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Title: The Philosophy of Fine Art, volume 4 (of 4) - Hegel's Aesthetik
Author: Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich
Language: English
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    THE ROMANTIC ARTS_--continued_




    [Summary and contrast between poetry and the other
    particular arts. Its relation to the other two romantic
    arts. Absence of all external sensuous presence.
    Poetry appeals to imaginative vision. Not so direct as
    sense-perception. Advantage over painting through its
    ability to display facts in their historical succession or
    natural process. Far profounder and more extended embrace
    of world of idea than in music; due to its greater power
    of definition in speech and its use of tone merely as a
    subordinate instrument. The content of poetry is the ideal
    envisagement of imaginative content itself. Everything made
    intelligible by language may form part of content, subject
    to the condition that it is poetical. Analysis of what
    this condition implies. The imagination of artist must be
    Contributive; distinction from mere prose consciousness and
    thinking. In its entire independence of the material of
    sense it may be defined as the universal art. The material
    is the imagination, and as such conjoint with all the arts.
    It is, however, not the only art open to philosophical
    review on this ground. It marks, however, the commencement
    of the disintegration of Art, its bridge of passage to the
    notion of religion and philosophical thought]

    Subdivision of subject-matter

    I. Poetical composition as distinguished from that of Prose

    1. The poetical and prosaic composition

    (_a_) The world of natural or prosaic fact relatively
    excluded. Primarily what it deals with is the infinite
    domain of Spirit and the energies of its life

    (_b_) Distinction between poetical and prosaic conception 21

    [(_α_) Poetical anterior to the prosaic form of artistic
    speech. It is the original imaginative grasp of truth. Dates
    from first effort of man at self-expression. Endeavours to
    make that expression of a higher virtue than mere prose

    (_β_) The kind of prose life from which poetry is separate
    postulates a different kind of conception and speech. The
    finite categories of the understanding applicable to the
    former. The ideal rationale of fact is aimed at by poetry.
    Its affinity with and distinction from pure thought

    (_γ_) Difference between the relation of poetic conception
    to prosaic in early times and more modern, where the prosaic
    form of life has become stereotyped in a definite system]

    (_c_) The nature of the differentiation of poetical activity
    in different ages and nations

    [(_α_) It has no particular epoch of unique celebration. It
    embraces the collective Spirit of man. It is conditioned by
    the outlook of various nations and epochs

    (_β_) Some of these have closer affinity with its essential
    spirit, _e.g.,_ the Oriental in comparison with the Western
    nations, if we exclude Greece

    (_γ_) Modern interest in Hellenic and certain portions of
    Oriental poetry]

    2. The Art-product of poetry and prose

    (_a_) The artistic composition of poetry generally

    [(_α_) It must possess intrinsic unity. The action must be
    conceived as that of particular men or women. There must be
    vital coalescence of characters, events, and actions. Unity
    in the nature of a process and a differentiation of parts
    which coalesce therein

    (_β_) Nature of this organic differentiation and synthesis.
    Tendency of Art to particularization. Delight in detail.
    Nature of its treatment of such detail. Result, a secure

    (_γ_) Substantive unity preserved. Display of particular
    features, despite all opposition, must combine in a union
    of mysterious accord. The unity is essential and organic. It
    is the soul of the entirety. Parallel in musical trichord.
    Varied type of artistic form in the Epic, the Drama, and the

    (_b_) History and oratory compared with the poetical product

    [(_α_) The arts of history and oratory come into closest
    affinity with poetical composition. History implies great
    ends, cannot rest content with mere chronicles. Herodotus,
    Thucydides, Xenophon, and Tacitus. Products of the art of
    language, but not entirely free art. The nature of the
    historical content prohibits this. The prosaic element in
    the historical age and the historical treatment defined

    (_β_) Oratory appears to be closer to the freedom of Art.
    The orator appeals to the whole man. It is directed to
    the enunciation of principles. It is none the less almost
    wholly relative to the rule of practical utility. Religious
    oratory. It is in the service of a collateral purpose]

    (_c_) The free poetical work of Art

    [(_α_) The attitude of the poet in his work, to contingent
    and insignificant fact and local conditions, actions,
    events, etc.

    (_β_) The end of Art not practical as in oratory. Nor is it
    to edification. _Poems d'occasion_

    (_γ_) It is an essentially infinite (self-rounded) organism.
    Permeated with a principle of unity. Independent of any one
    particular condition of Life or Nature]

    3. The creative impulse of the Poet

    [(_a_) Less under restriction in respect to his medium. The
    problem proposed in one respect more easy, and in another
    more difficult than that of the other arts. Technical
    control of the medium which is easier makes the demand for
    imaginative penetration the greater

    (_b_) Being operative in the realm of imaginative idea
    itself poetry has to guard against encroaching upon
    the spheres of religion, philosophy, and the ordinary
    consciousness as such 53

    (_c_) To a greater extent than in the other arts the poet
    has transfused the external mode of envisagement, which
    he creates, with the vitality of soul-life. Mohammedan
    poetry. The creative energy must be absolutely free from all
    restrictions imposed by the material handled]

    II. The Expression of Poetry

    1. The poetical Conception

    (_a_) Poetical conception in its origins
    [In its origin not consciously distinct from the prosaic
    or scientific consciousness. In general terms the poetic
    imagination is plastic. Illustration of difference between
    the concrete poetical image and the abstract concept]

    (_b_) Distinction between poetic mode of conception and that
    of prose. Language of poetical metaphor and imagery less
    accurate than the definition of prosaic fact

    (_c_) Exceptional difficulties which confront the poet of
    a world where the distinction between ordinary prose life
    and imagination is emphasised. Artificial appearance of his
    creations. Difficulty of retaining spontaneous simplicity
    and freshness

    2. Verbal Expression

    (_a_) Poetical speech generally

    [Another mode of speech necessitated by the fact that the
    world of poetry and art in general should not be identical
    with that of ordinary life, or that of science and religion]

    (_b_) The means by which this is realized

    [(_α_) Particular words and expressions only proper to
    poetry. Entitled to borrow from language forms obsolete in
    ordinary speech. The invention exercised in creating novel
    modes of utterance

    (_β_) The relative order of words admits of change; how the
    licence in this respect may be abused and degenerate into
    rhetoric and declamation

    (_γ_) The periods of poetical construction composed in
    accordance with the ideality of the soul-experience

    (_c_) Distinctions in the use of these means

    [(_α_) Poetry in the age where poetry is the one revealer of
    spiritual truth. Force of creative power and simplicity of
    diction most obvious features. Creation of a poetic diction
    by Dante

    (_β_) Distinction from above in an age where prose diction
    already elaborated. Expression of poetry becomes more
    elaborate and eventually more self-conscious and rhetorical.
    The poetry of Rome. The satire. Spanish poetry

    (_γ_) The nature of genuine poetical expression. Spontaneity
    above all essential]

    3. Versification.

    [Only a superficial view would banish it. It is implied in
    the demand that the medium should be elaborated by Art and
    that the realm entered should be other than every-day life]

    (_a_) Rhythmical Versification (that is, without rhyme)

    [(_α_) Made by time-duration and the movement. Starting
    point in the natural length and shortness of syllables.
    The distinctions of the sound of words in consonants and
    vowels contribute the basis of this. Description and
    illustration. Poetry regulates the accidental interchange
    of various syllables and words. Time-duration. Nature of
    dactyl, anapaest, etc. It further regulates the particular
    time-relations in a series of verse-lines. The iambic metre,
    etc. Problem of time-beats in the metre of the ancients. No
    necessity as in music for abstract time-beat

    (_β_) The accent and caesura. Every time-relation has its
    particular accent. Particular feet ought not with abstract
    precision to be identical with beginning and conclusion of
    single words. The caesura checks the monotony of measure.
    Further independent verbal accent. Fundamental influence
    on the measure of the poetical idea. Also a definite type
    of content corresponds with the entire character of a
    particular verse-measure. The use of hexameter, elegiacs,
    and iambics in this respect

    (_γ_) Rhythmical versification embraces the actual musical
    sound of syllables and words. The stem-syllable in the Greek
    and Latin languages. Aspects of the German language in this
    respect. In modern languages the element of rhythm less room
    for display. This in itself necessitates the alternative of
    rhyme as a resistant against the too exclusive assertion of
    ideal content]

    (_b_) Rhyme

    [(_α_) Rhyme a necessary feature of romantic poetry. Closer
    approximation to music. Reaction against the stringent
    character of Roman poetry. Source of rhyme in Germanic

    (_β_) Difference between two systems. Rhythmical
    versification supreme in Hellenic poetry. Most important
    change effected that of the validity of the national
    quantity in the older system. This replaced by the intrinsic
    meaning of syllables and words. French and Italian poetry an
    extreme example of the collapse of the former system. The
    necessity of rhyme and its character analysed

    (_γ_) The types of modern romantic poetry. Its alliteration,
    assonance, and ordinary rhyme. Scandinavian poetry. Not
    necessary for assonant words to come only at conclusion of
    line. Rhyme is the fulfilment of alliteration and assonance.
    Pre-eminently the form of lyric poetry. Examples]

    (_c_) The union of rhythm and rhyme

    [(_α_) Attempt made in modern times to return to the
    natural quantity of syllables. Not generally successful.
    Overwhelming importance in modern verse of intelligible
    significance and the accent thus asserted

    (_β_) Not possible to retain the plastic consistency of
    the metrical medium as secured by classical poetry. Modern
    languages do not possess the stable quantitative basis

    (_γ_) The combination equivalent to the absorption by modern
    versification of the older system. The significance of
    the identical repetition of the same time-measure. Modern
    imitation of sapphics and alcaics based on a contradiction]

    III. The Several Generic Types of Poetry

    Introduction and Division of Subject

    A. Epic Poetry

    1. General character of Epic poetry

    (_a_) Epigrams and Gnomes

    (_b_) Philosophical didactic poems, Cosmogonies and

    (_c_) The genuine Epopaea

    [(_α_) The saga, the bible of a folk. Not every national
    bible can rank as Epos. Greeks possess no ancient religious
    books resembling Hindoo literature

    (_β_) Not necessarily composed in the heroic time itself.
    Homer. Views expressed which belong to earlier times

    (_γ_) Position of the epic poet. His work a free creation.
    He must feel at home in the world he depicts. Objective
    independence of composition. The work of one artist]

    2. Particular Characteristics of true Epos

    (_a_) The general World-condition of the Epos

    [(_α_) A positive social state conjoined to primitive
    simplicity. Intuitive sense of right the support of moral
    order. Vital human association with nature and particular
    objects possessed. Heroic condition, _e.g.,_ that of free
    individuality. Examples. Expresses entire horizon of
    national condition

    (_β_) The mirror must be of one particular people. The
    Hellenic spirit in Homer. A foreign locale not necessarily
    prejudicial to artistic effect. The remoteness to present
    ideas of the "Niebelungen Lied"

    (_γ_) Main event of poem must be a deliberately conceived
    purpose. It must imply collisions. The belligerent condition
    most pertinent. The Odyssey not only an exception. Courage
    the fundamental interest. Justification of such attitude]

    (_b_) The individual Epic action

    [(_α_) Must be one of individual vitality. Must appropriate
    form of an event, and the happening of such. Analysis.
    Problem of an absolute Epos. Mere biography not most
    complete subject-matter. "The Divine Comedy" only partially
    an exception

    (_β_) Question of human personality implied. Epic character
    must be a totality. Achilles, the Cid, and other heroes,
    discussed. Circumstances as active as persons. Illustrations

    (_γ_) The form under which the intrinsic significance of
    the occurrence proclaims itself, whether as ideal Necessity
    or disclosed spiritual forces. Destiny. What it defines.
    General tone of sadness in the Epic. Different modes of
    appearance. Poems of Ossian, and others. Loss of original
    freshness in Latin poetry. Virgil]

    (_c_) The Epos as unified totality

    [(_α_) The unity of the assumed general background and
    the individuals therein. Humanity displayed in its entire
    collective relation of all interests and occupations. The
    individual event. The commencement of the Iliad and Odyssey

    (_β_) The difference between the epic mode of disclosure and
    that of the Lyric or drama. Greater extension of range. In
    the epic work character may give way to external condition.
    Objective nature of its exposition. Motivisation of drama
    and the Epic entirely different. Examples from Homer and
    modern poetry

    (_γ_) Nature of unity of Epos. Though not of most importance
    essential to artistic result. Insistence upon fundamental
    unity of the Homeric poems. Epic unity within a national
    whole. Distinction from dramatic action. The Idyll. The
    novel as the Epopaea of modern society]

    3. The historical development of epic Poetry

    (_a_) The Oriental Epos

    [(_α_) Epos of Hindoos and Persians. The sense of the unity
    of the One Substance

    (_β_) Contrast between Hindoo and Persian Epos. The Ramajana
    and Maha-Bharata

    (_γ_) Hebrew Epic poetry]

    (_b_) Epic poetry of Greece and Rome

    [(_α_) Essential unity of Iliad and Odyssey. The _ne plus
    ultra_ of attainment. The cyclic poets

    (_β_) Roman Epos cannot compare in quality with the Greek

    (_c_) The Romantic Epos.

    [The poems of Ossian. The Edda. National character of epic
    poems of Middle Ages. "The Cid." The peculiar nature of
    Dante's "Divine Comedy." The poems relating to Charlemagne,
    King Arthur, etc. The revolt against Chivalry in Ariosto and
    Cervantes. The "Lysiad" of Camoens. Milton's "Paradise Lost"
    and Klopstock's "Messias"]

    B. Lyric Poetry

    1. General character of lyric poetry

    (_a_) The content of lyric poetry

    [(_α_) Not merely translation of content from immediacy of
    experience. Creation of object purified from the incidental
    mood. Deliverance thus effected. Self-expression not the
    development of objective action. We have the universal as
    such. The entire sphere of human belief, religion, art, and
    to some extent scientific thought comprised as they fall
    into a personal view of the world

    (_β_) Aspect of particularity. The Eumenides chorus in the
    "Cranes" of Ibicus. The Elegy and Epistle

    (_γ_) Emphasis throughout on personal feeling. Parallel with
    genre painting. Contingency of content. Growth of whole in

    (_b_) The form of the same

    [(_α_) Unity different from that of Epos. Mysterious
    intimacy of personal mood. Approximates to Epos in heroic
    songs, ballads, and romances. The Greek Anthology

    (_β_) _Poems d'occasion._ Personal aspect. Pindaric Odes.
    Goethe. Individual soul supplied focus of unity rather than
    positive reality

    (_γ_) Point of departure an external occurrence either in
    personal experience or that of others. Element of narrative
    as in songs of Anacreon]

    (_c_) The external culture condition of the Lyric.

    [(_α_) Different from that of Epic. Not limited to one
    particular epoch, but exceptionally displayed in modern
    times. Folk-songs and the lyric poem

    (_β_) Possesses a power of free expansion into all kinds of
    subject-matter, a free recognition of imaginative conception
    no less than artistic activity

    (_γ_) The philosophical lyric poem. A false and a genuine
    style compared. Schiller's poetry]

    2. Particular aspects of the Lyric

    (a) The lyric poet

    [(_α_) The poet himself supplies the principle of
    combination. He is the focus of unity 214

    (_β_) Spontaneity of result. Sings because he cannot help
    it. His object himself. Self-respect. Pindar and Klopstock

    (_γ_) Creative in dealing with personal experience. Goethe a
    fine example]

    (_b_) The lyric work of art

    [(_α_) The unity of the Lyric. Springs from memory or vivid
    association of poet. The formal unity of self-conscious
    life. Mood must be defined in its concreteness, not tend too
    much to generalization

    (_β_) Nature of the progressive disclosure of content. The
    principle of the Lyric is assimilation. Poems limited to
    local description. Mainly a definition of emotional forces
    made vital in objects as seen by the "inward eye." Episodes
    permissible. Passionate intensity in its freedom

    (_γ_) External form of the Lyric. Variety of metres. Varied
    use of caesura. Strophes which admit of much alternation,
    both as to length of line, and their rhythmic structure.
    Musical sound of words and syllables. Free use of assonance,
    alliteration and rhyme, especially the diversified use of
    last-mentioned. Association with musical accompaniment]

    (_c_) Types of the genuine Lyric

    [(_α_) Hymns, dithyrambs, paeans and psalms. Personal
    religious emotion. Greek treatment of chorus. Psalms of Old

    (_β_) Personal life of poet the subject-matter. Not so much
    the subject as the enthusiasm or personal note. Pindaric
    Odes. Horace. Klopstock

    (_γ_) The song as such. A field of blossom ever starting
    anew. The Oriental and Western type. Anacreon. Protestant
    hymns. Sonnet, elegy, epistle, etc. Dithyrambic emotion of
    Schiller] 230

    3. Historical evolution of the Lyric

    (_a_) Oriental lyrical poetry

    [Vital absorption in the object. Objective character as
    compared with pure romantic. Hymns of exaltation. Metaphor,
    image, and simile particularly favoured. Present in Chinese,
    Hindoo, Hebrew, Arab and Persian poetry]

    (_b_) The Lyric of the Greeks and Romans

    [General character that of classic individuality.
    Image and metaphor not so largely used. Emphasizes mainly on
    the sensuous verbal quantity in the rhythm of its movement.
    The dance not unfrequently attached. Point of departure
    hymns. Elegiac measure. The lyric of the chorus. Pindar.
    Roman lyric less original]

    (_c_) Romantic Lyric.

    [In certain nations epic material treated as lyrical
    narrative. Lyric composition of modern nations still pagan.
    In the Christian Middle Ages. That based on the principle of
    Protestantism. Klopstock and his influence]

    C. Dramatic Poetry

    1. The Drama as a poetic work of art

    (_a_) The principle of dramatic poetry

    [(_α_) Depends on conditions of collision, human passion,
    and characters. Leads to action and resolution

    (_β_) Mediation between epic and lyric poetry. Has to bring
    before vision action or event, but it is self-conscious
    personality which is the vital force. Dramatic action must
    submit to a process of development. Has to exhibit not so
    much lyrical emotion as situation. Action the executed
    will recognized as such in its ultimate purpose. The
    external world only borrowed in so far as it is bound to
    this purpose. More concentrated than the Epic. Action so
    treated that it inevitably meets with opposition. Nature of
    the divine forces operative. The Drama propounds the vital
    energy of a principle of Necessity

    (_γ_) The nature of the demand on the dramatic poet in
    respect to the divine energy. The drama is the resolution
    of the one-sided aspect of these powers, the self-stability
    whereof is disclosed in dramatic character]

    (_b_) Dramatic Composition

    [(_α_) The unity as contrasted with the Epos and the Lyric.
    Unity of place, time, and action. First no support to from
    Aristotle. Nature of demand upon the imagination relative
    to fact of direct vision. Unity of action alone invariable.
    Romantic drama less consistent than classical. Examples from

    (_β_) Mode of _dénouement._ Embrace of material in Epos
    more extensive. Mean between that and lyrical poetry.
    True dramatic progression, a continuous movement onwards
    to catastrophe. Possesses a beginning, middle and end.
    Aristotle. Significance of acts and their number. In
    English, French, and German drama generally five

    (_γ_) Nature of means, _e.g.,_ dramatic diction, etc.
    Realistic mode of expression as contrasted with one
    conventional to the theatre. Must neither be too formal nor
    too unpolished or colloquial. Choral interlude, monologue,
    and dialogue. Verse-measure mainly iambic]

    (_c_) The relation of the dramatic composition to the Public

    [(_α_) Distinct Public to cater for and under obligation to
    it. Fashion of German writers to scorn the Public. Mistaken
    view. How far possible to reproduce foreign or ancient drama

    (_β_) Dramatis personae must be vital not merely personified
    interests. Real emphasis on the collision involved. Goethe's

    (_γ_) Attitude of poet himself. The impression of the
    whole as the product of one original creative force most
    important. Necessity that the dramatic poet master the
    eternal and essential foundation of human character and
    action. Worst case where he seeks to flatter a popular
    prejudice. Reference to contemporary event. Aristophanes.
    Didactic matter only admissible in so far as it is no bar to
    the freedom of the entire artistic product]

    2. The external Technique of a dramatic Composition

    (_a_) The reading or recitation of a dramatic work

    [(_α_) True sensuous medium of drama the human voice. Modern
    plays often impracticable in the theatre. Contrast of Greek
    drama in this respect

    (_β_) Plays written for perusal only. Theatrical
    reproduction a real test of dramatic vitality. Question
    whether dramatic works should be printed

    (_γ_) Perusal no sufficient test of the acting possibilities
    of a drama. Recitation subject to the serious restriction
    that it is the expression of one voice only]

    (_b_) The art of the Actor

    [(_α_) Among the Greeks acting affiliated to sculpture.
    Ancients added music to declamation. Means of interpretation
    in motion of the body. The dance. Plastic character of Greek

    (_β_) Speech used solely as spiritual expression in modern
    acting. Coalescence of actor's personality with his rôle.
    Facial expression. Increase particularisation in modern
    character. Illustrations. Increase of difficulties. Modern
    actor an artist]

    (_c_) The theatrical art which is more independent of Poetry

    [(_α_) Plays written for the display of the particular
    talent of actors. The Italian _commedia dell' arte._ French
    attitude to audience

    (_β_) Modern opera. Luxurious display of scenic accessories.
    Schiller's "Maid of Orleans." Mozart's "Magic Flute"

    (_γ_) The Ballet. The proper subordination of the dance]

    3. Types of dramatic poetry and the chief phases of their
    historical development

    (_a_) The principle of Tragedy, Comedy, and the Play

    [(_α_) The principle as associated with tragedy in its
    essential and primitive form. The content of tragic action
    supplied by spiritual forces which carry with them their
    own justification, _e.g._, love of husband, wife, parents,
    or children, patriotism, social life, etc. The substance
    in which the greatness and stability of the tragic hero
    consists. Theme of primitive tragedy generally the godlike
    in its mundane character. Forces realized as the determinate
    aim of human pathos. A collision in which both aspects are
    justified from one point of view. Tragic resolution of
    division. Meaning of Aristotle's dictum that tragedy excites
    and purifies fear and pity. Sense of reconciliation 295

    (_β_) In Tragedy what is eternally substantive is vindicated
    under a mode of reconciliation. In Comedy the purely
    personal experience retains the mastery throughout. Nature
    of social basis of comedy. The comic. The conception of it
    in Molière and Aristophanes. Requires a resolution even more
    strongly than tragedy

    (_γ_) The Satyric drama. Plautus. The modern dramatic play.
    Illustrations from classical drama. Boundary lines fluctuate
    more than in the case of genuine tragedy and comedy.
    Tendency to pass from poetic form altogether. Theatrical
    pieces exhibited for mere display of histrionic talent or
    psychological analysis, or as a mere social relaxation]

    (_b_) The difference between ancient and modern Drama

    [(_α_) No genuine Oriental dramatic art. Principle of
    individual freedom. Origins among Hindoos and Chinese

    (_β_) True beginning among the Hellenes. The universal and
    substantive content of the end, which individuals seek to
    achieve. Exceptional plot and intrigue and varied display of
    individual character not emphasized

    (_γ_) In modern drama it is rather the destiny of some
    particular character under exceptional circumstances which
    forms the subject-matter. Interest directed not so much
    to ethical vindication and destiny as to the isolation of
    the individual and his conditions. Crime as a motive not
    excluded. Formal greatness of character demanded. Variety
    of characterization, and maze of plot and intrigue. In
    tragedy further the paramount presence of a more exalted
    order of the world,--whether conceived as Providence or

    (_c_) The concrete development of dramatic poetry and its

    [(_α_) Greek drama. Roman drama an attenuated reflection.
    Survey limited to Æschylus, Sophocles, and Aristophanes.
    Background of ancient tragedy the heroic condition. Analysis
    of modes under which ethical content of human action
    asserted. The unsevered consciousness of the godlike and the
    combating human action, presented under the form of chorus
    and heroic figures. Significance of chorus. Opposition
    between social obligation and private sense of duty.
    Antigone. Modern conception of guilt and innocence no place
    in Greek tragedy in strict sense. Final end reconciliation
    of forces of human action. Such a _dénouement_ not merely
    an ethical issue. Contrast between such and the Justice of
    the Greek Epos. Illustrations. Antigone. Œdipus. Orestes.
    Conception of old classical Comedy. The laughter of the
    Olympian gods made present in man. Aristophanes]

    (_β_) Modern dramatic art

    [(i) The ends which ought to come into the process of the
    action as the content of the characters. Borrowed from the
    concrete world of religious and social life. Not however,
    the particular ethical forces as of individuals which assert
    them, _e.g._, Christ, the saints, kings, vassals, and
    members of ruling families. Features of the private life
    accepted not within scope of ancient drama. Personal love,
    honour, etc. make an exclusive appeal. Faust. Wallenstein.
    Generally it is the inner experience of soul-life which
    demands satisfaction. Comparison of problem of Hamlet with
    that of the Choephorae.

    (ii) Nature of characters and collisions. Conflict
    abides essentially in the character itself. Abstract
    characterization of French and Italian poetry, also Spanish.
    In contrast to this that of the English, and above all
    Shakespeare. Goethe and Schiller. Vacillation of character.
    "King Lear."

    (iii) Nature of tragic issue. Justice of more abstract
    nature than in ancient tragedy. The issue as the effect
    of misfortune. "Romeo and Juliet," a kind of unhappy
    blessedness in misfortune. Social plays the link between
    tragedy and comedy. As a rule the triumph of ordinary
    morality celebrated. Modern comedy. Question whether folly
    is ridiculous only to others, or to the comic character
    also. The second type mainly that of Aristophanes, the first
    that of Molière. Invention of the intrigue or intricate
    plot. Comparison of Shakespeare's comedy with that of

    Final Summary and Conclusion












The temple of classical architecture demands a god, who resides
therein. Sculpture exhibits the same in plastic beauty, and confers
forms on the material it employs for this purpose, which do not in
their nature remain external to what is spiritual, but are the form
itself immanent in the defined content. The corporeality, however, and
sensuousness, no less than the ideal universality of the sculptured
figure, are opposed on the one hand to subjective ideality, and in part
to the particularity of the individual, in whose element the content
of the religious, no less than also the worldly life, must secure
reality by virtue of a novel form of art. This mode of expression,
which is of subjective import, and at the same time particularized in
its characterization, the art of painting itself contributes under
the principle of the plastic arts. In other words it subordinates the
realistic expression of form to the more ideal presentment of colour,
and makes the expression of the ideality of soul the central point[1]
of the presentment. The universal sphere, however, in which these
arts are motived, the one in the ideal of symbolism, the other in the
plastic ideal, the third in the romantic type, is the sensuous or
_external_ form of spirit and natural objects.

The spiritual content possesses, however, as essentially appertinent
to the ideality of consciousness, a determinate existence which is for
this ideality at the same time foreign to the medium itself of the
external appearance and envisagement presented to it by material form.
From this foreign element it is further necessary that it removes its
conceptions in order to place them in a realm which, in respect to
material no less than the mode of expression, is independently of an
ideal or subjective character. This was the forward step which we saw
_music_ make, in so far as it embodied pure ideality and subjective
emotion in the configurations of essentially resonant sound rather than
in visible forms. It, however, passed by this very means into a further
extreme, that is, an ideal mode of concentration not fully explicit,
whose content in musical tones itself only found symbolic expression.
For tone taken by itself is without content, and has its definition in
the numerical relations, so that what is qualitative in the spiritual
content no doubt generally corresponds to these quantitative relations
which are expressed in essential differences, oppositions, and
mediation, but in its qualitative determinacy is not entirely able to
receive its impression in musical tone. If this aspect is not wholly to
fail the art of music must, by reason of its onesidedness, summon to
its assistance the more definite articulation of language, and requires
for its more secure attachment to particularity and the characteristic
expression of the content a text, without which it is unable to
complete fully the ideality which is poured forth by means of musical

By virtue of this expression of ideas and emotions, the abstract
ideality of music receives a clearer and more secure exposition. At
the same time what we have here unfolded by its means is, to a certain
extent, not the point of view of idea and the artistic mode adapted
to its expression, but merely the emotional life as it accompanies
the same; also in part we find that here, too, music entirely divests
itself of fusion with the verbal text in order to develop its own
movement without restraint in the world of tone simply. For this reason
the realm of idea, which is unable to remain under I such a more purely
abstract mode of ideal intensity, and seeks a configuration in a world
which embraces its one homogeneous and concrete reality, breaks away on
its part likewise from the bond of music, and in the exclusive art of
poetry discovers the adequate realization it demands.

_Poetry,_ in other words the art of human speech, is the _third_
or final step, the _totality_, which unites and embraces in a yet
higher sphere, in the sphere of the very life of Spirit itself[2],
the two extremes of the plastic arts and music. For on the one hand
poetry contains just as music does the principle which apprehends an
ideal content in its ideality, the principle which in architecture,
sculpture, and painting is lost, or at most incompletely asserted.
And on the other hand it expatiates itself, under the modes of ideal
conception, intuition, and feeling simply, in an objective world,
which does not entirely destroy the defined forms of sculpture and
painting, and is capable of unfolding all the conditions of an event, a
succession or interchange of emotional states, passions, conceptions,
and the exclusive course of human action with more completeness than
any other art.

2. But in a still more intimate way the art of poetry constitutes a
third or final term in its relation to painting and music regarded as
the _romantic_ arts.

(_a_) One reason of this is that its principle is that generally of
an _intelligence_ which has nothing further to do with gross matter
as such, seeking, as is the case with architecture, to transform it
through symbolism to an environment related analogically to spiritual
life, or as in the case of sculpture in order to implant upon material
substance the natural form congenial to such life under the spatial
condition of its expression. What the end is now is to express
immediately for mind the manifestations of Spirit with all its ideas
of imagination and art, without setting forth their external and
visible bodily presence. And a further reason consists in this, that
poetry is able to grasp in the form of ideality itself and with a far
greater wealth than is possible for music or painting, not merely the
innermost actuality of conscious life, but also what is particular and
individual in external existence, and equally able to contrast such
facts in the complete diversity of their specific traits and accidental

(_b_) The art of poetry is, however, as totality, also again, from
another point of view, essentially to be distinguished from the
above-mentioned arts whose fundamental qualities it thus in a measure

(_α_) In this respect, if we compare it with painting, the latter art
is throughout at an advantage, where it is of importance to bring
before our senses a content under the condition of its external
appearance. It is true no doubt that poetry is able by various means
to envisualize objects precisely in the way that for the imagination
generally the principle of objectification is made real to our
intuitive sense. But in so far as conceptive power, in the element
of which poetry pre-eminently moves, is of a spiritual nature and
implies the presence of the universality of thought, it is incapable
of attaining the definition of sensuous perception. On the other hand,
the varied traits which poetry brings together, in order to make the
concrete form of a content visible, do not fall as with painting
into one and the same totality, which is set before us wholly as a
simultaneous appearance of all its details, but they break apart,
inasmuch as the imagination can only give us the complexity it contains
under the form of succession. This is, however, only a defect from the
sensuous point of view, a defect which reason is able in its own way
to rectify. That is to say, inasmuch as human speech, even in the case
where it endeavours to summon before our sight a concrete object, is
not concerned with the sensuous apprehension of an immediate external
object, but always with the ideal relation, the mental intuition, for
this reason the particular characteristics, albeit they are set before
us in a series, are nevertheless fused together in the element of one
essentially homogeneous spirit, which is able to qualify the effect of
succession, to bring the varied array into one picture, and to secure
and enjoy this picture in imaginative contemplation. Moreover, this
deficiency of sensuous realization and objective definition, when
we contrast poetry with painting, brings as a contrary result the
possibility of an incalculable superfluity of material. For inasmuch
as the poetic art in painting restricts itself to a determinate
space, and even more to a distinct moment in a situation or action,
for this reason it is prevented from portraying an object in its
entire ideal profundity no less than in the extension of its temporal
development. But what is true is throughout concrete in the sense that
it comprises within its embrace a unity of essential determinations.
In its phenomenal appearance, however, these are not merely unfolded
as a co-existent spatial phenomenon but in a temporal series as a
history, whose course painting is only able to present in a relatively
inadequate manner. Even in the case of every stalk, every tree, each
has in this sense its history, a change, sequence, and exclusive whole
of varied conditions. And this is even more true of the sphere of
spirit, which can only be exhaustively portrayed as veritable spirit
in phenomenal guise when it is set before our imagination as such a

(_β_) We have already seen that poetry possesses for its external
medium that of tone in common with _music_. The wholly external, or,
as we might say in the false sense of the expression, the objective
material in the progressive series of the particular arts finally
vanishes in the subjective medium of sound, which is divested of all
visibility, and which suffers an ideal content only to be apprehended
by a conscious state independent of sight.[3] For music, however, the
configuration of musical _tone_ as such is the essential end. For
although the soul in the course and movement of melody and its harmonic
relations presents what is ideal in objects, or its own ideal content,
to the emotional life; yet the ideality thus presented is not pure
ideality, but the human soul interwoven in the closest way with the
musical tone as its expression, and the configuration of such musical
expression which confers on music its true character. So much is this
the case that music receives its independent position as an art just in
proportion as the animation given by it to the emotional life is more
emphasized in the world of pure music than in that of man's ordinary
spiritual activity.[4] But for this very reason it is only to a
relative degree capable of reproducing the variety of spiritual ideas
and intuitions, the entire extension of the ideal wealth of conscious
life: it remains restricted to the more abstract universality of all
that it grasps as content, and the more indefinite manifestations of
our emotion.

