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equal in the order of time, but in the order of genesis the thought is prior to the form. The poet has a new thought: he has a whole new experience to unfold; he will tell us how it was with him, and all men will be the richer in his fortune.-Essays, 2d Series, pp. 9-11.

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It is the office of the poet, he tells us, "by the beauty of things to announce "a new and higher beauty. Nature offers all her creatures to him as a picture language." "The poorest experience is rich enough for all the purposes of expressing thought;" "the world being put under the mind for verb and noun, the poet is he who can articulate it;" he "turns the world to glass, and shows us all things in their right series and proportions." For through that better perception he stands one step nearer things, and sees the flowing or metamorphosis, perceives that thought is multiform; that within the form of every creature is a force impelling it to ascend into a higher form, and, following with his eyes the life, uses the forms which express that life, and so his speech flows with the flowing of nature." "The poet alone knows astronomy, chemistry, vegetation and animation, for he does not stop at these facts, but employs them as signs."

"This insight, which expresses itself by what is called Imagination, is a very high sort of seeing, which does not come by study, but by the intellect being where and what it sees, by sharing the path, or circuit of things through forms, and so making them translucid to others. The path of things is silent. Will they suffer a speaker to go with them? A spy they will not suffer; a lover, a poet, is the transcendency of their own nature, — him they will suffer. The condition of true naming, on the poet's part, is his resigning himself to the divine aura which breathes through forms, and accompanying that.

"It is a secret which every intellectual man quickly learns, that, beyond the energy of his possessed and conscious intellect, he is capable of a new energy (as of an intellect doubled on itself,) by abandonment to the nature of things; that, beside his privacy of power as an individual man, there is a great public power, on which he can draw, by unlocking, at all risks, his human doors, and suffering the ethereal tides to roll and circulate through him: then he is caught up into the life of the Universe, his speech is thunder, his thought is law, and his words are universally intelligible as the plants and animals. The poet knows that he speaks adequately, then, only when he speaks somewhat wildly, or, with the flower of the mind;' not with the intellect, used as an organ, but with the intellect released from all service,

and suffered to take its direction from its celestial life; or, as the ancients were wont to express themselves, not with intellect alone, but with the intellect inebriated by nectar. As the traveller who has lost his way, throws his reins on his horse's neck, and trusts to the instinct of the animal to find his road, so we must do with the divine animal who carries us through this world. For if in any manner we can stimulate this instinct, new passages are opened for us into nature, the mind flows into and through things hardest and highest, and the metamorphosis is possible."-Essays, 2d Series, pp. 28-30.

In reading criticisms on Emerson's poetry, one is sometimes reminded of a passage in Pepy's Diary, where that worthy pronounces judgment on some of the works of Shakspeare. Perhaps it may be thought an appropriate introduction to some strictures of our own.

"Aug. 20, 1666. To Deptford by water, reading Othello, Moor of Venice, which I have heretofore esteemed a mighty good play, but having so lately read the Adventures of Five Hours, it seems a mean thing. Sept. 29th, 1662. To the King's Theatre, where we saw Midsummer Night's Dream, which I had never seen before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid and ridiculous play, that ever I saw in my life."

Emerson is certainly one

"Quem tu, Melpomene, semel

Nascentem placido lumine videris ;

Spissæ nemorum comæ

Fingent Æolio carmine nobilem."

Yet his best poetry is in his prose, and his poorest, thinnest and least musical prose is in his poems.

The "Ode to Beauty" contains some beautiful thoughts in a fair form:

"Who gave thee, O Beauty,

The keys of this breast,-
Too credulous lover

Of blest and unblest?
Say, when in lapsed ages
Thee knew I of old?
Or what was the service
For which I was sold?
When first my eyes saw thee,
I found me thy thrall,
By magical drawings,
Sweet tyrant of all!
I drank at thy fountain

False waters of thirst;
Thou intimate stranger,
Thou latest and first!
Thy dangerous glances
Make women of men;
New-born, we are melting

Into nature again."— Poems, pp. 136—137.

