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POETS AND POETRY
-HERBERT, GEORGE, 1633, The Temple,
Church Porch. amongst the most barbarous, always of
Lift not thy spear against the Muses' bower:
The great Emathian conqueror bid spare singular accounpt and honour, and being The house of Pindarus, when temple and indede so worthy and commendable an arte; tower or rather no arte, but a divine gift and
Went to the ground; and the repeated air
Of sad Electra's poet had the power heavenly instinct not to bee gotten by To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare. laboure and learning, but adorned with —MILTON, JOHN, 1642, When the Assault both; and poured into the witte by a cer- was intended to the City. tain 'Evdovo ao pós and cellestial inspira
For rhyme the rudder is of verses, tion.-SPENSER, EDMUND, 1579, The Shep
With which, like ships, they steer their herd's Calendar, Argument, Oct.
- BUTLER, SAMUEL, 1663, Hudibras. Nature never let forth the ear 80
the fate of verses, always prized rich tapistry, as divers Poets have done, With admiration, or as much despised; neither with pleasant rivers, fruitful trees,
Men will be less indulgent to their faults,
And patience have to cultivate their thoughts, sweet smelling flowers: nor whatsoever Poets lose half the praise they should have got, els may make the too much loved earth
Could it be known what they discreetly blot;
Finding new words, that to the ravished ear more lovely. Her world is brasen, the
May like the language of the gods appear, Poets only deliver a golden.-SIDNEY, SIR Such as, of old, wise bards employed, to make PHILIP, 1595, An Apologie for Poetrie.
Unpolished men their wild retreats forsake; I had rather be a kitten, and cry-mew,
Law-giving heroes, famed for taming brutes,
And raising cities, with their charming lutes; Than one of these same metre ballad.
For rudest minds with harmony were caught, mongers; I had rather hear a brazen canstick turn'd,
And civil life was by the Muses taught. Or a dry whool grate on an axlo-tree;
-WALLER, EDMUND, 1670, Upon the Earl And that would set my teeth nothing on of Roscommon's Translation of Horace "de edge,
An art, in London only is a trade.
There haughty dunces, whose unlearned pen When Heav'n would strive to do the best it Could ne'er spell grammar, would be read
ing men. And puts an Angel's Spirit into a Man, Such build üheir pooms the Lucretian way; The utmost power in that great work doth So many huddled atoms make a play; spend
And if they hit in order by some chance, When to the World a Poet it doth intend.
They call that nature which is ignorance. - DRAYTON, MICHAEL, 1597, England: -DRYDEN, JOHN, 1673, Prologue to the Heroical Epistles.
University of Oxford. It was ever thought to have some par- True Poets are the Guardians of a State, ticipation of divineness, because it doth And, when they fail, portend approaching raise and erect the mind, by submitting for that which Rome to conquest did inspire,
Fate. the shews of things to the desires of the
Was not the Vestal, but the Muses' fire. mind.-BACON, FRANCIS LORD, 1605, Ad- -ROSCOMMON, EARL OF, 1684, An Essay vancement of Learning, bk. ii.
on Translated Verse.
If he have a poetic vein, 'tis to me the
Nor will in panegyrio flatter,
Unjustly poets we asperse : strangest thing in the world that the father
Truth shines the brighter clad in vervo, should desire or suffer it to be cherished And all the fictions they pursue or improved. Methinks the parents should
Do but insinuate what is true. labour to have it stifled and suppressed as
-SWIFT, JONATHAN, 1720, To Stella. much as may be; and I know not what Rhymes are difficult things-they are reason a father can have to wish his son a stubborn things, sir.- FIELDING, HENRY, poet, who does not desire to have him bid 1751, Amelia. defiance to all other callings and business; The bard, nor think too lightly that I mean which is not yet the worst of the case;
Those little, piddling witlings, who o'erween
Of their small parts, the Murphys of the for if he proves a successful rhymer, and
stage, gets once the reputation of a wit, I desire The Masons and the Whiteheads of the age, it may be considered what company and
Who all in raptures their own works re
hearse, places he is like to spend his time in,- And drawl out measured prose, which they nay, and estate too.
call verse. gaming, which usually go together, are
-CHURCHILL, CHARLES, 1764, Independ
ence. alike in this too, that they seldom bring any advantage but to those who have noth- The essence of poetry is invention; such ing else to live on. . . . If therefore you
invention as, by producing something unwould not have your son the fiddle to every expected, surprises and delights. -JOHNjovial company, without whom the sparks SON, SAMUEL, 1779, Waller, Lives of the could not relish their wine nor know how
Poets. to pass an afternoon idly; if you would not There is a pleasure in poetio pains, have him to waste his time and estates to
Which only poets know.
