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moves step by step, whether slowly or the Man of Business, break up the whole swiftly, lifting right foot after left in due into little bits for analysis, for calculation, succession. Velement, high-colored and for sale ; the Poet reconstructs the slatnotably rhythmic Prose, even when suc- tered world, and shows it still complete cessful, is felt to be on the confines, if not and beautiful. over the boundery, of its proper domin- Poetry proper (the Poetry of which I . ion ; it is only allowable in exceptional speak) is metrical, by the nature of it. cases; if much used, it becomes disa- Metre is sine qua non; and though you greeable. In good Prose, as a rule me- may compare this given specimen of trical forms are avoided. Metrical forms Prose with that given specimen of Poeare felt to belong to a mood different from tre and prefer the former, and even that to which Prose, as Prose, addresses rightly prefer it, and prove that it positself; they belong to the poetic mood, in sesses a larger share or poetic qualities short, wherein imagination rather than than the latter, yet the one remains a intellect is paramount; à mood of de- different quality of thing from the other. light, not of investigation, when the soul And however high the degree of poetic is lifted from the ground and moves on expression that has, in exceptional instanpulsing wings in a new and freer ele- ces (fewer, perhaps, than we vaguely ment.
fancy), been attained in Prose, Metrical Prose Composition, then (we say) is a Poetry remains the best medium of poeform of language growing out of scienti- tic expression. The works of the Poets fic limitations and the spirit of analysis, -of the bigh men who wrote in metre, and is only perfectly attained through the are, as matter of fact, the real treasury of culture of ages. In early times, every- poetic language. The Sense of Beauty, thing was chanted. The chief works in seeking expression in words, finds in MeSanskrit 'upon grammar, law, history, trical Poetry its most fitting embodimedicine, mathematics, geograp! y, met ment. . aphysics, are in verse; verse being more Metre, I repeat (for there is much natural, and more memorable. Science misconception as to this), is the natural in those days was far from being so form of Poetry, and it brings about cerstrict, scholastic, pedantic, as in ours tain important results, for thereby is (but there are changes gathering in the Poetry constituted as one of the arts—an atmospbere of Science), for imagination Art which is perhaps the earliest, as it is
came largely into all processes of the most famous of them all: · thought; the feeling of the unity of the Art comes to man before Science; al
world, and of the general mystery of so, it comes after Science, and includes things, showed itself in every department it. of study; the universal was felt in the “But what is your boasted Art, after particular. Mean associations of ideas all, but a toy-a knack of rhymes and and words (always caused by separa
metres ?” tion from the universal) were fewer than Yes!--and what in fact, too, are bits they now are. With the progress of cul- of cobalt and vermillion, when you come ture care necessarily division of studies, to consider then dispassionately? What definitions, exclusions, application to is Raffael's brush? a tag of bristles (you particulars, and the growth of Prose as a may count them, if you like)—what is distinct vehicle of thought.
Mozart's harpsichord? a frame of chips Poetry, by this (you may say), would and wire. And what are you yourself, appear to belong to a barbarous condi- my friend ?—what am I?-but a bundle tion of humanity. Say, rather, to a of rods, and strings, and pipes ? Only, simple and primeval condition. After
After somehow, there is a something slipt in, science and analysis have done their best, which we call Lifc-nay, Soul,- and there is still need for us nineteenth-cen- which makes a difference. We don't tory people to make a synthesis, and a know wbat it is : we see it in its effects. larger synthesis than ever: to rise from Poetry has a good deal of life in it. anatomic studies to the contemplation What is old Homer himself, this very
, and enjoyment of Life-from particulars long time, but a name, a dream, a questo the universal. The Man of Science, tion? But the Homeric Poems are alive
at this day over the face of the earth, brick wall; good Prose rising and rising, springing up fresh and fresh like grass, till it meets, competes, almost blends new to every new generation. They with Poetry. But it seems better to rehave outlived dynasties, and nations, and frain for the present than to deal with creeds. Two hundred and fifty years these matters too cursorily: and I leave ago, William Shakespeare's body (eyes untouched the question as to Landscapeand hands, tongue and brain) was hidden Gardening's place among the arts. in the ground beside a little river in War- Metre is the bodily form of Poetry: wicksbire; but his Book is not buried and now on metre let us say a few words. in this world yet,---it is running about, Metre, a stimulant and a delight, acts lively enough. He put himself, party, through the ear. A man deaf from his into words into words of poetry. birth, could not taste the true enjoyment
Why do we love and reverence Art? of Poetry : though he might have some Because it gives a natural scope, and pleasure, through the eye, from those lasting expression, to Genius.
