And narratives can be found in many different genres, even though the prototypical narrative is a story of some kind, concerned with imaginary or actual events. A substantial amount of literature exists on narrative; for discussions of the forms and functions of narrative, see e. Labov, ; Longacre, ; Ochs, Capps, ; Virtanen, a, b, ; for genre, see e. Swales, ; Virtanen, For the present purposes it will suffice to focus on the main linguistic properties of narratives, to the extent that these may be expected to contribute to the signalling of shifts in the information-structuring parameters under attention.
The common denominator of the two sample texts, the shared narrative text type, is related to form. The first of these texts also serves the narrative type of discourse, related to function, while the second realizes the expository discourse type, on the functional level for a discussion of text and discourse types, and genres, see e. Virtanen, b, The differences pertaining to discourse type and genre are expected to affect the linguistic signalling of information-structuring shifts on the discourse level.
Yet, the shared narrative type of text is also likely to be revealed through some degree of parallelism in discourse marking between the two sample texts. Enkvist, , Characterization of the illustrative sample narratives. For clarity, the text is analysed as distinct from its visual and verbal context in the volume in which it appears; thus decontextualized it will still retain its genre identity, as an autonomous legend. The title of the story is an autonomous unit in the discourse. The orientation part is the salient discourse-level theme while the discourse-level rheme, the rest of the text from the fourth paragraph onwards, constitutes what is at this stage the less conspicuous member of the structural pair of notions.
A narrative starting in medias res would, in contrast, rather conform to the CIF principle, that of putting crucial information first Enkvist, , Labov, The turning point at the outset of the last paragraph is thus interpreted as the beginning of the discourse-level comment; this is the part of the text conveying the weighty information concerning the discourse-level topic, as it provides a solution to the problem at hand.
Hence, in a different analysis altogether, it is possible to regard as the discourse-level comment all of the evaluation found in the story, interspersed in the text through signals of various kinds for evaluation in text, see e. Hunston, Thompson, In this view the discourse-level topic would thus be the plot.
Evaluative elements, however, tend to cluster at the peak see e. Labov, ; Fleischman, In the present analysis I choose to interpret the discourse-level dichotomy between topic and comment in terms of the peak profile of the narrative, the interactionally salient, weighty comment thus coinciding with the culmination of the text. As on the sentence level, the discourse level newness refers to information that is not assumed to be activated or semi-activated in episodic memory cf. Chafe, ; Van Dijk, Kintsch, ; Prince, Such information is profitably integrated into the discourse in as smooth a way as possible, and the Figure-like newness therefore tends to be viewed against an activated or semi-activated Ground, both at sentence-level and in larger portions of text, the two taking turns for the purposes of optimal processing in memory.
Labov, ; Ochs, Capps, The coda refers to the emergence of the Milky Way, activated by the multimodal context of the page on which the text appears. In terms of the particular genre and wider discourse context of the text, the book in which the story is included activates assumptions concerning myths and legends of the creation of the world. Rather than semi-activated, however, unused information, too, is inactivated but identifiable at the point at which it appears. Theme, as the entry-point, encompasses the orientation, extending until the starting point of the narrative proper.
The discourse-level new is characteristically small in size, unlike theme and comment, which both encompass long stretches of the narrative. But in each case, these Figure-like notions are smaller in size than their indispensable but undifferentiated counterparts. Having identified the structural, interactional and cognitive shifts in the discourse-level information structuring of the sample narrative, let us now examine what linguistic signalling, if any, is present at such points in the text.
The three parameters, based on structure, interaction, and cognition, were likened above to three different discourse dimensions: narrative schema, peak profile, and tellability. Mention was made of alternative analyses of the discourse-level topic-comment and given-new distinctions; these will not, however, be followed up in the present paper. Signals of textual boundaries are usually placed at the outset of new textual units, but endings, too, can disclose an approaching shift to another unit in the text.
Attention will thus be paid to the textual zone immediately preceding and following the informational shifts identified in 4. The first paragraph then describes the locative setting and ongoing activities, ending in the statement of a problem. The first sentence of the second paragraph can be expected to open the narrative proper, the complicating action part.
The undifferentiated reference to men les hommes is not explicit enough to be able to sustain expectations possibly raised of a sequence of events and actions, which are, in their turn, unfocused and repeated. Lindholm, , serving a descriptive function here. Another marker of text-strategic closure is related to the paragraph-final signalling of affect, linguistically consider the metadiscursive questions and comments addressed by the implied story-teller to the implied audience, e.
The discourse-level theme shows deviation by being closed without added typographic load, abruptly. A prototypical text-strategic signal in narrative, the sentence-initial adverbial of time un jour , followed by a comma, marks the major textual boundary between orientation and narrative proper cf.
Virtanen, a; for a detailed analysis of the adverbial un jour , see Charolles, It is a focused marker, forcing the reader to leave the very long periods of time behind in anticipation of a particularized and foregrounded event to take place. There is enough of temporal juncture between the subsequent events leading to climate change, for the paragraph to be interpreted as foregrounded in the narrative, before the text returns to the description of the outcome of the series of events and the vain efforts of the undifferentiated participants les hommes in trying to restore what is left of the world after the environmental disaster.
And the discourse-level rheme, the rest of the text, is expected to show a continuous increase in communicative dynamism from that point onwards. But within the rheme of this narrative there are other information-structural shifts that attract attention, those based on interactional and cognitive concerns. The turning point of the story is introduced by the sentence-initial alors , another prototypical text-strategic signal in narrative.
It is part of the chain of signals of the activated temporal text strategy; yet, this marker is different from the preceding ones in size small and temporal focus narrow. Unlike in previous sentence-initial adverbials of time, there is no lexical content; alors is a mere marker of a temporal juncture. This signal is followed by a presentational construction introducing a new, individualized and human-like participant un tout petit homme , described in detail, including the instrument he is carrying.
