Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/96

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

present those vivid phrases into which the very greatest men—the Dantes or Shakespeares—can infuse their very life-blood. In his Essays upon Celtic Literature—perhaps the most delightful of his books—Arnold says that English poetry derived three things mainly from Celtic sources: its turn for style, its turn for melancholy, and its turn for natural magic. The distinction is indicated with admirable fineness; and my perceptions are not quite fine enough to follow it. Keats, Arnold is able to perceive, is looking at nature like a Greek when he asks

What little town by river or seashore
Or mountain built with quiet citadel
Is emptied of its folk this pious morn?

but becomes Celtic when he speaks of

Magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas in fairy-land forlorn!

Possibly: but I am shy of endeavouring to discriminate these exquisite essences, and I will not attempt to say whether it is the power of style or of magic, whether it is the presence of a Greek or a Celtic mode of looking at nature, that charms us in what is perhaps Arnold's masterpiece, the 'Scholar Gipsy,' Whether the exquisite concluding stanzas, for example, be an instance