Nox Oculis

George William Russell (AE) (1867-1935)

Figure de la renaissance littéraire et économique irlandaise. Également peintre.

Russell fait partie de la renaissance artistique en tant que poète et peintre. Ses poèmes, ses nouvelles et ses essais sur le problème de l'indépendance de l'Irlande ont beaucoup apporté à la Renaissance celtique. Né à Lurgan, en Irlande du Nord, il fit ses études à Dublin. Son pseudonyme, Æ, utilisé tout d'abord comme signature, est la contraction du mot aeon, qui, en grec, signifie « éternité ». C'est à la Metropolitan School of Art qu'il rencontre Yeats.

Il rejoint en 1897 l'Irish Agricultural Organisation Society de Plunkett et s'occupe de l'organe officiel The Irish Homestead. Ses intérêts sont multiples : poésie, peinture, théosophie, économie, politique. A partir de 1923, il édite The Irish Statesman. Sa maison à Rathgar Avenue devient un centre de la vie artistique et économique de l'Irlande. Il se fit l'organisateur de la révolution agricole coopérative en dirigeant, de 1904 à 1924, la revue The Irish Homestead.

Fondateur, avec Yeats, de l'Abbey Theatre, il donna sa démission en 1904, à la suite d'un désaccord. Sa poésie, les Homeward : Songs by the Way (1894), le The Earth Breath (1897), la The Candle of Vision (1918), Collected Poems (1913, publiés en 1923) et The House of the Titans and Other Poems (1934), reflète son intérêt pour la théosophie et sa conception de la nature comme principal lien entre l'homme et Dieu.

The Dawn of Darkness

    Come earth’s little children pit-pat from their burrows on the hill ;
    Hangs within the gloom its weary head the shining daffodil.
    In the valley underneath us through the fragrance flit along
    Over fields and over hedgerows little quivering drops of song.
    All adown the pale blue mantle of the mountains far away

    Stream the tresses of the twilight flying in the wake of day.
    Night comes; soon alone shall fancy follow sadly in her flight
    Where the fiery dust of evening, shaken from the feet of light,
    Thrusts its monstrous barriers between the pure, the good, the true,
    That our weeping eyes may strain for, but shall never after view.

    Only yester eve I watched with heart at rest the nebulæ
    Looming far within the shadowy shining of the Milky Way ;
    Finding in the stillness joy and hope for all the sons of men ;
    Now what silent anguish fills a night more beautiful than then :
    For earth’s age of pain has come, and all her sister planets weep,

    Thinking of her fires of morning passing into dreamless sleep.
    In this cycle of great sorrow for the moments that we last
    We too shall be linked by weeping to the greatness of her past :
    But the coming race shall know not, and the fount of tears shall dry,
    And the arid heart of man be arid as the desert sky.

    So within my mind the darkness dawned, and round me everywhere
    Hope departed with the twilight, leaving only dumb despair.

    George William ("AE") Russell, Collected Poems (1913)


    In day from some titanic past it seems
    As if a thread divine of memory runs ;
    Born ere the Mighty One began his dreams,
    Or yet were stars and suns.

    But here an iron will has fixed the bars ;

    Forgetfulness falls on earth’s myriad races :
    No image of the proud and morning stars
    Looks at us from their faces.

    Yet yearning still to reach to those dim heights,
    Each dream remembered is a burning-glass,
    Where through to darkness from the Light of Lights
    Its rays in splendour pass.

    George William ("AE") Russell, Collected Poems (1913)

The Morning Star

    In the black pool of the midnight Lu has slung the morning star,
    And its foam in rippling silver whitens into day afar
    Falling on the mountain rampart piled with pearl above our glen,
    Only you and I, beloved, moving in the fields of men.

    In the dark tarn of my spirit, love, the morning star, is lit ;
    And its halo, ever brightening, lightens into dawn in it.
    Love, a pearl-grey dawn in darkness, breathing peace without desire ;
    But I fain would shun the burning terrors of the mid-day fire.

    Through the faint and tender airs of twilight star on star may gaze,
    But the eyes of light are blinded in the white flame of the days,
    From the heat that melts together oft a rarer essence slips,
    And our hearts may still be parted in the meeting of the lips.

    What a darkness would I gaze on when the day had passed the west,
    If my eyes were dazed and blinded by the whiteness of a breast ?
    Never through the diamond darkness could I hope to see afar
    Where beyond the pearly rampart burned the purer evening star.

    George William ("AE") Russell, Collected Poems (1913)


    Heart-hidden from the outer things I rose ;
    The spirit woke anew in nightly birth
    Unto the vastness where forever glows
    The star-soul of the earth.

    There all alone in primal ecstasy,
    Within her depths where revels never tire,
    The olden Beauty shines: each thought of me
    Is veined through with its fire.

    And all my thoughts are throngs of living souls ;
    They breathe in me, heart unto heart allied ;
    Their joy undimmed, though when the morning tolls
    The planets may divide.

    George William ("AE") Russell, Collected Poems (1913)


    Burning our hearts out with longing
    The daylight passed :
    Millions and millions together,
    The stars at last !

    Purple the woods where the dewdrops,
    Pearly and grey,
    Wash in the cool from our faces
    The flame of day.

    Glory and shadow grow one in
    The hazel wood :
    Laughter and peace in the stillness
    Together brood.

    Hopes all unearthly are thronging
    In hearts of earth :
    Tongues of the starlight are calling
    Our souls to birth.

    Down from the heaven its secrets
    Drop one by one ;
    Where time is for ever beginning
    And time is done.

    There light eternal is over
    Chaos and night :
    Singing with dawn lips for ever,
    "Let there be light!"

    There too for ever in twilight
    Time slips away,
    Closing in darkness and rapture
    Its awful day.

    George William ("AE") Russell, Collected Poems (1913)

On a Hill-Top

    Bearded with dewy grass the mountains thrust
    Their blackness high into the still grey light,
    Deepening to blue: far up the glimmering height
    In silver transience shines the starry dust.

    Silent the sheep about me; fleece by fleece
    They sleep and stir not: I with awe around
    Wander uncertain o’er the giant mound,
    A fire that moves between their peace and peace.

    The city myriads dream or sleep below ;
    Aloft another day has but begun :
    Under the radiance of the Midnight Sun
    The Tree of Life put forth its leaves to grow.

    Wiser than they below who dream or sleep ?
    I know not; but their day is dream to me,
    And in their darkness I awake to see
    A Thought that moves like light within the deep.

    Only from dream to dream our spirits pass :
    Well, let us rise and fly from sphere to sphere ;
    Some one of all unto the light more near
    Mirrors the Dreamer in its glowing glass.

    George William ("AE") Russell, Collected Poems (1913)

Star Teachers

    Even as a bird sprays many-coloured fires,
    The plumes of paradise, the dying light
    Rays through the fevered air in misty spires
    That vanish in the height.

    These myriad eyes that look on me are mine ;
    Wandering beneath them I have found again
    The ancient ample moment, the divine,
    The God-root within men.

    For this, for this the lights innumerable
    As symbols shine that we the true light win :
    For every star and every deep they fill
    Are stars and deeps within.

    George William Russell, The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse (1917)

The Unknown God

    Far up the dim twilight fluttered
    Moth-wings of vapour and flame :
    The lights danced over the mountains,
    Star after star they came.

    The lights grew thicker unheeded,
    For silent and still were we ;
    Our hearts were drunk with a beauty
    Our eyes could never see.

    George William Russell, Modern British Poetry (1920)

Références :

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