- COWPER, WILLIAM, 1785, The Task, bk. divert others, and contemn the dirty acres
ii, v. 285-286. left him by his ancestors, - I do not think
Not mine the soul that pants not after fameyou will much care he should be a poet, or
Ambitious of a poet's envied name, that his schoolmaster should enter him in I haunt the sacred fount, athirst to prove versifying. -LOCKE, JOHN, 1693, Some
The grateful influence of the stream I love. Thoughts concerning Education.
-GIFFORD, WILLIAM, 1791, The Baviad. True ease in writing comes from art, not The poet must be alike polished by an chance,
intercourse with the world as with the As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
studies of taste; one to whom labour is 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence, negligence, refinement a science, and art The sound must seem an echo to the sense, Soft is the strain when zephyr gently blows,
a nature. -DISRAELI, ISAAC, 1796–1818, And the smooth stream in smoother numbers Vers de Société, Literary Character of Men flows;
of Genius. But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
Call it not vain:4they do not err, The hoarse rough verse should like the tor- Who say that when the poet dies rent roar:
Mute Nature mourns her worshipper When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight And celebrates his obsequies; to throw,
Who say tall cliff and cavern lone The line too labors, and the words move slow: For the departed bard makes moan; Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain, That mountains weep in crystal rill; Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims That flowers in tears of balm distil; along the main.
Through his loved groves that breezes sigh, -POPE, ALEXANDER, 1711, Essay on And oaks in deeper groan reply, Criticism, pt. ii, v. 162-173.
And rivers teach their rushing wave
To murmur dirges round his grave.
-Scott, SIR WALTER, 1805, Lay of the They are not scurrilous in satire,
Last Minstrel, Canto v, St. i.
Sweet are the pleasures that to verse belong, they leave, there cannot but be pleasure, And doubly sweet a brotherhood in song.
participating as it does in the nature of -KEATS, JOHN, 1815, Epistle to George
its object. It is, as it were, the interFelton Mathews.
penetration of a diviner nature through Poetry is the blossom and the fragrance
our own; but its footsteps are like those of all human knowledge, human thoughts,
of a wind over the sea, which the morning human passions, emotions, language. –
calm erases, and whose traces remain only, COLERIDGE, SAMUEL TAYLOR, 1817, Bio
as on the wrinkled sand which paves it. graphia Literaria, ch. XV.
SHELLEY, PERCY BYSSHE, 1821, A Defence What must a Muse of strength, of force, of
of Poetry. fire, In the true Poet's ample mind inspire?
Poetry produces an illusion on the eye What must he feel, who can the soul express, of the mind, as a magic lantern produces Of saint or hero?-he must be no less.
an illusion on the eye of the body. And, Nor less of evil minds he knows the pain, But quickly lost the anguish and the stain;
as a magic lantern acts best in a dark While with the wisest, happiest, parest, best, room, poetry effects its purpose most comHis soul assimilates and loves to rest.
pletely in a dark age. As the light of ---CRABBE, GEORGE, 1819, Tales of the
knowledge breaks in upon its exhibitions, Hall, bk, vi, note.
as the outlines of certainty become more Poetry is found to have a few stronger and more definite, and the shades of probconceptions, by which it would affect or
ability more and more distinct, the hues overwhelm the mind, than those in which
and lineaments of the phantoms which it it presents the moving and speaking image calls up grow fainter and fainter. We of the departed dead to the senses of the
cannot unite the incompatible advantages living.–WEBSTER, DANIEL, 1820, Dis- of reality and deception, the clear discourse Delivered at Plymouth on the 22nd
cernment of truth and the exquisite enjoyof December.
