« AnteriorContinuar »
withstanding the sentimentality some of his work. He stands for what is finest in the Italian nature; and the love and reverence in which he is held afford the best proof of his high significance in contemporary literature. "Valsolda" (in whose beautiful valley he has passed the better part of his life) has become a signal-word in Italy, for it is now identified with some of the loveliest verse and much of the noblest prose of the day, is, indeed, associated with a noble personal ideal, the ideal of a simple, strong, much-suffering, yet ever brave and serene life. "Our Walter Scott," Giacosa has called Antonio Fogazzaro.
But he, too, like Arturo Grafthough not as a fascinated victim, rather as one greatly dreading yet sustained by faith-has looked at times overfearfully in the face of that new tragic muse of the modern world, "Madre Dolorosa." In his remarkable study on "Sadness in Art," Fogazzaro writes:
Senza tenerezza, senza fiamma la potenza sua fascinatrice è nella grandiosità del suo dolore stesso, è l'idea pura, fatta marmo, dell' universale dolore, del dolore che oscura presto o tradi ogni vita umana.
The words have the color of Fogazzaro's mind, and show, as a tinted map, the color of a vast region in the Italian thought of to-day. In the same essay he speaks of "la innocenza magnifica della natura"; but he and those of his spiritual fellowship trust little to this "magnificent innocence," and for the most part look habitually into life, not only as in a glass darkly, but as into a dark pool, heavy with the shadow of ancient sorrow and obscure menace. True, Fogazzaro is not a pessimist; he has not the steel-bound gloom of Graf, whose impeccable verse is forged rather than moulded.
"Il Dolore nell' Arte." (Milan, 1901.) "A. Fogazzaro. La Sua Vita, le Sue Opere, i
in his poems and novels, notably in "Il Mistero del Poeta," and in the excellent monograph on his life-work by Sebastiano Rumor, and, above all, in his always intimate and profoundly sincere "addresses"-as, for example, when he spoke in Rome in 1893 on "The Origin of Man and the Religious Sentiment," or, recently, at the Collegio Romano, on "I Misteri dello Spirito Umano"-a deep and native melancholy pervades even the most ardent words of faith and hope, and underlies all but the sunniest and most debonair of his poems. Nevertheless, his influence is wholly for good-the foremost moral influence now moulding Young Italy. Seldom is the biographer more literally truthful than Sebastiano Rumor in writing, "In tutta Italia il nome di Antonio Fogazzaro, poeta e romanziere, è riverito ed amato."
Though all the poetry of Fogazzaro is worth familiarity (particularly for those who feel the underlying charm of his prose romances), the foreign reader may be content with the "Selected Poems," published in Milan in 1898; the more so as it is not in the longer poetical compositions, such as the versified novel "Miranda," but in the shorter poems that he is to be found at his best. One of these, a poem representative of the author's mastery over the cadence of simple Italian prosody, may fitly be quoted here:
(Le Campane di Oria)
(Le Campane di Osteno)
Suol Critici." By Sebastiano Rumor. (Milan, 1896.)
Da gli spiriti mall, Signor, guarda i mortali!
(Le Campane di Furia)
Pur noi remote ed alte
Fra le bule montagne
Da gli spiriti mali
Guarda i mortali!
(Echi delle Valli) Oriamo.