The comment part of the text thus exhibits a prototypical combination of narrative strategies in explicit form as well as a change in the pace and rhythm of the telling into a rapid, focalized sequence of actions depicted in several sentences, the relatively brief event thus being stretched out unlike previous events included in the text. The discourse-level comment relies on the activated text strategies by showing deviation from their markers in the preceding text; in this light, its relation to them can be characterized as parasitic.
The signal at the outset of the focal part of the narrative is completely different from the preceding ones: the connector mais. It is soon followed by another connector, ainsi , which introduces the coda, hence bringing the reader back from the story-time to the time of reading. Since connectors are few in narratives, as compared to non-narrative texts, their presence is conspicuous in a slot which is more commonly occupied by temporal or participant-oriented signals.
Mais introduces discourse-level newness, thus singled out from the given background of the completed series of events and actions. The main inferencing effort is assumed to take place as the inactivated information is conveyed at the focal point of the story. A temporal signal, combined with a highly individuated, new participant, can affect the interpretation of the textual boundary thus introduced as a major one. A non-temporal marker in a narrative that makes use of explicit temporal signals of text strategy will carry text-organizational meaning, and different kinds of temporal markers such as those relating to points of time, periods of time, temporal non adjacency, simultaneity, flashbacks and flashforwards as well as differences in the frequency of temporal markers will be interpreted in the context in which they appear, in relation to other markers and the continuous flow of time, which is here taken for granted unless otherwise indicated.
Virtanen, a, Positioned in the sentence-initial slot, temporal signals may, however, also contribute to other dimensions of discourse, in a highly context-sensitive manner, in cooperation with other linguistic cues present in the text. In the sample narrative, text-strategic adverbials contribute to the signalling of information structuring at the level of the entire text, by indicating its structural and interactional shifts.
The genre-marker activates expectations of a temporal text strategy, and after indications of closure of the discourse-level theme, the beginning of narrative proper is marked by the prototypical adverbial un jour. The onset of the weighty discourse-level comment is signalled through an adverbial of time that is semantically focused and small in size, hence differing from the earlier signals in the text-strategic chain.
Alors is a minimal signal of temporal juncture, and the absence of a comma allows for a swift transfer into the subsequent presentational construction. In contrast to the discourse-level theme-rheme and topic-comment shifts, the signalling of newness is altogether different: in the sample text newness is indicated by a connector, rare in narrative, followed by another one introducing the coda. The presentational construction at the outset of the discourse-level comment serves to highlight the introduction of a new, highly individualized, human-like participant, different from the other groups of participants that function as props, or represent non-human entities of the great forces of nature that are central to the discourse topic.
Further, variation in tense-aspect contributes to the relative foregrounding of events. Another signal of closure at the end of the discourse-level theme is the absence of paragraph-final affect. The Figure-like member of each pair of the information-structuring concepts is underlined and placed on the left-hand side while their less salient members appear to the right of them in parentheses.
The horizontal and vertical ordering of the linguistic elements and abbreviations corresponds to their relative placement in the clause, sentence, and text. Boldface is used to indicate the main burden of the signalling. Linguistic signalling of structural, interactional, and cognitive shifts in discourse level information in the sample narrative. What the above analysis shows is that the three parameters are tied to different dimensions of discourse and they are signalled using linguistic cues that differ from one another.
If the signals are not there, it may still be possible to single out the overall structure of the narrative, its text strategies, peak profile and tellability. But overt signalling of the three different kinds of shifts in discourse-level information structuring contributes to readability by clearly indicating the entry-point to the story thus activating expectations of its overall structure , its culmination an interactional shift facilitating the interpretation of what the weighty part of the story is , and last but not least, the point of telling the story by indicating the locus of the main inferencing effort, expected to coincide with discourse-level newness, which consists of inactivated information.
Even though news stories are about events constructed on the basis of human experience, the conventions of organizing such texts include a strong tendency towards breaking the chronology of the series of events in question for news story structure, see e. Van Dijk, But the narrative text type related to form is here put to indirect use, to serve the expository type of discourse related to function; for discussions of the two levels, see e. It is therefore instructive to explore shifts in information-structuring in a news story narrative, too.
And as above, due attention will be paid to participant continuity, tense-aspect variation and the occurrence of connectors. The paragraph under investigation is presented below together with its immediate textual context. Interpreting the opening sentence of the second paragraph as its theme, its positionally defined entry-point, leaves us with the rest of it as the rheme. The opening sentence bonds lexically with all the other sentences in the paragraph, which is not the case with any of the other sentences.
The paragraph-level rheme starts with a flashback, opening with co-referential links to the main participant and the locative as a whole, thus postponing the expected diversification of the regions. Vow to obey him. Which for me alone has hidden charms! My soul grows younger by two hundred years I love your tears!
That befits the flowers. The tracks of Time! Must one choose? Is Pleasure. Where are the women we loved? In a more beautiful abode! Of the mother of God! O white betrothed! O blossoming young virgin! Whom grief has withered! Once smiled in your eyes Rekindle yourselves in heaven! The tall trees with their black boughs! These fine days oppress and weary me.
Who steps from the water, smiling. On her lips a new song. Would brighten it with a single glance! Mais non,—ma jeunesse est finie But no—my youth is over Perfume, young girl, harmony Le bonheur passait,—il a fui! Happiness passed by—and fled! The cycle is dedicated to this duo. This cycle has a dignified elegance but it is seldom programmed, probably because it makes rather a muted impression on the platform.
Rilke settings in French are sadly rare, and this short cycle might have gained stature with the addition of a few more songs. My love, I must leave. Beach are a treasure trove of early American art song, and are now being progressively rediscovered and reassessed. Her prolific output includes settings of French from the outset.
The most celebrated were Chant hindou Ocampo , which appeared in various arrangements with optional obbligato instruments, and Il neige with a text by the composer. As a result of this lack of discretion, his career was overshadowed by sexual scandal, and suffered a decline at the turn of the century. He admired Chabrier and Poulenc without being in the least like them, for his France was neither that of Offenbach and the naughty Second Empire, nor the boulevards and pavements of nocturnal Paris rich in amorous adventure.
