Page:Shelley, a poem, with other writings (Thomson, Debell).djvu/41

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
23
SHELLEY.

truth has been enounced or implied by all true philosophers; though sadly abused by uninspired poetasters, and as obviously obnoxious as the Berkeleyan Idealism to stupid and unavailing sneers. Shelley himself, in that "Defence of Poetry" which is one of the most beautiful prose-pieces in the language, and which in serene elevation of tone, and expanse and subtlety of thought is worthy of Plato or Emerson, repeatedly and throughout insists upon it as the essential law of poetic creation.

The only true, or inspired poetry, is always from within, not from without. The experience contained in it has been spiritually transmuted from lead into gold. It is severely logical, the most trivial of its adornments being subservient to, and suggested by, the dominant idea; any departure from whose dictates would be the "falsifying of a revelation." It is unadulterated with worldly wisdom, deference to prevailing opinions, mere talent or cleverness. Its anguish is untainted by the gall of bitterness, its joy is never selfish, its grossness is never obscene. It perceives always the profound identity underlying all surface differences. It is a living organism, not a dead aggregate, and its music is the expression of the law of its growth; so that it could no more be set to a different melody than could a rose-tree be consummated with lilies or violets. It is most philosophic when most enthusiastic; the clearest light of its wisdom being shed from the keenest fire of its love. It is a synthesis not arithmetical, but algebraical; that is to say, its particular subjects are universal symbols, its predicates universal laws: hence it is infinitely suggestive. It is ever-fresh wonder at the infinite mystery, ever-young faith in the eternal Soul. Whatever be its mood, we feel that it is not self-possessed but God-possessed;