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superhaman power of vision and of exceedingly various as they are, seem to speech. But in the actual, every Poet me to be divisible mainly into two great is very limited and imperfect. Even the classes, those whose work springs chiefly greatest Poets are faulty, full of faults from the pure poetic impulse, and those and shortcomings. Each, limited already whose work is chiefly produced by will in his genius, is also limited from with- and intention. out, and does not do even as well as he Those whom I would place in the secmight. On every side a dull and per- ond named and lower class (let us call it verse world of persons and circumstances P.W., from poetic will) are able men who presses in upon his work.
have been turned, by circumstances and The fair Poem, a gift to many,—to the choice, in proportions varying in the vaPoet himself is often but a poor shadow, rious instances, to express themselves a faint reminiscence of some glorious through the medium of verse, and who message.
on the whole successfully accomplish " Could I revive within me
their aim. Other men, of equal or greatHer symphony and song,
er total capacity, are quite ungifted for To such a deep delight 'twould win me, That, with music loud and long,
singing their thoughts; but these of I would build that dome in air,
whom we speak have more or less a That sunny dome! those caves of ice! share of the necessary gift; some true And all who heard, should see them there; musical impulse moves in the midst of And all would cry ‘Beware! Beware!'
their general intellectual power; each, His flashing eyes, his floating hair ! Weave a circle round him thrice,
along with his other qualities, has enough And close your eyes with holy dread; of the metrical, the musical, the poetic, For he on honey-dew hath fed,
to urge him or at least to enable bim to And drunk the milk of Paradise."
write in verse, and this gives him his Never yet has a Great Poem been re- claim to be called a poet, though still, ally written-only hints and fragments. one will prove much more of a poet than
No one as yet has delivered his message another. Some poets there are who, in even as well as he might have done. The the economy of things, appear to be master-pieces of all Poetry are only such made for the unpoetic listener-since meby comparison.
trical language works more or less upon I think-hope-might almost say be- all men. In the Poets whom I would lieve, that the best poets are yet to come. reckon in the other class (let us call it Do we not hope for a better earth than class P.I., from poetic impulse), the purely has yet been? And we all hope for a poetic impulse is the master quality, irrebetter life elsewhere. Shall not that have pressible and all-pervading ; even as the its Poetry, think you, inexpressibly great- born Painter has a constant delight in er and finer than anything we can now color for its own sake. conceive or dream of ?-and when Man One might, I think, arrange the names is more in unison with Heaven (be it of all Poets known to him (though in here or elsewhere) a fairer, fuller Poetry certain cases there might be question and will surely arise : yet, with all its imper- difficulty) broadly into these two large fections, that which we already possess classes. This done, it probably strikes is a great gift.
us that such a one standing in the P.W. Of Poetry as written, Poetry as we class is on the whole greater than such have it, there are many degrees and va- another in the P.I. : but we also find that rieties.
all the greatest Poets in the total list stand Every poem need not be great, but it in the class marked P.I. ; and that the must be genuine in its own kind. precious qualities peculiar to Metrical Poe
Every poem is the result of two co- try come to us most abundantly from operating forces : one, impulse, emotion, natures wherein also dwell the highest inspiration; the other, will, intention, sensibility to beauty, the swiftest moveconscious effort. Of true Poems, some ment of thought, the most penetrative have more of the one, and some of the intellect. The imagery of these men is other; and so also of different parts of a usually that of the true Imagination, inPoem, one part is done chiefly from will, tuitive, dealing with essential relations another part from impulse. The Poets, of things; the imagery of those who
would come into our second class is col- desires. He must often compromise, lected chiefly by the Fancy, in her sport, supply missing links, as best he can, by or for parade.
