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Which to her proper nature she transforms
Finally, Good Sense is the Body of poetic genius, Fancy its Drapery, Motion its Life, and Imagination the Soul that is every where, and in each; and forms all into one graceful and intelligent whole.11
The specific symptoms of poetic power elucidated in a critical analysis of Shakespeare's VENUS and ADONIS, and RAPE OF LUCRECE.1
N the application of these principles to purposes of practical criticism, as employed in the appraisement of works more or less imperfect, I have endeavoured to discover
what the qualities in a poem are, which may be deemed promises and specific symptoms of poetic power, as distinguished from general talent determined to poetic composition by accidental motives, by an act of the will, rather than by the inspiration of a genial and productive nature. In this investigation, I could not, I thought, do better, than keep before me
10 [Of the Soul of Man. s. 4. Mr. Coleridge's alterations are printed in italics. Ed.]
"[The reader is referred generally to Mr. Coleridge's Literary Remains, II. pp. 7-12. Ed.]
[See Lit. Remains, II. pp. 54-60. Ed.]
the earliest work of the greatest genius, that perl human nature has yet produced, our myriad-mind Shakespeare. I mean the VENUS AND ADONIS, the LUCRECE; works which give at once strong mises of the strength, and yet obvious proofs of immaturity, of his genius. From these I abstrac the following marks, as characteristics of orig poetic genius in general.
1. In the VENUS AND ADONIS, the first and m obvious excellence is the perfect sweetness of the v sification; its adaptation to the subject; and the po displayed in varying the march of the words with passing into a loftier and more majestic rhythm th was demanded by the thoughts, or permitted by propriety of preserving a sense of melody predomina The delight in richness and sweetness of sound, ev to a faulty excess, if it be evidently original, and r the result of an easily imitable mechanism, I regard a highly favourable promise in the compositions of young man. The man that hath not music in his sou I can indeed never be a genuine poet. Imagery,-(ev taken from nature, much more when transplanted fro books, as travels, voyages, and works of natural history -affecting incidents, just thoughts, interesting pe sonal or domestic feelings, and with these the art their combination or intertexture in the form of poem,--may all by incessant effort be acquired as trade, by a man of talent and much reading, who, as
3 Ανὴρ μυριόνους, a phrase which I have borrowed from Greek monk, who applies it to a Patriarch of Constantinople. might have said, that I have reclaimed, rather than borrowed it for it seems to belong to Shakespeare, de jure singulari, et e privilegio naturæ.
["The man that hath not music in himself "-Merchant o Venice, iv. sc. 1. Ed.]
once before observed, has mistaken an intense desire of poetic reputation for a natural poetic genius; the love of the arbitrary end for a possession of the peculiar But the sense of musical delight, with the power of producing it, is a gift of imagination; and this together with the power of reducing multitude into unity of effect, and modifying a series of thoughts by some one predominant thought or feeling, may be cultivated and improved, but can never be learned. It is in these that "poeta nascitur non fit."
2. A second promise of genius is the choice of subjects very remote from the private interests and circumstances of the writer himself. At least I have found, that where the subject is taken immediately from the author's personal sensations and experiences, the excellence of a particular poem is but an equivocal mark, and often a fallacious pledge, of genuine poetic power. We may perhaps remember the tale of the statuary, who had acquired considerable reputation for the legs of his goddesses, though the rest of the statue accorded but indifferently with ideal beauty; till his wife, elated by her husband's praises, modestly acknowledged that she had been his constant model. In the VENUS AND ADONIS this proof of poetic power exists even to excess. It is throughout as if a superiour spirit more intuitive, more intimately conscious, even than the characters themselves, not only of every outward look and act, but of the flux and reflux of the mind in all its subtlest thoughts and feelings, were placing the whole before our view; himself meanwhile unparticipating in the passions, and actuated only by that pleasurable excitement, which had resulted from the energetic fervour of his own spirit in so vividly exhibiting what it had so accurately and profoundly contemplated. I think, I should have conjectured from
these poems, that even then the great instinct, w impelled the poet to the drama, was secretly worl in him, prompting him-by a series and never bro chain of imagery, always vivid and, because unbro often minute; by the highest effort of the pictures in words, of which words are capable, higher per than was ever realized by any other poet, even Da not excepted; to provide a substitute for that vi language, that constant intervention and running c ment by tone, look and gesture, which in his dram
4 ["Consider how he paints," says Mr. Carlyle, "he a great power of vision; seizes the very type of a thing; sents that and nothing more. You remember the first view gets of the Hall of Dite; red pinnacle, red hot cone of glowing through the immensity of gloom ;-so vivid, so dist visible at once and for ever! It is as an emblem of the w
genius of Dante." 'Milton," says Lessing in his Laok can indeed fill no galleries. Yet is the Par. Lost the Epic after Homer no whit the less because it affords few pictu than the History of Christ is a Poem, because we cannot pu much as a nail's head upon it without hitting on a place wh has employed a crowd of the greatest artists." " A poetic ture is not necessarily that which can be converted into a terial picture; but every stroke or combination of strokes which the Poet makes his object so sensuous to us, that we more conscious of this object than of his words, may be ca picturesque." Thus Dante's squilla da lonteno (Purg. c. viii. l. may well be called a picture. His picture-words have not d much for the material painter's art, if we may judge by Fl man's illustrations. The famous image in the Purgatorio solo guardando
A guisa di leon quando si posæ,
is, as has been shewn, not a mere presentation of " picturable n ter," but a picture ready drawn and so clearly visible that pencil cannot make its outline clearer." (See Art. on Pindar. Review, March 1834.) Yet it would be nothing in a mater painting, because the illustration and the thing illustrated co not be given together. S. C.]
works he was entitled to expect from the players. His Venus and Adonis seem at once the characters themselves, and the whole representation of those characters by the most consummate actors. You seem to be told nothing, but to see and hear every thing. Hence it is, from the perpetual activity of attention required on the part of the reader; from the rapid flow, the quick change, and the playful nature of the thoughts and images; and above all from the alienation, and, if I may hazard such an expression, the utter aloofness of the poet's own feelings, from those of which he is at once the painter and the analyst ;-that though the very subject cannot but detract from the pleasure of a delicate mind, yet never was poem less dangerous on a moral account. Instead of doing as Ariosto, and as, still more offensively, Wieland has done, instead of degrading and deforming passion into appetite, the trials of love into the struggles of concupiscence;-Shakespeare has here represented the animal impulse itself, so as to preclude all sympathy with it, by dissipating the reader's notice among the thousand outward images, and now beautiful, now fanciful circumstances, which form its dresses and its scenery; or by diverting our attention from the main subject by those frequent witty or profound reflections, which the poet's ever active mind has deduced from, or connected with, the imagery and the incidents. The reader is forced into too much action to sympathize with the merely passive of our nature. As little can a mind thus roused and awakened be brooded on by mean and indistinct emotion, as the low, lazy mist can creep upon the surface of a lake, while a strong gale is driving it onward in waves and billows.
3. It has been before observed that images, however beautiful, though faithfully copied from nature, and as