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moral is resorted to for the sake of beautifying, it is often rather some physical surrounding than the moral itself which is of service in illustrating.
When Henry Vaughan, lamenting the advent of old age, and longing to be young again, says, “My soul with too much stay is drunk and staggers in the way,” it would seem to be the physical phenomena of drunkennessreeling about, loss of vision, &c.—rather than the moral condition of incapacitated degradation, that serves for illustration. The following from Coleridge is nearer the mark—“Where no hope is life's a warning that only serves to make us grieve . . . with oft and tedious taking leave, like some poor nigh-related guest that may not rudely be dismissed, yet hath outstayed his wonted while, and tells the jest without the smile.” Few will deny the felicity of this illustration, or its value as an example of the analogies we are considering. The main moral is the grievous warning of life without hope, the ornamental moral, a poor relation prolonging his accustomed visit until he becomes a nuisance. The rarity of our hours of bliss suggests to Campbell “angel-visits few and far between;" though perhaps it is in the imaginary appearance of an angel coming down in person to pay a visit to earth that the real source of the beauty lies. Similarly when Milton represents Virtue as overcoming severe temptation by divine assistance, and says, “If Virtue feeble were, Heaven itself would stoop to her," it is an Almighty Being stooping down, or an everlasting arm stretched out from above, that presents itself to our minds. There is, nevertheless, in these examples, of which hundreds more might be collected, a moral thought adorning a moral thought, and as such they are entitled to a special notice here.
That poetry consists in the liberation of beautiful analogies is apparent not only from the above passages, collected as they were almost at random, and chiefly from Mr. Palgrave's “Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics," but also from the avowals, implied or express, of poets themselves upon the subject. The highest authorities have given it as their opinion that the essence of their art consists in bringing to light the latent but influential suggestions, the hidden but ennobling resemblances of nature; in successfully communicating to mute, material things the attributes of sentient beings, or in endowing lower objects with the qualities of higher. Some minds recognise these suggestions much sooner than others, and these are poetic minds; others not only recognise them sooner, but express them appropriately, and these are poets; but apart from the recognition of these resemblances there is no poetry. The analogies are our own manufacture, and, if our intellectual faculties are so proportioned, we can clothe almost every object with them. Poetic appreciation and poetic power are thus original features in the arrangement of the intellect, and therefore it is truly said that “a poet is born, not made.”
Let us take the opinion of authorities on this point. We cannot do better than listen to leading men of the profession-men who have a right to speak; for even if their asseverations are inconclusive, their admissions at least will be instructive. Let us hear Shakespeare on the universality of poetic material. An exile schooled in “ the uses of adversity," living a life exempt from public haunt, will (as any one in fact may, if he be poetic) find poetry everywhere, find “tongues in trees, books in the running brook, sermons in stones, and good in everything ;” while he who is not poetic, or is not at leisure to indulge his poetic capacity, will, though nourished in palaces and surrounded by courtiers, find “all the uses of this world . . . weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable,” will find this “brave o'erhanging firmament ... a pestilential congregation of vapours," &c.
Let us hear Marvel on the reflex action of the poetic impulse. All poetry is due to the mind, that ocean where each kind does straight its own resemblance find.” These resemblances are, however, pieced out and built up
into new combinations and appearances by the intellect, which “ creates, transcending these, far other worlds and other seas."
Let us hear Wither on the subjectivity of poetic inspiration. The art of poetry was made known to him by the Muse while the poet was still a stripling, and more than this he does not recollect—"In my former days of bliss, her divine skill taught me this, that from everything I saw I could some invention draw, and raise pleasure to her height through the meanest object's sight. By the murmur of a spring or the least bough's rustling, by a daisy, whose leaves spread, shut when Titan goes to bed, or a shady bush or tree, she could more infuse in me than all nature's beauties can in some other wiser man."
