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Wordsworth in this respect, receiving a and combining in a harmonious union the bias from the philosophic spirit of the age, expression of all its multiplied and multihas not only influenced poets, both great form features.” This position we cannot and small, but also writers of every kind. 'deny, unless we adopt the totally subjective The spiritual philosophy is no longer con- philosophy of Fichte. The following lanfined to rarely read poems; it ensouls much guage of our poet then, surveyed from this of current tiction, and has touched the heart point of view, has a divine meaning, as well of many an eloquent divine. The realities as sublimity and beauty :of things are no longer considered as resid
“ But for the growing youth ing in their visible, tangible forms, but in the What soul was his, when, from the naked top underlying spirit.
Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun This question of transcendentalism is a Rise up, and bathe the world in light? He lookedvery difficult one to discuss. We may have Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth a sense sublime of something far more in gladness and deep joy. The clouds were
And ocean's liquid mass, beneath him lay deeply interfused,” it may be that every thing touched, has its celestial side, yet the imagination and in their silent faces did he read colors the external world. It is perhaps Vuutterable love. Sound needed none, impossible to determine to what degree the spectacle : sensation, soul, and form feeling is awakened by the spirit of nature, All melted into h m; they swallowed up and to what extent nature is clothed upon His animal being; iu them did be live, by feeling. The attentive reader of Hegel And by them did he live; they were his life. will not be likely to regard the subject as a
In such access of inind, in such high bour light one. It is hard to decide whether we thought was not; in enjoyment it expired.
Of visitation from the living God, sympathize with an object in nature or not No thanks he breathed, be proffered w request; until it is invested with some attribute of our Rapt into still communion that transcends own being. Nature, as the oldest book of The imperfect offices of prayer and praise, revelation, in which are written laws of Deity, His mind was a thanksgiving to the power
That made him; it was blessedness and love." las signiticance, but only for thinking souls. The precise relation between the “ On the other liand, the poet gives as well
" and the “microcosm” we know not as receives. Vivid perception and deep how to determine. “Let him," says Herder, feeling are necessarily transcendental.
to whoin nature exhibits no plan, no unity « The poets, in their elegies and songs, of purpose, hold his peace, vor venture to Lamenting the departed, call the groves, give her expression in the language of poe- They call upon the bills and streams to mourn, try. Let him speak, for whom she has and senseless rocks: nor idly; for they speak, removed the veil, and displayed the true In these their invocations, with a voice expression of her features. He will discover of human passion. Sympathies there are in all her works connection, order, benevo- More tranquil
, yet perhaps of kindred birth, lence, and purpose. His own poetical crea- That steal upon the meditative mind, tion too, like that creation which inspires his And grow with thought.” imagination, will be a true xoguos, a regu So when we look on nature, we feel that lar work, with plan, outlines, meaning, and ultimate design, and commend itself to the
“Thoughts are not busier in the mind of man
Than the mute Agents stirring there." understanding as a whole, as it does to the heart by its individual thoughts and inter In Wordsworth, passion was not so strong pretations of nature, and to the sense by as sentiment. He was just the opposite of the animation of its objects. In nature, all
Byron in this respect. lu Byron, nature is things are connected, and for the view of often colored with really lurid hues of passion. man are connected by their relation to what There were times in which is hunan. The periods of time, as days and
“ His mind became, years, have their relation to the age of man.
In its own eddy, boiling and v'erwrought, Countries and climates have a principle of
A whirling gulf of fantasy and flame." unity in the one race of man; ages and worlds in the one eternal cause, one God, one Crea For Wordsworth, nature never put on a tor. He is the eye of the universe, giving look of hate, nor spoke in tones of anger. erpression to its otherwise boundless void, We see in the following exquisite passage,
from “ Vandracour and Julia,” how the appears the humanity of Wordsworth. He passion of love is made to color external hears objects; yet it is not an unbridled passion ;
“Humanity, in groves and fields, it is one controlled by moral sentiment : Pipe solitary anguich;" " Arabian fiction dever filled the world
and even in the “ silent city of the dead," With half the wonders that were wrought for him. Earth breathed in one great presence of the spring;
he says, we know Jife turned the meanest of her implements
“That all beneath us by the wings are covered Before his eyes to price above all yold; The house she dwelt in was a sainted slirine;
Of motherly Humanity, outspread Her chamber window diel surpass in glory
And gathering all within their tevder shaue." The portal of the dawn; all paradise Could, by the simple opening of a door,
The study of nature is above all things Let itself in upon liim; pathways, walks, calculated to awaken this feeling. “Poetry, Swarmed with enchantment, till his spirit sank, which concerns itself with the deeds of men," Surcharged, within bim, overblest to move
says Herder, who can here speak with auBeneath a sun that walks a weary world To its dull round of ordinary cares;
|thority, “ often in a high degree debasing A man too happy for mortality."
