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Reason And Imagination Essay Research Paper According (стр. 1 из 4)

Reason And Imagination Essay, Research Paper

According to one mode of regarding those two classes of mental action which

are called Reason and Imagination, the former may be considered as mind

contemplating the relations borne by one thought to another, however produced;

and the latter as mind, acting upon those thoughts so as to colour them with its

own light, and composing from them as from elements, other thoughts, each

containing within itself the principle of its own integrity. ?2 The one is the

to poiein, or the principle of synthesis and has for its objects those forms

which are common to universal nature and existence itself; the other is the

to-logizein or principle of analysis and its action regards the relations of

things, simply as relations; considering thoughts, not in their integral unity

but as the algebraical representations which conduct to certain general results.

?3 Reason is the enumeration of quantities already known; Imagination [[is]] the

perception of the value of those quantities, both seperately and as a whole. ?4

Reason respects the differences, and Imagination the similitudes of things. ?5

Reason is to Imagination as the instrument to the agent, as the body to the

spirit, as the shadow to the substance.


?6 Poetry, in a general sense, may be defined to be “the expression of the

Imagination:” and Poetry is connate with the origin of man. ?7 Man is an

instrument over which a series of external and internal impressions are driven,

like the alternations of an ever-changing wind over an ?olian lyre; which move

it, by their motion, to ever-changing melody. ?8 But there is a principle within

the human being and perhaps within all sentient beings, which acts otherwise

than in the lyre, and produces not melody alone, but harmony, by an internal

adjustment of the sounds or motions thus excited to the impressions which excite

them. ?9 It is as if the lyre could accomodate its chords to the motions of that

which strikes them, in a determined proportion of sound; even as the musician

can accomodate his voice to the sound of the lyre. ?10 A child at play by itself

will express its delight by its voice and motions; and every inflexion of tone

and every gesture will bear exact relation to a corresponding antitype in the

pleasurable impressions which awakened it; it will be the reflected image of

that impression; and as the lyre trembles and sounds after the wind has died

away, so the child seeks by prolonging in its voice and motions the duration

{{Sig. 1v}} of the effect, to prolong also a consciousness of the cause. ?11 In

relation to the objects which delight a child, these expressions are, what

Poetry is to higher objects. ?12 The savage (for the savage is to ages what the

child is to years) expresses the emotions produced in him by surrounding objects

in a similar manner; and language and gesture, together with plastic or

pictorial imitation, become the image of the combined effect of those objects

and of his apprehension of them. ?13 Man in society, with all his passions and

his pleasures, next becomes the object of the passions and pleasures of man; an

additional class of emotions produces an augmented treasure of expressions, and

language, gesture and the imitative arts become at once the representation and

the medium, the pencil and the picture, the chisel and the statue, the chord and

the harmony. ?14 The social sympathies, or those laws from which as from its

elements society results, begin to develope themselves from the moment that two

human beings co-exist; the future is contained within the present as the plant

within the seed; and equality, diversity, unity, contrast, mutual dependance

become the principles alone capable of affording the motives according to which

the will of a social being is determined to action, inasmuch as he is social;

and constitute pleasure in sensation, virtue in sentiment, beauty in art, truth

in reasoning, and love in the intercourse of kind. ?15 Hence men, even in the

infancy of society, observe a certain order in their words and actions, distinct

from that of the objects and the impressions represented by them[[,]]. all

expression being subject to the laws of that from which it proceeds. ?16 But let

us dismiss those more general considerations which might involve an enquiry into

the principles of society itself, and restrict our view to the manner in which

the imagination is expressed upon its forms.


?17 In the youth of the world men dance and sing and imitate natural objects,

observing in these actions, as in all others, a certain rhythm or order. ?18

And, although all men observe a similar, they observe not the same order in the

motions of the dance, in the melody of the song, in the combinations of

language, in the series of their imitations of natural objects. ?19 For there is

a certain order or rhythm belonging to each of these classes of mimetic

representation, from which the hearer and the spectator receive an intenser and

a purer pleasure than from any other: the sense of an approximation to this

order has been called taste, by modern writers. ?20 Every man, in the infancy of

art, observes an order which approximates more or less closely to that from

which this highest delight results: but the diversity is not sufficiently

marked, as that its gradations should be sensible, except in those instances

where the {{Sig. 2r}} predominance of this faculty of approximation to the

beautiful (for so we may be permitted to name the relation between this highest

pleasure and its cause) is very great. ?21 Those in whom it exists in excess are

poets, in the most universal sense of the word; and the pleasure resulting from

the manner in which they express the influence of society or nature upon their

own minds, communicates itself to others, and gathers a sort of reduplication

from that community. ?22 Their language is vitally metaphorical; that is it

marks the before unapprehended relations of things, and perpetuates their

apprehension, until the words which re present them become through time signs

for portions and classes of thoughts, instead of pictures of integral thoughts;