Let us hear Wordsworth on the origin of poetic similes —“ With little here to do or see of things that in the great world be, sweet daisy, oft I talk to thee, for thou art worthy. . . . Oft in the dappled turf at ease I sit and play with similes, loose types of things through all degrees, thoughts of thy raising, and many a fond and idle name I give to thee of praise or blame, as is the humour of the game while I am gazing.” Wordsworth was aware of two great facts: first, that he himself had endowed the flower with resemblances; and secondly, that the flower reminded him afterwards of those resemblances, and thus appeared to be an original source of poetic beauty; he therefore points for the original of his analogies, at one time to his own fancy, and at another to the flower itself. There is no need to wonder then why this poet employed so many illustrations from human nature for the purpose of embellishing the dumb creation, or the vegetable kingdom, for has he not endowed them one and all with human sympathies and human instincts ? Has he not invested flowers with human feelings ?—“The budding twigs spread out their fan to catch the breezy air, and I must think, do all I can, that there was pleasure there ;" "’tis my faith that every flower enjoys the breath it breathes ;"
“to me the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears ; ” and if they are too deep for tears, they are certainly too deep for words. Such, nevertheless, as are not too deep for language may be snatched by the poet from the “eternal silence,” and given to the world for a perpetuity as “ truths that wake to perish never, which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour, nor man, nor boy, nor all that is at enmity with joy, can utterly abolish or destroy.” Poetic material, it cannot be too often reiterated, is everywhere at all times, if only the intellect be fitted to fashion and employ it. A poetic mind will find a story in every beautiful object, not because the object is beautiful, but because the mind is poetic. “O reader ! had you in your mind such stores as silent thought can bring! O gentle reader! you would find a tale in everything !”
Let us hear Shelley on the psychology of poetic conception. The poet deals in superior abstractions, “nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses, but feeds on the aërial kisses of shapes that haunt thought's wildernesses.” It might at first sight seem as if this passage contradicted the whole doctrine put forward above regarding poetry, and that it pointed to an external and eternal beauty independent of “mortal blisses," and having an ultra-human existence. Such language, however, is itself metaphorical, and refers to the unworded suggestions latent in the mind. Strictly interpreted, the verses express a metaphysical impossibility. Shelley's meaning I apprehend to be this :—The poet trades in analogies, which are a purely intellectual creation, have no existence in nature, are subjective and brain-begotten; these analogies, however, are manufactured from the ideas which, entering the mind through the senses, have become objects of definite contemplation. The poet does not inquire into the structure of a flower, like a botanist; nor into the organism of a bird, like an anatomist; nor into the chemistry of a landscape, like a geologist; nor into the ingredients of colouring, like a painter. No; he is wholly taken up with analogies; he sees the objects of nature and admires them; his attention does not tarry on or penetrate the sensible qualities of matter, but goes off at a tangent into the regions of resemblance. The sequel to the abovequoted passage is a powerful confirmation of this explanation, where it is said that the poet “will watch from dawn till gloom the lake-reflected sun illume the yellow bees in the ivy-bloom, nor heed nor see what things they be, but from these create he can forms more real than living man, nurslings of immortality.”
Not only, therefore, are there millions of suggestions sealed and latent in the mind of almost every one, but in that of the poet they are beyond measure multitudinous, and well-nigh innumerable. The poet may dig down deep into the depths of his own soul and bring up“ beauties that the earth hath lost,” but how many soever he bring up, he will always feel that there are more to follow ; he may range the trackless realms of fancy, and, catching the " shapes that haunt thought's wildernesses,” he may deliver them to the world as “forms more real than living man;” but how many soever he may catch, he will always see unnumbered and superior forms beyond : good may begin, better may succeed, but best will ever remain behind. He may stand forever “singing hymns unbidden" to the world, but he will never utter all the notes that “vibrate in the memory;" he may “ever let the fancy roam," knowing that “ pleasure never is at home,” but he will never exhaust his bountiful beau-ideal; he may labour from spring-time to harvest, and from harvest to spring, but he will never entirely glean his “teeming brain.” The source of his inspiration lies beyond the reach of language, beyond the morning stars ; it is commensurate with time and space. “It subsists only in the mind; the sight never beheld it, nor has the hand expressed it; it is an idea residing in the breast of the artist, which he is