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sense of the same. To blend into one that which in thought has before been disconnected, and thus to unify our conceptions, stir in us the sense of the perfect, the true, the beautiful, the grand, and the sublime, is the peculiar function of the Imagination
2. Blending the Diverse. The poet had heard, with feelings of awe and rapture, from the neighboring hills and mountains, the reverberations of the trumpet's notes, as they were sounded forth from some high cliff, on the mountain side. Amid siinilar scenes he had listened to similar sounds from the waterfall. His Imagination blends the two, and thus shadows forth the conception of the beautiful..
“The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep." The Fancy, or associative faculty, may connect, but not blend. This is the peculiar function of the Imagination. Under the influence of the former faculty, the poet would have said,
“The cataracts sound like trumpets from the steep."
“The sunshine is a glorious birth.” To blend the conception of the production of light, with that of a birth, reveals the plastic power of the Imagination.
“ But now, when every sharp-edged blast
Is quiet in its sheath.": It requires some reflection, to appreciate the beauty of diverse thoughts here blended. Yet reflection will draw it forth. We have all conceived of the sharp-edged sword,' ceasing from the work of death, and lying quiet in its sheath. We have also heard the chill wind of winter spoken of as having a keen edge. As the poet walks forth amid the bland and mellow air of May, when the keen edge of winter has passed entirely from the atmosphere, his plastic Imagination unites the two conceptions above referred to into one. Hence the beautiful thought, “every sharp-edged blast is quiet in its sheath."
I might multiply examples of the kind under consideration to any extent. But these are sufficient to illustrate the prin. ciple.
3. Blending Opposites. Another principle in conformity to which the Imagination
shadows forth the forms of beauty, grandeur, and sublimity, is by blending things opposite to each other, such as the animate and in nimate, material and mental, the rational and irrational. I will give a few examples, the most of which will illustrate the principle under consideration with such obviousness as to render any particular remarks upon them unnecessary.
“ 'Twas night; the sultry atmosphere
Half palpable with darkness seemed,
Across wide heaven in grandeur gleamed,
The growling Thunders from their lair.” Every one is aroused to a deep sense of the grand and sublime on reading such a stanza. Two circumstances impart special grandeur and sublimity to the thought here presented-separating and presenting as opposites, things sustaining the relation to each other of cause and effect, as the lightning and the thunder-and blending opposites, the animate and inanimate, and thus representing the thunders as growling monsters in their lair, roused to rage and fury by the lightnings gleaming in grandeur across the fields of air.
I cite another passage from the same author—a poet yet unknown to fame. The language quoted, the poet has put into the mouth of an ancient Roman chieftain slave, dying in his humble shed, amid his comrades whom he was about to lead forth in a struggle for liberty, and who were assembled
“ To hear his last and solemn charge,
Ere Death should set his soul at large.
With awful lustre in his eye,
"Ye spirits of the storm,
I shall not spoil the passage, by particular comments.
Every one will perceive, that it is combining things opposite, things in themselves grand and sublime, that imparts peculiar grandeur to this grand conception.
In similar strains the same writer represents the imprisoned eagle, as longing to
“ Rise through tempest-shrouded air,
All thick and dark, with wild winds swelling,
And talk with thunders in their dwelling.". Here the rational, in its sublimest forms, is first blended with the irrational, and then with the inanimate; and then one of these beings is represented, as longing to rise amid scenes of fearful grandeur and sublimity, to converse with the other in his awful dwelling-place. Thus a creative Imagination evolves the forms of grandeur and sublimity.
It is the peculiar manner in which opposites are blended, that imparts such peculiar beauty to that most beautiful of almost all compositions, the 19th Psalm. The imagination of the poet represents the entire material universe, especially the luminaries of heaven, as all held in a blissful and devout contemplation and study of the perfection and glory of the Creator-all learning, and each imparting to the other a knowledge of the Infinite and Perfect. Day speaks to day, and night to night, of some new-discovered excellence revealed in the manifold works of God.
“ Hark! his hands the lyre explore.
Bright-eyed Fancy hovering o'er,
Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn." Fancy, as a bright-eyed, embodied spirit, hovering over, breathing thoughts, and burning words—opposites, in themselves beautiful, so beautifully blended, are what impart such surpassing beauty to this beautiful thought.
“But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.” By blending things so opposite as spirits and trailing clouds, does the poet impart an ineffable beauty to the idea of the soul coming from the hands of its Maker.
4. Blending Things in their Nature alike. Sometimes the Imagination evolves the beautiful, by blending things in their nature identical. I will give a single example of this kind, the subjective influence of maternal affection, as the poet has presented it :
“ Her love to me, in strong control,
Form’d of her life the dearest part;
The very pulse within her heart.”
No comments are requisite here, in pointing out the blending, plastic influence of the Imagination, in thus evolving the forms of the beautiful.
5. Combining Numbers into Unity, and dissolving and sepa
rating Unity into Number. Perhaps in no way does the Imagination more frequently body forth the forms of beauty, grandeur, and sublimity, than by “consolidating numbers into unity, and dissolving and separating unity into number.”
" How beautiful are thy tents, O Jacob,
And thy dwelling-places, O Israel,
And cursed is he that curseth thee." The main force and beauty of this passage consists in the manner in which a vast number of people are presented as one venerable personage. Every one is so familiar with examples of this kind, that I need not multiply them.
I will give a single example or two of the opposite kind, that of dissolving and separating unity into number:
“ And too oft
To chide and wonder at them when return’d." No individual can fail to recognize the beauty of the thought here expressed. Yet it mainly consists in dissolving the unity of the Mind itself.
“ Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion, all the interim is
The genius and the mortal instruments
6. Adding to, or abstracting some Quality from, an Object.
When a properly is added to an object which it does not possess, the object then, as Mr. Wordsworth observes, is re-acts upon the mind which has performed the process, like a new existence." This is one of the ways in which the Imagination delights us with the conception of the beautiful. For example :
“O Cuckoo! shall I call thee bird,
Or but a wandering voice ?” The cuckoo, though almost continually heard through the season of spring, is herself almost always invisible. This fact imparts a surpassing beauty to the conception evolved, in abstracting from her the idea of substantial existence, and representing her as a “wandering voice."
Examples of the former kind--that of blending with objects qualities which do not belong to them-have been given under the preceding topics. I will not forbear, however, the presentation of a single additional instance : .
“ Sweet day! so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky:
For thou must die.”
The beauty of this inconceivably beautiful thought, consists in representing the dew-drop, which in itself is the pure result of physical causes, as a tear which Nature sheds over the fall of a bright and gladsome day. Adding this new quality to the dew-drop, makes it act upon us as a new existence. 7. Blending with external Objects the Feelings which they
excite in us. The Imagination often imparts a surpassing beauty to what is in itself beautiful, by blending with the object the feelings which the contemplation of it excites in our minds :
6 O then what soul was his, when on the tops
Of the high mountains he beheld the sun