Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ÆSCHYLUS.

We believe it is generally acknowledged that military men make, for the most part, but indifferent poets. There is too little sentiment, and too much matter of fact, in the use of the sword and the musket, to induce a half-pay captain to exchange his jack-boots for the cothurnus, or a field-marshall to turn sonnetteer. In short, Mars and Apollo, though both very respectable gentlemen in their way, are shrewdly suspected of entertaining nothing less than a very marked and decided aversion to each other. You may peer through your best telescope for a month together into the sky, before you see them walking arm in arm, or playing at skittles, or smoking a friendly cigar in each other's company. It must be this animosity of the heavenly powers, pervading and influencing the minds of earthlings, which places poetry much in the same relation to gunpowder that fire bears to water. Sure soldiers would scribble like the rest of the world, if they could! One can hardly believe that men should fear critics when so accustomed to reviews, or dread being cut up when their own profession is to cut down. Yet it is certain that they very rarely do scribble. Their writing is done with a steel pen and red ink: all the impression they make is external. Moreover, they have too strong an antipathy to the pure element, to drink more than a very few sips of the Castalian spring; and too great practice in horsemanship, to feel either pleasure or novelty in soaring on the back of Pegasus. Most of them, indeed, like mounting a step or two,—but that is only in the army, and not up the side of Parnassus. And though several ensigns in love have been known to write verses with a very fair approximation to metre, and tolerably intelligible in some parts; yet, generally speaking, a poetical soldier is about as seldom seen as a musical sailor, or a literary dust

But Æschylus—the warrior-poet Æschylus, is a signal exception to our rule.

He certainly did write some sublime poetry; but he as certainly wrote no small quantity of unintelligible, bombastic, unmeaning, unmitigated trash ! Alas, that valuable lives should be sacrificed in the truly vain task of restoring such a corrupt medley of mysteries as an Æschylean chorus! If Æschylus had not been a military man, which, we maintain, sufficiently accounts for his poetical delinquencies, we should certainly have taken him for an opium-eater. We have often wondered how such a sensible man as Parson Adams could have found so much entertainment in perusing his manuscript of Æschylus for months and years together: yet there are higher dignitaries of the church than country curates, who have found both entertainment and advantage in the same pursuit: for it is not too much to assert, that Æschylus has raised two of his worshippers to the episcopal bench,—some will perhaps say by corrupt influence.

Much of Æschylus' most worthless trash is made to sound respectable, or at least bearable, by dressing it up in finer language than the original at all deserves. Take the following specimen, which is not a

man.

chorus ; and let the reader of Æschylus learn how to translate his author in future from our faithful version. We protest we give no parody, but a literal translation, with a spice of the burlesque to render it palatable.

Choeph. 470.

you!

ORESTES. O father, who most vulgarly wast burked,

Grant to my prayer possession of thy house ! ELECTRA. And I, papa, would add this one request

To fly when I have punched Egisthus' head!
ORESTES. For if you do, no end of prime beef-steaks

And savoury cutlets will be fried for you,
On jolly gridirons all throughout the land :
But if

you

don't, the deuce a bit you'll get ! ELECTRA. And when I'm married, dear papa, I'll bring

Such charming mugs of swig from out the house

To pour upon your honoured sepulchre.
ORESTES. O earth, send father up to see me fight!
ELECTRA. O Proserpine, send thou fair victory !
ORESTES. Think on the bath in which they burked you, sir !
ELECTRA. Think on the net in which they throttled
ORESTES. They got you fast in unmetallic chains !
ELECTRA. Aye, and in nasty sewed-up dressing-gowns !
ORESTES. Don't

you

feel sore at these reproaches, now? ELECTRA. Don't you pop up your dear old head once more? ORESTES. Either send justice to assist your friends,

Or make them catch it well that murdered you

If, conquered, you would crow o'er them again!
ELECTRA. Hear now this last address : Father, behold

This brace of chickens squatting on your tomb;
Pity the gentleman and lady too!
And don't wipe out all Pelops' ancient line,
For thus you are not dead, though you are dead !!
For little boys the memory preserve
Of governors to Davy's locker gone!
And, like a string of corks, bear up the net
From sinking to the bottom of the sea.
Listen—these blubberings are all for

you;
To listen will be better for yourself !
-I've said all this, to which you can't object,
To buy a little bit of better luck.
But
you, Orestes, since you

will be rash,
Why, cut your stick, and may success attend !
ORESTES. Trust me! but perhaps 'twon't be impertinent

To ask how mother came to send this swig,
And why, too late, she tried to patch and mend
Her crime, as if 'twere nought but an old shoe !
For when our dad could neither smell nor taste,
Nor aught appreciate such spicy stuff,
She sent these offerings :- I really can't

Conceive what means this most absurd concern :
But this I know, 'twill ne'er atone the crime;
For if you tap a hogshead of brown stout,
'Twon't expiate a single drop of blood.

