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In all folk-poetry can be plainly heard that music of love and death which may be said almost to have been the dominant note that sounded through the literature of the ages of romance. Sometimes the victory is given to death, sometimes to love; in one song love, while yielding, conquers. Folk-poetry has not anything more instinct with the quality of intensity than is this "Last Request" of a Greek robber-lover—.

We hardly notice the adventitious part of it—the ancient custom of tearing off the hair, the strange stone-casting at the youths who represent Charon; our attention is absorbed by what is the essence of 19 the song: passion which has burned itself into pure fire. Greek folk-poetry shows a blending together of southern emotions with an imaginative fervour, a prophetic power that is rather of the East than of the South.

No Tuscan ploughman, for instance, could seize the idea of the Greek folk-poet of possessing his living love in death. If the Tuscan thinks of a union in the grave, it can only be attained by the one who remains joining the one who is gone—. This stringer of pretty conceits fails to convince us that he is very much in earnest in his wish to die. In his worst troubles he still feels that all his faculties, all his senses, are made for pleasure. Death is to him the affair of a not cheerful religious ceremony—a cross borne before a black draped bier, and bells tolling dolefully.

Going further south, a stage further is reached in crude externality of vision. People of the South are the only born realists. To them that comes natural which in others is either affectation or the fruits of what the French call l'amour du laid —a morbid love of the hideous, such as marred the fine genius of Baudelaire. At Naples death is a matter of corruption naked in the sunlight. When the Neapolitan takes his mandoline amongst the tombs he unveils their sorry secrets, not because he gloats over them, but because the habit of a reserve of speech is entirely undeveloped in him.

He dares to sing thus of his lost love—. The song beats with the pulses of the people's life—the life of a people swift in gesture, in action, in living, in dying: always in a hurry, as if one must be quick for the catastrophe is coming. They are all here: the lover waiting in the street for some sign or word; the girl leaning out of window to tell her piece of news; the "poor child" who had drunk of the lava stream of love; the dead lying uncoffined in the church to be gazed upon by who will; the priest to 21 whom are given those final instructions: pious, and yet how uncomforting, how unilluminated by hope or even aspiration!

Here there is no thought of reunion. A kind-hearted German woman once tried to console a young Neapolitan whose lover was dead, by saying that they might meet in Paradise. The coming back or reappearance of a lover, in whose absence his beloved has died, is a subject that has been made use of by the folk-poets of every country, and nothing can be more characteristic of the nationalities to which they belong than the divergences which mark their treatment of it.

Northern singers turn the narrative of the event into half a fairy tale. On the banks of the Moldau we are introduced to a joyous youth, returning with glad steps to his native village. It is a road edged with rosemary; everybody knows it—it leads to the new cemetery. Thither he goes, thrice he wanders round the place, the third time he hears a voice crying, "Who is it treads on my grave and breaks the rest of the dead?

She says she cannot, she is too weak, her heart is lifeless, her hands and feet are like stones. But the gravedigger has left his spade hard by; with it her friend can shovel away the earth that holds her down. He does what she tells him; 22 when the earth is lifted he beholds her stretched out at full length, a frozen maiden crowned with rosemary. He asks to whom has she bequeathed his gifts. She answers that her mother has them; he must go and beg them of her.

Then shall he throw the little scarf upon a bush, and there will be an end to his love. And the silver ring he shall cast into the sea, and there will be an end to his grief. On the shores of the Wener it is Lord Malmstein who wakes before dawn from a dream that his beloved's heart is breaking. Of a sudden two little maids stand in his path; one wears a dress of blue, and hails him with the words: "God keep you, Lord Malmstein; what bale awaits you! Swiftly he leaps from the saddle; he pulls from off his finger rings of fine gold, and throws them to the gravedigger—"Delve a grave deep and wide, for therein we will walk together.

This Swedish Malmstein not only figures as the reappearing lover; he is also one of that familiar pair whom death unites. In an ancient Romansch ballad the story is simply an episode of peasant life. A young Engadiner girl is forced by her father to marry a man of the village of Surselva, but all the while her troth is plighted to a youth from the village of Schams. On 23 the road to Surselva the lover joins the bride and bridegroom unknown to the latter.

When they reach the place the people declare that they have never seen so fair a woman as the youthful bride. Her husband's father and mother greet her saying, "Daughter, be thou welcome to our house! Only one kindness I ask of you, give me a room where I may rest. Her lover is by her side, and to him she says, "O my beloved, greet my father and my mother; tell them that perhaps they have rejoiced their hearts, but sure it is they have broken mine.

As the clock struck two they carried her to the grave, as the clock struck three they came for him; the marriage bells rang them to their rest; the chimes of Schams answering back the chimes of Surselva. From the grave mound of the girl grew a camomile plant, from the grave mound of the youth a plant of musk; and for the great love they bore one another even the flowers twined together and embraced. It is a sign of a natural talent for democracy when the people like better to tell stories about themselves than to discuss the fortunes of prince or princess. The devoted lovers are more often to be looked for in the immediate neighbourhood of a court.

So it is in the ballad of Count Nello of Portugal. Count Nello brings his horse to bathe; while the horse drinks, the Count sings. It was already very dark—the King could not recognise him. The poor Infanta knew not whether to laugh or to cry. It is an angel singing, or the siren in the sea. Count Nello is dead; the Infanta is like to die. The two graves are open; behold!

