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A Defense of Poetry is the only entirely finished prose work Shelley left. In this we find the reverence with which he regarded his art. We discern his power of close reasoning, and the unity of his views of human nature. The language is imaginative, but not flowery; the periods have an intonation full of majesty and grace; and the harmony of the style being united to melodious thought, a music results, that swells upon the ear, and fills the mind with delight.
MRS. SHELLEY, Preface to Essays, etc., by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
To prefer or to equal Shelley's prose to his poetry is a merely uncritical freak of judgment. His prose is, however, of excellent quality, both in his letters, which are among the most charming of their kind, and in his too few essays and miscellaneous writings. SAINTSBURY, Specimens of English Prose Style, p. 342.
The mere whim, the bare idea, that poetry is a deep thing, a teaching thing, the most surely and wisely elevating of human things, is even now to the coarse public mind nearly unknown. All about and around us a faith in poetry struggles to be extricated, but it is not extricated. Some day, at the touch of the true word, the whole confusion will by magic cease; the broken and shapeless notions will cohere and crystallize into a bright and true theory. BAGEHOT, Literary Studies, 2. 339–341.
A DEFENSE OF POETRY
WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES
ALBERT S. COOK
PROFESSOR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
BOSTON, U. S. A.
PUBLISHED BY GINN & COMPANY
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1890, by ALBERT S. COOK,
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
TYPOGRAPHY BY J. S. CUSHING & Co., BOSTON, U.S.A. PRESSWORK BY GINN & Co., BOSTON, U.S.A.