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stantially the same views and urging them upon mankind as an addition to, or substitute for, a Christian theism. It does not fall within the range of our purpose to present the positive arguments for a First Cause or for a personal God; but we are convinced that thorough discussion and popular presentation of this branch of the evidences of Christianity is one of the great theological and practical necessities of the present age. Since the days of Kant's famous “Critique," as Ulrici remarks, arguments for the existence of God have fallen into disrepute. Since that, the wide-spread opinion of believers and unbelievers has been that the being of God does not admit of proof. Theologians have fallen in with this view, forgetting that the proofs of the divine existence are identical with the reasons for the belief in God, and that belief without reasons is essentially irrational and absurd. Modern theology, in so readily giving up the arguments for the divine being, not only surrenders there. with its claim to be a science, but also virtually annihilates the very faith and religion of which it is a theology' One requisite for the return to the old faith in theism is the strong and clear presentation of the proofs that there is a God, together with a merciless exposure of the intricate sophistries of atheism and anti-theism.
DANIEL S. GREGORY.
Ulrici, “Gott und die Natur,” Introduction,
THE AIM OF POETRY.
NE of the first characteristics of the genuine and healthy
poetic nature is, that it is rooted rather in the heart than in the head. Human-heartedness is the soil from which all its other gifts originally grow, and are continually fed. The true poet is not an eccentric creature; no mere artist, living only for art ; not a dreamer or a dilettante sipping the nectar of existence, but keeping aloof from its deeper interests. He is, above all things, a man among his fellow-men, with a heart that beats in sympathy with theirs—a heart not different from theirs, only larger, more open, more sensitive, more intense. It is this peculiar depth and intensity and fineness of emotional nature which kindles his intellect and inspires it with energy. He does not feel differently from other men, but he feels more. There is a larger field of things over which his feelings range, and in which he takes vivid interest.
If, as we have been often told, sympathy is the secret of all insight, this holds especially true of poetic insight, which, more than any other, derives its power of seeing from sympathy with the object seen. There is a kinship between the poetic eye and
a the thing it looks on, in virtue of which it penetrates. As the German poet says:
" If the eye had not been sunny,
How could it look upon the sun ?" And herein lies one great distinction between the poetic and the scientific treatment of things. The scientific man must keep his feelings under stern control, lest they intrude into his researches, and color the dry light in which alone science desires to see its objects.
The poet, on the other hand-it is because his feelings inform and kindle his intellect that he sees "into the life of things."
Some, perhaps, may recall the names of great poets, though not the greatest, who have fled habitually from human neighborhood, and dwelt apart in proud isolation. But this does not, I think, disprove the view that human-heartedness is the great background of the poet's strength. For to the poets I speak of, their solitariness has been their misfortune, if not their fault. By some untowardness in their lot, or some derangement of their age, they have been compelled to retire into themselves, and to become lonely thinkers. If their isolation has added some intensity to their thoughts, it has at the same time narrowed the range of their vision and diminished the breadth and permanence of their influence.
II. But this wide and vivid human sympathy, though an essential condition or background of all great poetry, by no means belongs exclusively to the poet. Taking other forms, it characterizes all men who have deeply moved or greatly benefited their kind—St. Augustine and Luther, Howard, Clarkson, and Wilberforce, not less than Homer, Shakespeare, and Walter Scott.
I must therefore pass on to points more distinctive of the poet, and consider,
1. What is the object or material with which the poet deals ?
2. What is the special power which he brings to bear on that object ?
3. What is his true aim ?—what the function which he fulfils in human society?
III. The poet's peculiar domain has generally been said to be Beauty; and there is so much truth in this that, if a single word must be fixed on, probably none better could be found. For it is one large part of the poet's vocation to be a witness for beauty in the world around him and in human life.
But this one word is too na ow to cover all the domain over which the poetic spirit ranges. It fits well that which attracts the poet in the face of nature, and is applicable to many forms of mental and moral excellence.
But there are other things which rightly win his regard to
which this word cannot be applied without stretching it till it becomes meaningless. Therefore I should rather say that the whole range of existence, or any part of it, when imaginatively apprehended, seized on the side of its human interest, may be transfigured into poetry.
There is nothing that exists, except things ignoble and mean, in which the true poet may not find himself at home; in the open sights of nature, in the occult secrets of science, in the “quiquid agunt homines" of the satirist, in men's character and fortunes, in their actions and sufferings, their joys and their sorrows, their past history, their present experience, their future destiny-all these lie open to him who has power to enter in, and by weight of imaginative insight to possess them.
And such is the kinship between man and all that is, that, as I have elsewhere said, “whenever the soul comes vividly in contact with any fact, truth, or existence—whenever it realizes and takes them home to itself with more than common intensity-out of that meeting of the soul and its object there arises a thrill of joy, a glow of emotion; and the expression of that thrill, that glow, is poetry.” But as each age modifies in some measure men's conceptions of existence, and brings to light new aspects of life before undreamt of, so poetry, which is the expression of these aspects, is ever changing, in sympathy with the changing consciousness of the race. A growth old as thought, but ever young, it alters its form, but renews its vital. ity with each succeeding age.
As to the specific organ or mental gift through which poets work, everyone knows that it is imagination. But if asked what imagination is, who can tell? If we turn to the psychologists, the men who busy themselves with labelling and ticketing the mental faculties, they do not much help us.
Scattered through the poets here and there, and in some writers on ästhetic subjects, notably in the works of Mr. Ruskin, we find thoughts which are more suggestive. Perhaps it is a thing to rejoice in, that this marvellous faculty has hitherto baffled the analysts. For it would seem that when you have analyzed any vital entity down to its last elements, you have done your best to destroy it.
I may, however, observe, in passing, that the following seem to be some of the most prominent notes of the way in which imagination seems to work:
1. To a man's ordinary conceptions of things, imagination adds force, clearness, distinctness of outline, vividness of coloring.
2. Again, it seems to be a power that lies intermediate between intellect and emotion, looking both ways, and partaking of the nature of each. In its highest form it would seem to be based on “moral intensity." The emotional and the intellectual in it act and react on each other, deep emotion kindling imagination, and expressing itself in imaginative forms, and imaginative insight kindling a deepening emotion.
3. Closely connected with this is what some have called the penetrative, others the interpretative, power of imagination. It is that subtle and mysterious gift, that intense intuition, which, piercing beneath all surface appearance, goes straight to the core of an object, enters where reasoning and pedling analysis are at fault, lays hold of the inner heart, the essential life of a scene, a character, a situation, and expresses it in a few immortal words. What is the secret of this penetrative glance, who shall say? It defies analysis. Neither the poet himself,
? who puts it forth, nor the critic who examines the result, can explain how it works—can lay his finger on the vital source of it. A line, a word, has flashed the scene upon us, has made the character live before us—how we know not, only the thing is done. And others when they see it exclaim:“ How true to nature this is! So like what I have often felt myself, only I could never express it.” But the poet has expressed it, and this is what makes him an interpreter to men of their own unuttered experience. All great poets are full of this power. It is that by which Shakespeare read the inmost heart of man, Wordsworth of nature.
4. A fourth note of imagination is that combining and harmonizing power by which the poetic mind, guided by the eternal forms of beauty which inhabit it, out of a mass of incongruous materials drops those which are accidental and irrelevant, and selects those which suit its purpose, those which bring out a given scene or character, and combines them into a harmonious whole.