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and expresses so perfectly the real and close analogy between them and the feelings excited by a quiet star-light night-and that, too, without making any harsh transition from persons to things, so beautifully does he impersonate the “meditative air”-that the whole fulness of the actual sentiment (indeed more than the whole fulness of the sentiment that any but a poet would have felt) comes flowing into the mind. Again, where he describes the jewels of the Queen as
“Now gleaming forth defiant, now reposed
In silent capabilities of light,'
the poetry is felt to consist in the spontaneous passage from the feeling excited by the mere visual beauty of light, to that higher sentiment felt towards the light that comes and goes with mental life, and moral agency. Indeed all Mr. Bailey's sentiments seem linked together in that close alliance, that his poetry summons up and expresses at once not a single phase, but a various complexity of feeling, thus combining in language the numerous elements of emotion, and, by touching the various chords, calls out not single notes, but musical harmonies from the mind. All we complain of is, that the feelings he thus frequently touches are never among the highest; his hand never approaches even the higher notes of moral sentiment and religious love; and in a poem professedly religious, we reach no higher tone of feeling than is afforded by the most ordinary experiences of human life. With Mr. Browning it is quite otherwise; there is true spiritual feeling and moral keenness in his poem ; but his mind is more intellectual than Mr. Bailey's, and he delineates isolated thought and sentiment without difficulty, but they have the coldness and unreality of mere phases of feeling, prominent phases perhaps, yet not the full expression of the whole sensitive nature. His thought does not apparently live inside but outside his affections, and when one of them is touched, the vibration does not pass on to the others with that facility which in truly poetic minds rouses into expression so many shades of sentiment at once; there seems to be (as indeed in all ordinary minds there is) conducting medium which separates his various feelings and affections, and his imagery is taken, especially in these latter poems, not from the natural analogies of related feelings, but from recollection of similar intellectual ideas. Poetry has been defined to be the “expression of the affections by means of the imagination ;" but this is not strictly true; it is the expression of some parts of our sensitive nature, with relation to, and through the analogies of, other sensations or affections. The detection of mere intellectual resemblances is one function of the imagination; yet to express the affections by such analogies is not poetical, but the contrary; this would be illustration and not poetical expression. Lord Bacon had a rich imagination, and yet his language, even when expressing the affections, is seldom or never poetical: because his expressions arise not from the natural connection of associated or adjacent sentiments, but from the intellectual connection of associated ideas. Shakspere is everywhere admitted as the highest poet the world has ever seen; and yet his theme is not often, if ever, the highest possible ; there is perhaps scarcely one character conceived in the highest tone of Christian and spiritual thought, in the whole of his dramas. Human beauty and perfection abound everywhere; spiritual perfection was not within the range of even his vast intellect. Yet what marks him as so essentially the poet, far above those with even higher aims, and higher nature, is that all his transitions are the natural movements of his mind amongst kindred sensations and sentiments, while for their power and fineness of per. ception, those sentiments are at least very near to human perfection. But for this very reason Shakspere never draws a man of absolute will, where the emotional changes are not supreme but subordinate; it has often been noticed that the powerful characters of Shakspere owe their power to their strength of impulse and passion, not to me re commanding volition; the šykpatns of Aristotle was a character that even Shakspere did not understand. Perhaps no perfect poet could draw such a character faultlessly; for the dramatic element in poetry is the overflow of the spontaneous part of our nature in its complexity, the transition from feeling to feeling; and perhaps the conception of an absolutely perfect dramatist and poet is an impossible one, involving contradictory elements of character. It is just on this account that Sir Walter Scott's poetry is so poor and (in Mr. Ruskin's sense) so merely picturesque as contrasted with what is essentially beautiful or sublime, namely, that his nature seems to have had none of this involution of sentiment as we may call it; he only described what he saw by a single sense or sentiment; and then to enhance the interest, he is obliged to seek out non-essential incidents, strange and grotesque collocations, vivid meeting-lines of different and disconnected feelings, which are called picturesque, rather because they rivet the attention by the novelty and wonder of their coincidence than because they are in themselves imaged forth as beautiful and fine. In this sense the picturesque is a combination that may result from mere intellectual imagination, not from the imagination that is caused by inwardly associated emotions: and accordingly we often see that the most picturesque writers are nearly devoid of poetry. They conceive of new and startling combinations of forms, colours, sentiments, and thoughts, without being led to them by any inward connection of the feelings themselves, and so they produce striking effects, and contrasts, that are artificially artistic, and not a consequence of inward feeling. This is in a very great degree true of Mr. Browning; his poetry and his descriptions are picturesque, not beautiful; there are sharp divisions in his thought, and vivid outlines in his sensations, that give anything but the blended effect of true poetical description, and yet his descriptions are vivid and striking. Mr. Ruskin is, on the other hand, a high example of one who describes natural beauty not with intellectual keenness, but by inward sympathy with the influences of the scene. The description of a scene in the Jura, in his Seven Lamps of Architecture,* is one of the most exquisitely poetical we have ever read; the thoughts fly after each other, not in the order of intellectual observation, but of closely-associated feelings; and instead of the halfstartled and novel interest with which we read a description by Scott, we experience as we read, those strange mysterious feelings that the actual presence of majestic natural beauty always excites. Keats, whose poetry is almost purely sensuous, still
always writes under the influence of the natural associa-
“ The Stars of midnight shall be dear
Shall pass into her face.”
It appears easily from this view of Poetry what is the reason which makes it the tendency of the poet to impersonate or humanize the objects of nature and the world of thought : if that be the essence of poetry, to express the intimate connection of the sensitive faculties of the soul in their collective and simultaneous activity, yet in that wellordered harmony which gives prominence to the highest,
and only calls in the lower sensations to add a fringe of brightness to the whole, then it is obvious that this end can fully be attained only when the object delineated is a person. Towards persons only, are the higher sentiments of the mind awakened, so that their various and transfiguring presence must be lost, if the thoughts are fixed only on passive and lifeless things. And above all, a religious poem gains all its beauty and grandeur from realising everywhere the divine personality: from regarding all the quiet brightness, and gentle shadows of life as unfolded from sentiments yet more mysteriously blended than those of man; and from throwing across all, that infinite shadow of power, which mingles even the profoundest trust with the sublimity of wonder, and softens the narrow intensity of earthly purpose, by revealing beyond its poor horizon that vista of diviner things which must unfix, at last, the gaze of the most downcast soul, and show the boundless spiritual world, in which it has been treading, unaware, its dangerous, though not unguarded way.