In his music and not only his songs in French his creative spirit was governed by the rational: exquisite taste, understatement, discipline were all second nature to him, partly because of his own temperament he was a Catholic convert and partly the result of the influence of his redoubtable teacher Nadia Boulanger. Through her he came to value and emulate the transparent clarity, logic, and economy of means we find in the neo-classical Stravinsky.
And these carnations too. In the heat of the day. On the other hand the mezzo-soprano Sarah Walker from a much younger generation feels more closely attuned to Berlioz than to almost any other composer. This is largely due to his highly developed sense of drama, prized by all artists who have had anything to do with the Berlioz operas.
Berlioz was nevertheless the founding father of romanticism, and one of the few French composers to be taken seriously by forward-thinking German artists in a century where cultural influence came mostly from the oppo- site direction. This set stands alone in the French song repertoire, magnificently free of foreign musical influence apart from the shade of Gluck in the background , largely ignored, but challenging and fascinat- ing.
Most of these long songs are dedicated to Thomas Moore himself, and are strophic in the rather laboured manner of the French romance. This, and a glance at the height of the demanding tenor tessitura, makes singers pass over them when planning recitals. He was, for example, a close friend of Vigny and acquainted with Heine, neither of whom he set to music. There is nothing like this vehement outburst in all French song; as the elegy is written in prose, Berlioz abandons convention and gives free rein to his emotions. All of his frus- tration and pain over the Smithson romance is poured into the music, where for once the percus- sive nature of the piano seems suited to the drama the song, unlike most of the others, was never orchestrated.
Musical architecture yields to emotion, and words dictate the shape of the music in seemingly arbi- trary fashion; this disguises the fact that the work is written in a fairly conventional ABA form. Nevertheless this velvet-gloved gentleness cannot really disguise that the composer is thinking in epic terms with almost everything he does.
One is often aware of a gigan- tic musical personality not quite at home with a miniaturist medium, and somehow uncomfortably constrained by the limits of the single human voice, and the inadequacies of the pianoforte in terms of colour and power. He was not a pianist, after all. Nevertheless much of the vocal music was conceived for piano in the first place, and can be performed unashamedly on the recital platform. A recent edition of these Mahler songs has reinstated the original piano parts which are rather different from the piano reductions of the orchestral scores.
The old Costallat scores in two keys , which performers have used for generations, are a reduction of the orchestral score. The Villanelle with its almost Mozartian elegance and wit has the lightest touch of any of the songs and is a perfect appetizer. His debt to the static grandeurs of Gluck is as apparent in the former song as is his restless harmonic originality in the latter. The Gounod is all charm with a delightful melody, light of touch and ideal for the salon. The Berlioz is painted on a much larger canvas, a seascape with the intrepid composer at the helm.
There is a reckless quality here as the imaginary barque ploughs through the water with sails flapping in the breeze. It is, however, a far from ideal recital piece, no matter how well it works in the concert hall with a good conductor and a world-class soloist. It is extremely taxing for almost any singer per- haps more so in the piano version, for the orchestra provides a different kind of support and it is very seldom that all the songs in the set suit the same performer, tessitura-wise.
Ever impractical in the grand manner, Berlioz even employs different instrumentation for each song. Premiers transports Deschamps has a chorus as well as an obbligato cello. His ability as a pasticheur with a pen- chant for armchair travel is displayed in these oriental evocations, both of which exist in orchestral versions. Ensemble may be rather difficult between the players, but Berlioz never let mere practical considerations dampen the quality of his febrile imagination. Short works such as these are sadly sel- dom heard on the concert platform, simply because it is not cost-effective to hire a large number of artists for something that is over in minutes.
This composer is only ever capable of being himself. Even more than the usual run of his unbiddable compatriots, Berlioz was a rugged pioneer and complete individualist. These songs stand outside the traditions that are to be found almost everywhere else in this book. Oui, pleure! Yes, weep! Car le Ciel est decree, your tears shall efface it.
Dans mon humble et object of all my thoughts. The branches of a nearby willow. Falls, the garland in her hand. Born amidst the waves. Fleeting as a snatch of sound. Hardly yet begun. Sing songs from the edge of their nests. Come, then, to this mossy bank Pour parler de nos beaux amours, To talk of our beautiful love, Et dis-moi de ta voix si douce: And tell me in your gentle voice: Toujours!
That yesterday you wore at the dance. You wore me all evening long. Will come to dance at your bedside. And I come from Paradise. Which every king will envy. My soul and all my love. Did not wish to take me. Que mon sort est amer! How bitter is my fate!
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Lies in her coffin. Seems to mourn! Itself adrift. Which heaven alone can hear. And how I loved her! As I loved her. Far from your crimson smile! Such a distance between our hearts! So great a gulf between our kisses! O bitter fate! O harsh absence! O great unassuaged desires! Return, return, my sweetest love! Waves plaintively? A lovesick angel sighs. Most meltingly. Veiled in white. Will you return? Sing its plaintive song! Where is it you would go? La voile ouvre son aile, The sail is billowing, La brise va souffler! The breeze about to blow! For cabin-boy a seraph. Or the Isle of Java?
Where love endures forever. In the realm of love. La brise va souffler. The breeze is about to blow! Of young Isabeau. With black hair and blue eyes. Children, the storm is brewing! Fall to your knees! Pray to God! La belle jeune fille The fair young maiden Aimait un chevalier. Loved a knight. Kept her behind bars. Had seen her in church. Un soir, dans sa cellule One evening, Isabeau Isabeau vit soudain, Suddenly saw the paladin Sans crainte et sans scrupule, Enter her prison cell Entrer le paladin.
Without fear or qualms. The sky was ablaze. At his prayers in church. Before dawn Nous serons de retour. Awaits her still. Worth all of Cordoba and Seville! Golden sandals on her feet. Where are you from? Lifted her onto his golden saddle. One of the most wonderful things in Tolstoy's wonderful Anna Karenine is the picture of Levine on the morning after his engagement. A child smiles, a pigeon's wings shine in the sun, the smell of the good cake comes through the window; and these trifles are so big to him that he laughs aloud in his happiness.
