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Fifth Series, Volume XXXVII.
No. 1965. – February 18, 1882.
Contemporary Review, .
Spectator, VII. BLACKS IN QUEENSLAND,
Pall Mall Gazette,
387 398 412 425
432 442 447
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THE MEETING OF THE LANDLORDS.
Crowned, through all thy golden hours, Their minds about destiny dreadfully worry- With Love's brightest, richest flowers, ing;
Strong in Faith's unshaken powers,
Stay, what chance and change may wait
As you glide away:
Now is all so glad and bright; And hinting that Providence sure must be
Now we breathe in sure delight;
Now we laugh in fate's despite ;
Stay with us, sweet day.
Ab, she cannot, may not stop;
All things must decay;
Then with heart, and head, and will,
Take the joy that lingers still,
Prize the pause,in wrong and ill,
Prize the passing day.
All The Year Round.
About Valuation ;
A WIND FROM THE SEA.
The blue above, the sheep-shorn grass beSociety's self from its basis and bearing;
neath, And Aaring, and blaring, and simple souls Over the shoulder of the Down we sped, scaring
And saw the picture of the world outspread By wild elocution
Where Solent winds beyond the purple heath, About Revolution;
And sudden, waked as by the salt-sea breath,
And he in cold attainder lay of death.
Then with my tears a kindling triumph strove, And down on the Land Act like Cataracts pour, It was such joy to this poor heart of mine O’er and o'er, o'er and o'er,
To be so shrewdly stung of long-lost love; With a mighty uproar:
To know it living by a bleeding sign, While the World says, · We've heard all this And, in the hungry, shaping tooth thereof, shindy before !”
Feel it at work to make iny soul divine. Punch.
A SONNET FOR THE NEW YEAR.
AFTER MANY DAYS. DEAR heart ! you beat beside my own,
That night we faced the valley view,
And marked the moon against the blue Rise slowly, while a gentle moan
Sobbed slowly through the elms and died
Away to silence, as the wide
Here is the scene unchanged! Above
The same stars shine, the same trees sigh,
The same fair vistas frontwards lie;
H. H. v. S.
The chill grey morning steals across the sky,
From The Contemporary Review. rhythm or verse. Unfortunately, in these OLD AND NEW CANONS OF POETICAL days of generous but somewhat uncircumCRITICISM.
spect enthusiasms, we frequently hear of prose-poetry. Now, at the risk of seem
ing to differ from some eminent authorIn a former paper I endeavored to ities, I must venture to suggest that proseshow that poetry cannot be said to be a poetry is, in the words of Polonius, “a criticism of life in any customary signifi- vile phrase.” Is there, in fact, such a cation of the word criticism and of the thing as prose-poetry? There is such a word life; that were there no other ob- thing as poetical prose, just as there is jection to such a definition, when advanced such a thing as prosaic verse.
To sur as a measure of the relative greatness of render these distinctions is to leave the a poet, it must perforce succumb to the road open to the introduction of all sorts difficulty that no consensus exists as to of monsters and hybrids. I should say what is a true and sound criticism of life; that even poetical prose is a thing to be and finally that, though a poet may oc written very sparingly. It is occasionally cupy himself with criticism of life, be a striking and welcome adornment to the curtails his chance, if he does so to any prosaic prose which is the foundation, considerable extent, of being a great poet. and should be the normal manner, of a Furthermore, in the course of the argu- really good prose style. Pages upon ment, it appeared that the reason why pages of poetical prose satiate, cloy, and poets legitimately may, and frequently sicken; and every man of delicate literary do, criticise life, is that criticism of life palate turns from the loaded banquet with bas, in due course of human evolution, a feeling of nausea. It was, doubtless, in become part, but only part, of life itself; order to excuse this deviation from liter. and that the reason why poets do and ary traditions of good taste and good may occupy themselves with this part, as sense, that the phrase prose-poetry with every part, of life, is that poetry is a
was invented. To the clear, harmoni. representation of life in other words, a ous, definitely partitioned Hellenic inind, representation of “whatever men per- prose poetry would have seemed an aboinceive, feel, think, or do.”
