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Excerpt from Egeria: Or the Spirit of Nature; And Other Poems

Though it may look like a truism to assert that poetry has been the preacher of virtue, the inciter of heroism, and the refiner of society ; yet the fact needs repeating, in consequence of the misconception that seems to have arisen on the true nature of poetry, and the duty of the poet. Modern civilization is said to be weary of poetry ; or, if not wearied with the poets of past ages, to be quite contented with them, and to wish for no more. The very name of poet has latterly been received with a sneer. The poet has been thought a trifler; the obstinate devotee of a defunct art, which, in its most vigorous time, was only fitted for the amusement of the idle and the frivolous. This misconception has arisen from various causes; partly* from the ignorance or indifference of critics and philosophers ; partly from the more unpardonable indifference of some, not unworthy of the name of poets, who have depreciated their own calling ; and, in a still greater degree, from the incompetence of the vast multitude of persons who have been styled poets without the slightest right to the title - mere verse-makers, who have thrown discredit upon the name, not knowing that the hold of poetry upon the fancy and the imagination is secondary to its sway over the heart and the intellect, and that the true poet can preach and prophecy as well as sing.

Lord Bacon did some harm in this respect. Being more conversant with the pretensions of the rhymers of his day than with the performances of the poets, he misstated the whole object of poetry.

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