verses arranged in the visible forms of Why is “ Painting” a grand word ? eggs, altars, turbots, lozenges, which you Because the Art of Painting has embo- see in old-fashioned books. died for us the genius of such men as Metrical movement in words,-swing, Van Eyck and John Bellini, Raffael and emphasis and cadence, melodious and Titian, Holbein and Hogarth and Turner. varied tones, rhythm and rhyme, have
What is glorious in music? That it (as matter of fact) certain peculiar effects keeps for us, safer than wine in its flask, upon us. Some people are more moved the fine inspirations that come (we know than others, more vibrant, but all (unless not how, they knew not how) to a Bach, notably defective) are thus moved in a Glück, a Handel, a Mozart, a Purcell, some degree. a Beethoven, a Rossini ; and to those We do not examine or estimate the nameless men who made the delicious Art of Painting or the Art of Music, acold melodies of Ireland, and Scotland and cording to the impressions of those who Wales.
bave the least natural sensibility to those And even so, by the Art of Poetry arts ; nor need we stop to consider debas embodied itself the power and beau- grees of sensibility to Poetry, or to arty, and wisdom and versatility of the gue with those who care littile or nothing minds of the Greek, Latin, Oriental, Ital- for Poetry, or complain of them, or lian, Spanish, German English, Poets, - lament over them. Innumerable people a doble crowd. The work of these men know froin experience, that metrical cannot be held as toyish and trifling movement tends to draw the mind into, Their place in human history is honora- and keep it in a particular mood-a mood ble. The Art through which they reach peculiarly favorable to certain impresus, through which they belong to us, sions. Partly the mind is drawn, partly certainly is wonderful, and to be rev- it yields. Its own feeling coincides with erenced.
the known intention of the writer, or I had intended to submit in this place speaker. It receives, and it prepares itsome thoughts on Painting, Sculpture and self for delight. It desires and expects Musical Composition, distinguishing these warmth of feeling, beauty of imagery, along with Poetry, as Creative Arts,—of subtlety and rapidity of thought, refined, course using the word “ creative” in no rich, and expressive forms of words, in absolute sense; and also on Acting, on the best possible order. Musical Performance, and on Oratory, And all these are given to it by good describing these as Arts of Personal Com- Poetry. In its melodivus movement munication ; as well as on the semi-fine- it raises a succession of pleasurable exart (is there no good phrase for them ?) pectations, and in due succession fulfils which ally beauty with usefulness. Ar- them ; shows at once a constant obedience chitecture I reckon one of these : also to law, and a joyful boldness and mastery; Prose-Writing, which is perhaps to Poe- with free yet symmetrical swing and catry what Architecture is to Sculpture and dence, with regulated exuberance (like Painting; mere Prose being mere build- that of nature in all her best forms) a ing, like Baker Street, or Pimlico, or a beautiful proportionality develops itself as
by spontaneous movement, giving to đer scope, less definite boundary ; hence each part its utmost effect, while each the innumerable mistakes of critics, and remains in due subordination to the of poets too. But on the whole it is rewbole.
cognized that Poetry is doing its right Thas far, the effect closely resembles and peculiar office when it expresses imathat of Music ; but during the working ginative truth, in forms of beauty, or of of Poetry's enchantment, the intellectual sublimity, imbued with tenderness, awe, powers also are in a peculiar condition aspiration, exultation, every mood of noof pleasurable excitement and clairvoy- ble emotion ; and the general result is ance. Beautiful Proportionality perme- harmonious thought and feeling in harates the thought and the spirit of the monious words. thought which the well-proportioned The Poet does not think in
and words convey. Plan, ideas, images, turn his thought into poetry, by measurestyle, words, are all modulated to one ment and arrangement and decoration. barmonious result. All, together, moves His thonght is poetic. The beauties of and floats, and orbs itself. A rapid-glan- a true Poem are not excrescences--they cing and airy logic (but strong and gen- are part of the life and nature of the nine) makes itself felt throughout ; the work. When a true poetic impulse, highest and sweetest gifts of memory, of seeking verbal expression, clothes itself fancy, of imagination, are now fittest successfully in rhythmic speech, the to the soul's mood; the synthetic, com- rhythm will have a natural suitableness paring, harmonizing, unifying power is to the thought; its words will be the fitin the ascendant. The soul rises above test and choicest words ; its arrangement trivial cares and hindrances, moving rap- of them, the best possible arrangement. idly, breathing in all its body like a bird, In good Poetry, the Metre is not a limirejoicing in every cadence of its beating tation, but a power; it gives not shackwings; all its powers at command, all of les, but wings. them acting in due subordination; it is Good Poetry is in every way the choibecome more refined, clairvoyant, harmo- cest arrangement of words : it demands, nions ; organized form and regulated therefore, and rewards, the nicest elocumovement are combined with a mystical tion. And here let us glance at the beneand supersensuous beauty. Beautiful fits which Poetry confers on Language. Proportionality, manifest yet mysterious Poetry preserves, upholds, and improves that all-pervading quality of Nature's Language. It chooses the most clear, work,-here it is also, developed in the vivid, and exact forms of speech ; and
i; world of man's mind, in the microcosm supports the purest methods of pronunof human thought.