On one grave grows a cypress, on the other an orange 25 tree; one grows, the other grows; their branches join and kiss. The king, when he hears of it, orders them both to be cut down. From the cypress flows noble blood, from the orange tree blood royal; from one flies forth a dove, from the other a wood-pigeon.

When the king sits at table the birds perch before him. Neither in life nor in death have I been able to divide them. Through the world they tell their tale—. The death of heroes has provided an inexhaustible theme for folk-poets. The chief or partisan leader had his complement in the skald or bard or roving ballad-singer; if the one acted, turned tribes into nations, cut out history, the other sang, published his fame, gave his exploits to the future, preserved to his people the remembrance of his dying words.

The poetry of hero-worship, beginning on Homeric heights, descends to the "lytell gestes" of all sorts and conditions of more or less respectable and patriotic outlaws and condottieri , whose "passing" is often the most honourable point in their career. On the principle which has been followed—that of letting the folk-poet speak for himself, and show what are his ideas and his impressions after his own manner and 26 in his own language—I will take three death scenes from amongst the less known of those recorded in popular verse.

The first is Scandinavian. What ails Hjalmar the Icelander? Why is his face so pale? The Norse Warrior answers: "Sixteen wounds have I, and my armour is shattered. All things grow black in my sight; I reel in walking; the bloody sword of Agantyr has pierced my heart. Had I five houses in the fields I could not dwell in one of them; I must abide at Samsa, hopeless and mortally wounded.

At Upsal, in the halls of Josur, many Jarls quaff joyously the foaming ale, many Jarls exchange hot words; but as for me, I am here in this island, struck down by the point of the sword. The white daughter of Hilmer accompanied my steps to Aganfik beyond the reefs; her words are come true, for she said I should return no more.

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Draw off my finger the ring of ruddy gold, bear it to my youthful Ingebrog, it will remind her that she will see me never more. In the east upsoars the raven; after him the mightier eagle wings his way. I will be meat for the eagle and my heart's blood his drink. This is how the Norseman died. The Greek hero, who dies peaceably in the ripeness of old age, meets his doom with even less trouble of spirit—. The slight natural touches—the eagle soaring against the sunrise, the nightingale singing through the May nights—suggest an intuition of the will-of-the-wisp affinity between nature and human chances which seems for ever on the point of being seized, but which for ever eludes the mental grasp.

We think of the "brown bird" in the noble "Funeral Song" of one who would have been a magnificent folk-poet, had he not learnt to write and read—Walt Whitman. My third specimen is a Piedmontese ballad composed probably about a hundred and fifty years ago, 28 and still very popular. Count Nigra ascertained the existence of eight or more variants. A German soldier, known in Italy as the Baron Lodrone, took arms under the house of Savoy, in whose service he presently died.

He spoke kind words to the sick man: "Courage, thou wilt not die, and I will give thee the supreme command. Now Lodrone was a Protestant, and when the king was convinced that he must die, he exhorted him to conversion, saying that he himself would stand his sponsor.

Lodrone replied that that could not be. The king did not insist; he only asked him where he would be buried, and promised him a sepulchre of gold. He answered—. He does not care for a golden sepulchre, but he "leaves for testament" that his body may lie in Val Luserna, "where my heart rests so well! To read these four simple lines after the fantasia of wild or whimsical guesses, passionate longing, unresisted despair, insatiable curiosity, that death has been seen 29 to create or inspire, is like going out of a public place with its multiform and voluble presentment of men and things into the aisles of a small church which would lie silent but that unseen hands pass over the organ keys.

Nature, like music, does not initially make us think, it makes us feel. A midnight scene in the Alps, a sunrise on the Mediterranean, suspends at the moment of contemplating it all thought in pure emotion. Afterwards, however, thought comes back and asks for a reason for the emotion that has been felt. Man at an early age began to try and explain, or give a tangible shape, to the feelings wrought in him by Nature. In the first place he called the things that he saw gods, "because the things are beautiful that are seen.

A small piece of this succession fell away from the great masters of the world's song, and was picked up almost unconsciously by the obscure and nameless folk-singer. Comparative folk-lore has shown that men have everywhere the same customs, the same superstitions, the same games. The study of folk-songs will go far to show that if they have not likewise a complete community of taste and sentiment, yet even in these, the finer fibres of their being, there is less of difference and more of analogy than has been hitherto supposed.

Folk-songs prove, for instance, that the modern unschooled man is not so utterly ignorant of natural beauty as many of us have imagined him to be. Only we must not go from the 31 extreme of expecting nothing to the extreme of expecting too much; it has to be borne in mind that at best folk-poesy is rather the stammering speech of children than a mature eloquence. It is a common idea that, until the other day, mountains were looked upon with positive aversion.

Still we know that there were always men who felt the power of the hills: the men who lived in the hills. When they were kept too long in the plain without hope of return they sickened and died; when a vivid picture of their mountains was of a sudden brought up before them, they lost control over their actions.

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By force of association the sound of the Kuhreihen could doubtless give the Switzer a vision of the white peak, the milky torrent, the chalet with slanting roof, the cows tripping down the green Alp to their night quarters. It is disappointing to find that the words accompanying the famous cow-call are as a rule mere nonsense. The first observation which the genuine folk-poet makes about mountains is the sufficiently self-evident one, that they form a wall between himself and the people on the further side. The old Pyrenean balladist seized the political significance of this: "When God created those mountains," he said, "He did not mean that men should cross them.

