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and that he wrote in the preface to Cain, “Since I was twenty I
How silent and how vast are these dim worlds!
Their swelling into palpable immensity."
If he has made,
But, if he made us — he cannot unmake (I. i. 140-42; cf. P. L., ix. 718–20, and v. 850-66);
But let him (God]
Let him crowd orb on orb: he is alone (I. i. 147-52; cf. 471-7, and P. L., viii. 364-5, 404–7);
All the stars of heaven,
Like Adah's face (II. ii. 255-68; cf. P. L., iv. 641-56).
Paradise Lost in certain scenes near the end. Indirectly Milton may
O Lords, I scarcely know, if now I rise
The ancient, grand prerogative of Force. If the style of the poem owes anything to Paradise Lost, it is in these lines:
Spirit, to me alone inferior.
1 Note particularly section L of the fiftieth-anniversary edition, and compare A. D. McKillop's thesis (Harvard, 1920), The Spasmodic School in Victorian Poetry. Bailey's Angel World, The Mystic, and Spiritual Legend are, in diction and in the extensive use of strange proper nouns, astonishingly Miltonic for poems published so late as 1850 and 1855.
THE INFLUENCE OF PARADISE LOST AS SHOWN
The influence of Paradise Lost upon its early admirers and upon the principal later writers who were affected by it has now been studied in considerable detail. In order that the reader might understand the method of determining this influence and be able to test for himself the validity of the conclusions reached, numerous passages have been quoted and long lists of words, phrases, references, and borrowings have been introduced. Dull as much of this matter is, its importance in the present connection, together with the significance of the authors studied, has, it is to be hoped, given a certain interest to many a tedious page. To continue this process, however, through John Duncan's dreary Essay on Happiness, W. H. Drummond's dull Pleasures of Benevolence, or the anonymous stupid Wisdom, through the twenty-five books of Cottle's absurd Cambria or the thirty of Glover's unreadable Athenaid, were to plant brambles in the thorny path of learning. The limits both of patience and of space require that only the more important of these minor works be considered at all, and they but briefly; for, even after the hundreds of still-born or forgotten short pieces have been passed over, there remains a mass of blank verse that looms before us like a huge purgatorial mountain. Few of the works that enter into this pile can be made to take on any of the fascination of romance if they are to keep much of their own character; yet, by arranging the poems according to types and following the development of each type, we may learn not a little literary history and gain some much-needed insight into what our forefathers thought and liked. In the following chapters, accordingly, the longer of the remaining poems that show the influence of Paradise Lost will be studied along with other pieces that belong to the same class.
Obviously, no sharp line can be drawn between philosophical, religious, technical, reflective, and descriptive poems. Intellectual speculation, religious emotion, comment on human life, and description of natural scenery abound in all literature and sometimes form the most significant parts of works into which they are introduced incidentally; yet if we ask ourselves whether a work is primarily concerned with religious teaching, technical instruction, or philosophical speculation, we can usually determine under what class it falls. To continue this separating process, however, so as to collect all the philosophical, didactic, technical, or descriptive passages of any length to be found in the poetry of the time, would be an interminable task that would defeat its own end. This has not been attempted, but it is hoped that no important poem or part of a poem has been overlooked.
MEDITATIVE AND DESCRIPTIVE POETRY
On the whole, the most interesting of all the forgotten verse of this neglected century, the most readable and from the standpoint of literary development the most significant, is to be found among descriptive poems. These include, it should be observed, the greatest unrimed pieces of the period, The Seasons, The Task, and The Prelude; and in them may be traced the course of two of the more notable movements in modern life and literature, -- the development of the love of nature and of the power to express that love in poetry. These two things we commonly think of as synonymous, and thus do serious injustice to our earlier writers. Yet we know that even to-day, when nature-worship has become a fad, there are many mute, inglorious Wordsworths, as well as writers who give very inadequate expression to their love of the out-of-doors. How much more difficult must the writing of descriptive verse have been at a time when the leading poets of the day could find no better words for the miracle of spring than "Blushing Flora paints th' enamelled ground”!1
There is no warrant for thinking that, because an author employs conventional phraseology and a turgid style, he does not feel the beauties of which he writes. Who would guess from the poems alone the intense love of nature which lay behind Wordsworth's Descriptive Sketches and the odes of Gray? Yet much had been done before these men wrote. Wordsworth, like Burns, was the culmination of a long line of development, of unconscious divergence from accepted forms, of experimentation, failure, and partial success. What would either of them have done had he been born a century earlier? What might The Seasons have been had it come at the end instead of the beginning of its century? The world will never be sufficiently grateful for the forgotten men who drained bogs, felled trees, removed stumps and boulders, ploughed, harrowed, and fertilized the soil, to add new fields to the pleasant land of poesie, — fields which Wordsworth, Shelley, and Tennyson found ready for their use. If we keep in mind the great cause which these unknown men were helping to advance, if we look for it behind what they said to what they prob
Pope, Windsor Forest, 38; Thomson, Lines on Marlefield, 20.