ciation. Poetry is the chief storehouse This is the work of man's joyful sense of authority on these matters. Changes of beauty (of the beauty which is in all must gradually come into every Lanthings, rightly seen) expressing itself in guage ; but Poetry opposes itself to carechoicest rhythmic words ; and this is the lessness, conventionality, vulgarism, cormost complete manner of human expres- ruption of whatever kind,-all those desion. Every man, when he speaks his teriorations to which ordinary speaking best, would utter Poetry, if he could. - and writing are so subject. And remem
Shall we then call any composition of ber that when language decays, not meremetrical words a poem ?-and leave no ly good taste, but thought and reason distinction at all between Poetry and also decay. One cannot rate highly the jus Verse? This would not do. Withont et norma loquendi of our own day, but metre, no Poetry? but, given a metrical doubtless it would be many degrees form of words, have we necessarily Poe- worse but for the Poets. The diction try! Not so. What is thus expressed of social life is at present for the most must be something naturally fit to be ex- part vague, unpoetic and corrupt; so also prosred.
is the general run of our public writing For expression by the pictorial or by the and public oratory,- both of which inMusical Art, certain things are fit
, others deed being addressed to the hour, use unfit, and the limits of these Arts are naturally the phraseology of the hour ; well marked. The art of Poetry is of wi- but it is proper for men of literature, and
it is their duty, to uphold our noble with costly phrases and sentences from tongue out of these debasements. This, the Poets. though a subordinate, is an important The youth enjoying his beloved poem, function of literature, and especially of perusing and reperusing till every line the flower of literature, Poetry,-namely, becomes familiar as his own to preserve and if possible enhance Lan- unawares storing his memory with betguage (which is Thonght's body) in ter forms of language than he could elsehealth and beauty. Many words and where find. Considered merely as a litphrases now in common use are less than erary composition, a good Poem is inhalf alive; blood from the intelligent vi- comparably the most perfect of such tal source hardly enters their cold lump- things—although Prose has a wider and ish substance. Human speech of this more varied service. kind resembles the Horny Woman whose Dealing oftener with high and abstruse skin was hard warts all over,--smiles, matters, good Poetry is always as clear blushes, every sympathetic change, being as the nature of the subject, and the nahopelessly and bideously encrusted. The ture of human speech will allow. If Poets by their genius, their sensibility and not, it so far falls short of what it might culture, are led to use those forms of their be, and of what Poetry is, at its best. native tongue which are essentially best. At the same time let me remark, that And the general characteristic of their good Poetry is not to be read lazily and forms, where differing from those in loungingly, but with both eyes open, and ordinary use, is by no means addi- all one's wits about one. tional pomp, elaboration, inflation, but Now think of the diffusion of the Engon the contrary greater simplicity, naï- lish language over the face of the globe, vety, directness, nature, truth; and thus and of the still mightier future that lies they are at once more picturesque and before it among the unborn millions of more exact. Which do you suppose, is Australia and of the American Cortithe Great Newspaper or the Great Poet nent, and it will appear no light thing to the more simple and more exact in the use uphold the purity and strength of the of words ? Good poetic language fits as great English Tongue and to confirm it close as possible to its thoughts; while by examples and models. When a lan
; ordinary language too often hangs loose- guage becomes corrupt, so also do thought ly sagging and bagging, here gathered and reason; the form of civilization into a shapeless hump, there trailing on which it contains and expresses must dethe ground, disguising and disgracing teriorate along with it. the thought of which it is the slovenly Even in this lively literary weather, so garment.