It is always so when we touch reality. We are conscious of being in possession of the secret, and everything we see must take its colour. Only there are two secrets. Whoever could be at the same time in perfect possession of both would have solved the eternal problem of humanity. As it is, many men never touch either; and the few, who touch both, have for the most part forgotten the one before they feel the other. So it was with Hugo. Perhaps he never felt the secret of life as Levine felt it: if he did he never managed to get it so vividly told as it is told in those pages of Tolstoy's.
And when the secret of death takes possession of him it over whelms all the rest. All the pleasant colours of life look trivial in its tremendous shadow, all life's hurrying activities look as unbelievably small from its height as farms and roads and houses look when seen from a mountain. And so, in a remarkable little poem, he can accumulate them, pile them up one upon another through nineteen lines, well know ing that there is a last line in reserve which will in a moment reduce them all to insignificance.
It is easy to criticise the feeble obviousness of such a commonplace as 'bonheur qui manque aux rois'; or the ridiculous mixture of the smug citizen and the self-conscious genius in some of the other verses: but perhaps Hugo was happy here in being no critic and, above all, constitutionally incapable of associating banality with anything that came from his own pen. At any rate the solemn boom of that great last line could not have hushed us as it does without the contrast with the tinkling trivialities that precede it.
And note how the effect is further heightened by the breathlessness which is kept up till the last line, without a pause any where, with scarcely a line that flows unbroken and none that finds rest. Nothing is finished: nothing is a whole that we can accept and be quiet in: the unsatisfied hurry of life continues throughout. And then comes the great escape of the last line, the escape into reality; and all the chattering voices are gone out of the world in a moment, like a treeful of starlings at the report of a gun. But death is, after all, the one universal source of tenderness.
There is no one who is not moved at death. But there is more in Hugo than that. All the primary facts of life find in him their poet. Of childhood, particularly, he has a unique mastery. There has never, perhaps, been a poet to whom children meant so much. They are everywhere in his poetry. A whole volume is dedicated to them in L'Art d'etre Grand-pere , and if the grandfather and his vanity fill too much space in it, it is still the greatest book of verse which children have ever inspired.
Hugo would not have been Hugo if he had not been very pleased with himself in the role of grandfather; but, after all, if his delight in Jeanne and Georges is a little self-conscious, was ever any thing more radiant, more gracious, more delicate? The fingers of the dawn are not softer than his touch when he handles a child. He returns again and again to that kinship between the wise innocence of childhood and the inarticulate profundity of Nature. It inspires him with some of his most charming verses:. Again and again it compels him to this noble brevity.
The sight of a child asleep can almost always do it:. So it is time after time, as, for instance, in the beautiful 'Jeanne Endormie' of L'Art d'etre Grand-pere. This 'gentleness of heaven' comes to all of us a little at sight of the mystery that fills a cradle: but to Hugo it came supremely, the most uniquely great perhaps of all the gifts of his genius. The child Cosette is perhaps the most moving figure in the most wonderful of novels.
And it is the same thing in his poetry. Never does the poet take such complete possession of us as when he has a child for his theme. But, lovely as this and fifty other pictures of radiant childhood are, they are still not the things one remembers longest of all. The pathos in a child's face meant even more to Hugo than its beauty.
Even here the exquisite little Infanta is set against a background of the doomed Armada, as the lovely girl whose step made music in the streets of Paris is set against the hideous beldam with her 'Monsieur, veut-il de cette fille? There is no praise equal to such a thing as this: and yet there is one other poem of even more astonishing power, the five stanzas about the chil dren of the poor, which Mr.
Swinburne's incom parable rendering has made familiar to all lovers of English poetry. Perhaps the translator has even surpassed his original, treachery as he would hold it that we should say so: still, in any case the ineffable tenderness of the poem is not his, but Hugo's. There is nothing quite like it so far as I know in all poetry. In this region Hugo is supreme.
William Blake may perhaps have anticipated him once or twice: but Blake, as a whole, is as far below Hugo in poetry as he is above him in spiritual power. The only other poet whose name could be mentioned with Hugo's in this connection is his disciple, the translator of this poem, Mr.
There must at last be an end of quotation. It is hard not to be able to find space for the beautiful stanzas in Les Rayons et Les Ombres , which end with that fine praise of tears:. And it would be easy to show the poet's tenderness stretching out its hands not only over childhood, but over all the innocence and weakness of humanity, and his sympathy going out to meet every natural joy and sorrow of mankind.
But I must leave the children to speak for all the rest. Only it may be fair to add one word of explanation. It is 'the sense of tears in human things' that calls forth Hugo's greatest poetry. But he must not be sup posed to see only the sad side of life. Far from that. He is even a poet of inextinguishable faith in the future: and, for the present, his ears catch a note of music in everything that moves in all the world. And so it does, in a kind of Alexandrian suavity of form and utterance.
In the hands of Leconte de Lisle the poem would have been a lament for a music of the universe which passed away with Paganism. In Hugo's it is the rejoicing echo of a music which can never pass away so long as earth is earth and man is man. There, then, is Hugo. I have tried to let him speak for himself. That, indeed, seemed the only way in which an essay could attempt to give an idea of his immense range, his exuberant power, his universal sympathy.
More might have been said of his limitations: of the speculative poverty which is almost as conspicuous as his pictorial wealth: of the childish vanity which makes all his world a stage, and himself the only actor before its foot lights: of the flimsy superficiality masquerading as omniscience which made him a lifelong journalist in all but anonymity: of his perpetual declamation, as violent often as that of the Revolution, often as empty as that of the monarchy of July: of his shallow optimism, his unreasoned faith, his entire lack of critical distinction, his political, moral, and intellectual obviousness.
These are grave defects: it is too early yet to say that there is no chance of their proving fatal. But at any rate I have preferred to try to bring out the positive qualities which, on the whole, as it seems to me, greatly over balance them. We are often and justly severe on rhetoric. Yet it is fair to remember that rhetoric involves in its very essence a certain quality of largeness. No man can be a great rhetorician with out realising, what ordinary men do not realise, the greatness of the great commonplaces of life.