ination to be classed with the barbarous Thus far, therefore, we seem to have idols of Egypt, or the deformed monsters got — that poetry is a representation of of Etruria.* life. Everybody, however, will at once
The nucleus, then, of our definition of perceive that, though this may serve as poetry — that poetry is a representation the kernel of a correct definition of the of life — must be enlarged, and we thus peculiar function of poetry, it is only the advance to the proposition that poetry is kernel, and some fresh qualities have to a representation of life in verse or rhythm. be added to it, before it can become, in There is no difficulty, however, in showing our hands, a fruitful canon of criticism. that this again is not enough. Let us
First and foremost, the representation take an instance of representation of life must be a representation in language, in verse, which, I submit, is not poetry, aud not only in language, but in verse from a poet who has written lyrical poetry or rhythm. The proviso, that it be a of the very highest order; for the instance representation in language, is necessary, will thus, perhaps, be more instructive, in order to distinguish poetry from paint and there will be less likelihood of prejuing, which is likewise a representation dice influencing the judgment either of of life, but a representation in color, or the writer or the reader. The extract is in silent form. About this there can from Wordsworth, and is taken from “Si. be no difficulty, for everybody will at once
mon Lee, the Old Huntsman : recognize it as indisputable. The time was when it would have been equally su
* That this is no arbitrary nor fanciful distinction, perfluous to insist upon the qualification that more than one great imaginative novelist has sig
may, I think, be gathered conclusively from the fact that poetry is a representation of life in 'nally failed in the realm of poetry proper.
And he is lean and he is sick;
these two compositions — both professing His body dwindled and awry,
to be poems, but one being poetry, and Rests upon ankles swoln and thick ;
the other being merely verse. EveryHis legs are thin and dry.
body at once feels the immeasurable dis. One prop he has, and only one : His wife, an aged woman,
tance between them, since it is not a Lives with him near the waterfall,
difference of degree, but a difference in Upon the village common.
kind. What is the difference ?
In the description of the TransfiguraOft working by her husband's side,
tion in St. Matthew, we are told that Ruth does what Simon cannot do ;
“ Peter, James, and John his brother, For she, with scanty cause for pride,
were brought up into a high mountain Is stouter of the two. And though you with your utmost skill
apart," and that “a bright cloud overFrom labor could not wean them,
shadowed them.” Applying, with becomAlas! 'tis very little — all
ing reverence, that sacred scene, I would Which they can do between them. say, that poetry is a transfiguration, which Need I hesitate to say that, though writ- during which those who perceive it are
takes place only at a certain elevation, and ten by Wordsworth, this is not poetry, overshadowed by a cloud, but a cloud that though certainly it is a representation of
is bright. life in verse ? Let us turn to another
Let us test this by applying it to “ Sipoem of Wordsworth's, which is equally
mon Lee, the Huntsman," and to “The simple as far as language is concerned,
Reverie of Poor Susan.” In the first but which everybody will have just as lit
Words. tle hesitation in saying, is poetry, and worth describes the lean, dwindled, and
case, no transfiguration occurs. very beautiful poetry. It is called “ The
crooked body, the thin, dry legs, the thick Reverie of Poor Susan :
and swollen ankles, of the man, and the At the corner of Wood Street, when daylight industry of his stout wife, just as anybody appears,
might have seen, and anybody could deHangs a thrush that sings loud, it has sung for scribe them. There they were, and he
who passed might write about them, if Poor Susan has passed by the spot, and has he chose, after that particular fashion. heard,
They stand upon the low ground; there In the silence of morning, the song of the bird.
is no cloud about them, bright or other'Tis a note of enchantment; what ails her? wise; and we are conscious of no eleva. She sees
tion in the portraiture of them that is A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;
presented to us.
