Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

rather an interpolation of heterogene- 170 tion (inflamed perhaps in some degree by ous matter. Mr. Wordsworth added two opposition) was distinguished by its or three poems written in his own char intensity, I might almost say by its reacter, in the impassioned, lofty, and sus ligious fervor. These facts, and the intained diction which is characteristic of tellectual energy of the author, which his genius. In this form the Lyrical was more or less consciously felt, where Ballads were published; and were pre it was outwardly and even bois- (130 sented by him, as an experiment, whether terously denied, meeting with sentiments subjects, which from their nature rejected of aversion to his opinions, and of alarm the usual ornaments and extra-colloquial at their consequences, produced an eddy style of poems in general, might not (80 of criticism, which would of itself have be so managed in the language of ordinary borne up the poems by the violence with life as to produce the pleasurable interest which it whirled them round and round. which it is the peculiar business of poetry | With many parts of this preface, in the to impart. To the second edition he sense attributed to them, and which added a preface of considerable length; in the words undoubtedly seem to authorize, which, notwithstanding some passages I never concurred; but, on the con- (140 of apparently a contrary import, he was trary, objected to them as erroneous in understood to contend for the extension principle, and as contradictory (in apof this style to poetry of all kinds, and pearance at least) both to other parts of to reject as vicious and indefensible all loo the same preface and to the author's phrases and forms of style that were not own practice in the greater number of included in what he (unfortunately, I the poems themselves. Mr. Wordsworth, think, adopting an equivocal expression) | in his recent collection, has, I find, decalled the language of real life. From graded this prefatory disquisition to the this preface, prefixed to poems in which end of his second volume, to be read or it was impossible to deny the presence of not at the reader's choice. But he (150 original genius, however mistaken its di has not, as far as I can discover, anrection might be deemed, arose the whole | nounced any change in his poetic creed. long-continued controversy. For from At all events, considering it as the source the conjunction of perceived power (100 of a controversy, in which I have been with supposed heresy I explain the in- honored more than I deserve by the freveteracy, and in some instances, I grieve quent conjunction of my name with his, to say, the acrimonious passions, with I think it expedient to declare, once for which the controversy has been con all, in what points I coincide with his ducted by the assailants.

opinions, and in what points I altogether Had Mr. Wordsworth's poems been the | differ. But in order to render myself (160 silly, the childish things, which they were intelligible, I must previously, in as few for a long time described as being; had | words as possible, explain my ideas, first, they been really distinguished from the | of a poem; and secondly, of poetry itself, compositions of other poets merely by (110 | in kind and in essence. meanness of language, and inanity of | The office of philosophical disquisition thought; had they indeed contained noth consists in just distinction; while it is ing more than what is found in the paro- the privilege of the philosopher to predies and pretended imitations of them; serve himself constantly aware that disthey must have sunk at once, a dead | tinction is not division. In order to obweight, into the slough of oblivion, and | tain adequate notions of any truth, (170 have dragged the preface along with we must intellectually separate its disthem. But year after year increased the | tinguishable parts; and this is the technumber of Mr. Wordsworth's admirers. nical process of philosophy. But having They were found, too, not in the lower (120 so done, we must then restore them in our classes of the reading public, but chiefly conceptions to the unity in which they among young men of strong sensibility | actually coexist; and this is the result of and meditative minds; and their admira- | philosophy. A poem contains the same elements as a prose composition; the dif- not contain in itself the reason why it is ference, therefore, must consist in a dif- | so, and not otherwise. If meter be superferent combination of them, in conse- (180 added, all other parts must be made quence of a different object proposed. consonant with it. They must be such as According to the difference of the object to justify the perpetual and distinct atwill be the difference of the combination. / tention to each part, which an exact corIt is possible that the object may be respondent recurrence of accent and merely to facilitate the recollection of sound are calculated to excite. The final any given facts or observations by arti definition then, so deduced, may be ficial arrangement; and the composition thus worded. A poem is that species (240 will be a poem, merely because it is dis- of composition, which is opposed to works tinguished from prose by meter, or by of science, by proposing for its immediate rime, or by both conjointly. In this, (190 object pleasure, not truth; and from all the lowest sense, a man might attribute other species (having this object in comthe name of a poem to the well-known mon with it) it is discriminated by proenumeration of the days in the several posing to itself such delight from the months:

whole, as is compatible with a distinct “Thirty days hath September,

gratification from each component part.