The Gascon peasants have an adaptation of Gaston Phoebus' romance:—. In Bohemia the simple countryman poetises after 32 much the same fashion as the Gascon cavalier: "Mountain, mountain, thou art very high! My friend, thou art far off, far beyond the mountains. Our love will fade yet more and yet more; there is nothing left for me; in this world no pleasantness remains. He tries what a prayer will do: "Mountains, black mountains, step aside, so I may get my good friend for wife. Among Italian folk-poets the Friulian is foremost as a lover of the greater heights; he turns to them habitually in his moments of poetic inspiration, and, as he says, their echoes repeat his sighs.

It must be admitted that the Tuscan, on the contrary, feels small sympathy with high mountains; if he speaks of one he is careful to call it aspra , or rough and bitter. But he yields to no man in his delight in the lesser hills, the be' poggioli of his fair birthland. Even if an intervening hillock divides him from his beloved he speaks of the barrier tenderly rather than sadly: "O sun, thou that goest over the hill-top, do me a kindness if thou canst—greet my love whom I have not seen to-day.

O sun, thou that goest over the pear-trees, greet those black eyes. O sun, thou that goest over the small ash-trees, greet those beautiful eyes! I do not see him turn back I fell upon my knees on the hard stones; may our love come back as of yore! Almost the only folk-song which is avowedly descriptive of a mountain, comes from South Greenland:—. The great Koonak Mount yonder south I do behold it. The great Koonak Mount yonder south I regard it. The shining brightness yonder south I contemplate.

Outside of Koonak it is expanding; the same that Koonak towards the sea-side doth encompass. Behold how yonder south they tend to beautify each other; while from the sea-side it is enveloped in sheets still changing; from the sea-side it is enveloped to mutual embellishment. At the first reading all this may seem incoherent; at the second or third we begin to see the scene gradually rising before us; the masses of sea-born cloud sweeping on and up at dawn or sunset, till, finding their passage barred, they enwrap the obstacle in folds of golden vapour.

It is singular that the Eskimo is incessantly gazing southwards; can it be that he, too, is dimly sensible of what a great writer has called " la fatigue du Nord "? Incidental mention of the varying aspects of peak and upland is common enough in popular songs. The Bavarian peasant notices the clearness of the heights while mist hangs over the valley:—.

The Basque observes the "misty summits;" the Greek sees the cloud hurrying to the heights "like winged messengers. When he has won a victory for freedom, they cry aloud, "God is great! Why have I not the mountains to keep me company? Birds, shall I recover my strength? The effect of light on his native ice-fields has not escaped the Switzer: "The sun shines on the glacier, and in the heavens shine the stars; O thou, my chiefest joy, how I love thee! Again, he represents a band of warriors halting on the spurs of the forest, while before them lies Prague, silent and asleep, with the Veltava shrouded in morning mist; beyond, the mountains turn blue; beyond the mountains the east is illuminated.

In Bohemia mountains are spoken of as blue or grey or shadowy; in Servia they are invariably called green. Servians and Bulgarians 35 cannot conceive a mountain that is not a wood or a wood that is not a mountain; with them the two words mean one and the same thing. The charm and beauty of the combination of hill and forest are often dwelt upon in the Balkan brigand songs; outlaws and their poets have been among the keenest appreciators of nature.

Who thinks of Robin Hood apart from the greenwood tree? Who but has smelt the very fragrance of the woods as he said over the lines? The Sclav or semi-Sclav bandit has not got the high moral qualities of our "most gentle theefe," but, like him, he has suffered the heat, the cold, the hunger, the fatigue of a life in the good greenwood, and, like him, he has tasted its joys. Take the ballad called the "Wintering of the Heidukes. Each decides where he will go, and the last one says: "So soon as the sad winter is passed, when the forest is clad again in leaves and the earth in grass and flowers, when the birds sing in the bushes on the banks of the Save and the wolves are heard in the hills—then shall we meet as to-day.

This is only one Pesma out of a hundred in which the mountain background is faithfully sketched. Sometimes the forest figures as a personage. The Balkan mountaineer more than half believes that as he loves it, so does it love him. The instinct which insists that "love exempteth nothing loved from love" has been a great myth-germinator, and when myths die out, it still finds some niche in the mind of man wherein to abide.

It may seem foolish when applied to inanimate objects; it must seem false in its human application: but reasoning will not kill it. Is there some truth unperceived behind the apparent fallacy? The Balkan brigand cares little for such speculations; all that he tells us is that when he speaks to the greenwood, it most surely answers him in a soft low voice. The Bulgarian "Farewell of Liben the brave" is a good specimen of the dialogues between the forest and its wild denizens.

Standing on the top of the Hodja Balkan, Liben cries aloud, "Forest, O green forest, and ye cool waters! Now must he bid farewell to the mountain, for he is going home to his mother who will affiance him to the daughter of the Pope Nicholas. Many are the mothers, the wives, and the little orphans, who curse the forest for his sake. Till now he has had the old mountain for mother; for love, the greenwood clothed in tufted foliage and freshened by the cool breeze.

The grass was his bed, the leaves of the trees his coverlet; his drink came from the pure brook, for him the wood-birds sang. Sea-views of the sea, rare in poetry of any sort, can scarcely be said to exist in folk-poesy. Sailors' songs have generally not much to do with the wonders of the deep; the larger part of them are known to be picked up on land, and the few exceptions to the rule are mostly kept from the ken of the outer and profane public.