Other people accept them: the rhetorician must, to a greater or less degree, feel them. And then his work cannot be done with the petty and insignifi cant. He has to use ideas that have some element of greatness, true or false, in them.
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Without the appearance, at least, of large conceptions he cannot produce the effect at which he aims. So it becomes as much a part of his temperament to seek after great or grandiose ideas as it is a part of the temperament of the practical man to avoid them. That results, of course, in the empty stuff that fills the waste-paper baskets both of poetry and of politics. It results in the echoing hollowness that reverberates through so many pages of such men as Bossuet or Rousseau or Byron.
But if these great men suffer by it, it is fair to admit that they also gain. It was precisely that very rhetorical cast of mind, demand ing great things at any cost, that made Bossuet the founder of the great conception of the unity of history, and enabled him, in his stately funeral sermons, to make of nothingness itself the most majestic of realities. It was that temperament that made Rousseau, and not Voltaire, the voice that prepared the way of the French Revolution. It was that temperament that made of Byron the first English poet whom all Europe united to acclaim.
The rhetorician in him was for ever leading him away into a wilderness of verbiage. But the same temperament that made him a rheto rician had also something to do with making him the greatest poet of his day. To begin with, it decided the most important event in his literary life by carrying him into the Romantic movement in which eloquence played such a large part. There he found, in such accepted heroes of Romanticism as Ossian and Chateaubriand, Scott and Byron, a love of colour and action, and an interest in the Middle Age, which were all to his taste; and in its school were developed some of the best things he had in him: his gift of dreaming, his sense of the intimacy of things, his intuition of the mystic unity of the world towards which Plato might draw his solitary bow at a venture but which only Romanti cism, trained by centuries of Christianity, could fully attain.
There also he found the natural home of his unique mastery of the shapes of things. He became the very centre of the Romantic reaction against the eighteenth-century habit of generalising away all shapes and colours into an indefinable something, supposed to be sublime in proportion to its vagueness. To no other poet has the outward form of things been so vividly present. Whatever the eye can see he has seen.
His bewildering wealth of metaphor is largely due to a visual memory which retained the shape of everything that had ever come within reach of his eye. The extent of this power and the use he made of it are so remarkable that a distinguished student of Hugo's work has lately devoted a whole book to them. Another side, again, of Romanticism which he found congenial was its Byronic tendency to rebel against established authority. All genius begins with the instinctive assertion of liberty, though it often ends in a convinced acceptance of law.
That second stage Hugo never reached. He passed from opposition to opposition. From a literary free-lance he went on to be a political and social rebel. The democrat who was in him almost from the first played a continually larger and larger part. Indeed, as we look back now, there is perhaps no single word that is the key to so much in his many-sided personality. He is a democrat, the voice and incar nation of a people, speaking to the people in the only two manners the people understand, at one moment as grandiose as a scene-painter, at another as simple as a child.
He cannot think. The moment he aims at thought he becomes, not a child, as Goethe said of Byron, but a declaiming schoolboy. But he can feel. In that world he is at home. Whatever can be felt he feels as a child feels it, as bare humanity feels it. Here, above all, his noble universality comes out. His is always a human and popular voice, never the voice of a coterie.
And that perhaps is the very last word; for it gives the two sides of him. His is a popular voice, for evil and for good: for evil in its carelessness, its lack of humour and distinction, its incapacity for difficult thought, its loud and ridiculous vanity, its violence, its prejudice, its liability to cheat itself with windy and meaningless phrases: for good, in its breadth of utterance, in its tenderness of feeling, in its in vincible faith in the primal relations of life, wife and husband, mother and son, the beauty of child hood, the dignity of age; in its sure and unfailing instinct for the large universal things both of heart and head of which no questionings of philosophy will ever deprive the people.
There, I think, lies his surest hold on ultimate fame.
He said of himself in his old age:. There has never been a nobler voice of that human brotherliness which is the soul of all that is best in democracy. And it is that side of all that he was which those who have loved him best have wished to think of last and longest. So at least it seems to have been with the greatest and most generous of them all. Swin burne has found a thousand things to praise in his master; but when it came to the very end and Victor Hugo was being carried to the grave, it was neither to the lord of language, nor to the interpreter of nature, nor even to the prophet of justice, that he paid the final tribute of his In Time of Mourning: it was to the poet whose finger had felt every beat of the heart of humanity, the giver and healer of human tears.
Back to Victor Hugo. It is written during an illness with the possibility of death before him: Mon ame se change en prunelle: Ma raison sonde Dieu voile; Je tate la porte eternelle, Et j'essaie a la nuit ma cle. C'est Dieu que le fossoyeur creuse: Mourir c'est 1'heure de savoir; Je dis a la mort: Vieille ouvreuse, Je viens voir le spectacle noir. S'il est un sein bien aimant Dont l'honneur dispose, Dont le ferme devouement N'ait rien de morose, Si toujours ce noble sein Bat pour un digne dessein J'en veux faire le coussin Ou ton front se pose!
Unless indeed it be this which follows it: L'aube nait et ta porte est close. Ma belle, pourquoi sommeiller? A l'heure ou s'eveille la rose Ne vas-tu pas te reveiller?
French-English Dictionary (35, Entries)
O ma charmante, Ecoute ici L'amant qui chante Et pleure aussi! Tout frappe a ta porte benie. L'aurore dit: je suis le jour! L'oiseau dit: je suis l'harmonie! Et mon cceur dit: je suis l'amour! O ma charmante Ecoute ici L'amant qui chante Et pleure aussi! Je t'adore ange et t'aime femme. Dieu qui par toi m'a complete A fait mon amour pour ton ame Et mon regard pour ta beaute. L'oiseau, que les hivers desolent, Le frais papillon rajetmi, Toutes les choses qui s'envolent, En murmurent dans l'infini. He stands listening as the darkness comes on, and what he seems to hear is such voices as these: Vivez!
