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for some exciting influence to fan the spark into a flame. Youth is the time in which the Muse is most active and aspiring, and if the delirium of early days be not sufficient to rouse her, rarely indeed will she achieve any splendid triumph. There is poetry in the very being of youth. Youth is hope-and although, perhaps, there may be as much real poetry in memory as in hope, yet it is not so pleasurable and stimulating. In looking forward to the future we anticipate good, and fear is subordinate to hope; but in looking back upon the past, too often pleasure is subordinate to pain. One afflicting incident, one deed to be repented of, will outweigh many happy hours. Thus it is that the early morn is more grateful to our souls than the evening twilight
“Our bosomes gladden with the bryghtenynge daie,
And sorrowe comes when dailyghte goes awaie.” The spring of the year is more inspiring to the Poet than the autumn; for one is indicative of glories to come—the other of glories departed. One is the time to pray for mercies anticipated, and the other to offer thanksgivings for blessings realized; and prayer is more acceptable than praise. In the days of youth every transient emotion leaves its impression upon the soul; for the heart has not yet become seared by the hate of the envious or the indifference of the great; it has not yet learned that poverty is punishable, and that misfortune is a crime. Sad experience has not taught him that
“ The sweetest joy must pass away ;
And friendship’s hallowed beam,
Break on him.” In youth, beautiful to the soul is poetry-beautiful as the coral caves to the peri of ocean, as the pure free air to the captive, or as the hallowed groves of Bokhara to the pilgrim“ who pants for rest.” Poesy is an angel's wing under which the poet nestles-shading him from the sun's fierce rays, and screening him from the tempest-blast. The voice of poesy is as the voice of one we have loved ; we joy to linger on its cadence till it dies in melodious murmurs: it is like Memnon's lyre, uttering sweet music at break of day, which the traveller hears but once and remembers for ever. | Love is poetry, and youth is the time for love. Love brings into exercise many of the emotions which are essential to the poet. What is love but fancy, enthusiasm, imagination, ecstacy? There is scarcely one feeling of the human heart which is not by a mysterious combination blended in the passion of love ; joy and sorrow, hope and jealousy, fear and delight, rapture and despair, are by turns discoverable in this for my lease?
" Its passions will rock thee,
Bright reason will mock thee,
Like the sun from a wintry sky." Indeed, sometimes the painful feelings become more bewilderingly pleasing than all the others united; and the lover, though he does not comprehend how that which is oftentimes painful is always delightful, still prizes it above all his pleasures ; for he sees“ in the cup of sorrow the pearl of joy.”
All men who write verse are not poets. Each age has produced a host of wretched scribblers who contrive verses, which, like those of Sterphold and Hopkins, sing better than they read, and thereupon fancy themselves great poets, and perhaps attain a transient reputation with the world. But I envy not their fame. Nor does it of necessity follow that every poet should write verse. A man may be a true Poet, a Poet of nature's making, without having written a single line. There are those who, though they dare not try the numbers of song, and venture not to aspire to the glorious name of Poet, are indeed the true children of the Muse, and have vouchsafed to them the most glowing inspirations. They have “thoughts that breathe and words that burn,” their souls are steeped in the purest dews of Castaly, their utterings are sweetest poesy, though like the soft whispers of the Eolian harp, they breathe not their melodies in time or measure. If our own myriad-minded Shakspere had, by any fortuitous circumstances, been disqualified from penning his immortal imaginings, and had not recorded his deep communings with spirits of earth, and air, and sky, who will assert that he would not still have been a Poet ? A Poet he must have been, though we knew it not; bis delights would have been las noble, though we might not have been made acquainted with them, and Shakspere would have been as great, though the world had never heard his name.
The finest poetry has often been uttered by men who never claimed the poetic laurel. Cæsar was a great poet when he said to his mariners in a storm, “ Fear no harm, you carry Cæsar !” Napoleon was a great poet when he said to his army on the plains of Egypt, where the pyramids were towering above them in silent majesty, “Soldiers ! forty ages are looking on you from yonder pyramids !”
It is evident then that verse, although it adds a charm to the thoughts by calling in the aid of musical cadence, is not essential to poetry. The poetry lies in the ideas and in the language, and is conpatible with any arrangement of syllables. The Bible contains more poetry than is to be found in all the rhyme that was ever given to the world. Poetry is not in the outward form, but in the inner spirit. It lies in the conception of the poet, not in the medium through which the conception has been transmitted. The “Tempest" is a new creation of the poet, and the form in which it has been embodied, though it adds a charm, is not indispensable to it. If this had been written in prose it would still have been poetry; aye, and poetry of the noblest kind. Not so beautiful, perhaps; the language would not have fallen with such ravishing melody upon the ear—there would have been wanting that which now “laps us sost in Lydian measures," and now startles us like the cannon's roar! Though all this beauty were absent, we should still have what is far more; the awful storm; the shipwreck, with the anguish of the despairing mariners and the pathos of their dying ejaculation, “Farewell my wife and children !-farewell brother !" the deserted island ; the lovely and tender Miranda ; the gentle yet majestic Prospero ; the airy music; and the wide-encircling expanse of ocean. We should have, too, that wondrous creation of Shakspere's imagination, the graceful and aërial Ariel, with his mysterious and spiritual comrades. And what would have been wanting in all this to display the true, the inspired poet?
