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word is of yet another immortal thing, the undying love of father and son. All that greatness has been put into the story of a boy's running. That is how the mind and imagination that produce the great style work, on the side of subject. From the smallest thing there is a true and natural steppingstone to the greatest things, and such a mind is sure to find it, is sure to know how to see the humblest matter sub specie aeterni, as part of a divine and everlasting order.
But the Grand Style is not an affair merely of high imaginative conception of a subject; it is also an affair of treatment in detail, above all of language. When Cowley wishes to compliment Charles I on his return from Scotland he writes :
Welcome, great Sir ; with all the joy that 's due
To the return of peace and you;
Others by war their conquests gain,
Spoke but the word, and sweetly ordered all. Why is this plainly not in the Grand Style ? After all, it escapes well, as Pindar's ode does, from the temporary and accidental side of the subject. Peace and the Heaven to which we owe it are great themes, with the immortal quality in each of them; and the victory of order over chaos is the thing with which this world began, with the consummation of which the world as we know it will end. Why, then, does Cowley fall so far below the Grand Style ? Well, according to our definition, that style arises through the action of the imagination ’; is there much imagination here ? Is the poet, that is, ever for a moment caught up out of the everyday facts of life, out of prose, out of himself ? Pindar may not have believed in the actual existence of any such divinity as Echo; Keats certainly did not believe in the goddess Maia ; but each is in his poem for the moment lifted
up out of himself, is become no longer a mere individual, but a part of the universal human imagination to which Echo and Maia are true living visions. ‘Everything invented so as to fill mind and heart and soul', says a good writer, “is true.' Pindar's invention stands this test. But who does not feel that this is not so with Cowley's lines? There it is the intellect which is at work, not the imagination ; cleverness, not the sense of the wonder and joy of the world. And it speaks, as cleverness is wont to speak, making points, unmoved and unmoving, in the language of the Court, the Senate, or the street, not in the language of poetry. Poetry is a thing impassioned and musical; this is a thing coldly and harshly self-possessed, never transported into the mood which calls for something beyond common speech, for a language and a rhythm expressing the exaltation of imaginative emotion. The difference between ώ πότνι’ Αγλαΐα and
Welcome, great Sir 'is not the difference between Greek and English ; it is the difference between the Grand Style and the language of the Lord Mayor. We have seen what Cowley does. What does Pindar do ? Hear him again :
συν υμίν γάρ τά τε τερπνά και
τα γλυκέα γίγνεται πάντα βροτοίς. . The Lord Mayor cannot talk like that, does not wish to in all likelihood. Is there anywhere a more perfect example of the noble simplicity which belongs to the Grand Style ? And as to the other quality, severity-for the poem has both—where can we find it better than in
ούτε γάρ θεοί τι σεμνών Χαρίτων άτερ
κοιρανέoντι χορούς. . The essence of severity is self-restraint; the quality which, for instance, is conspicuously absent from the early poems of Keats—which, delightful as they are in many ways, are totally unrestrained, running along in a self-abandonment, sometimes of babbling garrulity, sometimes of luscious selfindulgence.
A tuft of evening primroses,
Of buds into ripe flowers. This is genuine poetry, inspired by an emotion which Keats may almost be said to have rediscovered for England, that of the sensuous deliciousness of nature's doings ; but there is plainly no self-restraint, no severity in it, and its simplicity is rather childish and easy-going than noble. Or take some finer lines in the same poem :
Open afresh your round of starry folds,
His mighty voice may come upon the gale. This evidently strikes a higher note. It is fine poetry ; but is it, in spite of the last two lines, quite in the Grand Style ? Hardly, I think; the passage as a whole has in it a good deal more sugar and prettiness than the refining fires of the Grand Style will admit. Keats will have to wait one or two more of his scanty years before he can reach that high manner, his own large utterance of the early gods'. He will have to wait for the inspired moments of Hyperion, for the Ode to Autumn, or rather, not so long as that, for the Ode to Maia, which, though only a fragment, is all of pure gold, the gold of the Grand Style unalloyed : Mother of Hermes ! and still youthful Maia !
May I sing to thee
Or may I woo thee
In earlier Sicilian? Or thy smiles
Of heaven, and few ears,
Content as theirs, Rich in the simple worship of a day. Matthew Arnold has a sonnet on the Austerity of Poetry. Well, not all poetry either is or ought to be austere, but this peculiar kind of poetry which we are discussing can hardly do without some touch of austerity. The beauty of a garden of roses is one thing, the beauty of a mountain line is another. It is this latter kind of beauty which the Grand Style asks, and how admirably Keats has attained it in that noble fragment ! How grave it is, how quiet, how unexpansive, what a wise economy of emotion and ornament, even of language itself, it practises! Many true lovers of poetry, perhaps the majority, will prefer the magnificent Nightingale Ode, with its torrential flow of unrestrained fancy, eloquence, and emotion. Possibly they may be right, but that does not seem to me to alter the fact that the one poem is, and the other on the whole is not, in the Grand Style.
And there are other things beside eloquence and emotion to which the Grand Style applies its economy. The large and simple effects at which it aims are destroyed at once by any too visible activity of the intellect. Browning, for instance, is a great poet, who, after being for a short time over-valued, seems now again to be unduly depreciated. But he is excluded from the company of the masters of the Grand Style by the restless, almost fussy, habit of his mind as much as by his lack of ear for the beauty of words. He cannot be still ; and therefore, ingenious and subtle as he is, picturesque, tender, moving, occasionally profound, he is scarcely ever great as Dante and Milton are great. The difference between
Bishop Blougram and the Divina Commedia is that between the truth arrived at by a series of parliamentary debates and the truth that exists self-poised and self-assured in the mind of an artist or a saint. Dante and Milton have the air of men who have been through a great experience which has left its indelible mark upon them. For them henceforth the issues of life are tremendous things, and they look with grave wonder at the childishness of men. Their language is greatness speaking ; and, full as they are of the awe of greatness, they yet know well that greatness speaking is for those who have ears to hear the true music, as greatness appearing is for those who have eyes to see the true beauty. Browning had glimpses of all this, but he had too little restfulness in him, his mind was too kaleidoscopic, to allow of his reaching the grand manner. His note is rather that of a man who had been through many experiences, great and small, all of which he was willing to toss backwards and forwards in conversational battle after dinner. The joy of battle is a fine thing, and he loved it in fine fashion, but it is perhaps a thing with too much hurry and excitement in it to produce easily the particular thing we are looking for. That belongs rather to the calm than to the storm, though perhaps no calm will give it but that which the storm has preceded. Take a stanza from the Epilogue to Asolando :
One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would
triumph, Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.
That has all sorts of inspiring merits, but the Grand Style I do not hear in it. It is too eager, too restless, too unmusical, its discords as yet too unresolved, for that. For the exact thing we mean we must go on to a stanza from a parallel poem by a greater poet :