Elizabeth Barrett Browning





                      Aurora Leigh

                      [Auszug: Buch V]


140   The critics say that epics have died out
With Agamemnon and the goat-nursed gods –
145   I'll not believe it.   I could never dream
As Payne Knight did, (the mythic mountaineer
Who travelled higher than he was born to live,
And showed sometimes the goitre in his throat
Discoursing of an image seen through fog,)
150   That Homer's heroes measured twelve feet high.
They were but men! – his Helen's hair turned grey
Like any plain Miss Smith's, who wears a front;
And Hector's infant blubbered at a plume
As yours last Friday at a turkey-cock.
155   All men are possible heroes: every age,
Heroic in proportions, double-faced,
Looks backward and before, expects a morn
And claims an epos.
                                Ay, but every age
160   Appears to souls who live in it, (ask Carlyle)
Most unheroic.   Ours, for instance, ours!
The thinkers scout it, and the poets abound
Who scorn to touch it with a finger-tip:
A pewter age, – mixed metal, silver-washed;
165   An age of scum, spooned off the richer past;
An age of patches for old gabardines;
An age of mere transition, meaning nought,
[187] Except that what succeeds must shame it quite,
If God please.   That's wrong thinking, to my mind,
170   And wrong thoughts make poor poems.
                                                            Every age,
Through being beheld too close, is ill-discerned
By those who have not lived past it.   We'll suppose
Mount Athos carved, as Persian Xerxes schemed,
To some colossal statue of a man:
175   The peasants, gathering brushwood in his ear,
Had guessed as little of any human form
Up there, as would a flock of browsing goats.
They'd have, in fact, to travel ten miles off
Or ere the giant image broke on them,
180   Full human profile, nose and chin distinct,
Mouth, muttering rhythms of silence up the sky,
And fed at evening with the blood of suns;
Grand torso, – hand, that flung perpetually
The largesse of a silver river down
185   To all the country pastures.  'Tis even thus
With times we live in, – evermore too great
To be apprehended near.
                                        But poets should
Exert a double vision; should have eyes
To see near things as comprehensibly
190   As if afar they took their point of sight,
And distant things, as intimately deep,
As if they touched them.  Let us strive for this.
I do distrust the poet who discerns
No character or glory in his times,
195   And trundles back his soul five hundred years,
[188] Past moat and drawbridge, into a castle-court,
Oh not to sing of lizards or of toads
Alive i' the ditch there! – 'twere excusable;
But of some black chief, half knight, half sheep-lifter
200   Some beauteous dame, half chattel and half queen,
As dead as must be, for the greater part,
The poems made on their chivalric bones.
And that's no wonder: death inherits death.

Nay, if there's room for poets in the world
205   A little overgrown, (I think there is)
Their sole work is to represent the age,
Their age, not Charlemagne's, – this live, throbbing age,
That brawls, cheats, maddens, calculates, aspires,
And spends more passion, more heroic heat,
210   Betwixt the mirrors of its drawing-rooms,
Than Roland with his knights, at Roncesvalles.
To flinch from modern varnish, coat or flounce,
Cry out for togas and the picturesque,
Is fatal, – foolish too.   King Arthur's self
215   Was commonplace to Lady Guenever;
And Camelot to minstrels seemed as flat,
As Regent Street to poets.
                                        Never flinch,
But still, unscrupulously epic, catch
Upon a burning lava of a song,
220   The full-veined, heaving, double-breasted Age:
That, when the next shall come, the men of that
May touch the impress with reverent hand, and say
'Behold, – behold the paps we all have sucked!
[189] That bosom seems to beat still, or at least
  It sets ours beating.   This is living art,
Which thus presents, and thus records true life.'





Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Aurora Leigh.
London: Chapman and Hall 1857.

Unser Auszug: S. 186-189.

Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).

URL: https://archive.org/details/auroraleigh00browrich
PURL: https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc2.ark:/13960/t08w3np06



Kommentierte und kritische Ausgaben





Barton, Anna: Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Liberal Thought. Forms of Freedom. London 2017.

Brandmeyer, Rudolf: Poetiken der Lyrik: Von der Normpoetik zur Autorenpoetik. In: Handbuch Lyrik. Theorie, Analyse, Geschichte. Hrsg. von Dieter Lamping. 2. Aufl. Stuttgart 2016, S. 2-15.

Dawson, Clara: Victorian Poetry and the Culture of Evaluation. Oxford 2020.

Erbeznik, Elizabeth: City-Craft as Poetic Process in Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh. In: Victorian Poetry; 52 (2014), S. 619-636.

Garlick, Barbara (Hrsg.): Tradition and the Poetics of Self in Nineteenth-Century Women's Poetry. Amsterdam u.a. 2002.

Hauser, Emily: "Homer Undone". Homeric Scholarship and the Invention of Female Epic. In: Reading Poetry, Writing Genre: English Poetry and Literary Criticism in Dialogue with Classical Scholarship. Hrsg. von Silvio Bär u.a. London 2019, S. 151-171.

Hughes, Linda K. (Hrsg.): The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Women's Poetry. Cambridge 2019.

Laird, Holly A.: Aurora Leigh: An Epical Ars Poetica. In: Writing the Woman Artist. Essays on Poetics, Politics, and Portraiture. Hrsg. von Suzanne W. Jones. Philadelphia 1991, S. 353-370.

Lyons, Sara: The Disenchantment/Re-Enchantment of the World: Aesthetics, Secularization, and the Gods of Greece from Friedrich Schiller to Walter Pater. In: Modern Language Review 109 (2014), S. 873-895.

Paliyenko, Adrianna M.: Genius Envy. Women Shaping French Poetic History, 1801-1900. University Park, Pennsylvania 2016.

Stone, Marjorie: The 'Advent of Aurora Leigh: Critical Myths and Periodical Debates.
URL: https://www.branchcollective.org/?ps_articles=marjorie-stone-the-advent-of-aurora-leigh-critical-myths-and-periodical-debates
[gesehen: 12.12.2021]

Stone, Marjorie: Criticism on Aurora Leigh: An Overview.
URL: http://ebbarchive.org/criticism/Aurora_Leigh_Criticism_Overview.pdf
[gesehen: 12.12.2021]

Waithe, Marcus / White, Claire (Hrsg.): The Labour of Literature in Britain and France, 1830-1910. Authorial Work Ethics. London 2018.



Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer