« ПретходнаНастави »
whole of this lower creation, and that out of it only then would spring the forms of eternal beauty and power, the true, the ancient Eros. In a word, Wordsworth is our modern Plato, and Milton our English Isaiah.
It is from this side of his character and genius that the influence exercised by Wordsworth over the mind of his age has been to many persons diseasing and mischievous. Milton and Dante materialised too muchWordsworth abstracted and spiritualised too much, especially in his early philosophy; and it becomes the duty of those who guide young minds to the pages of Wordsworth, and linger with admiration over their eloquence, to caution readers against that dangerous and seductive sentiment of mere being—that dancing auroral light so flaming over the literary firmament of the age,
that the most absurd and sensuous poems are hailed with delight, simply because they re-act against the unreal and intangible dreams of men of the merely subjective school. No man can be said to belong to any place of high art who cannot give to the eye what he desires to give to the mind —Poem, or Sermon, or Oration, let us see it, that we may judge of it. This is the test you may apply to all Pantheistic ideas, they are not susceptible of shape—this is the test you may apply to all the unhealthy megrims of mystics-paint their conceptions—be sure the thing is unreal that you cannot in some way or other realise ; hence great poetry a bounds in great images, from the chamber of the soul of the poet are thrown out the vast forms which answer
OBLIGATIONS CONFESSED TO NATURE,
to his vast perceptions, for it is not merely necessary that the poet should have impulses, emotions, and passions, he must also have a presence and a shape rising perpetually before him, and compelling his pen to a delighted sketching of the beautiful, the beloved, or the terror-inspiring form.
We must not be understood as implying that Wordsworth was merely and only a subjective Pantheist even at this early stage of his history; he was never only that;
we speak rather of doctrines deduced from this early stage of his history and writings, and repeat that many in our day are content to take his childhood, as their old age; we need scarcely say, that in a great measure our poet passed through this dreary and monotonously beautiful stage of moral history, and rose into a higher faith; yet even then we find him speaking thus :
“If this be error, and another faith
And wicked exultation when good men
An illustration of the spiritual, the mystical charm of Wordsworth's poems is seen in the wonderful information and power of his Sense of Hearing; in this he excels all other poets ; not in Shakspeare himself are the allusions to every variety and combination of Sound so varied and intensified. It is worthy of notice that it is by Sound rather than by sight that we become acquainted with the spiritual world ; sound is the most spiritual conductor; language is not so mere a symbol as vision, and the impressions derived from sight: all our abstractions are derived by us through sound; the spirit sealed from sound is closed up to more utter desolation than the spirit sealed from sight; the blind have many brethren gifted beyond any of their race, the deaf have few,
COMBINATION OF POETIC SOUND.
perhaps none. The impression of sound too, is more powerful and permanent than sight; thunder is more terrific than lightning;- is any thing added to the beauty and the majesty of the roaring waterfall by the rainbow arching over it? Eargate seems to be a more important avenue of communication than Eyegate.
“Where the Ear never hearkens the Eye never sees.'
And if space admitted it would be a most curious and profitable matter for speculation how far, for the major portion of our ideas we are indebted to the one or the other; certainly if light brings us into most intimate acquaintance with the scenery of nature, yet sound to higher natures is suggestive of more profound emotion; it is only by such natures that the majesty of "expressive silence” is perceived; what human breast has not again and again been shaken by all the varied thrillings and sensations produced by sound; for if we will reflect upon it, all sound is electrical – is spiritual; language however meagre, is sound made material and intelligible. Wordsworth in his ode to sound has summoned all the voices of nature to his inspiration, Sighs, Shrieks, and Hosannas, “Voices and shadows, and images of voice,” “the Nun's faint Throb of holy fear,”
“ The sailor's Prayer breathed from a darkening sea.
The cottage widow's Lullaby;" the Shout of the Cuckoo from the hill; the Toll or Striking of the old church Bell, or minster Clock; the
Words, earth to earth, and the Rattle of the clay on the coffin lid; the Hum of bees; the Voice of birds; the glad Uproar of children at play; the Bark of the watch dog, or the fox; the Tinkling of the sheep Bell; the Song of the nightingale in the deep covert of the grove, or of merry milk-maids in the meadows; Eloquence; the voice of the Storm among the pines, or Thunder among the mountains; the Wail of the Organ in the old abbey,
“When the tubed engine feels the inspiring blast
As if the fretted roof were riven." All these and a thousand other notes than these are intimations of power to us; our spirits are stringed instruments, and these varied winds sweep over the chords and call forth the music within us; in this conception lies the power of sound, and that it is ever symbolic, we are guided to the origin of music
“When civic renovation
The power of music on the Wild Beast of the Wilderness is finely painted,
“The pipe of Pan to Shepherds,