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and tones without corresponding ideas were left (if truly there) to the choristers of the woods. Even now, the divorce is not complete. The Poet yet mutters his wayward fancies; and the Musician, unless he is hackneyed in his trade, still joins his voice to his harp: or he associates its tones with the pensive, or the pleasing, remembrances of other days.

But we are wandering from our subject.

We have already spoken of Accents, under the general head of Composition. The Accent, in English, merely determines the syllable of a word, on which the stress of pronunciation rests; but this stress may be either on the consonant or on the vowel. In the former case, the syllable is pronounced in a shut or contracted manner, while, in the latter, it is full and in some degree prolonged. Not and note, for instance, are distinctly different with regard to time; and, though we will not pretend to say that the one syllable is exactly double the other, we have, to a certain extent at least, the longs and shorts of the classic tongues. The accents, as divided into the grave, the acute and the circumflex, have no distinguishing marks in our language. They are left to the unfettered impulse of natural feeling, or to be taught (if they can be taught,) by the Masters of Elocution.


In every collection of sentences, regularly pronounced, the ear will be struck with a succession of syllables, or simple sounds, differing in their duration, and some of which will be more forcible than others. The discourse, then, will assume a character of melody or of discord, according as the succession shall be pleasing or grating to the

A selection of those sounds, in a regulated order, may be made to form a sort of chant,--a short piece of music, performed on two strings. The short and long syllables will mark the time, while the ideas which the words convey will prompt its tone and expression. This composition is a Verse. Two or more Verses complete the Chant, and constitute a Stanza,-one or more Stanzas, united in their subject, form the body of a Poem:-its soul must be the breath of Inspiration.

Independent of the concord of sweet sounds Poetry must, in all ages, have possessed some fascinating spell in its language, before it could have' acquired its power over the minds of the multitude. This arose from the subject. The records of the life of a Hero, who falls in defence of his country, warm the hearts of those who emulate his glory; and the praises of the Gods swell the breast of the devotee. The description of the pains and pleasures of Love find a

responsive string in the youthful heart; and Tales of the Wild and the Wonderful arrest the attention of the timid and the ignorant. Such are the Subjects of Poetry; and, we may add, that, among a superstitious people the Poets sometimes assumed a more imposing character: they were Seers and Soothsayers,—they saw the future in visions, and predicted the coming events. In all cases, an invisible world was ready at the call of the Bard

He peopled Earth, Sea and Air with Spirits of his own creation. They are the Machinery with which he yet works, and, in rude ages, they were mistaken for realities. Men who were not its dupes favoured the delusion; because it was considered as a powerful engine in the cause of virtue. Tartarus was the abode of the Furies; and the ghosts of the departed were brought back from the other world to haunt the steps of the murderer. The fictions of the Poet were received as truths; and followed, if they did not create, the superstitions of the people. Such tales as still impress the nursery with terror, or with delight, had once an influence over riper years; and even now the mind, though aware of the deception, is willingly led captive. Leaving probability behind, it follows with ardour the combats of Demigods; or it wanders through the secret caverns of the Earth with the Fairies and the Genii. The empire of the Poet is more extended than Nature: it is that of Imagination. He is the Creator of Worlds, and it is hence that he is said to be animated by a divine furor,-by the Inspiration of the Gods.

The question is often asked, but seldom answered, What is a Poem? It is a composition of words so modulated as to make a pleasing impression on the ear; while, at the same time, the ideas that they convey communicate, to the hearer, a species of enthusiasm, by which, forgetting his own identity, he becomes wholly absorbed in the imaginations of the author. Poetry, then, is not a thing, but a relation between the Poem and the mind of the Reader. If the effect is produced, the title cannot be refused. He who feels his soul exalted, by the Gospel Sonnets of Ralph Erskine, has as good a right to call that Reverend Gentleman a Poet, as the most enthusiastic admirer of the Paradise Lost has to bestow that epithet upon Milton. There are few, perhaps, even of those who have afterwards become fastidious in their taste, that bave not, in infancy, shed tears over the Babes of the Wood; and there have been men, of ripened years and literary fame, who have dignified, with the name of Epic Poem, the murderous ballad of Chevy Chase.

In our definition of a Poem, we have included the modulation of its language with respect to sound, which, if not indispensable, is assuredly its greatest ornament. It is in vain that we endeavour to collect our scattered thoughts, when dragged through the jolting inequalities of a rugged road; but we may indulge the reveries of imagination, while our boat glides on the smooth surface of a lake: and, in consequence of the regularity of the intervals, even the dashings of the oars become too imperceptible to disturb the dream. The highest value of Versification, is when the idea of its structure vanishes from the mind.

The Writers on Greek and Latin Prosody divide a Verse into feet, each foot consisting of two, of three, or of four syllables. These are similar to the Musical Bars; and received the name of Feet, because their time was regulated by the movement of the Foot of the Corypheus, or director of the Greek chorus: this action was called beating time. The following are the Latin denominations to which we shall, sometimes, have occasion to refer. The Feet of the Greek poets are much more numerous.

The Latins counted twenty-eight sorts of Feet; twelve simple and sixteen compound. The simple feet were either dissyllables or trisyllables, and the compound were tetrasyllables.

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