Lis Oubreto/La Miougrano Entreduberto/Mirèio..


1. de ROUMANILLE. Avignoun. 1860. 12mo.

2. T. AUBANEL. Avec Traduction Iittérale en regard. Avignon : J. Roumanille. 1860. 12mo.

3. Pouèmo Prouvençau de FREDERI MISTRAL. Avec la Traduction littérale en regard. Avignon : J. Roumanille. 1859. 8vo.

4. de JACQUES JASMIN, de l’Académie d’Agen, Maître ès Jeux-Floraux, Grand Prix de I’Aeadémie Française. Édition populaire, avec le Français en regard, et ornée d’un Portrait. De 1822 à 1858. Paris : Firmin Dîdot, Frères & Cie. 1860. 12mo.

5. Recueil de Poésies Patoises. Par J. B. Veyre, Instituteur à Saint-Simon (Cantul). Aurillac: Imprimerie de L. Bonnet-Picut. 1860. 8vo.

FEW persons, when they consider the present greatness and prosperity of the French Empire, hear in mind the heterogeneous elements of which it is composed. For us, Paris is France, and the literature of the realm is comprised in the words, “ Paris publications.” We think not of the millions of Frenchmen to whom the language of the capital is a sealed letter, — of the Germans of Alsatia, the Flemings of the extreme North-East, the Bretons of the peninsula of Finisterre, the Basques, the Catalans of the mountains of Roussillon, and, more numerous than all these, the fourteen millions of the thirty-seven departments south of the Loire. These speak, to this day, with fewer modifications than have taken place in any other of the European languages during the same lapse of time, the very tongue in which wrote Bertran de Born and Pierre Vidal, the idiom in which Dante and Petrarca found some of their happiest inspirations, and which, we are told, Tasso envied for its poetic capabilities.
True, the Provinces of Gascony, Provence, Auvergne may he traversed by the stranger almost without his suspecting that other than the French, more or less badly spoken, is in common use. In hotels and shops he will hear nothing else. The larger towns in direct communication with the capital, and all that is purely exterior in the people, are becoming more and more French every day. But in the family interior, far from the noise of affairs, the bustle of towns, in hamlets, among the vine-growers and tenders of the silk-worm, in the mountains and retired valleys, the home-tongue is again at ease. Simple, ingenuous, amber-like in its sunny tints, it is a reflection of that ardent poetical imagination which made the courts of the Counts of Toulouse the nurseries of modern poesy, when the rest of Europe was little else than one wrangling battle-field. Neither the exterminating crusade against the Albigenses, after which the idiom of Provence was wellnigh stigmatized as heretical, nor the civil and religious wars of the seventeenth century, nor even the dragonnades of Louis XIV., have been able to outroot it. The levelling edicts of the first French Revolution were powerless against it. The Provencal, or Langue d’Oc, if you will, the Gascon, the Auvergnat, are spoken to this day in their respective provinces, universally spoken hy the people, who in many in stances do not understand French at all. They must be preached to in their own dialect. They have their songs, their theatre even.
Nor must this be understood as referring only to the lower strata of society. The better classes, even, retain a fondness for their mother-tongue which years of residence in Paris will not obliterate. In their very French, they still retain the inflections, the tones of the South, — a measured cadence in the phrase, which the Parisian uniformly styles gaseonner. They feel ill at ease in what they call the cold-mannered speech of the Franchiman. In the words of one of their poets, Mistral, who has proved that he was no less a master of the academic forms and rules than of the riches and power of his own Avignonais :—“Those who have not lived at the South, and especially in the midst of our rural population, can have no idea of the incompatibility, the insufficiency, the poverty of the language of the North in regard to our manners, our needs, our organization. The French language, transplanted to Provence, seems like the cast-off clothes of a Parisian dandy adapted to the robust shoulders of a harvester bronzed by the Southern sun.”
The Provençal, in its two principal divisions, the Gascon and Langue d’Oc, is the current idiom south of the Loire. The South-West Provinces had, in the seventeenth century, no mean poet in Godelin ; and in our own day, Jasmin has found a host of followers. The inhabitants of the South-East, however, the more immediate retainers of the language of the Troubadours, save in a few drinking-songs and Christmas carols, had forgotten the strains that once resounded beyond the limits of Provence and had first awaked the poetic emulation of Spain and Italy. The princess of song, stung by the envious spirit of persecution in the Albigensian wars, had slept for centuries, and the thick hedge of forgetfulness had grown rank about the language and its treasures. What Raynouard, Diez, Mahn, Fauriel, and others have done to bring to light again the unedited texts was little better than an autopsy. A living, breathing poet was wanting to reanimate by his touch the poesy that had slept so long. That poet was Ronmanille.