In the like degree, then, that mind (_Geist_) elaborates the more
abstract universality in a concrete whole of idea, ends, actions, and
events, and no less contributes to its conformation the particularizing
perception, it not only forsakes the subjective life of mere emotion
and builds up that life into an unfolded realm of objective reality
in this case, too, within the ideal world of the imagination itself,
it is compelled, by virtue of the nature of such transformation, to
forsake the attempt to express the new realm thus secured solely
and exclusively by means of tone relations. Precisely as the medium
of sculpture is too poor to express the more ample content that it
is the function of the art of painting to call into life, so too
the conditions of musical tone and melodic expression are unable to
realize fully the imaginative pictures of the poet. For these in part
possess the ideas more accurately defined to consciousness and, in
part, the form of external appearance impressed on the inner sense
of perceptive reason. Spirit consequently withdraws its content from
musical tone as such, and declares itself through words, which it is
true do not entirely forsake the element of sound, but sink to the
purely external sign of the communication. In other words, by means of
this repletion with spiritual ideas, musical tone becomes the voice of
articulate words; language, in its turn, is diverted from an end in
itself to a means of ideal expression which has lost its independent
self-subsistancy. This constitutes in fact what we have already
established as the essential difference between music and poetry. The
content of the art of speech is the collective art of the world of
ideas elaborated by the imagination, the spiritual which remains at
home in its vision, which remains in this ideal realm, and, even in
its movement toward an objective world, is only conscious of the same
as a symbol that differs from its own conscious content. In music
art reproduces the penetration of Spirit in a sensuously apparent
and present form. In poetry it even forsakes the element of _musical
tone_ and articulation opposed to it, at least to the extent that this
musical tone is no longer reclothed in fully adequate externality
and the exclusive expression of that content. The ideal no doubt is
expressed, but it fails to discover its real existence in the sensuous
medium of tone, despite the fact that it is of a more ideal character;
this it discovers exclusively in its own essential content, by virtue
of which it expresses the content of mind as it is realized in the
ideality of the imagination simply as such.

(_c_) In the _third_ place, and finally, if we consider the specific
character of poetry relatively to this distinction between music and
painting, and we may include with it the other plastic arts, we shall
find the same simply to consist in the subordination of the mode under
which all poetical content is envisaged and configured by the medium of
sense. In other words, when tone, as it does in the art of music, or
for that matter, colour as in that of painting, no longer essentially
recovers and expresses the entire content, in that case the musical
treatment of the composition under its aspects of time, no less than
those of harmony and melody, drops away; we have left us merely the
generalized configuration of the time-measure of syllables and words,
to which we may add rhythm, euphony, and the like. And further, it is
to be noted that we have this, not in the sense of a genuine medium for
the content, but rather as a mode of externality which is accidental,
and which only receives an artistic form, because art cannot permit any
mode of its external manifestation whatever to be entirely a question
of accidental caprice.

(_α_) In connection with this withdrawal of the spiritual content from
the sensuous medium we are at once met with the question what it is
then which, under such a view, constitutes the actual externality or
objectivity in poetry, that of tone being thus excluded. The answer
to this is simple. It is the _ideal envisagement_ and _imaginative
content_ itself. We have here spiritual forms substituted for sensuous,
and supply a configurative material, such as we met with before in
marble, bronze, colour, or musical tones. In other words, we must guard
ourselves from such an inadequate statement of the facts as that ideas
and imagery are nothing more or less than the _content_ of poetry.
This is unquestionably true in a sense, as we shall demonstrate more
closely later on. Despite this, however, we are equally justified
in asserting that idea, imagery, emotion, and the like are specific
modes, under which every content in poetry is subsumed and manifested;
and consequently, that is, owing to the fact that the sensuous
aspect of the communication remains throughout a purely accidental
one[5]--it is these forms which supply the real material which the
poet has to elaborate artistically. No doubt the fact, the content,
must in poetry, as in other arts, receive its due objectification
for spirit; objectivity in this sense, however, is the exchange of
what was previously an external reality for one that is ideal; one
which receives an existence exclusively in conscious life itself, as
something conceived or imagined exclusively by mind. Mind is here on
its own ground objective to itself, and it suffers the medium of speech
merely as a means, that is to say, partly as one of communication, and
partly as one of immediate externality, from which, as from the pure
symbol merely, it is withdrawn throughout from itself into itself. For
this reason, in the case of genuine poetry, it is of no consequence
whether a poetical work be read in private or listened to; and for the
same reason it can also, without essential depreciation of its value,
be translated into other tongues, be transferred from versification
into prose, and thereby transmitted in tonal relations of an entirely
different character.[6]

(_β_) In the _second_ place the question presents itself as to the
_nature_ of the object _for_ which the ideal concept is employed in
poetry. We answer that it is thus used relatively to essential truth
in everything of interest to Spirit; not merely, that is, relatively
to what is substantive in the same in the universality of its
symbolic significance or classical differentiation, but equally to
all that is at the same time specific and particular, in short, to
practically everything in and with which mind is in any way interested
and concerned. The art of language, consequently, both in respect to
its content and the mode under which that content is made explicit,
possesses a field of immeasurable compass, wholly incomparable with
that of the other arts. Every content, every sort of spiritual or
natural fact, event, history, deed, action, all conditions, whether
ideal or external, fall within the domain and configurative powers of

(_γ_) Material of this most varied character is not, however, made
poetical merely by reason of the fact that it is in a general way the
content of idea. Ordinary consciousness is able to elaborate precisely
the same content in the field of ideas, and to particularize concepts
without creating any poetical result. We recognized this fact when we
called the concept of mind merely the _material_ or medium, which only
receives a form adapted for poetry, in so far as it partakes of a novel
configuration by virtue of art. In precisely the same way mere colour
and tone in their immediacy are not as such the colour or tone of a
painter or a musician. We may in a general way describe the distinction
by stating that it is not the _idea as such_, but the _imagination_ of
the _artist_ which creates a poetical content, under conditions, that
is, in which the imagination grasps the same content in such a way that
it is itself therewith associated in language, words and their more
beautiful conjunction as human speech, just as in the other arts we
find it present in the architectonic form; the plastic of sculpture,
that adapted to painting, or musical tones and harmony.

A further necessary limitation of the art's appearance is this that
the content must, on the one hand, not be embraced in relations
applicable to mere _thinking_, whether that of science or speculative
philosophy, nor further in the form of inarticulate _emotion_, or with
a clarity and self-sufficiency which appeals _exclusively_ to the
organs of sense;[6] neither, in another direction, must it suffer the
idea to pass entirely into what we may in general terms describe as
the contingency, divisions, and relativity of _finite_ reality. The
imagination of the poet in this respect must maintain a middle course
between the abstract universality of pure thinking and the concrete
corporeality of material objects, in so far as we are acquainted with
the latter in the productions of the plastic arts. Furthermore such an
art must generally conform to the requirements we have, in an early
section of this work, insisted as essential to every art-product. In
other words, the art itself must find in its content the adequate
object of its appearance, must elaborate everything, which it embraces,
so far as the interest appeals to the intelligence simply,[7] as an
essentially independent and self-exclusive world. Only in so far as
it does this is the demand of art satisfied, and the content thereof
becomes, by virtue of the specific mode of _its_ manifestation, an
organic whole, which in its parts presents the appearance of a limited
association and ideal synthesis, while at the same time, as contrasted
with the world of accidental subordinations, its consistency is one of
essential freedom, a whole made explicit through itself.

3. The last point to which we must in conclusion draw attention in
respect to this distinction between poetry and the other arts is
connected with the different mode under which the imagination of the
poet substantiates its ideas in the objective medium of its exposition.
The arts hitherto considered were entirely serious in their attachment
to the material of sense, a medium in which they themselves were
operative, in so far as they merely bestowed on their content a
form, which could be throughout accepted and elaborated by means of
conglomerations of material substance, whether bronze, marble, or wood,
or the media of colour and tones.[8] In a certain sense, no doubt,
poetry also has to meet a condition somewhat similar. That is to say,
in poetical composition we must not overlook the fact that its results
have to be intelligible to mind by means of the communication of human
speech. But we shall find none the less that the situation in the two
cases is essentially altered.

(_a_) Otherwise expressed, by reason of the importance pertaining to
the material aspect in the plastic arts and music, we find that, as a
result of the _defined_ restrictions of this material, only a _limited_
number of conceptions can be fully reproduced in a particularized form
of reality such as stone, colour, and tone: the content therefore and
the possibilities of artistic composition are narrowed within very
definable limits. It was on account of this fact that we were able to
associate closely and exclusively every one of these specific arts
with one particular form of artistic creation pre-eminently adapted to
it. In this way the form of symbolism was appropriate to architecture,
the classical to sculpture, and the romantic to painting and music. It
is no doubt true that the particular arts in both directions from and
toward their proper domain tended to pass over into the other forms.
We took account of this fact when we found it possible to refer to a
classic and romantic style of architecture, a symbolical and Christian
type of sculpture, and even used the term classic in connection with
painting and music. Departures such as these from the prevailing type
were, however, merely experimental essays which prepared the way in
subordination to a new type rather than its culminating effort; or they
showed us how one art tended to pass beyond its true limits in seeking
to grasp a content or a relation to its material of a type that only a
further art development could adequately elaborate. Generally speaking,
we have seen that architecture has least resource in the expression of
its content; in sculpture there is already an increase of possibility,
which is further extended to its widest range[9] by painting and music.
And the reason of this is that in proportion as the ideality and
particularization under all its aspects by the external medium is made
more explicit the variety of the content and of the forms it receives
also increases.

Poetry, on the other hand, casts itself free of all subordination to
the material of sense, at least to this extent, that in the definition
of external or objective expression no reason whatever remains why it
should restrict itself to specific content or any limitation to its
power of composition and reproduction. It is therefore exclusively
united to no specific art type; rather we may define it as the
_universal_ art, which is capable of reclothing and expressing under
every conceivable mode every content that can possibly enter into or
proceed from the imagination of man. And it can do this because its
material is nothing more or less than the imagination itself, which
is the universal root and ground of all the particular arts and their
specific types.

We have already, in another connection, when concluding our discussion
of the particular artistic types, come across what was practically the
same thing. What we sought for, then, in our conclusion was that art
in one of its types should make itself independent of that mode of
representation properly called specific, remaining thereby predominant
above the entire sphere in which such a totality of particularization
is reproduced. An elaboration so comprehensive is among all the
particular arts by the very nature of the case only possible to poetry.
Its realization is effected through the development of poetical
creation in part by means of the actual reconstitution of every
particular type, and partly by the liberation of the mode of conception
and its content from the boundaries fixed for it in the essentially
exclusive types of conception, whose character we have severally
defined as symbolical, classical, and romantic.

(_b_) The above considerations will further serve to justify the
position, which, in the course of our inquiry, regarded as the
development of a philosophy, we previously assigned to the art of
poetry. In other words by reason of the fact that poetry is, to a
degree quite impossible to any other mode of artistic production,
concerned with the universal simply as such in Art, we might appear
to have some reason for insisting that it marks the commencement
of an investigation in the full sense of the word philosophical,
and only from such a starting point can we enter into the sphere of
particularization, in which we find the series of the other arts as
limited and determined by their specific sensuous medium. Looking
back, however, at the result arrived at in our investigation of the
particular art types we shall find that the course of philosophical
evolution consisted, first, in an increased penetration of the ideal
content, and, from another point of view, in the demonstration that
originally Art sets forth in the search, then in the discovery of and
finally with an advance beyond that content compatible with its powers.
This notion of the beautiful and _Art_ must enforce itself in _the
arts_ themselves. The starting-point of our inquiry, therefore, was
architecture, in which we found merely an impulse toward the complete
representation of what pertains to Spirit in a material medium. This
is so much the case that it is only through sculpture that art first
attains to a genuine interfusion of ideality with the medium; and
further that only in the arts of painting and music do we reach the
stage where, by virtue of the ideal and subjective character of their
content, we find the perfected fusion effected no less under the aspect
of conception than that of practical execution in the medium accepted.
This process culminates most decisively in poetry, by virtue of the
fact that the very nature of its objective realization can only be
apprehended as an effort to draw apart from and cancel the material of
sense rather than one of reproduction which does not as yet venture to
clothe itself and move in the objective medium of sense-perception. In
order, however, to make this liberation intelligible in philosophical
terms it is of importance that we have already disposed of the question
what it is from which art undertakes to liberate itself. This question
stands in close relation to the fact that poetry is essentially capable
of embracing the entirety of intelligible content and artistic modes
of expression. We may add further that we have viewed this as the
acceptance of a totality, which can only be interpreted philosophically
as the abrogation of limitation in particularity. Our previous
consideration of what we mean by things that are one-sided would be
involved in such an exposition, the self-exclusive character of such
one-sidedness being cancelled by such a totality.

It is only through the course of such an exposition that we can
effectively demonstrate that poetry is the specific art in which a
point is reached which marks the beginning of the disintegration of art
itself, a point at which the philosophical consciousness discovers its
bridge of passage to the notion of religion as such, as also to the
prose of scientific thought. The boundary lines of the realm of beauty
are, as we have already seen, on the one hand the prose of finite
condition and our ordinary conscious life, starting from which Art
makes its effort in the direction of truth, and, on the other, of the
loftier spheres of religion and science, from which it passes over into
a comprehension of the Absolute till more emancipate from all material

(_c_) Despite therefore the completeness with which the art of poetry
reproduces, under a mode of objectification that is most ideal, the
entire totality of Beauty, nevertheless intelligence is able to
discover even here too in this final domain of art a residue of defect.
We may for this purpose within our art-system directly contrast the
poetic art with that of architecture. In other words architecture was
still unable to subordinate the external material to the ideal content
sufficiently to clothe the same in a form adequate to mind; poetry on
the other hand carries the process of negating its sensuous medium
so far that instead of transforming that which stands in opposition
to gross spatial matter, namely tone, as architecture does with its
material into a significant symbol, it rather reduces it to a mere
sign of no significance. But by doing so it destroys the fusion of
spiritual ideality with external existence, so thoroughly that to this
extent it ceases to be compatible with the original notion of Art. In
other words it comes dangerously near to bidding goodbye to the region
of sense altogether, remaining wholly absorbed in that of ideality.
The fair mean between these extremes of architecture and poetry is
secured by sculpture, painting, and music. Every one of these arts not
merely still reproduces the spiritual content completely in a medium
borrowed from the objective world, but also leaves us with that which
lies open to our senses, no less than our intelligence. For although
painting and music, regarded as romantic arts, attach themselves to a
medium already more ideal, they do none the less supply the immediacy
of objective existence, which, however, in this increase of ideality,
shows indications of disappearance, while again from the opposite point
of view they prove themselves, through their media of colour and tone,
more profuse in fulness of particularization and manifold configuration
than is required from the material of sculpture.

No doubt the art of poetry in its turn also endeavours, as a set-off to
this defect, to place the objective world before us with a breadth and
variety which even painting, at least in a single composition, fails
to secure: none the less this comprehensiveness remains throughout
merely a realization confined to consciousness itself; and, if it so
happens that poetry, in response to a demand for more material artistic
realization, attempts to increase the impression on our senses, it is
only able to do this by either borrowing these effects from music and
painting, in order to secure artistic means otherwise foreign to it;
or it is forced, if it seeks retain its genuine character, to employ
these sister arts only under a subordinate relation of service, while
the main stress is laid on the ideas of conscious life, the imagination
which appeals to the imagination, with which it is above all concerned.

This will suffice for discussion of the general relation under which
poetry is placed to the other arts. We shall now proceed to a closer
examination of the art of poetry itself, and with a view to this
propose to co-ordinate the same as follows.

We have already seen that in poetry it is the ideal concept itself from
which we derive content no less than medium. By reason, however, of
the fact that we already find outside Art's domain the world of idea
to be the most obvious mode of conscious life, it is above everything
else important to distinguish the conception of _poetry_ from that of
_prose._ The art of poetry, however, is not complete in this ideal
world of the imagination alone. It is necessary that it should clothe
the same in expressive _language._ It has therefore a twofold task
confronting it. On the one hand it is called upon so to arrange this
world of constructed idea that it may admit of complete translation
into speech: on the other it must take care not to leave this medium of
language in the form appropriated by ordinary conscious life. In other
words such must be treated poetically in order that the expression of
art may be distinguishable in the selection of words no less than their
position, and even their sound from that of ordinary prose.

Furthermore, on account of the fact that, though poetry avails itself
of language as a means of expression, it secures by far the most
unqualified freedom from those conditions and restrictions imposed on
the other arts by virtue of the particularization of their material,
it is possible for a poetical composition in a pre-eminent degree to
elaborate every one of the various modes of expression, otherwise
adopted unaffected by the onesidedness incidental to their application
to a particular art. The subdivision of such _modes of expression_ in
all their variety is consequently by far the most complete in the works
of poetry.

The further course of our investigation may now be epitomized as

_First,_ we have to elucidate what is in general terms _poetical,_ and
the _poetical composition_ in particular.

_Secondly,_ poetry will be examined as a means of _expression._

_Thirdly_, we shall deal with the subdivision of the art into _Epic,
Lyric,_ and _Dramatic_ poetry.

[Footnote 1: _Mittelpunkt._ We should rather say the unifying
significance of the creation.]

[Footnote 2: It would be perhaps better to translate _geistigen
Innerlichkeit_ with the words "the self-conscious life of the human
reason." This is developed and explained, however, in the next

[Footnote 3: Hegel expresses this as "making the inner or ideal
content perceptible to the ideal faculty," that is, _prima facie_,
consciousness, or at least that sense which is nearest related to it,
viz., hearing.]

[Footnote 4: By _statt des Geistigen_ Hegel clearly contrasts pure
music with music related as accompaniment to human speech in song.]

[Footnote 5: Lit., "one that merely plays by the way."]

[Footnote 6: Such a statement is obviously one which would be
strongly resisted. The stress laid here on the purely ideal content
as contrasted with the beauty of rhythm and modal arrangement would
certainly suggest that Hegel was deficient in a sense for the musical
possibilities of language I presume he does use _gebunden_ in the sense
of verse.]

[Footnote 7: Hegel's expression is _in rein theoretischen Interesse._]

[Footnote 8: The medium of music is not of course strictly on all fours
with the others.]

[Footnote 9: That is under the limits of these four arts.]



We find it difficult to recall a single writer among all who have
written on the subject of poetry who has not evaded the attempt to
describe what is poetical as such, let alone a clear definition. And in
fact if any one begins a discussion upon poetry, regarded as an art,
without previously having investigated the nature of the content and
mode of conception appropriate to Art in its most general terms, he
will find it an extremely difficult matter to determine where we must
look for that in which the essential character of poetry consists. To
an exceptional degree is this failure to tackle this problem visible in
those cases where a writer takes as his point of departure the actual
execution in particular works of art, and seeks to establish, by means
of this connoisseurship, some general principle which he may apply as
relevant to every sort and kind of composition. In this way works of
the most heterogeneous character come to rank as genuine poetry. If we
once start from such assumptions, and then proceed to the inquiry by
virtue of what productions of this nature can be reasonably classed
together as poems we are at once confronted with the difficulty I have
above adverted to. Happily our own position here is not that of these
inquirers. In the first place we have by no manner of means arrived
at the general notion of our subject-matter through an examination
of any particular examples of its display; we have on the contrary
sought to evolve the actual constitution of the same by a reference to
the fundamental notion.[1] Agreeably with this it is not part of our
demand that everything in ordinary parlance regarded as poetry should
in our present inquiry fall into the general notion we have accepted.
At least this is certainly not so in so far as the decision whether any
particular work is or is not poetical is only deducible from the notion
itself. Furthermore it is unnecessary now to expound more fully what we
understand by the notion of poetry. To do this we should simply have to
repeat again the course of our inquiry into the nature of Beauty and
the Ideal as developed in general terms in the first part of this work.
The intrinsic character of what is poetical stands in general agreement
with the generic notion of artistic beauty and the art-product. That
is to say, the imagination of the poet is not, as is the case with
the plastic arts and music by reason of the nature of the _materia_,
through which they are reproductive, constrained in its creative
activity in many directions, and forced to accept many others of a
onesided or very partial completeness; it is on the contrary merely
subservient to the essential requirements and general principle of an
ideal and artistic presentation.

From the many different points of view applicable to our present
purpose, I will attempt to emphasize merely those of most importance,
as for example, _firsts_ that which relates to the distinction between
the _mode of composition_ employed respectively by poetry and prose;
_secondly_, that which contrasts a _poetical work_ as completed with
one of prose; and, _finally_, I propose to add a few observations
relative to the subjective faculty which creates, or, shall we say,
the _poet_ himself.


(_a_) In so far as the _content_ appropriate to poetical composition
is concerned we may, relatively speaking at any rate, exclude the
external world of natural fact. It is spiritual interests rather than
the sun, mountains, landscape, or the bodily human form, and the
like, which are its proper subject-matter. For, although it naturally
embraces the element of sensuous impression and perception, it remains
none the less, even in this respect, an activity of mind. Its main
object is an intuition of ideality, to which it stands as spiritual
activity in closer relation and affinity than is possible for external
objects, as presented in their concrete substance to the senses. The
world of Nature therefore only enters into the content of poetry in so
far as mind discovers therein a stimulus or a material upon which to
exercise its own energy; as, for example, where it is regarded as the
environment of man, merely possessing essential worth in its relation
to the ideality of conscious life, which moreover can put forward no
claim to be itself the independent object of poetry. The object, in
short, which fully corresponds to its appeal is the infinite realm of
Spirit. For the medium of language, the most plastic medium possessed
immediately by conscious life, and the one most competent to grasp its
interests and movements in their ideal vitality, precisely as is the
case with the material of the other arts, such as stone, colour, and
tone, must necessarily and above all be employed to express that which
it is most qualified to express. It is consequently the pre-eminent
task of poetry to bring before our vision the energies of the life of
Spirit, all that surges to and fro in human passion and emotion, or
passes in tranquillity across the mind, that is the all-embracing realm
of human idea, action, exploit, fatality, the affairs of this world and
the divine Providence. It has been the most universal and cosmopolitan
instructor of the human race and is so still. Instruction and learning
are together the knowledge and experience of what is. Stars, animals
and plants are ignorant of their law--it does not come into their
experience; but man only then exists conformably to the principle of
his being when he knows what he is and by what he is surrounded. He
must recognize the powers by which he is driven or influenced; and it
is just such a knowledge which poetry, in its original and vital[2]
form, supplies.

(_b_) It is, however, also a content of the same character which
belongs to man's _ordinary_ conscious life. This too instructs him in
general laws, as such at least are interpreted by the motley crowd of
human life, in their distinction, coordination, and significance. The
question therefore arises, as previously observed, as to the nature of
the distinction between the mode of conception severally adopted by
prose and poetry, a similarity in the content of each being assumed as

(_α_) Poetry is of greater antiquity than speech modelled in the
artistic form of elaborate prose. It is the _original_ imaginative
grasp of truths a form of knowledge, which fails as yet to separate
the universal from its living existence in the particular object,
which does not as yet contrast law land phenomena, object and means,
or relate the one to the other in subordination to the process of
human reason, but comprehends the one exclusively in the other and by
virtue of the other. For this reason it does not merely, under the mode
of imagery, express a content already essentially apprehended in its
universality; on the contrary it lingers, conformably to its unmediated
notion, in the unity of concrete life itself, which has not as yet
effected such a separation or such an association of mere relationship.

(_αα_) Under the above forms of envisualization, poetry posits all that
it comprehends as an exclusive and consequently independent totality,
which, despite its capacity for a rich content and an extensive range
of condition, individuals, actions, events, emotions and ideas of
every kind, nevertheless is forced to exhibit the same in all their
wide complexity as an essentially self-determined whole, as displayed
and motived by the unity, whose individual expression this or that
fact in its singularity actually is. And consequently the universal
or rational principle is not expressed in poetry in its abstract
universality, or in the complexus which lies open to philosophical
exposition or under the relation of its varied aspects apprehended
by science, but on the contrary as a vital union, in its phenomenal
presence, possessed with soul and self-determined throughout; and it is
further expressed in such a way that the all-embracing unity, the real
soul of its vitality, is only suffered to be operative in mysterious
guise from within outwards.

(_ββ_) The character of this mode of apprehending, reclothing and
expressing fact is throughout one of construction. It is not the fact
itself and its _contemplative_[3] existence, but reconstruction and
speech which are the object of poetry. Its entrance on the scene dates
from the first efforts of man at self-expression. What is expressed
is simply made use of to satisfy this desire. The instant man, in the
midst of his practical activities and imperative duties, seeks to
summarize this effect for mind and to communicate himself to others,
then we have some kind of artistic expression, some accord with what
is poetical. To mention one from a host of examples, there is that
distich which we read in Herodotus referring to the slain heroes
of Thermopylae. As for its content it is simply the fact, the bare
announcement that four thousand Peloponesians on a certain spot fought
the battle with three hundred myriads. The main interest is, however,
the composition of an inscription which communicates to contemporary
life and posterity the historical fact, and is there exclusively to
do so. In other words, the expression of this fact is poetical; it
testifies to itself as a deed (εἱν ποιείν) which leaves the content in
its simplicity, but expresses the same with a definite purpose. The
language, in which the idea is embodied, is to that extent of such
increased value that an attempt is made to distinguish it from ordinary
speech; we have a distich in lieu of a sentence.

(_γγ_) For this reason, even from the point of view of language, poetry
makes an effort to keep its domain singular and distinct from ordinary
parlance, and to accomplish this elevates its expression to a higher
virtue than that of merely articulate expression. We must, however, not
only in this particular respect, but for the purposes of our present
inquiry generally, make an essential distinction between a primitive
poetry, which arises _previous to_ the creation of ordinary artificial
prose, and that mode of poetical composition and speech the development
of which is effected where already the conditions of our everyday life
and prosaic expression exist. The first is poetical without intention,
in idea no less than speech; the latter, on the contrary, is fully
conscious of the sphere, from which its task is to detach itself, in
order that it may establish itself on the free basis of art. It is
consequently quite aware of the distinction and contrast implied in its
self-creation to the world of prose.

(_β_) _Secondly_, the kind of _prose life_, from which poetry has to
separate itself, postulates an entirely different nature of conception
and speech.

(_αα_) In other words, looked at from one point of view, such a
consciousness regards the wide expanse of reality according to that
association of cause and effect, object and means, and all other
categories of the mode of reflection which deals with _finite_
conditions and the objective world generally, that is, the limited
categories of science or the understanding. It is a feature of such
thought that every particular trait should at one moment appear with
a false subsistency, at another should be placed in the position
of _bare_ relation to something else, that as such it should be so
apprehended in its relativity and dependence that no unity of a
free nature whatever is possible, no unity, that is, which remains
essentially throughout, and in all its branches and separate filaments,
a complete and free totality, no unity, in short, where we find that
the individual aspects are simply the appropriate explication and
phenomenal presence of _one_ content which constitutes the point of
focus, the soul that unites all together, and which also finds its
vital principle in this all-pervading centre of animation. Rather the
type of conception we above refer to as that of science goes no further
than the discovery of particular laws in phenomena, and persists for
this reason in the separation, or bare relation, of the particular
existence with its general law, the laws themselves under this view
tending to harden from each other in their isolate singularity; that
their relation is, in fact, conceived exclusively under external and
finite conditions.

(_ββ_) And, furthermore, man's _ordinary_ consciousness has nothing
to do with what we call the ideal principle of association, the
essential core of facts, their bases, causes, ends, and so forth. It
rests satisfied with the acceptance of the mere fact that something
exists or happens as distinct from something else; or, in other words,
with its insignificant contingency. It is no doubt true that the
unity of life is not, in such a case, deliberately cancelled by any
express separation; that unity, I mean, in which the intuition of the
poet arrests the ideal _rationale_ of the fact, its expression and
determinate existence. What, however, is absent here, is just that
flash of insight into this core of reason and significance, which
becomes consequently for our intelligence a thing essentially vacant,
possessing no further claim on our minds to a rational interest. The
comprehension of a rational cosmos; and its relations is exchanged then
and there for a mere flux and contiguity of indifference, which it
is true may possess a large expanse of external animation, but which
none the less suffers the profounder impulse of reason[4] to remain
unsatisfied. True vision, no less than soul-life in its full vigour,
can only obtain satisfaction, where such are made aware in phenomena,
through feeling no less than contemplation, of the reality in its
essence and truth which is compatible with such a world. The life which
is a mere external show is defunct to our deeper sense, if all that is
ideal and intrinsically rich in significance fails to shine through as
the very soul thereof.

(_γγ_) These defects, thirdly, in the conceptions of science and our
ordinary conscious life _speculative thought_ effaces. It stands,
therefore, in one respect in affinity with the imagination of the poet.
The cognizance of reason[5] is not solely, or even mainly, concerned
with contingent singularity, nor does it overlook in the phenomenal
world the essence of the same. It does not rest satisfied with the
differentiations and external relations proper to the conceptions and
deductions of the understanding; it unites them in a free totality,
which in the apprehension of our finite faculty in part fails to
preserve its self-consistency, and in part is posited in a relation
that possesses no synthetic unity. Pure thought, however, can have
but one result, namely thoughts. It evaporates the mode of reality
in that of the pure notion. And although it grasps and comprehends
actual things in their essential separation and their actual
existence, it does also nevertheless translate this particularity
into the ideal element of the universal, in which alone thought is
at home with itself. Consequently there arises, in contrast to the
world of phenomena, a world that is new in this sense, that though
the truth of the Real is present, it is not displayed in _reality_
itself as the power itself which gives it form and the veritable soul
thereof. Thinking is simply a reconciliation of truth with reality in
_Thought._ The creations and reconstruction, however, of the poet is a
reconciliation under the mode of phenomenal reality itself, albeit such
a _real appearance_ is merely ideally conceived.

(_γ_) We have, therefore, two distinct spheres of consciousness,
that of poetry and prose. In former times, in which there is neither
present a deliberate outlook on the world elaborated, in respect to
its religious belief and its general knowledge, under the co-ordinated
form of scientific ideas and cognition, nor an actual world of
human condition regulated conformably to such a standard, poetry is
confronted with a lighter task. Prose is not in such a case opposed to
it as an essentially independent field of ideal and external existence,
which it has first to overcome. Its problem is for the most part
simply limited to deepening all that is significant or transparent in
the forms of ordinary consciousness. If, on the contrary, the prose
of life has already appropriated within its mode of vision the entire
content of conscious life, setting its seal on all and every part
of it, the art of poetry is forced to undertake the task of melting
all down again and re-coining the same anew. In every direction it
finds itself involved in difficulties by the unresponsive nature of
prosaic existence. It has, in short, not only to wrest itself from the
adherence of ordinary consciousness to all that is indifferent and
contingent, and to raise the scientific apprehension of the cosmos of
fact to the level of reason's profounder penetration, or to translate
speculative thought into terms of the imagination, giving a body to
the same in the sphere of intelligence itself; it has further to
convert in many ways the _mode of expression_ common to the ordinary
consciousness into that appropriate to poetry; and, despite of all
deliberate intention enforced by such a contrast and such a process, to
make it appear as though all such purpose was absent, preserving the
original freedom essential to all art.

