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definitely enlarged, sentiments, and delights and peeps into every crevice, and up the
are pleased with a widely extended view,
closely inspected, and regarded in its minutia, WHY CERTAIN OBJECTS ARE, OR ARE and it becomes indescribably wearisome and NOT, POETICAL.
monotonous. The fact is, the idea of space
is lost, while the attention is arrested and That a book, a picture, and sometimes a absorbed by immediate and minor circumvery worthy man, are without Poetry, is a stances. The mind is incapable of feeling fact almost as deeply felt, and as well under- two opposite sensations at the same time, stood, as the memorable anathema of Shak- and all impressions made upon the senses speare against the man who had not music being so much more quick and sudden than in his soul. In many books this is no de- those made through them upon the imagifect; in all pictures it is a striking and im- nation, they have the power to attract and portant one; while in men it can only be a carry away the attention in the most pedefect proportioned to the high standing remptory and vexatious manner. All subthey may choose to take in the scale of in- jects intended to inspire admiration or revetellect or feeling. The spirit of Poetry has rence, must therefore be treated with the little to do with the labours of the artisan, most scrupulous regard to refinement.' It is nor would our tables be more plentifully so easy for the vulgar touch to supplied, were they furnished under the direction of the muses. But who would feel
“ Turn what was once romantic to burlesque." even the slightest gratification in reading A tone of ridicule may at once dispel the Wordsworth's Excursion, with a compa- charm of tenderness, and a senseless parody nion, who could not feel poetically? or who inay for awhile destroy the sublimity of a would choose to explore the wild and mag- splendid poem. nificent beauties of mountain scenery, with Among the works of art, the influence of one whose ideas were bounded by the limits poetic feeling is most perceptible in painting of the Bank of England ?
and sculpture. A picture sometimes pleases When our nature is elevated above the from a secret charm which cannot well be mere objects of sense, there is a want created defined, and which arises not so much from in us of something, which the business of the proper adjustment of colour and outline the world, nay, even science itself, is unable according to the rules of art, as from the sudto supply; for not only is the bustling man den, mysterious, and combined emotions of business an unwelcome associate in the which the sight of it awakens in the soul. wilderness of untrodden beauty, but even he But let any striking departure from these becomes wearisome at last, who applies his rules arrest the attention, let the eye be ofnoisy hammer to every projection of rock, fended by the colouring, and the taste
chocked by the grouping or perspective, bosom: yet, following this emblem of tranthe illusion is destroyed, and the poet awakes quillity into after life, we see him exposed to from his dream. It is precisely the same every climate-contending with every obwith sculpture, that most sublime production stacle-agitated by every passion; and unof the hand of man, which, by its cold, still, der these various circumstances, how differmarble beauty, unawakened by the shocks ent is the power and the degree of the heart's of time, unmoved by the revolutions of the action, which has not only to beat, but to world, has power to charm the wandering beat time through every moment of a long thoughts, and inspire sensations of deep re- and troubled life."* verence and awe. But let us suppose the We feel in reading this passage, even if enthusiast returning to gaze upon the sta- we have never felt before, that there is poetry tue, which has been, through years of wan- in an infant's sleep. Its waking moments dering, little less than an idol to his enrap- are less poetical, because of the many little tured fancy, and that hands profane (for cares and vexations they force upon us; and such things are) have presumed to colour no power on earth could convince us that the pupils of the up-turned eyes—let any there was poetry in an infant's cry. Yet is other sensation whatever, directly at vari- it neither softness nor sweetness which alance with what the figure itself is calculated ways constitutes the poetry of sound; for to inspire, be made to strike the attention of what can be more discordant in itself than the beholder, and he is plunged at once down the caw of the rook, the scream of the seathat fatal and irrevocable step, which leads gull, or the bleating of the lamb? from the sublime to the ridiculous.
