the colours of the prismchanging from century to centuryand estimated according to the colour most in fashion at the timeThe glorious swan-plumage of fancy is her ornament and strengthscience wove itand primitive forces gave it power to soar

She is the child of the people on the father's sidesound in mind and thoughtwith seriousness in her eye and humour on her lipsHer mother is the nobly-bornhighly educated daughter of the French refugee with recollections of the gilded rococo periodThe Muse of the New Century has blood and soul in her from both of these

Splendid christening gifts were laid upon her cradleLike bonbons were strewed there in abundance the hidden riddles of Natureand their answersfrom the diver's bell were shaken marvellous trinkets from the depths of oceanAs a coverlet there was spread over her a copy of the map of the heavensthat suspended ocean with its myriads of isandseach of them a worldThe sun paints pictures for herphotography supplies her with playthings

Her nurse has sung to her of Eyvind Skaldaspiller and Firdusiof the Minnesingers and of what Heine in youthful Wantonness sang of his own poetic soulMuchtoo muchher nurse has told hershe knows the old ancestral mother Edda's horror-waking sagaswhere curses sweep along with blood-stained wingsAll the Arabian Nights she has heard in a quarter of an hour

The Muse of the New Century is still a childyet she has leaped out of her cradleshe is full of willwithout knowing what she desires

She still plays in her great nurserywhich is full of art-treasures and rococoGreek Tragedyand Roman Comedystand therehewn in marblethe popular songs of the nations hang like dried plants on the wallsprint a kiss on themand they swell again into freshness and fragranceShe is surrounded by eternal harmonies from the thoughts of BeethovenGluckMozartand all the great mastersex-pressed in melodyOn her bookshelf are laid away many who in their time were immortaland there is still room for many morewhose names we hear sounding along the telegraph-wire of immortality

A terrible amount she has readfar too muchfor she has been born in our timemuch must be forgotten againand the Muse will know how to forget

She thinks not of her songwhich will live on into a new millenniumas the books of Moses liveand Bidpai's fable of the fox's craft and successShe thinks not of her missionof her great future she is still at play amid the strife of nations which shakes the air which produces soundfigures with the pen and with the cannonrunes that are hard to read

She wears a Garibaldi hat yet reads her Shake-spears and thinks for a moment,“He can still be acted  when I am grown up Let Calderon rest in the sarcophagus of his works with his inscription of fame.” As for  Holberg,—the Muse is cosmopolitan she has bound  him up in one volume with Moliere Plautus and Aristophanes but reads Molière most

She is free from the restlessness which drives the  chamois of the Alps yet her soul longs for the salt of life as the chamois does for that of the mountainThere dwells in her heart a restfulness as in the legends of  Hebrew antiquity that voice from the nomad on the  green plains in the still starry nights and yet in song  her heart swells more strongly than that of the inspired  warrior from the Thessalian mountains in the days of ancient Greece

How is it with her Christian faithShe has learned  the great and little table of Philosophythe elementary  substances have broken one of her milkteeth but she  has a new set now In her cradle she bit into the fruit of  knowledge ate it and became wise,—so that Immortality flashed upon her as the most inspired idea of the  human mind

When will the new century of Poetry arise When  will the Muse be recognized When will she be heard

One beautiful morning in spring she will come  rushing on her dragon the locomotive through tunnels  and over viaducts or over the soft strong sea on the snorting dolphin or through the air on the great bird  Rocand will descend in the land from which her divine  voice will first hail the human raceWhere Is it from the land of Columbusthe land of freedomWhere the natives became hunted game and the Africans beasts of bur-den,—the land from which we heard the song of Hiawatha Is it from the Antipodes the gold nugget in the South  Seasthe land of contrarieswhere our night is dayand  black swans sing in the mimosa forestsOr from the land  where Memnon's pillar rang and still rings though we understood not the song of the sphinx in the desert Is it from  the coal-island where Shakespeare is the ruler from the  times of Elizabeth Is it from the land of Tycho Brahe where he was not allowed to remainor from the fairy-land  of California where the Wellingtonia rears its head as king of the forests of the world

When will the star shinethe star on the forehead of the Musethe flower on whose leaves are inscribed the century's expression of the beautiful in form in colour and in fragrance

What is the programme of the new Muse?” say the  skilled parliamentarians of our time.“What does she want to do?”

Rather ask what she does not want to do

She will not come forward as the ghost of the age that is past She will not construct dramas out of the cast-off glories of the stage nor will she conceal defects in  dramatic architecture by means of specious draperies of lyric verse Her flight before our eyes will be like passing from the car of Thespis to the amphitheatre of marble She will not break honest human talk in pieces and  patch it together again like an artificial chime of bells with ingratiating tinkles borrowed from the contests of the troubadoursShe will not set up verse as a nobleman and prose as a plebeianthey stand equal in melody in fullness and in strength She will not sculpture the old gods out of Iceland's saga-blocksthey are dead there is no feeling for them in the new age no kinship with themShe will not invite the men of her time to lodge their thoughts in the taverns of French novelsshe will not deaden them with the chloroform of commonplace tales She will bring an elixir of lifeher song in verse and in prose will be short clear and rich The heart-beats of the nations are each but one letter in the great alphabet of evolution but she will with equal affection take hold  of each letter form them into words and link the words into rhythms for her hymn of the present time

And when will the fullness of time have come

It is long for us who are still behind here it is  short for those who flew on ahead

Soon the Chinese Wall will fallthe railways of Europe reach the secluded cultures of Asiathe two streams of culture meet Then perhaps the waterfall will foam with its deep resounding roarwe old men of the present will shake at the mighty tones and hear in them a Ragnar kthe fall of the ancient godswe forget that times and races here below must disappear and only a slight image of each enclosed in the capsule of a wordwill swim like a lotusflower on the stream of eternityand tell us that they all are and were flesh of our fleshthough in different raimentThe image of the Jews shines out from the Bible that of the Greeks from the Iliad and Odyssey and ours—? Ask the Muse of the New Century at Ragnar k when the new Grimle arises glorified and made intelligible

All the power of steamall the forces of the present were levers Master Bloodless and his busy work-men who seem to be the powerful rulers of our time are only servants black slaves who adorn the palacehall bring forth the treasures lay the tables for the great feast at which the Muse with the innocence of a  child the enthusiasm of a maid and the calmness and knowledge of a matron raises the marvellous lamp of Poetry the rich full heart of man with the flame of God in it

Hail to thee Muse of the new century of PoetryOur greeting soars up and is heardeven as the worm's hymn of gratitude is heard the worm which is cut asunder by the ploughshare when a new spring dawns and the plough cleaves the furrows cutting us worms asunder so that blessing may grow for the new generation that is to come

Hail to thee Muse of the New Century

 


 

Previous    Next    Chinese

 
 
上一级

讨论区