Ou'on sente frissonner dans toute la nature, Sous la feuille des nids, au seuil blanc des maisons, Dans l'obscur tremblement des profonds horizons, Un vaste emportement d'aimer, dans l'herbe verte, Dans l'antre, dans l'etang, dans la clairiere ouverte, D'aimer sans fin, d'aimer toujours, d'aimer encor, Sous la serenite des sombres astres d'or! Faites tressaillir l'air, le riot, Paile, la bouche, O palpitations du grand amour farouche!
Ou'on sente le baiser de l'etre illimite! Et paix, vertu, bonheur, esperance, bonte, O fruits divins, tombez des branches eternelles! Ainsi vous parliez, voix, grandes voix solennelies: Et Virgile ecoutait comme j'ecoute, et l'eau Voyait passer le cygne auguste, et le bouleau, Le vent, et le rocher, Pecume, et le ciel sombre. O nature! Will any but the dullest fail to feel some dance of love in him as he listens to those songs: will any but the blindest fail to see some of the magic that unites old and new, memory and dis covery, together in what the poet saw as he watched Dans l'obscur tremblement des profonds horizons?
O splendeur! Contemplons a genoux. Regois la flamme ou l'ombre De tous mes jours! L'ete, lorsque le jour a fui, de fleurs couverte La plaine verse au loin un parfum enivrant: Les yeux fermes, Poreille aux rumeurs entr'ouverte, On ne dort qu'a demi d'un sommeil transparent. Les astres sont plus purs, Pombre parait meilleure; Un vague demi-jour teint le dome eternel: Et l'aube douce et pale, en attendant son heure, Semble toute la nuit errer au bas du ciel.
It is the sower, using the last hour of daylight: Sa haute silhouette noire Domine les profonds labours. On sent a quel point il doit croire A la fuite utile des jours. II marche dans la plaine immense, Va, vient, lance la graine au loin, Rouvre sa main, et recommence, Et je medite, obscur temoin, Pendant que, deployant ses voiles, L'ombre, ou se mele une rumeur, Semble elargir jusqu'aux etoiles Le geste auguste du semeur.
What a tremendous effect, for instance, is produced, in the great picture of the sea slowly and calmly rising over the doomed primeval city, by that wonderful line, Comme un grave ouvrier qui sait qu'il a le temps; what a Shakespearian touch it is! There they lie in their monstrous splendour: dormant dans la brume des nuits, Avec leurs dieux, leur peuple, et leurs chars, et leurs bruits. There they were, a stain on the earth, with their hideous gods and monstrous vices: and yet, Tout dormait cependant : au front des deux cites, A peine encore glissaient quelques pales clartes, Lampes de la debauche, en naissant disparues, Derniers feux des festins oublies dans les rues.
De grands angles de mur, par la lune blanchis, Coupaient Pombre, ou tremblaient dans une eau reflechis. Peut-etre on entendait vaguement dans les plaines S'etouffer des baisers, se meler des haleines, Et les deux villes sceurs, lasses des feux du jour, Murmurer mollement d'une etreinte d'amour; Et le vent, soupirant sous le frais sycomore, Allait tout parfumd de Sodome a Gomorrhe. Let us take the great dawn in Paradise, with which the Legende des Siecles opens: L'aurore apparaissait; quelle aurore? Un abime D'eblouissement, vaste, insondable, sublime; Une ardente lueur de paix et de bonte.
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Tout etait flamme, hymen, bonheur, douceur, clemence, Tant ces immenses jours avaient une aube immense! Or take another picture: no longer from La Legende , but still of Eve, a little later, taking her place now with Adam among Les Malheureux Ils venaient tous les deux s'asseoir sur une pierre, En presence des monts fauves et soucieux, Et de I'eternite formidable des cieux. Leur ceil triste rendait la nature farouche. Et la, sans qu'il sortit un souffle de leur bouche. Les mains sur leurs genoux, et se tournant le dos, Accables comme ceux qui portent des fardeaux, Sans autre mouvement de vie exterieure Que de baisser plus bas la tete d'heure en heure, Dans une stupeur morne et fatale absorbes, Froids, livides, hagards, ils regardaient, courbes Sous Petre illimite sans figure et sans nombre, L'un decroitre le jour, et Pautre, grandir l'ombre.
Et, tandis que montaient les constellations, Et que la premiere onde aux premiers alcyons Donnait sous 1'infini le long baiser nocturne, Et qu'ainsi que des fleurs tombant a flots d'une urne Les astres fourmillants emplissaient le ciel noir, Ils songeaient et, reveurs, sans entendre, sans voir, Sourds aux rumeurs des mers d'ou l'ouragan s'elance, Toute la nuit, dans Fombre, ils pleuraient en silence, Ils pleuraient tous les deux, aieux du genre humain, Le pere sur Abel, la mere sur Cain.
But their canonising voices have scarcely ceased when the ghostly king rises from his tomb, takes his sword and, gates and walls being no bars to spirits, goes forth to the mountains: for the thing he lacks in his stately grave is a shroud of snow: II alia droit au mont Savo que le temps ronge, Et Kanut s'approcha de ce farouche aieul, Et lui dit: Laisse-moi, pour m'en faire un linceul, O montagne Savo que la tourmente assiege, Me couper un morceau de ton manteau de neige. Le mont le reconnut et n'osa refuser. Kanut prit son epee impossible a briser, Et sur le mont, tremblant devant ce belluaire, II coupa de la neige et s'en fit un suaire: Puis il cria: Vieux mont, la mort eclaire peu; De quel cote faut-il aller pour trouver Dieu?
Le mont, au flanc difforme, aux gorges obstruees, Noir, triste dans le vol eternel des nuees Lui dit: Je ne sais pas, spectre, je suis ici. And so he goes out, clothed in his shroud of snow, Seul, dans le grand silence et dans la grande nuit: La pas d'astre: et pourtant on ne sait quel regard Tombe de ce chaos immobile et hagard: this is the place of death, he thinks: beyond, there will be God. II voyait, plus tremblant qu'au vent le peuplier, Les taches s'elargir et se multiplier: Une autre, une autre, une autre, une autre, o cieux funebres!
