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was the Poet's quest of this, that his similes, in the very act of forming, often become half-metaphors, as from a sort of instinct. Thus, instead of fully forming a simile, he merely suggests it; throwing in just enough of it to start the thoughts on that track, and then condensing the whole into a semi-metaphorical shape. Which seems to explain why it is that these suggestions of similes, notwithstanding the stereotyped censures of a too formal criticism, seldom trouble any reader who is so unsophisticated as to care little for the form, so he be sure of the substance.

The thoughtful student can hardly choose but feel that there is something peculiar in Shakespeare's metaphors. And so indeed there is. But the peculiarity is rather in degree than kind. Now the Metaphor, as before remarked, proceeds upon a likeness in the relations of things; whereas the Simile proceeds upon a likeness in the things themselves, which is a very different matter. And so surpassing was Shakespeare's quickness and acuteness of eye to discern the most hidden resemblances in the former kind, that he outdoes all other writers in the exceeding fineness of the threads upon which his metaphors are often built. In other words, he beats all other poets, ancient and modern, in constructing metaphors upon the most subtile, delicate, and unobvious analogies.

Among the English poets, Wordsworth probably stands next to Shakespeare in the frequency, felicity, originality, and strength of his metaphorical language. I will therefore quote a few of his most characteristic specimens, as this seems the fairest way for bringing out the unequalled virtue of Shakespeare's poetry in this kind.

" With heart as calm as lakes that sleep,

In frosty moonlight glistening;
Or mountain rivers, where they creep
Along a channel smooth and deep,
To their own far-off murmurs listening."


“Leave to the nightingale her shady wood ;

A privacy of glorious light is thine ;
Whence thou dost pour upon the world a flood
Of harmony, with instinct more divine."

To a Skylark.

And this huge Castle, standing here sublime,

I love to see the look with which it braves
Cas'd in th' unfeeling armour of old time
The lightning, the fierce wind, and trampling waves."

Peele Castle.
Bright gem instinct with music, vocal spark ;
The happiest bird that sprang out of the Ark ! ”

A Morning Exercise. “One who was suffering tumult in his soul,

Yet fail'd to seek the sure relief of prayer,
Went forth, his course surrendering to the care
Of the fierce wind, while midday lightnings prowl
Insidiously, untimely thunders growl ;
While trees, dim-seen, in frenzied numbers tear
The lingering remnants of their yellow hair.”

Mis. Son., Pt. ii. 15. “ So deem'd the man who fashion'd for the sense

These lofty pillars, spread that branching roof
Self-pois’d, and scoop'd into ten thousand cells,
Where light and shade repose, where music dwells

Lingering, — and wandering on as loth to die.” “ But, from the arms of silence, - list, O list!

The music bursteth into second life ;
The notes luxuriate, every stone is kiss'd
By sound, or ghost of sound, in mazy strife.”

Eccle. Son., Pt. iii. 43, 44.

“ The towering headlands, crown'd with mist,

Their feet among the billows, know
That Ocean is a mighty harmonist.”

Power of Sound.

I saw, or heard, or felt, was but a stream
That flow'd into a kindred stream ; a gale
Confederate with the current of the soul,
To speed my voyage.”

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“Past and Future are the wings On whose support harmoniously conjoin'd Moves the great spirit of human knowledge.”

Prelude, Book vi

“ Child of loud-throated War ! the mountain Stream

Roars in thy hearing ; but thy hour of rest
Is come, and thou art silent in thy age.”

“What art thou, from care Cast off,

abandon'd by thy rugged Sire, Nor by soft Peace adopted ?”

“ Shade of departed Power,
Skeleton of unflesh'd humanity,
The chronicle were welcome that should call
Into the compass of distinct regard
The toils and struggles of thy infant years !"

Kilchurn Castle.

