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Which to her proper nature she transforms
Steal access through the senses to our minds. 10 Finally, Good Sense is the Body of poetic genius, Fancy its Drapery, Motion its Life, and Imagination the Soul that is every where, and in each ; and forms all into one graceful and intelligent whole.11
The specific symptoms of poetic power elucidated in
a critical analysis of Shakespeare's Venus and ADONIS, and RAPE OF LUCRECE.
N the application of these principles to purposes of practical criticism, asemployed in the appraisement of works more or less imperfect, I have endeavoured to discover
what the qualities in a poem are, which may be deemed promises and specific symptoms of poetic power, as distinguished from general talent determined to poetic composition by accidental motives, by an act of the will, rather than by the inspiration of a genial and productive nature. In this investigation, I could not, I thought, do better, than keep before me
10 [Of the Soul of Man. s. 4. Mr. Coleridge's alterations are printed in italics. Ed.]
[The reader is referred generally to Mr. Coleridge's Literary Remains, II. pp. 7-12. Ed.] [See Lit. Rerains, 11.
. 54-60. Ed.]
the earliest work of the greatest genius, that perha human nature has yet produced, our myriad-minde Shakespeare. I mean the VENUS AND ADONIS, ai the LUCRECE; works which give at once strong pr mises of the strength, and yet obvious proofs of ti immaturity, of his genius. From these I abstract the following marks, as characteristics of origin poetic genius in general.
1. In the VENUS AND ADONIS, the first and mo obvious excellence is the perfect sweetness of the ve sification ; its adaptation to the subject; and the powd displayed in varying the march of the words withou passing into a loftier and more majestic rhythm tha was demanded by the thoughts, or permitted by th propriety of preserving a sense of melody predominan The delight in richness and sweetness of sound, eve to a faulty excess, if it be evidently original, and no the result of an easily imitable mechanism, I regard a a highly favourable promise in the compositions of young man. The man that hath not music in his soul can indeed never be a genuine poet. Imagery,-(ever taken from nature, much more when transplanted fron books, as travels, voyages, and works of natural history) -affecting incidents, just thoughts, interesting per sonal or domestic feelings, and with these the art o. their combination or intertexture in the form of a poem, ---may all by incessant effort be acquired as a trade, by a man of talent and much reading, who, as I
''Avip pvp.óvovę, a phrase which I have borrowed from a Greek monk, who applies it to a Patriarch of Constantinople. 1 might bave said, that I have reclaimed, rather than borrowed, it: for it seems to belong to Shakespeare, de jure singulari, et ex privilegio naturæ.
3 [" The man that hath not music in himself ”—Merchant of Venice, iv. sc. 1, Ed.]
once before observed, has mistaken an intense desire of poetic reputation for a natural poetic genius; the love of the arbitrary end for a possession of the peculiar
But the sense of musical delight, with the power of producing it, is a gift of imagination ; and this together with the power of reducing multitude into unity of effect, and modifying a series of thoughts by some one predominant thought or feeling, may be cultivated and improved, but can never be learned. It is in these that “poeta nascitur non fit.”
2. A second promise of genius is the choice of sub- jects very remote from the private interests and cir
cumstances of the writer himself. At least I have found, that where the subject is taken immediately from the author's personal sensations and experiences, the excellence of a particular poem is but an equivocal mark, and often a fallacious pledge, of genuine poetic power. We may perhaps remember the tale of the | statuary, who had acquired considerable reputation for the legs of his goddesses, though the rest of the statue accorded but indifferently with ideal beauty; till his wife, elated by her husband's praises, modestly ac
knowledged that she had been his constant model. In - the VENUS AND ADONIS this proof of poetic power
exists even to excess. It is throughout as if a superiour
spirit more intuitive, more intimately conscious, even s than the characters themselves, not only of every out
ward look and act, but of the flux and reflux of the
mind in all its subtlest thoughts and feelings, were . placing the whole before our view; himself meanwhile
unparticipating in the passions, and actuated only by
that pleasurable excitement, which had resulted from - the energetic fervour of his own spirit in so vividly
exhibiting what it had so accurately and profoundly contemplated. I think, I should have conjectured from
these poems, that even then the great instinct, whi impelled the poet to the drama, was secretly worki in him, prompting him—by a series and never brok chain of imagery, always vivid and, because unbrok often minute; by the highest effort of the picturesq in words, of which words are capable, higher perha than was ever realized by any other poet, even Dar not excepted ;4—to provide a substitute for that visi language, that constant intervention and running co ment by tone, look and gesture, which in his drama
[“ Consider how he paints,” says Mr. Carlyle, “he a great power of vision ; seizes the very type of a thing; p sents that and nothing more. You remember the first view gets of the Hall of Dite; red pinnacle, red hot cone of i glowing through the immensity of gloom ;-so vivid, so distin visible at once and for ever! It is as an emblem of the wh genius of Dante.” “Milton,” says Lessing in his Laoko
can indeed fill no galleries. Yet is the Par. Lost the fi Epic after Homer no whit the less because it affords few pictur than the History of Christ is a Poem, because we cannot put much as a nail's head upon it without hitting on a place whi has employed a crowd of the greatest artists.” “ A poetic ture is not necessarily that which can be converted into a ul terial picture ; but every stroke or combination of strokes, which the Poet makes his object so sensuous to us, that we more conscious of this object than of his words, may
be call picturesque.” Thus Dante's squilla da lonteno (Purg. c. viii. I. may well be called a picture. Uis picture-words have not do much for the material painter's art, if we may judge by Fla mau's illustrations. The famous image in the Purgatorio
solo guardando A guisa di leon quando si posą, is, as has been shewn, not a mere presentation of “picturable mi ter,” but a picture ready drawn and so clearly visible that i pencil cannot make its outline clearer.” (See Art. on Pindar. Review, March 1831.) Yet it would be nothing in a materi painting, because the illustration and the thing illustrated con not be given together. S. C.]
works he was entitled to expect from the players. His Venus and Adonis seem at once the characters themselves, and the whole representation of those characters by the most consummate actors. You seem to be told nothing, but to see and hear every thing. Hence it is, from the perpetual activity of attention required on the part of the reader; from the rapid flow, the quick change, and the playful nature of the thoughts and images; and above all from the alienation, and, if I may hazard such an expression, the utter aloofness of the poet's own feelings, from those of which he is at once the painter and the analyst ;-that though the very subject cannot but detract from the pleasure of a delicate mind, yet never was poem less dangerous on a moral account. Instead of doing as Ariosto, and as,
still more offensively, Wieland has done, instead of de4 grading and deforming passion into appetite, the trials n of love into the struggles of concupiscence ;-Shake
speare has here represented the animal impulse itself,
so as to preclude all sympathy with it, by dissipating ict
the reader's notice among the thousand outward images,
and now beautiful, now fanciful circumstances, which ' form its dresses and its scenery; or by diverting our
attention from the main subject by those frequent witty or profound reflections, which the poet's ever active mind has deduced from, or connected with, the imagery and the incidents. The reader is forced into too much action to sympathize with the merely passive of our nature. As little can a mind thus roused and awakened be brooded on by mean and indistinct emotion, as the low, lazy mist can creep upon the surface of a lake, while a strong gale is driving it onward in waves and billows.
3. It has been before observed that images, however beautiful, though faithfully copied from nature, and as