(_c_) We have now summarized in its most general terms that in which
the content of poetry consists. We have further distinguished the
form of poetry from that of prose. In conclusion, it is of importance
to draw attention to the particularization which the art of poetry,
to a degree unattained by the other arts, whose development is not
nearly so rich in results, admits of. We find, no doubt, architecture
illustrated in the arts of very varied peoples, and continuous through
many centuries. But of sculpture, at least, it is true that it reaches
its culminating point in the ancient world of Greece and Rome, just as
painting and music have done more recently in Christendom. The art of
poetry celebrates its epochs of brilliancy and bloom among all nations
and in all ages almost that present any real artistic activity at all.
It embraces the collective Spirit of mankind, and it is differentiated
through every kind of variation.

(_α_) Furthermore, inasmuch as poetry does not accept the universal in
scientific abstraction from its object, but seeks to represent what
is rational under the mode of individuality,[6] the specific traits
of national character are essential to its growth; the content and
the particular mode of its presentation are in fact conditioned by
the nature of these and the general outlook in each case. We find it
consequently adapting itself to every variety of form and peculiarity.
It matters not what the poetry may be, whether Oriental, Italian,
Spanish, English, Roman, Hellenic, or German, each and all differ
totally in their spirit, emotional impulse, general outlook and

A similar distinctive variety asserts itself in particular epochs as
they are favourable to the art of poetry or the reverse. The results
secured, for example, by our German poetry were impossible in the
Middle Ages, or the times of the thirty years' war. The particular
motives, which in our own day excite the greatest interest, are
inseparable from the entire evolution of contemporary life. And in the
same way every age has its own wider or more restricted, more exalted
and liberal, or more depressed phase of emotional life, in short its
specific outlook on the world, which it is the express aim of poetry
to bring home to the artistic consciousness in the most intelligible
and complete manner, inasmuch as language is the one medium capable of
expressing the human spirit wherever and in whatever form it may be

(_β_) Among these national characteristics, or views and opinions
peculiar to particular epochs, some have closer affinity with the
poetic impulse than others. The Oriental consciousness is, for example,
in general more poetic than the Western mind, if we exclude Greece.
In the East the principle predominant is always that of coherence,
solidity, unity, substance. An outlook of this nature is intrinsically
most penetrative, even though it may fail to reach the freedom of the
Ideal. Our Western point of view, especially that of modern life, is
based on the endless breaking up and division of its boundless material
into fragments, in virtue of which process, the extreme emphasis laid
here on particular facts, what is merely finite becomes substantive for
the imagination, and despite of this must be once more subsumed under
the converse action of relativity. For the Oriental nothing persists as
really substantive, but everything appears as contingent, discovering
its supreme focus, stability and final justification in the One, the
Absolute, to which it is referred.

(_γ_) By means of this diversity of national traits and the
evolutionary process of the centuries we find that what is shared
by all mankind alike, no less than all that claims to be artistic,
is drawn as a common element within the reach of other nations and
epochs, intelligible and enjoyable to the same. It is in this twofold
connection that of late years to an exceptional degree Hellenic poetry
has roused the admiration and imitation of most diverse nationalities.
And this is so because in the content of it no less than in the
artistic form it receives the simply human is disclosed with most
beauty. The literature of India itself, however, despite all the
difficulties attendant on an outlook and artistic expression so alien
to our own, is not wholly outside our sympathy; and the boast is no
empty one that in our modern era pre-eminently a keen sense for all
that art and the human spirit embraces in every direction has begun to
unfold itself.

Were we in our present investigation of this impulse toward
individualization, pursued so persistently by poetry, under the
aspects we have already described, to restrict the same to a _general_
treatment of the art of poetry, such a generalization, however
established, could not fail to be abstract and devoid of content. It is
therefore of first importance, if our object be to consider poetry of
a really genuine type, that we include in our survey the forms of the
creative spirit as presented in their national form, the unique product
of one age; and further we must not overlook the individuality which
creates, the soul of the poet. Such, then, are the main points of view
to which I would draw attention by way of a general introduction to
poetical creation and conception.


Poetry is not, however, exhausted by the imaginative idea alone: it
must necessarily proceed to make itself articulate and complete in the
_poetical work of art._

Such an object of study opens a large field of investigation. We may
conveniently arrange and classify the course of our discussion as

_First,_ we shall endeavour to point out what is of most importance
relatively to the _poetical composition generally._

_Secondly_, we shall distinguish it from the principal types of _prose
composition_, in so far as the same are compatible with artistic

We shall then, _finally_ be in a position to deduce with some
completeness the notion of the _free art-product._

(_a_) In respect to the poetical work of art under its generic aspect
all that is necessary is once more to enforce our previous contention
that it must, no less than any other production of an unfettered
imagination, receive the form and independence of an organic whole.
This demand can only receive satisfaction as follows:

(_α_) In the _first_ place that which constitutes a homogeneous
content, whether it be a definite object of action and event, or a
specific emotion and passion, must before everything else possess
intrinsic unity.

(_αα_) All else must be posited under relation to this bond of unity,
and thereby combine to form a freehand concrete coherence of all parts.
This is only possible under the condition, that the content selected is
not conceived as abstract _universal_, but as the action and emotion of
men, as the object and passion which are actually present in the mind,
soul, and volition of definite individuals, arising as such from the
distinctive basis of an individual nature in each case.

(_ββ_) The universal, which is to receive representation, and the
individuals, in whose character events and actions the manifestation
of poetry is asserted must not consequently fall into fragments, or be
so related that the individuals are merely of service as an abstract
universal; both aspects must combine in vital coalescence. In the
Iliad, for example, the contest of Greeks and Trojans, and the victory
of the former is inseparably bound up with the wrath of Achilles,
which for this reason becomes the common focus welding all together.
No doubt we also find poetical works in which the fundamental content
is partly more abstract in its generalization, and also partly is
executed in a way that expresses a universal of more significance.
Dante's great epic poem is an illustration, which not only embraces the
world divine throughout, but displays individuals of the most varied
character in their relation to the punishments of hell, purgatory and
the blessedness of Paradise. But even here we find no entirely abstract
separation, of the two points of view, no mere relation of service
between the particular objects. For in the Christian world the focus
of conscious life is not conceived as nothing more than an accident of
Godhead, but as essential and infinite cause or end itself, so that
here the universal purpose, that is the divine justice in condemnation
and salvation can verily appear as immanent fact, the eternal interest
and being of the individual himself. In this divine world the
individual is throughout of pre-eminent importance. In that of the
State he can of course be sacrificed in order to save the universal,
that is the State. In his relation to God, however, and in the kingdom
of God he is essentially and exclusively the end.

(_γγ_) We must, however, _thirdly_, conceive the universal, which
supplies the content of human emotion and action as self-subsistent,
intrinsically complete where it is, and constituting as such in
itself a definitive and exclusive world. When, for instance, in our
contemporary life mention is made of any officer, official, general,
professor, and so forth, and we try to imagine what kind of action such
a man or personality is likely to attempt or carry out under his own
particular conditions of environment, we place before ourselves simply
a content of interest and activity, which in part is not itself a
rounded and self-substantive whole, but one which stands in infinitely
manifold external connections, relations and conditions, in part also,
if we regard it as abstract totality, one which can receive the form
of a universal concept in its separation from the individuality of
the, in other respects, entire personality, as for instance that of
personal obligation. Conversely we may have no doubt a content of
sterling character, making, that is to say, an essentially independent
whole, which, despite of this, and without further development and
advance, is complete in one sentence. It is really impossible to say
whether a content of this nature belongs more properly to poetry or
prose. The grand affirmation of the old Testament, "God said Let their
be Light and there was Light," is at once in its penetration, no less
than the precision of its embrace,[7] as much essentially sublime
poetry as it is ordinary prose. Of a similar nature is the command, "I
am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods but me"; or that,
"Honour thy father and thy mother." The golden epigrams of a Pythagoras
and the wise sayings of Solomon are of the same type. Phrases, so
rich in content as the above, have their origin in a world where the
distinction between poetry and prose is as yet absent. We can, however,
hardly affirm of such that they are a poetical work of art, even though
many such phrases may be combined together. The independence and
rounding off of a genuine poetical work must be assumed at the same
time to be of the nature of a process, and a differentiation of parts:
we assume it therefore to be a unity, the true character of which is
only made explicit by emphatic insistence upon its diversity. This
process, absolutely essential in the plastic arts, regarded at least
according to the requirements of their form, is also more generally of
the greatest moment in a poetical composition.

(_β_) This introduces us, then, to a _second_ feature of the work
of art, namely, the organic differentiation of its several parts,
essential to it not merely that it may be presented as an organic
unity, but that the elaboration of all it implies may be rendered

(_αα_) The most obvious reason of this necessity is referable to the
fact that Art in general tends instinctively to particularization.
The effect of the scientific faculty is that what is particular and
singular fails to receive its complete vindication. And this is so
not merely because the understanding apprehends the manifold, as such
theoretic faculty, starting from its principles of generalization,
causing the particular fact thereby to evaporate in its abstract
deductions and categories; but also because it makes this manifold
subserve ends of purely practical import. Severe adherence to that
purely relative value, which strictly belongs to the nature of the
process, appears to the understanding as useless and tedious. To the
conception and composition of poetry on the contrary every part, every
phase in the result must remain of essential interest and vital.
It dallies therefore with delight in detail, depicts the same with
enthusiasm, and treats every part as an independent whole. However
great, therefore, in addition the content may be of a poetical work
in its central interest, the organic completeness is equally asserted
in subordinate detail, precisely as in the human organism every
member, every finger is rounded with exquisite delicacy in its unified
completeness, and as a rule, we find in Nature that every particular
existence is enclosed within a perfect world of its own. The advance of
poetry is therefore more slow than that compatible with the judgments
and conclusions of the understanding, where we find that, whether
regarded theoretically as science or with reference to practical
conduct and action, the main stress is on the final result, this
rather than on the path by which it is reached. As for the degree in
which poetry approaches realization in its tenderness for such detail
we have already pointed out that it is not its vocation to describe
with excessive diffuseness what is exterior in the form of its sensuous
appearance. If it therefore undertakes extensive descriptions without
making them reflect at the same time the claims and interests of
soul-life it becomes heavy and tedious. Above all it must take care not
to enter into deliberate rivalry with the actual detail, in its exact
completeness, presented by natural fact itself. Even painting in this
respect should aim at circumspection and restriction. We have therefore
here and in the case of poetry a twofold point of view to consider.
On the one hand we must remember that the impression is on our mental
vision; and on the other the art can only place before the mind the
object, which in Nature we can survey and comprehend in a single
glance in a series of separate traits. For this reason it is important
that poetry does not carry its elaboration of detail so far, that the
vision of the whole in its entirety becomes inevitably disturbed,
confused, or lost. It is obvious therefore that difficulties of an
exceptional nature have to be overcome when the attempt is made to
place an action or event of varied nature before our vision, and where
in actual life such happen in a single moment of time, and in close
connection with such immediacy, for all it can do is to present the
same in a continuous series. As respects this difficulty, no less than
the general way in which poetry, as already described, approaches the
detail of Nature, we find the demand of the several generic types of
the art differs very considerably. Epic poetry, for instance, attaches
itself to the particularity of the external world with an emphasis
totally different from that of dramatic poetry, with its rapidity of
forward movement, or from that of lyrical poetry with its exclusive
insistence on the ideally significant.

(_ββ_) It is through an elaboration of this kind that the several parts
of a composition secure _subsistency._ No doubt this appears to stand
in direct contradiction to the unity which we established as a primary
condition: as a matter of fact the opposition is merely apparent.
This independence should not, that is to say, assert itself in such
a way that the several parts are placed in absolute separation from
each other: it must on the contrary only be carried so far that the
several aspects and members of the whole are clearly seen on their own
account to be asserted in the vital form peculiar to each, and to stand
on their own free basis of independence. If, on the contrary, this
individualized life is absent from the several parts, the composition
becomes, precisely as Art generally can only invest the universal with
determinate existence under the form of actual particularity, cold and

(_γγ_) Despite of this self-subsistency, however, these several parts
must remain likewise in conjunction to the extent that the _one_
fundamental motive or purpose, made explicit and manifest in and
through them, must declare itself as the unity which pervades the
whole, and in which the parts coalesce and to which they return. This
is the condition of art, and pre-eminently so of poetry, where it falls
short of its noblest reach, upon which it most readily is wrecked, and
the work of art declines from the realm of a free imagination into
that of mere prose. To put it in another way, the connexion into which
the parts fall must not merely be one of final _cause and effect._ For
in the relation of teleology the end is the universal as essentially
presupposed and willed, which it is true succeeds in making the several
aspects tally with the process, yet employs them none the less as means
and to this extent robs them of all really free stability and thereby
of every sort of vitality. In such a case the parts merely fall under
a relation of purpose to one end, which is asserted imperiously to the
disadvantage of all else, and which accepts the same in abstraction
as subservient and subordinate to itself. The freedom and beauty of
art contradict flatly this servile relation of the abstract faculty of

(_γ_) On these grounds the unity, asserted in the several parts of the
composition, must be of another character. The definition of this may
be stated under two aspects of conception, as follows.

(_αα_) In the _first_ place, the vital presence we have already
referred to as peculiar to every part separately must be maintained.
If we direct our attention, however, to that which in fact justifies
the introduction of any detail whatever into the composition, we
find the point of departure to be _one_ fundamental idea which the
same as a whole is undertaken to manifest or interpret. Consequently
everything defined and particular must announce that as the source of
its own specific appearance. In other words, the content of a poetical
work must not be itself intrinsically abstract, but concrete, one
that by reason of its own wealth conducts us to a rich unravelment of
its varied aspects. And when this variety, even assuming that in its
realization it falls to every appearance into plain contradictions,
yet is as a matter of fact rooted in the essentially unified content
we have adverted to, in that case we may affirm that by necessity
the content itself, in a form agreeable to its notion and being,
comprises what is fundamentally an exclusive and harmonious totality
of particular characteristics, which it possesses as its own, and in
the continuous expatiation of which what it is in its real significance
is in truth rendered explicit. It is only _these_ several parts, which
originally belong to the content, and which consequently should be
carried into the composition under the mode of actual and essentially
sound and vital existence. In this respect, therefore, despite all
appearance the display of particular characteristics present of
opposition to others, they are throughout combined in a union of
mysterious accord, rooted in its own nature.

(_ββ_) _Secondly,_ since the composition is presented under the form
of _natural_ phenomena, the unity must, in order to preserve the vital
appearance of such reality, only be the _ideal_ bond, which to all
appearance without intention holds together the parts and includes
them in an organic whole. It is just this animating union of organic
life which alone is able to bring into being true poetry as contrasted
with the expressed intention of plain prose. That is to say whenever
particularity exclusively appears as means to a definite end, it does
not possess and cannot conceivably possess an independent and unique
vitality of its own; what it does testify to, on the contrary, is that
it exists for the sake of something else, that is the end proposed.
Purpose of this type declares its sovereignty over the objective facts
through which it is fulfilled. An artistic composition should, however,
confer upon all that is particular within it, all in the expatiation
of which it displays continuously the central and fundamental content
selected, the appearance of an unfettered stability. This is absolutely
necessary, because what we here comprise under the term particularity
is just that content itself under the mode of the reality which
corresponds with it. We may therefore recall to our minds the analogous
task of speculative thought, which in the same way has on the one
side to develop the particular to the point of self-subsistency or
freedom from that which is at first an indefinite universality; and
likewise, too, it is called on to demonstrate how within this totality
of what is particular, in which that and that only is divulged which
essentially reposes in the universal, the unity is on this very account
once more asserted, and indeed then and only then is truly concrete
unity, established through its own differences and their mediation.
Speculative philosophy is thus, in the same way, through the method of
dialectic above adverted to, responsible for works which resemble in
this respect those of poetry, containing, that is, by virtue of the
content, an essential identity of self-seclusiveness and a revelation
of differentiated material in accord with it. We must, however, despite
this similarity between these two activities, and apart from the
obvious difference between the evolution of pure thinking and creative
art, draw attention to a further essential distinction. The deduction
of philosophy no doubt vindicates the necessity and actuality of
particularity, but none the less, in virtue of the dialectic process in
which this aspect of reality is asserted, it is expressly demonstrated
of this particularity and all of it, that it for the first time
discovers its truth and its stability in the concrete unity.[8] Poetry,
on the contrary, does not proceed to any such express demonstration.
The concordant unity must no doubt be completely vindicated in every
one of its creations, and be operative there in all their manifold
detail as the soul and vital core of the whole; but this presence
remains for Art an ideal bond which is implied rather than expressly
posited, precisely as the soul is immediately made vital in all the
bodily members, without robbing the same of the appearance of an
independent existence. We have the same truth illustrated by colour and
tone. Yellow, blue, green and red are different colours which admit
of the most absolute contrast; but none the less, on account of the
fact that as colour they all essentially belong to one totality, they
maintain a harmony throughout; and it is not, moreover, necessary that
this union as such should be expressly declared in them. In a similar
way the dominant, the third and the fifth remain independent as tones,
and yet for all that give us the harmony of the trichord; or, rather,
we should put it that they only produce this harmony so long as each
tone is permitted to assert its own essentially free and characteristic

(_γγ_) In connection with this organic unity and articulate synthesis
of a poetical composition we have further to consider essential
_features of distinction_ which are due to the particular _artistic
form_ appropriate to the composition under review, no less than the
particular _type_ of poetry in which we discover the specific character
of its working out. Poetry, for example, of symbolic art is unable,
owing to the more abstract and indefinite traits which constitute its
essential and significant content, to attain to a fully organic fusion
in the degree of transparency possible to the works of the classical
art-form. In symbolism generally, as we have already established in the
first part of this enquiry, the conjunction of general significance
and the actual phenomenon, in association with which Art embodies
its content, is of a less coherent character: as a result of this we
find that what is particular in one direction preserves a greater
consistency; in another, as in the case of the Sublime, only so far
asserts this quality in order, through the negation thus implied, to
render more intelligible the _one_ supreme power and substance, or
merely to advance the process to a condition of mysterious association
of particular, but at the same time heterogeneous no less than related
traits and aspects of natural and spiritual facts. Conversely, in
the romantic type, wherein the ideality of truth reveals itself in
essential privacy to soul-life only, we find a wider field for the
display of the detail of rational reality in its self-subsistency; in
this latter case the conjunction of all parts and their union must
necessarily be present, but the nature of their elaboration can neither
be so clear or secure as in the products of classical art.

In a similar way the Epic gives us a more extensive picture of the
external world; it even lingers by the way in episodical events
and deeds, whereby the unity of the whole, owing to this increased
isolation of the parts, appears to suffer diminution. The drama, in
contrast to this, requires a more strenuous conjunction, albeit, even
in the drama, we find that romantic poetry permits the introduction of
a type of variety in the nature of episode and an elaborate analysis
of characteristic traits in its presentation of soul-life no less than
that of external fact. Lyric poetry, as it changes conformably to the
fluctuation of its types, adapts itself to a mode of presentment of
the greatest variety: at one time it is bare narration; at another
the exclusive expression of emotion or contemplation; at another it
restricts its vision, in more tranquil advance, to the central unity
which combines; at another it shifts hither and thither in unrestrained
passion through a range of ideas and emotions apparently destitute of
any unity at all.

This, then, must suffice us on the general question of a poetical

(_b_) In order now,--this is our _second_ main head in the present
discussion,--to examine more closely the distinction which obtains
between the organic poem as above considered and the prose composition,
we propose to direct attention to those specific types of _prose_
which, despite their obvious limitations, do none the less come into
closest affinity with art. Such are, without question, the arts of
history and oratory.

(_α_) As regards history, there can be no doubt that we find ample
opportunity here for _one_ aspect of genuine artistic activity.

(_αα_) The evolution of human life in religion and civil society,
the events and destinies of the most famous individuals and peoples,
who have given emphasis to life in either field by their activity,
all this presupposes great ends in the compilation of such a work,
or the complete failure of what it implies. The historical relation
of subjects and a content such as these admits of real distinction,
thoroughness and interest: and however much our historian must
endeavour to reproduce actual historical fact, it is none the less
incumbent upon him to bring before our imaginative vision this motley
content of events and characters, to create anew and make vivid the
same to our intelligence with his own genius.[9] In the creation
of such a memorial he must, moreover, not rest satisfied with the
bare letter of particular fact; he must bring this material into a
co-ordinated and constructive whole; he must collectively conceive
and embrace single traits, occurrences and actions under the unifying
concept; with the result that on the one hand we have flashed before us
a clear picture of nationality, epoch of time, external condition and
the spiritual greatness or weakness of the individuals concerned in the
very life and characterization which belonged to them; and on the other
that the bond of association, in which the various parts of our picture
stand to the ideal historical significance of a people or an event, is
asserted from such without exception. It is in this sense that we, even
in our own day, speak of the art of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon,
Tacitus, and a few others, and cannot cease to admire their narratives
as classical products of the art of human language.

(_ββ_) It is nevertheless true that even these fine examples of
historical composition do not belong to free Art. We may add that we
should have no poetry even though we were to assume with such works the
external form of poetry, the measure or rhyme of verse and so forth.
It is not exclusively the manner in which history is written, but the
nature of its _content_, which makes it prose. Let us look at this
rather more closely.

Genuine history, both in respect to aim and performance, only begins
at the point where the heroic age, which in its origination it is the
part of poetry and art to vindicate, ceases, for the reason that we
have here the moment when the distinct outlines and prose of life, in
its actual conditions, no less than the way they are conceived and
represented, come into being. Herodotus does not for instance describe
the Greek expedition to Troy, but the Persian wars, and takes pains,
in a variety of ways, with tedious research and careful reflection, to
base the narrative proposed on genuine knowledge. The Hindoos, indeed
we may say the Orientals generally, with almost the single exception
of the Chinese, do not possess this instinct of prose sufficiently
to produce a genuine history. They invariably digress either into
an interpretation and reconstruction of facts of a purely religious
character, or such as are fantastic inventions. The element of prose
then native to the historical age of any folk may be briefly described
as follows.

In the _first_ place, in order that we may have history we must
presuppose a common life, whether we consider the same on its religious
side, or that of a polity, with its law, institutions, and the like,
established on their own account, and possessing originally or in their
subsequent modification a validity as laws or conditions of general

It is out of such a common life, _secondly_, that we mark the birth
of definite activities for the preservation or change of the same,
which may be of universal import, and in fact constitute the end or
motive of their continuance, and to complete and carry into effect
which we have to presuppose individuals fitted for such a task. These
individuals are great and eminent in so far as they show themselves,
through their effective personality, in co-operation with the common
end, which underlies the ideal notion of the conditions which confront
them: they are little when they fail to rise in stature to the demand
thus made on their energy: they are depraved when, instead of facing as
combatants of the practical needs of the times,[10] they are content
merely to give free rein to an individual force which is, with its
implied caprice, foreign to all such common ends. Where, however, any
of such conditions obtain we do not have either a genuine content or a
condition of the world such as we established in the first part of our
inquiry as essential to the art of poetry. Even in the case of personal
greatness the substantive aim of its devotion is to a large or less
extent something given, presupposed, and enforced upon it, and to that
extent the unity of individuality is excluded, wherein the universal,
that is the entire personality should be selfidentical, an end
exclusively for itself, an independent whole in short. For however much
these individuals discover their aims in their own resources, it is for
all that not the freedom or lack of it in their souls and intelligence,
in other words the vital manifestation of their personality, but the
accomplished end, and its result as operative upon the actual world
already there, and essentially independent of such individuality, which
constitutes the object of history. And, moreover, from a further point
of view we find manifested in the historical condition the play of
contingency, that breach between what is implicitly substantive and
the relativity of particular events and occurrences, no less than of
the specific subjectivity of characters displayed in their personal
passions, opinions and fortunes, which in this prosaic mode of life
present far more eccentricity and variation than do the wonders of
poetry, which through all diversity must remain constant to what is
valid in all times and places.

And _finally_, in respect to the actual execution of affairs within
the cognisance of history we find here again the introduction of
a prosaic element, if we contrast it with the impulse of genuine
poetry, partly in the division asserted by personal idiosyncracy
from a consciousness of laws, principles, maxims and so forth, which
is thereby necessarily absorbed in the universal condition or fact;
and in part also the realization of the ends proposed involve much
preparation and arrangement, the means to effect which extend far,
and embrace many necessary or subservient relations, which have to be
readjusted and adapted, in order to carry out the course proposed,
with intelligence, prudence and prosaic circumspection. The work in
short cannot be undertaken offhand, but only to a large extent after
extensive introduction. The result of this is that the particular acts
of execution, which, it is here assumed, come into effect for the _one_
main purpose, are often either wholly contingent in respect to their
content, and remain without ideal union, or are asserted under the
form of a practical utility regulated by a mind dominated by the aims
proposed; in other words, they do not proceed unmediated from the core
of free and independent life itself.[11]

(_γγ_) The historian then has no right to expunge these prosaic
characteristics of his content, or to convert them into others more
_poetical;_ his narrative must embrace what lies actually before him
and in the shape he finds it without amplification,[12] or at least
poetical transformation. However much, therefore, it may become a
part of his labours to make the ideal significance and spirit of an
epoch, a people, or the particular event depicted, the ideal focus
and bond which holds all together in one coherent whole, he is not
entitled to make either the conditions presented him, the characters or
events, wholly subordinate to such a purpose, though he may doubtless
remove from his survey what is wholly contingent and without serious
significance; he must, in short, permit them to appear in all their
objective contingency, dependence and mysterious caprice. No doubt in
biography the full animation of personality and an independent unity is
conceivably possible, because in such a work the individual, no less
than all which proceeds from him and is operative in moulding such
a figure, is throughout the focus of the composition. A historical
character is, however, exclusively one of two opposed extremes. For
although we deduce a unity of subject from the same, none the less from
another point of view various events and transactions obtrude, which
in part are without any essential ideal connection, and in part come
into contact with such individuality without any free co-operation on
the part of the same, and to this extent involve the same within the
contingency of such an external condition. So, for example, Alexander
is without question a personality, pre-eminent above all others of his
epoch, and one which, in virtue of its unique forces, falling as they
do in accord with contemporary world conditions, becomes engaged in the
Persian invasion. The continent of Asia none the less, which Alexander
vanquishes, is in the capricious variety of its nationalities a whole
united by no necessary bond.[13] Historical events pass before him as
the bare panorama of purely objective phenomena. And, finally, if the
historian adds to his survey his private reflections as a philosopher,
attempting thereby to grasp the absolute grounds for such events,
rising to the sphere of that divine being, before which all that is
contingent vanishes and a loftier mode of necessity is unveiled, he
is none the less debarred, in reference to the actual conformation of
events, from that exclusive right of poetry, namely, to accept this
substantive resolution as the fact of most importance. To poetry alone
is the liberty permitted to dispose without restriction of the material
submitted in such a way that it becomes, even regarded on the side of
external condition, conformable with ideal truth.

(_β_) _Secondly_, _oratory_ appears to have a closer affinity with the
freedom of art.

(_αα_) For although the orator avails himself of the opportunity for
and content of his effort out of actual life and definite circumstances
and opinions, all that he utters remains none the less, in the _first_
place, subject to his free choice. His personal aims and views are
immanent therein, in virtue of which he can make the same a complete
and living expression of his personality. And, _secondly_, the
development of the subject of his oration and the mode of delivery
depends entirely on himself, so that the impression he makes is as
though we received in his speech a wholly independent expression
of mind. And, _finally_, it is his vocation not merely to address
himself to the trained or ordinary intelligence of his hearers, but to
work upon their entire humanity, their emotions, no less than their
judgment. The substance of what he has to say and in which he strives
to awake interest, is not merely the abstract aspect of it, nor is it
this aspect of his main purpose, in the fulfilment of which he invites
co-operation, but rather for the most part also a definite and very
real thing. For this reason the substance of the orator's address,
while embracing what is essentially substantive in its character,
ought equally to grasp his general principle under the form of its
specific manifestation, and render the same intelligible to conscious
life in the full concrete sense of the term. The orator then must not
merely satisfy our understanding with the cogency of his deductions
and conclusions, but has it in his power to address the soul itself,
to rouse human passion and carry it captive, to absorb the whole
attention, and by such means, through all the avenues of spirit, to
ravish and convince his audience.

(_ββ_) Despite, however, such considerations, looked at rightly we find
that it is just in the arts of oratory that this apparent freedom is
almost wholly subordinate to the rule of practical _utility_. In other
words what confers upon public speaking its unique motive force is not
implied in the particular purpose, to promote which the speech is made;
we must refer it to the general principle, the laws, rules, axioms
which the particular case suggests, and which are already essentially
present in this form of universality, partly, as actual laws of the
State, partly too as ethical, juristic or religious maxims, emotions,
dogmas, and so forth. The particular circumstance and end, which we
find here as the point of departure, and this universal are in every
respect separate from each other, and this separation is the relation
maintained throughout. No doubt the orator intends to make these two
aspects unite: what, however, in poetry, in so far as poetry is really
present, attests as already from the first accomplished, is present in
oratory merely as the personal aim of the orator, the fulfilment of
which lies outside the speech itself altogether.

The only alternative we have left us is a process of _subsumation_,
whereby the phenomenon, the actual and defined thing, here the concrete
case or end, is not unravelled in immediate unity with the universal as
such, and freely from its own substance, but only receives validity by
virtue of its dependence upon general principles and in its relation to
legislative acts, morality, customs, and the like, which on their own
account possess independent stability. It is not the spontaneous life
of the fact in its concrete manifestation, but the prosaic division
between notion and reality, a mere relation of both to each other and
a mere demand for their union, which constitutes the fundamental type
under consideration.

Such a process of thought is frequently adopted by the religious
teacher. For him religious doctrines, in their widest connotation, and
the principles of morality or of philosophy, political or otherwise,
which follow in their train, are in fact precisely the object whereto
he can refer cases of every conceivable variety; and they are this
for the reason that these doctrines have to be accepted, believed and
recognized by the religious consciousness as essentially and in their
own worth the substance of all particular appearance. No doubt the
preacher may at the same time appeal to our heart, may suffer the
divine laws to unveil from the depth of soul-life as their source, and
face to face with his audience may refer them to such a source. But it
is not in their absolutely individual guise that he must necessarily
present and assert them; on the contrary, he must bring effective
universality to consciousness under precisely this form of commands,
promises and maxims of faith. The oratory of courts of law is even
a better illustration. Here we find in addition the twofold point
of view, that while on the one hand all turns most obviously on the
particular case, yet conversely the subsumation of this case to general
considerations and laws is equally a necessity. As regards the _first_
aspect, we may remark that the element of prose is already implied in
the enforced investigation of the actual facts and the collocation
and able reconstruction of all singular circumstances and accidents;
a process such as this at once opens our eyes to the poverty involved
in this investigation of the truth of such a legal case, no less than
the tedious ingenuity engaged in its display, if we contrast it at
least with the free creations of poetry. We have in fact to carry our
analysis of the concrete facts to a yet further point. Such must not
merely be traced in a series that does justice to all features, but
every one of such features, no less than the whole case, have to be
referred back to the statute accepted from the first as of independent
validity. At the same time, even in this prosaic affair, we still have
considerable scope for an impression on the heart and emotions. For it
is possible so to present the rightness or wrongness of the case under
discussion to the imagination that we are no longer bound to acquiesce
in the bare knowledge of the facts and a general conviction; on the
contrary, the case in its entirety is capable of becoming, by virtue of
the style adopted in its exposition, so marked with the characteristics
of personality to everyone who hears it, that no one can fail to
discover there a personal interest as of something which concerns

_Secondly_, in the oratorical art, artistic delivery and elaboration
is not that which constitutes the ultimate and highest interest of the
speaker; he possesses in addition and beyond his art an ulterior aim,
that the entire form and working out of his discourse should rather
be used exclusively as the most effective means to promote an interest
which is outside. From this point of view the audience too have to be
influenced not on their own independent account, but the effort is
rather to excite emotion and conviction exclusively as a means toward
the attainment of the purpose, the fulfilment whereof the orator has
proposed from the first. The mode of presentation, therefore, ceases
to be an end for itself even to the listener; its claim becomes
exclusively that of a means to some particular conviction, or an
incentive to definite conclusions or activities.

