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without something more or less successfully claiming to rank as Art,—a picture, a photograph, or a statuette; and we may fairly hope that much as Art even now contributes to the happiness of life, it will do so even more effectively in the future.
“ And here the singer for his Art
Not all in vain may plead · The song that nerves a nation's heart Is in itself a deed.''
AFTER the disastrous defeat of the Athenians before Syracuse, Plutarch tells us that the Sicilians spared those who could repeat any of the poetry of Euripides.
“Some there were,” he says, “who owed their preservation to Euripides. Of all the Grecians, his was the muse with whom the Sicilians were most in love. From the strangers who landed in their island they gleaned every small specimen or portion of his works, and communicated it with pleasure to each other. It is said that upon this occasion a number of Athenians on their return home went to
Euripides, and thanked him in the most grateful manner for their obligations to his pen; some having been enfranchised for teaching their masters what they remembered of his poems, and others having procured refreshments, when they were wandering about after the battle, by singing a few of his verses."
Nowadays we are none of us likely to owe our lives to Poetry in this sense, yet in another we many of us owe to it a similar debt. How often, when worn with overwork, sorrow, or anxiety, have we taken down Homer or Horace, Shakespeare or Milton, and felt the clouds gradually roll away, the jar of nerves subside, the consciousness of power replace physical exhaustion, and the darkness of despondency brighten once more into the light of life.
“And yet Plato,” says Jowett, “expels the poets from his Republic because they are allied to sense ; because they stimulate