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things which they are the least like : so that they do not blend with the poem, but seem stuck upon it, like splendid patch-work, or remain quite distinct from it, like detached substances, painted and varnished over. A beautiful thought is sure to be lost in an endless commentary upon it. The speakers are like persons who have both leisure and inclination to make riddles on their own situation, and to twist and turn every object or incident into acrostics and anagrams. Every thing is spun out into allegory; and a digression is always preferred to the main story. Sentiment is built up upon plays, of words ; the hero or heroine feels, not from the impulse of passion, but from the force of dialectics. There is besides a strange attempt to substitute the language of painting for that of poetry, to make us see theic
, feelings in the faces of the persons; and again, consistently with this, in the description of the picture in Tarquin and Lucrece, those circumstances are chiefly insisted on, which it would be impossible to convey except by words. The invocation to opportunity in the Tarquin and Lucrece is full of thoughts and images, but at the same time it is over-loaded by them. The concluding stanza expresses all our objections to this kind of poetry >
“Oh! idle words, servants to shallow fools ;
Since that my case is past all help of law.”
“Round hoof'd, short jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
Save a proud rider on so proud a back."
the reader but compare it with a speech in the Midsummer Night's Dream where Theseus describes his hounds
“And their heads are hung With ears that sweep away the morning dew”. and he will perceive at once what we mean by the difference between Shakespear's own poetry, and that of his plays. We prefer the Passionate Pilgrim very much to the Lover's Complaint. It has been doubted whether the latter poem is Shakespear's.
Of the Sonnets we do not well know what to say. The subject of them seems to be somewhat equivocal; but many of them are highly beautiful in themselves, and interesting as they relate to the state of the personal feelings of the author. The following are some of the most striking :
Then happy I, that love and am belov'd,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
For thy sweet love remember'd, such wealth brings,
Therefore, like her, I sometime hold my tongue,
, that seals up all in rest.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long." In all these, as well as in many others, there is a mild tone of sentiment, deep, mellow, and sustained, very different from the crudeness of his earlier poems.
LECTURES ON THE ENGLISH POETS
ON POETRY IN GENERAL
The best general notion which I can give of poetry is, that it is the natural impression of any object or event, by its vividness exciting an involuntary movement of imagination and passion, and producing, by sympathy, a certain modulation of the voice, or sounds, expressing it.
In treating of poetry, I shall speak first of the subjectmatter of it, next of the forms of expression to which it gives birth, and afterwards of its connection with harmony of sound.
Poetry is the language of the imagination and the passions. It relates to whatever gives immediate pleasure or pain to the human mind. It comes home to the bosoms and businesses of men ; for nothing but what so comes home to them in the most general and intelligible shape, can be a subject for poetry. Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself. He who has a contempt for poetry, cannot have much respect for himself, or for anything else. It is not a mere frivolous accomplishment, (as some persons have been led to imagine) the trifling amusement of a few idle readers or leisure hours—it has been the study and delight of mankind in all ages. Many people suppose that poetry is something to be found only in books,