more conscious exertion; he stumbles, If we divide and classify further we
makes mistakes, falls short in many ways arrange Poets into certain schools—but but if his work on the whole is a genuine; at last we shall find, if we go on, that Poem, a boon to mankind, an addition to every considerable poet is to be taken the world, the music of it first vibrated singly; and the greater the poet, the spiritually through the Poet's being. more distinctly individual he is. He Where lies the source of this influence? views the world in his own way,
and It lies deep. In approaching this part ports bis experience in his own way; of my subject, I would avoid anything his sincerity is his power. If he “ carries like a rhetorical or rhapsodical tone. The a mirror" it is not a common mirror, but idea to be conveyed is, I believe, not fana magic mirror, made out of his indi- ciful or fantastic, but of the deepest truth; vidual quality. Yet, a high Poet is also —so deep is it, and draws us into such a chief representative of the human race; awful precincts, that Poetry itself could his work, while peculiar, is at the same
alone furnish words in the least degree time thoroughly sympathetic. The par- adequate, words at once clear and subtle ; ticulars which he conveys so strikingly and even these at their best would fail and are not mere particulars, they are also fall short. typical, and have a general application. To those varied and wonderful maniMay not the singularity of each poet be testations of the Divinity, in the midst taken as an indication of the importance, whereof we find ourselves placed, and of the kingship of every single Human Be- which we form a part, and a most iming! Each has a whole world of his portant part, we give collectively, in deown, besides the world that is his in com- fault of a better term, the name of “ Namon with mankind. The poet is pecul- ture.” And all Nature is poetic-a countiar, because largely receptive of life and less multitude of poems, which Man trannature at first hand, and bold and skil- slates as best he may into his own lanful enough to sing his own proper ex- guage. It is too great for
us; we periences; he is universal by virtue of can but report a line here and a verse that unity which underlies all appear,
there. The Man of Science is the critic ance, and which is everywhere reached and grammarian of Nature's Poems; the by the penetrative mind. The peculiar. Poet the translator and interpreter. Neiity will be modified by circumstance and ther is let into the secret. The absolute accident; the insight, the piercing ve- essence remains inconceivable. Yet most racity, is the gift given to all true Poets, astounding it is that little Man should and the secret of their strength.
possess the faculties of intellectual invesLet us glance back at the ground we tigation and the powers of spiritual vihave passed over. Poetry is the Art of sion which are his ; powers correlative to Verbal Metrical Expression. It is the all that is external to him-other forms most comprehensive of the Arts. It fur- of One Eternal Truth. nishes the most adequate means of ex- Nature is poetic: Nature (as we have pressing certain thoughts and moods. ventured to express it) is a Poem, and The thought, the mood, must itself be every part of Nature. Art is not the emotional and creative-must be such as same as Nature, has something less and moves all the powers of expression to bar- something more, is an externised beauty monious result. It is first the movement imbued with human elements, and is not of the Poet's mind that is musical : not the result of mere imitation of nature : saying “musical” in any technical sense, but that life, that Spirit, which shows it. but that his mind is moved and modula- self through Nature, and which shows ted into a beautiful orderliness: bis emo- itself through Art, is one and the same. tions, his conceptions, when they seek That which is the life of our pictures, and find the most fitting expression, flow our music, our verse-poetry,—there it is into harmonious speech. There is al- also in Nature. Beauty is everywhere, ways some resistance in the medium ; unnecessary, useless beauty, throughout his song is not so free and perfect as he earth, water, air, and the iutinite of space;
and everywhere developed in metre, in but known also to be a scientific fact. balance, in rhythm, in symmetry ; the Is there any External Universe (the old grand original Poiesis. Consider merely question)? We answer, Yes. How can the growth of a plant; what the Indian we know anything of it? In the last conjuror pretends to do in five minutes step, only by the Poetic imagination. is no less wonderful in the slower natural Looking higher still and farther, aided movement continued throughout weeks thereby, what find we? On every side, and months. The little seed sends up — boundless, inconceivable, yet true and its stem like a slender fountain, shaking sure, as mere matter of fact as our own out the delicate foliage on every side,un- five fingers when we hold out our hand, folding bud and flower, leaf for leaf, pet- —a Universe crowded with Earths and al for petal, in due order and proportion Suns. They move and mingle unceasingwith symmetry and freedom gracefully ly, in a mighty dance, “Cycle on epicyreconciled ; beauty is not alone of lily, cle, orb on orb.” Our utmost imagivarose, and palm-tree ; every wayside weedi tion, though entirely believing, throws is a green poem. More wonderful still hitherward a most faint and ineffectual the multiform animal creation : Lion and glance. This great Universe is the Poem Horse, Bird, Serpent, Fish, Butterfly, of Poems. The Maker of it is the PriEarthworm, Animalcule, each of these, mal Poet. and every living thing, harmoniously or- And higher still we may rise above ganized, and fitted to its place; and this sphere, into the awful perception of above these again our own orderly and Absolute Truth, when in the soul Relirhythmic frame, with its powers and gion and Poetry are one; and we recogenergies.
