Any subject may be turned to the uses of poetry according as the poet conceives it in a certain way. At once more sensitive and more creative than other men, the poet sees life more intensely and more beautifully. He is stirred by the splendor or tenderness of nature’s pageantry of shifting colors and impressive forms; he is quickened to penetrating thought by his insight into the living principle which shapes the world, and by his sense of the varying significance of men’s purposes and destiny. His emotion impels him to express his perception, carrying lightly also its burden of thought, in an ordered pattern of word-symbols, which reproduce images from the external world, but which invest them with associations and implicate further meanings. To this transcript of the immediate and actual world he adds: The gleam, The light that never was, on sea or land, The consecration, and the poet’s dream. Thus to transfigure the world and life, under the stimulus of feeling and by the power of insight, is the magic and the mystery of the poet. So, too, poetry may range through the vast, complex whole of experience, to draw thence its inspiration and its material. But life may be thus conceived poetically, and yet the idea may be expressed in prose. To give it poetical expression, there must pulse through the subject matter, whatever guise it wear, that deep upwelling of emotion which prompts the poet to phrase his thought in the word-pattern which is a poem.

The poetic impulse, rising out of vision and emotion, utters itself in speech, but speech flowing in measured pulse and cast in a determinate mould. As the stuff out of which the web of poetry is woven is both intellectual and emotional, though the two elements may combine in varying proportions, so these elements together go to the shaping of the final total form. This form, comprising both the measured flow of words and their ultimate arrangement in a pattern,〖For this suggestion of poetry as a “pattern” I am indebted to Professor J. W. Mackail’s Oxford Lectures on Poetry.〗 is a poem. And this form is not accidental or arbitrary, but is conditioned by the nature itself of the human mind and spirit.

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