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sions, when we are quite satisfied that he could have written better poems of his own. His versions are usually spirited and rhythmical, and so far as we have had opportunity to compare them with the originals, they appear tolerably faithful. He does not follow, it is true, the fac-simile plan of translation, now so much in vogue, which only reminds one of the story told of a Chinese artist, who, being engaged to reproduce a fine and costly piece of porcelain to which some accident had happened, followed his instructions so literally as to copy with great skill and labor a crack which extended nearly the whole length of his model.
When the Russian princess, Maria Paulowna, came as a bride to Weimar, in 1804, Schiller undertook to prepare a poetical greeting for her, by writing a little lyric drama, which was represented at the Court Theatre of that Lilliputian duchy. It was a pretty allegory, called The Homage of the Arts, much resembling in form the Masques that were fashjonable under the Tudors and the Stuarts. Some peasants appear in the act of transplanting an orange-tree, richly laden with fruit, and surrounded by maidens and children, who hold it steady with wreaths of flowers. They sing verses congratulating this tree :
"Child of softer, sunnier bowers,
In these natal fields of ours,
Here, henceforth, thy home shall be."
As the tree, or rather the lady, came from St. Petersburg, which is many degrees nearer the north pole than Weimar, we think there was some poetical license in speaking of those "sunnier bowers "; but for this Schiller is not responsible, as he only calls it a tree "aus der fremden Zone," from a foreign zone. But he does term it an orange tree, and as the lady had received the education of a princess, he probably considered her as a hot-house plant; Mr. Brooks, we suppose, by "softer, sunnier bowers," intended to signify a Russian conservatory. Presently, the Genius of Beauty descends, attended by seven goddesses of Art, three of whom, the poet is careful to tell us, are for the plastic arts, and four for the rhetorical and musical ones. Each of these comes forward, and addresses a short poetical compliment to the princess. Two of these speeches may be taken as a sample of Schiller's manner, and of his translator's skill.
"GENIUS [turning toward the Princess].
"Beauty's creative Genius stands before thee, Attended by the Arts, a sister-band.
'T is we who crown all human works with glory, —
And she, the lofty one who gave thee birth,
Tends with pure hand on her domestic hearth.
"ARCHITECTURE [with a mural crown on her head, and a golden ship in her hand].
"Enthroned by Neva's banks, I graced thy home;
Thy world-renowned ancestor called me forth;
The imperial seat and mistress of the North.
Arose beneath my magic wand, one day;
Where yesterday but gloomy fog-banks lay; Her bristling naval armaments gigantic Drive back old Belt to his sea-palace, frantic." Schiller did well to compose this poetical trifle for the sake of complimenting his princely patrons, though the flattery appears un peu lourd for the nineteenth century, rather ponderous specimen of German fancy. But he probably attached little value to it, and it was unwise in him or his literary executors to include it in the edition of his works. What has procured for this Russo-Germanic orange-tree the honor of being again transplanted, and to our republican soil too, is more than we can imagine. We should as soon think of bringing over a German Eilwagen.
Similar remarks might be made about many of the shorter pieces in this volume, which are hardly worth cutting out of the corner of a newspaper, even if they could ever have effected a lodgment there. Why translate what is of little or no value in the original? Many of them are from Freiligrath, a German poet of our own day, who, probably because he thinks the sunny climes of Italy and Greece, and even the far Orient, have now been sufficiently berhymed, has chosen to lay the scene of his poetry in Africa, and stuffs his verses ad nauseam with camels and palm-trees, lions and tigers, giraffes and hippopotamuses. There is something pecu
liarly Teutonic in such a fancy. We shall next hear of a pudding-headed German poet in New Holland, making rhymes about ornithorhynchi and kangaroos.