ment of fiction.-MACAULAY, THOMAS Poetry is not like reasoning, a power BABINGTON, 1825, Milton, Edinburgh Reto be exerted according to the determina- view; Critical and Miscellaneous Essays. tion of the will. A man cannot say, “I The poet, we cannot but think, can never will compose poetry.” The greatest poet have far to seek for a subject: the eleeven cannot say it; for the mind in crea- ments of his art are in him and around tion is as a fading coal, which some invisible him on every hand; for him the ideal world influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens is not remote from the actual, but under to transitory brightness; this power it and within it; nay, he is a poet, precisely arises from within, like the colour of because he can discern it there. Whera flower which fades and changes as it is ever there is a sky above him, and a world developed, and the conscious portions of around him, the poet is in his place, for our nature are unprophetic either of its here too is man's existence, with its defiapproach or its departure. . . Poetry nite longings and small acquirings; its is the record of the best and happiest ever-thwarted, ever-renewed endeavors; moments of the happiest and best minds. its unspeakable aspirations, its fears and We are aware of evanescent visitations of hopes that wander through eternity; and thought and feeling, sometimes associated all the mystery of brightness and of gloom with place or person, sometimes regard that it was ever made of, in any age or ing our own mind alone, and always arising climate, since man first began to live. Is unforseen and departing unbidden, but ele- there not the fifth act of a tragedy in vating and delightful beyond all expression: every death-bed, though it were a peasant's 80 that even in the desire and the regret and a bed of heath? And are wooings
and weddings obsolete, that there can be Blessings be with them and eternal praise,
Who gave us nobler loves, and nobler cares comedy no longer? Or are men suddenly
The Poets, who on earth have made us heirs grown wise, that Laughter must no longer Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays! shake his sides, but be cheated of his -WORDSWORTH, WILLIAM, 1846, Perfarce ? Man's life and nature is as it was, sonal Talk. and as it will ever be. But the poet must All that is best in the great poets of all have an eye to read these things, and a countries is not what is national in them, heart to understand them, or they come but what is universal.— LONGFELLOW, and pass away before him in vain. He is
HENRY WADSWORTH, 1849, Kavanagh, a vates, a seer; a gift of vision that has ch. XX. been given him. Has life no meanings
One more royal trait properly belongs for him which another cannot equally to the poet. I mean his cheerfulness, decipher? Then he is no poet, and Delphi without which no man can be a poet, -for itself will not make him one.—CARLYLE,
beauty is his aim. He loves virtue, not THOMAS, 1828, The Life of Robert Burns.
for its obligation, but for its grace; he The poet in a golden clime was born, With golden stars above;
delights in the world, in man, in woman, Dower'd with the hate of hate, the soorn of for the lovely light that sparkles from soorn,
them. Beauty, the spirit of joy and hilarThe love of love.
ity, he sheds over the universe.—EMERAnd bravely furnish'd all abroad to fling SON, RALPH WALDO, 1850, Shakespeare ; The wingéd shafts of truth,
or the Poet. To throng with stately blooms the breathing spring,
Poetry is Of hope and youth.
The grandest chariot wherein king-thoughts -TENNYSON, ALFRED LORD, 1830, The
One who shall fervent grasp the sword of The words
song He utters in his solitude shall move
As a stern swordsman grasps his keenest Men like a swift wind- that tho' dead and
To find the quickest passage to the heart. New eyes shall glisten when his beauteous SMITH, ALEXANDER, 1852, A Life dream
Drama. Of love come true in happier frames than his. ---BROWNING, ROBERT, 1833, Pauline.
-Doth not song
To the whole world belong! Poetry is itself a thing of God;
Is it not given wherever tears can fall, He made his prophets poets; and the more
Wherever hearts can melt, or blushes glow, We feel of poesie do we become
Or mirth and sadness mingle as they flow, Like God in love and power,-ander-makers. -BAILEY, PHILIP JAMES, 1839, Festus,
A heritage to all?
-CRAIG-KNOX, ISA, 1859, Ode on the CenProem. these were poets true,
tenary of Burns. Who did for Beauty as martyrs do
We call those poets who are first to mark For Truth-the ends being scarcely two. Through earth's dull mist the coming of God's prophets of the Beautiful
the dawn,These poets were; of iron rule,
Who see in twilight's gloom the first palo The rugged cilix, serge of wool.
spark, -BROWNING, ELIZABETH BARRETT, 1844, While others only note that day is gone. A Vision of Poets.
HOLMES, OLIVER WENDELL, 1864, Poetry is the breath of beauty, flowing Shakespeare Tercentennial Celebration, around the spiritual world, as the winds April 23. that wake up the flowers do about the
there dawneth a time to the Poet,
When the bitterness passes away, material.-HUNT, LEIGH, 1844, Of States
With none but his God to know it, men Who have Written Verses; Men,
He kneels in the dark to pray; l'omen and Books.
And the prayer is turn'd into singing,