For these reasons from this point of view also the art loses its
freedom of form; it becomes a means to a purpose, to a further
demand[14], which, this is a _third_ point, in relation to the
_consequence_, is not satisfied in the actual speech itself and its
artistic handling. The composition of poetry on the contrary has no
other object than the manifestation and enjoyment of beauty. End
and accomplishment reposes here immediately and essentially in the
independent work, which for that reason is complete; artistic activity
is no means to an essentially ulterior result, but an end which at
once is rounded in itself by virtue of its own execution. In oratory
art receives merely a position of service to something collateral;
the genuine end is therefore not as such consonant with art, but of a
practical character, that is to say, instruction, edification, judgment
of legal matters or political affairs, and therewith a reference to
some matter which has first to happen, or to a decision not yet carried
out, but which, however, are in neither case terminated or completed
through the resultant effect of the art in question, but can only be
so in various ways after a contact with quite other activities. A
speech in fact may often conclude with a dissonance, which the hearer
has first to resolve as judge, and only then is able to act agreeably
with such a verdict. Just as, for example, the oratory of the pulpit
starts from the point of the unconverted soul, and in the result makes
the hearer pass judgment over his own self and his soul's condition.
In such a case religious conversion is the object of the preacher; but
whether such a conversion follows as a result of all the edification
and excellence of his eloquent exhortations, and thus the end proposed
is carried out, is a point of view which the sermon itself cannot deal
with; it must be perforce relegated to subsequent conditions.

(_γγ_) In all these directions the notion of eloquence will fall rather
under the main principle of utility than maintain itself within the
free and organized whole of the poetical art-product. In short the
orator must necessarily and above all make it his mark to subordinate
the whole, no less than the parts, to that purpose in his mind, from
which his effort proceeds, a process in which the self-consistent
independence of his exposition disappears, and in lieu of which we must
assume a relation of service to a definite end that ceases to be of
artistic significance. And above all, inasmuch as the object in view
is one of practical influence upon human life, he must keep throughout
before his mind the nature of the place in which he speaks, the
degree of education, the receptive powers, and, in short, the general
atmosphere of his audience, that he may not fall short of the practical
success desired through an inability to meet the local conditions of
the moment, and the idiosyncrasies of his audience. By reason of this
very attachment to external conditions it is impossible that either
the entirety of his address or its parts can any longer originate in
a free artistic activity[15]; it will constantly tend in its detailed
elaboration to appropriate utilitarian points of association, and be
dominated by conceptions of cause and effect, and other categories more
proper to science.

(_c_) And, _thirdly_, we may, as flowing from the above distinction
between what is really poetical and the creations of the historian and
the orator, establish the following points pertinent to the poetical
composition itself.

(_α_) We found that in history the element of prose consisted above
all in this that however much the content thereof could be ideally
substantive and possessed of a downright penetrative power, the
actual form of the same was, however, invariably accompanied with
many conditions of relative validity, massed together with much that
was contingent, and finally often referable to caprice simply as its
ground, aspects of immediate objective fact which the historian was not
entitled to translate into the terms of a reality of profounder grasp.

(_αα_) The effort of such a transfiguration is in fact a fundamental
_desideratum_ of the poetical art when it, so far as its material is
concerned, steps into the arena of history. It is its business in short
in such a case to discover the mere ideal core and significance of an
event, action, or a national type, a famous historical personality,
and as decisively to brush aside aspects of contingency, everything in
fact purely incidental or indifferent, which plays round such types or
individuals, and stands to them in a purely relative connection. It
has then to establish, in the place of the circumstances and traits
it rejects, others which reveal the ideal essence of the facts in
their clarity, to the intent that in this transfigured presence such
shall so discover concrete truth in its fulness that the reason,
which has hitherto lain concealed, though implied in them, shall now
for the first time assert itself as evolved and declared in complete
realization. By this means alone poetry is able in the proposed work to
make its content coalesce in the secure unity of a centre, able as such
to round and unfold itself in a whole. And this is possible because
it not only is operative as a more effective bond between the parts,
but also because, without compromising the unity of the whole, all its
varied particularity is suffered to assert its claim to an independent

(_ββ_) Poetry may in this respect make a yet further advance, when, it
accepts as its main content, in lieu of the material and significance
of the historical fact, some fundamental idea, some human collision
in general associated with it in a close or more remote affinity, and
employs the historical _factum_ and personages, everything local
in short, merely in the guise or garment of individualization. The
difficulty to be encountered here is twofold: either the historically
ascertained data, when appropriated by the composition, may fall out of
line with the fundamental idea; or, conversely, it may be that the poet
in some measure retains these data, but also too in essential features
moulds them conformably to his purposes, and by doing this work fails
to harmonize the element of stability with that of original design
which were both essential to our conception of the poetical product.
To dispel such an opposition and to reassert the accordant note able
to do this is a difficult matter; it is none the less necessary, for
objective reality has itself too an unquestionable title to what is
essential in the character of its appearance.

(_γγ_) We may extend the reach of poetry yet further and we shall
still find that the demand to be met is the same. In other words,
all that the art of poetry represents in external local condition,
characterization, actions, passions, situations, conflicts, events,
and human destiny, all this material is borrowed, far more so in fact
than is generally credited, from the facts of life itself. This being
so, poetry here too is on the historical arena; and, consequently, its
deviations or variations of such data must, in this field also, find
their point of departure in the rational core of the facts in question
and the demand of the art to discover for this ideal essence a form
that exhibits it with greatest adequacy and life. And this must not be
sought for in the poverty of a superficial knowledge, an inability to
penetrate what is really vital in fact, or in the moods of caprice and
with the craving after the quaint or perverse ingenuities of a spurious

(_β_) And further, as already stated, oratory is allied to prose on
account of the practical end which is thereby proposed, and, to carry
out which, it is forced to admit to the full the claims of utility.

(_αα_) In this respect poetry must take care to detach itself from
any end of this kind outside Art's domain, and the claim of artistic
enjoyment simply; that it may not fall into the sphere of prose. For if
any purpose of this sort is made to appear of essential importance, as
part of the entire conception and presentation, the composition at once
descends from that loftier region, in whose free atmosphere it floats
on its own account and on no other, and is drawn into that of relation
merely. As a result of this we have either a breach made between the
fundamental aim of art and the ends of ulterior intendments; or art
is used as a means simply, contradicts its substantive notion, and
becomes the menial of utility. The edifying effusions of many church
hymns are of this character. Particular ideas are simply admitted on
religious grounds, and receive a style of composition which is alien
to the beauty of poetry. And, speaking generally, poetry, simply as
poetry, has no right to edify in a _religious_ sense, or at least
_exclusively_ in this sense. If it does so we are carried into a
region, which no doubt possesses relationship with both poetry and art,
but is for all that distinct from it. We may say the same of teaching
generally, ethical instruction, political treatises, or writings of all
kinds written for our momentary recreation and enjoyment. All these
are objects, to whose attainment the art of poetry is, or can be more
than any other, contributory. But such contributions must not enter
into the purpose, if the spirit of the work is to assert itself freely
in its own character. In the poetical effort it is only what is really
poetic, eliminated from all that is foreign to this quality, which must
remain paramount as the end proposed and accomplished. And in fact such
ulterior aims as the above can be carried out far more appropriately by
quite other means.

(_ββ_) The art of poetry, however, from the converse point of view,
should strive to assert no absolute and isolated position; it ought,
as a part of life itself, to enter freely into life. Already in the
first part of this inquiry we found how many points of contact there
were between art and ordinary existence, whose content and phenomenal
appearance are repeated in its content and form. In poetry this vital
relation to actual existence and its specific circumstances, private
or public events, appears with most obvious variety in the so-called
_poems d'occasion._ With a broader interpretation of the expression we
may define as such most poetic compositions; in the more narrow and
correct meaning of the term, however, we should restrict it to those
productions whose origin is traceable to a single event of present
time, which it is the express aim of the poet to emphasize, adorn, and
celebrate. In this weaving together of the actual threads of life,
however, poetry tends once more to decline to a position of dependence;
it is therefore by no means unusual for writers on aesthetic to attach
a purely subordinate value to poetry of this class in general, although
as to a part of it, notably in the case of the lyric, we find here the
most famous compositions.

(_γγ_) The question consequently arises by virtue of what poetry may
be enabled to still maintain its independence even in the conflict
above described. The answer is simple. It must regard and assert the
occasional facts it borrows from life not as its essential aim, while
it is itself merely accepted as a means. Rather the reverse process
is the right one, which absorbs the material of such reality within
its own substance, and informs and elaborates the same conformably to
the claims of an unfettered imagination. In other words poetry has
nothing to do with the accidental or incidental fact as such. This
material supplies the external opportunity, that is the stimulus which
prompts the poet to draw upon his own profounder penetration and more
transparent mode of presentment: by this means he creates from his own
resources, as something newborn, that which, without such mediation,
would have, in the plain and blunt particular case, wholly failed to
impress us with the free spirit he communicates.

(_γ_) In conclusion then we may affirm that every genuine work of
poetry is an essentially infinite organism.[16] In content rich, it
unfolds this content under a mode of appearance which is adapted
to it. It is permeated with a principle of unity, but not one
referable to the form of utility, which subordinates the particular
to itself in an abstract relation, but rather one that absorbs the
same in the singularity relevant to one identical and entirely vital
self-consistency, in which the whole, without any visible intention, is
sphered within one rounded and essentially self-enclosed completeness.
It is indeed replete with the _materia_ of the visible world, but
is not on that account placed, either in relation to its content or
determinate existence, under a condition of dependence to any one
circle of life. Rather it freely creates out of its own plenitude,
striving to clothe the ideal notion of its material in its genuine
manifestation as truth, and to bring the world of external fact into
reconciled accord with its own most ideal substance.


I have already discussed at considerable length, in the first part of
this work, the talent and genius, the enthusiasm and originality of the
artist. I will consequently merely touch upon one or two points in the
present reference to the art of poetry which appear of importance, if
we contrast this activity as effective here with that operative in the
plastic arts and music.

(_a_) The architect, sculptor, painter and musician have to deal
with an entirely concrete and sensuous material, in and through
which each has to elaborate his creations. The limitations of this
material condition the specific form that the type of the conception
no less than the mode of artistic execution assume. The more fixed
and predetermined the general lines of his definition are upon which
the artist has to concentrate himself, the more specialized becomes
the talent required for the assertion of the same in any one and no
other mode of presentment; and we may add in the powers of technical
execution which accompany it. The talents adapted to the poetic art,
regarding the same from the point of view of an ideal envisagement
in a specific _materia_, is subordinated in a less degree to such
conditions; it is consequently more open to universal practice, and
in this respect more independent. The need here at least is merely
that of a gift for imaginative creation. Its limitation is confined
merely to this, namely, that for the reason that this art is expressed
in language, it has to guard itself on the one hand from deliberate
rivalry with external objects in their sensuous completeness, in
the form, that is, where we find the plastic artist apprehends his
subject-matter in its external configuration: and, from a further point
of view, it is unable to rest in the unspoken ideality, the emotional
tones of which constitute the realm of music. In these respects the
problem proposed to the poet, if we contrast him with artists in other
arts, is at once more _facile_ and more _difficult_ It is more easy,
because, although the poet, in the poetical elaboration of speech, must
possess a trained talent, he is spared the relatively more manifold
task of triumph over technical difficulties necessary in the other
arts. It is more difficult because, just in proportion as poetry is
less able to complete the objective envisagement, it is compelled
to seek some compensation for this loss on the side of sense in the
genuine core of Art's own ideality, in the depth of imagination and a
really artistic mode of conception.

(_b_) For this reason the poet is, in the _second_ place, constrained
to penetrate into all the wealth of the spiritual content, and to lay
bare to the vision of mind what is concealed in its depths. For however
much in the other arts, too, the ideal must shine forth through its
corporeal manifestation, and does so in life itself shine forth, yet
the medium of speech remains that most open to intelligence, and the
means most adequate to its revelation. It is the one medium able to
grasp and declare everything whatever that flows through or is present
in consciousness, whether regarded in its ascent or profundity. In
consequence of this the poet finds himself confronted with difficulties
which the other arts are not called upon to overcome or satisfy to
the like degree. In other words, for the very reason that poetry is
actually operative in the world of idea or imagination itself, and is
not concerned with fashioning for its images an objective existence
independent of such ideality, it is placed in an element or sphere in
which the religious, scientific and everyday consciousness are active;
it must therefore take care to make no excursion into the domain or
mode of conception proper to any of these, or to get mixed up with
them. No doubt in the case of every art we find points of contact with
other arts. Artistic creation of every kind proceeds from _one_ mind or
spirit, which comprehends in itself all spheres of self-conscious life.
But with the other arts the distinction of conception in each case is
in its mode complete, for the reason that this, in its ideal creation,
persists throughout in permanent relation to the execution of its
images in a definite sensuous material, and consequently is absolutely
distinct, no less from the forms of the religious consciousness,
than it is from the thinking of science and the intelligence of
ordinary life. Poetry, on the contrary, avails itself, in its manner
of objective communication, of the very means adopted in these spheres
of mental activity, that is to say, human speech; it finds itself,
consequently, otherwise placed than are the plastic arts and music,
which occupy a different field of conception and expression.

(_c_) _Thirdly_, we have the final demand made upon the poet for the
most profound and manifold transfusion of the subject-matter of his
creations with the animating soul of life, because it is his art which
is capable of absorbing most profoundly the entire fulness of the
spiritual content. The plastic artist, in a similar way, must apply
himself to a transfusion of ideal expression in the _external form_ of
architectonic, plastic and the forms peculiar to painting. The musician
must likewise rivet his attention on the _inner soul_ concentrated
in emotion and passion and their outpouring in melodic expression.
In both cases the artist must be steeped in the most ideal intention
and substance of his content. But the sphere of the poet's creative
activity extends yet further, for the reason that he has not merely
to elaborate an ideal world of soul-life and the self-conscious mind.
He has, in addition, to discover for this ideal realm an external
mode of envisagement fitted thereto, a mode by virtue of which that
ideal totality shines through in more irresistible perfection than is
possible in the case of other arts. It is incumbent upon him to know
human existence, both as soul-life and objective life, to receive into
his inmost being the full breadth of the world and its shows, and to
have felt through it there, penetrated, enlarged, deepened and revealed
to himself all it implies. Only after that, and in order that he may
find it in his power to create, as from his own spiritual experience
outwards, a free whole,--ay, even in the case where he restricts his
effort to a comparatively narrow and particular range,--he must have
liberated himself from all embarrassment with his subject-matter,
whether of a _technical_[18] character or otherwise, able in short
to survey the ideal and external aspects thereof with the same free
glance. From the point of view of _instinctive_ creative vigour[19]
we may in this respect pre-eminently praise the Mahomedan poets of
the East. The starting-point in such compositions is a freedom which,
even in the moment of passion, remains aloof from such passion, and in
all the variety of its interests retains exclusively throughout the
_one_ substance as its veritable core, in contrast to which everything
else appears small and transitory, and nothing of finality is left
either to passion or lust. This is a philosophical outlook, a relation
of spirit to the facts of the world, which comes more readily to age
than youth. For in old age no doubt the interests of life are still
present; but they are not there with the urgency of youthful passion,
but rather in the guise of shadows, and to this extent are more readily
conformable to ideal relations such as Art demands. In opposition to
the ordinary view that youth with its warmth and vigour is the fairest
season for poetic creation, we may rather, at least from this point of
view, maintain just the opposite, that the ripest season belongs to the
autumn of old age, provided that it is able to preserve its energies
of outlook and emotion. It is only to a blind old man, Homer, that we
ascribe those miraculous poems which have come down to us under that
name. And we may also affirm of our Goethe that only in old age, after
he had fully succeeded in liberating his genius from all restricting
limitations of sense, that he gave us his most exalted creations.[20]

[Footnote 1: That is, the essential notion (_Begriff_) of Art

[Footnote 2: _Substantiellen_, _i.e.,_ the form that most corresponds
to its essence.]

[Footnote 3: _Theoretisch._ Hegel doubtless has the Greek word in his
mind. It is a _Bildung_ for the mind rather than with a view to action.
It assumes contemplation rather than volition.]

[Footnote 4: It is not quite clear whether Hegel means by _Bedürfniss_
the need of spiritual life, or the profounder demand of reality. It
might stand for either.]

[Footnote 5: That is, the _Vernünft._]

[Footnote 6: _Das individualisirte Vernünftige_, _i.e._, reason as
realized in concrete personality.]

[Footnote 7: _In seiner Gediegenheit und schlagenden Fassung.
Gediegenheit_ here thorough grasp. _Schlagenden_ may possibly mean
arresting character of the conception rather than definite, precise.]

[Footnote 8: That is, the notion.]

[Footnote 9: By _aus dem Geiste_ it is quite possible that there is no
reference to individual genius. In that case the translation would be
"in terms of human intelligence," _i.e._, from the resources of human

[Footnote 10: This seems to be the meaning of _die Sache der Zeit._]

[Footnote 11: Lit., "They do not come forth from self-substantive and
immediately free vitality (Lebendigkeit)." _Lebendigkeit_ is here the
ideal and creative force or bond of soul-life as above described.]

[Footnote 12: The German word would imply here an interpretation of
symbolic or at least ideal significance.]

[Footnote 13: This I presume is the general meaning of the sentence:
_Asien aber, das er besiegt, ist in der vielfachen Willkühr seiner
Einzelnen Völkerschaften nur ein zufälliges Ganzes._]

[Footnote 14: _Ein Sollen._]

[Footnote 15: It is possible that too much stress is laid on this line
of difference. The fundamental difference between oratory and poetry
is that of form. At least it can hardly be denied that the power of
the orator to meet the demands of local conditions is a vital feature
of his art, that in this respect a Demosthenes is greater than Burke.
It is surely a mistake to assume that such limitations in themselves
or necessarily are an obstacle to creative genius. It is rather the
sign of supreme oratorical power that it can mould them and command
them in conjunction with its more majestic spirit. In this lies an
essential part of the art itself, just as a sculptor or a painter, such
as Tintoret in the S. Rocco Scuola, dominates the defects of local

[Footnote 16: Infinite, that is, not in the temporal sense, but as a
complete and self-realized whole.]

[Footnote 17: Hegel calls it "the poetising subjectivity"; that is, the
personal activity essential to poetic composition.]

[Footnote 18: _Practischen_.]

[Footnote 19: This appears to be the meaning of _des Naturells_.]

[Footnote 20: This is perhaps less true of Goethe than it is of
either Milton or Shakespeare. It is possible that Hegel thought more
highly of the second part of "Faust" as art than do the majority of
modern critics. But the truth is there, if subject to a good deal of
qualification in respect to certain aspects of poetry. As Meredith says:

    "Verily now is our season of seed,
    Now in our Autumn."

And Meredith was not one to do less than justice to the superb Dream of
imaginative youth.]



The field of vision which first will occupy our attention, but the
boundless expanse of which we can only traverse with a few general
observations, is that which concerns the poetic generally, the content
no less than the mode of conception and organic association adapted
to the poetic work of art. This background will help to emphasize the
_second_ aspect of our subject, which is _poetic expression_ more
strictly, the idea in the ideal objectivity of the word appropriated by
it as symbol of the image, and the melodious vehicle of its speech.

We may infer the nature of the relation between poetic expression
generally and the mode of presentment proper to the other arts from our
previous examination of the characteristics of the poetic art. Language
and the sounds of words are neither a symbol of spiritual conceptions,
nor an adequate mode of projecting ideality under the condition of
spatial objectivity in the sense applicable to the corporeal forms of
sculpture and painting, nor yet an intonation in musical sound of the
entire soul. They are an abstract _sign_ simply. As the vehicle of the
poetic image or conception, however, it is necessary that this side
also, in theory no less than deliberate elaboration, appear as distinct
from the kind of expression appropriate to prose.

We may for this purpose emphasize with more detail three main points of

Our _first_ point is this, that although poetic expression is
throughout exclusively embodied in articulate words, and apparently
as such is simply related to human speech, yet in so far as the words
themselves are merely abstract signs representative of _ideas,_ the
true source of poetic speech is not to be discovered in the selection
of particular words, and in the manner they are associated in sentences
and elaborated phrases, nor in harmonious rhythm, rhyme and so forth,
but in the type of _conception_ employed. We have, in short, to look
for our point of departure for the constructive use of expression in
the choice of the idea or image, find our first and foremost question
will be what kind of conception will give us an expression suitable to
poetry. _Secondly_, however, it remains the fact that the imaginative
idea essentially pertinent to poetry is exclusively made objective
in _language._ We have consequently to investigate the expression of
speech according to its purely verbal aspect, in the light of which
poetic words are distinguishable from those of prose, poetic phrases
from those of our ordinary life and prosaic thought, abstracting in the
first instance the mere sound of them to our sense of hearing.

_Finally_, we have to recognize the fact that poetry is a mode of
articulate speech, the sounding word, which in its temporal duration no
less than its actual sound, must receive a definite configuration, one
that implies the presence of time-measure, rhythm, melodious sound and


What in the plastic arts the sensuous visible _form_ expressed by
means of stone and colour is, or what in the realm of music animating
strains of harmony and melody are, this--we must repeatedly insist on
the fact--can only be, in respect to poetic expression--the idea or
image itself. The force of the poet's creation centres consequently,
in the fact that the art moulds a content in an ideal medium, and
without bringing before us the actual forms of external Nature and the
progressions of musical sound; by doing so, therefore, it translates
the objective presence accepted by the other arts into an ideal form,
which Spirit or intelligence expresses for the imagination under the
mode which is and must remain that of our conscious life.

A distinction of this very character was already insisted on when we
had occasion previously to establish a distinction between the earliest
type, of poetry and its later modes of reconstruction from the data of

(_a_) Imaginative poetry in its _origin_ is not as yet a consciously
distinct form from those extremes of ordinary conscious life, one of
which brings everything to vision under the mode of immediate and
therewith contingent singularity, without grasping the ideal essence
implied therein, and the manifestation of the same; while the other,
in one direction, differentiates concrete existence into its various
characteristics, making use of abstract generalization, and in another
avails itself of the scientific faculty as the correlating and
connecting focus of such abstractions. The idea is only poetical in so
far as it holds these extremes in unviolable mediation, and thereby is
able to maintain a position of genuine stability midway between the
vision of ordinary consciousness and that of abstract thought.

In general terms we may define the poetic imagination as _plastic_[1]
in so far as it brings before our vision concrete reality rather
than the abstract generalization, and in the place of contingent
existence an appearance of such a kind that we recognize what is
substantive immediately in it by virtue of its embodiment itself and
its individuality, and as inseparable from it, and by virtue of this
are able to grasp the concrete conception-of the fact in question no
less than its determinate existence as one and the same vital whole
reposing in the ideal medium of the imagination. In this respect we
find a fundamental distinction between that whereof the plastic or
constructive idea is the source and all that is otherwise made vivid
to us through other means of expression. The same truth will appear
to us, if we analyse what we mean, by mere reading. We understand what
the letters mean, which are indicative points for articulate utterance,
by the mere act of sight, and without being further obliged to listen
to their sound. Only the illiterate reader will find it necessary to
speak aloud the separate words that he may understand their sense.
But in the case of poetry just what seems to be here the mark of
stupidity is an indication of beauty and excellence. Poetry is not
satisfied with an abstract effort of apprehension, nor does it bring
objects before us as we find them in the form of reflection and in the
unimaginative generalization of our memory. It helps us to approach
the essential notion in its positive existence, the generic as clothed
in its specific individuality. In the view of ordinary common sense I
understand by language, both in its impression on my hearing or sight,
the meaning in its immediacy, in other words, without receiving its
image before the mind. The phrases, for instance, "the sun," or "in the
morning," possess each of them no doubt a distinct sense; but neither
the Dawn or the Sun are themselves made present to our vision. When,
however, the poet says: "When now the dawning Eos soared heavenwards
with rosy fingers," here without question we have the concrete fact
brought home to us. The poetical expression adds, however, yet more,
for it associates with the object recognized a vision of the same,
or we should rather say the purely abstract relation of knowledge
vanishes, and the real definition takes its place. In the same way
take the phrase, "Alexander conquered the Persian empire." Here, no
doubt, so far as content is concerned, we have a concrete conception;
the many-sided definition of it, however, expressed here in the word
"victory," is concentrated in a featureless and pure abstraction, which
fails to image before us anything of the appearance and reality of the
exploit accomplished by Alexander. This truth applies to every kind of
similar expression. We recognize the bare fact; but it remains pale and
dun, and from the point of view of individual existence undetermined
and abstract. The poetic conception consequently embraces the fulness
of the objective phenomenon as it essentially exists, and is able to
elaborate the same united with the essential ideality of the fact in a
creative totality.

What follows as a primary result of this is that it is of interest to
the imagination to _linger_ near the external characteristics of the
fact, to the extent at least that it seeks to express the same in its
positive reality, deems this as essentially worthy of contemplation and
insists on this very attitude.

Poetry is consequently in its manner of expression _descriptive_
Description is, however, not the right word for it. We are, in fact,
accustomed to accept as descriptive, and in contrast to the abstract
definition, in which a content is otherwise brought home to our
intelligence, much that the poet passes by, so that from the point
of view of ordinary speech poetic composition can only appear as a
roundabout way and a useless superfluity. The poet must, however,
manage to bring his imagination to bear upon the explication of the
actual phenomenon he is attempting to depict with a vital interest.[2]
In this way, for instance, Homer adds a descriptive epithet to every
hero. So Achilles is the swift-footed, the Achaeans bright-greaved,
Hector as of the glancing helm, Agamemnon the lord of peoples, and so
forth. The name is no doubt descriptive of a personality, but the name
alone brings nothing further to our vision. To have some distinct idea
of this we require further attributes. We have in fact similar epithets
attached by Homer to other objects, which are essential to our vision
of the epic, such as sea, ships, sword and others, epithets which seize
and place before us an essential quality of the particular object,
depicting it more precisely, and which enable us to apprehend the fact
in its concrete appearance.

_Secondly_, we must distinguish such reconstruction of actual facts
from definition _wholly imagined_. This offers a further point of view
for discussion. The real image merely places before us the fact in the
reality it possesses. The expression of the poet's imagination, on
the contrary, does not restrict itself to the object in its immediate
appearance; it proceeds to depict something over and above this, by
means of which the significance of the former picture is made clear
to our mind. Metaphors, illustrations, similes become in this way
an essential feature of poetic creation. We have thereby a kind of
veil attached to the content, which concerns us, and which, by its
difference from it, serves in part as an embellishment, and in part as
a further unfolding of it, though it necessarily fails to be complete,
for the reason that it only applies to a specific aspect of this
content. The passage in which Homer compares Ajax, on his refusing to
fly, to an obstinate ass is an illustration. To a pre-eminent degree
oriental poetry possesses this splendour and wealth in pictorial
comparisons. There are two main reasons of this. First, its symbolic
point of view makes such a search for aspects of affinity inevitable,
and in the universality of its centres of significance it offers a
large field of concrete phenomena capable of comparison; secondly, on
account of the sublimity of its predominant outlook there is a tendency
to apply the entire variety of all that is most brilliant and glorious
in its motley show to the embellishment of the One Supreme, which is
held before the mind as the sole One to be exalted. This object of the
imagination, moreover, is not to be apprehended as merely the work
of fanciful caprice or comparison, possessing as such nothing in it
essentially actual and present. On the contrary the transmutation of
all particular existence into further existence in this central idea
grasped and clothed by the imagination is rather to be understood as
equivalent to the assertion that there is nothing else essentially
present, nothing that otherwise can put forward a claim to substantive
reality. The belief in the world as we apprehend it with the vision of
ordinary common sense is converted into a belief in the imagination,
for which the only world that verily exists is that which the poetic
consciousness has created. Conversely we have the romantic imagination,
which is ready enough to express itself in metaphor, because in its
vision what is external is for the essentially secluded life of the
soul only accepted as something incidental, something that is unable
adequately to express its own reality. To reclothe this consequently
unreal externality with profound emotion, with all the fulness of
detail envisioned, or with the play of humour upon the conjunction of
such opposites is an impulse, which constrains and charms romantic
poetry to ever novel discoveries. The object of importance here is
not so much to make the fact clear and distinct to the vision; on the
contrary the metaphorical employment of these outlying phenomena is
itself the aim proposed. The emotion of the poet concentrates itself as
the centre, which the environment enriches with its wealth; it absorbs
this as part of itself, adapts it with genius and wit to its adornment,
steeps it in its own life, and finds in this movement to and fro, this
elaboration and self-reflection of its creation its own source of

(_b_) _Secondly_, we have the contrast present between the poetic mode
of conception and that of _prose._ The thing of importance in the
latter case is not that which is imaged, but the significance as such
which constitutes the content. It is on account of the latter that
the idea or image becomes a mere means to bring the content before
the mind. The composition of prose is therefore neither compelled to
place the more detailed reality of its objects before our vision, nor
to summon before us, as is the case with the metaphorical mode of
expression previously described, another idea which carries us beyond
the immediate object to be expressed. No doubt it is also necessary in
prose to indicate in firm and distinct outlines the positive appearance
of objects; but this is so not on account of their figurative
character,[3] but to meet a specific and practical purpose. Generally
speaking we may therefore affirm _accuracy_ to be from one point of
view the ruling principle of prose composition, and from another a
_clear definition_ and intelligibility of statement. In contrast to
this the language of metaphor and imagery is in general and relatively
less clear and more inaccurate. For in that mode of direct expression,
such as we have presented by our first form of the poetic conception,
the fact in its simplicity is carried away from our immediate
apprehension of it as a mere object into the actual world of concrete
fact, and we have to recognize it as a part of this, while in that
second and more oblique form some phenomenon of affinity merely and
one even aloof from the essential significance of our subject is made
present to us. We do not, therefore, wonder that prosaic commentators
of our poets have no easy task when they seek to separate, by means of
their scientific analyses, the image from the significance, to extract
their abstract content from the vital form, and thereby expound poetic
modes of composition to the prosaic mind.

In poetry this accuracy, this rigour in unfolding the content as we
find it in its simplicity, is not alone the essential principle. On the
contrary, though prose is forced to confine its ideas on parallel lines
of almost mathematical precision with the nature of its content, poetry
introduces us to a different sphere altogether, that is, the _visible
appearance_ of the content itself, or other natural phenomena related
to it. For it is just this objective reality which in poetry ought to
appear, and while unquestionably from one point of view revealing that
content, yet at the same time from another it has to liberate itself
from the purely abstract content, it being essentially an object of the
art to direct attention to its actual existence in the visible world,
and to arouse the interest of mind in the forms of life itself.

