Page:Shelley, a poem, with other writings (Thomson, Debell).djvu/144

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
126
THE POEMS OF WILLIAM BLAKE.

splendid genius, though his vigorous and restless talents often overpower and run away with his genius so that some of his creations are left but half redeemed from Chaos, has this simplicity in abundant measure. In the best poems of his last two works, Men and Women and Dramatis Personæ, its light burns so clear and steadfast through the hurrying clouds of his language (Tennyson's style is the polished reflector of a lamp) that one can only wonder that people in general have not yet recognised it. I cannot recommend a finer study of a man possessed by the spirit of which I am writing than the sketch of Lazarus in Browning's Epistle of Karshish, an Arab Physician.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, also, had much of it, yet never succeeded in giving it fair expression. The long study of her sick-bed (and her constant chafing against the common estimate of the talents and genius of her sex) overcharged her works with allusions and thoughts relating to books, and made her style rugged with pedantry. She was often intoxicated, too, with her own vehemence. Aurora Leigh sets out determined to walk the world with the great Shakespearean stride, whence desperate entanglement of feminine draperies and blinding swirls of dust. The sonnets entitled From the Portuguese, reveal better her inmost simple nature.

Emerson stands closest of all in relation to Blake, his verse as well as his essays and lectures being little else than the expression of this mystical simplicity. Were he gifted with the singing voice we should not have to look to the future for its supreme bard. But whenever he has sung a few clear sweet notes, his voice breaks, and he has to recite and speak what he would fain chant.