name of the angel Lucifer or Satan—the angel who questions, reasons, and rebels. It celebrates the rebellion of reason against ignorance, of enlightenment against darkness and superstition-of course directed against the clerical party. Outsiders can perhaps scarcely appreciate the earnestness of this intellectual revolt in Italy, unless they realise how the iron hand of superstition has cramped the growth of the nation ; but it is impossible to form a truthful conception of modern Italian thought without recognising the fact that the struggle is still going on, waged more openly every day. Temporal power has fallen, but spiritual power is still strong enough to be combated. Trezza, the well-known philosophical and literary critic (once a priest himself) writes on this subject thus strongly: "Between the liberal and the clerical parties, between science and dogma, between Italy and Papacy, no conciliation is possible ; if we do not destroy Papacy, then, sooner or later, Papacy will destroy us.” The reaction is strong in proportion to the repression exercised. Hence the significance of Carducci's “Satana.” If Italy were to choose a new patron saint, her choice would undoubtedly fall upon Lucifer, angel of Light, hymned since Carducci's poem in all conceivable ways as symbolising progress and enlightenment. In dealing with Rapisardi we shall find the same idea enlarged and developed.

The grand spectacular (Italian) ballets have taken up this same idea of human progress, and symbolised it in “ Excelsior," "Amor," “Il Tempo,” &c. The leading idea is the spirit of light striving against darkness, the triumphs of civilisation, all variations of the same theme clothed in popular garb.

To show Carducci's point of view when he wrote his “Inno a Satana,' we cannot do better than quote his own words from a letter written to one of his friends, afterwards published in reply to the attacks made upon him. His words characterise the intellectual attitude of his whole party. “My soul,” he writes, “after years of doubt, and search, and painful experiments, found her word' at last and Verbum caro factum est. . . . I have hymned Nature and Reason, these two divinities of my soul and of all generous and good souls, divinities hated by a recluse, self-torturing and ignorant asceticism under the names of Flesh' and 'World,' and excommunicated by Theocracy under the name of 'Devil.” Hence it appears that Carducci's Satan resolves himself into Nature and Reason. All his poems hymn these two “divinities," and he always rebels against what he calls ecclesiastical and intellectual “yokes." He wages constant and contemptuous war against the Romantic school (though in the course of Carducci's generation this has grown out of date). About this Romantic school in Italy a word of explanation may be needed. The reaction against Romanticism, so marked in Italian thought even at the present day, is closely connected with the rebellion of the thinking classes against Papacy, a connexion not altogether evident at first sight, perhaps.

It is a contempt for that form of sentimentalism encouraged by a certain school of religious thought—"sentimentalism” being perhaps the best English equivalent for the Italian “ romanticismo," a disposition to view the world through the coloured glasses of sentiment rather than in the clear light of common day. It is alien alike to the scientific, unbiassed judgment of things, and to the ancient Greek mental attitude which looked at nature with the clear frank eyes of childhood, free from the sickly sentiment which so often clouds our modern gaze. There has been a reaction in most European countries against the “romanticismo ” which pervaded the earlier part of the present century, tinging it with hues reflected from the middle ages, but the reaction is stronger in Italy than elsewhere, probably because the romantic influence was so strongly felt in Italy, and because it is in reality entirely alien to the Italian clear practical intellect. Modern Italian romanticism was fostered by the Catholic school of the first half of this century, by the writers of the Manzonian school. The spirit of calm submission and somewhat melancholy resignation to all injustices practised by the powers then in authority, inculcated by such writers, was at variance with patriotism, for at that time patriotism was obliged to fight, not to submit. The Manzonian school, being no longer in tune with the spirit of the age, is impatiently pushed aside by the new school of thought.

Carducci's face is always set against the Romantic, whether he attacks it with his polished satire, or whether he seeks refuge from modern sentimentalism in Hellenism, the antipodes of what is morbid in the thought of our day. This return to the healthy Paganism of ancient Greece has inspired some of his happiest efforts ;“hating to linger in the dim recesses of the church aisles," as he puts it, he seeks Nature. “In una chiesa gotica” (in a Gothic church), expressing this idea, “ Primavere Elleniche” (Greek spring, or rather Greek songs of spring), exquisite verses written in different Greek metres : Æolic, Doric, Alexandrian, and breathing the true Greek spirit-are speci. mens of this vein. In “Classicismo e Romanticismo,” a telling little poem in two parts, Carducci expresses the difference between the two schools of thought in the clear concise form which is one of his most admirable characteristics. In“ Classicismo” he invokes the sun, harbinger of day, parent of songs, of light, of joy, of work in

the open fields, whilst in “Romanticismo" he avers his contempt for the sickly moon, with her hateful nun-like face, “celeste paolotta" ("celestial nun"), who presides over churchyards, ruins, and poets' disappointments, parent of inactivity and weakness. The idea is not a new one; it has already been used by a French poet, but the poem is clever. Another, directed also against “Manzoniana,” showing Carducci in one of his most charming moods, sparkling with tender playfulness, is “Davanti San Guido." But in “Il Cuore” (The Heart) he uses stronger terms, turning the blade of his merciless satire against his opponents, ridiculing the idea of sentiment, and terming the heart-beloved weapon of the Romanticists—"vil muscolo nocivo" (that vile hurtful muscle).

As a satirist Carducci has scarcely a rival among the poets of the present day; he is inexorable, full of passion, yet always light and limpid in form, his language always superbly classical. “No one," says the critic Trezza, “no one like Carducci possesses the secrets of laughter and of tears, no one rises to such heights of thought, yet always maintaining his nervous, clear, transparent form of expression."