(_c_) If these three essential requirements of poetry are conditioned
by an age, in which the accuracy of the prosaic mind is become the
ordinary type of conscious life, the art, so far as its figurative
characteristics are concerned, is placed in a more difficult position.
That is to say, in such an epoch the type of penetration exercised by
conscious life is generally a separation of emotion and the ordinary
outlook from scientific thought, which either converts the ideal
and external material of feeling and perception into a stimulus of
knowledge and volition simply, or into a plastic medium subservient
to observation and action. In such a sphere poetry calls for energies
of more definite purpose in order that it may free itself from the
abstraction of the prevailing mental attitude and enter into the
world of concrete life. Where, however, such a goal is realized, not
only do we find that this breach between thinking, which makes for
generalization, and perception and feeling, which grasp the particular,
vanishes, but these last-mentioned modes of conscious life are,
together with their subject-matter and content, at the same time freed
from their exclusive relation of service; and the process culminates
in a victorious reconciliation of such modes with what is essential
universality. Inasmuch, however, as both the modes of poetic and
prosaic thought and general outlook are united in one and the same
conscious life, we find in it indications of trouble and derangement,
even possibly an actual conflict between the two, one which, as the
poetry of our times testifies, only genius of the highest order is able
successfully to deal with. Added to this there are other collateral
hindrances, which I only propose to define now, and that briefly, in
their relation to the figurative aspect already discussed. In other
words, if the prosaic intelligence takes the place of that creative
imagination which previously obtained, then and in that case the
rejuvenescence of the poetic faculty, both in all that is associated
with the positive expression of facts and what is metaphorical, readily
offers the semblance of artificiality, which even where it falls short
of actual purpose, is only with great difficulty reconciled with that
directness of immediate truth which is demanded. Much in fact which was
still fresh in former times, through repeated usage, and the habits
thus originated, has itself become gradually a custom and a part of
prosaic life. Moreover, where poetry strives after novelties in its
composition, we often find that, despite of itself, in its figurative
expressions and descriptions, even where it escapes the charge of
exaggeration and an excess of such material, it none the less leaves
an impression of artificiality, over nicety, a straining after what
is piquant and select, work incompatible with a simple and healthy
outlook and state of feeling. Such work tends to regard objects in an
artificial light and reckons on mere effect. Consequently it will not
permit their natural lighting and colour. Defects of this nature are
still more obvious in cases where, as a rule, the metaphorical type of
imaginative composition is exchanged[4] for the more direct, and our
poet is driven to outbid the forces of prose; and, in order to assert
an originality, plunges into the subtleties of or the fishing for
effects which have still some appearance of freshness.


Inasmuch as the poetic imagination is distinct in its operation from
that of all other artists in virtue of the fact that it necessarily
clothes its images in words, and communicates the same through human
_speech_, it becomes imperative that throughout this process it should
endeavour to co-ordinate all its ideas, in the form which with most
completeness will disclose them, through the means articulate speech
thus places at its disposal. And, in short, we may affirm that the
poetic content only assumes the form of poetry in its restricted sense
after it has been actually embodied and rounded off in the vehicle of

This literary aspect of the art of poetry would readily supply us with
a boundless field of discursive observation and logical argument, which
I must, however, pass over in order that I may reserve space for more
weighty problems which lie before us. I merely propose, therefore, to
touch very briefly on a few fundamental points.

(_a_) Human art should in all its associations place us on a ground
quite other than that we confront in ordinary life, or indeed in
our religious consciousness, active life, or the speculations of
philosophy. This is possible on the side of literary or verbal
expression only in so far as another mode of speech is adopted than
that obtaining in those other spheres. Art has therefore not only,
from one point of view, to avoid that in its instrument of expression
which will fail to rise above the trivialities of ordinary speech
and ordinary prose, but it must, furthermore, avoid falling into the
tone and manner of religious edification and philosophical research.
Above all it must keep aloof from the precise analyses and _methods_
of the scientific faculty, the categories of pure thinking as we find
these illustrated in the logical forms of judgment and deduction.
These at once remove art from the imaginative realm to another region
altogether. But in all these respects it still remains a difficult
matter to determine the lines of boundary on which we may actually
affirm that poetry ends and prose begins. And in fact we may admit
absolute precision and confidence of statement to be impossible from
the nature of the case.

(_b_) If we pass now to a discussion of the particular _means_ which
poetic-speech can appropriate as instrumental to its task the following
points appear to me pregnant and suggestive.

(_α_) _First_, we find particular _words_ and exclamations[5] that are
obviously peculiar to poetry, whether they be used to ennoble it, or to
introduce the vulgarity and excess of comedy. We find a similar novelty
in the specific collocation of various words or turns of expression. In
such a field poetry is no doubt entitled on the one hand to borrow from
an obsolete nomenclature, obsolete at least in everyday speech, and on
the other to declare itself as pre-eminently an innovator, moulding
novel modes of speech. Such a field, provided only the vital genius of
the language is preserved, supplies material for astonishing boldness
of invention.

(_β_) _Secondly_, we have the problem of verbal order. It is here that
we meet with those so-called figures of speech, in so far as, we should
add, the same have reference to verbal embodiment as such. The use of
these, however, easily degenerates into rhetoric and declamation in
the bad sense of these terms; the vitality of individual character
is destroyed where we find that such forms substitute a fixed and
artificial mode of expression for the genuine impulse of feeling or
passion, and thereby offer the very opposite to the personal, laconic
and broken utterance required, the utterance whose emotional depth
is incapable of saying much, and for this reason, in romantic poetry
especially, is of great effect as a presentment of suppressed[6] states
of soul. But generally speaking we may admit that the relative order
of words is an instrument of the external form of poetry of quite
extraordinary resource.

(_γ_) _Thirdly_, we have still to draw attention to the construction
of _periods,_[7] which essentially embrace all the other aspects
of composition and which, by means of either their simple or more
involved course, their restless dislocations and distortions, or their
quick onward motion, their acceleration and their flood contribute so
materially to the reflection of such soul experience. And, in short, it
is essential that the external presentment in speech should mirror and
assume a character similar to the ideality of such experience in all
its variety.

(_c_) In the _application_ of the means of speech above considered it
will be useful to distinguish once more the several stages of poetic
thought to which they correspond and to which we drew attention when we
considered the nature of poetic conception or composition.

(_α_) Poetic diction can, in the first instance, appear with real
vitality among a people and at an epoch when the general speech is not
as yet perfected, but in fact only by virtue of its poetry receives
its real development. At such a time the utterance of the poet, as
generally expressive of soul-life, is from the first a real novelty,
which stirs admiration on its own account by revealing in its speech
what remained previously unveiled. This new creation appears as the
marvel of a gift and personal power. The weight of custom has not as
yet fallen upon it. It enables that which is buried in the depths of
the human heart for the first time to freely unfold itself before the
amazement of men. Under such conditions it is the native force of
the expression, the creation of the fact of speech, not so much the
varied and craftful elaboration of the same, which is the main point.
Diction here remains exceedingly simple. In such early times it is
indeed impossible that we should have either much fluency of idea or
any varied versatility of expression. The subject-matter of such poetry
is depicted with an artless directness, which has not yet attained the
delicate nuances, transitions, mediatory matter and other advantages of
a later artistic culture. In such an age the poet is in fact the first
person to give an utterance to the national voice, to express ideas in
speech, and thereby to encourage the imagination itself. Speech is,
if we may so express it, not yet inseparable from ordinary life, and
poetry can still freely, with an effect of freshness, avail itself
of all that in later times, as the speech of common life, gradually
is severed from art. In this respect, for example, Homer's type of
expression is to the modern man barely distinguishable from ordinary
speech. For every idea we have the direct word[8]; metaphorical
expressions are comparatively rare; and although the poem is composed
with a close attention to detail, the speech itself remains very simple
indeed. In a similar way Dante was able to create for his own nation
a vital form of poetic expression, and asserted in this, as in other
respects, the dauntless energy of his creative genius.

(_β_) When, however--this is a _further_ point--the circle of ideas
enlarges with the appearance of methodical modes of thought the ways
in which idea is associated with idea increase, and in this very
process the ability to use it increases also, and the expression of
speech is elaborated in all the fluency of which it is capable. When
this is so the position of poetry on the side of verbal expression is
wholly changed. In other words, we have now a nation possessing the
fully developed prose speech of everyday life, and poetic expression
must now, in order to retain its interest, swerve aside from ordinary
parlance, and receive a resurrection under the re-moulding energy of
genius.[9] In our daily life the contingency of the moment is the
motive of speech. In the creation of a work of art, however, we must
have deliberate circumspection[10] in the place of instantaneous
feeling; even the spirit of enthusiasm must be judiciously restrained.
The creation of genius should be permitted to unfold itself from the
artistic repose,[11] and become informed under the prevailing temper
of an intelligence[12] that surveys the whole with clarity. In former
times this spirit of concentration and tranquillity is to be inferred
from the fact and utterance of poetry itself. In a more recent age, on
the contrary, the nature of the composition and execution has itself to
enforce the distinction which obtains between the expression of poetry
and prose. In this respect poems which belong to epochs in which we
find already an elaborated prose diction differ essentially from those
of times and peoples in which the art originates.

The executive talent of a poet can be carried so far in this direction
that the elaboration of formal expression becomes the main thing, and
the aim is less directed to ideal truth than to formal construction, a
polished elegance and mere effect of the composition under its literary
aspect. We have then a situation, in which, as already observed,
rhetoric and declamation are elaborated in a manner destructive to the
ideal vitality of the poetic spirit. The formative intelligence asserts
itself under the principle of _purposiveness_, and a selfconsciously
regulated art disturbs that more genuine effect, which ought to present
the appearance of ingenuous openness and simplicity. Entire nations
have, with the rarest exceptions, failed to produce any type of poetic
creation other than this rhetorical one. The Latin language, even in
Cicero, still preserves a genuine ring of naïveté and naturalness.
With the Latin poets, however, such as Virgil, Horace and the rest,
we already feel that Art is to a real extent nothing but artifice,
elaboration of effect on its own account. We recognize a prosaic
content, which is merely set off with an external embellishment. We
find a poet who, in the absence of original genius, endeavours to
discover, in the sphere of literary versatility and rhetoric effects,
some compensation for that which in genuine power and effect of
creation and composition he fails to possess. France too, in the
so-called classical period of its literature, has produced poetry
very similar, a poetical style to which didactic poems and satires
are singularly appropriate. Rhetorical figures of speech in all their
variety are here in their rightful place. The exposition remains for
all that, as a whole, prosaic; and the literary expression is at its
best rich in image and embellishment, much in the style of Herder's
or Schiller's diction. These last-mentioned writers, however, availed
themselves of this style of literary expression mainly in the interests
of prose composition; and by the weightiness of their reflections and
the happy use of such a style knew how to win both a critical assent
and a hearty approval. The Spanish poets also are not wholly free from
the ostentation inseparable from the too self-conscious diction of
art. And, as a general rule, Southern nations, such as the Spaniards
and the Italians, and previously to them the Mohammedan Arabs and
Persians, are conspicuous for a wealth and tedious prolixity of image
and simile. With the ancients, more especially in the case of Homer,
the flow of expression is characterized by smoothness and tranquillity.
With the nations above mentioned, on the contrary, we have a vision
of life gushing forth[13] in a flood which, even where the emotions
are in other respects at rest, is ever intent upon expatiation, and
owing to this expressly volitional effort of the will is dominated by
an intelligence which at one time is visible in abrupt parentheses, at
another in subtle generalization, at another in the playful conjunction
of its sallies of wit and humour.

(_γ_) Genuine poetic expression in short is as far removed from all
rhetorical declamation as above described as it is from all ostentation
and witty conceits of diction, in so far at least as such defects do
injury to the ideal truth of Nature, and the claims of the content are
forgotten in the verbal form and expression of the composition. It is,
however, possible, despite of this, that the author's free enjoyment
in his work declare itself with real beauty. In a word that aspect of
the composition we define as formal diction ought not to be treated on
its own and independent account alone, or as an aspect of first and
even exclusive importance. And, generally speaking, in this analysis of
the composition of poetry under its formative aspect, we repeat that
what is the product of careful thought must not lose the appearance of
genuine spontaneity: everything should impress us as though it had of
itself blossomed from the ideal germ or heart of the subject-matter.


Our _third_ and final aspect of poetic expression is necessitated
by the fact that the imagination of the poet does not merely invest
ideas in words, but does so in the form of the uttered speech; and by
doing so he consequently enters the domain wherein our senses are made
aware of the actual sounds and music of speech. We are thus introduced
to versification. Versified prose may give us verses, but that is
not necessarily poetry. We have a parallel case in the merely poetic
expression of a composition in other respects prosaic with its result
of poetic prose simply. Yet for all that metre or rhyme is an essential
demand of poetry, bringing, as it were, a perfume of its own to the
senses; nay, it is even more essential than a richly imaginative and
so-called beautiful diction.

And in truth the artistic elaboration of this sensuous medium[14]
unfolds to us--it is the very demand of the art itself--another realm,
another field, which we only really enter after having left behind us
the prose of ordinary life, whether viewed as action or as literary
composition. The poet is thereby compelled to move in a literary
atmosphere outside the boundary of everyday speech, and to shape his
compositions with an exclusive regard to the rules and requirements of
Art. It is therefore only a superficial theory which would banish all
versification on the ground that it contradicts natural expression.
It is true that Lessing, in his hostility to the false pathos of the
French Alexandrine metre, attempted, more particularly in tragedy, to
introduce a form of prose speech as most appropriate. Both Schiller and
Goethe have, in the more stormy works of their youth, and under the
natural impulse of compositions carrying a greater surfeit of content,
adopted the same principle. But Lessing himself, in his Nathan,
finally returns once more to the iambic. And in the same way with his
Don Carlos Schiller deserted the old path. Goethe too was so little
satisfied with the earlier prosaic treatment of his Iphigeneia and
Tasso, that he transferred them to art's more proper domain, remoulding
them both from the point of view of expression and prosody in that
purer form, wherein these compositions continue and will continue to
excite our admiration.

No doubt the artificiality of the verse measure or the recurrent echoes
of rhyme has the appearance of an unyielding[15] bond between spiritual
ideas and the sensuous medium, more rigorous indeed than colour in
painting. External objects and the human form are coloured in Nature,
and the colourless is an arbitrary abstraction. The idea, on the
contrary, in association with the sounds of human speech, which are
employed in the wholly capricious symbols of their utterance, possess
only a distant or no ideal thread of connection at all. This being so,
the exacting demand of the prosodical rules will very readily appear
as a fetter to the imagination, in virtue of which it is no longer
possible for the poet to communicate his ideas in the precise form
in which they float upon his phantasy. The inference is natural that
although the stream of rhythm and the music of rhyme exercises upon us
as an unquestionable fascination, it is nevertheless not unfrequently
and too much so the demand of this very charm to our senses that the
finest poetic feeling and idea should be sacrificed. But the objection
for all that will not hold water. In other words it is not true that
versification is simply an obstruction to spontaneous movement. A
genuine artistic talent throughout moves in its sensuous material as in
its native element, which so far from being oppressive or a hindrance
acts as a stimulus and a support. And in fact we find that all really
great poets move with freedom and confidence in the measure, rhythm or
rhyme they have created; and it is only when they are translated that
our artistic sense is frequently pained or shocked at the attempt to
retrace their rhythm and melody. Moreover it is part of the liberality
of the art that the very circumstances of the restraint, involving
much change, concentration or expansion of the ideas expressed, should
suggest to our poet new thoughts, incidents and creations, which, apart
from such difficulties, had never crossed his mind. But in truth quite
apart from this relative advantage this sensuous and determinate form
of being--in the case of poetry the melodious chain of words--is once
for all essential to art. It is absolutely necessary that the result
should not remain in the formless and undefined stream that we have
in the immediate contingency of ordinary conversation. It must appear
in the vital design and elaboration of art. And although this form
no doubt in the music of poetry may sound too as a purely external
instrument, it has nevertheless to be treated as an end on its own
account, and as such as an essentially harmonious self-defined whole.
This attention, which is due to the medium of sense, contributes,
as in Art universally, and in the interest of seriousness,[16] yet
another point of view where we find this very austerity vanishes; both
poet and listener feel it no more. They are lifted into a region of
exhilarating charm and grace.

In painting and sculpture the artist is given the form in its material
and spatial limitations for the portrayal and colouring of human limbs,
rocks, trees, clouds and flowers. In architecture also the requirements
and objects of the buildings proposed dictate more or less the defined
shape given to walls, towers and roofs. In the same-way music already
possesses stable definition in the fundamental laws of harmony. In the
art of poetry, however, the sound of language to our aural sense is,
in the first instance, unbridled;[17] the poet has consequently to
regulate such absence of rule within objective limits, and to outline
a more stable conture, a more definite framework of sound for his
conceptions, their structure and their objective beauty.

Just as in musical declamation the rhythm and melody should accept and
adapt itself to the nature of the content, versification is also a
kind of music, which, at its own distance, is capable of essentially
re-echoing the mysterious, but none the less definite, course and
character of the ideas. Agreeably with this the verse-measure ought to
reflect the general tone and, as it were, the spiritual perfume of an
entire poem, and it is by no means a question of no consequence whether
the external form is one of iambics, trochaics, stanzas, alcaics or any
other metre.

In the heads of discussion we propose to follow of most importance are
_two_ systems, whose distinction from each other we shall endeavour
to explain. The _first_ is _rhythmical_ versification, which depends
upon the actual length or shortness of the verbal syllables, whether we
regard such in the association of varied figures of speech, or under
the relation of their time-movement.

The _second_ is that which is responsible for _tonal quality_ as such,
not merely in the case of isolated letters, consonants or vowels,
but also in that of entire syllables and words, the configuration of
which is in part regulated by the laws of the uniform repetition
of identical or similar sounds, and in part by those of symmetrical
change. It is to this system that we refer the alliteration, assonance
and rhyme.

Both systems stand in intimate connection with the prosody of speech.
This is so whether such systems are rather based throughout on the
actual length or shortness of syllables, or on the accent which the
mind requires,[18] as attached to the obvious importance of such

And, _finally_, we have also to _unite_ together this general
rhythmical movement with the music of the independent formal structure
as rhyme.[19] And in this effort, inasmuch as the repeated echo of the
rhyme strikes the ear with a marked emphasis, which asserts itself
predominantly over the purely temporal condition of duration and
advance, the rhythmical aspect will, in such a conjunction, tend to
fall back, and arrest our attention with less force.

(_a_) _Rhythmical Versification._

In discussing the rhythmical system which is without rhyme the
following points are of the most importance:

_First_, we have the firm and fast time-measure of syllables in their
plain distinction of _long_ and _shorty_ as well as their manifold
association with definite conditions and metres of poetry.

_Secondly_, we have the animation of rhythm in accent, caesura and
opposition between the verse accent and that of separate words.

_Thirdly_, there is the aspect of _euphonious sounds_ which, within
this movement, is forthcoming from the sound of the words, without any
further concentration in rhyme.

(_a_) For that rhythmical movement which the _time duration_ and the
movement itself makes of first importance rather than the melodic sound
as such and singled in its isolated effect, (_αα_) we find our starting
point in the _natural_ length and shortness of syllables to the obvious
distinctions of which the sound of the actual words, the expression
of their letters, in consonants and vowels, contribute the essential

Pre-eminently long by nature are the diphthongs ai, oi, ae, and the
rest, for the reason that essentially--whatever our modern schoolmaster
may say to the contrary--they are themselves a twofold, concrete tone,
which combines, much as green does among the colours. The long-sounding
vowels are equally so. As a third principle, which obtains already
in Sanscrit, no less than the Greek and Latin languages, we have
associated with them peculiar conditions of position. In other words,
if two or more consonants are placed between two vowels the relation
constitutes what is unquestionably a difficult transition in speech.
The organ of articulate utterance requires a longer period to pass
over the consonants; this necessitates a pause which, despite of the
presence of the short vowel, makes the syllable sound in its rhythm
long, though it is not actually lengthened. If I speak the words
for example_--mentem nec secus_--the movement from the one vowel to
the other in _mentem_ and _nec_ is neither as simple or easy as in
_secus_. More modern languages do not retain this last distinction with
such stringency, but rather give effect, in the matter of long and
short accent, to other criteria. But for all that syllables which are
treated as short, despite of the position referred to, at least will
not unfrequently create a harsh impression, because they obstruct the
quicker movement our ear demands.

In contradistinction to the long quantity we have in diphthongs, long
vowels and length created by position, we have the vowels which are by
nature _short_, that is, those which are short, or which are not placed
in words, where one of them and another immediately following are
separated by two or more consonants.

(_ββ_) For the reason, then, that words, partly on their own account,
as of several syllables, include a number of long and short beats, and
in part, although of one syllable, are nevertheless associated with
other words, we have thereby to start with a definite, but accidental
interchange of various syllables and words without any stable
measure. To regulate this accidental relation is just the function
of poetry, precisely as it was that of music to define with accuracy
the unregulated duration of particular tones by means of the unity
of time-measure. Poetry therefore establishes specific combinations
of long and short syllables as the law, by virtue of which, under the
aspect of _time-duration,_ it has to arrange the series of syllables.
What we therefore get in the first instance are the different
successions of time. The simplest is the mutual relation of pure
equality, as, for example, we find it in the dactyl and anapaest, in
which the two short syllables may coalesce according to definite rule
in two long syllables (the spondee). Secondly, a long syllable may be
placed next one short; in that case we have a profounder distinction of
derivation, though under its simplest form. Such are the iambus and the
trochee. We find a more complicated combination, when a short syllable
is interposed between two long ones, or one short precedes two long, as
in the cretic and bacchius.

(_γγ_) Such _isolated_ time-relations would, however, open the door
to unregulated contingency if they were permitted to follow one
another anyhow in their motley differences. In fact the entire aim
of such regulation would vanish under such conditions, in other
words the regulated series of long and short syllables. From another
point of view we should wholly fail to secure a definite beginning,
conclusion, and central position, so that the caprice which here
once again asserted itself would entirely contradict that which we
previously established, when considering musical time-measure and
beat, as to the relation in which the percipient ego stood to the
duration of tones. In other words, the ego requires a combination on
its own account,[20] a return out of the continuous forward movement
in time; and only seizes on the same in virtue of definite unities of
time and their, as such, emphasized commencement,[21] regulated in
their entire series and terminations. This is the reason why, in the
_third_ place, poetry also sets out the particular time-relations in a
series of _verse-lines,_[22] which in respect to the type and number
of their feet, no less than in that of their commencement, progress,
and conclusion, are subject to rule. The iambic trimeter, for instance,
consists of six iambic feet, of which any two constitute an iambic
dipody. The hexameter consists of six dactyls, which again, in certain
positions, may coalesce in spondees.

Moreover, as it is no objection to such lines of verse-writing that
they are repeated over and over again in the same or practically
under the same mode, we find in respect to the entire series, on the
one hand, a lack of definition so far as the one final conclusion is
concerned, and on the other a monotony, which creates perceptibly a
sense of deficiency in the ideal aspect of their manifold composition.
In order to mitigate such defects poetry makes a final advance in its
creation of the strophe and its varied organization, more particularly
with a view to lyric expression. As an illustration we have the elegiac
measure of the Greeks; there is also the alcaic and sapphic strophe,
not to mention the modes of lyric art elaborated by Pindar and the
famous Greek dramatists in their choric effusions or interludes.

However much, in their relation to time-measure, music and poetry
partake of similar conditions, we ought not, therefore, to fail to
draw attention to their dissimilarity. The most important feature
of this is that of the _beat._ The question whether there is any
real repetition measurable in time-beats of identical length in the
metre of the ancients has been the subject of strenuous controversy.
Generally speaking I think it may be affirmed that poetry, which uses
language in its words as a mere means of communication, is unable, in
respect to the time-length of its utterances, to subordinate the same
to an absolutely fixed measure of its movement in the abstract form
that is present in the time-beat of music. In music tone is simply
sound, without pause as such, and it essentially requires a stability
such as we find in the time-beat. Human speech does not require such
security, for one reason because it already possesses something fixed
and substantive in the idea, and for another because it is not thus
wholly committed to the objective medium of sound or resonance; rather
this very ideality of conscious life is the medium in which it consists
as art. For this reason poetry in fact discovers the more substantive
means of defining its arrest, continuance, pause or delay immediately
in the ideas and emotions which it clearly enunciates in language.
Music, too, in its recitatives, marks the beginning of a similar
process of separation from the immutable equality of the time-beat.
It follows from this that, if poetical metre were wholly subjugate to
the regularity of the time-beat, the distinction between music and
poetry, in this sphere at least, would vanish altogether, and the
element of time would receive a more predominant significance than is
compatible with the essential characteristics of poetry. Supported by
such a conclusion we may therefore insist that, though a _time-measure_
is of imperative value in poetry, there is no such necessity for the
abstract _time-beat_; meaning and signification[23] of the actual words
must here remain the relatively speaking more controlling force. If we
examine in this respect more closely the particular verse-measures of
the ancients the hexameter will no doubt appear most nearly attached to
a forward movement compatible with the stringency of the time-beat. The
elder Voss in fact assumed this, though, as a matter of fact, such an
assumption is already excluded by the catalexis of the last foot. When
in addition to this Voss proceeded to place the time-measure of the
alcaic and sapphic strophes on a similar basis of abstract equality, we
can only regard such a theory as a wilful caprice which does violence
to the poetry. The contention throughout is apparently due to the habit
of treating our German iambic in identical lengths of syllable measure
and time-measure. As a matter of fact the beauty of the iambic trimeter
of the ancients consisted above all in this, that it was not composed
of six iambic feet of identical lengths of time; but quite the contrary
in order that, in the first position of every dipody, spondees, or, in
their resolution, also dactyls and anapaests were permissible; and, by
reason of this, the monotonous repetition of the same time-measure, and
thereby all that is consistent with the time-beat, vanishes. We may add
that the possibility of change is yet more obvious in lyric strophes,
so that if we wish to establish such a thesis at all it must be on the
_à priori_ principle, that the time-beat is essentially necessary. As a
deduction from the plain facts we see nothing of the kind.

(_β_) With the introduction of the _accent_ and the _caesura_ we
have for the first time the animation of the time-measure; we may
parallel with this that rhythm in music, which we have discussed as the

(_αα_) In short in poetry also every definite time relation has, in
the first instance, its particular accent; in other words, regularly
defined intervals are asserted, which attract others and only in this
way are rounded off in a whole. Owing to this fact much play is given
to the _manifold possibilities_ of the value of syllables. On the one
hand generally long syllables appear emphasized in their contrast to
short, so that now, if the ictus falls upon them, their significance
is doubled as against the shorter, and in fact stand out themselves
as distinct from long syllables not thus accented. On the other hand,
however, it may also happen that shorter syllables receive the ictus or
accent, so that a similar emphasis is created to the one described in
the converse case.

Above all, as already observed, the beginning and termination of the
particular feet ought not with abstract precision to be identical with
the beginning and conclusion of single words. For, in the _first_
place, the reach forward[24] of the essentially exclusive word over
the termination of the foot of the line affects the connection of the
otherwise disparate rhythms. _Secondly_, when the verse accent falls on
the final sound of a word carried forward as above described, we get on
account of this in addition a distinct interval of time, the conclusion
of a word having already come to a pause in something else, so that it
is in fact this pause, which, in virtue of the accent united with it,
is expressly made perceptible as a segment of time in the otherwise
unbroken current. Caesuras of this sort are inevitable with every
kind of verse. For although the distinct accent already confers on
particular feet a more intimate and essential distinction, and thereby
a certain variety, this sort of animation, especially in the case of
verses, in which the same feet repeat each other without a break, as,
for example, in our iambic, remain for all that in a measure entirely
abstract and monotonous, and furthermore allow the particular feet to
fall apart without a common bond. It is this gray monotony which the
caesura checks, introducing a connection and more genuine animation
within what was otherwise, with its undifferentiated regularity, the
halting flow of verse, a life which, by virtue of the various positions
in which the caesura may assert itself, is itself as manifold as is
possible agreeably with the condition that its regulated definition is
held free from any approach to lawless caprice.

A _third_ accent is furthermore attached to the verse accent and
caesura, which the words in other respects and independently possess,
apart from their metrical employment. By this means the mode and
degree in which the particular syllables are emphasized or the reverse
increases in its variety. This verbal accent may, on the one hand,
no doubt appear in conjunction with the accent of the verse and
the caesura; and, if this is the case, the strength of the accents
respectively is increased. But from another point of view it may stand
independently of them on syllables which do not receive any further
emphasis, and which we may say, in so far as they moreover require
an accentuation to bring out their particular significance as verbal
syllables, assert an effect counter to the verse rhythm, an effect
which confers on the whole a novel and unique vitality.

To appreciate the beauty of rhythm in all the above aspects is for our
modern ears a very difficult matter, because in modern languages the
elements which combine to produce. this kind of metrical effect are no
longer in some measure present in the sharp and secure insistence they
possessed for the ancient world; rather we have other means substituted
for them, in order to satisfy other demands of artistic taste.

(_ββ_) But over and above all this, paramount over all valid claims of
syllables and words within their metrical position, there is, secondly,
the worth of that significance we gather from the line or verse as
_poetical idea._ It is in relation to this, which the language implies,
that its other metrical effects are either emphasized or, comparatively
speaking, are restrained as void of significance; and it is by this
means alone that the finest perfume of spiritual vitality is instilled
through the poetry. But notwithstanding this fact, such poetical effect
is not to be carried so far that it directly contradicts in this
respect the rules of metrical rhythm.

(_γγ_) Moreover, a _definite_ type of _content_ corresponds with the
entire character of a particular verse measure, particularly from the
point of view of rhythmical movement, and above all that particular
kind implied in the movement of our feelings. Thus, for example, the
hexameter, in the tranquil wave of its forward stream, is particularly
adapted to the even flow of epic narration. Where, however, it
is more in the nature of the strophe in its association with the
pentameter and its symmetrically consistent caesura, it is, in its
none the less generally simple regularity, fitted to express elegiac
emotion. The iambic again moves forward with rapidity, and as such is
peculiarly suitable to dramatic dialogue. The anapaest indicates the
clear-slipping march of joyful exultation. Other characteristics may
readily be associated with other modes of verse-measure.

(_γ_) _Thirdly_, this province of rhythmical versification is not
confined to the mere configuration and vivication of time-intervals; it
embraces the actual musical sound of syllables and words. In respect
to such sound, however, the classic languages, in which rhythm is
retained, as above described, as an essential feature, offer a real
contrast to other more recent ones more conspicuously adapted to rhyme.

(_αα_) In the Greek and Latin languages, for example, the stem
syllable is modified, by virtue of its modes of inflexion, through
an abundance of variously toned syllables, which of course possess
an independent meaning, but only as a modification of such syllable;
this consequently, it is true, asserts its force as the substantive
significance of that variously expanded sound, but it does not, so
far as its sound is concerned, stand forth as such in pre-eminent and
unique ascendancy. When we hear, for example, the word _amaverunt_,
three syllables are attached to the word, and the accent is already
substantially differentiated throughout the number and extension
of these syllables in direct relation to the stem syllable, even
assuming no naturally long ones had been included, by which means the
_fundamental significance_ and the emphasis of _accent_ are _separated_
from each other. In such a case consequently, and in so far as the
accentuation is not identical with the _main_ syllable, but falls on
another, which merely expresses an _incidental_ significance, the
ear can from this basis at once listen to the sound of the different
syllables and follow their movement, retaining, as it does, perfect
liberty to attend to that prosody peculiar to the word or phrase, and
finding itself then invited to incorporate within its rhythm these
naturally long and short syllables.

