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EXPLANATORY ALLOY IN DIRECT REPRESENTATION.
Alloy, if carrying to Extreme the Tendency in Plain Language, becomes
Didactic; if the Tendency in Figurative Language, it becomes Ornate
THE reader who has followed our line of thought to
this point, probably understands by this time the general nature of the difference between pure and alloyed representation. But he cannot understand the extent of the inartistic influence which the latter introduces into poetry as a representative art, until he has traced its developments a little further. That will be done for him in this and following chapters.
It has been said that whatever is added to representation of such a nature as to change it from pure to alloyed, must come from the poet. This is true, and yet he may not always be himself the primary source of these additions. He may get them either from his own mind or from nature,-a term used here to apply to every thing ex.
ternal to himself. If he get them from his own mind, he will carry into excessive development the tendency which has been termed the instinctive, underlying ejaculatory sounds and all plain language; and his product will manifest a preponderance of the features making up the thought that he desires to express. If he get his additions from nature, he will carry into excessive development the tendency, which has been termed the reflective, underlying imitative sounds and all figurative language; and his product will manifest a preponderance of the features employed in the form for the purpose of amplifying and illustrating his thought. The first tendency, carriea to an extreme, will deprive the form of representation, and make it explanatory or didactic; the second will overload it with representation, and make it florid or ornate.
Taking up these tendencies in their order, we will examine now the former of them, and first, as exemplified in poetry modelled upon direct representation. In this form, as we have seen, the poet uses no similies nor metaphors. He states precisely what he wishes to sayonly what he says, if put in the form of poetry, must represent his thought. If it merely present this, he gives us a product not of the ideal art of poetry, but of the practical art of rhetoric. This latter appeals to the mind through what Sir William Hamilton termed the elaborative faculty, and is characterized by a particularizing of details in explanatory words and clauses, termed amplification,-all of which details together enable the hearer to weigh the evidence that is offered, and to draw from it trustworthy conclusions. Poetry, on the contrary, appeals to the representative faculty, and is characterized by an absence of any more details or explanatory elements than are needed in order to form a picture, and this for the
reason that nothing appeals so strongly to the imagination as a hint. At the same time, as poetry and rhetoric both communicate ideas, there is a constant tendency for the one to pass into the other, for the poet to forget that the poetical depends not upon ideas alone, but also upon the forms given to the ideas,-in fact, to forget that, while great poetry must necessarily embody great thoughts, very genuine poetry, at times, may do no more than give to the merest “airy nothings a local habitation and a name.”
To exemplify what has been said, let us begin with some quotations from Wordsworth. They are specimens of rhetoric, pure and simple, presenting, but not in any sense representing, the thought. By consequence, they are almost wholly lacking in the suggestive and inspiring effects with which true poetry appeals to the imagination:
O for the coming of that glorious time
That the whole people should be taught and trained.
Vast the circumference of hope, and ye
.. Your country must complete
Now when destruction is a prime pursuit
-Excursion, 9. Some may suppose that the thought presented in these passages is not fitted for representation, and be inclined to justify the poet's treatment of it on this ground. The truth is, however, that there is very little thought that cannot be expressed in a representative way. As a proof of this, look at the following passages from Tennyson's Princess. They contain thoughts of essentially the same character as those from the Excursion ; yet their forms, if not always those of direct representation, are, at least, those of representation of some sort, which is the im. portant matter, just now, for us to consider.
O lift your natures up,
Let there be light, and there was light : 't is so :
As parts, can see but parts, now this, now that,
But trim our sails and let old by-gones be,
And knowledge in our own land make her free,
- Princess : Tennyson.
In the following, also, a very similar line of thought is not merely presented or stated, but represented or pictured:
For I dipped into the future, far as human eye could see,
-Locksley Hall: Tennyson.