It has been asserted by an ancient writer, that Poetry is “ an imitative art;" and some moderns have defined it as “the art of expressing our thoughts in fiction.” Now, although there may be truth in both these notions, they are by no means satisfactory definitions, for it may be remarked that Sculpture and Painting are likewise “ imitative arts," and the Prose-Romance and Tale, equally bring into exercise the art of expressing our thoughts in fiction.
It is difficult accurately to define Poetry, and it is still more difficult to enumerate every moral and mental quality, or to describe their exact combination, in the poet: I apprehend, however, that the grand distinctive faculties appertaining to the poet are, imagination, fancy, and passion, with an exquisite perception of the beautiful; there must also be judgment, discernment, and taste : and I would further add, that the proper and immediate object of Poetry is the creation of intellectual pleasure.
Imagination is the power of creating ideas or conceptions—“conceptions not absolutely justifiable by the rules of logic, but quite intelligible to the mind when duly elevated-intelligible through our sympathies or sensibilities, though not sufficiently definite nor strictly coherent to stand the cold survey of reason.” Imagination is omnipotent; it enables the poet not only to embody airy beings, but to erect new worlds and lovelier regions for them to inhabit; it emancipates him from the shackles with which space and time, reality and reason, would fetter him ; it teaches him on mighty wings “no middle flight to soar," but carries him forward to distant ages, and backward to the morn of life. Milton's imagination was never wearied; he brooded over the vast, the immeasurable, the sublime; he lived apart, “ playing with wisdom.” In him were united the prophet and the sage. The consciousness of power is evident in every line he penned. He had an eye to see and a heart to feel for others' woes, but his tears were "such as angels weep." His Satan in the Paradise Lost' is one of the finest displays of high unfettered imagination to be met with in the whole world of poetry. His gigantic form which
" Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
As that sea-beast Leviathan,
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays." His spirit so daring, ambitious, and proud, is an awful conception. The account of his whole career is possessed of a grandeur by which we are spell-bound and bewildered. Beelzebub is a grand personification
“ His face yet shone,
What powers of imagination does Milton discover in his picture of the horrid form which guarded the portals of hell, its shape
“If shape it might be call'd, that shape had none
Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell.” Shakspere's tragedies are full of grand imaginative creations. Macbeth is one series of glorious inventions. How wild the scenery, how unearthly the characters. What witches equal his
“ So wither'd, and so wild in their attire,
That look not like the inhabitants of th' earth
And yet are on't ?” Imagination, however, is not restricted to the mere power of creating. It is a complex, not a simple, power. In the words of Mr. Stewart, “ It includes conception or simple apprehension, which enables us to form a notion of those former objects of perception or knowledge, out of which we are to make a selection (in the fine arts) ; abstraction, which separates the selected materials from the qualities and circumstances which are connected with them in nature; and judgment or taste, which selects the materials and directs their combination."
Fancy I would define as imagination at an inferior elevation of excitement-or in a less degree. Fancy attempts not to alter the original idea which Imagination has conceived, she only adorns and beautifies it. Imagination animates its subject with real life-Fancy invests it with an artificial existence. The chief duty of Fancy is to furnish the Poet with elegant similes, and to call up pleasing associ. ations. Fancy is most conversant with the present- Imagination with the future and the past. In the following passage Shakspere displays his Fancy:
“That strain again! it had a dying fall
Stealing and giving odour." Now this “ dying strain" affords no new idea-its beauty consists in association rather than conception. Still Fancy has in some degree a creative power, but it calls into being thoughts pleasing rather than sublime. The following lines from Shelley's Prometheus are full of fanciful thoughts, but they never reach the “ brightest heaven of invention."
“My soul is an enchanted boat,
Which like a sleeping swan doth float
And thine doth like an angel sit
Beside the helm conducting it,
It seems to float ever, for ever,
Till like one in slumber bound,
Meanwhile my spirit lifts its pinions
In music's most serene dominions,
And we sail on, away, afar,
Without a course, without a star,
But by the instinct of sweet music driven." Wordsworth has given, perhaps, the best description of Fancy that was ever written. He says, “ Fancy depends upon the rapidity and profusion with which she scatters her thoughts and images, trusting that their number, and the felicity with which they are linked together, will make amends for the want of individual value ; or she prides herself upon the curious subtilty and the successful elaboration with which she can detect their lurking affinities. If she can win you over to her purpose, and impart to you her feelings, she cares not how mutable or transitory may be her influence, knowing that it will not be out of her power to resume it upon an apt occasion. But the imagination is conscious of an indestructible dominion. The soul may fall away from it, not being able to sustain its grandeur; but if once felt and acknowledged, by no act of any other faculty of the mind can it be relaxed, impaired, or diminished. Fancy is given to quicken and beguile the temporal part of our nature- Imagination to incite and support the eternal.” Shakspere's Fancy is as active as his Imagination is powerful. In his Henry VIII. Cardinal Wolsey is made to ejaculate
“ I haste now to my setting. I shall fall
Like a bright exhalation in the evening,
And no man see me more." In Hamlet, when Ophelia is dead, her brother Laertes exclaims to the priest
“ Lay her i'the earth;
When thou liest howling." I will quote one other of Shakspere's touches of Fancy. It is Ariel's song, “sung to a sweet air by one invisible," before the cell of Prospero in the enchanted island, to which Ferdinand listens, believing his father Alonso, King of Naples, to have perished in “ the tempest:”—
“ Full fathom five thy father lies ;
Of his bones are coral made;
Nothing in him that doth fade,
Harki now I hear them-ding-dong bell.”
" At every fall smoothing the raven-down
Of darkness, till it smiled,"