Page:The nature and elements of poetry, Stedman, 1892.djvu/33

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THE NATURE AND ELEMENTS OF POETRY




I.

ORACLES OLD AND NEW.

Poetry of late has been termed a force, or mode of force, very much as if it were the heat, "The force of heaven-bred poesy."or light, or motion known to physics. And, in truth, ages before our era of scientific reductions, the energia—the vital energy—of the minstrel's song was undisputed. It seems to me, in spite of all we hear about materialism, that the sentiment imparting this energy—the poetic impulse, at least—has seldom been more forceful than at this moment and in this very place.

Our American establishments—our halls of learning and beauty and worship—are founded, as you know, for the most part not by governmental edict; they usually take their being from the sentiment, the ideal impulses, of individuals. Your own institute,[1] still mewing like Milton's eagle its mighty youth, owes its existence to an ideal sentiment, to a

  1. Johns Hopkins University.