Essays Æsthetical eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 190 pages of information about Essays Æsthetical.

  Like lark that through the air careers,
    First singing, then, silent his heart,
  Feeds on the sweetness in his ears,
    Such joy to th’ image did impart
  Th’ eternal will.

This paper has exceeded the length we designed to give it; but, nevertheless, we beg the reader’s indulgence for a few moments longer, while we conclude with an octosyllabic version of the last thirty lines of the celebrated Ugolino story.  It is unrhymed; for that terrible tale can dispense, in English, with soft echoes at the end of lines.

  When locked I heard the nether door
  Of the dread tower, I without speech
  Into my children’s faces looked: 
  Nor wept, so inly turned to stone. 
  They wept:  and my dear Anselm said,
  “Thou look’st so, father, what hast thou?”
  Still I nor wept nor answer made
  That whole day through, nor the next night,
  Till a new sun rose on the world. 
  As in our doleful prison came
  A little glimmer, and I saw
  On faces four my own pale stare,
  Both of my hands for grief I bit;
  And they, thinking it was from wish
  To eat, rose suddenly and said: 
  “Father, less shall we feel of pain
  If them wilt eat of us:  from thee
  Came this poor flesh:  take it again.” 
  I calmed me then, not to grieve them. 
  The next two days we spake no word. 
  Oh! obdurate earth, why didst not ope? 
  When we had come to the fourth day
  Gaddo threw him stretched at my feet,
  Saying, “Father, why dost not help me?”
  There died he; and, as thou seest me,
  I saw the three fall one by one
  The fifth and sixth day; then I groped,
  Now blind, o’er each; and two whole days
  I called them after they were dead: 
  Then hunger did what grief could not.



A literary critic, a genuine one, should carry in his brain an arsenal of opposites.  He should combine common sense with tact, integrity with indulgence, breadth with keenness, vigor with delicacy, largeness with subtlety, knowledge with geniality, inflexibility with sinuousness, severity with suavity; and, that all these counter qualities be effective, he will need constant culture and vigilance, besides the union of reason with warmth, of enthusiasm with self-control, of wit with philosophy,—­but hold:  at this rate, in order to fit out the critic, human nature will have to set apart its highest and best.  Dr. Johnson declared, the poet ought to know everything and to have seen everything, and the ancients required the like of an orator.  Truly, the supreme poet should have manifold gifts, be humanly indued as generously and completely as is the bust of Homer, ideally shaped by the light of the infallible artistic instinct and insight of the Greeks.  The poet, it is true, must be born a poet, and the critic is the child of culture.  But as the poet, to perfect his birthright,

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Essays Æsthetical from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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