The Minnesingers have found heirs and continuators in the modern writers of Germany. Side by side with the increasing tendency to unity in all national literature is working the force of races confounded under one political banner, to assert their existence as such. Congresses have shaped new kingdoms ; but they have not reached or removed the limits of nationalities that have each their expression in song, whether in Moldavia or among the Czechs of Bohemia. The regeneration of local idioms, which is fast working its way from the Bosphorus to the Atlantic, was first undertaken in Provence, at the instigation of Roumanille. The son of a gardener of St. Remy, he was first struck with the insufficiency of French literature for his immediate countrymen, when, on his return from college, seeking to recite some of his earlier poems in the language of Racine to his aged mother, she failed to understand them, For her he translated, and found that his own Provençal was richer, more copious and melodious than the French itself, and, if less finical and restrained by grammatical forms, more pliant for the poet, and better answering the exigencies of primitive, spontaneous expression of feeling. From that moment his efforts were unceasingly directed towards the reintegration of his mother-tongue, which had so long played but the part of a Cinderella among the Romanic nations.
His poems, collected in 1847, under the title of “Margarideto,” (Daisies.) were hailed by his countrymen with their habitual national enthusiasm. Nor did he remain inactive during the Revolution of 1848, addressing the people in home-phrase in several small volumes of prose. In 1852, lie sent forth a call to his brother-writers, the felibre, who had joined with him in his efforts. The result was the publication of “ Li Prouvençalo,” a charming selection from those modern Troubadours who in all ranks of society sing, because sing they must, in bright and sunny Provence, and who in very deed find poetry
“In the forge’s dust and ashes, in the tissues of the loom,”
The call of Roumanille was the signal for a revival. Since that time, he himself, now a publisher in Avignon, has steadily watched and fostered the movement. The new literature has rapidly gone beyond its home-limits. Within the present year, Paris has republished several of the most noted works.
The volume which has called forth these remarks, “ Lis Oubreto,” comprises the poems of M. Roumanille,—“Li Margarideto,” “Li Nouvè,” “Li Sounjarello,” “ La Part de Dieu,” “ Li Flour de Sauvi.” They are characterized by an elevation in the thoughts and a religious purity of sentiment, qualities which, it has been urged, and justly too, were lacking in many of the former productions in various dialects of France. We call the poetry of Roumanille elevated, yet it always addresses itself to the people of Provence, and borrows its images from the manycolored life of those to whom it speaks ; religious, but simple and ingenuous, with a tinge of mysticism, — not the mysticism that seeks the good in dreamy inaction, as in some of the Spanish authors, nor has it the obscure tinge of the transcendental English school. The religion of Ronmaniile is active, not dogmatic; he incites to do, rather than discuss or dream the good. There is a health, a vigor, an earnestness, in this spontaneous poesy of an idiom which six centuries ago was the language of courts, and now sings the song of toil. Side by side with the over-cultured language of the Parisian, it seems so free and frank ! Where the one is hampered for fear of sinning, the other, buoyant and elastic, teuads freely and fears not to be too ingenuous.
Roumanille’s poems have not been translated ; it is hardly likely they ever will he, — at least, the greater number. They were not made for Paris. They are not at ease in a French garb,—nor, tor that matter, in any other than their own diaphanous, sun-tinted, vowelly Provencal, unless they eould find their expression in some Jblk-speech, as the Germans say, that could utter things of daily life without euphuistie windings?without fear of ridicule for things of home expressed in home-words.
As characterizing the nature and tendency of the new poetry, we subjoin, a translation of “Li Crecho,” (The Infant Asylums,) of which ST. Sainte-Beuve, of the French Academy, one whose judgment as literary critic could be little biased in favor of the naive graces of the original, said,— “The piece is worthy of the ancient Troubadours. The angel of the asylums and of little children in his celestial sadness could not be disavowed by the angels of Klopstoek, nor by that of Alfred do Vigny.”
“ Li Orecho” was recited by the author at the inauguration of the Infant Asylum of Avignon, the 20th of November, 1851, and forms part of the sheaf of poems entitled “ Li Flour de Sauvi.”


