Phonically and emotionally the weight of the poem rests in lines 2 to 4 of each stanza. It is as if the poet might break through the thin ice and drown in the river, pulled in and seduced by the potency of the sentiment. Instead of using the English pronunciation, Robinson uses the French pronunciation to force the word to fit the structure of her rhyme: her poetics thus becoming the controlling and composing force of the melancholia. Robinson here uses the season of spring, which appears in the poem as something that is real, ideal and symbolic, to affirm her condition as a foreign poet.
O mistier fields! O tenderer light!
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I pause awhile and sigh. The reader is not sure which foreign spring she is referring to. Does the poet now feel the English spring as foreign or is she a foreigner in the French spring the poplar-tree is not native to Britain. And yet what this retrospective poem suggests, particularly in the last stanza, is that just as the poet mourns the absent past, it also becomes clear that it is the angst of her foreign condition empowered by her memory of things past that becomes the source of her modern poetics.
Robinson , But this well-conceived sonnet is, by want of the delicate verbal tact which Miss A. Robinson had accustomed her readers to consider one of her gifts natural and enhanced by cultivation, sadly lessened from what it might have been. Souvenir has never become an English word, and of that ground is out of place; but the misfortune is that it is one of those too familiar French words which, hackneyed and vulgarized in the company-manners vocabulary of half-educated English persons, are, when employed in conjunction with English, accepted in only one recognized meaning—a meaning in some cases mistakenly perverted from the proper French usage, in some cases trivial or downright inane, but at any rate current and inevitable.
But Robinson does so, by adopting the philological tenets of French philology. The poem is a reflection on her youth, which the poet now sees as a mirage. The poem thus begins with the poet seeing the present as a reflection of the past, but ends with the realisation that the past is also an illusion, and therefore can be distorted.
Lady Gregory s'en va t'en guerre : the Kiltartan Molière
But perhaps the poem that brings together many of the themes of this volume i. The flower of France is the French lily. What first comes to mind is Euripides telling of her self-sacrifice in Iphigenia at Aulis and in Iphigenia in Tauris, where Iphigenia describes herself as the seed of Agamemnon and the flower of Clytemnestra. However, a study of the various scientific names of the lily reveals that another name for lily is Iphigenia pallida, a flower native to India. This connection to sacrifice and to India adds another, more personal and more intellectual, dimension to the poem because it points to Darmesteter, a key scholar of Indian languages and culture.
By wearing this Iphiginia pallida signifying Darmesteter himself next to her heart, Robinson not only affirms her choice of France as her new home, but it also clearly identifies philology as the heart of her decadent poetics. Robinson was one of those poets. Language and the processes of thinking and feeling are united in her use of Latinates.
Robinson uses the etymological foreignness of the English language as an instrument with which to contemplate the past with distance, creating a remoteness that allows her to speak of the affliction of her soul: the difficulty of living in a present that is linguistically and emotionally bound to an ideal past. In France her reputation would rest on her prose: most notably, but not exclusively, her biography of Renan. Perhaps the reviews might have something to answer for. Retrospect got a mixed reception in the American and British press. Why not. Graham R.
The Bookman 22 July : Glasgow Herald 27 May : 7. The Saturday Review 26 August : B adeni , June. Padstow, Cornwall: Tabb House, B ourget , Paul. Essais de psychologie contemporaine. Paris: Alphonse Lemerre, C amlot , Jason. Aldershot: Ashgate, C oates , John. Comparative Literature Studies , D armesteter , James. Selected Essays of James Darmesteter. Jastrow, Ed. Morris Jastrow. D owling , Linda. F averty , Frederic. Matthew Arnold, The Ethnologist. Evanston: Northwestern UP, G agel , Mandy. Selected Letters of Vernon Lee Boston University L e G allienne , Richard.
Retrospective Reviews. Eds Henri Mondor et G. M ancoff , Deborah. Prestel: U of Michigan P, M eynell , Alice. The Rhythm of Life and Other Essays. Volume 10 June : P ater , Walter. Appreciations, with an Essay on Style.source site
London: MacMillan and Co. P ollock , John. The Contemporary Review 1 January , R obinson , Agnes Mary Frances. London: T. Fisher Unwin, The Life of Ernest Renan. London: Methuen, S aid , Edward. The World, the Text and the Critic. Harvard: Harvard UP, Review of Mrs. The Athenaeum 22 April : S ymons , Arthur. T omson , Graham R.
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