Uncollected Prose, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ancient Spanish Ballads, Historical and Romantic. Translated, with Notes, by J. G. Lockhart. New York: Wiley & Putnam.

The enterprising publishers, Messrs. Wiley & Putnam, who have reprinted, in a plain but very neat form, Mr. Lockhart’s gorgeously illustrated work, have judiciously prefixed to it, by way of introduction, a critique on the book from the Edinburgh Review, and have added at the end of the volume an analytical account, with specimens of the Romance of the Cid, from the Penny Magazine. This is done with the greatest propriety, for the Cid seems to be the proper centre of Spanish legendary poetry. The Iliad, the Nibelungen, the Cid, the Robin Hood Ballads, Frithiof’s Saga, (for the last also depends for its merit on its fidelity to the legend,) are five admirable collections of early popular poetry of so many nations; and with whatever difference of form, they possess strong mutual resemblances, chiefly apparent in the spirit which they communicate to the reader, of health, vigor, cheerfulness, and good hope. In this day of reprinting and of restoration, we hope that Southey’s Chronicle of the Cid, which is a kind of “Harmony of the Gospels” of the Spanish Romance, may be republished in a volume of convenient size. That is a strong book, and makes lovers and admirers of “My Cid, the Perfect one, who was born in a fortunate hour.” Its traits of heroism and bursts of simple emotion, once read, can never be forgotten; “I am not a man to be besieged;” and “God! What a glad man was the Cid on that day,” and many the like words still ring in our ears. The Cortes at Toledo, where judgment was given between the Cid and his sons-in-law, is one of the strongest dramatic scenes in literature. Several of the best ballads in Mr. Lockhart’s collection recite incidents of the Cid’s history. The best ballad in the book is the “Count Alarcos and the Infanta Solisa,” which is a meet companion for Chaucer’s Griselda. The “Count Garci Perez de Vargas” is one of our favorites; and there is one called the “Bridal of Andalla,” which we have long lost all power to read as a poem, since we have heard it sung by a voice so rich, and sweet, and penetrating, as to make the ballad the inalienable property of the singer.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37