But in the unfolding of his precocious spirit, the literary control comes uppermost; his boat, finding its keel, swings to the helm of mind. How should it be otherwise for a youth well-born, well-bred, in college air? How Platonism fascinates the poets, like a shining bait! Rupert Brooke will have none of it; but at a turn of the verse he is back at it, examining, tasting, refusing. Life, in this volume, is hardly less evident by its ecstasy than by its collapse. It is a book of youth, sensitive, vigorous, sound; but it is the fruit of intensity, and bears the traits.
II To come, then, to art, which is above personality, what of that? He might have grown in variety, richness and significance, in scope and in detail, no doubt; but as an artisan in metrical words and pauses, he was past apprenticeship. He was still a restless experimenter, but in much he was a master. For one thing, he knew how to end. It is with him a dramatic secret. How vivid! The lines owe something to his eye for costume, for staging; but, as mere picture writing, it is as firm as if carved on an obelisk.
These are all master poems of a kaleidoscopic beauty and charm, where the brief pictures play in and out of a woven veil of thought, irony, mood, with a delightful intellectual pleasuring. He thoroughly enjoys doing the poetical magic. Such bits of English retreats or Pacific paradises, so full of idyllic charm, exquisite in image and movement, are among the rarest of poetic treasures. The thought of Milton and of Marvell only adds an old world charm to the most modern of the works of the Muses. What lightness of touch, what each of movement, what brilliancy of hue!
What vivacity throughout! It yields, too, an effect of abundant vitality, and it makes facile the change from grave to gay and the like. It exists, however; and especially it was dear to Keats in his youth. It is by excellent taste, and by style, that the poet here overcomes its early difficulties. In these three formal ways, besides in minor matters, it appears to me that Rupert Brooke, judged by the most orthodox standards, had succeeded in poetry.
III But in his first notes, if I may indulge my private taste, I find more of the intoxication of the god. These early poems are the lyrical cries and luminous flares of a dawn, no doubt; but they are incarnate of youth. In its whispering embraces of sense, in the terror of seizure of the spirit, in the tranquil euthanasia of the end by the touch of speechless beauty, it seems to me a true symbol of life whole and entire. It is beautiful in language and feeling, with an extraordinary clarity and rise of power; and, above all, though rare in experience, it is real. A poem for poets, no doubt; but that is the best kind.
And this from a young man who has had a tutor these eight years! He found her dismissive portrait of the unsuspecting Mr. Trevor very encouraging to his own aspirations. He was as anxious as a lovesick boy adoring from afar, knowing it was much too soon to profess his own feelings but terrified that each new arrival might steal his love's affections. But in these last few months he had come to believe that he did not hope in vain. Not only did Marianne spurn all the young men of the neighborhood and, according to Mrs.
Dashwood, who kept him apprised of such matters, all the young men who approached her in Exeter, she did not pine to go husband-hunting in London and had even declined an invitation for that purpose from Mrs. Upon his asking her why she had chosen to remain in the country, she had informed him that the activities of the season struck her as frivolous and superficial, and that she could hardly be expected to marry a man with whom she had traded three sentences in the middle of a dance.
She actively sought his company when she visited Delaford, and, if Mrs. Dashwood was to be believed, was usually the instigator of her mother's frequent invitations to Barton. Perhaps in a few months' time he might at last address her. Perhaps this summer would be a joyous one.
An Evening of Historical Vignettes
Suddenly she hopped down a short, sloping peninsula to the water's edge. She bent down to pluck something from the black mud, rinsed her fingers, and then rejoined him, reaching out as she scrambled back to the path for his supporting hand as if she knew it would be there--as it was. She held out for his inspection a pretty pink shell. I am almost certain she has not one exactly this color.
His eyebrows lifted at her ingenuous query. How could he not smile to look at her, so lovely with her hair in disarray, her cheeks flushed with exertion, her eyes aglow with enthusiasm? You seem in high spirits today. She gave a contented sigh and looked out over the water; when she started forward again he fell into step beside her. Do you know that at this time a year past I thought that I should never be happy again? This possibility had not occurred to her. I should like to think that I have redeemed myself for my earlier weakness. And of course I have had loving family and good friends to support me.
Her smile was very warm, and he returned it. Her voice trailed off and she began to turn the shell over and over in her hands, and he wondered at her uncertainty when during these last months they had formed the habit of frank conversation. She smiled sweetly at this delicate, and to her ears no doubt wholly inconsequential, bit of flirtation, but she had taken several more steps before she replied. This time his witticism failed to elicit her usual appreciative response, and by the time she sat down on a bench and began to pick at the rough wood with her fingernail he was truly puzzled.
He could not in his most pessimistic moments have imagined what she was about to say. He stepped back as if she had struck him. He could not quite take a full breath.
Never--not on a single occasion--had she spoken to him of Willoughby. What could her query signify? If she had been more fully aware of the blows that life could deal she might not have lost her heart so swiftly or so completely to one who was unworthy of it. She loved Willoughby. Still she loved the villain. He saw it now.
He had convinced himself that she was done with him, that she had fixed him in the past where he could hurt her no more. But the blackguard still held sway over her heart. This one thing about him she did not know, and that she sought the answer from him told him that she sensed nothing of his regard for her, that she felt nothing of the same for him.
Malathi Srinivasan uses various art forms to depict Tiruppavai.
And he had flattered himself that she might soon welcome more serious attentions from him. Not within a few months. Not ever. His neckcloth was choking him and his flesh was hot as if feverish; the air was cold on the perspiration that moistened his upper lip and forehead. He could not lie, but the truth would grieve her. His whole soul wanted to protect her, and yet it was not her nature to seek protection. He had as much as promised to answer; he must speak.