“Among the choirs of Seraphim, whom God lias created to sing eternally, transported with love, ‘Glory, glory to the Father! ’—among the joys of Paradise, one oftentimes, far from the happy singers, went thoughtful away.
“And his snow-white forehead inclined towards our world, as droops a flower that has no moisture in summer. Day by day he grew more dreamy. If sadness, when in God’s glory, could torment the heart, I should say that this fair angel was pining with sorrow.
“ Of what did lie dream thus, and in secret? Why was he not of the feast? Why, alone among angels, as one that had sinned, did he bow the head?


“ Lo! he lias jyst knelt at the feet of God, What will he say? What will he do? To see and hear him, his brethren interrupt their song of praise.


“'When Jesus, thy child, wept, — when he shivered with cold in the manger of Bethlehem,— it was my smile that consoled him, my wings that sheltered him, with my warm breath did I comfort him.
“ ‘ And since then, O God, when a child weeps, in my pitying heart his voice resounds. Therefore forever now am I sick at heart,—therefore, O Lord, am I ever thoughtful.
“ ‘ On earth, O God, I have something to do. Let me descend there. There are so many babes, poor milk-lambs, who, shivering with cold, weep and wail far from the breasts, far from the kisses of their mothers! In warm rooms will Tshelter them,—will cover and tend them,— will nurse and caress them,—will lull them to rest. Instead of one mother, they shall each have twenty that shall give them suck and soothe them to sleep.’