There is poetry in the low-roofed cottage The human face, the most familiar object standing on the skirts of the wood, beneath to our eyes, since they first opened upon the the overshadowing oak, around which the world, may be, and often is, highly poetical. children of many generations have gamWho has not seen amidst the multitude some bolled, while the wreathing smoke coils up countenance to which he turns, and turns amongst the dark green foliage, and the gray again, with strange wonder and delight, as- thatch is contrasted with golden moss and signing to it an appropriate character and glittering ivy. We stand and gaze, deplace in 'scenes even the most remote from lighted with this picture of rural peace, and the present, and following up, in idea, the privileged seclusion. We long to shake off different trains of thought by which its ex- the shackles of artificial society, the wearypression is varied, and its intelligence coming cares of life, the imperative control of municated? Yet this face may not be in fashion, or the toil and traffic of the busy itself, or strictly speaking, beautiful; but, world, and to dwell for the remainder of our like the painting or the statue, it has the days in a quiet spot like this, where affecpower to awaken the most pleasing association, that is too often lost in the game of life, tions. With such power there can be com- might unfold her store of fire-side comforts, bined no mixture of the grotesque or vulgar; and where we and ours might constitute one for, though poetry may be ridiculous, it is unbroken chain of social fellowship, under impossible for the ridiculous to be poetical. the shelter of security and peace. But let There is Poetry in an infant's sleep. How us enter this privileged abode.
Our ears much, let abler words than mine describe. are first saluted by the sharp voice of the
* So motionless in its slumbers, that, in matron, calling in her tattered rebels from watching it, we tremble, and become impa- the common. They are dragged in by viotient for some stir or sound, that may assure lence, and a scene of wrath and contention us of its life; yet is the fancy of the little
The fragments of the last meal are sleeper busy, and every artery and every scattered on the floor. That beautifully pulse of its frame engaged in the work and curling smoke, before it found a way to esgrowth of secretion, though his breath would cape so gracefully has made many a circuit not stir the smallest insect that sported on round the dark and crumbling walls of the his lips—though his pulse would not list the flower leaf of which he dreamed from his
• Dr. James Willson.
apartment; and smoke within the house is and skill, there are few things more poetical any thing but poetical, whatever it may be than the aspect of a ship at sea, whether she without. I say the charm is broken?
goes forth with swelling sails before the Even after having made good our retreat, wind, or lies becalmed upon a quiet shore. if we turn and look again, the low-roofed Even the simplest or rudest vessels floating cottage does not appear the same as when on the surface of the water-from the lazy we first beheld it. The associations are barge that glides along the smooth canal, to changed-the charm is indeed broken. May the light gondola that sports among the not this be the reason why fine ladies and glowing waters of more classic shoresgentlemen talk so much more about the from the simple craft that ply upon our own poetry of a cottage, than those who know rivers, to the rude canoe of the savage dartno other home comforts than a cottage af- | ing among reefs of coral; afford choice subfords ? Even poverty itself may be poetical jects for the inter's pencil, and the poet's to those who merely regard it from a dis- song. Who has not watched with intense tance, or as a picture; but the vision is dis- interest a little speck upon the ocean, that pelled for ever by the first gripe of that iron neared, and neared, until human forms at hand, that spares neither the young, the length were visible, and then the splash of helpless, nor the old.
the oar was heard at regular intervals, and, There is poetry in the mouldering pile, at last, on the crest of a foaming wave, the upon which the alternate suns and storms of boat seemed to bound triumphant on the a thousand years have smiled and spent shore, where a little band of the long-tried their fury—the old gray ruin hung over with and the faithful, amongst whom woman is festoons of ivy, while around its broken tur
never found wanting, welcome the mariners rets a garland of wild plants is growing, home, safe from the storms and the dangers from seeds which the wandering winds have of the sea? Who has not stood upon the scattered. We behold the imperishable beach, a silent, but deeply interested spectamaterials of the natural world collected tor, while a crew of hardy and weathertogether, shaped out and formed by the art beaten sailors launched forth their little bark of man into that beautiful and majestic edi- amongst the roaring breakers, battling their fice; but where are the ready hands that way through foam and surge, now dipping laboured in that work of time and patience ? into the dark hollows between every swell, The busy feet that trod those stately courts and then rising unharmed upon the snowy —the laughter that echoed through those crest of the raging billows. A few moments halls--the sighs that were breathed in those more of determined struggle, and the diffisecret cells—the many generations that culty is overcome; and now they have hoistcame and went without leaving a record or ed sail and are gone bounding over the dark a name—where are they? Scarcely can blue waters, perhaps never to return. Who there be found an imagination so dull, but has not marked, while gazing on the surface the contemplation of a ruin will awaken it to of the silent lake when the moon was shining, some dim and dreamy associations with past that long line of trembling light that looks ages--scarcely a heart so callous, but it will like a pathway to a better world, suddenly feel, in connexion with such a scene, some broken by the intervention of some object touch of that melancholy which inspired the that proves to be a boat, in which human memorable exclamation “All is vanity and forms are discernible, though distant, yet vexation of spirit !"
