Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

gloom. The effects which the passions produce upon the body, would also prove a happy fource of the description of emocions. Thus, the futtering pulfe, the changing colour, the feverish glow, the failing heart and the confused senses, being natural and invariable fymptoms of the passion of love, would soon be obseryby the poet, and successfully used to heighten his description. Hitherto all is fimple and natural, and poetry so far from being the art of fiction, is the faithful copyist of external objects and real emotions. But the mind of man cannot long be confined within prescribed limits; there is an internal eye constantly stretching its view beyond the bounds of natural vision, and something new, something greater, more beautiful, more excellent, is required to gratify its noble longing. This eye of the mind is the imagination—it peoples the world with new beings, it embodies

abstract

abstract ideas, it suggests unexpected resemblances, it creates first, and then presides over its creation with absolute sway. Not lefs accurately and philosophically, than poetically, has our great Shakespeare described this faculty in the following lines.

The Poet's eye in a fine phrenzy rolling Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, And as imagination bodies forth The form of things unknown, the Poet's pen Turns them to shape, and gives to aery nothing A local habitation and a name.

The most essential differences in poetical composition may be referred to the circumstance of its turning upon nature or fiction, and on this will depend its fitness or unfitness to produce peculiar effects. In general, whatever is designed to move the passions cannot be too natural and simple. It is also evident that when

the

A 4

1

the professed design of the poet is to paint the beauties of nature and the rural landscape of pastoral life, he must give as great an air of reality as possible to his piece, fince a bad imitation necessarily produces disgust. On the other hand, when the aim is to elevate and surprize, to gratify a love of novelty and the pleafing luxury of indulging the fancy, all the powers of fiction must be set at work, and the imagination employed without controul to create new images and discover uncommon resemblances and connexions. To pursue our instance taken from the passion of love; the poet who wishes rather to please and surprize than to move, will ransack heaven and earth for objects of brilliant and unusual comparison with every circumstance relating to the passion itself or its object. He will not value fentiment as the real offspring of an emotion, but as susceptible of ingenious turns,

striking

[ocr errors]

striking contrasts and pleasing allusions. He will not compose from the heart but the head, and will consult his imagination rather than his sensations. This quality is peculiarly termed wit, and a just taste for it is never acquired without a considerable degree of national refinement. Pieces of wit are therefore later in their date than

1

any others.

This brief account of the progress of poetry in general being premised, let us proceed to a nearer inspection of our subject.

In attempting to fix a meaning to the word song, the first idea which strikes us arises from its name, signifying something to be sung. We shall discuss this a little at large.

The union of music with poetry must

appear

appear extremely natural. We find it to have taken place universally in the uncultivated state of all nations, and to have continued partially in the most refined. In all languages the words expressing vocal music have been also used indifcriminately to signify poetry; and though we at present consider such expressions as figurative, there is no doubt but they were originally natural. The sacred name of song was not then prostituted to a succession of unmeaning sounds tortured into music through the odious pipe of an equivocal mutilated animal ; it was a general term to express all that the sister Muses of

poetry and melody could combine to delight the ear and ravish the heart.

This enchanting union is now in great measure dissolved, yet I will venture to assert that it was not poetry but her less sentimental companion music who began the separation. The luxury of artificial harmony,

taking

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »