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has been usually regarded as having no other subject than woman; who, indeed, may become the true object of love, as represented in the drama of King Rene's daughter, when her beauty and perfection are seen in the light of what must be called, for the sake of truth, Divine Love.
Let the reader admit for a moment that there is a land, an unseen land, which, in order to have a name for it, we will call Arcadia ; but, though called a land, this word is only used figuratively. It represents not merely an imaginary land, but the land of imagination, a word of immense significance; for from that land the world receives its Iliads, Odysseys, and Æneids, a great multitude of Promethean stories, and innumerable tales of chivalry in both prose and verse.
Let it be supposed, we say, as a mere hypothesis, that there is an Arcadian land, a world in which poets find a congenial home, where they conceive the great works of Art through which their names become immortal. This is making. but a very small demand upon the candor of the student, who must reasonably agree that the ancient and ever-renewed claim of the poets, that their art proceeds from a
divine gift, the nature of which can perhaps only be properly known by poets themselves, must have some truth to rest upon. Genuine poets—we do not refer to mere versifiers, who have often only an acquired skill in word-jingling—are a peculiar class of men, not as having an actual faculty unknown to other men, but because of a peculiar awakening of their faculties which, under favorable circumstances, opens to them such views of life as, for want of a better explanation, may be considered a divine giftvery much as the religious faculty, though common to all mankind, receives at times an extraordinary illumination, as if from a supernatural source; and it may indeed be regarded as supernatural, if we define nature from a low point of view, as the mere material fabric of the world.
We desire to induce the reader to accept the suggestion as probable, that poets of the class referred to have access, either through nature or grace, to a certain interior world of ideas and feelings, which for the present we will call Arcadia; not a visible place, yet often figured as a land, with mountains and streams, where the sun, or we may say the moon, if we please, never sets, and where there is a never-ending summer—as we find
it referred to in the 18th Sonnet of Shakespeare in the line:
“For summer and his pleasures wait on thee.”
This land, or Arcadia, is well described in the little poem of Heriot de Borderie, inserted in the preface to Remarks on Alchemy and the Alchemists.
“There is an isle
commanded, does. This island hath the name of Fortunate;
And, as they tell, is governed by a Queen
Of pelf and riches, she no less denies
All this is held a fable: but who first
This isle we take to be the Arcadian land. It is owned or visited in common by all genuine poets, who, because they know that admission to that beautiful country is accorded only to a favored class, and to those only upon their being in possession of certain required credentials, rarely give any hint even of the true character of the country to the non-elect. They only write of it in a mystery, or under the guise of writing about something else, which, as in the poem of Colin Clouts, may be understood, or misunderstood, as a poem in honor of Queen Elizabeth ; who has, however, as little to do with that poem as she has with the Apocalypse and its New Jerusalem. We propose to show that