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I tremble like one who stands upon a volcano, conscious, from the very darkness bursting from the crater, of the fire and the light that are weltering below.
What is Poetry? Poetry! That Proteus-like idea, with as many appellations as the nine-titled Corcyra ! Give me, I demanded of a scholar some time ago, give me a definition of Poetry. “Très volontiers "and he proceeded to his library, brought me a Dr. Johnson, and overwhelmed me with a definition. Shade of the immortal Shakespeare! I imagined to myself the scowl of your spiritual eye upon the profanity of that scurrilous Ursa Major. Think of poetry, dear B-- think of poetry, and then think of Dr. Samuel Johnson ! Think of all that is airy and fairylike, and then of all that is hideous and unwieldy : think of his huge bulk, the Elephant! and then—and then think of the Tempest--the Midsummer Night's Dream-Prospero--Oberon-and Titania !
A poem, 'in my opinion, is opposed to a work of science by having, for its immediate object, pleasure, not truth : to romance, by having for its object an indefinite instead of a definite pleasure, being a poem only so far as this object is attained : romance presenting perceptible images with definite, poetry with indefinite sensations, to which end music is an essential, since the comprehension of sweet sound is our most indefinite conception. Music, when combined with a pleasurable idea, is poetry : music without the idea is simply music : the idea without the music is prose from its very definiteness.
What was meant by the invective against " him who had no music in his soul?"
To sum up this long rigmarole, I have, dear B--, what you no doubt perceive, for the metaphysical poets, as poets, the most sovereign contempt. That they have followers proves nothing
“No Indian prince has to his palace
More followers than a thief to the gallows."