Varied Types eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 117 pages of information about Varied Types.
the essential spirit of youth, than when they are sitting gloomily in the presence of immemorial destiny.  The great error consists in supposing that poetry is an unnatural form of language.  We should all like to speak poetry at the moment when we truly live, and if we do not speak, it is because we have an impediment in our speech.  It is not song that is the narrow or artificial thing, it is conversation that is a broken and stammering attempt at song.  When we see men in a spiritual extravaganza, like “Cyrano de Bergerac,” speaking in rhyme, it is not our language disguised or distorted, but our language rounded and made whole.  Rhymes answer each other as the sexes in flowers and in humanity answer each other.  Men do not speak so, it is true.  Even when they are inspired or in love they talk inanities.  But the poetic comedy does not misrepresent the speech one half so much as the speech misrepresents the soul.  Monsieur Rostand showed even more than his usual insight when he called “Cyrano de Bergerac” a comedy, despite the fact that, strictly speaking, it ends with disappointment and death.  The essence of tragedy is a spiritual breakdown or decline, and in the great French play the spiritual sentiment mounts unceasingly until the last line.  It is not the facts themselves, but our feeling about them, that makes tragedy and comedy, and death is more joyful in Rostand than life in Maeterlinck.  The same apparent contradiction holds good in the case of the drama of “L’Aiglon,” now being performed with so much success.  Although the hero is a weakling, the subject a fiasco, the end a premature death and a personal disillusionment, yet, in spite of this theme, which might have been chosen for its depressing qualities, the unconquerable paean of the praise of things, the ungovernable gaiety of the poet’s song swells so high that at the end it seems to drown all the weak voices of the characters in one crashing chorus of great things and great men.  A multitude of mottoes might be taken from the play to indicate and illustrate, not only its own spirit, but much of the spirit of modern life.  When in the vision of the field of Wagram the horrible voices of the wounded cry out, Les corbeaux, les corbeaux, the Duke, overwhelmed with a nightmare of hideous trivialities, cries out, Ou, ou, sont les aigles? That antithesis might stand alone as an invocation at the beginning of the twentieth century to the spirit of heroic comedy.  When an ex-General of Napoleon is asked his reason for having betrayed the Emperor, he replies, La fatigue, and at that a veteran private of the Great Army rushes forward, and crying passionately, Et nous? pours out a terrible description of the life lived by the commoner soldier.  To-day, when pessimism is almost as much a symbol of wealth and fashion as jewels or cigars, when the pampered heirs of the ages can sum up life in few other words but la fatigue, there might surely come a cry from the vast mass of common humanity from the beginning—­et
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Varied Types from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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