to speak, of our own day, when it snows The Spirit of Poetry itself it was, novels, and hails essays, and blows newswhich, at an earlier stage of language, paper articles from all points of the comfitted words to things, and ever it re- pass at once, a good Poem still finds its quires the word and phrase not merely readers, is oftener read, and better reto approach but to get as near as possi- membered than the other things. ble to the thought. Many or most of the Repeat to me a sentence or two of that finest forms of language we owe, as we leader which you were so much pleased shall find if we trace them up, to the with, eighteen months ago, or say the Poets. The chief wealth of Prose is bor- day before yesterday. You can't. It was rowed or adapted from the treasure-house not meant, you will say, to be remeinof Poetry. Poetry has not oniy origi- bered verbatim—it did its part, gave its nated the best words and applications of message, had its influence. But (allowwords, but has taught Prose the general ing this its value, even allowing the inpower of language, and given it the hint fluence of the clever swiftly read newsof invention. They who, loving high paper article to have been always a good prose, disparage Poetry, are, if they knew influence, never a bad, which would be it, a little ungrateful. I know a very allowing a great deal)-do you think it great Prose-writer of our time, who is would be well that all writing should be not always respectful to Poetry in the of this hasty and ephemeral character ? — abstract, yet whose pages are bejeweled nothing written with care, and with the highest care ? nothing that will be worth heavenly rapture. Chaucer is cheerful reading next month, or next year? as the green landscape after a spring
Can we not guess some of the prob- shower; Spencer full of rich vivacity and able effects on taste, and on judgment, bold adventure ; Shakespeare's book a too?
multifarious world of movement and inTo its Poets, the world on the whole terest ; nothing did Goethe so much abis not unappreciating or ungrateful. The hor, in life and in literature, as despongreatest names in Literature, among the dency, discouragement. greatest in all History are the names of The Poet, when he is most himself, Poets. Over millions and generations of rises to a high and serene view. He will men they have an influence, not confined not exhibit grief, misery, horror, in isoto one people or tongue. The higher lated sharpness and for the mere sensathe Poet's genius, the more it belongs to tional effect; these must lose their harsh all mankind; and its effect is to unite and painful prominence, and fall into them all in the feeling of a common hu- place in a large and noble circle of ideas. manity. Poetry, in its actual examples, The merely painful always marks as inis differently conditioned and modified in ferior the work in which it is found, Didifferent languages. The Poet is limited dactic poetry, and doctrinal poetry, are by his instrument, and some languages also inferior, so far as they are narrowed give more freedom and power in poetic not merely by human but by particular expression than others : but we must not limitations, concerned too much with cerdeviate into these tempting byways. tain people, opinions, circumstances, with
Poetry, as we believe, preserves and the temporary and accidental. In the purifies language, cultivates good taste, pure mountain air which blows over the helps memory, fills the mind with fair realm of true Poetry no mental epidemic images and high unselfish thoughts, won- can exist, or if it rises thither it melts drously increases our perception and en- away; fever of partisanship, itch of perjoyment of natural beauty, relieves the sonality, opthalmia of dogmatism, lie bepain of our usual lack or poverty of ex- low with fog upon the marsh-lands. pression, shaping and bringing within Yet the Poet escapes not the influence compass multifarions thoughts and feel- of his time, usually it affects him far too ings, otherwise inexpressible. But the much. He is sensitive, sympathetic, enboon of boons, including all the rest, is ters easily into the feelings and opinions the general enlargement, elevation, eman- of others, but does not so easily escape cipation of the soul. Poetry universali- again. He is apt to fall into sudden ses. In its last result it is never despond- timidity in the midst of his boldest enent, but inspired with the loftiest joy and terprises, apt to yield to the pressure of courage. It begins in the glad sense of the hour. . Also bis delicate senses perUniversal Beauty, and when it bestows suade him to luxury and sloth.
His el the same glad sense upon its hearers, its perience of the stupidity and the selfishresult is accomplished. Here and there uess which have possession of so many you find a short poem, exceptional, ex- human beings goads him sometimes into pressing a despondent mood, but the best one or another form of cynicism. He Poetry in its total effect is cheerful and may sometimes write below his own digencouraging. Even when it treats of sor- nity, and that of his Art. But, rememrow, of pain, of death, it is sympathetic ber, if he puts any evil (here is not meant bat not despondent and gloomy. The by evil, what this person or that person
. very production of the exceptional sad may object to, but contradiction of his poem, indicates a degree of victory over own better self, treason to humanity)ihe sadness. The Iliad, treating much if he puts any wickedness into his poeof war, wounds, and violent death, is try, it is so much the less Poetry. So animated and exhilerating throughout; tar it suffers loss of value and of rank. of Dante's great poem the first part is The external facts, too, and incidents most read, for its fierce picturesqueness connected with composition and publicaand dreadful fascination, but the second tion, are often ugly, nauseous and warpis an ascending symphony of hope and ing. faith, and the third part a hymn of The ideal, the typical Poet has all but