The Basque sailors have certain songs of their own, but only a solitary fragment of one of them has ever been set on record. Once when a Basque was asked to repeat a song he had been heard singing, he quietly said that he only taught it to those who sailed with him. The fragment just mentioned speaks of the silver trumpet the master's whistle? The first glimpse of a level reach of land in the morning haze could hardly be better described. The sea impresses the dwellers on its shores chiefly by its depth and vastness.

In folk-songs there is a frequent recurrence of phrases such as "the waters of the sea are vast, you cannot discern the bottom" 38 Basque ; "High is the starry sky, profound the abyss of ocean" Russian. The Greek calls the sea wicked, and watches the whitening waves which roll over drowned sailors. For the Southern Sclav it is simply a grey expanse. The Norseman calls it old, and blue—nature having for him one sole chord of colour—blue sea, white sands and snows, green pines. With Italian folk-singers it is a pretty point of dispute whether the blue sea-and-sky colour is to be preferred to the colour of the leaves and the grass.

The Italian folk-poets' "castle in the air" is a castle in the sea. The Sicilian, who makes a point of wishing for something worth having while he is about it, will only be satisfied with a palace built of peacock's plumes, a stair of gold, and a balcony inlaid with gems. A 39 more modest minstrel, from the hither side of the straits of Messina, gives no thought at all to housekeeping; a little wave-lapped garden, full of pretty flowers, is all his desire.

The Italian folk-poet sets afloat an astonishing number of things for no particular reason; one has planted a pear-tree, a second has heard a little wood-lark, a third has seen a green laurel, a fourth has found a small altar "in the sea-midst," a fifth discovers his own name "scritto all 'onne de lu mar. The Greek lover has no wish to leave the mainland, but he is fond of picturing his beloved wandering by the shore at dawn to breathe the morning air, or reclining on a little stone bench at the foot of a hill, in the silence of solitude and the calm of the sea.

For the rest, he knows too well "the wicked sea" for it to suggest to him none but pleasant images. If he is in despair, he likens himself to the waves, which follow one another to their inevitable grave. If he grows weary of waiting, he exclaims: "The sea darkens, the waves beat back on the beach; ah! A happy lover remembers in his transport the glacier glistening in the sunshine; he who languishes from the sickness of hope deferred, sees an affinity to his own mood in the lowering storm.

In the South, light is loved for its own sake. A Tuscan countryman vows that if his love to fly from him becomes the light, he, to be near her, will become a butterfly. Perhaps so radiant an hyperbole would only have occurred to one who had grown up in the air of the Tuscan hills; the air to whose purity Michael Angelo ascribed all that his mind was worth.

Anyway, a keen poetic sensibility is argued by the mere fact of thus joining, in a symbol of the indivisible, the least earth-clogged of sentient things with the most impersonal of natural phenomena. It is the more remarkable because, generally speaking, butterflies do not attract the notice of the unlettered people, even as they did not attract the notice of the objective and practical Greeks. It may be that were spirits to be seen flitting noiselessly about the haunts of men, they would, in time, be equally disregarded.

To so few has it happened to know a butterfly, to watch closely its living beauty, to feel day by day the light feet or fluttering wings upon the hands which minister to its unsubstantial wants. Butterflies, to most of us, are but ethereal strangers; so by the masses they are not valued—at least, not in Europe. A tribe of West African negroes have this beautiful saying: "The Butterfly praises God within and without.

The folk-poet lives out of doors; he is acquainted with the home life of the sun and stars, and day-break is his daily luxury. The Eskimo tell a story of a stay-at-home man who dwelt in an island near the coast of East Greenland. It was his chief joy to see the sun rising in the morning, out of the sea, and with that he was content. But when his son had come to years of discretion, he persuaded his father to set out 41 in a boat, so that he might see a little of the world. The man started from the island; no sooner, however, had he passed Cape Farewell than he saw the sun beginning to rise behind the land.

It was more than he could bear; and he set off at once for his home. Next morning very early he went out of his tent; he did not come back. When he was sought after, he was found quite dead. The joy of seeing the sun rising again out of the sea had killed him. Most likely the story is based on a real incident. The Aztec goes out upon his roof to see the sunrise; it is his one religious observance. But of the cult of the sun I must not begin to speak. It belongs to an immense subject that cannot be touched here: the wide range of the unconscious appreciation of nature which was worship.

Further north men do not willingly stay out abroad at night, but those whose calling obliges them to do so are looked upon as wise in strange lore. The first tidings of war coming reached the Esthonian shepherd boy, the keeper of the lambs, "who knew the sun, and knew the moon, and knew the stars in the sky. He will tell you that once there was a time when sun and moon journeyed together, but the moon fell in love with the morning star, which brought about sad mischief.

The moon walked alone, fell in love with the morning star. Perkun, greatly angered, stabbed her with a sword. Why walk alone in the night? Why fall in love with the morning star? Your heart is full of sorrow. The supernatural does not strike them as either mysterious or terrifying. It is otherwise with the Teuton. His night phantasms treat of what is, to man, of all things the most genuinely alarming—his own shadow. Ghosts, wild huntsmen, erl-kings take the place of an innocuous un-mortal race. No starry radiance can rob the night of its terrors. There is a wide gulf between this and the tender star-idylls of Lithuania, and a gulf still wider divides it from the 43 neighbourly familiarity with which the southerner addresses the heavenly bodies.