nize Conscience and its laws as a beauThen consider in this light the steps tiful reality and wonder excelling the and incidents and progression of a human Starry Heaven itself. life, from appearance to evanishment. The plant, the Animal, the World, Every chief incident, every group of in- poems, miracles, are these : Man the cidents, seen in the true connection and greatest. He only, of all known creafrom the proper point of view, with right ted Beings, has the gift of articulate insight and right feeling, is poetic. I speech, and of conscious communion do not speak of the life of a hero, but of with the Divine Source,—this faculty, an average common place human being this communion, cognate powers. So Birth, Childhood, Youth, Maturity, Old does he share in little the Creative EnAge, Death ;-a day, a month, a year, a ergy. He orbs his intelligent life into lite from craddle to grave,-all together economic, into moral, into social, into rounds itself, when seen from a little way religious order. His delight in the unioff, into a consistant and symmetric form, versal Beauty he projects into ordonwhich as a whole is permeated with nance of forms and colors and sounds ; beauty,-rounds itself into a Poem. and for all the faculties of his mind, in
Again, looking off from ourselyes, we due subordination and perfect proporsee every day, not unrelated to us, the tionality, he finds an expression, and the landscape with all its variety combined best expression, in the wider, freer, and and rounded and poetised within its ho- more various element of Language, rizon-circle. This we see with the natu- and so orbs that also into Poetry-what ral eyes. And with the larger and no we agree to call “Poetry” par ercelless truthful eyes of the imagination, we lence. Divine is the impulse, nor are
, can see (standing upon the vantage-ground the means unworthy, since Language won by Science, and looking beyond and also (however we may trace its progress) above Science) this Earth-Globe of ours, originates from a spiritual, a celestial clad with the seasons, painted with day source. In Language, the Poetic Spirit and night and many-colored clouds, soft- seeks, finds and uses its own, that ly spinning round its regulated course which it gave long before, and ever it
. Who doubts of this, more than of the ap- strives after what is truest and most esple which he holds in his hand? What sential in Language; Rightly is Poeman has ever seen this? It is a Poem, try esteemed miraculous, a gift from seen only by the eyes of the imagination, above. The impulse comes to all men,
but only a few are so open and sensi- is conscious of it ; let him at least avoid tive by genius, so unspoilt by circum- any bragging as to his apathy. He stance, so unclogged with trifles, un- might as reasonably be proud of deafshackled by daily needs, as to vibrate ness or blindness. with free and full responsive tone, and Poetry like Humanity itself, appears convey to others any hint of the heaven- poor and absurd, or rich and profound, ly message. Here and there by the partly according to the mood in which bounty of Heaven, some true messenger, we regard it, but mainly according to among many pretended messengers and the wisdom we bring to its estimation. many self-deceiving, speaks a work not The Spirit of Poetry is assuredly a inadequately. In those good and hap- divine presence and power. This parpy moments of enlargement and power, ticular manifestation of it, this Art of when memory, hope, experience, faith, Metrical Language, is a fact and a force imagination, all the faculties, rise to- in the world; its effects delightful, elegether into an emotional mood of love vating, and enduring ; its source hiding and joy, new, delicious, and creative,- beyond investigation, in the Infinite a gifted Human Soul, recognizing the Deep of things. presence of eternal beauty, and impelled to communicate its delight, projects itself into the world of language, and there creates beautiful things. Happy I call him, whatsoever his vis
Temple Bar. ible fortune, to whom above the petty and distracting din of the passing day,
THE DESTINY OF LEON GRENIER. it is given to hear the far-off movement of an Eternal Harmony. For one Poem A YOUNG MAN was walking one eventhat he writes, ten thousand unwritten ing, in the earlier part of this century, poems are his. And if he have the gift on the banks of the fairest river of and courage to report well some snatch France, just where it swept past the town or fragment, happy also are they whose of Arles. He was tall and well made, ear and soul are operrto his message.
with delicate features, shadowy blue In youth, when the scenes are fresh eyes, and an almost feminine sweetness and the spirit is open, it is well to drink of expression ; and, as he sauntered of this ambrosia, As people grow older, dreamily along, he half sung, half chantthey are apt to grow more shrewd and ed, an old French ballad in a soft musicdecorous, not always more reverent, not al voice—for Léon Grenier was a true in every way wiser. I can imagine Provençal, of the type which has reprothat an Old man may gladly find float- duced itself in every age, and never failing on winged words into his memory ed to have some representatives in that some early dream, some ideal hope or land of romance since the days of the joy, some high thought, a Poet's gift, 6 bon roi René," who still lives in the and find it truer after all, more deep hearts of the people. He was a poet and founded, than much that he deemed a musician, and lived for the most part in reality in life, but which was only fleet- an ideal world of his own, where sweet ing appearance. Perhaps, though long sounds and bright visions beguiled him, latent, it has not been without its in- like an enchanted kvight in some fairy fluence.