and criminal, that labors, with lively and
atfecting apprehensions, in the impure Another passage, from the poem of recesses of the heart, and often for no very " Ruth,” will show that “noble sentiment” worthy purpose, may corrupt as well the was active while imagination was investing author as the reader. The poetry of divine nature with a gorgeous robe of voluptuous- things can never do this. It enlarges the ness. The poem is in a strain at once pas- heart, while it expands the view, renders sionate and daring, but the incidents of a this serene and contemplative, that energetic, romantic story are related without a single free and joyous. It awakens a love, an inimpurity of expression. The oriental scenery terest, and a sympathy for all that lives. It awakens in a bold youth a wild desire, but accustoms the understanding to reinark on the poet's moral nature demands that there all occasions the laws of nature, and guides should "intervene pure hopes of high intent." our reason to the right path." What IlerThe following stanzas, besides illustrating the der thus says as a critic, Wordsworth says point in discussion, are of themselves a gem as a poet in the following passage :of beauty :
. . ." For the man, “The wind, the tempest ronring high,
Who in this spirit communes with the Forms
Of Nature, who with understanding heart
Duth know and love such Objects as excite
No morbid passions, no disquietude, So much of earth, so much of heaven,
No vengeance, and no hatred, needs must feel And such impetuous blood.
The joy of that pure principle of Love
So deeply, that, unsatisfied with aught “Whatever in those climes he found
Less pure and exquisite, he canput choose
But seek fur objects of a kindred love
In Fellow-natures and a kindred joy.
Accordingly he ly degrees peri cives
His feelings of aversin softened down;
A boly tenderness pervade his frame.
His sanity of reasuli not impaired, “Nor less to feed voluptuous thought,
Say rather, all his thoughts now flowing clear, The beauteous forins of nature wrought
| From a clear Fountain flowing, he looks round Fair trees and lovely flowers;
And seeks for good, and finds the good he seeks; The breezes their own languor lent;
Until abhorrence and contenipt are things
He only knows by name; and, if he hear,
From other mouths, the language which they speak
He is compassionate; and has no thought, " Yet in his worst pursuits, I ween
No feeling, which can overcome his love."
We may safely say that no poet, of any For passions link'd to forms as fair
age, has traced, with so tender a spirit, with Anii stately, neeils must have their share so mild an interest as Wordsworth, Of noble sentiment.”
" That secret spirit of humanity Most especially in this region of poetry | Whiclı, mid the calm oblivious tendencies
Of nature, mid her plants, and weeds, and flowers, 1 sister spirit of music, giving a tone of huAnd silent overgrowings, still survives."
manity to the Of the “two faculties of eye and ear,"
“warbled air, which belong to the "soul sublime and
Whose piercing sweetness can unloose
The chains of frenzy, or entice a smile pure," the sense of the latter is much more
Into the ambush of despair.” delicate and exquisite than that of the forFor him the universe is flooded with The “faculties of
eye music, rather than adorned with beautiful exhibited together at times, but the latter forms. The language of his holy affections in a superior degree, as in the following very has a tone of touching melody as well as remarkable passage: love. While all his sentiments are sanctified by an intense feeling of humanity, they are
“Hence, in a season of calm weather,
Though inland far we be, etherealized by the spirit of that “beauty” Our souls have a sight of that immortal sea that is
Which brought us hither, " born of murmuring sound.”
Can in a moment travel thither ;
And see the children sport upon the shore, In the wild scenes of nature he listens to And Hear the mighty waters rolling evermore." a music that is only suggested as an ideal by an overture of Beethoven or an opera of
While keeping in view the perplexing Mozart. Some of the
question of the soul's relation to the external finest passages
very of Wordsworth's poetry will be lost upon teristics of Wordsworth's poetry. We are,
world, we have illustrated the finest characone who cannot understand how
however, no nearer determining the question “the ear converses with the heart."
