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our day-that spirit which has no sympathy with aught that is great beyond the pale of customary formalities, and sheds its blighting influence over all that is enthusiastic, and generous, and highminded. It is possible for a sneer or a cavil to strike sometimes a superficial fact; I never knew the one or the other reach the deep heart and blessedness of truth.
IN the former Lecture I endeavoured to answer the question-What is Poetry? Two replies were given: It is the natural language of excited feeling; and—A work of imagination wrought into form by art. We said that it arises out of the necessity of expression, and the impossibility of adequate expression of any of the deeper feelings in direct terms. Hence the soul clothes those feelings in symbolic and sensuous imagery, in order to suggest them.
And thus our definitions agree with two of Milton's requirements for Poetry that it be "simple, sensuous, passionate." Sensuous, that is, suggestive to the imagination of truth through images which make their impression on the senses. Passionate, that is, as opposed to scientific; for the province of Poetry is not the intellect, but the feelings.
And thus, too, they coincide with the character given to Poetry by the great critic of antiquity, as an imitative art: for it is the art of suggesting
and thus imitating through form, the feelings that have been suggested by another form, or perhaps have arisen without form at all. So it takes its place with all art, whose office is not to copy form by form, but to express and hint spiritual truths.
It is plain, from what has been said, that Poetry may be spoken of in two senses. In the specific or technical sense, by Poetry we mean the expression in words, most appropriately metrical words, of the truths of imagination and feeling. But in the generic and larger sense, Poetry is the expression of imaginative truth in any form, provided only that it be symbolic, suggestive, and indirect. Hence we said that there is a Poetry of sculpture, architecture, painting; and hence all nature is poetical, because it is the form in which the eternal Feeling has clothed itself with infinite suggestiveness: and hence Lord Byron calls the stars "the Poetry of heaven;" and tells us that to him "high mountains were a feeling;" and that mountain and wood and sky spake
"A mutual language, clearer than the tome
Of his land's tongue, which he would oft forsake
And hence Wordsworth tells us that Liberty has two voices:
"One is of the sea,
And one is of the mountains."
And hence a greater than either has said that the Heavens speak, and that "There is neither speech nor language where their voices are not heard." And hence, too, Woman has been called the Poetry of life, because her presence in this lower world expresses for us, as well as calls out, those infinite feelings of purity, tenderness, and devotion, whose real existence is in our own bosoms. And hence, again, there is a Poetry in music: not in that in which sound imitates sound, as when the roaring of the sea, or the pattering of the rain, or church bells, or bugles, or the groans of the dying are produced, for in such cases there is only a mimicry, more or less ingenious; but that in which we can almost fancy that there is something analogous to the inner history of the human heart,
-an expression of resolve or moral victory, or aspiration, or other feelings far more shadowy, infinite, and intangible: or that in which the feelings of a nation have found for themselves an indirect and almost unconscious utterance, as it is said of the Irish melody, that through it, long centuries of depression have breathed themselves out in cadences of a wild, low wail.
We divided poets into two orders: those in whom the vision and the faculty divine of imagination exists; and those in whom the plastic power of shaping predominates ;-the men of
poetic inspiration, and the men of poetic taste. In the first order I placed Tennyson; in the second, Pope.
Considerable discussion, I am told, has been excited among the men of this Institution by both these positions,some warmly defending them, and others as warmly impugning. For myself, it is an abundant reward to find that Working Men can be interested in such questions;-that they can debate the question whether Pope was a poet, and be induced to read Tennyson. For the true aim of every one who aspires to be a teacher is, or ought to be, not to impart his own opinions, but to kindle other minds. I care very little, comparatively, whether you adopt my views or not; but I do care much to know that I can be the humble instrument, in this or higher matters, of leading any man to stir up the power within him, and to form a creed and faith which are in a living way, and not on mere authority, his own.
However, I will explain to you on what grounds I made these two assertions. And, first, as respects Pope-if any one approved of what I said, under the impression that I denied to Pope the name of poet, I must disclaim his approbation: I did not say so. Pope is a true poet: in his own order he stands amongst the foremost; only, that order is the second, not the first. In the mastery of his