We go from one world to another when we turn back to Italy and hear the country lads singing, "La buona sera, O stella mattutina!

The West African negroes call the sky the king of sheds, and the sun the king of torches; the twinkling stars are the little chickens, and the meteor is the thief-star. Folk-poets have widely recognised the mysterious confusion between summer nights and days. The dispute at Juliet's window is recalled by the Venetian's chiding of the "Rondinella Traditora;" by the Berry peasants' vexation at the "vilaine alouette;" by the reproach of the Navarrese lover, "You say it is day, it is not yet midnight;" and most of all by the Servian dialogue: "Dawn whitens, the cock crows: It is not the dawn, but the moon.

The cows low round the house: It is not the cows, it is the call to prayer. The Turks call to the mosque: It is not the Turks, it 44 is the wolves. This time both are natives of sunny lands; there is a clear reason why it should be so—in the north the swallow passes almost for a dumb bird. Some of us may, indeed, have first got acquainted with them in Dante's beautiful lines:—. Little suspecting that he is committing the sin of plagiarism, the Greek begins one of his songs, "In the hour when the swallows, twittering, awake the dawn.

The ancient swallow myth does not seem to have anywhere crept into folk-lore; nor is there much trace of the old Scandinavian delusion that swallows spent the winter under the ice on lakes, or hanging up in caves like bunches of grapes. The swallow is taken simply as the typical bird of passage, the spring-bringer, the messenger, the traveller outre mer. She is the picked bird of countries, the African explorer, the Indian pioneer. A Servian story reports of her in the latter capacity. The small-leafed Sweet Basil complains, "Silent dew, why fallest thou not on me? A vila a mountain spirit quarrelled with an eagle over yonder mountain.

Said the vila, 'The mountain is mine. Then a swallow comforted them: 'Make no moan, young eaglets, I will carry you to the land of Ind, where the amaranth grows up to the horses' knees, where the clover reaches their shoulders, where the sun never sets. The folk-singer seldom paints foreign scenery in these glowing tints. There may be something of a south-ward longing in the boast—. Next to the swallow, the grey gull has the reputation of being the greatest traveller. Till lately the women of Croisic met on Assumption Day and sang a song to the gulls, imploring them to bring back their husbands and their lovers who were out at sea.

Larks are often chosen as letter-carriers for short distances. The Greek knows that it is spring when pair by pair the turtle-doves swoop down to the brooks. He is an accurate observer; in April or May any retired English pool will be found flecked over with the down of the wood-pigeons that come to drink and bathe in it. The cooing of doves is by general consent associated with constancy and requited love. It is not always, however, that nations are agreed as to the sense of a bird's song.

The "merrie cuckoo" is supposed by the Sclavs to be rehearsing an endless dirge for a murdered brother. A Czech poet lays 46 down yet another cause for its conjectured melancholy: "Perched upon an oak tree, a cuckoo weeps because it is not always spring. How could the rye ripen in the fields if it were always spring? How could the apples ripen in the orchard if it were always summer? How could the corn harden in the rick if it were always autumn?

The Bulgarian sees a mountain trembling to the song of three nightingales. Like his Servian neighbours, he must always have a story, and here is his nightingale story. Marika went into the garden; she passed the pomegranate-tree and the apple-tree, and sat her down under the red rose-tree to embroider a white handkerchief. In the rose-tree was a nightingale, and the nightingale said: "Let us sing, Marika; if you sing better than I, you shall cut off my wings at the shoulders and my feet at the knee; if I sing better than you, I will cut off your hair at the roots.

Then the nightingale pleaded, "Marika, fair young girl, do not cut off my feet, let me keep my wings, for I have three little nightingales to rear, and of one of them I will make you a gift. Flowers, the green leaves and the grass, are suggestive of two kinds of pathos. The individual flower, the grass or leaf of any one day or spring-tide, becomes the type of the transitoriness of beauty and youth and life. To the Sclav it seems a question whether it be worth while that there should be any flowers or morning gladness, since they must be gone so soon.

Hardly bloomed, thou art withered, and the earth is strewn with thy leaves. Man passes by, each one hurries to his tragedy; Nature smiles tranquilly on. This moving force of contrast was known to Lywarch Hen, and to those Keltic bards who dived so deep into 48 Nature's secrets that scarcely a greater depth has been fathomed by any after-comers.


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It was perceived involuntarily by the English ballad-singers, who strung a burden of "Fine flowers" upon a tale of infanticide, and bade blackbird and mavis sing their sweetest between a murder and an execution. And it is this that gives its key-note to an Armenian popular song of singular power. A bishop tells how he has made himself a vineyard; he has brought stones from the valleys and raised a wall around it; he has planted young vines and plentifully has he watered their roots.

Every morning the nightingale sings sweetly to the rose. Every morning Gabriel says to his soul: "Rise and come forth from this vineyard, from this newly-built vineyard. The turtle-dove sings to the birds, and the spring is come. Gabriel calls to his soul, the light of his eyes grows dim; "It is time I leave my vineyard, my beautiful vineyard.

In the great mass of folk-songs flowers are dealt with simply as the accessories to all beautiful things. The folk-poet learns from them his alphabet of beauty. Go into any English cornfield after harvest; whilst the elder children glean wheat ears, the children of two and three years glean small yellow hearts-eases, vervaine, and blue scabious. They are as surely 49 learning to distinguish the Beautiful as the student in the courts of the Vatican.