(Tutte le Campane)
Il lume nasce e muore;
Che riman dei tramonti e delle aurore? Tutto, Signore,
Tranne l'Eterno, al mondo
(Echi delle Valli)
(Tutte le Campane)
Oriamo, oriamo in planto,
Per tanta colpa occulta e dolor tanto
Tutto il dolore
Che non ti prega,
Che ti diniega,
Che a te non piega,
(Echi delle Valli)
(Tutte le Campane)
Oriam per i dormienti
Che dicon rei, che dicono innocenti,
Evening. (The Bells of Oria)-In the west the beavens redden; the hour of darkness comes. From all evil spirits, Lord, guard Thy children. Let us pray! (The Bells of Osteno)-We also, by the waters lift up our deep voices from these lonely shores. From all evil spirits, Lord, guard Thy children. Let us pray! (The Bells of Furia) -Us, too, remote and high among the shadowy bills, hear us, Lord! From all evil spirits guard Thy children. Let us pray! (Echoes from the Valleys)-Let 18 pray! (All the Bells)—The light is horn, and dies; what remains of sunsets or dawns? All, Lord, all of this world, all save the eternal, is vain. (Echoes from the Valleys)-Is vain! (All the Bells)-Let US pray, let us pray, from mountain-height and shadowy vale, for the living and for the dead,
E tu, Mistero,
Solo tu sai.
(Echi delle Valli) Solo tu sai.
(Tutte le Campane)
Oriam per il profondo
Soffrir del mondo,
Che tutto vive e sente,
Giudizio arcano de l' Onnipo tente. Sia pace al monte, a l' onda.
Al bronzo ancora
(Echi delle Valli) Pace.'
There is perhaps no stranger apparition in contemporary Italian literature than Arturo Graf. Called the Hérédia of Italy, because of the classic ideal and impeccable form of his verse, he is the son of an Italian mother by a German father. He was born at Athens, nurtured in Greece-that Greece whose art he has mastered, but whose temperament he has not inherited, having been endowed instead with the world-sadness of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche-and transplanted while still young to Roumania, whence in early manhood he came to Milan. In the insensity of his irremediable pessimism he can be compared with no French poet save the anonymous author of the "Chants de Maldoror," with no English poet save James Thomson of "The City of Dreadful Night"; and nothing in the
for all secret wrong and sorrow, have pity, Lord! All sorrow that doth not come to Thee in prayer, all error that denleth Thee, all love that doth not seek Thee, have pity upon it, O Holy One! (Echoes from the Valleys)-O Holy One! (All the Bells)-Let us pray for those sleeping the long sleep of the grave; for those who are accounted sinners, and for those ac counted without sin! For Thou alone, Mysterious Spirit, Thou only knowest all. (Echoes from the Valleys)-Thou only knowest all. (All the Bells)-Let us implore for the deep suffering of the world, which lives and feels, loves and grieves, the hidden judgment of the Almighty. Let there be peace upon the hill-side, by the waters! On the bells themselves, peace! (Echo from the Valleys)-Peace!
fantastically sombre verse of Nietz- E una dolce a me in cuor tristezza
sche suggests the same profound depths of gloom. But Graf's terrible sadness, his almost elemental melancholy, has never the suggestion of anything ignoble, as in "Maldoror" or Baudelaire; it is never the mere rhetoric of spiritual collapse and despair, as sometimes in James Thomson; nor is it the outcome of intellectual fever, or of the tortured nerves, or of a powerful mind habitually apt to lose its equilibrium, as with the author of "Thus spake Zarathustra." He gathers up all the hopelessness of Italy, of the world, of the human soul; moulds it in tears and longing, and the unutterable sadness of sorrow without hope; and reveals it to us in lovely image after image, in chiselled verse of perfect form, in a beauty rendered almost unnaturally poignant. In a far deeper sense than the somewhat blatant "Lucifer" of Mario Rapisardi, than the magnificently rhetorical “Hymn to Satan" of Carducci, Graf's "Buried Titan" (in the very remarkable poem "La Città dei Titani," in the volume called "Le Danaidi") may be said to symbolize the bewildered attitude of the modern mind. So absolutely does he differ from the Latin temperament that he remains cold even before the inspiration of woman. Neither the beautiful actuality nor the seductive visionary type moves this modern St Anthony. In all his writings we remember no verse in the slightest degree recalling these eminently Carduccian lines (from "Ruit Hora," perhaps the loveliest poem in the first "Odi Barbare"):
Fra le tue nere chiome, o bianca Lidia, Langue una rosa pallida;
In thy dark hair, O white Lidia, a pale rose languishes; in my heart suddenly a sweet sadness softens the flame of love.