and then, if no new poets should arise to create afresh the associations which

have been thus disorganized, language will be dead to all the nobler purposes of

human intercourse. ?23 These similitudes or relations are finely said by Lord

Bacon to be “the same footsteps of nature impressed upon the various subjects of

the world * –” and he considers the faculty which receives them as the

storehouse of axioms common to all knowledge. ?24 In the infancy of society

every author is necessarily a poet, because language itself is poetry; and to be

a poet is to apprehend the true and the beautiful, in a word the good which

exists in the relation, subsisting, first between existence and perception, and

secondly between perception and expression. ?25 Every original language near to

its source is in itself the chaos of a cyclic poem: the copiousness of

lexicography and the distinctions of grammar are the works of a later age, and

are merely the catalogue and the form of the creations of Poetry.

* De Augment. Scient. Cap. I Lib 3.


?26 But Poets, or those who imagine and express this indestructible order, are

not only the authors of language and of music, of the dance and architecture and

statuary and painting; they are the institutors of laws |&| the founders of

civil society and the inventors of the arts of life and the teachers, who draw

into a certain propinquity with the beautiful and the true that partial

apprehension of the agencies of the invisible world which is called religion.

?27 Hence all original religions are allegorical or susceptible of allegory, and

like Janus have a double face of false and true. ?28 Poets, according to the

circumstances of the age and nation in which they appeared were called in the

earlier epochs of the world legislators or prophets: a poet essentially

comprises and unites both these characters. ?29 For he not only beholds

intensely the present as it is, and discovers those laws according to which

present things ought to be ordered, but he beholds the future in the present,

and his thoughts are the forms of {{Sig. 2v}} the flower and the fruit of latest

time. ?30 Not that I assert poets to be prophets in the gross sense of the word,

or that they can fortell the form as surely as they foreknow the spirit of

events: such is the pretence of superstition which would make poetry an

attribute of prophecy, rather than prophecy an attribute of poetry. ?31 A Poet

participates in the eternal, the infinite and the one; as far as relates to his

conceptions time and place and number are not. ?32 The grammatical forms which

express the moods of time, and the difference of persons and the distinction of

place are convertible with respect to the highest poetry without injuring it as

poetry, and the choruses of ?schylus, and the book of Job, and Dante’s Paradise

would afford more than any other writings examples of this fact, if the limits

of this paper did not forbid citation. ?33 The creations of sculpture, painting

and music are illustrations still more decisive.


?34 Language, colour, form, and religious and civil habits of action are all the

instruments and materials of poetry; they may be called poetry by that figure of

speech which considers the effects as a synonime of the cause. ?35 But poetry in

a more restricted sense expresses those arrangements of language, and especially

metrical language which are created by that imperial faculty whose throne is

curtained within the invisible nature of man. ?36 And this springs from the

nature itself of language which is a more direct representation of the actions

and the passions of our internal being, and is susceptible of more various and

delicate combinations than colour, form or motion, and is more plastic and

obedient to the controul of that faculty of which it is the creation. ?37 For

language is arbitrarily produced by the Imagination and has relation to thoughts

alone; but all other materials, instruments and conditions of art have relations

among each other, which limit and interpose between conception and expression.

?38 The former is as a mirror which reflects, the latter as a cloud which

enfeebles, the light of which both are mediums of communication. ?39 Hence the

fame of sculptors, painters and musicians, although the intrinsic powers of the

great masters of these arts, may yield in no degree to that of those who have

employed language as the hieroglyphic of their thoughts, has never equalled that

of poets in the restricted sense of the term; as two performers of equal skill

will produce unequal effects from a guitar and a harp. ?40 The fame of

legislators and founders of religions, so long as their institutions last, alone

seems to exceed that of poets in the restricted sense: but it can scarcely be a

question whether if we deduct the celebrity which their flattery of the gross

opinions of the vulgar usually conciliates, together with that which belonged to

them in their higher character of poets {{Sig. 3r}} any excess will remain.