Leur passage rayait vaguement les tenebres: Ces gouttes dans les plis du linceul, finissant Par se meler, faisaient des nuages de sang: II marchait, il marchait: de l'insondable voute Le sang continuait a pleuvoir goutte a goutte, Toujours, sans fin, sans bruit et comme s'il tombait De ces pieds noirs qu'on voit la nuit pendre au gibet. Le linceul etait rouge et Kanut frissonna. Et c'est pourquoi Kanut, fuyant devant l'aurore, Et reculant, n'a pas ose paraitre encore Devant le juge au front duquel le soleil luit: C'est pourquoi ce roi sombre est reste dans la nuit, Et, sans pouvoir rentrer dans sa blancheur premiere, Sentant, a chaque pas qu'il fait vers la lumiere, Une goutte de sang sur sa tete pleuvoir, Rode eternellement sous l'enorme ciel noir.
And the horrors of the eternal descent through the abyss seized on him: the abyss in which, as one falls, on songe a la vie, au soleil, aux amours, Et Ton pense toujours, et Ton tombe toujours! Et le froid du neant lentement vous penetre! And the captains are summoned: and they pass the guilt on to the judges: Nous n'etions que le bras, ils dtaient la pensee.
L'ange dit. Amenez les images de Dieu. Des etres monstrueux parurent. And the last was the ugliest of all: Le dernier qui venait, horrible au milieu d'eux, Etait a chaque marche encombre de squelettes Et de cadavres froids aux bouches violettes, Et le plancher rougi fumait, de sang baigne; Le char qui le portait dans l'ombre etait traine Par un hibou tenant dans sa griffe une hache. Un etre aux yeux de loup, homme par la moustache, Au sommet de ce char s'agitait etonne, Et se courbait furtif, livide et couronne.
Pas un de ces Cesars a Pallure guerriere Ne regardait cet homme. A l'ecart, et derriere, Vetu d'un noir manteau qui semblait un linceul, Espece de lepreux du trone, il venait seul; II posait les deux mains sur sa face morose Comme pour empecher qu'on y vit quelque chose; Quand parfois il otait ses mains en se baissant En lettres qui semblaient faites avec du sang On lisait sur son front ces trois mots: Je le jure. Quoiqu'ils fussent encore au fond de l'ombre obscure, Hommes hideux, de traits et d'age differents, Je les distinguais tous, car ils etaient tres grands.
Je crus voir les titans de l'antique nature. Mais ces geants brumeux decroissaient a mesure Qu'ils s'eloignaient du point dont ils etaient partis, Et, plus ils approchaient, plus ils etaient petits. Ils entraient par degres dans la stature humaine; La clarte les fondait ainsi qu'une ombre vaine: Eux que j'avais crus hauts plus que les Apennins, Quand ils furent tout pres de moi, c'etaient des nains.
Debout, morne, il tremblait comme un homme qui fuit, Et des mains le tenaient au collet dans la brume. Vetu de lin plus blanc qu'un encensoir qui fume, II avait, spectre bleme aux idoles pareil, Les baisers de la foule empreints sur son orteil, Dans sa droite un baton comme l'antique archonte, Sur son front la tiare et dans ses yeux la honte. De son cou descendait un long manteau dore, Et dans son poignet gauche il tenait, effare, Comme un voleur surpris par celui qu'il derobe, Des clefs qu'il essayait de cacher sous sa robe.
And all the thousands of voices, murderers and murdered, judges and captains and kings, call aloud: 'C'est lui'; and Louis Napoleon adds his special word: Et I'homme-loup, debout sur les cadavres pales Dont le sang tiede encor tombait dans Pinfini, Cria d'une voix rauque et sourde: II m'a beni!
And the angel calls on the Pope for his answer: and then, says Dante, je vis le spectacle horrible et surprenant D'un homme qui vieillit pendant qu'on le regarde. L'agonie eteignit sa prunelle hagarde, Sa bouche begaya, son jarret se rompit, Ses cheveux blanchissaient sur son front decrepit, Ses tempes se ridaient comme si les annees S'etaient subitement sur sa face acharnees, Ses yeux pleuraient, ses dents claquaient comme au gibet Les genoux d'un squelette, et sa peau se plombait, Et, stupide, il baissait, a chaque instant plus pale, Sa tete qu'ecrasait la tiare papale.
L'ange dit: Comprends-tu, vieillard, ce que tu vois? II frappa sa poitrine et demeura sans voix, Et je vis, O terreur! And the angel asks him whether he has any above him on whom he can cast his sin: and he answers, Je n'ai que vous, mon Dieu! Je sentis tressaillir l'obscure eternite.
J'eus, dans ma blonde enfance, he'las! Le jardin etait grand, profond, mysterieux, Ferme par de hauts murs aux regards curieux, Sem de fleurs s'ouvrant ainsi que les paupieres, Et d'insectes vermeils qui couraient sur les pierres, Plein de bourdonnements et de confuses voix: Au milieu, presque un champ, dans le fond, presque un bois. Le pretre, tout nourri de Tacite et d'Homere, Etait un doux vieillard. Ma mere etait ma mere! Est-ce l'onde ou Ton flotte?
And his answer, when he gives it, is always the Tennysonian answer: Je veux etre ici-bas libre, ailleurs responsable, Je suis plus qu'un brin d'herbe, et plus qu'un grain de sable; Je me sens a jamais pensif, aile, vivant. We are too small, all but a few of us, to hold more than a little of the truth: Le vase est trop petit pour la contenir toute; and so, feeble creatures as we are, we fall back upon negation: Aussi repousser Rome, et rejeter Sion, Rire, et conclure tout par la negation, Comme c'est plus aise, c'est ce que font les hommes. Le peu que nous croyons tient au peu que nous sommes.