Controversy is not seldom excited in April, June, and November,” etc.,

consequence of the disputants at- (250 and others of the same class and pur-taching each a different meaning to the pose. And as a particular pleasure is same word; and in few instances has this found in anticipating the recurrence of been more striking than in disputes consound and quantities, all compositions (200 cerning the present subject. If a man that have this charm superadded, what chooses to call every composition a poem, ever be their contents, may be entitled which is rime, or measure, or both, I must poems.

leave his opinion uncontroverted. The So much for the superficial form. A distinction is at least competent to chardifference of object and contents supplies acterize the writer's intention. If it were an additional ground of distinction. The subjoined, that the whole is likewise (260 , immediate purpose may be the communi- entertaining or affecting as a tale, or as cation of truths: either of truth absolute a series of interesting reflections, I of and demonstrable, as in works of science; course admit this as another fit ingredior of facts experienced and recorded, 210 i ent of a poem, and an additional merit. as in history. Pleasure, and that of the But if the definition sought for be that highest and most permanent kind, may of a legitimate poem, I answer, it must result from the attainment of the end; be one the parts of which mutually supbut it is not itself the immediate end. port and explain each other; all in their In other works the communication of proportion harmonizing with, and suppleasure may be the immediate purpose; porting the purpose and known in- (270 and though truth, either moral or intel fluences of metrical arrangement. The lectual, ought to be the ultimate end, yet philosophic critics of all ages coincide with this will distinguish the character of the the ultimate judgment of all countries, author, not the class to which the (220 in equally denying the praises of a just work belongs. ...

poem, on the one hand, to a series of But the communication of pleasure may striking lines or distichs, each of which be the immediate object of a work not absorbing the whole attention of the metrically composed; and that object reader to itself, disjoins it from its conmay have been in a high degree attained, text, and makes it a separate whole, inas in novels and romances. Would then stead of a harmonizing part; and on (280 the mere superaddition of meter, with or | the other hand, to an unsustained comwithout rime, entitle these to the name position, from which the reader collects of poems? The answer is, that nothing rapidly the general result unattracted by can permanently please, which does [230 | the component parts. The reader should

be carried forward, not merely or chiefly thoughts, and emotions of the poet's by the mechanical impulse of curiosity, or own mind. The poet, described in 1340 by a restless desire to arrive at the final ideal perfection, brings the whole soul solution; but by the pleasurable activity of man into activity, with the subordinaof mind excited by the attractions of the | tion of its faculties to each other, acjourney itself. Like the motion of a (290 cording to their relative worth and digserpent, which the Egyptians made the nity. He diffuses a tone and spirit of emblem of intellectual power; or like the unity, that blends, and (as it were) path of sound through the air, at every fuses, each into each, by that synthetic step he pauses and half recedes, and from and magical power, to which we have the retrogressive movement collects the exclusively appropriated the name of force which again carries him onward. imagination. This power, first put (350 Precipitandus est liber spiritus, says in action by the will and understanding, Petronius Arbiter most happily. The epic and retained under their irremissive, thet, liber, here balances the preceding though gentle and unnoticed, control verb: and it is not easy to conceive (300 (laxis effertur habenis), reveals itself in the more meaning condensed in fewer words. balance or reconciliation of opposite or

But if this should be admitted as a discordant qualities: of sameness, with satisfactory character of a poem, we have difference; of the general, with the constill to seek for a definition of poetry. crete; the idea, with the image; the inThe writings of Plato, and Bishop Taylor, dividual, with the representative; the and the Theoria Sacra of Burnet, furnish sense of novelty and freshness, with (360 undeniable proofs that poetry of the old and familiar objects; a more than highest kind may exist without meter, | usual state of emotion, with more than and even without the contra-distinguish usual order; judgment ever awake and ing objects of a poem. The first chap- (310 steady self-possession with enthusiasm ter of Isaiah (indeed a very large propor and feeling profound or vehement; and tion of the whole book) is poetry in the while it blends and harmonizes the natmost emphatic sense; yet it would be not ural and the artificial, still subordinates less irrational than strange to assert, that art to nature; the manner to the matter; pleasure, and not truth, was the imme and our admiration of the poet to our diate object of the prophet. In short, sympathy with the poetry. “Doubt- 1370 whatever specific import we attach to the less," as Sir John Davies observes of the word poetry, there will be found involved soul (and his words may with slight alin it, as a necessary consequence, that a teration be applied, and even more appoem of any length neither can be, [320 propriately, to the poetic imagination), nor ought to be, all poetry. Yet if a harmonious whole is to be produced, the re | “Doubtless this could not be, but that she maining parts must be preserved in keep turns ing with the poetry; and this can be no | Bodies to spirit by sublimation strange, otherwise effected than by such a studied | As fire converts to fire the things it burns, selection and artificial arrangement as As we our food into our nature change. will partake of one, though not a peculiar property of poetry. And this again can “From their gross matter she abstracts be no other than the property of exciting their forms, a more continuous and equal atten- (330 And draws a kind of quintessence from tion than the language of prose aims at, things;

(380 whether colloquial or written. ... Which to her proper nature she transforms

What is poetry? is so nearly the same To bear them light on her celestial question with, what is a poet? that the wings. answer to the one is involved in the solution of the other. For it is a distinction “Thus does she, when from individual resulting from the poetic genius itself, states which sustains and modifies the images, | She doth abstract the universal kinds;

Which then re-clothed in divers names and His eye was on the Inchcape float; fates

Quoth he, “My men, put out the boat, 30 Steal access through our senses to our And row me to the Inchcape Rock, minds."

