is no faithlessness in grief, God wot;
However high the hope or clear the gaze,
There must be tears at every burial-place
Though through the tears the very sky be shot.
For death is like the passing of a star
That melts into the splendor of the dawn.
Were we beyond this air that blurs our sight
In the clear ether where the angels are,
We should behold it still; but now, withdrawn,
In sunrise lose it, looking on the light."
a poet's attitude of sheer courage in facing death as
an element of universal experience, with fear turned
to joy-not the patient peace of faith, but the strong
joy of acceptance-read the following:
see things as they are, nor longer yield
To truce and parley with the
doubts of sense.
My certainty of vision goes a-field,
Wide-ranging, fearless, into
And finds no terror there, no ghost nor ghoul,
Not to be dazzled back to impotence,
Confronted with the indomitable soul.
"Stretch wide, O marshes, in your golden joy!
Stretch ample, marshes, in serene
Proclaiming faith past tempest to destroy,
With silent confidence of conscious
Glad of the blue sky, knowing nor wind nor rain
Can do your large indifference
Nor lightning mar your tolerant disdain!
"The fanfare of the trumpets of the sea
Assaults the air with jubilant
The intolerable exigence of glee
Shouts to the sun and weeps
in radiant spray
The laughter of the breakers on the shore
Shakes like the mirth of Titans
heard at play,
With thunders of tumultuous uproar.
"Dauntless, triumphant, reckless of alarms,
O queen that laughest time and
fear to scorn!
Death like a bridegroom tosses in thy arms.
The rapture of your fellowship
Like music on the wind. I hear the blare,
The calling of the undesisting
And tremors as of trumpets on the air.
"Oh, secret, taciturn, disdainful Death!
Knowing all this, why hast thou
held thy peace?
Master of Silence, thou wilt waste no breath
On weaklings, nor to stiffen
Deny strong men the conquest of one qualm;-
And they, thy dauntless comrades,
are at ease
And need no speech and greet thee calm for calm.
"Cast them adrift in wastes of ageless Night,
Or bid them follow into hell,
So are they worthy of their thrones of light,
O that great, tranquil rapture
they shall share!
That life compact of adamantine fire!
My soul goes out across the
To that far country with wild desire!".
draught from the above passage is tonic. The reader
rises feeling almost an exultant gladness that the event
will surely come to him also.
a moment from his creative work, let us consider Richard
Hovey for a moment as a translator, for in this capacity
he did great and good service. He gave us those two
first thick volumes of Maeterlinck's plays, and now,
in this last book of his poems, we have a good part
of the Serre Chaude series, a famous gem from Verlaine
and, among the poems of Mallarmé, "The Windows."
Of all the poems of that worshipped Frenchman who had
the "eyes of a Madonna and the ears of a faun,"
they oftenest speak in Paris of "The Windows,"
when the evening bleeds i' the tiles
In the horizon, gorged with
light, his eye
Sees golden galleys, beautiful as swans,
Sleep on a river of purple and
Cradling the tawny lightning of their lines
In a large idleness laden with
speaking of the translations from Mallarmé, said: "This
work of Hovey's is a tour de force in literature."
Maeterlinck's own verse, if not so difficult to follow
in the original as the intricacies of Mallarmé are in
their dainty and chaste touch, much more difficult to
get into English. That Hovey succeeded is admirably
shown in the little stanzas which follow:
if some day he come back,
What should he be told?-
-Tell him he was waited for
Till my heart was cold..
"And if he ask me yet again,
Not recognizing me?-
-Speak him fair and sisterly;
His heart breaks, maybe..
"And if he ask me where you are,
What shall I reply?-
-Give him my golden ring;
Make no reply..
"And if he ask me why the hall
Is left desolate?
-Show him the unlit lamp
And the open gate..
"And if he should ask me, then,
How you fell asleep?-
-Tell him that I smiled, for fear
Lest he should weep.".
Hovey seemed always to have a sympathetic and dramatic
understanding of his characters. He knew women, as his
plays attest. The first act of "The Birth of Galahad"
gives a picture of the mystical and emotional experiences
of motherhood at which women have wondered. In addition
to this knowledge, Hovey understood the heart of the
outdoors. He caught the pagan joy of the spring and
transmitted it into words as few other poets have done:
said in my heart that I am sick of four walls and ceiling.
I have need of the sky, I have business with the grass."
in "The Faun:"
will go out to grass with that old king,
For I am weary of clothes and cooks."
was versatile; he could write Vagabondia Songs such
as "Jongleurs" and "Barney McGee."