(_ββ_) The case of our modern German language is wholly different.
That which in the Greek and Latin languages is expressed, as above
described, by means of the prefix and suffix, and other modifications,
is in more modern languages for the most part resolved in verbs of
the stem syllable; the result of this is that the inflexion syllables
that have been in the former case unfolded in one and the same word,
with collateral meanings of a varied character, are now split up
and isolated in separate words. As illustrations of this we have
the constant employment of many subsidiary words denoting time, the
independent indication of the optative by means of distinct verbs,
the separation of pronouns, and other examples. By such means, on the
one hand, the word --which in the previous case adduced was expanded
in all the variety of tone which attached to its many syllables,
under which every accent of the root, that is the root idea, was
cancelled--persists as a simple totality concentrated in itself,
without appearing as a series of tones, which being, as they are, mere
modifications, do not, by virtue of their specific _sense,_ assert an
influence with such a strength that the ear is unable to attend to
their independent tonal quality and its temporal movement. And, on the
other hand, on account of this concentration the main significance is
moreover of such a force that it attracts the fall of the accent upon
itself exclusively; and just because the emphasis is thus fastened
upon the fundamental sense this very coalescence does not suffer the
quantity of the other syllables, whether long or short ones, to appear;
they are simply overwhelmed. The roots of the majority of words are
unquestionably as a general rule short, compact,[25] of one or two
syllables. If thus, as is for instance pre-eminently the case with our
mother tongue, these root-stems appropriate almost invariably the
accent to themselves, such an accent is to an overwhelming degree one
of the sense, _significance',_ not a definition, however, in which the
medium--that is, the utterance as sound--would be free, or could assert
the relation of the length, shortness, or accentuation of syllables
independently of the intelligible content of the words. Consequently a
rhythmical configuration of time-movement and emphasis liberated from
the stem syllable and its meaning can here no longer be maintained. We
have merely left us, in contradistinction to the former hearing of the
ample sound and duration of such long and short beats in their varied
juxtaposition, a general impression of sound,[26] which is apprehended.
entirely aloof from the accented fundamental syllable with its weight
of significance. And, indeed, apart from this, as we have seen, the
ramification of the stem into syllables as modified into particular
words is also an independent process. Such words receive thereby an
independent worth, and, while preserving their own significance, they
make us at the same time hear the identical coalescence of meaning
and accent, which we have observed in the case of the stem or root
word around which they are ranged. We are therefore forced to restrict
our attention to the sense of every word; and, instead of being
occupied with the natural length and shortness of syllables and their
sensuous[27] accentuation, are only able to hear the accent asserted by
the main and substantive meaning.

(_γγ_) In such modern languages the element of rhythm has little room
for its display, or at least the soul has little freedom left to
expatiate within it, because, as observed, time and the equable stream
of syllabic sound as emitted from its movement is superseded[28] by a
more ideal relation--that is to say, by the sense and meaning of the
words, and thereby the force of the more independent configuration of
rhythm is suppressed. We may in this connection compare the principle
of rhythmical versification with the plastic arts. We find in both that
the ideal significance is not as yet asserted in its independence, nor
does the former expressly define the length and accent of syllables,
but rather the meaning of the words is wholly blended with the sensuous
medium of the inherent time duration and sound, with a result that does
complete justice to the claim of such externality, wholly absorbed in
the ideal form and movement of the same. If, however, such a principle
is renounced, and yet despite of this, but in accordance with the
necessary demand of art, the sensuous medium is permitted to retain a
certain force of resistance as against the exclusive assertion of ideal
content,[29] in order to this end to divert the ear's attention,--in
the case that is, where what we may call the plastic moment of that
more ancient mode of syllabic quantity, as it is on its own account,
and the tonal quality inseparable from the general rhythm rather than
independently asserted --when this, as I say, has been destroyed, then
we have no other means[30] at hand save the express and artistically
configurated sound of articulate speech simply, and retained as
such in its isolation. And this leads us to our second main type of
versification--in other words, _rhyme._

(_b_) _Rhyme_

From an objective standpoint it is possible to seek to explain the
need of a novel treatment of language from the deterioration into
which the classical languages fell through their contact with foreign
relations. Such a development, however, lies in the nature of the
facts themselves. The earliest example of conformity with the ideality
of its content attempted by poetry is to be traced in the length and
shortness of syllables in independence from their significance, for the
mutual relations of which, caesurae and so forth, art elaborates its
rules, rules which it is true generally coincide with the character
of the content in its broad outlines, but which none the less, in
matters of individual detail, do not suffer either the length or
shortness of a syllable, nor its accent, to depend exclusively on the
intelligible significance making such a formal aspect subordinate,
to the point of entire detachment, to the same.[31] The more ideal,
however, and spiritual the represented idea becomes, the more it tends
to detach itself from this objective aspect, which increasingly fails
to present such ideality in plastic guise, and finally reaches a point
of self-concentration in which the, so to speak, corporeal element
of speech is in a measure wholly wiped away, and for the rest merely
asserts that wherein the intelligible significance is reposed as
necessary to its communication; all else is only admitted, by way of
by-play, as insignificant. Now romantic art, in respect to the entire
type of its conception and presentation, effects a similar passage
over to this concentrated synthesis of ideality, when it sets out in
search for the material which corresponds to this subjective content
in audible sound.[32] Following these lines romantic poetry also,
inasmuch as it generally lays most stress on the ideal tones[33] of
feeling, becomes absorbed in its preoccupation[34] with the distinct
and independent ring and tones of letters, syllables, and words;
perfecting such a process to its final satisfaction, as it learns,
either in their association with ideality, or in their connection with
the architectonically intelligible penetration[35] of such music,
to separate such syllabic and other verbal sounds or to relate or
interlace them one with another. From this point of view we may affirm
that it is not simply by way of accident that rhyme is elaborated in
romantic poetry. It is a necessary feature of it. The requirement of
soul-life, to discover itself again, is thereby more fully asserted,
and finds a real source of satisfaction in the identity of the rhyme,
which declares an indifference[36] to the unyielding laws of the
time-measure, and, by virtue of its recurrence of similar sounds, gives
exclusive effect to an effort which conducts the conscious self back
to itself. It is by this means that versification is made to approach
more closely the musical art as such, that is, the vivid tones of
soul-life itself, and is, from this point of view, liberated from the,
relatively speaking, gross material of human speech, in other words
from what we have referred to as the natural measure of quantity.

With regard to points of special interest in this subject, I will
confine myself to the following general observations:

_First_, upon the origin of rhyme.

_Secondly_, upon a few more definite features by which we may
distinguish the sphere of rhyme from that of rhythm in verse.

_Thirdly_, upon the types under which we may classify rhyme generally.

(_α_) We have already seen that rhyme belongs in its form to the art
of romantic poetry, which requires such a more pronounced emphasis of
its configurated syllabic sound posited thus on its own account. And it
is thus effected to the extent that the ideal activity of volition[37]
discovers its own presence by this means in the objective medium
of tone. Where such a need is asserted we have a mode of speech in
part meeting absolutely the conditions of form I outlined above when
discussing the necessity of rhyme; and in addition it makes use of the
old forms of language at hand, the Latin for example, which, though of
other constitution and mainly applicable to rhythmical versification,
it employs agreeably to the character of the new principle, or
reconstructs the same so far into a new language that the element of
rhythm disappears, and rhyme becomes, as in the Italian and French
languages, the matter of all importance.

(_αα_) In this respect we find throughout Christendom that rhyme is
introduced into Latin versification at a very early date with much
insistence, although, as observed, it rested on other principles.
These principles, however, are rather adapted from the Greek language;
and, so far from testifying to the fact that they originated from the
Latin speech itself, rather prove, under the modified character they
possess, a tendency which itself approaches the romantic type. In
other words, the poetry of Rome, on the one hand and in its earliest
days, discovered its source not in the natural length and shortness of
syllables, but rather measured the value of syllables relatively to
their accent; and in consequence of this it was only through a more
accurate knowledge and imitation of Greek poetry that the prosodical
principle of this was received and followed. And, moreover, the Romans
rendered more obdurate the flexible, joyous sensuousness of Greek
metres, more particularly by their use of more insistent pauses at the
caesura, as we find such not only in the hexameter, but also in the
alcaic and sapphic metres, hardening the effect thus to a structure of
more stringent outline and more severe regularity. And indeed, apart
from this, even in the full bloom of Latin literature, and from their
poets of finest culture, we have already plenty of rhymes. Thus from
Horace, in his _Ars poetica_ (verses 99-100), we get the following:

    Non satis est, pulchra esse poemata: dulcia _sunto,_
    Et quocunque volent, animum auditoris _agunto._

Though the poet was probably quite unconscious of the fact, it is
none the less a strange coincidence that, in the very passage in
which Horace enforces the obligation that poems should be _dulcia_,
we discover a rhyme. Similar rhymes occur in Ovid with still more
frequency. Even assuming such to be accidental, the fact remains
that they appear to have been not offensive to Roman ears, and might
consequently be permitted, although as isolated exceptions, to slip
into the composition. Yet the profounder significance of romantic
rhyme is absent from such playful exceptions. The former does not
assert the recurrent sound merely as sound, but the ideal content or
meaning implied in it. And it is precisely this which constitutes the
fundamental difference between modern rhyme and the very ancient rhyme
of the Hindoos.

As for the classical languages, it was after the invasion of barbarism,
and on account of the destruction of accentuation and the assertion of
that uniquely personal note of emotion referable to Christianity, that
the rhythmical system of verse passed into that of rhyme. Thus, in his
hymn to the Holy Spirit, Ambrosius entirely regulates the versification
according to the accent of the meaning expressed, and breaks into
rhyme. The first work of St. Augustine against the Donatists is in the
same way a rhymed song; and also the so-called Leonine versicles, as
expressly rhymed hexameters and pentameters, are easily distinguishable
from the accidental exceptions of rhyme previously noticed. These and
other examples like them mark the point of departure of rhyme from the
more ancient rhythmical system.

(_ββ_) Certain writers have no doubt attempted to trace the origin
of the new principle of versification in _Arabian_ literature. The
artistic education, however, of the famous poets of the East is of
later date than the appearance of rhyme in western Christendom; and any
Mohammedan art of a more early time exercised no real influence on the
West. We should, however, add that we find from the first in Arabian
poetry essential affinities with the romantic principle, in which the
knights of Europe, at the time of the crusades, very readily made
themselves at home; and consequently it is not difficult to understand
how, in the affinity of spiritual tendencies[38] which they shared,
and in which the poetry of Eastern Mohammedanism no less than Western
Christianity finds its source, though removed in the world from each
other, we meet for the first time and on its own independent footing a
novel type of verse writing.

(_γγ_) A _third_ source, to which again, independently of either
the influence of the classic languages or the Arabic, we may trace
the origins of rhyme and all that it implies, are the _Germanic_
languages, as we find them in their earliest Scandinavian development.
As illustration of this we have the songs of the ancient Edda, which,
though only in more recent times, collected and edited, unquestionably
date from a former age. In these, as we shall see later on, it is
not, it is true, the genuine rhyme-sound which is elaborated in its
perfection, but rather an effective emphasis upon particular sounds of
language, and a regularity defined by rule, with a definite repetition
of both aspects.

(_β_) Yet more important than the question of origin is the
characteristic _difference_ between the new system and the old. I have
already adverted to the fundamental feature of importance here; it only
remains to establish it more narrowly.

Rhythmical versification attained its most beautiful and richest
development in the field of Hellenic poetry, in which we may discover
the most eminent features of the type wherever it obtains. Briefly they
are as follows:

_First_, the sound, as such, of letters, syllables, or words does
not here constitute its material, but rather the syllabic sound in
its _temporal duration_, so that attention must neither exclusively
be directed to particular syllables or words, nor to the purely
qualitative similarity or identity of their sound. On the contrary, the
sound still remains in inseparable union with the static time-measure
of its specific duration; and in the forward movement of both the ear
has to follow the value of every separate syllable no less than the
principle which obtains in the rhythmical progression of all equally
together. _Secondly_, the measure of long and short syllables, no less
than that of rhythmical rise and fall, and varied animation derived
from more deliberate caesurae and moments of pause, depends upon the
_natural_ element of the language, without permitting any introduction
of that type of accentuation, by virtue of which the actual _meaning_
of the word leaves its impress on a syllable or a word. The
versification asserts itself in its collocation of feet, its verse
accent, its caesurae, and so forth in this respect as fully independent
as the language itself, which also, outside the domain of poetry,
already accepts accentuation from the natural quantity of syllables
and their relations of juxtaposition, and not from the significance of
the root-syllable. On this account, _thirdly_, we have as the vital
emphasis of certain syllables, first, the verse accent and rhythm,
and, secondly, all other accentuation, both of which aspects, in their
twofold contribution to the varied character of the whole, pass in and
out of one another without any mutual derangement or suppression; and
in like manner respectively they satisfy the claim of the poetical
imagination in fully admitting the expressiveness due, by virtue of the
nature of their position and movement, to words which, in respect to
their intelligible meaning, are of a greater importance than others.

(_αα_) The first alteration, then, effected by rhymed verse in
the previous system is this indisputable validity of _natural
quantity_,[39] If, therefore, any time-measure at all is permitted to
remain, it is compelled to seek for a basis for such quantitative pause
or acceleration, which it refuses any longer to find in the natural
quantity, of syllables, in some other province. And this, as we have
seen, can be no other than the intrinsic meaning of syllables and
words. It is this _significance_ which in the final instance determines
the quantitative measure of syllables, so long as such is still
regarded as essential at all, and by doing so transfers the criterium
from the purely objective medium[40] and its natural structure to the
ideal subject-matter.

(_ββ_) A further result follows from this of yet more importance. As
I have already pointed out, this collocation of the emphasis on the
significant stem-syllable dissipates that other independent diffusion
of it in manifold forms of inflexion, which our rhythmical system
is not yet forced to treat as negligible, in contrast to the stem,
because it deduces neither the natural quantity of syllables nor the
accent which it asserts from the intelligible significance. In the
case, however, where such an explication,[41] with its co-ordination
in verse-feet according to the quantity of syllables in their natural
stability, falls away the entire system therewith necessarily
collapses, which reposes on the time-measure and its laws. Of this
type, for example, is French and Italian poetry, the metre and rhythm
of which are absolutely non-existent as understood by the ancients. The
entire question is here merely one of a definite number of syllables.

(_γγ_) For such a loss there is only one possible compensation--that
of _rhyme._ In other words, if--this is one aspect--it is no longer
time-duration which receives objective expression, by means of which
the sound of syllables flows on freely in the even movement that
intrinsically belongs to them; if, furthermore, the intelligible
significance dominates over the stem-syllables, and coalesces with
the same without further organic expatiation into a determinate
unity, we have no sensuous medium, such as is able to maintain itself
independently of the time-measure, no less than this accentuation of
the stem-syllables, finally left to us other than just this syllabic

Such a sound, however, if it is to secure an independent attention,
must, in the _first_ place, be of a far more insistent kind than the
interchange of different tones, such as we met with in the older verse
metres; and its assertion must be of a far more overwhelming character
than the stress of syllables can lay claim to in ordinary speech.
What we now require has not only to compensate us for the loss of the
articulate time-measure, but it further undertakes to reassert the
sensuous medium in its opposition to that unqualified predominance of
the accentuated significance. For when once the conceptive content
has essentially attained the ideality and penetration of mind,[42]
for which the sensuous aspect of speech is of no importance, the
verbal sound must enforce itself still more positively and coarsely as
distinct from this ideality in order to arrest our attention at all.
In contrast, therefore, to the gentle movements of rhythmical euphony,
rhyme is a crude expedient,[43] which requires an ear by no means
either so trained or sensitive as that presupposed by Greek verse.
_Secondly,_ though it is true that rhyme does not here assert itself
so much as distinct from the meaning of the stem-syllables simply as
it does from the entire ideal content, yet it does at the same time
so far assist the natural verbal sound as to win for it a relatively
secure stability. But this object can only be attained if the
sound[44] of particular words affirms itself in exclusive distinction
from the resonance of other words, and thus secures an independent
existence, by virtue of which _isolation_ it satisfies the claims of
the formative aspect of the verbal medium in forceful beats of sound.
Rhyme is therefore, at least in its contrast to the evenly transfused
movement of rhythmic euphony, a detached exhibition of exclusive
tonal expression. _Thirdly,_ we found that it was the ideality of
the conscious self which, by virtue of its effort of ideal synthesis,
came into its own, and discovered its personal satisfaction in such
recurrences of sound. If, then, the means used in the older type of
versification, with its copious variety of structure, disappear, there
only remains, if we look at poetry, under the aspect of its _medium,_
to support this principle of self-recovery, the more formal repetition
of wholly identical or similar sounds, whereby again we are able to
unite under an intelligible scheme[45] the assertion and relation of
closely associated meanings in the rhyme-sounds of expressive words.
The metre of rhythmical verse we may regard as a variously articulate
interrelation of manifold syllabic quantities. Rhyme, on the contrary,
is from one point of view more material;[46] yet, on the other hand,
is itself more abstractly placed within this medium. In other words,
it is the mere recollection of mind and the ear of the recurrence of
identical or related sounds and significations--a recurrence in which
the poet is conscious of his own activity, recognizes, and is pleased
to recognize, himself therein as both agent and participant.

(_γ_) Finally, on the question of the particular _types_ under which we
may classify this more modern system of romantic poetry, I only propose
to advert briefly to what appears to me of most importance in respect
to alliteration, assonance, and ordinary rhyme.

(_αα_) The first, or at least the most thorough, example of
_alliteration_ is that we find elaborated in the earliest Scandinavian
poetry, where it supplies the fundamental basis, whereas assonance
and the terminal rhyme, albeit these two aspects play a by no means
unimportant part, are, however, only present in certain particular
kinds of such poetry. The principle of alliterative rhyme, letter
rhyme, is rhyme in its most incomplete form, because it does not
require the recurrence of the entire syllable, but only that of one
identical letter, and primarily the initial letter only. Owing to
the weakness of this type of recurrent sound it is, in the first
place, therefore necessary that only such words should be used in
its service, which already independently possess an express accent on
their first syllable; and, secondly, these words must not be remote
from one another, if the identity of their commencement is to make a
real impression on the ear. For the rest, alliterative letters may be a
vowel, no less than a double or single consonant; but it is primarily
consonants which are of most importance in the scheme. Based on such
conditions, we find in Icelandic poetry[47] the fundamental rule that
all alliterative rhymes require accentuated[48] syllables, whose
initial letters must not in the same lines occur in other substantives
which have the accent on the first syllable; and, along with this, of
the three words, the initial letters of which constitute the rhyme,
two must be found in the first line, and the third, which supplies the
dominant alliteration, must be placed at the commencement of the second
line. We may add further that, in virtue of the abstract character
of this identical sound of initial letters, words are generally made
alliterative proportionally to the importance of their signification.
We find, therefore, that here, too, the relation of accented sound to
the meaning of words is not entirely absent. I cannot, however, pursue
this subject into more detail.

(_ββ_) _Secondly_, _assonance_ has nothing to do with initial letters,
but makes a nearer approach to rhyme in so far as it is a recurrence
in identical sound of the same letters in the middle or at the
termination of different words. It is not necessary, of course, that
these assonant words should in all cases come at the conclusion of
a line; they may fall into other places. Mainly, however, it is the
concluding syllables of lines which come into this mutual relation of
assonance, as contrasted with alliteration which is effective rather at
the line's commencement. In its richest elaboration we may associate
this assonance of language with the Romance nations, more especially
the Spanish, whose full-toned language is peculiarly adapted to this
recurrence of the same vowels. As a rule, no doubt assonance is here
restricted to vowels. But the language further permits of other variety
of assonance, not only that of vowels, but also that of identical
consonants and consonants in association with one vowel.

(_γγ_) That which, as above described, alliteration and assonance are
only able to establish with incompleteness is abundantly fulfilled by
_rhyme._ In it, and expressly to the exclusion of initial letters, we
have asserted the wholly equable sound of entire verb stems,[49] which
are, by virtue of this equability, brought into an express relation
with their tonal utterance. We have no mere question now of the number
of the syllables. Words of one syllable, no less than others of two or
more, may be rhymed. By this means we not only get the masculine rhyme,
which is restricted to words of one syllable, but also the feminine
rhyme, which embraces words of two syllables, as also the so-called
gliding rhyme, which reaches to three or even more syllables. It is
in particular the languages of Northern Europe which incline to the
first type, Southern languages to the second, such as the Italian and
Spanish. The German and French languages would appear to lie between
these two extremes. Rhymes of more than three syllables are rarely to
be met with in any language.

The position of the rhyme is at the conclusion of the lines, in
which the rhyming word, although there is certainly no reason that
it should ever concentrate in itself the ideal expressiveness of the
significance, nevertheless does attract attention to itself so far as
the verbal sound is concerned; and, furthermore, it makes the different
verses or stanzas follow one another either in accordance with the
principle of a wholly abstract recurrence of the same rhyme, or by
uniting, separating, and mutually relating them in a more elaborate
mode of regulated change, and variously symmetrical interweaving of
different rhymes with correspondent relations, sometimes more near,
at others more remote, of every degree of complexity. In such a
process the particular rhymes will at one point stare us in the face
at once, or they will appear to have a game of hide-and seek; so that
in this way our ear, as it listens, will at one time receive instant
satisfaction, at another it will only find it after considerable delay,
wherein the expectation will, as it were, be coquetted with, deceived,
and kept on the stretch, until the assured end from point to point of
artistically arranged recurrence is reached, and with it the hearer's

Among the various types of the poetic art it is pre-eminently _lyric_
poetry, which, by virtue of its ideality and personal quality of
expression, most readily avails itself of rhyme, and thereby converts
language itself into a music of emotion and melodic symmetry, a
symmetry not merely of time-measure and rhythmical movement, but of
the kind of resonance which finds a responsive echo in the inner life
itself. To promote this, therefore, the art elaborates in its use
of rhyme a more simple or complex system of strophes, every one of
which is part of one organic whole. Examples of such an interplay of
melodic sound, whether steeped in emotion or rich in ingenuity, are the
sonnet, canzonet, triolet, and madrigal. Epic poetry, on the contrary,
so long as it does not mingle lyrical subject-matter with its more
native character, preserves a more equable advance in its construction,
which does not easily adapt itself to the strophe. We have an obvious
illustration of this in the triplet stanzas of Dante's "Divine Comedy,"
as contrasted with the lyrical canzonets and sonnets of the same poet.
However, I must not permit myself to go further into detail.

(_c_) Now that we have in the above investigation separated rhythmical
versification from rhyme, and _contrasted_ the same, we may now
proceed, _thirdly_, to ask ourselves whether a _combination_ of the
two is not also intelligible, and, indeed, actually employed. The
existence of certain more recent languages will render exceptional and
important aid to the solution; in other words, we cannot deny to these
either a partial reassertion of our former rhythmical system, or, in
certain respects, an association of the same with rhyme. We will, for
example, confine our attention to our mother tongue, and, in reference
to the first-mentioned aspect, it will be sufficient to recall
Klopstock, who would have as little of rhyme as possible; who not
merely in epic, but also in lyrical poetry, set himself to imitate the
ancients with the greatest enthusiasm and persistency. Voss and others
have followed in his steps, ever striving to enforce with increased
strictness principles upon which to base this rhythmical treatment of
our language. Goethe, on the contrary, never felt quite himself in his
classical syllabic measures. He asks himself, not without reason:

    Stehn uns diese weiten Falten
    Zu Gesichte, wie den Alten?[50]

(_α_) I will in this connection merely reiterate what I already
have observed upon the distinction which exists between ancient and
more modern languages. Rhythmical versification is based upon the
_natural_ quantity of syllables, possessing therein an essentially
stable criterion, which the ideal expression can neither limit,
alter, or weaken. Such a natural measure is, however, abhorrent to
more recent languages; in these it is only the _verbal_ accent of the
ideal significance, which makes one syllable long in its contrast to
others, which are defective in such significance. Such a principle
of accentuation, however, does not supply any audible compensation
for the absence of the natural quantity, or rather it adds to the
actual uncertainty of such a measure. For the more strongly emphasized
significance of a word can at the same time make another short, despite
the fact that, taken by itself, it possesses a verbal accent, so that
the criterion accepted is wholly one of mutual relation. _Du liebst,_
can, for instance, according to the stress of the emphasis which is
thrown, according to the sense intended, either on both words, or one
or the other, be a spondee, iambus or trochee. No doubt the attempt has
been made, even in our own tongue, to return to the _natural_ quantity
of syllables, and to create rules with this intent; but in the presence
of the overwhelming importance that the intelligible significance and
the accent it asserts has secured such a reference to theory is quite
impracticable. And in truth this agrees with the state of the facts.
If the natural measure is really to constitute the essential basis,
the language ought not as yet to have become such an instrument of
soul expression as it is of necessity in our own times. Once allow,
however, that it has already in its course of development thus secured
such a mastery of the intelligible purport over the sensuous or native
material, and it follows that the fundamental test for the value of
syllables is not to be deduced from the objective quantity itself, but
rather from that whereof words are themselves indicative as means. The
emotional impulse of a free intelligence refuses to allow the temporal
activity of language, as such, to establish itself in the independent
form of its native and objective reality.

(_β_) Such a conclusion, however, does not necessarily imply that we
are forced to oust altogether from our German language the rhymeless
rhythmical treatment of the syllabic measure; it merely in essential
respects points to this, that it is not possible, conformably with the
character of the structure of our modern speech, to retain the plastic
consistency of the metrical medium as it was secured by the ancient
world. We must consequently seek for and elaborate some further element
in poetical composition by way of compensation, which on its own
independent account is of a more ideal[51] character than the stable
natural quantity of syllables. Such an element is the accent of the
verse, no less than the caesura, which as now constituted, instead of
moving independently of the verbal accent, coalesce with the same, and
thereby receive a more significant, albeit a more abstract assertion,
in virtue of the fact that the variety of that previous threefold
accentuation, which we discovered in the rhythmical type of classical
poetry, on account of this very coalescence necessarily disappears.
It, however, equally follows as a result that we only retain the power
with conspicuous success to imitate the rhythmic movement of such
poetry where its impression on our ear is most emphatic. We no longer
possess, that is to say, the stable quantitative basis for its more
subtle distinctions and manifold connections, and the more crude mode
of accentuation, which we do possess in its place, to emphasize our
measure, is intrinsically no sufficient substitute.

(_γ_) To state, then, finally, what this actual _association_ of the
rhythmical mode of verse with rhyme is, we may go so far as to affirm
that it is the absorption, although to a limited extent, by the more
modern form of versification of the more ancient one.

(_αα_) The predominant distinction of the natural syllabic quantity
by means of the verbal accent is in fact not an entirely satisfactory
principle of the _mere medium._ It does not arrest the ear's attention,
even on the side of sense simply, so far as to make it appear,
absolutely and everywhere unnecessary, where the ideal aspect of the
poetical content is paramount, to summon the complementary assistance
of the sound and response of syllables and words.

(_ββ_) It is, however, at the same time necessary in the interest
of metre that an equally strong contrasting force should be set up
to that of the rhyme sound. In so far, however, as it is _not_ the
distinction of syllables in their natural quantity and _its variety_,
which has to be co-ordinated and made predominant, we have, in respect,
to this temporal relation, no other expedient left but the _identical
repetition_ of the same time-measure; in this the element of accented
_beat_ will tend to assert itself in a far more emphatic degree, than
is compatible with the rhythmical system. As an illustration we have
our German rhymed iambics and trochaics, in the recitation of which
far more beat stress is admitted than is proper to the scansion of the
unrhymed iambics of the ancients, although the caesura pause is capable
of bringing into emphatic relief isolated words whose accent is mainly
referable to their meaning, and is capable of further making all that
remains dependent upon them a resisting effect to the abstract equality
of the verse, and by so doing introduces a varied animation. And as
in such a particular case, so we may assert generally, the time-beat
cannot be of actual service in poetry with the force that is required
of it in most musical compositions.

(_γγ_) Although, however, we may affirm it as a general rule that
rhyme should be associated merely with such verse metres, which, by
virtue of their simple changes of the syllabic quantity and their
continuous recurrence of similar verse feet, do not on their own
independent account give sufficiently effective modality to the element
of sensuous medium in modern languages which admit at all of rhythmical
treatment, yet the application of rhyme to the more profuse syllabic
metres imitated from classical models, as, for instance, to borrow
one example only, the alcaic and sapphic strophe, will not merely
appear superfluous, but even an unresolved contradiction. Both systems
repose on opposed principles, and the attempt to unite them in the way
suggested, can only involve us in a like opposition, which can produce
nothing but a contradiction we are unable to mediate, and which is
therefore untenable. It follows, therefore, that we ought only to make
use of rhyme in cases where the principle of the older versification
merely makes itself effective in more remote implication, and through a
transitional process essentially deducible from the system of rhyme.

The above, then, are the points which we have sought to establish as,
in a broad sense, of most vital concern to poetical expression in its
contradistinction from prose.

[Footnote 1: _Bildlich,_ here not so much creative as simply plastic or

[Footnote 2: _Vorliebe._ His interest must be already centred in it.]

[Footnote 3: _Bildlichkeit_, _i.e._, their claims as images of something

[Footnote 4: _Vertauscht._ I have translated "exchanged," but Hegel may
mean "mistaken for."]

[Footnote 5: It is not very clear what Hegel means by the word
_Bezeichnungen._ "Turns of expression," which first occurred to me,
appears to be covered by _Flexionsformen_ lower down.]

[Footnote 6: _Gedrungenen._ The idea is suppression into a compact
mass--a cloud unable to burst save in occasional flashes.]

[Footnote 7: I presume Hegel refers here to the synthetic arrangement
of genuine paragraphs rather than phrases, composition generally.]

[Footnote 8: _Das eigentliche Wort_. The word, that is, which expresses
the fact in its immediacy.]

[Footnote 9: More literally, "being remoulded with the life and wealth
of Spirit."]

[Footnote 10: _Besonnenheit_, _i.e.,_ real thought-fullness.]

[Footnote 11: _Der künstlerischen Ruhe._ The personal predilection of
Hegel for classic art here once more asserts itself.]

[Footnote 12: The German word is _Sinnen_, but I think, though the
emotional sense is partly implied, the main emphasis is on a presiding
mind--or rather a wide-visioned genius.]

[Footnote 13: _Eine sprudelnde Anschauung._ A view of things that
bubbles forth like a fountain.]

[Footnote 14: That is, the medium of literary form.]

[Footnote 15: _Ein hartes Band._ The idea is not so much difficult as
unyielding, unmalleable.]

[Footnote 16: _Zum Ernste des Inhalts_. That is, the earnestness of
a product of mind as such. Hegel seems to contrast with this the
spontaneity of an art which, as inspired by genius, comes to us with
the freshness of Nature herself, take Shakespeare's songs for example.]

[Footnote 17: _Ungebunden._ That is, it is contingent.]

[Footnote 18: Hegel calls this the _Verstandesaccent_, and speaks of
this importance (_Bedeutsamkeit_) as a product of the syllables.]

[Footnote 19: I presume the words _das für sich gestaltete Klingen_
refer to rhyme.]

[Footnote 20: _Eine Sammlung in sich_, that is, an independent
collection or aggregate.]

[Footnote 21: _Anheben_ may possibly mean appearance in the defined
series generally.]

[Footnote 22: By _Versen_ Hegel means rather lines than a number of

[Footnote 23: The dative appears to be a misprint. The passage should
be read _der_ and _die,_ instead of _dem_ and _der_.]

[Footnote 24: I am not quite sure what Hegel refers to in what he
describes as _das Hinübergreifen des Wortes._ I presume he means what
are known as weak endings to a line.]

[Footnote 25: _Gedrungen._ I suppose this is the meaning. The entire
passage is a difficult one to follow.]

[Footnote 26: _Ein allgemeines Hören._]

[Footnote 27: That is, the accent of the syllables as a mere medium of
uttered speech.]

[Footnote 28: Lit., has its flank turned, _überflügelt._]

[Footnote 29: _Die blosse Vergeistigung._]

[Footnote 30: No other means to divert the ears attention. The sentence
is rather involved, and I have not seen my way to simplify it.]

[Footnote 31: _Abstract unterworfen._ Hegel apparently means abstract
as detached from the natural medium of language--becoming thereby the
abstract symbol of idea exclusively.]

[Footnote 32: As in musical art.]

[Footnote 33: _Seelen-tonen_, _i.e.,_ the wave and flow of the
emotional life itself.]

[Footnote 34: _In das Spielen_. Hegel repeats his use of the expression
above, _beiher Spielen_, lit., the playing with not as a toy but as
something serious.]

[Footnote 35: I suppose this is the meaning here of _Sharfsinn,_ but
"subtlety" may be included.]

