Home -> John J. Newbegin -> Little Literary Lights - Poetry

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Decorative AAll appreciative mortals dwell in harmonious peace, enjoy his rivulets of fancy and smile with the natural born poet. He is the great interpreter of the secret melodies of nature and the spirit of human nature as distinguished from the purely material or physical.

He is a dreamer who strikes a chord near the universal heart of life whose idealistic horizon is not bounded or influenced by mere practical problems. He sees and hears beyond the surface and appearance of things and brings out the tender possibilities, outside the boundaries or limitations of the commercial world, in lyrical sweetness and rhyme. To him the subtle charm of passion, low murmur of the wind, voice of the trees, the roar of the waves and silence of the woods all have a personality that stimulates inspiration.

He is really gifted with a tender, sympathetic, sensitive second sight, capable of recognizing the finer qualities that lie within the inner world, which he proclaims in radiant song, in an earnest endeavor to chant the rapturous music before the uninitiated and arouse dormant thoughts to which they otherwise would be insensible.

He is one of the glittering outposts of civilization, reading, translating and flashing the world's divine, soulful beauties of genius for the benefit of the multitude, whose limited intellectual capacity, not attuned to such advanced flights of the Muse, is scarcely capable of grasping the strains of his ethereal meaning; but the celestial process of refining must continue until there is a general awakening from their reverie to an exalted appreciation of the cultured essence of life.

In this materialistic age, where money-making predominates, a manifestation of sentiment seems to demand some kind of explanation, if not an apology:

There is many a self-abnegated person with lofty ideals and an unattractive exterior who has, down deep in his inner soul, a poetic streak of sentiment, hidden from the cold critical world, that no one suspects and is kept buried for fear of ridicule. Some anonymous lines I have express the feeling I am attempting to describe:

"There are poems unwritten and songs unsung,
Sweeter than any that ever were heard, -
Poems that wait for an angel tongue,
Songs that but long for a Paradise bird, -
Poems unnoted and hidden away
Down in the souls where the beautiful thrives,
Sweetly as flowers in the airs of the May,
Poems that only the angels above us, -
Looking down deep in our hearts, may behold,
Felt, though unseen, by the beings who love us,
Written on lives as in letters of gold.
Sing to my soul the sweet song that thou livest!
Read me the poem that never was penned -
The wonderful idyl of life that thou givest
Fresh from thy spirit, oh, beautiful friend!"

While poetry I have always considered as an art, at the same time I have looked upon it, in the light of a literary holiday, something to turn to in our less serious moments; for that reason, I have not always agreed with the standard authorities; for instance, while usually carrying a small copy of Horace in my satchel, when off on a jaunt, Homer does not appeal to me at all. I like Michael Angelo but do not fancy Dante, and while admiring Shakespeare, care nothing for Milton. I enjoy poems rather than poets - Gray's "Elegy," Burns' "Cotter's Saturday Night," Wordsworth's "Early Spring," Moore's "Fire Worshippers," Scott's "Lady of the Lake," Shelley's "Sonnets," Keats' "Odes," Heine's "Songs," the first two chapters in the Canticles of Solomon, the courage in Joaquin Miller's "Columbus," and pathos in Bret Harte's "Luke" or "Miss Blanch Says."

To any real lover of poetry, what a delightful treat is suggested by the names of Tennyson and Longfellow, Realf and Lanier, Villon and Baudelaire, Whitman and Poe, Coleridge and Blake, Francis Thompson and Hovey, Christiani Rossetti and Mrs. Browning, Swinburne and Morris, Verhaeren and Sill, Pushkin and Arnold, Aytoun and Motherwell, Byron and Pope, Herrick and those from the Orient, like Firdausi, Omar, Noguchi and Tagore, all of whom have produced songs that appeal to the heart and inner consciousness.

There is no question that whether sung, spoken or written, poetry is the most refined form of human expression and difficult to analyze. The best definition of it I know is that of Stedman, who says, "Poetry is rhythmical, imaginative language, expressing the invention, taste, thought, passion and insight of the human soul."

It is a realization as well as an interpretation of the melody of nature and the ideals of mankind. Shelley was inspired to write:

"The highest moral purpose arrived at in the highest species of the drama is teaching the human heart, through its sympathies and antipathies, knowledge of itself; in proportion to the possession of which knowledge every human being is wise, just, sincere, tolerant and kind."

And this sentiment is applicable to poetry as well, for it is the very essence of the materials of which life is composed, and it is for this reason that the poet has always exercised such a supreme influence over the imagination of the people, for his song is full of enlightenment and the promise of better things.

The rare charms of poetry are only unfolded, its imaginative power interpreted and its delicious secrets revealed to the favored few initiated in the love and understanding of the beautiful in nature, who read between the lines the divine, melodious obligato of sentiment, accompanying the poetical expression, that appeals to the senses.

In its exquisite, imaginative, constitutional elements, as characterized in its various forms, full of caprice, poetry is the masterpiece of humanly created beauty.

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