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Vaughan’s Poems
by [?]


[1] We are given to understand that peach-fed pork is a poor pork after all, and goes soon into decomposition. We are not sorry to know this.

Poetry is the expression of the beautiful–by words–the beautiful of the outer and of the inner world; whatever is delectable to the eye or the ear, the every sense of the body and of the soul–it presides over veras dulcedines rerum. It implies at once a vision and a faculty, a gift and an art. There must be the vivid conception of the beautiful, and its fit manifestation in numerous language. A thought may be poetical, and yet not poetry; it may be a sort of mother liquor, holding in solution the poetical element, but waiting and wanting its precipitation,–its concentration into the bright and compacted crystal. It is the very blossom and fragrancy and bloom of all human thoughts, passions, emotions, language; having for its immediate object–its very essence–pleasure and delectation rather than truth; but springing from truth, as the flower from its fixed and unseen root. To use the words of Puttenham in reference to Sir Walter Raleigh, poetry is a lofty, insolent (unusual) and passionate thing.

It is not philosophy, it is not science, it is not morality, it is not religion, any more than red is or ever can be blue or yellow, or than one thing can ever be another; but it feeds on, it glorifies and exalts, it impassionates them all. A poet will be the better of all the wisdom, and all the goodness, and all the science, and all the talent he can gather into himself, but qua poet he is a minister and an interpreter of {to kalon}, and of nothing else. Philosophy and poetry are not opposites, but neither are they convertibles. They are twin sisters;–in the words of Augustine:–“PHILOCALIA et PHILOSOPHIA prope similiter cognominatae sunt, et quasi gentiles inter se videri volunt et sunt. Quid est enim Philosophia? amor sapientiae. Quid Philocalia? amor pulchritudinis. Germanae igitur istae sunt prorsus, et eodem parente procreatae.” Fracastorius beautifully illustrates this in his “Naugerius, sive De Poetica Dialogus.” He has been dividing writers, or composers as he calls them, into historians, or those who record appearances; philosophers, who seek out causes; and poets, who perceive and express veras pulchritudines rerum, quicquid maximum et magnificum, quicquid pulcherrimum, quicquid dulcissimum; and as an example, he says, if the historian describe the ongoings of this visible universe, I am taught; if the philosopher announce the doctrine of a spiritual essence pervading and regulating all things, I admire; but if the poet take up the same theme, and sing–

“Principio caelum ac terras camposque liquentes
Lucentemque globum lunae, titaniaque astra,
Spiritus intus alit; totamque infusa per artus
Mens agitat molem et magno se corpore miscet.”

“Si inquam, eandem rem, hoc pacto referat mihi, non admirabor solum, sed adamabo: et divinum nescio quid, in animum mihi immissum existimabo.”

In the quotation which he gives, we at once detect the proper tools and cunning of the poet: fancy gives us liquentes campos, titania astra, lucentem globum lunae, and fantasy or imagination, in virtue of its royal and transmuting power, gives us intus alitinfusa per artus–and that magnificent idea, magno se corpore miscet–this is the divinum nescio quid–the proper work of the imagination–the master and specific faculty of the poet–that which makes him what he is, as the wings make a bird, and which, to borrow the noble words of the Book of Wisdom, “is more moving than motion,–is one only, and yet manifold, subtle, lively, clear, plain, quick, which cannot be letted, passing and going through all things by reason of her pureness; being one, she can do all things; and remaining in herself, she maketh all things new.”

The following is Fracastorius’ definition of a man who not only writes verses, but is by nature a poet: “Est autem ille natura poeta, qui aptus est veris rerum pulchritudinibus capi monerique; et qui per illas loqui et scribere potest;” and he gives the lines of Virgil,–