“And with heart and hand did the angels applaud,—a tremor of joy shot through the stars of heaven. — and, unfolding his pinions, with the rapidity of lightning the angel descended. The road-side smiled with flowers, as he passed,—and mothers trembled for joy; for infant-asylums arose wherever the childangel trod.”
One of the first to respond to the call of Roumanille for the composition of the selection “Li Prouvençalo” was Th. Aubanel, also of Avignon. The “ Sogaire” (Mowers) and “Lou 9 Thermidor ” made it plain, that, of the thirty names, that of the young printer would soon take a prominent place among the revivers of Southern letters. And now, eight years later, the promise of M. Roné Taillandier, in his introduction to the selection, has become reality.
“La Miougrano Entreduberto” (The Opened Pomegranate) is printed with an accompanying French translation. Mistral, the brothor-poet and friend of the author, thus announces the poems : —
“ The pomegranate is of its nature wilder than other trees. It loves to grow in pebbly elevations (clapeirolo) in the full sun-rays, far from man and nearer to God. There alone, in the scorching summer-beams, it expands in secret its blood-red flowers. Love and the sun fecundate its bloom. In the crimson chalices thousands of coral-grains germ spontaneously, like a thousand fair sisters all under the same roof.
“ The swollen pomegranate holds imprisoned as long as it can the roseate seeds, the thousand blushing sisters. But the birds of the moor speak to the solitary tree, saying,— ‘ What wilt thou do with the seeds? Even now comes the autumn, even now comes the winter, that chases us beyond the hills, beyond the seas..... And shall it be said, O wild pomegranate, that we have left Provence without seeing thy beautiful coral-grains, without having a glimpse of thy thousand virgin daughters ? ’
“ Then, to satisfy the envious birdlings of the moor, the pomegranate slowly half-opens its fruit; the thousand vermeil seeds glitter in the sun; the thousand timorous sisters with rosv cheeks peep through the arched window: and the roguish birds come in flocks and feast at ease on tiie beautiful coral-grains; the roguish lovers devour with kisses the fair blushing sisters.
“ Aubanel — and you will say as I do, when you have read his book—is a wild pomegranate-tree. The Provençal public, whom his first poems had pleased so much, was beginning to say,—‘But what is our Aubanel doing, that we no longer hear him sing?'”
Then follows an exposition of the hopeless passion of the poet,—how he took for motto,
“ Quau canto,
Soun mau encanto.”
Hence the three hooks of poems now before us,—“The Book of Love,” “Twilight,” and “ The Book of Death.” “ The Book of Love,” “a thing excessively rare,” as we are told in the Preface, “but this one written in good faith,” opens with a couplet that is a key to the whole volume:—
“ I am sick at heart,
And will not be cured.”
We subjoin a literal translation of the eleventh song, lino for line:—
“ De-la-man-d’eilà, de la mar,
Dins mis ouro de pantaiage,
Souvènti-fes iéu fau un viage,
léu fau souvènt un viage amar,
De-la-man-d’eilà de la mar.”
etc., etc.
“ Far away, beyond the seas,
In my hours of reverie,
Oftentimes I make a voyage,
I often make a bitter voyage,
Far away, beyond tiie seas.
“ Yonder far, towards the Dardanelles,
With the ships I glide away,
Whose long masts pierce the sky;
Towards my loved one do I go,
Yonder far, towards the Dardanelles.
“ With the great white clouds sailing on.
Driven by the wind, their master-shepherd,
The great clouds which before the stars
Pass onwards like white flocks,
With the clouds I go sailing on.
“ With the swallows I take my flight,
The swallows returning to the sun;
Towards fair days do they go, quick, quick ;
And I, quick, quick, towards my love,
With the swallows take my flight.
“ Oh, I am very sick for home,
Sick for the home that my love haunts!
Far from that foreign country,
As the bird far from its nest,
I am very sick for home.
“ From wave to wave, o'er the bitter waters,
Like a corse thrown to the seas,
In dreams am I borne onward
To the feet of her that’s dear,
From wave to wave, o’er the bitter waters.
“ On the shores I am there, dead!
My love in her arms supports me;
Speechless she gazes and weeps,
Lays her hand upon my heart,
And suddenly I live again!
“ Then I clasp her, then I fold her
In my arms: ‘I have Suffered enough!
Stay, stay ! I will not die! ’
And as a drowning one I seize her,
And fold her in my arms.
“ Far away, beyond the seas,
In my hours of reverie,
Oftentimes I make a voyage,
I often make a bitter voyage,
Far away, beyond the seas.”
As may easily be seen, Aubanel writes not, like Roumanille, for his own people alone. His Muse is more ambitious, and seeks to interest by appealing to the sentiments in a language polished with all the art of its sister, the French. There are innumerable exquisite passages scattered through the work, which make us ready to believe in the figurative comparison of the prefacer, when he tells us that “ the coralgrains of the ‘Opened Pomegranate’ will become in Provence the chaplet of lovers.”
