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Wales, the ancient mountains, with all their terrors and all their glories, are pictures to the blind, and music to the deaf. I should not have entered so much into detail upon this
passage, but here seems to be the point, to which all the lives of Jifference converge as to their source and centre ;-I mean, as far as, and in whatever respect, my poetic creed does differ from the doctrines promulgated in this preface. I adopt with full faith the principle of Aristotle, that poetry, as poetry, is essentially: ideal, that it avoids and excludes all accident; that its apparent individualities of rank, character, or occupation, must ✓ be representative of a class : and that the persons of poetry must be clothed with generic attributes, with the common attributes of the class : not with such as one gifted individual might possibly possess, but such as from his situation it is most probable before. hand that he would possess. If my premises are Pight and my
4 [Mr. Coleridge here quoted, in a foot note, from the first edition of The Friend the passage,“ Say not that I am recommending abstractions," to the end of the «paragraph, which occurs in the Second of the Letters from Germany, placed near the end of this volume.)
5 [ee Petic., S 15. Φανερον δε εκ των ειρημένων, και ότι ου το τι γε εμενα λέγειν, το το ποιητου έργον εστίν, άλλ' οία αν γένοιτο, και τα δυνατά κατά το είκ ς. i z; ivay aior
Διό και φιλοσοφώτερον και στουδαιότερον ποιηις ιστορίας εστιν. Η μεν γάρ ποίησις μλλον τα καθόλου, ή δ' ιστορία τι ναθ' ί αστον λήγει. *Εστι δε καθλο μιν, το ποί, τα ποί' ίττα σιμβαί ει λέγειν, ή πράττειν, κατά το εικός, ή το αναγκαίον, ου στοχίζεται η ποίησις. ονόματα επιτιθεμένη: τι δε καθ' έκαστον, τί 'Αλκιβιάδης έπραξεν, ή τι έπαθεν. Ed.
“It appears from what has been said, that the object of the poet is not to relate what has actually happened, but what may possibly happen, either with probability or from necessity. The difference between the poet and the historian does noi arise from one writing in verse and the other in prose; for if the work of Herodotus were put into verse, it would be no less a history than it is in prose. But they difier in this, that one relates what has actually been done, the other, what may be done. Poetry, therefore, is more philosophical and instructive than history. Poetry speaks more of general things, and history of particular. By general things I mean what any person of such a character would probably and naturally say or do in such a situation; and this is what poetry aims at even in giving names to the characters. By particular things I mean what any individual, as Alci. biades, for instance, either acted or suffered in reality.” Pye's translation S. C.]
6 [“ It is Shakspeare's peculiar excellence, that throughout the whole of his splendid picture gallery--(the reader will excuse the acknowledged
deductions legitimate, it follows that there can be no poetic medium between the swains of Theocritus and those of an imagi. nary golden age.
The characters of the vicar and the shepherd mariner, in the poem of The BROTHERS, and that of the shepherd of Green-head Ghyll in the Michael, have all the verisimilitude and representative quality, that the purposes of poetry can require. They are persons of a known and abiding class, and their manners and sentiments the natural product of circumstances common to the class. Take Michael for instance:
An old man stout of heart, and strong of limb,
inadequacy of this metaphor)—we find individuality everywhere, mere portrait nowhere. In all his various characters we still feel ourselves communing with the same nature, which is everywhere present as the vegetable sap in the branches, sprays, leaves, buds, blossoms, and fruits, their shapes, tastes, and odors. Speaking of the effect, that is, his works themselves, we may define the excellence of their method as consisting in that just proportion, that union and interpenetration of the universal and the particular, which must ever pervade all works of decided and true science.” The Friend, iii., pp. 121-2. Ed.]
7 (P. W., i., p. 109. Ed.] » [Ib., p. 222. Ed.]
That the green valleys, and the streams and rocks,
l'he pleasure which there is in life itself. On the other hand, in the poems pitched in a lower key, as the TLARRY Gill," and The Idiot Boy," the feelings are those of human nature in general; though the poet bas judiciously laid the scene in the country, in order to place himself in the vicinity of interesting images, without the necessity of ascribing a senti. inental perception of their beauty to the persons of his drama. In the Idiom Boy, indeed, the mother's character is not so much the real and native product of a “situation where the essential passions of the heart find a better soil, in which they can attain their maturity and speak a plainer and more emphatic language, as it is an impersonation of an instinct abandoned by judgment. Hence the two following charges seem to me not wholly groundless : at least they are the only plausible objections which I have heard to that fine poem. The one is, that the author has not, in the poem itself, taken sufficient care to preclude from the reader's fancy the disgusting images of ordinary morbid idiocy,
9 [" hills, which with vigorous step
linking to such acts
Strong hold on his affections.”—Last edition. Ed.]
which it was by no means his intention to represent. He has even by the “ burr, burr, burr,” uncounteracted by any preced. ing description of the boy's beauty, assisted in recalling them. The other is, that the idiocy of the boy is so evenly balanced by the folly of the mother, as to present to the general reader rather a laughable burlesque on the blindness of anile dotage, than an analytic display of maternal affection in its ordinary workings.
In The Thorn," the poet himself acknowledges in a note the necessity of an introductory poem, in which he should have por. trayed the character of the person from whom the words of the poem are supposed to proceed: a superstitious man moderately imaginative, of slow faculties and deep feelings, “a captain of a small trading vessel, for example, who, being past the middle age of life, had retired upon an annuity, or small independent income, to some village or country town of which he was not a native, or in which he had not been accustomed to live. Such men, having nothing to do, become credulous and talkative from indolence.” But in a poem, still more in a lyric poem—and the Nurse in ROMEO AND JULIET alone prevents me from extend. ing the remark even to dramatic poetry, if indeed even the Nurse can be deemed altogether a case in point-it is not possible to imitate truly a dull and garrulous discourser, without repeating the effects of dulness and garrulity. However this may be, I dare assert, that the parts—and these form the far larger portion of the whole)—which might as well or still better have proceeded from the poet's own imagination, and have been spoken in his own character, are those which have given, and which will continue to give, universal delight; and that the passages exclusively appropriate to the supposed narrator, such as the last couplet of the third stanza ;14 the seven last lines of the tenth, and the five following stanzas, with the exception of the four admirable lines at the commencement of the fourteenth, are felt by many unprejudiced and unsophisticated hearts, as sudden and
13 [P. W., ii., p. 124. The note to which Mr. Coleridge refers is omitted in the last editions. Ed.]
14 * “ I've measured it from side to side ;
''Tis three feet long, and two feet wide"
*[These two lines are left out in the latter editions. So are the two stanzas (originally the 11th and 12th) cited in the next note, and some parts of the 12th, 13th, and 14th, ano altored from what they were as quoted by Mr. C. 8. C.]
15 • “ Nay, rack your brain—'tis all in vain,
I'll tell you everything I know;
I'll tell you all I know.
And they had fixed the wedding-day,
* Preface, P. W., il., p. 307. 8. C.)