Through life, when these children think of a beautiful thing, the thought of a flower will not be far off. Religion and love, after all the two chief embellishments of the life of the poor, have been hung about with flowers from the past of Persephone and Freya till to-day.

Even in England the common people are glad if they can find a lily of the valley to carry to church at Whitsuntide, and the first sign that a country girl has got a sweetheart is often to be read in the transformation of the garden-plot before her door. In Italy you will not walk far among the vineyards and maize-fields without coming upon a shrine which bears traces of floral decoration.

Some Italian villages and country towns have their special flower festival, or Infiorata ; Genzano, for instance, where, on the eighth day after Corpus Domini, innumerable flowers are stripped of their petals, which are sorted out according to colour and then arranged in patterns on the way to the church, the magnificence of the effect going far to make one condone the heartlessness of immolating so many victims to achieve an hour's triumph.

A charge of stupid indifference to beauty has been brought against the Italian peasant—it would seem partly on the score that he has been known to root up his anemones in order to put a stop to the inroads of foreign marauders. There are certain persons, law-abiding in the land which gave them birth, who when abroad, adopt the ethics of our tribal ancestors.

A piece of ground, a tree, or a plant not enclosed by a wall, is turned by this strange public to its own uses. A walnut tree by the wayside has a stick thrown among its branches to 50 fetch down the walnuts. The peasant does what he can to protect himself. He observes that flowers attract trespassers, and so he roots up the flowers.

There are Italian folk-songs which show a delight in flowers not to be surpassed anywhere. Flower-loving beyond all the rest are the Tuscan poets, whose love-lyrics have been truly described as "tutti seminati di fiori"—all sown with lilies, clove pinks, and jessamine. The fact fits in pleasantly with the legend of the first Florentines, who are said to have called their city after "the great basket of flowers" in which it was built. It fits in, too, with the sentiment attached even now to the very name of Florence.

The old Floraja in the overgrown straw hat at the railway station can reckon on something more abiding than her long-lost charms to find her patrons; and it is curious to note how few of the passengers reject the proffered emblems of the flower town, or fail to earn the parting wish "Felice ritorno! One point may be granted; in Italy and elsewhere the common people do not highly or permanently value scentless flowers. A flower without fragrance is to them almost a dead flower.

I put the question to a troop of English children coming from a wood laden with spoils, "What makes you like primroses? A little further along the lane came another troop, and the question was repeated. This time the answer was, "Because they smell so nice. The scale is graduated 51 thus: the flower which has no smell is plucked in play, but left remorselessly to wither as children leave their daisy chains; the flower which has a purely sweet and fresh perfume is arranged in nosegays, set in water, praised and enjoyed for the day; the flower which has a scent of spice and incense and aromatic gums bears off honours scarcely less than divine.

The folk-poet sings because heaven has given him a sweet voice and a fair mistress; because the earth brings forth her increase and the sun shines, and the spring comes back, and rest at noontide and at evening is lovely, and work in the oil-mill and in the vineyard is lovely too: he sings to embellish his labour and to enhance his repose. He lives on the shield of Achilles, singing, accompanied by a viol, to the grape-pickers; he is crowned with flowers in the golden age of Lucretius as he raises his sweet song at the festa.

We have seen a little of what he says about Nature, but, in truth, he is still her interpreter when he says nothing. All folk-poesy is sung and folk-songs are as much one of Nature's voices as the song of the birds, the song of the brooks, the song of the wind in the pine-tops. So it is likewise with the rude musical instruments which the exigencies of his life have taught the peasant how to make; they utter tones more closely in harmony with nature than those of the finest Stradivarius. The Greeks were right when they made Pan with his reed-pipe rather than Apollo with his lyre the typical Nature-god.

Anyone to whom it has chanced to hear a folk-song sung in its own home will understand what is meant. You may travel a good deal and not have that chance.


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The songs, the customs, the traditions of the people 52 form an arcanum of which they are not always ready to lift the veil. To those, of course, whose lives are cast among a people that still sings, the opportunity comes oftener. But if the song be sung consciously for your pleasure its soul will hardly remain in it. I shall always vividly remember two occasions of hearing a folk-song sung. Once, long ago, on the Bidassoa. The day was closing in; the bell was tolling in the little chapel on the heathery mountain-side, where mass is said for the peace of the brave men who fell there.

Fontarabia stood bathed in orange light. It was low water, and the boat got almost stranded; then the boatmen, an older and a younger man, both built like athletes, began to sing in low, wild snatches for the tide. Once, not very long since, at the marble quarry of Sant' Ambrogio. Here also it was towards evening and in the autumn. The vintage was half over; all day the sweet "Prenda! The blue of the more distant Veronese hills deepened against a coralline sky; not a dark thing was in sight except here or there the silhouette of a cypress.

Only a few workmen were employed in the quarry; one, a tall, slight lad, sang in the intervals from labour an air full of passion and tenderness. The marble amphitheatre gave sonority to his high voice. Each time Nature would have seemed incomplete had it lacked the human song. Obscure in their origin, and for the most part having at first had no such auxiliary as written record to aid their preservation, the single fact of the existence of folk-songs may in general suffice to proclaim them the true articulate voice of some sentiment or feeling, common to the large bulk of the people whence they emanate.

