Halleck's New English Literature eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 491 pages of information about Halleck's New English Literature.
“...went out To danger as to a sweetheart far away, Who even now was drawing the western clouds Like a cymar of silk and snow-white furs Close to her, till her body’s beauty seemed Clad in a mist of kisses."[12]

Another volume of poems, Tales of the Mermaid Tavern (1913), brings us into the company of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Spencer, Jonson, Raleigh, and others of the great Elizabethan group that made the Mermaid Tavern their chosen resort.  Greene’s farewell to Shakespeare,—­

  “You took my clay and made it live,"[13]

shows that Noyes has caught something of the spirit that animated Elizabethan England.

Noyes is one of the most spontaneous and fluent writers of modern English poetry.  Whether he is mystical, dramatic, playful, or marching along the course of a long narrative poem, he handles his verse with ease and facility.  His language, his rhythm, and his thought are most happily blended in his graceful singing lyrics.  The work of Noyes is inspired by the desire to show that all things and all souls are—­

  “One with the dream that triumphs beyond the light of the spheres,
  We come from the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of
  Years."[14]

THE MODERN DRAMA

The revival of the drama is a characteristic feature of the latter part of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.  The plays of the Norwegian, Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), affected England profoundly in the last decade of the nineteenth century and proved an impetus to a new dramatic movement, seen in the work of men like Shaw.

The great literary school of dramatists passed away soon after the death of Shakespeare.  While it is true that the writing of plays has been practically continuous since the time of the Restoration, yet for more than two hundred years after that event, the history of the drama has had little memorable work to record.  There were two brief interesting comic periods:  (1) the period of Congreve at the close of the seventeenth century, and (2) of Goldsmith and Sheridan nearly a hundred years later.  The literary plays of the Victorians,—­Browning, Tennyson, and Swinburne,—­were lacking in dramatic essentials.

The modern drama has accomplished certain definite results.  Pinero’s work is typical of vast improvement in technique.  Shaw is noted for his power of “investing modern conversation with vivacity and point.”  J.M.  Synge has won distinction for presenting the great elemental forces that underlie the actions of primitive human beings.  The playwrights are making the drama perform some of the functions that have been filled by the novel.  The modern drama is also wrestling with the problem of combining literary form, poetic spirit, and good dramatic action.  Some of the modern plays deal with unpleasant subjects, and some of the least worthy are immoral in their tendencies.  Such plays will be forgotten, for the Anglo-Saxon race has never yet immortalized an unwholesome drama.  Fortunately, however, the influence of a large proportion of the plays is pure and wholesome.  In this class may be included the dramas of the Irish school and of Barrie, the majority by Galsworthy, and a number by Phillips and Shaw.

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Halleck's New English Literature from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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