Mr. Story has narrowly escaped being a poet; but it is one of those cases in which a miss is as good as a mile. He has great facility and smoothness of versification, considerable fancy, and an almost unlimited command of poetical expression. But he is quite deficient in strong feeling and a creative imagination. We find abundance of sentiment, and occasionally some tenderness; but no powerful and vivid emotion, no passion, and consequently, nothing of the rapture and energy divine which belong to the true poet. His perception of the beautiful, both in nature and art, is delicate and tasteful, but is expressed in a form somewhat too abstract and æsthetic, too elaborately cultivated and disciplined by rule, to be ever mistaken for the spontaneous and fervid admiration of the naturally gifted mind. The contents of his volume appear not so much like poems, as like studies in the art of poetry. We do not mean that they show excessive labor; quite the contrary; Mr. Story's extraordinary fluency has rather betrayed him into great carelessness. He has a torrent of words and images ready to be poured out upon any topic; but he exercises little discrimination, and seeks to produce effect more by redoubling his strokes than by aiming a single decisive blow. He is constantly striking quite near the mark, but never actually hitting it. And one quickly sees that he is not much in earnest in the affair; he is exercising himself rather for his own amusement, than with a view of kindling emotion or imparting delight to others. His verses show a fanciful exuberance of matter, but no inspiration.
An instinctive perception of the limits of his powers has led to a very fortunate choice of subjects for two of the longer pieces in the book. These are entitled Music, and The Painter's Dream; they contain descriptive catalogues in verse of the great painters and composers, with an attempt to set forth and analyze the effects produced by their respective arts. The idea is not a novel one, but it affords fine scope for a cultivated taste, and a studied appreciation of the beauties of art; and the characteristics of the several schools are brought out with some discrimination and effect in Mr. Story's luscious and redundant style. He is more successful with music than with the sister art, probably because he has more familiar acquaintance with the masterpieces of the great
composers than with the productions of the old painters. We have room to quote only this fanciful description of a grand and intricate musical composition as performed in full orchestra.
"Hark! the whole orchestra is in motion,
And before its tongue the once blank air
Like a huge white cloud across the blue,
Pierce the labyrinths of these human ears.
Wooed like blossoms by the soft spring wind."
Mr. Story's great fault arises from his extraordinary copiousness of expression, leading to a vague and rambling diffuseness, which obscures and weakens his finest conceptions. He is by no means a lover of mysticism, but the poetry and the meaning of his verses are often effectually shrouded from view under a mere fog of words. Can any one, for instance, find rhyme or reason in the following?
"Imagination must abide content in nature's limit, the Ideal give its heart to the Real; the highest artist owneth her actual limitation, and builds the triumph of his art in them."
But change the collocation a little, without altering one of the words, and we have this stanza.
"Content in nature's limit,
Must abide Imagination,
The Ideal to the Real give its heart;
The highest artist owneth
Her actual limitation,
And in them builds the triumph of his art."
This may be called the typographical art of poetry.
Mr. Story's most ambitious efforts are his least successful ones; he is daring enough, but has not sufficient strength of pinion to sustain him in a long and lofty flight. The idea of The Island Home requires the poem to be of "imagination all compact"; but it is so unequally executed, that a portion of it reads like the journal of an unlucky fishing excursion, and the remainder like a fanciful allegory adumbrating some passage of human life. The Mistake is an humbler effort, and consequently a far more pleasing one; it betrays very plainly a study of Tennyson's Talking Oak and Locksley Hall; but it is prettily versified, and some of the stanzas tingle with earnestness, as if the poem were built on reality instead of fiction. Marian and Geraldine is a study after specimens by the same master; it is a mere echo of the Claribels, Lilians, Madelines, and Arianas of the same fantastic poet. Mr. Story's "fatal facility" of verse easily lapses into imitation. When he imps his wings for a nobler flight, as in Prometheus, The Exhumation of Napoleon, and Niagara, the result is an entire failure. The lines addressed to "the thundering cataract" begin in this wise.
"Like hell-hounds from their slumber waking,
Their whitening manes in fury shaking,
And howling down their rocky way,
From Erie's sleep in rushing rapids breaking,
Horses, not hounds, have manes, though considering the peculiar locality of the breed here referred to, there is no telling what infernal appendages they may have had about them. Such lines are mere sound and fury, signifying nothing; they are in Mr. Forcible Feeble's most characteristic style. What follows is little better.
Thy hoary locks thou shakest wildly forth,
We must pass very hurriedly over the remainder of our tuneful Nine. Mr. Read is an artist, a young sculptor, whose earlier designs were of great promise, and are said to have been very skilfully transferred to the marble. We can readily believe it, for his verses show taste and feeling, with occasional gleams of fancy; and he seldom offends, even