[Footnote 36: Indifferent, that is, as asserting the creative freedom
of the poet, he can select his own rhymes as he wills. Hegel, however,
seems rather to miss the essential spontaneity of really good blank

[Footnote 37: So I translate _die innere Subjectivität_, but it may
refer perhaps to the entire creative personality.]

[Footnote 38: That is, I presume, their relation to romantic art.]

[Footnote 39: That is, the primary feature changed is that of the
validity of natural quantity.]

[Footnote 40: _Dem Äusseren Daseyn._ That is, of language.]

[Footnote 41: _Entfaltung._ Such an explication of rhythmical euphony
as the previous system discloses.]

[Footnote 42: _Geistes._ All that pertains to conscious life.]

[Footnote 43: Lit., a blunt or coarse sound, _ein plumpes Klingen._]

[Footnote 44: _Tonen_ implies sound no less than accent. I have
rendered it in various ways.]

[Footnote 45: _Von Seiten des Geistes._ Perhaps rather "as aspects of
the poet's intelligence"--that is, with reference to the self-assertion
above explained.]

[Footnote 46: More nearly related to the natural medium of language.]

[Footnote 47: _Die Verslehre der Isländer v. Rask, verd. von Mohnike_,
Berlin, 1830, pp. 14-17.]

[Footnote 48:_Betonte_, see above note on _Tonen._]

[Footnote 49: _Stämme_, the stem of verbs, rather than the root of
substantives, which would be more correctly _stammwort._]

[Footnote 50: "Do we moderns face broad reaches such as these, as
did the ancients?" _Falten_, folds, expatiation of subject-matter.
I presume, though I do not recall the context, that the allusion is
mainly to elegiacs.]

[Footnote 51: _I.e._, more related to active intelligence.]



The two fundamental aspects, according to which we have hitherto
examined the poetical art were, in the first instance, that of poetical
significance or content _in the broadest sense_, the nature of the
outlook of a poetical composition and the creative activity of the
poet; secondly, poetical _expression,_ not merely respectively to the
ideas which have to be embodied in _words,_ but also to the modes under
which they are expressed and the character of _versification._

I. What we, above all, in these respects endeavoured to enforce
consisted in this, that poetry has to embrace the ideality of
conscious life as its content; yet, in its artistic elaboration of
the same, it cannot rest satisfied with the objective form of direct
perception as other plastic arts; nor can it accept as its form the
emotional ideality which alone reverberates through our soul-life,
nor yet that of thinking and the relations of reflective thought.
It has to maintain a mediate position between the extremes of
immediate objectivity and the inner life of feeling and thought. This
intermediate sphere of conception overlaps both sides. From thought it
borrows the aspect of ideal _universality,_ which binds together the
immediate particularity of the senses in more definitive simplicity;
while, on the other hand, its mode of envisagement shares with plastic
art the haphazard[1] juxtaposition of objects in space. The poetic
imagination, moreover, is essentially distinct from thinking in that it
permits, under the mode of sensuous apprehension from which it starts,
particular ideas to remain in an unrelated series or contiguity; pure
thinking, on the other hand, demands and promotes the reciprocal
dependence of determinate concepts on each other, an interstructure of
relations, consequential or conclusive judgments, and so forth. When,
therefore, the _poetical_ imagination in its art-products renders
necessary an ideal unity of all particularity, such integration
may easily meet with obstruction by virtue of the above-mentioned
diffuseness[2] which the nature of its content forbids it wholly to
eschew; and it is just this which puts it in the power of poetry to
embody and present a content in organic and vital inter-connection of
successive aspects and divisions, yet impressed at the same time with
the apparent independence of these. And by this means it is possible
for poetry to extend the selected content at one time rather in the
direction of abstract thought, at another rather under the condition
of the phenomenal world, and consequently to include within its survey
the most sublime thoughts of speculative philosophy, no less than the
external objects of Nature, always provided that the former are not put
forward in the logical forms of ratiocination and scientific deduction,
or the latter as void of all vital or other significance. The function,
in short, of poetry is to present a complete world, whose ideal or
essential content must be spread before us under the external guise of
human actions, events, and other manifestations of soul;life, with all
the wealth and directness compatible with such art.

2. This explication, however, does not receive its sensuous embodiment
in stone, wood, or colour, but exclusively in language, whose
versification, accentuation, and the rest are in fact the trappings[3]
of speech, by means of which the ideal content secures an external
form. If we ask ourselves now, to put the thing somewhat crudely,
where we are to look for the _material_ consistency of this mode of
expression, we must reply that language is not essentially on all fours
with a work[4] of plastic art, independent, that is, of the artistic
creator, but it is the _life of our humanity itself_ the individual
speaker alone who is the vehicle of the sensuous presence and actuality
of a poetical work. The compositions of poetry must be recited, sung,
acted, reproduced, in short, by living people, just as the compositions
of music are so reproduced. We are no doubt accustomed to read epic
and lyric poetry, and only to hear drama recited and to see the same
accompanied by gesture. Poetry, however, is essentially and according
to its notion, _sonorous expression_, and we may, in particular, not
dispense with this, if a complete exposition of the art is our aim,
for the reason that it is the aspect and the only aspect, under which
it comes into genuine contact with objective existence. The printed
or written letter is, no doubt, also in a sense objectively present,
but it is merely as the indifferent symbol of sounds and words. We
no doubt have in a previous passage regarded words as the purely
external means which give us the signification of ideas. We must not,
however, overlook the fact that poetry, at any rate, so informs the
temporal element and sound of these signs, as to ennoble them in a
medium suffused with the ideal vitality of that, whereof, in their
abstractness, they are the symbols. The printing press merely makes
visible to our eyes this form of animation under a mode which, taken
by itself, is essentially indifferent and no longer coalescent with
the ideal content; it consigns it, in its altered form of visibility,
to the element of time-duration and the sound of ordinary speech,[5]
instead of giving us in fact the accented word and its determinate
time-duration. When we, therefore, content ourselves with mere reading
we do so partly owing to the ease with which we can thus picture to
ourselves what is real as actually uttered in speech, partly because
of the undeniable fact that poetry alone among the arts, in aspects
of fundamental importance, is already completely at home in the life
of spirit, and neither the impression of it on our sense of sight or
hearing give us the root of the matter. Yet for all that, precisely
by virtue of this ideality, poetry, as art, ought not wholly to
divest itself of this aspect of objective expression, if at least it
is anxious to avoid an incompleteness similar to that in which, for
instance, the mere outlined drawing attempts to reproduce the picture
of famous colourists.

3. As an artistically organic whole referred no longer to a specific
type of exclusive execution on account of the onesided character of its
medium, the art of poetry accepts in a general way for its determinate
form various types of art-production, and it is consequently necessary
to borrow the _criteria_ of our _classification_ of such _poetical
types_ or species from the _general_ notion of artistic production.[6]

(_A_) In this respect it is, _first,_ and from one point of view,
the form of objective reality, wherein poetry reproduces the evolved
content of conscious life in the ideal image, and therewithal
essentially repeats the principle of plastic art, which makes the
immediate object of fact visible. These plastic figures of the
imagination poetry furthermore unveils as determined in the activities
of human and divine beings, so that every thing, which takes place,
issues in part from ethically self-subsistent human or divine forces,
and in part also, by virtue of obstructive agencies, meets with a
reaction, and thus, in its external form of manifestation, becomes an
_event,_ in which the facts in question disclose themselves in free
independence, and the poet retires into the background. To grasp such
events in a consequential whole is the task of _Epic_ poetry, inasmuch
as its aim is just to declare poetically, and in the form of the actual
facts, either an essentially complete action, or the personalities,
from which the same proceeds in its substantive worth or its eventful
complexity amid the medley of external accidence. And by so doing it
represents the _objective_ fact itself in its objectivity.

And, moreover, the minstrel does not recite this positive world before
conscious sense and feeling in a way that would seem to announce it as
his personal phantasy, and his own heart's passion; rather this reciter
or rhapsodist recites it by heart, in a mechanical sort of way, and
in a metre which, while it repeats something of this monotony with
its uniformity of structure, rolls onward in a tranquil and steady
stream. What, in short, the minstrel narrates must appear as a part
of real life, which, in respect to content no less than presentation,
stands in absolute independence aloof from himself, the narrator; he is
throughout, in relation that is to the facts of his tale no less than
the manner in which he unfolds them, not permitted wholly to identify
his own personality with their substance.

(_B_) In direct contrast to epic poetry we have our _second_ type, that
namely of _lyrical_ poetry. Its content is that within ourselves, the
ideal world, the contemplative or emotional life of soul, which instead
of following up actions, remains at home with itself in its own ideal
realm, and, consequently, is able to accept _self-expression_ as its
unique and indeed final end. Here we have, therefore, no substantive
totality, self-evolved as external fact or event, but the express
outlook, emotion and observation of the individual's self-introspective
life shares in what is substantive and actual therein as its own, as
its passion, mood or reflection; we have here the birth of its own
loins. Such a fulfilment and ideal process is not adequately realized
in a mechanical delivery such as we saw was conceded as appropriate
to epic poetry. On the contrary the singer must give utterance to the
ideas and views of lyrical art as though they were the expression of
his own soul, his own emotions. And inasmuch as it is this _innermost
world_, which the delivery has to animate, the expression of it will
above all lean to the musical features of poetical reproduction;
whether permitted as an embellishment or a necessity we shall here meet
with the varied modulation of the voice, either in recitation or song,
and the accompaniment of musical instruments.

(_C_) Our _third_ and final mode of poetical composition unites the
two previous ones in a new totality. In this we not only discover an
_objective_ exposition, but also can trace its source in the ideal life
of particular people; what is objective here is therefore portrayed
as appertinent to the conscious life of individuals.[7] To put the
case conversely, the conscious life of individuals is on the one hand
unfolded as it passes over into actual life experience, and on the
other as involved in the fatality of events, which brings about passion
in causal and necessary connection with the individual's own action.
We have here, therefore, as in Epic poetry, an action expanded to our
view in its conflicts and issues; spiritual forces come to expression
and battle; the element of contingency is everywhere involved, and
human activity is either brought into contact with the energy of
an omnipotent destiny, or a directive and world-ruling Providence.
Human action, however, does not here only pass before our vision in
the objective form of its actual occurrence, as an event of the Past
resuscitated by the narrative alone; on the contrary, it is made to
appear as actually realized in the particular volition, morality or
immorality of the specific characters depicted, which thereby become
central in the principle of _lyric_ poetry. Add to this, however, that
such individuals are not merely disclosed in their inner experience
as such; they also declare themselves in the execution of passion
directed to ends; whereby they offer a criterion--in the way that
epic poetry asserts what is substantive in its positive reality[8]
for the evaluation of those passions and the aims which are directed
to the objective conditions and rational laws of the concrete world;
and it is, moreover, by this very test of the worth and conditions,
under which such individuals continue in their resolve to abide, that
their destiny is discovered by implication. This objective presence,
which proceeds from the personality itself, no less than this personal
experience,[9] which is reproduced in its active realization and all
that declares its worth in the world, is Spirit in its own living
totality; it is this which, as _action_, supplies both form and content
to _dramatic poetry._

Moreover, inasmuch as this concrete whole is itself no less essentially
conscious life than it is, under the aspect of its external
realization, also a self-manifestation, quite apart from all question
of local or other artistic means of realization, we are bound, in
respect to this representation of actual facts, to meet the claim of
genuine poetry that we should have the _entire personality_ of the
individual envisaged; only as such the living man himself is actually
that which is expressed. For though, on the one hand, in the drama, as
in lyric poetry, a character ought to express the content of its own
soul-life as a veritable possession, yet, from another point of view,
it asserts itself, when, in its entire personality it is confronted
with other personalities, as effective in its practical existence, and
comes thereby into active contact with the world around it, by means
of which it attaches itself immediately to an active disposition,[10]
which, quite as truly as articulate speech, is an expression of the
soul-life, and requires its artistic treatment. Already we find in
lyrical poetry some close approach to the apportionment of various
emotions among different individual speakers, and the distribution of
its subject-matter in acts or scenes.

In the drama, then, subjective emotion passes on likewise to the
expression of action; and, by so doing, renders necessary the
manifestation to our senses of the play of gesture which concentrates
the universality of language in a closer relation with the expression
of personality,[11] and by means of position, demeanour, gesticulation
and other ways is individualized and completed. If, however, this
aspect of deportment is carried forward by artistic means to a degree
of expression, that it can dispense with speech, we have the art of
pantomime, which resolves the rhythmical movement of poetry in a
harmonious and picturesque motion of limbs, and in this, so to speak,
plastic music of bodily position and movement gives animated life in
the dance to the tranquil and cold figures of sculpture, that it may
essentially unite by such means music and the plastic art.

[Footnote 1: _Gleichgültige_, that is, the impressions of sense are
received from without, from a manifold indifferent to ourselves.]

[Footnote 2: _Losheit._ A word coined by Hegel to denote this relation
of poetry to external objects in their independence.]

[Footnote 3: _Die Gebehrden_, lit., gestures, in which sense it is used
in a subsequent passage.]

[Footnote 4: We should rather have expected "the material of plastic
art." The contrast is rather between the nature of the medium in each
case than the finished product. So far as the latter is concerned
the musical composition is as dependent, even more dependent for its
presentment on human activity as poetical composition.]

[Footnote 5: _Des Klingens unseres Gewohnheit._ It is not quite clear
what the meaning is here. The meaning may be as in the interpretation
above. But it is rather difficult to see how, so far as mere print
goes, we can be conscious of actual sound at all, unless it is
intended here to include at least the act of reading; an alternative
interpretation would be the "habitual verbal accent," but we should
in that case have rather expected the substantive _Nachdrucks_ for

[Footnote 6: Hegel means of course that as that notion stands midway
between the objectivity of sense-perception and the concept of thought,
so too this classification will be based on the attitude of the art
either to the personal life, or the objects of sense, as the one aspect
is more strongly represented or the other.]

[Footnote 7: _Dem Subject._ That is, I understand, the individual
subject generally, not merely the conscious life of the poet or the

[Footnote 8: _In seiner Gediegenheit_, _i.e.,_ as concrete.]

[Footnote 9: _Dies Subjektive._ The realization of self in the world is
part of that world regarded as a rational and self-conscious process,

[Footnote 10: _Sich die Gebehrde anschliesst_, _i.e._ a practical
attitude to the world, involving gesture and other actions.]

[Footnote 11: Hegel's expression is "the personality of expression,"
_i.e.,_ the personal aspect of expression.]


The Epos, word, saga, states simply what the fact is which is
translated into the word. It acquires an essentially self-consistent
content in order to express the fact _that it is_ and how it is. What
we have here brought before consciousness is the object regarded as
object in its relations and circumstances, in their full compass and
development, the object, in short, in its determinate existence.

We propose to treat our subject-matter as follows:

_First_, we shall attempt to describe the _general_ character of what
is Epical:

_Secondly_, we shall proceed to some _particular_ features, which in
respect to the real Epos are of exceptional importance:

_Thirdly_, we shall enumerate by name certain _specific_ methods
of treatment, which have been actually in use in particular epic
compositions within the historical elaboration of the type.


(_a_) The most simple, but nevertheless in its abstract concentration,
still one-sided and incomplete mode of epic exposition consists in the
assertion of that which is essentially fundamental and necessary among
the facts of the concrete world and the wealth of mutable phenomena,
and in the expression of such on their own account, as focussed in epic

(_α_) We may begin our consideration of the type with the _epigram_
i, in so far as it really remains an epigram, that is an inscription
on columns, effects, monuments, gifts and so forth, and at the same
time points with an ideal finger to something else, and by doing so
explains through words, inscribed on an object, somewhat otherwise
plastic, local, something present outside the words expressed. In
such an example the epigram states simply what a definite fact is.
The individual does not as yet express his concrete self; he attaches
a concise interpretation to the object, the locality, which he has
immediate perception of and which claims his interested attention, an
interpretation which goes to the heart of the fact in question.

(_β_) A yet further advance may be discovered in the case where the
twofold aspect of the object in its external reality and the fact of
inscription disappears, in so far, that is, as poetry, without any
actual representation on the object, expresses its idea of the fact. To
this class belong the gnomes of the ancients, ethical sayings, which
concentrate in concise language that which is more forceable than
material objects, more permanent and universal than the monument of
some definite action, more perdurable than votive offerings, columns,
and temples. Such are duties in human existence, the wisdom of life,
the vision of that which constitutes in action and knowledge the firm
foundations and stable bonds for human kind. The epic character of
such modes of conception consists in this, that such maxims do not
declare themselves as exclusively personal emotion and reflection, and
also, in the matter of their impression, are quite as little directed
with the object even of affecting our emotions, but rather with the
purpose to emphasize what is of sterling validity, whether as the
object of human obligation or the sense of honour and propriety. The
ancient Greek elegiacs have in some measure this epic tone. We have
still extant a few verses of Solon of this kind, though the transition
here into a hortatory tone and style is easily made. Such include
exhortations or warnings with reference to the common social life,
its laws and morality. We may also mention the gold sayings, which
tradition ascribes to Pythagoras. Yet all such are of a hybrid nature,
and referable to this, that though in general we may associate with
them the tone of our distinct type, yet, owing to the incompleteness of
the object, it is not fully realized, but rather there is a distinct
tendency to involve with it that of another poetical type, in the
present case the lyrical.

(_γ_) Such dicta may, however, _thirdly_, as already suggested, by
being divested of this fragmentary and self-exclusive isolation, go to
form a larger whole, be rounded off, that is, in a totality, which is
altogether of the _Epic_ type; we have here neither a purely lyrical
frame of mind nor a dramatic action, but a specific and veritable
sphere of the living world whose essential nature, as emphasized in
its general characteristics, no less than as situated to particular
aspects, points of view, occurrences or obligations, supplies us with
an integrating unity and a genuine focal centre. In complete agreement
with this type of epical content, which displays what is of permanent
and universal import along with, as a rule, a distinct ethical purpose
of admonishment, instruction or exhortation to an, in all essentials,
ethically stable life, compositions of this kind receive a _didactic_
flavour. Nevertheless, by reason of the novelty of their wise sayings,
the freshness of their general outlook and the ingenuousness of their
observation we must keep them quite distinct from more recent didactic
poetry. They wholly justify, inasmuch as they give the necessary
play to matter entirely descriptive, the conclusion that these two
aspects taken together, instruction and description, are directly
deduced as the substantive summary of facts which have been throughout
experienced. As an obvious illustration I will merely mention the
"Works and Days" of Hesiod, the teaching and descriptive power of
which, in its primitive style and as a poetical composition, exercises
a fascination upon us wholly different from the pleasure we experience
in the colder elegance, the scientific or systematic conclusions of
Virgil's poems on agriculture.

(_b_) The above described modes of epigram, gnome, and didactive
poem accept their _specific_ provinces of Nature or human life as
their subject-matter, while endeavouring to fix attention in concise
language, with more or less limitation of survey, on that which is of
permanent worth and essential truth in this or that object, condition,
or activity; and even under the still more restricted condition
which the art of poetry imposes on such a task the practical result
upon human effort is still maintained. There is, however, a further
or _second_ type of such compositions, which is, on the one hand,
profounder in its penetration, and, on the other, lays less stress
on instruction and reform. Such are the cosmogonies and theogonies,
no less than those most ancient works of philosophy, which are still
unable entirely to liberate themselves from the poetical form.

(_α_) In this way the exposition of the Eleatic philosophy in the
poems of Xenophanes and Parmenides still remains poetic in form; and
this is exceptionally so in the introduction prefaced by the latter
to his work. The content is here the One, which, in its contrast
to the Becoming or the already Become, all particular phenomena in
short, is eternal and imperishable. No particularity is permitted
to bring content to the human spirit, which strives after truth,
and, in the first instance, is cognizant of the same in its most
abstract unity and concreteness. Expatiating in the greatness of this
object, and wrestling with the might of the same, the impulse of
soul inclines instinctively to the lyrical expression, although the
entire explication of the truths into which the writer's thought here
penetrates carries on its face a wholly practical and thereby epic

(_β_) It is, _secondly_, the _becoming_ of objective things, in
particular natural objects, the press and conflict of activities
operative in Nature, which supplies the matter of the cosmogonies,
and impels the poetic imagination to disclose in the still more
concrete and opulent mode of actions and events real eventuality. And
the way this faculty does this is by clothing the forces of Nature
in relatively more or less personified or figurative images placed
in distinct stages, and through the symbolical form of human events
and actions. Such a type of epic content and exposition pre-eminently
belongs to Oriental Nature-religions; and above all among them the
poetry of India is to an excessive degree prolific in the invention and
portrayal of such modes of conception, frequently of an unbridled and
extravagant type, concerning the origin of the world and the powers
that are active therein.

(_γ_) We find, _thirdly_, similar characteristics in theogonies. Such
occupy their true position mainly in so far as, on the one hand, the
many particular gods are not suffered exclusively to possess the life
of Nature as the more essential content of their power and creation,
nor, conversely, is it one god that creates the world out of thought
and spirit, and who, in the jealous mood of monotheism, will tolerate
no other gods beside himself. This fair mean is alone exemplified in
the religious outlook of the Greeks. It discovers an imperishable
subject-matter for theogony-building in the forceful emancipation of
the family of Zeus from the lawlessness of primitive natural forces,
no less than in the conflict waged against them. It is a process and
a strife which we may indeed affirm gives us the historical origins
of the immortal gods of poetry itself. The famous example of such an
epic mode of conception we possess in the theogony known to us under
the name of Hesiod. In this composition the entire course of event is
throughout wedded to the form of human occurrences; it becomes less and
less symbolical just to the extent that the gods, who are summoned to
a spiritual dominion, are themselves liberated through an intelligent
and ethical individuality adequate to their essential nature, and
consequently are rightfully claimed and depicted as acting like
human beings. What is, however, still absent from this type of Epic
composition is, in the first place, a genuinely complete _result_[1]
as poetry. The acts and events, which are within the scope of the
survey of such poems, are no doubt an essentially necessary succession
of occurrence, but they are not an individual action which issues as
from a centre, wherein it discovers its unity and independence. From
a further point of view the content of such poetry does not, and in
virtue of its character cannot, present to us an essentially _complete
whole_. It does, and for the above reason must, exclude the real
activities of mankind, which are indispensable as the truly concrete
material for the active display of the Divine forces. Epic poetry,
therefore, is bound to free itself from such defects, if it is to
receive its most perfect expression.

(_c_) This actually does take place in that sphere which we may
designate the true _Epopœa._

In the types hitherto discussed, which as a rule are wholly passed
over, what we call the epic tone is unmistakably present, but the
content is not as yet poetical in the concrete sense. Particular
ethical maxims and philosophemata still persist as part of the
material. What is, however, poetical in the full sense is concrete
ideality in individual guise; and the epos, inasmuch as it makes what
actually exists its object, accepts as such the happening of a definite
action, which, in the full compass of its circumstances and relations
must be brought with clarity to our vision as an event enriched by its
further association with the organically complete world of a nation
and an age. It follows from this that the collective world-outlook
and objective presence of a national spirit, displayed as an actual
event in the form of its self-manifestation, constitutes, and nothing
short of this does so, the content and form of the true epic poem. As
one aspect of such a totality we have the religious consciousness in
every degree of profundity attained by the human spirit; it furthermore
embraces the particular concrete life, whether political or domestic,
not excluding all the detail of external existence, and the means by
which human necessities are satisfied. All such material the epos makes
of vital account as a growth in close contact with individuals; and
for this reason, that for poetry the universal and substantive is only
realized in the living presence of spirit life.

Such a comprehensive world, together with the human characterization
it embraces, must then pass before us as real in a tranquil stream,
without any undue haste, either as positive history or dramatic action,
towards its aim and conclusion. We must thereby be permitted to linger
round isolated facts, to penetrate into the different pictures of its
movement and to enjoy them in all their detail. And by this means
the entire panorama receives in its objective mode of realization
the form of an external series of events, the basis and limitations
of which must be implied in the essential ideality of the particular
epic content, and of which the positive assertion is alone absent.
If, consequently, the epic poem is, in its links of connection, more
diffuse, and, by virtue of the relatively greater independence of
portions of it, inclined to suffer from lack of coherency, we must not
allow ourselves the impression that it could ever have been actually
sung throughout in this manner. Rather it is an imperative in its case,
as in that of any other artistic production, that it should be finished
off in an essentially organic whole, which, however, moves forward in
apparent tranquillity, in order that the particular fact and the images
of actual life it contains may engage our interest.

(_α_) Such a primitive whole is the epic composition, whether known as
the saga, the book, or the bible of a people. We may add every great
and important nation can claim to have such primitive books, in which
we find a mirror of the original spirit of a folk. To this extent
these memorials are nothing less than the real foundations of the
national consciousness; and it would be of profound interest to make a
collection of such epic bibles. Such a series of Epopees, however much
they fell short of artistic compositions in the modern sense, would at
least present to us a gallery of the genius of nations. At the same
time it is doubtless the fact that it is not every national bible which
can claim the poetic form of the epopœa; nor do all nations which have
embodied their most sacred memorials, whether in relation to religion
or secular life, in the form of comprehensive compositions of the
epic type, possess religious books. The Old Testament, for example,
contains no doubt much epic narrative and genuine history, no less than
incidental poetic compositions; but despite of this the whole is not
a work of art. In a similar way the New Testament, as also the Koran,
are mainly limited to a religious subject-matter, starting from which
the life of the world at large is to some extent and in later times a
consequence. Conversely, though the Hellenes have a poetic bible in
the poems of Homer, they are without ancient religious books in the
sense the Hindoos and the Parsees possess such. Where, however, we meet
with the primitive epopoea, we must essentially distinguish between
primitive poetic books and the more recent classic compositions of
a nation, which do not any longer offer us a mirror of the national
spirit in all its compass but do no more than reflect it partially
and in particular directions. The dramatic poetry of the Hindoos, for
example, or the tragedies of Sophocles present no such exhaustive
picture as we find in the Ramajana and the Maha-Bharata, or the Iliad
and the Odyssey.

(_β_) And insomuch as in the genuine Epos the naïve national
consciousness is expressed for the first time in poetic guise, the real
epic poem will appear for the most part in that midway stage in which,
though no doubt a people is aroused from its stupidity, and its life
is to that extent essentially strengthened to the point of reproducing
its own world and of feeling itself at home therein, yet, for all that,
everything which at a later stage becomes fixed religious dogma or
civic law and ethical rule, still remains in the fluency of life as
mere opinion, inseparable from the individual as such. And along with
this volition and feeling are not as yet held distinct from one another.

(_αα_) It is only after the separation of the individual's personal
self from the concrete national whole, with its conditions, modes of
opinion, exploits and destiny; it is only, further, after the division
in man himself between his emotion and volition, that the lyric and
dramatic types of poetry in turn replace the epic type and attain their
richest development. This consummation is only reached in the later
life-experience of a people, in which the general lines laid down by
men for the due regulation of their affairs are no longer inseparable
from the sentiments and opinions of the nation as a whole, but already
have secured an independent structure as a co-ordinated system of
jurisprudence and law, as a prosaic disposition of positive facts, as
a political constitution, as a body of ethical or other precepts; and
being so, individuals are now confronted with material obligations
rather as a necessary force external to themselves than one which their
own inner life asserts, and which it compels them to substantiate as
its fulfilment. As opposed to such an already actual and independent
system, the individual life will seek in part to find expression in an
equally independent world and growth of personal vision, reflection
and emotion, which are not carried further into the sphere of action,
and will further give _lyrical_ utterance to its selfabsorption, its
pre-occupation with the content of such a soul-experience. And, in
part also, it will make its active passion of main importance, and
will seek to assert itself independently in action, in so far as it
is able to divest external conditions, the event and its concomitants
of any claim to truly epic self-subsistency. It is just this increase
to the strength and stability of individual character and aims in
their relation to action which opens the way to _dramatic_ poetry. To
return, however, to the epic, we repeat that it is the above-mentioned
unity of feeling and action which it demands, that unity between the
self-fulfilled object of the personal life and the external accident
and event; a unity which, as observed, is only present without blemish
as it first appears in the earliest periods of the national life or the
national poetry.

(_ββ_) At the same time, we must not yield ourselves, therefore, to the
impression that a people in its heroical time simply as such, and as
the home of its epos, there and then was in possession of art, or could
necessarily depict its life in the mirror of poetry. As a matter of
fact, an essentially poetical nationality in its actual world-presence
is one thing; the art of poetry regarded as the imaginative
consciousness of poetical material, and the artistic presentment of
such a world is quite another. The felt want to express oneself _as
idea_ in terms of the latter, the trained knowledge of art, are later
acquisitions than the life and spirit itself, which discovers itself in
all simplicity at home in its unreservedly poetical existence. Homer
and the poems under his name are centuries later than the Trojan war,
which is to myself quite as much an historical fact as the personality
of Homer. In the same way we may affirm of Ossian, always assuming that
the poems ascribed to him are really his, that he celebrates an heroic
past, the sunset splendour of which inspires him to recall and reclothe
the same in poetical form.

(_γγ_) Despite, however, such a separation, some intimate bond of
association must exist between the poet and his subject-matter. The
poet must still stand on even terms with the conditions, the general
point of vision, the beliefs which he depicts. All he should find
it necessary to do is to attach to these the poetic consciousness
and the art capable of portraying them; in other respects they are
still essential factors in his own life. If such an affinity as that
above described is absent in our poet's epic creation, his poem must
infallibly contain disparate and irreconcilable features. For both
these aspects--namely, the content, the epic world, which it is the
intention to portray, and the world of the poet's conscious life and
imagination, which is in other respects independent of the above--are
of spiritual derivation; they each of them possess intrinsically a
definite principle, in which particular traits of characterization are
involved. If, then, the personal life of the artist is essentially
of a different order to that by virtue of which the historical and
national life depicted came into actual being, we must necessarily
become conscious of a cleft in the artistic result which will disturb
and injure its effect. We shall have, in short, scenes placed before
us of a previous condition of history, combined with modes of
thought, opinions, and views more pertinent to other periods; and, in
consequence of this, the configuration of primitive beliefs will, in
its contact with the more developed reflection of a later time, lose
the warmth of conviction, become, in short, a mere superstition, an
empty embellishment of the mere poetical instrumentation, from which
all the vitality of its actual life has vanished.

(_γ_) And this brings us to the general question what position the poet
himself of genuine epic poetry really ought to take up.

(_αα_) Now, however much the Epos ought also to be positive in the
sense that it is the objective presentment of a world based upon its
own foundations, and realized in virtue of its own necessary laws,
a world, moreover, with which the personal outlook of the poet must
remain in a connection that enables him to identify himself wholly
with it; yet it is equally true that his artistic product, which
reproduces this world, is throughout the _free creation_ of himself.
In this connection we shall do well to recall that fine expression of
Herodotus: "Homer and Hesiod have created the gods of the Hellenic
race." And, in truth, this free and audacious spirit of creation,
which Herodotus attaches to the abovementioned poets, already is
some testimony to the fact that although the Epopœa belongs to the
early age of a nation, it is not its function to depict the most
primitive condition of all. In other words, every nation possesses
in its earliest origins more or less an alien culture of some kind,
is confronted with a religious cult of foreign importation to which
it submits, or which it regards as sacrosanct. And, indeed, we find
that the minstrelsy, the superstition, the barbarous elements in
human life, no less than the most exalted have their source just in
this, that instead of being entirely at home with themselves, they
are experienced as something aloof from themselves, that is not the
natural product of their own national and individual consciousness.
In this way, for example, the Hindoos must certainly, long before
the date of their great Epopees, have experienced many an important
revolution of religious beliefs and secular condition. The Greeks no
less, as previously remarked, had to transform much material of an
Egyptian, Phrygian, and Asiatic descent. The Romans, in their turn,
were confronted with much of a Greek origin; and the barbarians, in
the period of national invasion, with Christian or Roman antecedents,
and so on. Not until the poet is able with a free hand to cast from
him such a yoke, is able to take stock of what he really possesses,
is conscious of his own worth, and we are thereby released from all
perturbed state of mental vision, will the dawn break of a genuine
epic creation. In contrast to such an outlook we have the age and the
society modified by a cult abstract in its origin, with its elaborate
dogmas, established political and moral maxims, all of which take us
away from the concrete life at home with itself. The world of the truly
epic poet maintains its opposition to such conditions. Not merely in
respect to universal forces, passions, and aims which are operative
in the soul-life of individuals, but also in such a poet's attitude
to all external facts, be his creation never so independent, he is
entirely as one in his own province. In just this way Homer is at home
in all that he sings to us of his world, and where we are conscious
of such intimacy in another we are infected with a like feeling, for
we are here face to face with truth, with that spirit which lives in
its world, and discovers therein its true being; and it does us good
to feel this, inasmuch as the poet is himself present therein heart
and soul. Such a world may, indeed, belong to a less advanced stage
of evolution and culture than our own; but at least it does remain
faithful to that of a poetry and beauty which is open to all, so
that we essentially recognize and understand here everything which
our higher life, our humanity in its fundamental demands, whether
it be the honour, the opinions, the emotions, the exhortation, or
the exploits of each and every hero; and we are able to enjoy such
characters, in all the detail of their portraiture, as themselves
united to such a life and the richness of its actual presence.

