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studious of these, as it would by all means, not manifestly absurd, give pleasure : And hence a certain musical cadence, or what we call Rhythm, will be affected by the poet.
But, of all the means of adorning and enlivening a discourse by words, which are infinite, and perpetually grow upon us, as our knowledge of the tongue, in which we write, and our skill in adapting it to the ends of poetry, increases, there is none that pleases more, than figurative expression.
By figurative expression, I would be understood to mean, here, that which respects the pictures or images of things. And this sort of figurative expression is universally pleasing to us, because it tends to impress on the mind the most distinct and vivid conceptions; and truth of representation being of less account in this way of composition, than the - liveliness of it, poetry, as such, will delight
in tropes and figures, and those the most strongly and forceably expressed. And though the application of figures will admit of great variety, according to the nature of the subject, and the management of them must be suited to the taste and apprehension of the people, to whom they are addressed, yet, in some way
br other, they will find a place in all works of poetry; and they who object to the use of them, only shew that they are not capable of being pleased by this sort of composition, or do, in effect, interdict the thing itself.
The ancients looked for so much of this force and spirit of expression in whatever they dignified with the name of poem, that Horace tells us it was made a question by some, whether comedy were rightly referred to this class, because it differed only, in point of measure, from mere prose. Idcirco quidam, comoedia necne poema Esset, quaesivere: quod acer spiritus, ac vis, Nec verbis, nec rebus inest: nisi quod pede
certo Differt sermoni, sermo merus - Sat. 1. I. iv..
But they might have spared their doubt, or at least have resolved it, if they had considered that comedy adopts as much of this force and spirit of words, as is consistent with the nature and degree of that pleasure, which it pretends to give. For the name of poem will belong to every composition, whose primary end is to please, provided it be so constructed as to afford all the pleasure, which its kind or sort : will permit.
IDEA OF II. From the idea of the end of poetry, it follows, that not only figurative and tropical terms will be employed in it, as these, by the images they convey, and by the air of novelty which such indirect ways of speaking carry with them, are found most delightful to us, but also that FICTION, in the largest sense of the word, is essential to poetry. For its purpose is, not to delineate truth simply, but to present it in the most taking forms; not to reflect the real face of things, but to illustrate and adorn it; not to represent the fairest objects only, but to represent them in the fairest lights, and to heighten all their beauties up to the possibility of their natures ; nay, to outstrip nature, and to address itself to our wildest fancy, rather than to our judgment and cooler sense.
Ούτ' επιδερκτά τάδ' ανδράσιν, ότ' επακετά,
Ούτε νόφ σερίληπτα As sings one of the professiona, who seems to have understood his privileges very well.
For there is something in the mind of man, sublime and elevated, which prompts it to overlook all obvious and familiar appearances,
• Empedocles. See Plutarch, vol. I. p. 15. Par..1624,
and to feign to itself other and more extraordinary; such as correspond to the extent of its own powers, and fill out all the faculties and capacities of our souls. This restless and aspiring disposition, poetry, first and principally, would indulge and flatter; and thence takes its name of divine, as if some power, above, human, conspired to lift the mind to these exalted conceptions.
Hence it comes to pass, that it deals in apostrophes and invocations; that it impersonates the virtues and vices; peoples all creation with new and living forms; calls up infernal spectres to terrify, or brings down celestial natures to astonish, the imagination ; assembles, combines, or connects its ideas, at plea„sure; .in short, prefers not only the agreeable, and the graceful, but, as occasion calls upon her, the vast, the incredible, I had almost said, the impossible, to the obvious truth and nature of things. For all this is but a feeble sexpression of that magic.virtue of poetry, which our Shakespear has so forcibly described in those well-known lines-
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rowling,
earth to heav'n;
And, as Inagination bodies forth : · The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen Turns them to shape, and gives to aery
When the received system of manners or religion in any country, happens to be so constituted as to suit itself in some degree to this extravagant turn of the human mind, we may expect that poetry will seize it with avidity, will dilate upon it with pleasure, and take a pride to erect its specious wonders on so proper and convenient a ground. Whence it cannot seem strange that, of all the forms in which poetry has appeared, that of pagan fable, and gothic romance, should, in their turns, be found the most alluring to the true poet. For, in defect of these advantages, he will ever adventure, in some sort, to supply their place with others of his own invention; that is, he will mould every system, and convert every subject, into the most amazing and miraculous form.
And this is that I would say, at present, of these two requisites of universal poetry, namely, that licence of expression, which we call the style of poetry, and that licence of represen