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FROM his tour Oehlenschläger, we have said, sent home some of his most distinguished works. In Halle he wrote "Hakon Jarl;" in Paris, "Palnatoké," "Balder the Good," and “Axel and Valborg;" and "Correggio" in Rome; besides, during the same period, translating several of his productions into German. In "Hakon Jarl," and." Palnatoké," he produced perhaps his two most perfect historic and acting dramas. In the chapter on Tragic Poetry, in the second volume of his life, he gives this as the view of the poet's mission: "In all times have splendid human faculties developed themselves; but one-sidedly. It is the vocation of the poet to collect all the flowers of the ages into one ideal floral wreath. The events and the great characters of the ancient times he shall complete and ennoble-that is to say, he shall give them something of his own time's philosophy and enlightenment, and he shall in this prove this genius by making his union natural and beautiful."
That appears to us the genuine philosophy of poetry, and especially of dramatic poetry; and in the carrying out of this system, Oehlenschläger has certainly been
singularly successful; and his objects in the dramas now particularly under our notice, he thus lucidly states:
"In Hakon Jarl I represented a vigorous, savage, but crafty old heathen, in opposition to a young, mild, pious and inspired Christian. Christianity must stand forth noble and pure, and therefore I was obliged to soften down Olaf's bigoted fanaticism, which afterwards led him into many barbarities. In misfortune, Hakon despises his former cunning, and becomes great. I was thus successful in producing a tragic activity; and even the scene where he sacrifices his son, moves more than it horrifies; because his paternal affection in the conflict with superstition comes out so much more prominently.
"As in Hakon Jarl, I described pure and pious Christianity in strife with savage pagan cruelty, so in Palnatoké I again endeavoured to depict honourable and powerful heathenism in conflict with monkish cunning and treachery. The noble hero, in his impetuous haste, kills the old king, and nothing but his own blood can wash the stain from his shield. Thus Palnatoké becomes a tragic hero: he unites bravery and mildness, and stands connectingly between the Jomsbergers-love of battle without gentleness, and Thorwald- gentleness without the fondness for warfare.
"As scarcely any female characters were necessary in Palnatoké,' I introduced none; but the next winter I wrote 'Axel and Valborg,' in which love is the predominant topic. Strictly, this represented the fidelity of love; as a few years afterward, in 'Hagbarth and Signé,' I sought to pourtray the passion of love in its first outbreak; the former between a couple of young Christians, the latter between a couple of young heathens, but both heroic and full of the Northern sentiment."
We cannot give a better idea of Oehlenschläger's
historical dramas, than by endeavouring to convey to the reader a conception of "Hakon Jarl." Hakon, called the Rich, is the ruler of Norway at the period when Christianity is making its way in the North. For a time after usurping the government, he had ruled well, and the country flourished, but he had then become despotic and licentious. The peasantry revolt against him, on account of his having endeavoured to carry off one of their wives; and at the same moment he hears that the celebrated Olaf Trygvesson, of the race of King Harald Haarfager, and who had married the daughter of the King of Dublin, is coming to claim the throne. He waylays Olaf in a wood at his landing, and employs a man to murder him. Olaf, however, discovers the design, confronts Hakon in the wood, upbraids him with his treachery, but allows him to depart, seeking only to win the country in fair battle.
Hakon, appalled not only by the simultaneous insurrection of the people, and the invasion of Olaf, who is a Christian, but also by the statue of Odin falling from its pedestal in the sacred grove, is oppressed by terrible forebodings; and to soothe the anger of the gods, determined to sacrifice his youngest son, a little boy, to them. This scene is described with great feeling:
THE DEATH OF LITTLE ERLING.
SCENE, THE WOOD OF SACRIFICE.
HAKON JARL enters, leading his son by the hand.
Father, it is so cold.
Because 'tis yet so early.
Art very cold, my child?
It matters nothing,
I shall behold how the bright sun ascends;
Seest thou the crimson beams far in the east?
ERLING, (clasping his hands together.)
Oh, what roses! what lovely, lovely roses!
They are not pearls, it is the morning dew;
Oh, what a lovely ball!
As red as fire. Cannot we, dearest father,
Through our whole lives we strive towards the sun;
That burning forehead is the eye of Odin;
His second eye, the moon, shines not so bright;
It has he placed in pledge in Mimer's fountain,
That he may fetch the healing waters thence,
Where is that fountain, then?
The sacred sea
Below there, that smites foamingly the rocks,
Which strengthens Odin's eye. Full of new life
It now ascends so high, it hurts my eyes.
(He holds his hand before his face.)
The Allfather mounts upon his golden throne,
ERLING, (looking fearfully round him.)
Oh say, my father, what are those most horrible,
Fear not, those are the images of the gods,
In confidence-can dare to look upon them.
No, father, I'm afraid. Dost thou not see
The old man with the beard? He makes me tremble.
Child, this is Odin. Dost thou fear the god?
No, dearest father; I've no fear of Odin
Of the true Odin, up there in the sky.
He will not hurt me; he is good and lovely.
He calls the flowers forth from the fair earth's bosom ;
He shines himself even as a glorious flower.