garden of old. Happily for Léon, it was But whether this or that individual, not necessary that he should work for young or old, reads or never reads, re- his living, or it would have fared ill with members or does not remember any Poe- him in this practical age. His father try in a given form of words, the Poets was a substantial farmer, wbo owned bave not the less influenced and modi- many a goodly vineyard and olive grove, fied the world of men into which he and and who had no other child on whom to we have been born, the language that bestow all his fair possessions and inwe speak, the society in which we live. creasing wealth ; so Léon had the educa
If A, or B, cares nothing, has never tion of a gentleman, and learnt all mancared anything for Poetry, 'tis his loss ner of accomplishments in the school of and his defect—the greater, the less he the Frères Lazarists; and he was never asked to soil with hard work the white the best partis in the town would not hands that seemed made only to play on even give them a chance of attracting him, the guitar, or paint lovely faces of saints by so much as a look or word. for the illuminated borders of his “Livre The sun had set on this bright summer d'Heures.” The good frères would fain evening, while Léon roamed along the have persuaded him that his vocation lay banks of the river and sung his low
song in the calm retirement of the cloister, to its slumbering echoes ; the soft light and that his love of art and “mins- lingering still in the heavens had subdued trelsy” would find its best satisfac- every tint and mellowed every shadow, tion in the sacred songs of the choir till the whole landscape was clothed with and the decoration of the sanctuary. But an indescribable charm. Léon stood still Léon absolutely refused to become a the better to realize all the beauty round
He believed in the old theory him; and, as he did so, he suddenly saw that with every soul is created another, far up on the river a little pale light that destined to be its companion for ever, and seemed floating on the waters, and was that all the sorrowful love stories this steadily coming towards bim. He knew world has known, have resulted simply at once what it was.
There was a from the untoward separation of these strange custom at Arles in those days, predestined souls. He had a vision of which has doubtless long since disappearthe sweet face that had been created for ed in the march of progress. The great him, and he waited impatiently till it cemetery of the town was, for traditional should dawn like a star on his life, and reasons, the favorite place of burial for for the time when he, too, should say, in many miles around. The peasants who the graceful words of a brother poet : dwelt in the bills and valleys far off, all “L'on dit que deux âmes qui prient
considered it a matter of the deepest imL'une pour l'autre, en même tois
portance that the friends they lost should En éternité se marient,
be buried at Arles ; and as the transit by Quand vous priez-priez pour moi !" land, or even in boats, would have been His good father and mother longed for too costly a proceeding for their scanty this happy consummation almost as much means, the singular plan was adopted of as he did hintself. He was the child of constructing the coffins so that they could their old age. Balthazar Grenier had float on the river, till the current should married late in life, when he found his bear them unassisted to the place of their goods increasing upon him and none to rest.
This custom was very ancient, inherit them; and Madelon, his wife, and from time immemorial, we believe though she was the brightest, briskest lit- it had been the prerogative of the monks tle woman in Arles, could count her six- of a convent placed near the banks of the ty years bien sonnés.
Rhône, to receive these poor helpless It was the fondest desire of the kind voyagers, and conduct their sepulture old couple to see their son married and with all due religious rites and observanhis little children growing up around
It was the habit to place no coverthem, before they departed from a world ing on the coftin or on the face of the that had always been very pleasant to dead, who were always arrayed in their them; and the one great care that troub- best attire; but a paper was laid on the Jed their declining years was the fact that breast, stating the name and age of the Léon was still heart-whole, and gave deceased, and of the surviving relative, them not the faintest prospect of a bellè who was to be responsible for the needful fille. He was so very hard to please! In expense ; and a small lamp, enclosed in a vain Madelon invited the prettiest girls lantern, was attached to the head of the she could find to the house on every oc- coffin, in order to warn passing boats to casion possible. Léon would glance at steer clear of the frail vessel with its them with an abstracted air, and then mournful freight. Of course, it often wander away by himself to dream of the happened that it struck against the bank ethereal beauty that somewhere in the and was submerged, but the Proven cal universe was waiting for him as he wait- peasants considered this a less misfortune ed for her; and the coquettish Arle- than an ignominious burial, without even siennes grunabled pot a litle, that one of an attempt to reach the sacred ground ;