And I'll plague the Abbot of Aber

brothok.” Finally, good sense is the body of poetic genius, fancy its drapery, motion its life,

The boat is lowered, the boatmen row, and imagination the soul that is every And to the Inchcape Rock they go; where, and in each, and forms all into [390 Sir Ralph bent over from the boat, 35 one graceful and intelligent whole.

And he cut the bell from the Inchcape

float. ROBERT SOUTHEY (1774-1843)

Down sunk the bell with a gurgling sound,

The bubbles rose and burst around;
THE INCHCAPE ROCK

Quoth Sir Ralph, “The next who comes No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,

to the rock The ship was still as she could be,

Won't bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok.” 40 Her sails from heaven received no motion,

Sir Ralph the Rover sailed away, Her keel was steady in the ocean.

He scoured the seas for many a day;

And now grown rich with plundered store Without either sign or sound of their

He steers his course for Scotland's shore.
shock
The waves flowed over the Inchcape Rock; So thick a haze o'erspreads the sky 45
So little they rose, so little they fell, They cannot see the sun on high;
They did not move the Inchcape Bell. The wind hath blown a gale all day,

At evening it hath died away.
The Abbot of Aberbrothok
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape On deck the Rover takes his stand,
Rock;

So dark it is they see no land. On a buoy in the storm it floated and Quoth Sir Ralph, “It will be lighter soon, swung,

For there is the dawn of the rising moon." And over the waves its warning rung.

“Canst hear,” said one, “the breakers When the Rock was hid by the surge's roar? swell,

For methinks we should be near the The mariners heard the warning bell;

shore.” And then they knew the perilous Rock, 15

“Now where we are I cannot tell, 55 And blessed the Abbot of Aberbrothok. But I wish I could hear the Inchcape Bell.' The sun in heaven was shining gay,

They hear no sound, the swell is strong; All things were joyful on that day;

Though the wind hath fallen they drift The sea-birds screamed as they wheeled

along, round,

Till the vessel strikes with a shivering And there was joyaunce in their sound. 20

shock,

“Oh Christ! it is the Inchcape Rock!” 60 The buoy of the Inchcape Bell was seen

Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair; A darker speck on the ocean green;

He cursed himself in his despair; Sir Ralph the Rover walked his deck,

The waves rush in on every side, And he fixed his eye on the darker speck.

The ship is sinking beneath the tide. He felt the cheering power of spring, 25 | But even in his dying fear . 65 It made him whistle, it made him sing; One dreadful sound could the Rover hear, His heart was mirthful to excess,

A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell But the Rover's mirth was wickedness. | The Devil below was ringing his knell.

10

50

5

Among others. the bria

20

MY DAYS AMONG THE DEAD ARE But ere he alighted at Netherby gate, PASSED

The bride had consented, the gallant came late;

το My days among the Dead are passed; For a laggard in love, and a dastard in Around me I behold,

war, Where'er these casual eyes are cast, Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave LochThe mighty minds of old;

invar. My never-failing friends are they, With whom I converse day by day. So boldly he entered the Netherby Hall,

Among bridesmen, and kinsmen, and With them I take delight in weal, And seek relief in woe;

Then spoke the bride's father, his hand And while I understand and feel

on his sword

15 How much to them I owe,

10 (For the poor craven bridegroom said My cheeks have often been bedewed

never a word), With tears of thoughtful gratitude. “O, come ye in peace here, or come ye in

war, My thoughts are with the Dead; with Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord them

Lochinvar?" I live in long-past years, Their virtues love, their faults condemn, 15 “I long wooed your daughter, my suit you Partake their hopes and fears,

denied; And from their lessons seek and find Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like Instruction with an humble mind.

its tide,

And now I am come, with this lost love of My hopes are with the Dead; anon

mine, My place with them will be,

To lead but one measure, drink one cup And I with them will travel on

of wine. Through all futurity;

There are maidens in Scotland more Yet leaving here a name, I trust,

lovely by far, That will not perish in the dust.

That would gladly be bride to the young

Lochinvar." SIR WALTER SCOTT (1771-1832)

The bride kissed the goblet; the knight From MARMION, CANTO V

took it up,

25 He quaffed off the wine, and he threw LOCHINVAR

down the cup.

She looked down to blush, and she looked 0, young Lochinvar is come out of the up to sigh, west,

With a smile on her lips, and a tear in her Through all the wide Border his steed was eye. the best;

He took her soft hand, ere her mother And, save his good broadsword, he weap

could bar,ons had none,

Now tread we a measure,” said young He rode all unarmed, and he rode all alone. Lochinvar. So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,

5

So stately his form, and so lovely her face, There never was knight like the young That never a hall such a galliardi did Lochinvar.

grace; .

While her mother did fret, and her father He stayed not for brake, and he stopped did fume, not for stone,

And the bridegroom stood dangling his He swam the Eske River where ford there bonnet and plume; was none;

1 lively dance.

20 |

u alone.

30

« AnteriorContinuar »