" Advance,

come forth froin thy Tyrolean ground,
Dear Liberty ! stern Nymph of soul untam'd ;
Sweet Nymph, O rightly of the mountains nam'd !
Through the long chain of Alps from mound to mound,
And o'er th' eternal snows, like Echo, bound ;
Like Echo, when the hunter-train at dawn
Have rous'd her from her sleep ; and forest-lawn,
Cliffs, woods, and caves her viewless steps resound,
And babble of her pastime !"

Ye Storms, resound the praises of your King! And


mild Seasons in a sunny clime,
Midway on some high hill, while father Time
Looks on delighted — meet in festal ring,
And long and loud of Winter's triumph sing !
Sing ye, with blossoms crown'd, and fruits, and flowers,
Of Winter's breath surcharg'd with sleety showers,
And the dire flapping of his hoary wing !
Knit the blithe dance upon the soft green grass ;
With feet, hands, eyes, looks, lips, report your gain ;
Whisper it to the billows of the main,
And to th' aerial Zephyrs as they pass,
That old decrepit Winter — He hath slain
That Host which render'd all your bounties vain.

Son. to Lib., Pt. ii. 10, 85.

In the foregoing passages, the imagery of course loses more or less of its force and beauty from being cut out of its proper surroundings; for Wordsworth's poetry, too, is far from being mere gatherings of finely-carved chips: as a general thing, the several parts of a poem all rightly know each other as co-members of an organic whole. Far more must this needs be the case in the passages that follow, inasmuch as these are from the most dramatic of all writing; so that the virtue of the imagery is inextricably bound up with the characters and occasions of the speakers:

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“Look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder East.:
Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.”

Rom. and Jul., iii. 5. “Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath,

Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty :
Thou art not conquer'd ; beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death's pale flag is not advanced there."

Why art thou yet so fair ? shall I believe
That unsubstantial Death is amorous ;
And that the lean abhorrèd monster keeps
Thee here in dark to be his paramour ?”

Ibid., v. 3.
“My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou remember'st

Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin's back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song ;
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid's music."

Midsum.-Night's D., ii. 1. “Rush on his host, as doth the melted snow

Upon the valleys, whose low vassal seat
The Alps doth spit and void his rheum upon.”

King Henry V., iii. 5. " His face is all bubukles, and whelks, and knobs, and flames o fire ; and his lips plows at his nose, and it is like a coal of fire, some

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times plue, and sometimes red; but his nose is executed, and his fire is out.” Ibid., iii. 6.


“0, then th' Earth shook to see the heavens on fire,

And not in fear of your nativity.
Diseasèd Nature oftentimes breaks forth
In strange eruptions ; oft the teeming Earth
Is with a kind of cholic pinch’d and vex'd
By the imprisoning of unruly wind
Within her womb; which, for enlargement striving,
Shakes the old beldame Earth, and topples down
Steeples and moss-grown towers. At your birth,
Our grandam Earth, having this distemperature,
In passion shook.”

1 King Henry IV., iii. 1.

Let heaven kiss earth! now let not Nature's hand
Keep the wild flood confin'd ! let order die !
And let this world no longer be a stage
To feed contention in a lingering act;
But let one spirit of the first-born Cain
Reign in all bosoms, that, each heart being set
On bloody courses, the rude scene may end,
And darkness be the burier of the dead !”

2 King Henry IV., i 1. “ An habitation giddy and unsure

Hath he that buildeth on the vulgar heart.
O thou fond many! with what loud applause
Didst thou beat heaven with blessing Bolingbroke,
Before he was what thou would'st have him be!
And being now trimm'd in thine own desires,
Thou, beastly feeder, art so full of him,
That thou provok'st thyself to cast him up.
So, so, thou common dog, did’st thou disgorge
Thy glutton bosom of the royal Richard ;
And now thou would'st eat thy dead vomit up,
And howl'st to find it."

Ibid., 1. 3.

“ But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill."

Hamlet, i. 1.

“So, haply slander Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter,

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