O longed-for green solitude, far from the rumor of men; hither have come with us our two divine friends, Wine and Love, O Lidia.
10 Near by was a garden, sad and austere; for
Tempra d'amor gl' incendii⚫
Nor has he ever any such cry to the lesser destinies as
O desïata verde solitudine
Qui due con noi divini amici vengono.
If once or twice we think we hear the cry of passion, it is only that of disillusion or brooding incertitude.
O woman, the darkness in thine eyes. is the darkness of night;
Thy soul, too, is obscure and mysteri
ous as the sea, as this obscure sea Which engulfs in its flowing side the plunging prow.
I see thy dark hair; in thy pale, beautiful face
I see the wandering fires of thine eyes; I see thy laughter-parted rosy lips;
But into thy soul, into that darkness, no, I do not see.
And yet this is the poet who, in his. beautiful reminiscences ("Dal Libro dei Ricordi"), writes thus of his dearhome at the foot of the slope where the Parthenon rears its sacred outline ("la dolce casa... sulla cui cima altero il Partenon drizza la sacra mole"):
Avea presso un giardin, triste e severo,. Benchè di rose pieno e di viole,
E un gran cipresso, avviluppato e nero, Aduggiava di fredda ombra le ajuole: V' era, pien d' acqua, e di figure adorno,
Un sarcofago antico, alla cui sponda
Alto silenzio tenea l' aria intorno,
all that it was full of roses and violets; perhaps because of the great cypress, a pyramid. of green darkness, which cast its chill shadow athwart the garden-ways.
There, too, with carven figures and full of water, stood an antique sarcophagus,. where the swallows loved to. dip and drink..
Truly, as has been said of him, Arturo Graf may see as a Hellene, and write in Italian, his maternal tongue, but it is the sad northern soul, "l'anima tedesca," which speaks in his poetry. In "Idea Fissa," one of the most notable poems in his first book, "Dopo il Tramonto" ("After Sundown"), he reveals, consciously or unconsciously, the overwhelming prepossession of a single idea which all his life has bewitched his imagination and entranced his mind. His muse, in a word, is Death, whether he call her "Morte Regina," or "Morte Guerriera," or "Regina, del Mondo," or veil his sombre passion under an antique name, as in that strange and terrible second book, "Medusa":—
O mia lugubre Musa
Tu dal mio labbro fal proromper gl' inni
Venenati, O Medusa! "1
There is, however, more variety, along with still more evident beauty and mastery, in Graf's third book, “Le Danaidi," published in 1897. A few months ago appeared his "Morgana," in which, though there is no poem to compare with Città dei Titani" of the "Danaidi" volume, nor any sequence to parallel the Athenian "Libro dei Ricordi" in "Dopo il Tramonto," a more serene spirit, somewhat of a wise hedonism, is revealed. We even encounter lines such as
which surprise one almost as though one were to come upon an ode of Anacreon in the text of Ecclesiastes! Nevertheless, "Ruit Hora" might be the apt title of the book, and its motto the couplet to which so much music and thought and longing are attuned—
Mio vecchio core, mio povero core, Perchè se' tu così triste e inquieto;
or that undernote that is never lost
Passato è 'l tempo ge' teneri inganni, Passato è l' ora propizia all' amore. The book closes with a short poem, "Explicit," which might well stand as epilogue to all its sad beauty-a sadness not wholly in vain, for it is the sadness of a fine and noble spirit, and. as such is accepted in Italy, and so is. become in a sense representative:—
Non uno de' ben vani, in ch' io già confidai,
Mi tenne fede mai: Ciò mi riempie il core, che a soffrir mal s' avvezza,
D' una grande amarezza.
Non una delle colpe, ch' io commisi in mia vita,
E rimasta impunita: Ciò mi riempie il core (povera, nuda stanza!)