To Carducci belongs moreover the credit of enriching Italian poetry by introducing, or more properly speaking, reviving certain metres. Seeking for a new form wherein to express his ideas, being as he puts it (in“Il Preludio ") "weary of the usual metres, looking for new and less accessible rhymes,” he turns to the Greek-Latin lyric, reproducing some of the ancient metres with great success, such for instance as the Asclepiadic, the Alcaic, the Sapphic, &c. His first essay in these appeared in 1877, and has since been followed by other volumes, all bearing the title “ Odi Barbare.” These “ Barbaric Odes" are so called because they reproduce in Italian verse the "barbaric harmonies” perceptible in Latin verse, marking the accentuated syllables in the reading. Such revival of ancient rhythms has been attempted before Carducci's time, it is true, in various countries and at different epochs. But to Carducci belongs the merit not merely of having resuscitated dead forms of poetry, but of having infused into them the living spirit of modern thought. Without living thought to animate them such revivals of obsolete forms must necessarily fail—as indeed Carducci's predecessors on this field did fail, not one of them rising above mediocrity. Carducci has succeeded in imparting animation and life to his “Odi Barbare,” though whether these antique forms will be received finally into Italian poetry as national poetical forms is a question which only the future can decide. As adopted by Carducci they have the charm of antique classical purity and ele

[ocr errors]

gance, and at the same time they possess freshness and originality. They deal of many themes-love, patriotism, nature, satire. Among the most beautiful we notice a poem on the death of the young Prince Napoleon in South Africa, then “Ode alle Fonti del Clitunno," splendid in ideas and glowing imagery, “Io triumphe,” a colloquy between Romans of old, in which modern Italian art, science, and politics are held up to derision.

Carducci is essentially a lyric poet ; it is his own conviction, expressed in his own words, that “the epic is dead and was buried some time ago." His genius is essentially lyrical, his poems possess in an eminent degree that concentrated nervous force which makes every line, every word, of telling and just effect. No redundancy, no forced lengthiness, no superfluity ; his verse is concise, polished, clear cut and chaste as a Greek gem. This is Carducci at his best, whether he be hymning his “Lidia” in an idyll redolent of the laurel groves of Greece, bathed in limpid air, with the sapphire sea at their feet, or whether he be pursuing his opponents with the keen sword of irony in the prose and turmoil of modern life.

Carducci is the greatest poet of New Italy-of educated New Italy, one should say—for his very refinements and excellences of style, his classic elegance, and his frequent use of Latinisms, not yet received into Italian (which, though they point to future enrichment of the language possibly, yet need study in order to be appreciated or even understood at present), tell against his popularity with the masses. That is, not merely with the great masses of the people, but with all save the learned ; for in his later works his language is often so severely classical (as in the “Odi Barbare ") that people of ordinary attainments find it too difficult to be read with enjoyment. Also in his later poems there seems a lack of that warm human sympathy and feeling which endear a poet to his readers. In “ Piemonte" (published 1890) we have classic erudition, elegance, historical and political allusions, but no depth of feeling, no allusion to social problems or human daily joys and sorrows; we do not find the people's poet.

It is easy to imagine, given the characteristics of the poet, that his genius would adapt itself to the sonnet, and in fact he has produced some gems in this form of art. “A Dante," and the wellknown “Il Bove" (The Ox), are masterpieces. The latter is a perfect

classical gem.

A few words of biography relating to Italy's great modern poet may be of interest. Carducci was born July 27, 1836, at Valdicastello, in Tuscany, his family being descendants of Franceso Carducci,

gonfaloniere or standard-bearer of Florence. His father, a physician, was member of the “Carbonari” (a political sect), and had been arrested and indicted by the law-from 1838 to 1843 we find him pursuing his avocation as doctor in the Tuscan Maremma. Some of Carducci's most beautiful and touching poems are inspired by his recollections of this sojourn of his childhood in the Maremma. He writes of this period : “The recollections most precious to me, though tinged with sadness, all my childish ideals, my love--all are for the Maremma. My mother, a woman of extraordinary talent and strength of mind, taught me to read, and made me learn by heart Berchet's poems ; my father taught me the choruses in Manzoni's dramatic poems. When I was eight years of age my father put into my hands the Latin grammar, which I had to commit to memory, and every day I translated, either aloud or in writing, from Latin into Italian or vice versâ -all this without having it explained properly. My father had a very fair library for a doctor in the Maremma, one which bore witness to his half literary, poetical, half romantic and revolutionary tastes. In it were to be found Manzoni (splendidly pourd), Rollin, Thiers, Sismondi, Macchiavelli, Guiscardi.”

When reading history, young Carducci imagined himself in turn Scipio, Gracchus, or Brutus, and would enact his part so seriously with his playmates that their games often ended in blows. Then his father would interfere, and inflict as a punishment the reading of Manzoni's “Morale Cattolica,” which caused the boy to conceive a strong antipathy for Manzoni and the Manzonians. In 1847 (at eleven years of age) he wrote his first verses, “On the death of an Owl.” In 1861 Carducci was appointed professor at the University of Bologna, where he still delivers his splendid lectures on literature. In 1863, as we have seen, he expressed his bent with the “Inno a Satana,” adopting the pseudonym “Enotrio Romano,” destined to become so famous.

MARIO RAPISARDI. Mario Rapisardi, the Sicilian poet, forms a striking contrast to Carducci both in style and genius ; it is the difference between Northern and Southern temperaments. Carducci-concise, clear, concentrated. Rapisardi-apt to be carried away by his more glowing imagination, abounding in metaphor, florid, often redundant. If Carducci's poetry may be compared to a clear-cut, chaste, classical relief, that of Rapisardi recalls rather the glowing canvas and often the exaggerated outlines of a Rubens or a Michael Angelo. His muse refuses to be confined within the limits of the lyric, but expands

« 前へ次へ »