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vital. We speak of literature and life. In no province of literary product is such a relation so intimate or the affinity so direct, so that many of the wisest critics have yet to learn that it is here and not in the epic or drama that the fountains of verse are reached, that the governing spirit of a people's literature is studied, and that tenable prophecies are made.

Hence the masterly work of the late poet laureate along this lyric line, as also that of Swinburne, while Lang and Dobson, Austin and Watson, clearly discern the manifest meaning of the time in this direction. Out of these aspirings and poetic movements, increasing in vitality, as the century closes, it would not be strange if there should arise in England a master of lyric verse second to none in the antecedent history of our literature.


There is a sense in which, at the first glance, these terms, meditative and lyric, seem to involve an essential contradiction, the one term indicating that which is thoughtful and studied, and the other that which is marked by impulse and passion.

Such an apparent discrepancy is fully explained when we recall the wide variety of form which lyrics may assume, dependent on the nature and intensity of the feeling that is to be expressed, the special method or manner of its expression, and the particular purpose in view.

Most of all, it is to be clearly borne in mind that feeling may be demonstrative or subdued in its manifestation; may be designed to soothe as well as to stimulate; to allay as well as arouse, and that it may run up and down the entire gamut of human experience, expressing sorrow as well as joy, love as well as hate, settled conditions of the mind as well as sudden and irresistible outbursts of soul. In fine, genuine emotion may exist, though under wise and wholesome restraint, if it is not indeed true that such subdued feeling is the deepest and strongest. Deep and tender pathos, as expressed in some of the lines of Mrs. Browning, is as potent in its way as the more impassioned utterances of the dramatic writers. There is thus, in verse, the presence of what one has called "disciplined impulses," feeling under healthy restraint, and this is the characteristic feature of the lyric as meditative. It possesses what Matthew Arnold has called "intellectual seriousness; " an order of emotion closely allied to thought and subject to its guidance; a pensiveness of spirit, chaste and quiet, musing in secret over the great problem of human life. It is this contemplativeness that so often adds richness and strong poetic effect to an author's deliverances, and which has given us some of the choicest specimens of genuine lyric verse.

The one condition of its existence and acceptability is that the feeling shall control the thought, and never be controlled by it; that the intellectual

element shall never become an end in itself, as it sometimes does in such notable masters of English verse as Dryden and Pope and Gray and Robert Browning. Such an order of lyric is thus widely removed from the domain of the didactic. Because it is reflective it need not be prosaic. Shelley's "Ode to a Skylark" and Keats's "On a Grecian Urn" are not lacking in feeling because they are thoughtful. Subdued and chastened sentiment is still sentiment, even though differing in its type from that which is unrestrained and positive.

In fine, the deepest feelings of the heart defy expression, and can only be approximately syllabled in human words.

Hence there is a clear place for this meditative species of lyric poetry, and the student of English letters is surprised to find, as he reads, how large and important this province is. It is questionable, indeed, whether any other form of lyric would be so sadly missed, as it embodies religious emotion, the griefs and struggles and disappointments and aspirations of life, while it is these "meditations of the heart," in poetic form, which will continue to voice themselves in literature so long as life is what it is in its mysteries and longings.


Elizabethan Meditative Lyrics

OO much significance cannot be given to the fact that this lyrical development in the days of Elizabeth appeared just at the time when English verse was taking on what may be called its permanent historic form. Of this, Milton, in his time, was a notable exponent. The great lyric revival of early Georgian days was but little more than a recall of the nation to its former poetic life, while even "The Latter-day Singers," as Mr. Stedman calls them, owe much of what they have been and done to the fact that back in the age of Sidney and Spenser the keynote of genuine lyric passion was struck, the melody of which is still heard among us. To state it conversely, had there been in Shakespeare's time no such idyllic expression, Shelley and Mrs. Browning might have been lyrists of lesser fame, and the high lyric repute of modern England deferred for another century.

Nor is it at all strange that there should have been such a special development of emotional song in the sixteenth century. It was emphatically the age of life and spirit, when thought and feeling and practical activity were inseparably blendedthe golden age of man and of the English world. Hence the beautiful lines of Whittier are fully confirmed, as he writes:

I love the old melodious lays

Which softly melt the ages through, The songs of Spenser's golden days, Arcadian Sidney's silvery phrase,

Sprinkling our noon of time with freshest morning dew.

While all the historic types of lyrics are foundpastoral, descriptive, humorous, and satiric-it is noticeable that the meditative lyric is conspicuous -lyrics pertaining to the quiet and innocence of primitive life, to the struggles and sorrows of earth, and the aspirations of the soul toward light and truth and hope and heaven. Omitting any reference at present to Spenser and Shakespeare, whose lyric product deserves a separate discussion, we may amply illustrate the reflective element in the idyllic poetry of this era by a reference to some of the numerous names of lesser note, it being suggestive that many of these minor authors have little other claims to remembrance than the fact of having penned a few such inspiring utterances of the human heart. Such is Carlton's beautiful madrigal :

Content thyself with thine estate;
Seek not to climb above the skies.

So, Daniel's pleasing poem, beginning:

If I could shut the gates against my thoughts,
And keep out sorrow from this room within;

Or memory could cancel all the notes

Of my misdeeds, and I unthink my sin.

From Lodge's suggestive poem, "Whilst Youthful Sports are Lasting," we read:

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