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190 HARDY'S "POEMS OF PILGRIMAGE" By J. O. Bai ley (University of North Carolina) Three prose descriptions of the Italy the Hardys visited in 1887 throw interesting light on Hardy's "Poems of Pilgrimage": Chapter XV of THE EARLY LIFE, Emma Hardy's diary, and Baedeker's HANDBOOK FOR TRAVELLERS,! Hardy's attitude toward the trip is stated in his title as a "pilgrimage." The term indicates no mere tourist's jaunt to gaze at a parade of curiosities and pass on, but a visit to a land made somewhat holy to Hardy by his study of Latin classics and his visions based upon them. Nonetheless, for finding his way around, identifying what he saw, and even writing his poems "a long time after" the journey, Hardy found the tourist's usual guide, Baedeker's HANDBOOK, useful. Baedeker's descriptions treat chiefly Christian Italy and monuments of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, It is characteristic of Hardy, however, that his poems set in Italy treat chiefly Shelley, Keats, and the ruins of pagan Rome; even the poem about a room in the Vatican is devoted to the pagan Muses. Indeed, THE EARLY LIFE states this interest: But he was on the whole more interested in Pagan than in Christian Rome, of the latter preferring churches in which he could detect columns from ancient temples. ... So that, for instance, standing on the meagre remains of the Via Sacra then recently uncovered, he seemed to catch more echoes of the inquisitive bore's conversation there with the poet Horace than of worship from the huge basilicas hard by, which were in point of time many centuries nearer to him.2 The record of the journey in THE EARLY LiFE shows that Hardy did not arrange the "Poems of Pilgrimage" in the order of his itinerary. But to trace the influence of Baedeker, I shall comment on the poems in the order of Hardy's visit to each place. Leaving Dorchester on March IA-, 188/, the Hardys made their first stop in Italy at Turin. From there they travelled to Genoa, treated in the poem "Genoa and the Mediterranean." The poem says that the Hardys brought with them to Genoa the dream of a multimarbled "Queen" enthroned beside the "epic-famed, god-haunted Central Sea." Baedeker supportad this dream; he called Genoa "La Superba" (I, 78), a term Hardy uses in the poem. But from a train window (as THE EARLY LIFE says) and from the raMroad station (as Baedeker makes clear) the Hardys saw the city in "squalid undress." Emma Hardy wrote in her diary: "When we came to Genoa caught peeps of the Mediterranean & shipping dull weather, no blue sea."3 Hardy's poem is more specific, he rebukes "Genova the Proud" for greeting guests in shabby negligee: "clad — not as the Beauty but the Dowd": On housebacks pink, green, ochreous . . . , . . waved fishwives' high~hung smocks, Chrome kerchiefs, scarlet hose, darned underfrocks. To understand what happened we may consult Baedeker. The Hardys travelled from Turin to Genoa by way of Alessandria, Just before arriving in Genoa, the train ran 191 over mountainous country and through eleven tunnels, the last of them, the "Galleria dei Giovi," nearly two miles in length; it even entered the city through a tunnel (I, 72-73). On exit from the final "deep-delved way" the Hardys arrived at the Station Piazza Principe. Eager for their first view of the sea, the Hardys had to look across railroad yards and the dockyards of the port, where, at this time, construction work was in progress. Baedeker explained apologetically: "The Duke of Galleria . . . having presented 20 million francs for the improvement of the harbour, on condition that the government and the city would advance the remainder of the required sum, extensive alterations have begun to take place." Baedeker, indeed, recommended that visitors avoid the streets near the harbor, which he called "noisy and bustling" (I, 79-80). Later, as THE EARLY LIFE notes, Hardy observed the marble in Genoa, "so preeminently the city of marble ■— everything marble . . . even little doorways in slums." Baedeker likewise mentioned marble in nearly every building he described. The poem echoes the facts...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 190-196
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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