If Roumanille and Aubanel contented themselves with the publication of poems of no very ambitious length, the author of “ Mirèio ” aimed directly at enriching his language at the outset with an epic. He has given us in twelve cantos the song of Provence. He makes us see and feel the life of Languedoc, — traverse the Crau, that Arabia Petræa of France, — see the Rhone, and the fair daughters of Arles, in their picturesque costumes, — see the wild bulls of the Camargo, the Pampas of the Mediterranean. We are among the growers of the silk-worm ; we hear the home-songs and talks of the Mas, listen to the people’s legends and tales of witchery, and can study the Middle-Age spirit that still in these regions endows every shrine with miracles, as we follow the pilgrimage to the chapel of the Three Marys.
“Mirèio” is all Provence living and breathing before us in a poem. No wonder, then, that, in the present dearth of poetry in France, this epic or idyl, call it as you will, was received with acclamations. M. René Taillaudier has consecrated to it one of his most masterly articles in the “Revue des Deux Monties.” Lamartine has devoted to it a whole entretien in his “ Cours de Littérature.” It was discussed, quoted, translated in all the journals ot the capital. We may revert to it at greater length in a future number of the “ Atlantic.”
The name of Jasmin, the barber-poet of Agon, is already familiar to the English public. Professor Longfellow has translated his “ Blind Girl of Castel-Cuillé.” His name is known in Paris as well, perhaps, as that of any other living French poet, if we except Lamartine and Victor Hugo. Accompanied with a French translation, his principal poems, “ Mous Soubenis.” “L’ Abuglo de Castel-Cuillé,” “Françouneto,” “ Maltro 1’Innoncento,” "Lous Dus Frays Bessous,” “La Semmâno d’un Fil,” have been read as much north of the Loire as south.
“ The Curl-Papers” — for thus he styles his works — having been translated into German arid English, the reputation of the author may be called European. The forty maintainers of the Floral Games of Clémence Isaure at Toulouse awarded him the title of Maítre ès Jeux-Floraux. His progress through the South was marked by ovations, and every town, from Marseilles to Bordeaux, hastened to recognize the modern Troubadour. Happier than most of his predecessors. Jasmin receives His laurels in season, and can wear the crowns that are presented him. The “Papi1lôtos ” were formerly scattered in three costly volumes; they have now been collected in one handsome duodecimo, with an accompanying French translation of the principal pieces, — a translation which called from Ampère the remark, — “A défaut des vers de Jasmin, on ferait cent lieues pour entendre cette prose-là ! ”
“ Lés Piaoulats d’un Reïpetit ” is one of the rare productions of the written literature of Auvergne, so rich in antique legends and original popular songs. The author, at the Archæological Concourse of Béziers, in 1838, obtained deserved encomium for his “Ode Riquet,” the creator of the great Southern French Canal, linking the Atlantic and Mediterranean. He has written in the Romanic dialect in use in Auvergne, which, if it lacks the finish and polish of the Provençal, is not wanting in grace and ingenuousness. It is characterized by a rude energy, a sombre harmony, that tallies well with the wild and rural character of the country.
At first sight, the dialect seems to have a marked affinity with that made use of by Jasmin in his “ Papillôtos.” It is, however, easily distinguishable by the frequent use of peculiar gutturals, the almost constant change of a into o, and a greater number of radicals of Celtic origin. In a recent work on Auvergne, it is argued that these Celtic words form the basis of the language. The history of the region itself would tend to corroborate this theory.
Sheltered by rocky mountain-ranges, the Dômes, the Dores, and Cantal, (Mons Celtorum,) the Arverni obstinately repulsed every attempt towards the naturalization of the Roman tongue, and battled for six centuries with the same energy displayed by them, when, under Vereingetorix, they fought for their nationality anil the independence of Gaul against Caesar. The Latin could exercise, therefore, but slight influence on the idiom of these regions, which has preserved since then in its vocabulary, and even in syntactical forms, a marked relationship with the Celtic, which, according to Sidonius Apollinaris, was still spoken there in the sixth century.
The actual dialect of Auvergne is peculiarly adapted to recitals of a legendary nature, owing to its vivacity of articulation, coupled with a kind of gloom in the quality of the sounds. Naïf and touching in popular song and Christmas carol, it is nut divested of a certain grandeur for subjects deserving of a higher style.
The works of M. Veyre comprise the various styles of shorter poems. His “ Ode to Riquet,” and that in honor of Gerbert, (Pope Silvester II., a native of Auvergne,) show what the language can do in the hands of a master. In the latter he describes the career of that predestined child whom legend accompanied from his cradle to the grave.
“ LaFiëro de St. Urbo,” curious picture of the manners of the country, is written in that ironical and gay vein of which the older Trench writers possessed the secret; but that is now fast dying away. “Répopiado” and “ Lou Boun Sens del Payson ” show that the language of Auvergne is no less adapted to moral teachings than to the touching inspirations and free jovial songs of the country Muse.
The work of M. Veyre is the first tending to give his native province a share in the literary revival of the Romanic idioms, which is so universally felt in Southern France, and has of late produced so much.