The consequence is Bright volumes of vapor though Lothbury that, though they are described in verse,
glide, And a river flows on through the vale of they are not described in poetry. In
“ The Reverie of Poor Susan," on the Cheapside!
contrary, everything is transfigured, while Green pastures she views in the midst of the retaining, in every particular, its reality dale,
nay, whilst its very reality is made more Down which she so often has tripped with her real to us. Wood Street is transfigured ; pail;
the thrush is transfigured; Lothbury and And a single small cottage, a nest like a dove's, Cheapside are transfigured ; mist, river, The one only dwelling on earth that she loves.
hill, stream, and shade are transfigured; She looks, and her heart is in heaven : but they Susan is transfigured; and we who read fade,
are transfigured. The “bright cloud” is The mist and the river, the hill and the shade ; over it all. We are on
a high mountain The stream will not flow, and the hill will not apart.” rise,
How is it done? I really do not know, And the colors have all passed away from her
any more than Peter, James, and John his eyes.
brother, knew. But I think I know when It is not necessary to descant upon lit is done, and so, I fancy, do most peo.
three years ;
ple; and though we may be unable to ana. there is an analogy, and a striking anallyze the process, we have names for it, ogy, between descriptive poetry and what and we call it the ideal, elevation, trans- men perceive, between lyrical poetry and figuration; more commonly, imagination. what they feel, between reflective poetry
Having then, in our minds, a sense of and what they think, and between epic the analogy, almost the identity, between and dramatic poetry and what they do? transfiguration and imagination, may we The parallel is so patent, that to state is, not take another step forward and say I think, to establish it. that “poetry is an imaginative represen. Let us then treat perception, emotion, tation of life, in verse or rhythm”? Such, thought, action, on the one hand, and deat least, is the definition of the peculiar scriptive, lyrical, reflective, epic and dra. essence and the special function of po.matic poetry, on the other, as convertible etry I propose to advance for acceptance. terms, and as equally well representing It may seem a very simple one; but pos- " whatever men perceive, feel, think, or sibly, on examination, it may turn out to do;” and let us watch the operation of be as comprehensive as is necessary, and transfiguring imagination — the remainder quite as complex as anything ever is to of our definition upon each and all of which a definite and available meaning is these in turn. attached. It may, moreover, strike some Is there such a thing as poetry which persons as not possessing much novelty. shall be the literal and unadorned repre. But a definition is no worse for being old, sentation of our perceptions? I should if it happens to be true, more especially say that, accurately speaking, there is not. should it help to expose the weakness of Verse, it may be; poetry, it will not be. definitions that are new, but happen to Let us see, by illustration, if this be not be false. At any rate, let us have it so; and again let us have recourse to plainly and unmistakably before us. Wordsworth, since his name is so dearly
“ Poetry is a transfiguration of life ; in loved and so deeply reverenced by us all, other words, an imaginative representa- and thus there will be less chance of prej. tion, in verse or rhythm, of whatever men udice influencing the judgment, when perceive, feel, think, or do."
passages are adduced from which transDoes there exist any well-known classi- figuration would seem to be absent. The fication of poetry corresponding with the following lines are from the opening pasclassification of life, “whatever men per- sage of “ The Excursion : ceive, feel, think, or do”? To vary the wording of the question, without varying Southward the landscape indistinctly glared
'Twas summer, and the sun had mounted high: its substance Are there different kinds
Through a pale steam ; but all the northern of poetry analogous to the functions of
downs, perception, emotion, thought, and action? In clearest air ascending, showed far off
I think there are. Every one is famil. A surface dappled o'er with shadows Aung iar with the terms, descriptive, lyrical, From brooding clouds; shadows that lay in reflective, and epic and dramatic poetry; spots and there is no form of poetry which can- Determined and unmoved, with steady beams not be assigned to one or more of these Of bright and pleasant sunshine interposed. divisions.* Now, is it not the fact that
Across a bare wide coinmon I was toiling * Thus, for example, narrative poetry, which is a
With languid steps that by the slippery ground recital of simple and individual facts, and has nothing Were baffled; nor could my weak arm disperse in common with the complex dignity of epic poetry – The host of insects gathering round my face, e.g., most of Crabbe's and many of Wordsworth's poems And ever wit me as I paced along. belong to the division descriptive poetry. Again, didactic and satiric poetry belongs to reflective poetry. a rule, so-called didactic and satiric poetry is not poetry
This is descriptive verse, and very acat all, but only verse, however good may be that verse. curately descriptive verse. Is it poetry? Occasionally, as in the finest passages of Pope, it be- I should say it is not. Everything is decomes transfigured by imagination, and then it is poetry of a high order; though, as we shall see later, at best scribed, not only just as one particular but poetry of a secondary rank.
person saw it, but just as everybody in