?41 We have thus circumscribed the word Poetry within the limits of that art

which is the most familiar and the most perfect expression of the faculty

itself. ?42 It is necessary however to make the circle still narrower, and to

determine the distinction between measured and unmeasured language; for the

popular division into prose and verse, is inadmissible in accurate philosophy.


?43 Sounds as well as thoughts have relation both between each other and towards

that which they represent, and a perception of the order of those relations, has

always been found connected with a perception of the order of the relations of

thoughts. ?44 Hence the language of poets has ever affected a certain uniform

and harmonious recurrence of sound without which it were not poetry, and which

is scarcely less indispensible to the communication of its influence, than the

words themselves without reference to that peculiar order. ?45 Hence the vanity

of translation; it were as wise to cast a violet into a crucible that you might

discover the formal principle of its colour and odour, as seek to transfuse from

one language into another the creations of a poet. ?46 The plant must spring

again from its seed or it will bear no flower — and this is the burthen of the

curse of Babel.


?47 An observation of the regular mode of the occurrence of this harmony, in the

language of poetical minds, together with its relation to music, produced metre,

or a certain system of traditional forms of harmony and language. ?48 Yet it is

by no means essential that a poet should accomodate his language to this

traditional form, so that the harmony which is its spirit, be observed. ?49 The

practise is indeed convenient and popular and to be preferred, especially in

such composition as includes much action: but every great poet must inevitably

innovate upon the example of his predecessors in the exact structure of his

peculiar versification. ?50 The distinction between poets and prose-writers is a

vulgar error. ?51 The distinction between philosophers and poets has been

anticipated. ?52 Plato was essentially a poet — the truth and splendour of his

imagery and the melody of his language is the most intense that it is possible

to conceive. ?53 He {{Sig. 3v}} rejected the measure of the epic, dramatic and

lyrical forms, because he sought to kindle a harmony in thoughts divested of

shape and action, and he forebore to invent any regular plan of rhythm which

would include under determinate forms, the varied pauses of his style. ?54

Cicero sought to imitate the cadence of his periods but with little success. ?55

Lord Bacon was a poet. * His language has a sweet and majestic rhythm which

satisfies the sense no less than the almost superhuman wisdom of his philosophy

satisfies the intellect; it is a strain which distends, and then bursts the

circumference of the readers’ mind and pours itself forth together with it into

the universal element with which it has perpetual sympathy. ?56 — All the

Authors of revolutions in opinion are not only necessarily poets as they are

inventors, nor even as their words unveil the permanent analogy of things by

images which participate in the life of truth; but as their periods are

harmonious and rhythmical and contain in themselves the elements of verse; being

the echo of the eternal music. ?57 Nor are those supreme poets, who have

employed traditional forms of rhythm on account of the form and action of their

subjects, less incapable of perceiving and teaching the truth of things, than

those who have omitted that form. ?58 Shakespear, Dante and Milton (to confine

ourselves to modern writers.) are philosophers of the very loftiest powers.

* See the Filium Labyrinthi, and the Essay of Death particularly.


?59 A Poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth. ?60 There

is this difference between a story and a poem, that a story is a catalogue of

detached facts, which have no other bond of connexion than time, place,

circumstance, cause and effect; the other is the creation of actions according

to the unchangeable forms of human nature, as existing in the mind of the

creator, which is itself the image of all other minds. ?61 The one is partial,

and applies only to a definite period of time, and a certain combination of

events which can never again recur; the other is universal and contains within

itself the germ of a relation to whatever motives or actions have place in the

possible varieties of {{Sig. 4r}} human nature. ?62 Time, which destroys the

beauty and the use of the story of particular facts, stript of the poetry which

should invest them, augments that of Poetry and forever developes new and

wonderful applications of the eternal truth which it contains. ?63 Hence

epitomes have been called the moths of just history; they eat out the poetry of

it. ?64 A story of particular facts is as a mirror which obscures and distorts

that which should be beautiful: Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that

which is distorted.


?65 The parts of a composition may be poetical, without the composition as a

whole being a poem. ?66 A single sentence may be considered as a whole though it

may be found in the midst of a series of unassimilated portions; a single word

even may be a spark of inextinguishable thought. ?67 And thus all the great