« ForrigeFortsæt »
morn, mead, eve and even, 'gan, illume, ope;
3d. Certain abbreviations, and particularly the cæsura, by which a letter is cut off from the beginning and end of a syllable, are admissible in poetry, which are not allowable in prosesuch as ’ts true, o'er, e'er, ne'er, &c.
“ 'Twas on a lofty vase's side." GRAY. The cæsura is instanced in the following line from the same exquisite poet
“ T'alarm th' eternal midnight of the grave." 4th. Poetry admits of a bolder transposition of words than prose. This would be better ex. | emplified from the Greek and Roman classics than from our own; yet even among our English writers some bold, and almost violent transpositions may be found ; and particularly in Milton.
5th. The “os magna soniturum" must not be forgotten in poe ry. Where a word there- L fore may
be made to have a fuller and more impressive application, that form should be in general pref-rred. Thus, instead of the adjective the participle is frequently employed ; as for various, varying. In the same manner
poetry transforms nouns into verbs and participles; as from the noun hymn, the poets have made a verb, to hymn ; from picture, “ the pictured walls ;" from cavern, “ the cavern'd roofs, &c.
6th. The soul of poetry is particularizing and bringing to view the minute circumstances which give " a local habitation and a name” to the subject, and animation to the picture.
“ Musis amicus, tristitiam & metus
“Full ten years slander'd, did I once reply?
Had the poet only said that “ he had been long calumniated without replying, and that much time had passed before he noticed the slanderous falsehood of Welsted,” it is evident that the thought would have wanted all that force and beauty which it derives from the happy expression of Mr. Pope.
It is for the same reason, namely, to give life to the picture, that poetry often uses a periphrasis, rather than a plain and simple description. Two lines of Virgil will give you a sufficient idea of this
“ Depresso incipiet jam tum mihi taurus aratro
Ingemere, & sulco attritus splendescere romer.” “ Then with the crooked plough the steers shall groan, “ And the keen share shall brighten in the furrow.”
“ Vertitur interea cælum, & ruit oceano nox.” “ Now had the sun rolld down the beamy light, “ And from the caves of ocean rush'd the night.”
7th. Poetry admits of more and stronger figures than prose; and particularly the prosopopeia. Thus Milton, describing the song of the nightingale, says “ Silence was pleased ;'' and on the approach of morning“ Now morn her rosy steps in th’ eastern clime
Advancing, sow'd the earth with orient pearl.”. The morning is a favourite topic with poets. Some will perhaps prefer to the imagery I have just now quoted, that of Shakspeare
“ But look the morn in russet mantle clad,
But perhaps the most beautiful instance in our language of this fine figure is in the incomparable address to light in the opening of the third book of Paradise Lost; where, I may add, in little more than fifty lines you will find almost every poetical beauty concentrated.
8th. Epithets are allowed in greater abundance in poetry than in any description of prose, without excepting oratory itself. Even compound epithets are sometimes necessary adjuncts in poetry, though I do not know any case where they can be legitimately admitted in prose. Such phrases as cloud-capt, manytwinkling, heaven-kissing, spirii-stirring, heaven-taught, bright-haired Vesta, vale-dwelling lily, would be wholly inconsistent with the gravity and sobriety of prose. In the same
pomp and prodigality of phrase," poets frequenıly employ what I may call a string of epithets, while humble prose shrinks almost from the dangerous application of even a single one. Tbus Virgil
“Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademptum."-ÆNEID III.
“ A monster grim, tremendous, vast and high, “ His front deform’d, and quench'd his blazing eye."
• And the plain ox,
There is not however a more delicate part of the poet's task, nor one that requires more cau. tion, than the use of epithets. Unless they tell something, add something to the picture, they are mere expletives, cold, and insipid. If again they are mean or colloquial, they debase the subject. In the following lines you see both these faults exemplified
• The chariot of the King of kings,
TATE AND BRADY.
Epithets also sometimes obscure the sense, by crowding too many thoughts or ideas together, A judicious poet will therefore never introduce an epithet, but when it is wanting, or when it