Great men are rare, poets are rarer, but the great man who is a poet, transfiguring his greatness, is the rarest of all events.
For while the subjects of poetry are few and recurrent, the moods of man are infinitely various and unstable. It is the same in all arts.
A lyric, it is true, is the expression of personal emotion, but then so is all poetry, and to suppose that there are several kinds of poetry, differing from each other in essence, is to be deceived by wholly artificial divisions which have no real being.
Poe's saying that a long poem is a sequence of short ones is perfectly just.
The written word is everything.
But in the finished art of the song the use of words has no connection with the use of words in poetry.
The poet's perfect expression is the token of a perfect experience; what he says in the best possible way he has felt in the best possible way, that is, completely.
When the poet makes his perfect selection of a word, he is endowing the word with life.
So it is in poetry. All we ask is that the mood recorded shall impress us as having been of the kind that exhausts the imaginative capacity; if it fails to do this the failure will announce itself either in prose or in insignificant verse.
It should here be added that poetry habitually takes the form of verse.
Poetry is the communication through words of certain experiences that can be communicated in no other way.
Any long work in which poetry is persistent, be it epic or drama or narrative, is really a succession of separate poetic experiences governed into a related whole by an energy distinct from that which evoked them.
If it is an imperfect word, no external circumstance can heighten its value as poetry.
It is commonly asserted and accepted that Paradise Lost is among the two or three greatest English poems; it may justly be taken as the type of supreme poetic achievement in our literature.
Poetry being the sign of that which all men desire, even though the desire be unconscious, intensity of life or completeness of experience, the universality of its appeal is a matter of course.
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