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gentle, that his own age could hardly hear them aright, until the lips of stormier bards had grown. silent.


Tennyson was Wordsworth's successor in the Laureateship. He received that poet wreath, as he himself (( says, greener from the brows of him (Wordsworth) that uttered nothing base;" and he himself has nobly followed in that shining track.

Before I proceed to mark the characteristic qualities of Tennyson-before I dwell on his depth and power of thought, his keen and wide range of sympathy, or point out the great spirituality and religiousness of his mind, I note in him the primal qualities common to all true poets. Let us define Poetry. "Poetry," says John Stuart Mill, "is the expression of thought coloured by emotion or feeling, expressed in metrical language, and overheard." When first I read the definition I thought it cumbersome and too long; but the more I pondered it, the more complete and adequate did it appear to be. Read it through once more: "Poetry is thought coloured by emotion or feeling, expressed

in metrical language, and overheard." Notice the significance of "overheard." The poet is not like an orator, he does not appeal directly to his audience; he is not a mere rhetorician-otherwise poetry might be merely thought coloured by emotion or feeling. That is oratory. It is combined, after a manner in art, often with a certain rhythmic flow and cadence, though without metre. And all high and impassioned, or even angry utterance, runs naturally into a sort of rhythm, which is not necessarily poetry; oratory may be poetical, without being poetry. But the poet, though he does not address you directly, allows you to listen to what he has to say; standing apart, he still takes you sympathetically into his confidence, therefore he is by you "overheard."



Now to proceed; what is the first indispensable quality for a poet? It is sensibility; that exquisite response to the external world, coupled with a certain intense perception of the interior life. Poetic sensibility is both active and passive. When the poet's mind is intensely and actively possessed, he is able to impress all things with his

mood-he imposes his own emotional atmosphere

on his surroundings.

"He sees himself in all he sees."

That is the active part of sensibility.

Then there is the passive side. The poet stands with open heart and mind, ready to receive and register impressions. He is the great High Priest of nature. He is here to interpret her mandates, to overhear her secret whispers long before he himself is overheard of men. His heart beats in time with the universe; he is one with all nature in praise, and in sympathy with all human beings in sorrow and joy. His mind is like that sensitive plate, which, steeped in chemicals, retains every gradation of light and shade; nay, more than this, for the poet reflects the changing hues of emotion as well, and chronicles its vigour and varying temperatures; he is like the Æolian lyre, responsive and melodious to the faintest breath of wind. He falls into a trance, having his eyes open, and sees the kingdoms of heaven and earth, and the glory of them.

There are many illustrious examples of pure writers among us at the present time possessing this high active and passive sensitiveness. They

are poetic although they do not write poetry. John Ruskin is a great poet, and some of the finest of modern poetical utterances are to be found in his writings. I know nothing more magnificent, for instance, than the description of the Old Fighting Temeraire being towed to her last resting-place-a description in which the external object first impresses the passive mind, and the mind in its turn is roused into an atmospheric excitement, which at last completely reacts upon, and impresses with its own stamp, the pathetic symbol of French defeat and English victory.

Tennyson has in a high degree this active poetic sensibility, this power of impressing his mood upon outward nature. Hear the lone Enone as she watches her beloved pine forests on the dewy slopes of Ida. The scene is saddened with her own sad soul; every object is coloured by the grief and passion of her irreparable loss, as she marks the tall pines—

"From beneath

Whose thick mysterious boughs, in the dark morn,
The panther's roar came muffled, while I sat

Low in the valley. Never, never more

Shall lone none see the morning mist

Sweep through them; never see them overlaid

With narrow moon-lit slips of silver cloud,

Between the loud stream and the trembling stars."

It is to her over-excited nervous system that the music of the leaping cataract roars so hoarsely -a loud stream; it is through her tears that, as she looks up, the pitiless cold fires become "trembling stars; "it is the self-impressing power of excited sensibility. The poets teem with examples. How has night been variously coloured by their imperious moods! In the happy spirit of Longfellow's verse, "The night shall be filled with music." But to one suffering from an immense loss

"All night the darkness seemed to flow
Beside me, in my utter woe."

Or to one smarting under a self-inflicted heart wound, inflicted in youth

"Drug thy memories lest thou learn it,

Lest thy heart be put to proof,

In the dead unhappy night, and when the rain is on the roof."

II. THE POWER OF EXPRESSION. — The second poetic quality is the power of expression; the poet invents those golden sentences which in a few words sum a volume of thought, a lifetime of feeling.

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