The three pieces which seem the most perfect poems, both in matter and form, are the "Problem," from which we have already given liberal extracts above; "Each in all," which, however, is certainly not a great poem, but simple, natural and beautiful; and the "Sphinx," which has higher merits than the others, and is a poem of a good deal of beauty. The Sphinx is the creation of the old classic mythology. But her question is wholly modern, though she has been waiting so long for the seer to solve it, that she has become drowsy.

This is her problem:

"The fate of the man-child;

The meaning of man."

All the material and animal world is at peace :

"Erect as a sunbeam,
Upspringeth the palm;

The elephant browses,
Undaunted and calm;

In beautiful motion

The thrush plies his wings;
Kind leaves of his covert,


Your silence he sings.

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'See, earth, air, sound, silence,

Plant, quadruped, bird,

By one music enchanted,

One deity stirred,

Each the other adorning,
Accompany still;

Night veileth the morning,
The vapor the hill."

In his early age man shares the peace of the world:

"The babe by its mother

Lies bathed in joy;

Glide its hours uncounted,

The sun is its toy;

Shines the peace of all being,
Without cloud, in its eyes;

And the sum of the world

In soft miniature lies."

But when the child becomes a man he is ill at ease:

"But man crouches and blushes,

Absconds and conceals;

He creepeth and peepeth,

He palters and steals;
Infirm, melancholy,

Jealous glancing around,
An oaf, an accomplice,

He poisons the ground."

Mother Nature complains of his condition :

"Who has drugged my boy's cup?

Who has mixed my boy's bread?
Who, with sadness and madness,

Has turned the man-child's head?"

The Sphinx wishes to know the meaning of all this. A poet answers that this is no mystery to him; man is superior to nature, and its unconscious and involuntary happiness is not enough for him; superior to the events of his own history, so the joy which he has attained is always unsatisfactory:

"The fiend that man harries

Is love of the Best;
Yawns the pit of the Dragon,
Lit by rays from the Blest.
The Lethe of nature

Can't trance him again,
Whose soul sees the perfect,

Which his eyes seek in vain.
"Profounder, profounder,
Man's spirit must dive;
To his aye-rolling orbit
No goal will arrive;

The heavens that now draw him
With sweetness untold,

Once found, for new heavens

He spurneth the old."

Even sad things turn out well:
"Pride ruined the angels,

Their shame them restores;
And the joy that is sweetest
Lurks in stings of remorse."

Thus the riddle is solved; then the Sphinx turns into beauti

ful things:

"Uprose the merry Sphinx,

And crouched no more in stone;
She melted into purple cloud,

She silvered in the moon;
She spired into a yellow flame;

She flowered in blossoms red;

She flowed into a foaming wave;

She stood Monadnoc's head."-Poems, pp.8-13.

We pass over the Threnody, where "well sung woes" might soothe a "pensive ghost." The Dirge contains some stanzas that are full of nature and well expressed:

"Knows he who tills this lonely field,

To reap its scanty corn,

What mystic fruit his acres yield
At midnight and at morn?

"The winding Concord gleamed below,
Pouring as wide a flood
As when my brothers, long ago,
Came with me to the wood.

"But they are gone the holy ones
Who trod with me this lovely vale;
The strong, star-bright companions
Are silent, low, and pale.

"My good, my noble, in their prime,

Who made this world the feast it was,
Who learned with me the lore of time,
Who loved this dwelling-place!

"I touch this flower of silken


Which once our childhood knew ;

Its soft leaves wound me with a grief

Whose balsam never grew.

"Hearken to yon pine-warbler

Singing aloft in the tree!
Hearest thou, O traveller,

What he singeth to me?

"Not unless God made sharp thine ear
With sorrow such as mine,

Out of that delicate lay could'st thou
Its heavy tale divine.

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