D'una grande speranza."
There is an even greater difference between the pessimism of Ada Negri, whose "Fatalità" has had in Italy a wider acceptance than almost any other recent book of verse, and that of Arturo Graf, than between Graf's and Leopardi's. Leopardi was the exponent of the malady of his age: Graf is the poet of the soul's secret
I put all my trust, has ever remained with me; and this has filled my heart, even now so 111accustomed to suffer, with a great bitterness.
Not one of all the faults I have committed in my life but has had to pay its penalty: and this has filled my heart (poor, bare habitation) with a great hope.
dread and despair: Ada Negri is of the many whose strength lies in wild protest, fierce denunciation, in scorn and reproach, and the voice of social misery. Her poetry has the swift movement and lyrical vehemence of the early revolutionary poems of Swinburne, or of Victor Hugo' "Les Châtiments"; but it has also the faults of these, and that in an exaggerated degree. An instance from the same poem ("Sfida"-"Defiance" or "Challenge") will suffice. We sympathize when she cries
E sei tu dunque, tu, mondo bugiardo, Che vuoi celarmi il sol de gl' ideali; 18
power of absorbing love to ennoble circumstance, as in that passionate and vivid poem, "Popolana" ("A Girl of the People"), and, on the other, her grandiose vision of the congregated sorrows and sufferings of the world, as in the burning lines of the unforgettable "I Vinti" ("The Vanquished") -"Behold them, in hundreds, in thousands, in millions, in countless hordes; from their serried ranks rises a rumor as of distant thunder. Alas, alas, we are the vanquished!"
To turn from this tempestuous emotion and troubled art to the serene air of Carducci-though he, too, is the poet of revolt or to the languorous
but we only smile at the rhetoric of beauty of D'Annunzio's verse, or to
O grasso mondo d' oche e di serpenti, Mondo vigiacco, che tu sia dannato; Fiasso lo sguardo ne gli astri fulgenti
Io niovo incontro al fato."
Many of us have been Ada Negris in our day. As we grow older we not only do not call our fellows geese and serpents, but even settle down to tolerate them with kindly complacency. Ada Negri herself, revolutionist, socialist, intransigeante, is now the Signora Garlanda, the wife of a wealthy Milanese bourgeois.
Nevertheless, there is in her work a power to influence. Its secret may be discerned in the poem in "Fatalità" called "Senza Nome" ("Nameless"), wherein she speaks of herself as "an enigma of hate and love, of violence and gentleness," and says that throughout her life "an evil spirit has followed me step by step, and an angel with hands clasped in prayer." It is the combination in her of class-hatred and feminine unselfishness which has won her so many friends; and the secret of her influence is, on the one side, the frank recognition of the
18 It is thou, then, thou lying world, that would'st conceal from me the sun of the ideal. 14 O fat world, swarming with geese and ser
the exquisite art and natural charm of Pascoli, is to exchange the noise and sordidness of a manufacturing town for the intellectual peace of a library, or the charmed stillness of a cloister, or the gladness of a spring day in the open. Books such as Giovanni Pascoli's "Myricae" and the maturer and finer "Poemetti" bring into Italian literature to-day something of what Wordsworth, Keats, and Tennyson, in a fresh vivid naturalism, brought into English poetry. So now we come to the two most eminent names in Italy to-day-to the old king and the insurgent prince, Giosuè Carducci and Gabriele D'Annunzio.
It is now nearly thirty years since the "Hymn to Satan"-that modern "classic" of spiritual and intellectual revolt-electrified Italy. To-day it will be read without the same answering thrill, perhaps even with lessened admiration. Rhetoric has not the stayingpower of the grave ecstasy that is perfected art; and this, perhaps the most famous lyrical poem of the last halfcentury, is largely superb rhetoric. Nevertheless, the fragrance and the
pents, wretched world, may damnation be your lot! With my gaze fixt on the shining stars, I move onward to my destiny.