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Dawn

social, drama and maeterlinck

DAWN, The. or more cor rectly 'The Dawns' Aubes> ), is generally regarded as the greatest symbolistic drama of Emile Verhaeren. It differs from the plays of his Belgian countryman, Maeterlinck, in con tent, in that it concerns itself directly with social problems and the social revolution of the future, rather than with the psychic readjust ments of the individual. 'The Dawns' here prophetically foreshadowed are the beginnings of justice between class and class, the triumph of great cities and the coming of peace through renunciation of victory by a people that has conquered its past and its traditional leaders. It announces that the time has come to found new religions and proclaim new doctrines. It differs from Maeterlinck also in construction and style; for whereas Maeter linck allures with feminine charm and an insinuating grace, Verhaeren attacks his theme with abrupt vigor and irresistible Úlan that bursts into passages of magnificent poetry.

He would compel rather than win his audience. Indeed, it is in these longer impassioned and flaring outbursts that the meaning of the play as well as its poetic value is to be sought. The drama proper is not well articulated, and into it are wound so many strands of meaning that at points it breaks down. For this reason, though published in 1898 it has been produced but once, and then privately, and in all proba bility will never prove successful on the stage. In the person of its tragic hero, the people's liberator, Herenien, the suppressed impulses and hopes of the early 20th century came to triumphant expression, and his outbursts of eloquent aspiration contain many foreshadow ings of the social and socialistic movements toward fraternization and an end of national conflicts which were to mark the progress of the World War of 1914. The play has been admirably translated into English by Arthur Symons.