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κειαν ατερυγ αμφοτερω-
– – ο δε κνωσσων
ρεπαισι κατασχoμενος .
West. Homer never touches this fublime subje&t, without employing the utmost reach of his invention to excite admiration in his reader:
: Ζευς δε Πατηρ ι ηθεν ευτροχον αρμα και ιππους
Ολυμπονδ' εδιωκε, θεων δ' εξακετο Φωκάς.
Αρματα δ' αμερωμοισι τιθει, κατα λιτα αετασσας. • Αυτος δε χρυσειον επι 8ρωνον ευρυοπα Ζευς Εζετο, τω δε υπο σοσσι μέγας σελεμιζετ’ ΟλυμπG. . * Πινδ. Πυθ. α.
• Ιλιαδ. βις. ή.
-The Thund'rer meditates his flight
And wide beneath him all Olympus shakes. Pope. I HAVE mentioned these examples, as they shew the light in which a great object will be contemplated by a man of genius; and as the reader will observe that our admiration is not merely excited by the dignity of the theme, but that it results from the great and uncommon circumstances which are happily thrown into the description. Pindar, no doubt, found it a much easier task to raise this passion in favour of Theron, whom he artfully introduceth to the reader's attention, after enquiring of his Muse what God or what distinguished Hero he should attempt to celebrate
This is one of the most artful and spirited, and the Hero of the and best conducted of Pindar's Poem is hewn to great advantage. Odes. The introduction is abrupt
It is obvious however, from what hath been advanced on this subject, that whatever may be the nature of the theme on which the Poet inlifts, it is the bufiness of Fancy to enliven the whole piece with those natural and animating graces which lead us to survey it with admiration. From the whole therefore it appears, that this Faculty of the mind claims an higher share of merit in the composition of the Ode, than in any other species of Poetry; because, in the other branches of this art, different ends may be obtained, and different expedients may be fallen, upon to gain them; but the most perfect kind of Lyric Poetry admits only of that end, to the attainment of which fertility of Imagination is indispensibly requisite.
You will recollect, my Lord, a position laid down in the beginning of this Essay,--that“ when Imagination “ is permitted to bestow the graces of Ornament indif“ criminately, sentiments are either superficial, and " thinly scattered through a work, or we are obliged
TINC no ard pel reaad noques ;
Dev Hpanaens, &c.
" to search for them beneath a load of superfluous co" louring.” I shall now endeavour to evince the truth of this reflection, by enquiring more particularly what are the faults into which the Lyric Poet is most ready to be betrayed, by giving a loose rein to that Faculty, which colours and enlivens his composition.
It may be observed then in general, that we usually judge of the Genius of a Lyric Poet by the variety of
his Images, the boldness of his Transitions, and the compicturesque vivacity of his Descriptions. I shall under this head trouble your Lordship with a few reflections on each of these, considered separately.
By the Images which are employed in the Ode, I mean, those illustrations borrowed from natural, and often from familiar objects, by which the Poet either clears up an obscurity, or arrests the attention, and kindles the imagination of his reader. These illustrations have very distinct uses in the different species of poetic compofition. The greatest Masters in the Epopee often introduce metaphors, which have only a general relation to the subject ; and, by pursuing these through a variety of circumstances, they disengage the reader's attention from the principal object. This indeed often becomes necessary in pieces of length, when attention begins to
relax by following too closely one particular train of ideas. It requires however great judgment in the Poet to pursue this course with approbation; as he must not only fix upon metaphors, which, in some points, have a striking similarity to the object illustrated; but even the digreffive circumstances must be fo connected with it, as to exhibit a succession of sentiments which resemble, at least remotely, the subject of his Poem. It must be obvious, at first view, that as the Lyric Poet cannot adopt this plea, his metaphors will always have the happiest effect, when they correspond to the object in such a manner, as to thew its compleat proportions in the fullest point of view, without including foreign and unappropriated epithets. This however is not the course which a Writer of imagination will naturally follow, unless his judgment restrains the excurfions of that excentric faculty. He will, on the contrary, catch with eagerness every image which Fancy enlivens with
• The Reader will meet with that, “ the mariners often mis. many examples of this liberty in the “ take him for an island, and calt Iliad, some of which Mr. Pope has “ anchor on his fide." Paradise judiciously selected in the notes of Loft, book ii. In this illustration it bis translation. Milton, in the fame is obvious, that though the Poet spirit, compares Satan lying on the deviates from clofe imitation, yet lake of fire, to a Leviathan ilumber- he still keeps in view the general ing on the coast of Norway, and end of his subject, which is to eximmediately digresiing from the hibit a picture of the fallen Archfrie points of connection, he adds, angel. See Paradise Loft, book i.