than at the outset. Some will contend that For him
nature receives all its significance from the
human spirit, others that man is related to many are the notes Which, in his tuneful course, the mind draws forth the spirit of the universe, as the shell to the From rocks, woods, caverns, heaths and dashing sea : shores;"
Its polished lips to your attentive car, And with reference to two huge peaks that And it remembers its august abodes, appear in the distance, peering from one vale And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there." into another, "lofty brethren,” that “ bear their part in the wild concert,” he says : unable to determine the medium ground;
We would reject either extreme, yet are “Nor have Nature's laws
we can only say with Novalis, “ Nature is Left them ungifted with a power to yield Music of a finer tone; a harmony,
an Eolian harp, a musical instrument; those So do I call it, though it be the hand
tones again are keys to higher strains in Of silence, though there be no voice; the clouds, us.” The greatness of the poet appears the The mists, the shadows, light of golden suns, same, whether in reality he transfers his Motions of moonlight, all come thither--touch, feelings and thoughts to nature, or nature And have an answer-thither come and shape
awakens feelings and thoughts in him with A language not unwelcome to sick hearts And idle spirits."
a power all her own. Neither nature is
made for man nor man for nature. The The following passage, in which he is adaptation of one to the other is perfect. speaking of the "unenlightened swains of You might as well subject the violin and the pagan Greece,” reveals to us perhaps the bow to chemical analysis, in order to ascervery birth of Apollo :
tain the elements of Paganini's music, as to “In that fair clime, the lonely herdsman, stretched put nature and the soul of man into a metaOn the soft grass through half a summer's day, physical crucible, in order to determine the With music lulled his indolent repose;
ingredients of that poetry which is born of And in some fit of weariness, if he,
their union. When his own breath was silent, chanced to hear A distant strain, far sweeter than the sounds
In close connection with this question is Which his poor skill could make, bis fancy fetched, the subject of imagination. Every element Even from the blazing Chariot of the Sun, of man's mental nature, with the exception A beardless youth, who touched a golden lute, of And filled the illumined groves with ravishment."
pure reason, may manifest itself in the
region of imagination. Form and color, Even the spirit of love calls to its aid the feeling and sentiment, music and beauty,
may, together or separately, as the image. The left distinguished, and to all the four has more or less characteristics of the crea
Belonged an eagle's visage. By itself
Distinct, their faces and their wings they each tive soul, lend their charms and give the
Extended upward, joining thus, it seemed, spirit of life. Fancy contents itself with Two wings for fight, while two their bodies describing in a delicate, lively, pleasing, or veiled.” luxurious manner that which really exists.
1 In the same manner the sphinx of the
In Imagination always creates. It stops only
Egyptians, the griffin of the northern mytholat the elements of things, for of a new
ogy, and the dragon of the Greeks, may be element the mind cannot conceive. The
e decomposed. In the poetry of all nations, highest imagination has almost an infinite
we find this peculiar manifestation of the power of combination. We may, however, :
" | imagination. Its operations are extended to deduce two laws of its operation. It adds,
inanimate as well as animate nature. in the first place, other elements to objects
It is difficult to select examples exhibiting already existing, or combines parts of ex
the purely creative power of imagination. isting objects into new ones. Again, it
We might find opponents if we should cite creates objects out of the very elements of
the demons of the Orphic hymns, the Izeds things, of which the world of form and life
of the Parsi, the Elohim, the Achadim, and exhibits no real types. This distinction is
Adonim of the Hebrews, the Lahi of the somewhat arbitrary, and the point in the line
Thibetians; but most will concede to us the which marks the extent of the first law, and
gods of Homer, Dante's “Inferno," and the the commencement of the second, it is per
superhuman creations of Shakspeare. We haps impossible to locate ; but for the sake
find real manifesfations of this kind of imagiof clearness of expression, it may be adopted. I.
nation in “Paradise Lost," and in Goethe's Illustrations of the first law abound in all
“ Faust.” genuine poets. One of the most beautiful
The imagination, then, is not a single manifestations of this kind of imagination
faculty of mind, but a manifestation of variis the investment of external objects with human feelings : some have even regarded
ous combinations of its elements, joined with this as the whole province of imagination.
intense activity. The creations of imagina
tion may therefore be characterized by We have, therefore, “ weeping willows," “ sleeping moonbeams," "dancing terrors,” |
', beauty or deformity, purity or depravity, &c. With reference to the nudity of Godiva, love or hatred.