It is plain that the fittest only can survive—only such as are truly germane to those who say or sing them. A herdsman or tiller of the soil strings together a few verses embodying some simple thought which came into his head whilst he looked at the green fields or the blue skies, or it may be as he acted in a humble way as village poet-laureate.

One or two friends get them by heart, and possibly sing them at the fair in the next hamlet: if they hit, others catch them up, and so the song travels for miles and miles, and may live out generations. If not, the effusion of our poetical cowherd dies away quite silently—not much to his distress, for had its fate been more propitious its author would probably have been very little the wiser. One celebrated poet, and I think but one, has in our own times begun his career in like manner with the unknown folk-singer. In a certain sense it is true that every real poet is the spokesman of his people.

No two works, for instance, are so characteristic of their respective countries as the Divina Commedia and Faust. Still, the hands of genius idealise what they touch; the great poet personifies rather than reflects his people, and if he serves them as representative, it is in an august, imperial fashion within the Senate House of Fame, outside whose doors the multitude hustles and seethes. When we want to see this multitude as in a mirror, to judge its common instincts and impulses that go very far to cast the nation in the type which makes it what it is, it is a safer and surer plan to search out its own spontaneous and untutored songs than to consult the master work attached to immortal names.

How far the individuality of a race is decided or modified by the natural phenomena in which it is placed is a nice point for discussion, and one not to be disposed of by off-hand generalities. In what consists the sympathetic link, sometimes weak and scarcely perceptible, at others visibly strong, between man and nature?

Why does the emigrated mountaineer, settled in comfort, ease, and prosperity in some great metropolis, wake up one day with the knowledge that he must begone to the wooden chalet with the threat of the avalanche above and the menace of the flood below—or he must die? Is it force of early association, habit, or fancy?

Why is the wearied town-tied brain-worker sensible of a nostalgia hardly less poignant when he calls to mind how the fires of day kindled across some scene of snow or sea with which his eyes were once familiar? Is it 55 nothing more than the return of a long ago experienced admiration? I think that neither physicist nor psychologist—and both have a right to be heard in the matter—would answer that the cause of these sensations was to be thus shortly defined.

Again ask the artist what the Athenian owed to the purity and proportion of the lines of Grecian landscape, what the Italian stole from the glow and glory of meridional light and colour—what the Teuton learnt from the ascending spires of Alpine ice? Was it that they saw and copied? Or rather, that Nature's spirit, vibrating through the pulses of their being, moulded into form the half-divine visions of master-sculptor, painter, architect? It does not, however, require to go deeper than the surface of things in order to understand that a peoples' songs must be largely influenced by the accidents of natural phenomena, and especially where climate and physical conformation are such as must perforce stir and stimulate the imaginative faculties of the masses.

We have an instance to the point in the ballads of the "mountainous island" bounded by seas and plains, which the natives call Hayasdan and we Armenia. The wondering emotion aroused by a first descent from the Alps into Italy is well known; to not a few of the mightiest of northern poets this journey has acted like a charm, a revelation, an awakening to fuller consciousness. In Armenia, the incantation of a like natural antithesis is worked by the advent of its every returning spring: a sluggard of a season that sleeps on soundly till near midsummer, but comes forth at last fully clothed in the gorgeous raiment of a king.

In days gone by the Armenian spring was 56 dedicated to the goddess Anahid, and as it broke over the land the whole people joined in joyful celebration of the feast of Varthavar or "Rose-blossoms," which since Christian times has been transformed into the three days' festival of the Transfiguration. Beautiful is the face of the country when the tardy sun begins to make up for lost time, as though his very life depended on it; shooting down his beams with fiery force through the rarefied ether, melting away the snows, and ripening all at once the grain and grapes, the wild fig, apricot and olive, mulberry and pomegranate.

What wonder that the Armenian loves the revivifying lamp of day, that he turns the dying man towards it, and will not willingly commit his dead to the earth if some bright rays do not fall into the open grave! At the sun's reveille there is a general resurrection of all the buried winter population—women and children, cows and sheep, pink-eyed lemmings, black-eyed caraguz, and little kangaroo-shaped jerboas.

Out, too, from their winter lairs come wolf and bear, hyena and tiger, leopard and wild boar. The stork returns to his nest on the broad chimney-pot, and this is what the peasant tells him of all that has happened in his absence:. But now the rose trees in the garden are green again, and out abroad wild flowers enamel the earth.

Down pour the torrents of melted snow off Mount Ararat, down crash the avalanches of ice and stones let loose by the sun's might; wherever an inch of soil or rock is uncovered it becomes a carpet of blossom. High up, even to 13, feet above the sea-level, the deep violet aster, the saxifrage, and crocus, and ranunculus, and all our old Alpine acquaintances, form a dainty morsel for the teeth, or a carpet for the foot, of swift capricorn or not less agile wild sheep.

A little lower, amidst patches of yet frozen snow, hyacinths scent the air, yellow squills and blue anemones peep out, clumps of golden iris cluster between the rocks. There, too, is the "Fountain's Blood," or "Blood of the Seven Brothers," as the Turk would say, with its crimson, leafless stalk and lily-like bloom, the reddest of all red flowers. Amongst the grass grow the Stars of Bethlehem, to remind us, as tradition has it, that hard by on Ararat—beyond question the great centre of Chaldean Star-worship—the wise men were appointed to watch for the appearance of a sign in the heavens, and that thence they started in quest of the place "where the young child lay.

