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It is so with many minds, I will not say with all. After looking at one aspect of external nature, or of any form of beauty or truth, when they turn away, the complementary aspect of the same object stamps itself irresistibly and automatically upon the mind. Shall they give expression to this secondary mental state, or not?
When I contemplate-said my friend, the Poetthe infinite largeness of comprehension belonging to the Central Intelligence, how remote the creative conception is from all scholastic and ethical formulæ, I am led to think that a healthy mind ought to change its mood from time to time, and come down from its noblest condition,-never, of course, to degrade itself by dwelling upon what is itself debasing, but to let its lower faculties have a chance to air and exercise themselves. After the first and second floor have been out in the bright street dressed in all their splendors, shall not our humble friends in the basement have their holiday, and the cotton velvet and the thin-skinned jewelry-simple adornments, but befitting the station of those who wear them-show themselves to the crowd, who think them beautiful,
as they ought to, though the people up stairs know · that they are cheap and perishable ?
- I don't know that I may not bring the Poet here, some day or other, and let him speak for him. nelf. Still I think I can tell you what he says quite Ls well as he coulil do it-Oh-he said to me, one
day, I am but a hand-organ man,-say rather, a band-organ. Life turns the winch, and fancy or accident pulls out the stops. I come under your windows, some fine spring morning, and play you one of my adagio movements, and some of you say, - This is good,-play us so always. But, dear friends, if I did not change the stop sometimes, the machine would wear out in one part and rust in another. How easily this or that tune flows !-you say, there must be no end of just such melodies in him.-I will open the poor machine for you one moment, and you shall look.—Ah! Every note marks where a spur of steel has been driven in. It is easy to grind out the song, but to plant these bristling points which make it was the painful task of time.
I don't like to say it,-he continued, but poets commonly have no larger stock of tunes than hand. organs; and when you hear them piping up under your window, you know pretty well what to expect. The more stops, the better. Do let them all be pulled out in their turn!
So spoke my friend, the Poet, and read me one of his stateliest songs, and after it a gay chanson, and then a string of epigrams. All true,-he said, -all flowers of his soul; only one with the corolla spread, and another with its disk half opened, and the third with the heart-leaves covered up and only a petal or two showing its tip through the calyx. The water lily is the type of the poet's soul,-he told me.
- What do you think, Sir, said the divinitystudent-opens the souls of poets most fully?
Why, there must be the internal force and the ex. ternal stimulus. Neither is enough by itself. A rose will not flower in the dark, and a fern will not flower anywhere.
What do I think is the true sunshine that opens the poet's corolla ?—I don't like to say. They spoil a good many, I am afraid; or at least they shine on a good many that never come to anything.
Who are they ?-said the schoolmistress.
Women. Their love first inspires the poet, and their praise is his best reward.
The schoolmistress reddened a little, but looked pleased.—Did I really think so ?-I do think so; I never feel safe until I have pleased them; I don't think they are the first to see one's defects, but they are the first to catch the color and fragrance of a true poem. Fit the same intellect to a man and it is a bow-string-to a woman and it is a harp-string. She is vibratile and resonant all over, so she stirs with slighter musical tremblings of the air about her.
Ah, mesaid my friend, the Poet, to me, the other day,what color would it not have given to my thoughts, and what thrice-washed whiteness to ny words, had I been fed on women's praises! I should have grown like Marvell's fawn,
“ Lilies without; roses within !"
But then, he added, we all think, if so and su, we should have been this or that, as you were saying, the other day, in those rhymes of yours.
- I don't think there are many poets in the sense of creators; but of those sensitive natures which reflect themselves naturally in soft and melodious words, pleading for sympathy with their joys and sorrows, every literature is full. Nature carves with her own hands the brain which holds the creative imagination, but she casts the over-sensitive creatures in scores from the same mould.
There are two kinds of poets, just as there are two kinds of blondes. (Movement of curiosity among our ladies at table.—Please to tell us about those blondes, said the schoolmistress. Why, there are blondes who are such simply by deficiency of coloring matter,-negative or washed blondes, arrested by Nature on the way to become albinesses. There are others that are shot through with golden light, with tawny or fulvous tinges in various degree,-posilive or stained blondes, dipped in yellow sunbeams, and as unlike in their mode of being to the others as an orange is unlike a snowball. The albino-style carries with it a wide pupil and a sensitive retina. The other, or the leonine blonde, has an opaline fire in her clear eye, which the brunette can hardly match with her quick glittering glances.
Just so we have the great sun-kindled, constructive imaginations, and a far more numerous class of
poets who have a certain kind of moonlight-genius given them to compensate for their imperfection of nature. Their want of mental coloring-matter makes them seusitive to those impressions which stronger minds neglect or never feel at all. Many of therr die young, and all of them are tinged with melan choly. There is no more beautiful illustration of the principle of compensation which marks the Divine Benevolence than the fact that some of the holiest lives and some of the sweetest songs are the growth of the infirmity which unfits its subject for the rougher duties of life. When one reads the life of Cowper, or of Keats, or of Lucretia and Margaret Davidson,-of so many gentle, sweet natures, born to weakness, and mostly dying before their time,une cannot help thinking that the human race dies out singing, like the swan in the old story. The French poet, Gilbert, who died at the Hotel Dieu, at the age of twenty-nine,-(killed by a key in his · throat, which he had swallowed when delirious in consequence of a fall,)—this poor fellow was a very good example of the poet by excess of sensibility. I found, the other day, that some of my literary friends had never heard of him, though I suppose few educated Frenchmen do not know the lines which he wrote, a week before his death, upon a mean bed in the great hospital of Paris.
"Au banquet de la vie, infortuné convive,
j'apparus un jour, et je meurs;