And meanwhile he can wait in serene assurance: Et, tachant d'etre bon, je laisse, o mon ami, Passer Tun apres l'autre, en cette ombre ou nous sommes, Tous les faux lendemains de la terre et des hommes, Sur de ce lendemain immense du ciel bleu Qu'on appelle la mort et que j'appelle Dieu. He uses the argument of the ascending scale of being, for instance, in a manner which reminds one curi ously of Browning: L'echelle que tu vois, crois-tu qu'elle se rompe?
Crois-tu, toi dont les sens d'en haut sont eclaires, Oue la creation qui, lente et par degres, S'eleve a la lumiere, et dans sa marche entiere, Fait de plus de clarte luire moins de matiere Et mele plus d'instinct au monstre decroissant, Crois-tu que cette vie enorme, remplissant De souffles le feuillage et de lueurs la tete, Qui va du roc a 1'arbre et de l'arbre a la bete, Et de la pierre a toi monte insensiblement, S'arrete sur 1'abime a Phomme, escarpement?
And he will, now and then, cry out in such phrases as that in Les Voix Interieures : Mais parmi ces progres dont notre age se vante, Dans tout ce grand eclat d'un siecle eblouissant, Une chose, o Jesus, en secret m'epouvante, C'est l'echo de ta voix qui va s'affaiblissant. Such sayings as, Un petit oiseau, sous les feuilles, Chantant, suffit a prouver Dieu, have none of the note of personal experience and conviction that rings so clear in Browning's God's in his heaven, All 's right with the world. L'amour, qu'il vienne tot ou tard, Prouve Dieu dans notre ame sombre.
II faut bien un corps quelquepart Pour que le miroir ait une ombre. Maintenant que Paris, ses paves et ses marbres, Et sa brume et ses toits, sont bien loin de mes yeux; Maintenant que je suis sous les branches des arbres, Et que je puis songer a la beaute des cieux; Maintenant que du deuil qui m'a fait Tame obscure Je sors, pale et vainqueur, Et que je sens la paix de la grande nature Qui m'entre dans le cceur: Maintenant que je puis, assis au bord des ondes, Emu par ce superbe et tranquille horizon, Examiner en moi les verites profondes Et regarder les fleurs qui sont dans le gazon; Maintenant, o mon Dieu!
Seigneur, je reconnais que l'homme est en delire S'il ose murmurer; Je cesse d'accuser, je cesse de maudire, Mais laissez-moi pleurer!
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Laissez-moi me pencher sur cette froide pierre Et dire a mon enfant: Sens-tu que je suis la? Voyez-vous, nos enfants nous sont bien necessaires, Seigneur; quand on a vu dans sa vie, un matin, Au milieu des ennuis, des peines, des miseres, Et de l'ombre que fait sur nous notre destin, Apparaitre un enfant, tete chere et sacree, Petit etre joyeux, Si beau qu'on a cru voir s'ouvrir a son entree Une porte des cieux; Quand on a vu, seize ans, de cet autre soi-meme Croitre la grace aimable et la douce raison, Lorsqu'on a reconnu que cet enfant qu'on aime Fait le jour dans notre ame, et dans notre maison; Que c'est la seule joie ici-bas qui persiste De tout ce qu'on reva, Considerez que c'est une chose bien triste De le voir qui s'en va!
Take it in its very simplest form, so elementary as to escape notice, till you put this welcome to spring beside such things as even the spring odes of Horace and see how, in its presence, for all their beauty, they seem narrow and limited, with a note that hardly rises above that of rejoicing at the escape from wintry discomfort: Louis, voici le temps de respirer les roses, Et d'ouvrir bruyamment les vitres longtemps closes; Le temps d'admirer en revant Tout ce que la nature a de beautes divines Qui flottent sur les monts, les bois et les ravines, Avec l'onde, Pombre et le vent.
Louis, voici le temps de reposer son ame Dans ce calme sourire empreint de vague flamme Qui rayonne au front du ciel pur: De dilater son coeur ainsi qu'une eau qui fume, Et d'en faire envoler la nuee et la brume A travers le limpide azur. O Dieu! Qu'ils errent, joyeux et vainqueurs! Cue le rossignol chante, oiseau dont la voix tendre Contient de l'harmonie assez pour en repandre Sur tout 1'amour qui sort des coeurs! Que rien sous le soleil ne garde de tristesse!
Qu'un nid chante sur les vieux troncs! Nous, tandis que de joie au loin tout vibre et tremble, Allons dans la foret, et la, marchant ensemble, Si vous voulez, nous songerons, Nous songerons tous deux a cette belle fille Qui dort la-bas sous l'herbe ou le bouton d'or brille, Ou l'oiseau cherche un grain de mil, Et qui voulait avoir, et qui, triste chimere! S'etait fait cet hiver promettre par sa mere Une robe verte en avril.
Or take it again, in this charming piece, the most beautiful of compliments, and so much more : Voyez-vous, un parfum eveille la pensee. Repliez, belle enfant par Paube caressee, Cet eventail aile, pourpre, or et vermilion Qui tremble dans vos mains comme un grand papillon, Et puis ecoutez-moi.
Dieu fait Podeur des roses Comme il fait un abime, avec autant de choses. Celle-ci, qui se meurt sur votre sein charmant, N'aurait pas ce parfum qui monte doucement Comme un encens divin vers votre beaute pure, Si sa tige, parmi Peau, Pair, et la verdure, Dans la creation prenant sa part de tout, N'avait profondement plonge par quelque bout, Pauvre et fragile fleur pour tous les vents beante, Au sein mysterieux de la terre geante. La, par un lent travail que Dieu lui seul connait, Fraicheur du flot qui court, blancheur du jour qui nait, Souffle de ce qui coule, ou vegete, ou se traine, L'esprit de ce qui vit dans la nuit souterraine, Fumee, onde, vapeur, de loin comme de pres, Non sans faire avec tout des echanges secrets, Elle a derobe tout, son calme a l'antre sombre, Au diamant sa flamme, a la foret son ombre, Et peut-etre, qui sait?