Erzeroom is by common consent in these parts the very site of the Garden of Eden. For many centuries, affirms the Moslem, the flowers of Paradise might yet be seen blossoming round the source of the Euphrates not far from the town. But, alas! What booted the protection of an insignificant sectary to him?

But Nature, horrified at the sacrilegious deed, dried up her flowers and fruits, and even parched the sources of the river itself; the last relic of Eden became a waste. There is a plaintive Armenian elegy composed in the person of Adam sitting at the gate of Paradise, and beholding Cherubim and Seraphim entering the Garden of which he once was king, "yea, like unto a powerful king!

But vain was the hope; "the Lord cursed the serpent and Eve, and I was enslaved between them. High above the hardiest saxifrage tower the three thousand feet of everlasting snows that crown Mount Ararat. The Armenians call it Massis or "Mother of the World," and old geographers held that it was the centre of the earth, an hypothesis supported by various ingenious calculations. The Persians have their own set of legends about it; they say that Ararat was the cradle of the human race, and that at one time it afforded pasture up to the apex of its dome; but upon man's expulsion from Eden, Ahriman the serpent doomed the whole country to a ten months' winter.

As to the semi-scriptural traditions gathered round the mountain, there is no end to them. He is extremely loth to believe that anybody has actually attained the summit. Parrot's famous ascent was long regarded as the merest fable. At the foot of Ararat was a village named Argoory, or "he planted the vine," where Noah's vineyard is pointed out to this day, though the village itself was destroyed in , when the mountain woke up from its long slumbers and rolled down its side a stream of boiling lava; but we are told that, owing to the sins of the world, the vines no longer bear fruit.

Close at hand is Manard, "the mother lies here," alluding to the burial-place of Noah's wife, and yonder is Eravan or "Visible," the first dry land which Noah perceived as the waters receded. Armenian choniclers relate that when after leaving the ark the descendants of Noah dispersed to different quarters, one amongst them, by name Haig, the great-grandson of Japhet, settled with his family in Mesopotamia, where he probably took part in the building of the Tower of Babel. Later, however, upon Belus acquiring dominion over the land, Haig found his rule so irksome to himself and his clan that they migrated back in a body of persons to Armenia, much to the displeasure of Belus, who summoned them to return, and when they refused, despatched a large army to coerce them into obedience.

Haig collected his men on the shores of Van, and thus sagaciously addressed them:.

et les Proscrits, tome 1 Le Feu de la Sorcière by James Clemens on PopScreen

When we meet with the army of Belus, let us attempt to draw near where he lies surrounded by his warriors; either we shall be killed, and our camp equipments and baggage will fall into 61 his hands, or, making a show of the strength of our arm, we shall defeat his army, and victory will be ours. These tactics proved completely successful, and Belus fell mortally wounded by an arrow from Haig's bow. Having in this way disposed of his enemies, the patriarch was able before he died to consolidate Hayasdan into a goodly kingdom, which he left to the authority of his son Armenag.

After the reign of Haig the thread of Armenian annals continues without break or hitch; it must be admitted that no people, not even the Jews, boast a history which "begins with the beginning" in a more thorough way, nor does the work of any chronicler proceed in a more methodical and circumstantial manner than that of Moses of Khoren, the Herodotus of Armenia. As is well known, Moses, writing in the fifth century, founded his chronicle upon a work undertaken about five hundred years before by one Marabas Cattina, a Syrian, at the request of the great Armenian monarch Vagshaishag.

Marabas stated that his record was based upon a manuscript he had discovered in the archives of Nineveh which bore the indorsement, "This book, containing the annals of ancient history, was translated from the Chaldean into Greek, by order of Alexander the Great.

James Clemens

For nearly a thousand years after the date of Moses of Khoren, his people maintained their autonomy, and whether we look before or after the flight of the last Armenian king before the soldiers of the Crescent, we must acknowledge that few nations have fought more valiantly for their political rights, whilst yet fewer have suffered more severely for their fidelity to their faith. It is the pride of the Armenians that theirs was the first country which adopted the Christian religion; it may well be their pride also, that they kept their Christianity in the teeth of persecutions which can only find a parallel in those undergone by the Hebrew race.

Armenia is naturally rich in early Christian legends, of which the most curious is perhaps that of the correspondence alleged to have occurred between Our Lord and Abgar, king of Hayasdan. The latter, it is said, having sent messengers to transact some business with the Roman generals quartered in Palestine, received on their return such accounts of the miracles performed by Jesus of Nazareth as convinced him either that Christ was God come down upon the earth, or that he was the son of God.

Suffering from a grave malady, and hearing, moreover, that the Jews had set their hearts on doing despite to the Prophet who had risen in their midst, Abgar wrote a letter beseeching Christ to come to his capital and cure him of his sickness. The painter was one day 63 endeavouring to fulfil his mission when he was observed by Christ, who passing a handkerchief over his face, gave it to the Armenian impressed with the likeness of his features. The response to Abgar's letter was written by St Thomas, who said, on behalf of his Divine Master, that his work lay elsewhere than in Armenia, but that after his Ascension he would send an Apostle to enlighten the people of that country.

This correspondence, though now not accepted as authentic out of Armenia, was mentioned by some of the earliest Church historians, and it is asserted that one of the letters has been found written on papyrus in an Egyptian tomb. Si vous la postez ailleurs , je vais la regarder et poster mes commentaires sur vos articles.

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