A Defense of Poetry

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Ginn & Company, 1891 - Poetry - 86 pages

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Page xxvi - Man is an instrument over which a series of external and internal impressions are driven, like the alternations of an everchanging wind over an Aeolian lyre, which move it by their motion to everchanging melody.
Page 30 - He was the congregator of those great spirits who presided over the resurrection of learning; the Lucifer of that starry flock which in the thirteenth century shone forth from republican Italy, as from a heaven, into the darkness of the benighted world.
Page 4 - Poets, according to the circumstances of the age and nation in which they appeared, were called, in the earlier epochs of the world, legislators, or prophets : a poet essentially comprises and unites both these characters. For he not only beholds intensely the present as it is, and discovers those laws according to which present things ought to be ordered, but he beholds the future in the present, and his thoughts are the germs of the flower and the fruit of latest time.
Page 23 - Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night, Skarf up the tender eye of pitiful day ; And, with thy bloody and invisible hand, Cancel, and tear to pieces, that great bond Which keeps me pale ! — Light thickens; and the crow Makes wing to the rooky wood : Good things of day begin to droop and drowse ; Whiles night's black agents to their prey do rouse.
Page 44 - Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
Page 37 - Could this influence be durable in its original purity and force, it is impossible to predict the greatness of the results ; but when composition begins, inspiration is already on the decline, and the most glorious poetry that has ever been communicated to the world is probably a feeble shadow of the original conceptions of the poet.
Page 39 - It transmutes all that it touches, and every form moving within the radiance of its presence is changed by wondrous sympathy to an incarnation of the spirit which it breathes : its secret alchemy turns to potable gold the poisonous waters which flow from death through life ; it strips the veil of familiarity from the world, and lays bare the naked and sleeping beauty which is the spirit of its forms.
Page 36 - The cultivation of poetry is never more to be desired than at periods when, from an excess of the selfish and calculating principle, the accumulation of the materials of external life exceed the quantity of the power of assimilating them to the internal laws of human nature.
Page 35 - There is no want of knowledge respecting what is wisest and best in morals, government, and political economy, or, at least, what is wiser and better than what men now practise and endure. But we let "/ dare not wait upon I would, like the poor cat in the adage.
Page 38 - It is as it were the interpenetration of a diviner nature through our own ; but its footsteps are like those of a wind over the sea, which the coming calm erases, and whose traces remain only as on the wrinkled sand which paves it.

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