He could write satire like Byron, and his continuation
of this poet's "Don Juan" is one of the most
perfect imitations in English. Byron drew "Don
Juan" to a close in Canto XVI. Hovey begins with
Canto XVII and proceeds. Here are a few stanzas which
I have picked at random:
some kind of a deck Don Juan stood;
In these new-fangled steamers
I'm not sure
That any of the good old words hold good-
Only the lurch and seasickness
But Juan had sailed many seas, and could
Have passed through tempests
with no qualms to cure,
Nor any loss of peace of mind
However, at this time the sea was quiet."
"Just then a fellow-passenger strolled up
With 'That's Fire Island. Well,
the trip was short.
Tomorrow we shall be at Del's to sup.
I wonder whether Dewey is in
And Lipton-do you think he'll lift the cup?
Thank Fortune, we'll have news
soon of some sort.
I've such a next-day's thirst for information,
I'd even be content to read the Nation.'"
takes Don Juan down to a modern hell and gives a most
amusing account of the place, partly describing the
punishments as follows:
only punishments that still remain
Are those that fit the crime,
Each still pursues his vision, and in vain,
(Even after death persists the
Midas must still heap useless gain on gain,
And hapless love makes Romeo's
cheek grow ashen;
Napoleon still leads armies to his ruin,
And I continue still to write
also could sing of the joy of the cup without debauchery,
as is witnessed in his famous stein song:
a rouse, then, in the May time
For a life that knows no fear!
Turn night time into day time
With the sunlight of good cheer."
has sung his college, Dartmouth, as no alma mater has
ever been sung before-education, comradeship, fun and
philosophy. He could chant litanies. Some passages from
his play, "The Masque Taliesin," contain the
very passion of religion. It was Richard Hovey's own
litany that was read at his funeral by Canon Knowles-a
thing never before done in the Episcopal church.
Hovey was not only a poet. He was also a man. He was
a builder as well as a dreamer. And he was an American
who proved by his presense that America produces poets.
America is still producing poets. I know several men
of whom they will be writing fifty years from now and
wondering that we knew them not. Hovey was cosmopolitan.
He was as much at home in the little circle of French
poets who gathered Tuesday nights at the home of Mallarmé,
as when he was wearing his laurels in London with Wilfred
Blunt in Mayfair, or spending a week-end with George
Meredith. On his return to London once, some one asked
him of what he and Meredith had talked. He replied:
"Oh!.We talked of America.the new woman.and cooking."
his early days, when his genius and talent were beginning
to find each other, he did not, like a great many of
his fellow-singers, go long without appreciation. Mrs.
Lanier, the wife of the beloved poet of the Delaware,
once gave Hovey a laurel wreath. It was the first real
appreciation of his genius, but this act was followed
by many similar ones on the part of the few who knew
poetry and had confidence in their judgement. Such acts
very often are the reasons why poets are not more often
silenced. Art is partly speech from one to another;
if no one listens, speech is half-motiveless. Art is
not for art's sake: art is for the sake of another,
and for the sake of the artist. In "Taliesan"
the word teaches our own thought that was spoke teaching
And the deed fashions the doer."
was fortunate in being written of by many able pens.
He could not have said, as did the bitter Browning in
his old age: "If those who said these things of
me so long ago had written them, I should not have had
to wait these many years for readers."
two of Hovey's best plays, and a valuable but unfinished,
work on the technique of the English poets, are yet
unpublished, it is possible, with his ten little volumes
before me, to say whether this work done before the
age of 36, was the service of a great man. Many attempts
have of late been made to define Hovey's place in American
literature. There is a voice for the new mood of each
age and generation, and, with the passing of the older
poets, there begin to loom into view three men who speak
for us, who voice the Now. Hovey is one of them. His
"Taliesan," especially, says something we
think nowadays. Page ranks it with the second part of
"Faust," or "Wilhelm Meister," or
the "Sordello" of Browning. A lecturer in
Chicago University, speaking of the modern poetic drama,
refers to the late Italian, French and English plays,
and ranks the work of the American Hovey before them.
William Stanley Braithwaite says Hovey is the first
American poet to set himself consciously to the task
of embodying a profound philosophy of life in poetic
utterance. Philip Gerry says: "Hovey was so large,
so national, so cosmopolitan, so much the poet for all
the ages, that the appreciation and the just weighing
of his genius waits for time." And again, that
"it is not now considered the peculiar infatuation
of friends to speak of Hovey as the greatest poetic
consciousness that the country has produced." And
these critics have embodied in adequate expression my
own estimate of the poet of the Arthurian Dramas.