So people say :--but tell us, there's a dear.
CHORUS. O certainly ! as I was there myself,

I ought to know a thing or two about it!
You see as how she dreamed a horrid dream,
A night-mare, which did much discomfort her,

And made her send these funeral offerings.
ORESTES. And heard you the true version of the dream ?
CHORUS. She said she thought a dragon born to her.
ORESTES. And what the end and import of her fancy?
CHORUS. In swaddling clothes the nasty creature lay.
ORESTES. Disgusting thing! and did it bawl for pap ?
CHORUS. She dreamed she bared her breast to give it suck.
ORESTES. And so it scratched and bit it, I suppose ?
CHORUS. It drew more blood than milk, I rather guess !
ORESTES. A night-mare that, and no mistake, from him.
CHORUS. I promise you she screeched out like a good 'un !

And we for missus lit again the glims,
Which we had doused in darkness, —so next day
She sent this cake and wine to dress the tomb,
Hoping that if the dead would take a dram,

He'd drink forgiveness to his murderess. Surely to pronounce this poetry, must argue a perverted judgment indeed! Dark - minded hero of Marathon! Man of ghosts, and dreams, and murders, and tortures, and horrors ! Why thus combine the ludicrous with the disgusting, the unintelligible with the nonsensical, and harass us poor unhappy Grecules with so much of what (if you had your deserts) would be unanimously condemned as “Bosh."

STANZAS.

Or all the thoughts that pass the soul,

A weary lot is mine;
And of the smallest cares of life,

But one small part is thine.
Yet still there is nor night nor morn,

But I do think on thee :
For all I feel that thou dost cast

Not one kind thought on me.
I do not wish thy peace should fly,

As mine long since has flown;
But yet I would not always feel

Such hopeless love alone.

[blocks in formation]

When lovers sing of bleeding hearts,
And flames, and wounds, and Cupid's darts,
And pine, and sigh, and swear that we
Were born for man's felicity;
Their zeal, alas, as time will prove,
Has more of compliment than love!
For HUSBANDS !-they are not the same,
They change their nature with their name !
No, no! go where you will, you find
That they abuse the womankind!
And say we're born to be their pest,
And merely to disturb their rest,
And cause, by our incessant rattle,
Contention, strife, sedition, battle ;
And try to be the plague of man
By every artifice we can.
Now, if you think that nought that's made is
More pestilential than the Ladies,
Nay, that our very names possess
An antidote to happiness;
Pray what's the reason each one strives
To win those animals called Wives?
Why, if the sex ye thus disparage,
Why seek your own distress by marriage ?
If we're an evil, what's the reason
You lock us up as in a prison,
And keep us with such jealous care,
That we may scarcely breathe fresh air ?
Whereas 'twere far the wiser plan
To let us run whene'er we can.
But if your cunning wife, while you
Have left the house, should pop out too,
And not return again before
Her husband thunders at the door,
Ye rave, ye curse, ye stamp, ye swear,
And why ?-Because your plague's not there!
Whereas ye ought to thank your stars
For being rid of all your cares :
For truly, it should seem a blessing
To find so great an evil missing !
If ever to a friend we go,
And stay till half-past one, or so,
Then gladly take the proffered bed
To rest till morn our wearied head;
The anxious husband goes about
To find his plaguy partner out;
So troubled is he if he loses
The very evil he abuses !

If ever at a window nigh
That hated object you espy,
Your eager eyes are strained to see
The self-same pest you try to flee.
Then, if we modestly retire,
And blush, you all the more desire
To see our hated face again,
The source confessed of all your pain !

While thus your words your deeds belie,
Don't talk of inconsistency.

J. M.

THE EMIGRANT'S FAREWELL.

When I go to the land of the stranger,

And leave the green hills of my home,
Oh, who will befriend the lone ranger,

Or heed where the alien may roam ?
One hearth-stone was dew'd at my parting,

With tears to my memory given;
One blessing pursued me at starting-

But who gives my welcome at even ? Then why flee my country?_The dwelling

Where a fever'd hand clasps her damp brow, In lone desolation is telling

The cause of my wandering now.
There poverty pillows the dying,

While I am afar on the sea :
Round her hut the wild plover is crying,

The wind sighs in answer to me.
I cling to the country that spurns me,

And denies even bread on her shore ; 'Tis this lights the hectic that burns me,

This harrows my heart to its core. Farewell ! for the night breeze is swelling

Our sails, as thou sink'st in the wave, O my Country! no longer a dwelling,

Except for the tyrant and slave.

J. T.

« AnteriorContinuar »