harmony or discord, sublimity or loveliness,
The human soul creates in Tennyson says:
its own image. It requires imagination to “ The shameless noon paint the Witch of Endor, as well as the Was clashed and hammered from a hundred towers." Virgin. Let any one read that awful de
Shakspeare's King Lear could beseech the scription in Dante, commencing with the elements to have mercy on an old man, be- lines, cause " ye yourselves are old.” The con- “O quanto parve a me gran meraviglia, ception of many fabulous beings — the Quando vídi tre facce alla sua testa!" cherubim and seraphim of Hebrew poetry, the phenix, and those well known in classical |
and he will be satisfied that imagination may poetry—is a result of the creative power of
| busy itself with the lowest hell as well as imagination, not combining the very elements with the highest heaven. It may produce of things, but combining parts of real objects “Romance of giants, chronicle of fiends," in nature. The cherubim, for illustration, were compounded of several distinct animals. and may“ body forth”. The Hebrews say, in a proverb, “ There are
"dire faces, figures dire, four creatures of stateliness and pride in the Sharp-kneed, sharp-elbowed, and lean-ankled too, world: the lion among the wild beasts; the With long and ghostly shanks-forms which, once ox among the tame; the eagle among birds; and man above all ;" and these were united
Could never be forgotten !" in the formation of the cherubim. Ezekiel Goethe's Mephistopheles is the most unsays:
holy creation of powerful imagination in all * In all the four-fold visaged four was seen
literature. If Faust is a devilish saint, The face of man ; the right a lion, and an ox Mephistopheles is a saintly devil. The sin
of such a being is a yielding to the tempta- / worth's could invest her with such charms tions of virtue, a violation of his absolutely as awaken'only holy and pure affection ?tiendish nature; of which he is indeed rarely
“ Three years she grew in sun and shower; guilty. As an escape from the nether region
Then Nature said), A lovelier Aower of imagination, let us glance at those Olym
On earth was never sown; pian-descended forms of virtue-forms, yet This child I to myself will take; no forms, like figures of beauty dissolving in
She shall be mine, and I will make
A lady of my own!
Bütli law and impulse; and with me
The girl, in rock and plain, scoffing profanity :
In earth and heaven, in glade and bowcr, “ Nouoc
Shail feel an overseeing power,
To kindle or restrain.
“She shall be sportive as the fawn,
That wild with glee across the lawn
Or up the mountain springs;
And hers shall be the breathing balm,
And hers the silence and the calm
Of mute insensate things.
“The floating clouds their state shall lend
To her; fur ber the willow bend; say that Wordsworth is not equal in ima Nor shall she fail to see, gination to the greatest poets. He is in Even in the motious of the storm, ferior in this respect to Homer, Dante, Grace that shall mould the maiden's form Shakspeare, Milton and Goethe, if not to By silent sympathy. others. At the same time we may say that “ The stars of midnight shall be dear he is superior to all in purity of imagina To her; and she shall lean on air tion. We find no splendid images that
In many a secret place,
Where rivulets dance their wayward round, rovse the unholy passions of our nature.
And beauty, born.of murmuring sound, His imagination weaves a vestal garb around
Shall pass into her face." every object with which it deals, clothes with hallowed affection, and infuses a con The following passage will show, in proof trolling moral life. He leaves to the lip its and illustration of our position, that music ruby color, inviting to sip the nectar joy of and sublimity may be used as ingredients, earthly life, but makes you feel in your own thus to speak, in the composition of imaginature the working of a higher law than nation :than that of impulse, in obedience to which / The towering headlands, crowned with mist. you must act, or joy will turn to sorrow. Their feet among the billows, know The naphtha fire of earth is not extracted, That ocean is a mighty harmonist; but a new tempering fire is added from
Thy pinjops, everlasting air,
Ever waving to and fro, heaven. The beings of his imagination are
Are delegates of harmony, and bear ensouled with the spirit of humanity, and Strains that support the seasons in their round.” breathe an atmosphere of music and love. When, according to poetic fancy, nature
We cannot resist the temptation to copy takes it into her head to “ make a lady of one ·more passage which shows the presence her own," whose imagination but Words
mental qualities, in a picture of the imagi
pation with which but few equals are found * The following imperfect translation, in which the half personification of the original is lost, is
in all literature. Something perhaps must by Dr. Francklin, of Oxford:
be allowed for the reality, but imagination
alone could sec in the mountain mist, through " Grant me, henceforth, ye powers divine, In virtue's purest patbs to troad;
which the sunbeams were playing, a picture In every word, in every deed,
which is described as follows:
Obedient to the laws of Jove,
" A single step, that freed me from the skirts
Buried in durk oblivion lie,
Glory beyond all glory ever seen