Written by Victor Hugo in 1835 and translated by G.W.M. Reynolds: How shall I note thee, line of troubled years, / Which mark existence in our little span? / One constant twilight in the heaven appears— / One constant twilight in the mind of man!
Frail plant, condemn’d to crouch beneath the storm, / Of earthly ills, and shiver to the blast, / That rules in this cold world, / Th’ungenial atmosphere.
If the attractions of any art can cause the soul of man to feel itself suddenly lifted afar from the grosser joys of earth, and wrapped in a species of blissful delirium—it is poetry. If there be any author who has complete power over the minds of his readers, to enchain them in the mystic bonds that his effusions cast around them, and actually to implicate them and their feelings, their sympathies, and their passions, in the scenes that he depicts in glowing colours—it is the poet.
The deepest despair now seized upon all the survivors. Scarcely a family but had lost half of its number—many, more than half—while those who were left felt assured that their turn would speedily arrive. Even the reckless were appalled, and abandoned their evil courses. Not only were the dead lying in the passages and alleys, but even in the main thoroughfares, and none would remove them. The awful prediction of Solomon Eagle that “grass would grow in the streets, and that the living should not be able to bury the dead,” had come to pass. London had become one vast lazar-house, and seemed in a fair way of becoming a mighty sepulchre.
A poem written by Victor Hugo in 1835: The hall is gay with limpid lustre bright/The feast to pampered palate gives delight/The sated guests pick at the spicy food,/And at that table—where the wise are few/Both sexes and all ages meet the view;/The sturdy warrior with a thoughtful face—/The am’rous youth, the maid replete with grace,/The prattling infant, and the hoary hair.
Bilassa and Rimai distinguished themselves in lyric poetry and odes on sacred subjects; but the imperfection of their language and their metrical measures superseded the possibility of those two eminent bards attaining any very great perfection. It was the same with Bornemisa and Goénezi; and similar defects have characterized the Hungarian translation in verse of “Pierre de Provence et la Belle Maguelove.” Notwithstanding that poverty of language and metrical imperfection which threatened to ruin all attempts at eminent literary productions, the sixteenth century also witnessed the infancy of the Hungarian drama. Dramatic songs and dialogues in verse were the primal essays. We must, however, notice that in the thirteenth century, during the reign of Ladislaus the fourth, a troop of buffoons or jesters had appeared in Hungary, and were well received by the inhabitants of the principal towns where they performed.
It was in the year 1785—on a fine evening, in the month of May —that three young students, in the uniform of the Military College of Paris, were occupied in the pleasant discussion of a repast in the restaurant at St. Cloud which overlooks the park, and which every visitor of the present day to that sacred shrine of gastronomy knows by the name of Legriel’s. The first of the three individuals, whom we have thus abruptly alluded to, was about sixteen years of age, with a peculiar expression of countenance, which inspired respect rather than any softer feeling, and a blue eye that was in itself a soul. His companions were his juniors—probably by about a few months; and they were two fine, tall, handsome young men, with commanding though graceful figures, and eagle glances which bespoke all the military enthusiasm that filled their bosoms.