He wished himself anywhere but here on this shore with her. Why, dear God, had she asked him this? She was gazing at him in growing consternation, and he realized that he was pacing with tight little steps. He made himself stand still before her; but before he could speak, words began to tumble from her own lips. His stance lost some of its rigidity. All at once she understood.
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Her gaze dropped to her hands, then lifted again. In a--a cowardly manner, and you want to spare my sensibilities--" His sober expression was her answer. She looked away in painful contemplation. He proved himself a moral coward, without substance. His is the softened character of the hedonist. He stood his ground on that point. Dueling was a barbaric practice, but in such a case civilized measures too often yielded no result, and a gentleman could hope for justice only through the hand of Providence.
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His apparent sympathy was wholly unexpected. Why should you defend him in the slightest? If he, too, had found the situation frightful-- "Do you mean--you did not intend merely to threaten him and then let him go? You intended to--" The edges of the shell bit into her palm and fingers as her hands clenched around it. She had assumed that Willoughby could have survived an encounter with Brandon--a military man and, according to Sir John, an excellent shot with pistol as well as rifle--only because Brandon himself had never meant to shed Willoughby's blood.
He had thought she understood--understood what had occurred and had forgiven him. But why should that assumption be correct when others had been wrong? He refused, as he also refused to acknowledge the child or provide for him. He left me no choice but to issue challenge. Marianne could not but compare the behavior of a man who would ignore his own natural child to that of a man who allowed himself to be thought the father of another's, rather than reveal her true, most unfortunate background--who in fact defended that child's honor as if she were his own daughter.
She hoped fervently that Miss Williams recognized her exceptional fortune in having such a protector, and that she was liberal in her feelings and expressions of gratitude toward him. His eyes appealed to her to spare him; but hers implored him to speak. He would have sighed had he been able to draw sufficient breath.
He was taken back to a cold dawn in a dim wood, to silence broken by sobs. Abruptly he said, "He begged me for his life on his knees. I could not murder him. He was humiliated and honor was to some extent satisfied. He prayed that she would not press him for details. He could not tell her that Willoughby's collapse had been brought about by his being discovered in an attempt to cheat, by using pistols with rifled barrels--those more accurate and powerful weapons being expressly prohibited by the Code.
Deprived of his shameful advantage by Brandon's second, who had examined Willoughby's pistols very closely and replaced them with the spare set he had brought, the young man had succumbed to panic; the risk of death being now all too real, he trembled so violently that he could not stand, let alone aim and fire a weapon.
Nor could he tell her that he had advanced upon the pathetic figure, had stood over him and said, "Providence has spared you here, but I swear by that Providence that if I should learn of such conduct on your part with any other young woman--I believe you take my meaning--I will be her avenger as well. I will hunt you down as the villain you are. She had turned her face away. She would abhor him now. He would have killed the man she loved, though God be his witness he would have taken no pleasure in it.
He was conscious of the awful irony of asserting that he could deny her nothing and then in almost the next breath admitting to having been willing to deny her happiness. Those conflicting emotions-- Some part of me will always hope that Providence would have spoiled my aim. But I cannot be certain--I can never be certain. I can know only what I was then resolved to do. But she had encouraged candor; she had insisted upon it; and he could deny her nothing. She turned then; and yet he received from her the impression of a pensive stillness.
She was very pale. I loved him then, but I do not love him now. I have no feeling at all for him now. She appeared surprised that he could not intuit the answer. I knew everything but that. I felt as if--I had read an epic poem but been cheated of the ending verse. It helped me greatly to learn what you had related to my sister--I do not think I have ever told you so--and it also helped to learn what Willoughby professed when he came to Cleveland--did you know he had come? I waited so long to ask because I did not want to indulge any such feeling even if I were unaware of it.
Once I would have thought a duel the height of romantic adventure. Now I think it is horrible. Willoughby had, she was convinced, thought it all a great joke, until he had seen the implacable determination in his accuser's eyes. She could pity him for his terror, for his was the thoughtless evil of selfishness, not the deliberate evil of malice. She did not love Willoughby. She did not love him. He had done her an injustice to believe otherwise, even for these few awful moments, for she was more insightful than his poor, ruined Beth, able to see Willoughby for what he was.
Though I believed you engaged, I should have informed you. As any breach at that point would have disgraced her in the eyes of society, he had not spoken. She gave a little sigh. I have considered the question. Probably I would not have believed you then, or, believing you, been too willing to excuse him. By the time you did inform us, his own behavior had already demonstrated the truth of what you imparted.
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I forgave him--we must forgive those who have wronged us--but my love for him was dead. It should have been left alone, buried in the past and harmless. And there is no one who knows my heart better than you. Do you not know that you are my dearest friend? God help him--would he faint from the shocks she heaped upon him, all unknowing? But now she was holding out her hand to him, her merciful, soothing hand, and he was stepping forward to take it, his movements stiff with lingering tension.
And yet he could still think--he could still fear that she considered him too much a friend ever to regard him as a lover. You pay me the compliment of the truth, even when it is painful. In unspoken mutual consent they started back to the cottage, neither in the spirit for further conversation. The colonel was so uncommunicative that Marianne began to fear her offense had been greater than he would admit. She had soured their congenial mood, by presuming upon his generous nature--though she had thought herself well enough acquainted with him now that she could not commit such a transgression.
She did not fully understand why the subject had so disturbed him--far more than it had disturbed her , despite his concern. Perhaps she could never understand, the experience being one that she would never have.
Though she was glad to know the entire story, glad to possess at last a complete picture of events, she prayed that she had not caused a rift in their friendship, not now when it had come to mean so much to her.