Imágenes de páginas

epithet, liber, here balances the preceding verb; and it is not easy to conceive more meaning condensed in fewer words.

But if this should be admitted as a satisfactory character of a poem, we have still to seek for a definition of poetry. The writ. ings of Plato, and Jeremy Taylor, and Burnet's Theory of the Earth,' furnish undeniable proofs that poetry of the highest kind may exist without metre, and even without the contradistinguishing objects of a poem. The first chapter of Isaiah-(indeed a very large proportion of the whole book)—is poetry in the most emphatic sense; yet it would be noi less irrational than strange to assert, that pleasure, and not truth, was the immediate object of the prophet. In short, whatever specific import we attach to the word, Poetry, there will be found involved in it, as a necessary consequence, that a poem of any length neither can be, nor ought to be, all poetry. Yet if an harmonious whole is to be produced, the remaining parts inust be preserved in keeping with the poetry ; and this can be no otherwise effected than by such a studied selection and artificial arrangement, as will partake of one, though not a peculiar property of poetry. And this again can be no other than the property of exciting a more continuous and equal attention than the language of prose aims at, whether colloquial or written.

My own conclusions on the nature of poetry, in the strictest use of the word, have been in part anticipated in some of the remarks on the Fancy and Imagination in the first volume of this work. What is poetry ?-—is so nearly the same question with, a great many learned critics, to the confusion of ordinary readers, prefer to Lucan's. Douza says, se hunc impetum pluris facere, quam trecenta Cordubulensis illius volumina. Ed.]

Petronius !-all the muses weep for thee,

But every tear shall scald thy memory.So speaks Cowper in a strong passage upon this “ polish'd and high finish'd foe to truth,” in his poem called The Progress of Error. Southey's edit., vol. iii., p. 155-8. S. C.]

9 [Telluris Theoria Sacra. London, 1681: by Thomas Burnett, D.D. The work was translated into English by order of King Charles, and was in a sixth edit. in 1726. The author, a native of Scotland, and Master of Sutton's Hospital, London, wrote also De Statu Mortuorum et Resurgentium, and several other books, died Sep. 27, 1715. S. C.]



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what is a poet ?—that the answer to the one is involved in the solution of the other. For it is a distinction resulting from the poetic genius itself, which sustains and modifies the images, thoughts, and emotions of the poet's own mind.

The poet, described in ideal perfection, brings the whole soul of man into activity, with the subordination of its faculties to each other according to their relative worth and dignity. He diffuses a tone and spirit of unity, that blends, and (as it were) fuses, each into each, by that synthetic and magical power, to which I would exclusively appropriate the name of Imagination. This power, first put in action by the will and understanding, and retained under their irremissive, though gentle and unnoticed, control, laxis effertur habenis, reveals itself in the balance or reconcilement of opposite or discordant qualities; of sameness, with difference; of the general with the concrete; the idea with the image ; the individual with the representative; the sense of novelty and freshness with old and familiar objects; a more than usual state of emotion with more than usual order; judgment-ever awake and steady self-possession with enthusiasm and feeling profound or vehement; and while it blends and harmonizes the natural and the artificial, still subordinates art to nature; the manner to the matter ; and our admiration of the poet to our sympathy with the poetry. Doubtless, as Sir John Davies observes of the soul -(and his words may with slight alteration be applied, and even more appropriately, to the poetic Imagination)-.

Doubtless this could not be, but that she turns
Bodies to spirit by sublimation strange,
As fire converts to fire the things it burns,
As we our food into our nature change.
From their gross matter she abstracts their forms,
And draws a kind of quintessence from things; .
Which to her proper nature she transforms
To bear them light on her celestial wings.
Thus does she, when from individual states
She doth abstract the universal kinds;
Which then re-clothed in divers names and fates

Steal access through the senses to our minds.10 10 [Of the Soul of Man, s. 4. Mr. Coleridge's alterations are printed in italics. Ed.]

Finally, Good Sense is the Body of poetic genius, Fancy its Drapery, Motion its Life, and Imagination the Soul that is everywhere, and in each ; and forms all into one graceful and intelli

gent whole.: 1

11 [The reader is referred generally to Mr. Coleridge's Literary Remains, vol. II. Ed.]



The specific symptoms of poetic power elucidated in a critical analysis of .

Shakspeare's Venus and ADONIS, and RAPE OF LUCRECE.I

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In the application of these principles to purposes of practical criticism, as employed in the appraisement of works more or less imperfect, I have endeavored 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 the earliest work of the greatest genius that perhaps human nature has yet produced, our myriad-minded Shakspeare. I mean the VENUS AND ADONIS, and the LUCRECE ; works which give at once strong promises of the strength, and yet obvious proofs of the immaturity, of his genius. From these I abstracted the following marks, as characteristics of original poetic genius in general.

1. In the VENUS AND ADONIS, the first and most obvious excellence is the perfect sweetness of the versification ; its adaptation to the subject; and the power displayed in varying the march of the words without passing into a loftier and more majestic rhythm than was demanded by the thoughts, or permitted by the propriety of preserving a sense of melody predominant. The delight in richness and sweetness of sound, even to a faulty excess, if it be evidently original, and not the result of an easily imitable me



· [See Literary Remains, vol. II. Ed.]

2 'Avnp kuptovovs, a phrase which I have borrowed from a Greck monk, who applies it to a Patriarch of Constantinople. I might have said, that I have reclaimed, rather than borrowed, it: for it seems to belong to Shakspeare, de jure singulari, et ex privilegio nature.

chanism, I regard as a highly favorable promise in the composi. tions of a young man.

The man that hath not music in his soul, can indeed never be a genuine poet. Imagery-(even taken from nature, much more when transplanted from books, as travels, voyages, and works of natural history)-affecting incidents, just thoughts, interesting personal or domestic feelings, and with these the art of their combination or intertexture in the form of a poem —may all by incessant effort be acquired as a trade, by a man of talent and much reading, who, as I 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 means. 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 ex

It is throughout as if a superior spirit, more intuitive, more intimately conscious, even than the characters themselves, not only of every outward look and act, but the flux and reflux of the mind in all its subtlest thoughts and feelings, were placing the whole before our view ; himself meanwhile unparticipating

v in the passions, and actuated only by that pleasurable excitement,


3 [“ The man that hath not music in himself.”—Merchant of Venice, iv., sc. 1


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