marked out with a momentary distinctness, But let the ingenuity of man erect a mod- which affords imagination a fund of associaern ruin, or mock monastery, arch for arch, tions, connecting those unknown objects so and pillar for pillar-nay, let him, if possi- quickly seen, and then lost for ever, with ble, plant weed for weed. The fancy will vague speculations about what they are or not be cheated into illusion—this mushroom have been, from whence they have so sudtoy of yesterday will remain a mockery denly emerged, to what unseen point of illistill.
mitable space they may be destined, and Amongst the labours of man's ingenuity | what may be the darkness, or the radiance
of their future course. Or who has ever of terror in motion, and sublimity in repose: witnessed the departure of a gallant vessel but more than all, the ships that go forth upunder favouring skies, bound on a distant on its bosom convey to our fancy the idea of and uncertain voyage, her sails all trim, her being influenced by an instinct of their own; rigging tight, her deck well manned, her so well ordered are all their movements, so cargo secure as human skill and foresight can perfect appears the harmony of their conmake it, while she stoops one moment with struction and design, yet so hidden by the unabated majesty, to rise more proudly the obscurity of the distance is the moving prinnext, bursting through the ruffled waters, ciple within, that by their own faith they and dashing from her sides the feathery seem to trust themselves where the foot of foam; without thinking of a proud and reck- man dare not tread, and by their own hope less spirit rushing forth on its adventurous they seem to be lured on to some distant career, unconscious of the rocks and shoals, point which the eye of man is unable to disthe rude gales and the raging tempests, that cern. await its onward course. Or who, without In a widely extended sea view there is una thrill of something more than earthly feel- questionably poetry enough to inspire the ing, can gaze over the unruffled surface of happiest lays, but the converse of this picthe sea when the winds are sleeping, and the ture is easily drawn-and fatal to the poet's waves at rest, except on the near voyage of song would be the first view of the interior the blue expanse, where a gentle murmur, of any one of those gallant and stately ships with regular ebb and flow of soothing and mo- about which we have been dreaming. The notonsus sound marks the intervals at which moving principle within, - respecting which a line of sleepy waves rise, and fall, and fol- we have had such refined imaginings, is now low each other, without pause or intermis- imbodied in a company of hardy sailors, sjon, far up along the sparkling shore, and whose rude laughter, and ruder oaths, are then recede into the depths of the smooth and no less discordant to our ear, than offensive shining waters.
