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The little five-act play, Judas Maccabæus, is a piece of careful workmanship, like everything to which Longfellow put his hand, and the scene between Antiochus and Máhala rises into passionate energy. The Masque of Pandora was more to Longfellow's taste, and if it does not satisfy the classical scholar, who is proverbially hard to please, it remains an attractive setting of one of the most attractive of mythological stories. The dramatic poem, Michael Angelo, though not

, usually accounted Longfellow's masterpiece, better deserves that rank than certain more popular performances. Besides being a lovely example of his art, it is the expression of his maturest thought. He kept it by him for years, working on it with loving care, adding new scenes from time to time and weighing critically the value of those already written. Finally he put it to one side, and to show

, that he had not entirely carried out his idea, the words 'A Fragment' were subjoined to the title. It was published after his death.

Michael Angelo is not a play, but a series of dramatic incidents from the life of the great sculptor, illustrating his character, his thought, his work, his friendships. Many passages display a strength not commonly associated with Longfellow's poetic genius. Little is wanting to the delineation of Michael Angelo to create the effect of massiveness. From the first monologue where he sits in his studio, musing over his picture of the Last Judg

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'ment,' to the midnight scene where Vasari finds him working on the statue of the Dead Christ, the effect is cumulative. The other characters are no less skilfully wrought. Vittoria Colonna is a beautiful conception, lofty yet human. Equally attractive with a more earthly loveliness is Julia Gonzaga, her friend, she to whom one to-day was worth a thousand yesterdays. Titian, Cellini, the Pope and his cardinals, Vasari, Sebastiano, the old servant Urbino, and the aged monk at Monte Luca effectively sustain the parts assigned them, and unite to bring into always stronger relief the character of the unique genius whom Longfellow has made his central figure.

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VIII

LAST WORKS

The translation of Dante was a difficult task to which Longfellow gave himself for years with something like consecration. It is satisfactory or it is not, according to the point of view. He who holds that verse can never be translated into verse,

, and that a poem suffers least by being rendered in prose, will make no exception in Longfellow's case. On the other hand, the reader who is not, and who has neither the opportunity nor the power to become a scholar in Italian, owes Longfellow an inestimable debt of gratitude. The unpoetic accuracy of which some complain counts for a virtue. The translation remains, with all that can be said against it, the work of a poet.

As age came on, Longfellow's own verse, instead of losing in charm, the rather increased. Kéramos, Ultima Thule, and in the Harbor contain many of his loveliest and most gracious poems. Not to be tuneless in old age' was his happy fortune.

His skill in the sentimental, homely, and obviously moral has blinded not a few readers to the larger aspects of Longfellow's work. One wearies, no doubt, of the ethical lesson that comes with the inevitableness of fate. But there is no need of impatience, Longfellow does not invariably preach. Besides, all tastes must be taken into account. Many prefer the ethical lesson, unmistakably put.

Had Longfellow been more rugged, and had he been content to end his poems now and then with a question mark (figuratively speaking) instead of a full stop, there would have been much talk about the depth of his meaning;' and had he been frankly suggestive on tabooed topics, we should have heard a world of chatter about the ‘largeness of his view' and the surprising degree in which he was in advance of his time.' Doubtless he lacked brute strength. Whitman could

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have spared him a little of his own surplus, and neither poet would have been the worse for the transfer. Nevertheless Longfellow had abundance of power exerted in his own way, which was not the way of the world. What preposterous criticism is that of Frederic Harrison, who characterizes Evangeline as 'goody-goody dribble'!

Perhaps Longfellow should be most praised for his exquisite taste. He was refined to the finger-tips, a gentleman not alone in every fibre of his being but in every line of his work. The poet of the fireside and the people was an aristocrat after all. Generations of culture seem to be packed into his verses. In a country where so much is flamboyant, boastful, restless, and crude, the influence of such a man is of the loftiest and most benignant sort.

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