to our taste. It is true, that a certain kind The sun is high in the heavens—the air is of order and discipline prevails amongst clear and buoyant-now and then a white them, but the wretched passengers below cloud sails along the field of azure, its misty are lost for a time to all mental sensations, form marked out in momentary darkness on and suffering or sympathizing with them, the sea below, like the passing shadow of an we soon forget the poetry of life. angel's wings; while far, far in the distance, There is poetry in the gush of sparkling and gliding on towards the horizon, are waters that burst forth from the hill-side those wandering messengers of the deep that in some lonely and sequestered spot, and bear tidings from shore to shore, their swell flow on in circling eddies amongst the rocks ing sails now glancing white in the sun and fern, and tendrils of wild plants ; on, on beams, now darkened by the passing cloud. for ever-unexhausted, and yet perpetually Musing on such a scene, we forget our own losing themselves in the bosom of the silent identity-our own earthly, bodily existence; and majestic river, where the hurry and we live in a world of spirits, and are lost in murmur of their course is lost, like the restexquisite imaginings, in memories and hopes less passions that agitate the breast of man that belong not to the things of clay; every in the ocean of eternity: and there is poetry thing we behold is personified and gifted in the burst of the cataract that comes over with intelligence; the rugged cliffs pos- the brow of the precipice with a seeming seas a terrible majesty, and seem to threaten consciousness of its own power to bear down, while they frown upon the slumbering shore; and to subdue. the deep and boundless sea, represented at It is related of Richard Wilson, that when ail times as acting or suffering by its own he first beheld the celebrated falls of Terni, will or power, is now more than ever endued he exclaimed “Well done, water!” Here, with the thoughts and passions of spiritual indeed, was no poetry—no association. His existence, and seems to speak to us in its mind was too full of that mighty object as owo solemn and most intelligible language it first struck upon his senses, to admit at the
moment of any relative idea ; his exclama- of varied hue shooting up from leafy beds, tion was one of mere animal surprise, such and pointing faithfully to the shining sky; as his dog might have uttered, had he pos- crowns of golden splendour mounted sessed the organs of speech. And yet the upon fragile stems; or purple wreaths that same man, when he seized his pencil, and never touched a human brow; all bursting gave up his imagination to the full force of forth, blooming and then fading, with endthose impressions which, if we may judge | less succession in the midst of untrodden by his works, few have felt more intensely, wilds ;-in rain and sunshine, in silent night, was able to portray nature, not merely seen and glowing day, with an end and purpose as it is in any given section of the earth's in their brief existence inscrutable to the surface, but to group together, and embody mind of man. in one scene, all that is most harmonious in The Rowers of the garden, though posthe quickly changing and diversified beauties sessing more richness and gorgeous beauty, of wood and water-hill and valley-sombre are less poetical, because we see too clearly shade and glowing sunshine-deep solitudes, in their arrangement and culture, the art and resplendent heavens.
and labour of man; we are reminded at There is poetry in the hum of bees, when every group of the work of the spade, and the orchards are in bloom, and the sun is perceive at once and without mystery, why shining in unclouded spendour upon the they have been planted in the exact spot waving meadows, and the garden is rich- where they now grow. ly spangled with spring flowers. There There is poetry in the first contemplation is poetry in the hum of the bee, because it of those numerous islands which gem the brings back to us, as in a dream, the memo- southern ocean-poetry in the majestic hills ry of bygone days, when our hearts were that rise one above another, their varied alive to the happiness of childhood—the time peaks and precipices clear and bright in when we could lie down upon the green bank unclouded sunshine, and their very summits and enjoy the stillness of summer's noon, clothed with unfading verdure; while burstwhen our hopes were in the blossoms of the ing from amongst their deep recesses are orchard, our delight in the sun-shine, our un- innumerable streams that glide down their tiring rambles in the meadows, and our per- rugged sides, now glancing out like threads petual amusement in the scented flowers. of silver, now hidden in shade and darkness, Since these days, time has rolled over us until they find their way into the broad and with such a diversity of incident, bringing silent lagoon, where the angry surf subsides, so many changes in our modes of living and and the mountains, woods, and streams, are thinking, that we have learned, perhaps at seen again reflected in the glassy mirror of some cost, to analyze our feelings, and to the unrusled water-unruffled, save by the say, rather than feel, that there is poetry in rapid gliding of the light canoe, that darts the hum of bees.
among the coral rocks, and then lies moored But let one of these honey-laden wander- in still water beneath some stately tree, ers find his way into our apartment, and whose leafy boughs form a welcome canopy while he struggles with frantic efforts to of shade for the luxuriant revellers in that escape through the closed window, we cease to find pleasure in his busy hum.
Time was when those who had rejoiced There is poetry in the flowers that grow over the first contemplation of this scene in sweet profusion upon wild and unculti- were compelled to mourn over the contrast vated spots of earth, exposing their delicate which ignorance and barbarism presented leaves to the tread of the rude inhabitants on a nearer view, but now, blessed be the of the wilderness, and spreading forth their power that can harmonize the heart of man scented charms to the careless mountain with all that is grateful and genial in the wind—in the thousand, thousand little stars external world, the traveller approaching, of beauty looking forth like eyes, with no and beholding this lovely picture, need no eye to look again; or cups that seem formed longer shrink from the horrors which a to catch the dew drops; or spiral pyramids closer inspection formerly revealed.