(_ββ_) But on account of the emphasis upon the objective independence
of this whole, it is a further necessary contrast that the poet fall
into the background and become lost in his _subject_. What is to
appear is the creation, not the poet; and yet withal, that which the
poem expresses belongs to him. He has imagined all in his mind's eye;
he has implanted there his soul, his genius. All this, however, is
not expressly asserted. So we find, for instance, that at one time a
Calchas will give the outline of events; at another, a Nestor. Yet, for
all that, such interpretative matter is the gift of the poet himself.
Nay, actual changes in the soul-life of his heroes he explains in
objective fashion as an entrance of gods upon the scene, as in the
case where Athene appears before Achilles in his rage, counselling
self-restraint. And inasmuch as the Epos does not disclose the
soul-life of the creator, save indirectly, but the positive facts of
external life, the subjective aspect of his creations must completely
fall into the background, no less than the creator himself vanish
behind the world he unfolds to our vision. From this point of view a
great epic style makes the work appear to be itself its own minstrel.
It seems to pass before us self-begotten, a work of independent birth.

(_γγ_) Moreover, the epic poem, if a true work of art, is the exclusive
creation of _one_ artist. However much an epic may express the affairs
of the entire nation, it remains the fact that it is the individual
who is the poet, not the nation as a whole. The spirit of an age, of
a people, is no doubt the essential operative cause; but realization
is only secured in the work of art as conceived by the constructive
genius of a _particular_ poet, who brings before our vision and
reproduces this universal spirit and its content as his own experience
and his own product. Poetical composition is a real spiritual birth,
and spirit or intelligence only exist as this or that actual and
individual conscious and self-conscious life. When we have already an
artistic creation in a particular style,[2] we have no doubt something
to start from; and others are then able to copy with more or less
success something like it, just as we have to listen nowadays to some
scores of poems written in the Goethesque manner. To continue to
sing many compositions in the same kind of key, however, will never
create the unified creation, which is throughout the work of _one_
inspiring genius. This is a point of real importance not only in our
attitude to the Homeric poems, but also the Niebelungen Lied. For the
last-mentioned work we are unable to determine an author with any
historical certainty; and as for the Iliad and Odyssey, the opinion
of some critics is notorious that the Homer of tradition--that is,
the sole author of these books--never existed at all. They are the
production in different parts of various authors, parts which have
finally been patched together in the two larger works we possess. With
regard to such a theory the question of most importance is whether
either or both of these extant works constitute an independent organic
whole in the epic sense, or, as is the view fashionable nowadays,
they possess no inevitable beginning or conclusion, but rather might
be continued on present lines for ever. We may, of course, admit that
the unity of the Homeric poems is, as part of their essential form,
less compact than that we associate with the terse concentration of a
dramatic work. Inasmuch as every separate portion may be and may appear
as relatively independent, they give free play to many interpolations
and abrupt transitions; but, despite of this, they do unquestionably
constitute throughout a true, ideally organic, and epic totality. Such
a whole can only be the composition of _one_ author. This notion of
a conglomerate without essential unity, of a mere patching together
of various rhapsodies composed in a similar strain, is a wild sort of
idea opposed to all artistic canons. Of course, if such a view merely
amounts to this, that the poet, in his bare individuality, vanishes
in his creation, it is the highest form of praise. This is merely a
statement that we are unable to recognize any positive traces of wholly
personal opinions and feeling. So much is certainly true of the Homeric
poems. What we have before us, and we have only this, is the positive
fact, the objective outlook of a people. But the song of a people
requires a voice, a voice which can sing forth the contents of heart
and soul, as harvested from the national granary; and an essentially
self-integrated work of art calls for yet more than this from the
_unique_ genius of its creator.


We have previously in our consideration of the general character of
epic poetry briefly drawn attention to certain incomplete types, which,
although of an epical strain, are not epopees in their completeness.
They, in short, neither represent a national condition, nor a concrete
event, within the boundaries of such a sphere. It is these latter
features, which were then excluded, which offer us for the first time
a content wholly equal to the perfected Epos, whose fundamental traits
and conditions are thus stated.

Having recalled these points it becomes necessary now to investigate
more closely what it is we require by way of completing our notion
of the epic work of art. We are, however, on the threshold of this
enquiry confronted with the difficulty that we have little or nothing
to say on features of specific interest, if we confine our attention
to generalities; Ave must rivet our attention on historical evidence,
and those varied epic and national compositions, works which on account
of the extraordinary diversity of the times and peoples to which they
refer do not make us very hopeful of securing either a definite or a
congruous result. We find, however, some compensation in the fact, that
from among all the many epic bibles of the past we can place our finger
on one at least, in which we have the clearest evidence of all which it
is possible to establish as the true and fundamental character of the
genuine epos. Such are the Homeric poems. These, then, above all, will
be the source from which I shall borrow the characteristics, which,
in my view, essentially determine the nature of such poetry, whether
from the point of view of fact or theory. We propose to summarize our
enquiry under the following heads:

_First_, we have to deal with the question, of what structure _the
general_ world condition ought to be, on the basis of which the epic
event is permitted to receive an adequate reproduction.

_Secondly,_ we shall investigate the quality of this specific type of
historical event itself.

_Lastly_, we shall direct attention to the form in which these two
aspects of our subject-matter coalesce and are completed in the unity
of a single work of art, that is, in the epic poem.

(_a_) _The General World-condition of the Epic Poem_

We have already, when Ave started on this subject, seen that it is not
a single isolated action which is accomplished in the true epic event;
the subject of the narrative is not, in short, a wholly accidental
occurrence, but an action which is dove-tailed into the entire
complexus of a particular age and national circumstances, which in
consequence can only be placed before us with success as a constituent
part of an extensive world, demanding as it does the reflection of such
a world in its entirety. In respect to the actual poetical content of
this background I shall be brief, inasmuch as I have already indicated
the fundamental points of interest when, in the first part of this
work, I discussed the general world-condition which the ideal action
presupposed. In the present context therefore I shall restrict myself
to the question what is of most importance to the Epos simply.

(_α_) That which is most adapted, as the all-embracing condition of
human society, to form the background of the Epos consists in this,
that it already possesses for particular individuals the form of a
positive condition actually present, and yet continues with them in
closest association with the simplicity of primitive life. For if the
heroes who are placed as the crowning fact of all, are first to found a
collective condition the determination of what is or ought to come into
existence falls into the more personal sphere of character to a greater
extent than is compatible with the nature of the Epos, and therewith
all appearance of the same as objective reality is impossible.

(_αα_) The relations of ethical life, the aggregate of the family, of
the people regarded as a complete nation, not merely with a view to
war, but also in their peaceful security, must have become a positive
fact in their evolution; yet along with this their organization cannot
as yet have assumed the settled form of co-ordinate regulations,
obligations, and laws independent in their validity of the direct
personal and private activities of individuals, and possessive of the
power to maintain themselves against such particular wills. Rather it
is the _intuitive sense_ of right and fairness, the moral habit, the
temperament, the personality, which supply the support, as they are
the source, of such a social order; we have, in short, no theoretic
intelligence in its precipitated form of prosaic reality able to
establish and secure such a resistance to the heart, the opinions and
passions of individuals. We may dismiss the thought that a community
with a fully organized constitution and an elaborate system of law,
judicial courts, government officials and police, would supply the
environment of a really epic action.[3] The conditions of positive
morality must, no doubt, be present in the general will and conduct,
but the instruments of its realization can only be the action and
personality of individuals, and a determinate mode of its existence, of
universal application and independent stability, is necessarily absent.
We find, in short, in the Epos no doubt the substantive reciprocity
of objective life and action, but we find no less a freedom in this
world of life and action, which has all the appearance of originating
exclusively from the isolated volition of individuals.

(_ββ_) The same considerations apply to the relation of the individual
to the _natural_ environment, from which he borrows the means to
_satisfy_ his wants, no less than discovers the best way to do so.
In this respect, too, I would refer the reader back to what I have
observed at greater length, when discussing the external definition of
the Ideal.

What mankind requires in its external life, house and farm, tent,
settle, bed, sword, lance, the ship, in which he crosses the sea, the
chariot, which bears him into battle, his soup, his roast of meat, and
drink--not one of these things need perforce become to him a lifeless
instrument; he ought still to communicate to the same something of his
entire life and substance, his essential self, and thereby leave the
stamp of his own human individuality, by his active association on that
which is otherwise wholly external. Our present life with its machinery
and factory-made products, no less than the kind of way we seek to
satisfy generally the needs of our external life, is in this respect
quite as much as that of our political organization, wholly unfit to
form the background which the Epos in its primitive guise demands. For
just as the scientific faculty with its generalizations, its imperious
conclusions, delivered independently of all personal views, can never
have asserted its claim under the world-condition of the poetic type
we are considering, so, too, we may assume that man did not yet appear
divested of his vital connection with Nature, and the fresh and
vigorous comradeship, whether as friends or opponents, which is therein

(_γγ_) Such is the world-condition which, in a previous passage, and
in contrast to the idyllic, I have called the _heroic._ We find it
depicted in Homer with the noblest poetry, and with all the wealth
of entirely human characterization. We have no more here, whether in
domestic or public life, a barbarous state of things, than we have
the wholly conventional prose of a regulated family and political
organization; what we do find is that primitive mean of poetry much
as I have already described it. A fundamental feature in such a
condition is unquestionably the free individuality of all the principal
personages. In the Iliad, for example, Agamemnon is, no doubt, a
king of kings--all other chieftains are subject to his sceptre--but
his superiority is no merely formal mutual relation of command and
submission of the lord, that is, to his vassals. On the contrary,
much circumspection is required of him; he must be shrewd enough
to know where he ought to give way, for each particular chieftain
is independent even as himself; they are not merely governors or
generals summoned by him. They have assembled around him of their
own free will, or are induced to follow his lead in a variety of
ways. He must take counsel with them; and if they disagree with his
judgment they are at liberty, as Achilles did, to remain aloof from
the battle. It is this freedom of acceptance, no less than this free
right to assert disapproval, which secures the absolute independence
of such individuality, and attaches its poetical atmosphere to every
situation. We find much the same thing in the poetry of Ossian, as also
in the relation of the Cid to the princes, whom this poetical hero of
romantic and national chivalry serves as vassal. In Ariosto and Tasso
this free relation is still unimpaired; and indeed in Ariosto the
individual heroes set forth in practically unqualified independence on
their own path of adventure. And the mass of the folk stand in much the
same relation to their leaders as that of the separate chieftains to
Agamemnon. These too follow voluntarily. There is still no paramount
legal obligation by which they are constrained. Honour, reverence,
humility in the presence of men more mighty than themselves, ever able
to enforce that might, the imposing presence of the heroic character
in short and all it implies, such are the essential grounds of their
obedience. The order of domestic life is maintained in a similar way.
It is not enforced as an accepted rule of service, but as dependent
on personal inclination or ethical habit. All is made to appear as
though it had grown up spontaneously. Homer, for example, tells us of
the Greeks, when narrating one of their battles with the Trojans, that
they had lost many valiant fighters, but not so many as the Trojans;
and the reason given is that they were always mindful to ward off from
one another the extreme of necessity. In other words, they assisted
each other. And if we, in our own days, had occasion to define the
difference between a well-disciplined and an uncivilized army we
could not express it more directly than by laying stress on this very
coherence and spirit of cameraderie, this unity enforced by all in
a felt association, which distinguished the former. Barbarians are
simply human mobs, in which no individual can rely on his neighbour.
What, however, in our modern example, being as it is the final result
of a stringent and tedious military discipline, rather appears as the
exercise and command of an established regime, in Homer's case is still
an ethical habit asserted of its own accord, springing from the vital
strength of the individual in his private capacity.

We may explain in a similar way Homer's great variety in his
descriptions of Nature and external condition. In the prose romances of
our own day we do not find much stress laid on the natural aspects of
things. Homer, on the contrary, gives us every detail in his portrayal
of a staff, sceptre, bedstead, armour, clothing, doorpost; he does
not even omit to mention the hinges on which the door turns. Such
things appear to us wholly outside our attention and insignificant; or
rather we may say that it is the tendency of our education to affect
an extremely severe superiority to a whole number of objects, matters,
and expressions, and we deliberately classify in their claim to our
notice such things as various kinds of dress, furniture, implements,
and so on. Add to this the fact that in our day all the means supplied
or prepared for the satisfaction of our wants are so split up into
every kind of machinery product from work-shop and factory, we come
to regard the medley of supply as something beneath us, neither
deserving enumeration or respectful attention. The heroic existence
is, on the contrary, confronted with a primitive simplicity of objects
and inventions; it readily lingers on their description. All these
possessions are, in short, regarded as of one standard of value, as
chattels or instruments in which man still discovers evidence of his
craftsmanship, his positive wealth and interest whereof he may be
justly proud. His entire life is not abstracted from such material
things, nor exclusively occupied with a purely intellectual sphere.
To slaughter oxen and prepare their flesh for the table, to pour out
wine and things of that sort are part of the heroic life, carried out
with purpose and delight; with us a meal, if it is not to be a very
commonplace affair, must not merely carry with it something of the
culinary art, but is incomplete without really good conversation.
Homer's detailed descriptions in these matters must not therefore be
looked upon as a purely poetical embellishment of things of little
moment; such a copious attention is nothing more or less than the
actual spirit of the men and circumstances depicted. We find just the
same prolixity of speech on external things in the case of our own
peasants; and for that matter do not the dandies of our own day dilate
without limit upon their stables, horses, top-boots, spurs, pants, and
the like. In contrast to a life of profounder intellectual interest
such things will doubtless appear somewhat jejune.

Such a world ought not merely to embrace the _limited_ universality
of the particular event, which occurs on the _definite_ background
presupposed; it must coalesce in its expansion with the _entire
horizon_ of the national vision. We have a supremely fine example of
this in the Odyssey, which not only brings us into contact with the
domestic life of the Greek chieftains, their servants and subordinates,
but also unfolds the richest variety with its tales of the many
opinions of foreign peoples, the hazards of sea-life, the dwellings
of distant lands, and so forth. But in the Iliad also, though the
nature of its subject restricts to some extent the horizon of our
vision, and not unnaturally on its battle-fields has comparatively
little to tell us of more tranquil scenes, Homer, at least, has on the
shield of Achilles managed in a wonderful way to give us a view of
the entire compass of terrestrial existence, no less than human life,
in marriages, judicial affairs, agriculture, the might of armies, the
private wars of cities, and much else. And these descriptions we 'shall
do well not to regard as a wholly incidental feature of the poem. In
contrast to such a treatment the poems we identify with the name of
Ossian introduce us to a world that is too limited and indefinite. It
has for this very reason rather a lyrical character; and as for Dante
we may say that his angels and devils inhabit no truly positive world
open to our detailed approach; it exists solely as instrumental to
the final fruition or due punishment of mankind. And above all in the
Nibelungenlied the absence is complete of any definite realization of
a visible world or environment, so that the narrative tends in this
respect to assume the strain or tone of the mere balladsinger. The
narrative is, no doubt, diffusive enough; but it is all much as if
some journeyman had picked it up first as gossip, and then retailed
it as such afterwards. We are not brought to close quarters with the
facts, but are merely made aware of the impotence and tedious effort
of the poet. This wearisome expanse of poetical debility becomes of
course even more pronounced in the Book of Heroes, until finally the
whole business is handed over to the true poetical journeyman, in other
words, the Master singers.

(_β_) Furthermore, for the reason that the Epos has to embody in art a
specific world, in all its separate characteristics carefully defined,
one, in short, for this reason itself essentially individual, the
mirror of such a world must be that of a one _particular_ people.

(_αα_) In this respect all truly primitive Epopees present to our view
a national spirit in the ethical structure of its family life, its
public dispositions in times of peace or war, its wants, arts, usages,
and interests--in a word, a picture of the relative type and stage
of the national consciousness. What the epic poem reveres more than
anything else, observes most narrowly, that which, as previously
noted, it expatiates upon, is the power to let our inward eye see as
in a mirror the individual genius of nations. We have presented us,
as the result of such a gallery, the world-history itself, and what
is more, we have it in its beautiful, free, and emphasized vitality,
manifestation, and deed. From no source, either so impregnate with life
or simplicity, can we, for example, better understand the Hellenic
spirit and Greek history, or at least grasp the principle of that
content, which this people embodied, and which it brought with it when
it first set forth to engage in the conflict of its wholly authentic
history, than from this of the poet Homer.

(_ββ_) Now the national substance in its realization is of a _twofold_
nature. First, we have an entirely _positive_ world of specialized
usage or custom peculiar to the nation in question, a definite period
of history, a definite environment, whether geographical in its
streams, hills and forests, or in its climatic situation. Secondly,
we have that ideal _substance_ of its spiritual life, whether in
the religious sphere, the family or the community generally. If
thus an Epos of the primitive type is, under the conditions already
indicated, to be and remain a permanently effective bible, the
nation's Book, in that case that which is positive in the reality
of the Past can only claim such a continuously vital interest in so
far as the characteristic features accepted are placed in an ideal
connection with the actually substantive aspects and tendencies of the
national life. Otherwise what claims to be of positive value will be
entirely contingent and a matter of indifference. Native geographical
conditions, for instance, enter into the conception of nationality. But
if they do not confer on a folk its specific character, the addition of
other natural environment, provided that does not contradict national
character, is not in certain cases prejudicial to the effect, but may
even prove attractive to the imagination. No doubt the sensitive
experience of youth is interwoven with the immediate presence of its
native hills and streams; but where the deeper bonds of the entire
spiritual outlook are absent, such an association assumes a more or
less external character. And, apart from this, where we have, as in
the Iliad, a warlike expedition, it is impossible to preserve the
_locale_ of the fatherland. In such a case the scenery of a foreign
land in itself fascinates and attracts. The enduring vitality of an
Epos is, however, more seriously impaired, where, in the course of
centuries, the spiritual consciousness and life has so entirely changed
that the links between the more recent Past and the original point of
departure already adverted to are completely severed. This is actually
the case with the poet Klopstock in another province of poetry, where
he attempts to establish a national religion, and, in order to do
so, gives us his Hermann and Thusnelda. We may affirm the same kind
of defect of the Nibelungenlied. The Burgundians, the revenge of
Chriemhilda, the exploits of Siegfried, the entire social condition,
the fated downfall of an entire race and many like facts--all this is
no longer vitally held together with the domestic, civil, and judicial
life, the institutions and constitutions of the present day. The
biography of Jesus Christ, with its Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Roman
jurisdiction, even the Trojan war itself, come home to ourselves far
more nearly than the events of the Niebelungen; the latter are for
present consciousness a state of things wholly gone for ever, swept
away once and for all with a besom. To attempt to compose of such
something of national significance, to say nothing of a national bible,
betokens the extreme limit of folly and superficiality. In times when
it was rashly[4] assumed that the flame of youthful enthusiasm had
flashed up anew, such a conceit was taken as a proof of the sere leaf
of an age once more become childlike in the approach of death; and it
refreshed itself with a past that was dead, and deemed it possible to
associate others with a similar refreshment and renewed presence.

(_γγ_) If, however, a national Epos is to secure in addition the
permanent interest of foreign nations the world which it depicts must
not merely be of a _particular_ nationality, but of a type that is, in
this specific folk, its heroism and exploits, equally impressed with
the stamp of our common humanity. In the poems of Homer, for example,
the superb directness with which he deals with matters of divine or
ethical import, the nobility of the characters and of everything living
therein embraced, the pictorial quality of their presentment to the
reader, all this insures an undying truth for succeeding ages. In this
respect we find a remarkable contrast in the creation of different
peoples. We cannot deny, for instance, that the Ramajana reflects
with the essential directness of life the national spirit of the
Hindoos, more particularly from the religious point of view; but the
character of the entire Hindoo race is so overpoweringly of a unique
type, that the essential features of our common humanity are unable to
assert themselves through the veil of this national idiosyncracy. A
remarkable contrast to this is the way in which the entire Christian
world, from the earliest times, has found itself at home in those epic
passages of Old Testament narrative, above all in the pictures of the
patriarchal state, and able to repicture for itself to the life the
events portrayed over and over again with the greatest enjoyment. The
testimony of Goethe is unequivocal. Here was the _one_ focal centre,
he assures us, on which, in his young days, amid much that he learned
of a miscellaneous and unconnected character, his intellect no less
than feeling concentrated itself. Even in later life he still remarks
upon them that "after all our wanderings through the East we always
returned in the end to these writings as the most invigorating spring
of waters: here and there they might be troubled; not unfrequently they
hid themselves in the earth; but it was only to rise up again pure and
fresh as ever."

(_γ_) _Finally_, the general condition of a particular people must
not in this tranquil universality of its individual character wholly
oust what is more directly the object of the Epos, in other words, be
described with no reference to that. It ought only to appear as the
_foundation_, upon which an event throughout its entire process is
transacted, one which is in contact with all aspects of the national
life, and one which illustrates the same as it proceeds. Such an
eventuality must not be a purely external incident; it must imply a
deliberately conceived purpose executed by equally deliberate effort.
If, however, these two aspects, namely, the general condition and the
particular action, do not coalesce, then the event in question must
seek its justification in the particular circumstances, the causal
conditions which dominate its movement. That is practically to say the
world of Epos which is reproduced must be conceived under a specific
situation which is so concrete that the definite objects which it is
the function of the epic narrative to realize, are necessarily made
explicit by it. We have already, when discussing the ideal action,[5]
pointed out on general lines that this realization presupposes
situations and circumstances which bring about collisions, actions
that do injury and consequently necessary reactions. The particular
situation, therefore, in which the epic world-condition of a nation
is made actual to us, must of itself be essentially one implying such
_collisions._ In this respect, therefore, epic poetry enters the field
already occupied by dramatic poetry; and we may find it convenient at
once to determine in what respects the collisions of these two types of
poetry differ.

(_αα_) Under the broadest review of this question we may say that the
conflict of the _belligerent_ condition is that which supplies the
Epos with its most pertinent situation. In war it is obviously the
entire nation which is set in activity, and which, as a whole placed
under similar conditions, is moved and stimulated in a novel way,
in so far at least as it possesses any claim, as such a whole, to
participate in it. We may admit that the above conclusion stands in
apparent contradiction not merely with Homer's Odyssey, but also the
subject-matter of many poems that are epic in an otherwise intelligible
sense. It finds, however, ample corroboration in the majority of the
most famous Epopees. Moreover, the collision of operations in the
events of which the Odyssey informs us, derives part of its source
from the Trojan war; and even under the aspect of domestic life in
Ithaca, no less than that of the home-returning Odysseus, although the
narrative is no actual account of conflicts between Greeks and Trojans,
yet it deals with facts which are the immediate consequence of that
war. Nay, it is itself war under a new aspect, for many chieftains are
forced to reconquer their homes, which after their ten years' absence
they find under wholly altered conditions. We have practically but one
example of the religious Epos, Dante's "Divine Comedy." Even here,
too, the fundamental collision is deducible from that original Fall of
the evil angels from heaven, which brings in its train and within the
sphere of human experience the ever active external and ideal conflict
between the Divine Father and the conduct of men, whether hostile or
well-pleasing to Him, a conflict eternally perpetuated in condemnation,
purification, and blessedness, or in other words, hell, purgatory, and
paradise. Also, too, in the Messias it is the former war against the
Son of God which supplies the focal centre. At the same time the most
vital and truly pertinent examples are those which actually describe
the belligerent state. We have already drawn attention to such in the
Ramajana, and, most instructive of all, in the Iliad; further examples
are the famous poems of Ossian, Tasso, Ariosto, and Camoens. In war
_courage_ is and remains the fundamental interest; and warlike courage
is a state of the soul and an activity, which is neither so suitable
for lyrical expression nor for dramatic action, but is pre-eminently
adapted to the descriptive power of the Epos. In dramatic poetry it is
rather the ideal strength or weakness of spiritual life, the ethically
justified or reprehensible pathos which is the main thing: in the
Epos, on the contrary, it is rather the native characteristics of a
personality. For this reason, where it is national exploits which are
undertaken, bravery is in its right place; it is in fact not an ethical
state,[6] in which the will is determined through its own initiative
as an intelligent consciousness and volition. It rather depends on
natural temperament, unites in direct equilibrium, as by fusion, with
the sphere of self-conscious life, and, in order to bring into effect
practical ends, which can be more fitly expressed in epic description
than under the conceptions of lyrical emotion and reflection. And
these conclusions with regard to bravery in war apply with equal force
to the exploits of war and their consequences. The activities of
personal volition and the accidents of the external event supply the
two scales of the balance. The bare event, with its wholly material
obstructions, is excluded from the drama, inasmuch as here what is
exclusively external is not permitted to retain an independent right,
but is causally related to the aim and ideal purposes of individuals,
so that as to all contingent matter, if by any chance it appears to
arise and to determine the result, we are none the less compelled to
look for the real operative cause and justification thereof in the
spiritual nature of human character and its objects, no less than in
that of its collisions and their necessary resolution.

(_ββ_) A basis of the epic action such as this of active hostilities
is obviously the source of a very varied subject-matter. We may have
placed before the imagination a host of interesting actions and events,
in which bravery in action supplies the leading rôle, and the claim
of external forces, whether asserted in circumstance or incident, is
maintained unimpaired. At the same time we must not overlook a respect
in which the possibilities of epic narration is essentially restricted.
It is only wars waged between one foreign nation and another which
partake of a truly epic character. In contrast to this conflicts
between dynasties, civil wars and social revolution, are more suited
to dramatic exposition. And in fact Aristotle long ago[7] advises
the tragic poet to select subject-matter which is concerned with the
conflicts of brother against brother. Of this type is the war of the
Seven against Thebes. It is Thebes' own son who storms the city; and
its defender is the actual brother of the aggressor. Hostility of
this type is something more than that of a mere foe; its significance
is bound up with the individuality of the opposed brothers. We have
similar examples with every kind of variety in Shakespeare's historical
tragedies. In these, almost without exception, agreement between
particular individuals is what might be legitimately looked for, and
it is only the private motives of individual passion and a personality
absorbed in its own aims and satisfaction which bring about collisions
and wars. As an example of an action of this kind treated in the epic
manner, and therefore defectively, I will mention the "Pharsalia" of
Lucan. However indisputably important the conflicting aims in this
poem may appear to be, yet for all that the opposing parties are here
too closely related on the common ground of one fatherland: their
conflict, consequently, instead of being a war between two national
entities, is nothing more than a strife of parties, either of which,
by the very fact that it splits asunder the substantive national
unity, points in one direction, namely, that of tragic guilt and
demoralization. Held to this the objective facts are not placed before
us in their clearness and simplicity, but are inweaved with one another
in a confused manner. The same objections are equally pertinent to
Voltaire's Henriad. In contrast to this the hostility of _foreign_
nations is something substantive. Every nation constitutes a totality
essentially distinct from and in opposition to that of another. When
these come into conflict we do not feel that any positive ethical
connection is shattered, nothing at least of essential value to either
is violated,[8] no necessary whole broken into fragments. Rather it is
a conflict waged in order to maintain such a totality unimpaired and to
justify its claim to be so. Hostility therefore of this type is suited
in every way to the essential character of epic poetry.

(_γγ_) Not every war, however, waged under ordinary conditions
between two hostile nations is necessarily on that account of an epic
character. We must have a further condition satisfied, namely, the
justification on broad historical grounds for the bellicose attitude
thus adopted. Only when we have this do we obtain a picture of an
enterprise at once novel and more exalted, which does not present
the appearance of something apart from universal history, the purely
capricious subjugation of one state by another, but is absolutely and
essentially rooted in a profounder principle of necessity, however
much at the same time the more superficial and obvious motive of
the undertaking may assume from one point of view the aspect of
deliberate wrong,[9] and from the other that of a private revenge.
We have something analogous to such a situation in the Ramajana. But
the supreme example is that of the Iliad, where the Greeks invade an
Asiatic people, and in doing so fight out as it were the preludic
conflict of a tremendous opposition, the wars of which practically
constitute the turning point of Greek history as we see it on the
stage of universal history. Of the same type is the struggle of the
Cid against the Moors, or in Tasso and Ariosto the battles of the
Christians against the Saracens, or in Camoens the strife of the
Portuguese against the Indians. And indeed we may assert that in all
the greatest Epopees we find nations which differ from each other in
moral customs, religion, and language, in a word, in all that concerns
their spiritual and external life, brought into collision; and we are
ready to contemplate such without any revulsion on account of the
triumph we find asserted there of a nobler principle of world-evolution
over a less exalted, a victory assured by a bravery that is simply
annihilating. If any one should, in this sense, and in emulation of
past Epopees, which have sought to depict the triumph of the West over
the East, of the European principle of moderation, of the individually
articulate and truly organic type of beauty over Asiatic splendour,
over the magnificence of a patriarchal unity, which does not attempt to
secure such organic completeness, or is at least merely held together
by abstract and superficial conjunctions, if such, I say, should aspire
to write the Epopee of the future, he will be necessarily restricted
to the portrayal of the victory of some future and intensely vital
rationality of the American nation over the prison-house of the spirit
which for ever pursues its monotonous task of self-adjustment and
particularization.[10] In the Europe of our day every nation finds
itself conditioned[11] by its neighbour, and cannot venture on its own
account to wage any war with another European nation. If we lift our
eyes beyond Europe, there can be only one direction, America.

(_b_) _The Individual Epic Action_

It is on such an essentially limited foundation then of conflict
between entire nationalities that the epic event is realized, the
leading characteristics of which we have now to determine. We may
summarize the form we propose our investigation should take as follows:

_First_, what actually takes place consists essentially in this that
the object of the epic action ought necessarily to be of _individual
vitality_ and definition, however much it may rest on a basis of the
most general extension.

_Secondly_, for the reason that it is only of individuals that we can
predicate actions we have the problem to solve of the general nature of
the epic _character_ or personality.

_Thirdly_, in the epic eventuality the form of objectivity is not
exclusively that of external appearance: it consists quite as much in
the significance of all that is itself intrinsically necessary to and
substantive in the exposition. We have consequently to determine the
form in which this intrinsic significance of the occurrence proclaims
itself as effective, either in part as the ideal necessity which is
therein concealed, or as the disclosed direction[12] of eternal and
providential forces.

(_α_) We have postulated as a necessary background of this epic world
an enterprise of national significance, in which the entire compass of
a national spirit can express itself in the bloom and freshness of its
heroic condition. From this fundamental substratum in its simplicity
we now further assume the apparition of a _particular_ end, in the
realization of which all other aspects of the national character,
whether in belief or action, can be represented to our vision. The
original postulate is in fact bound up in the closest way with such an
all-embracing actuality.

(_αα_) This purposed object, which is infused with the vital principle
of individuality on the lines of which, regarded in its particularized
content, the entire process moves forward, must further, as already
ascertained, appropriate to itself in the Epos the form of an _event_.
It will be therefore above all important to recall at once the specific
character of the mode, under which human volition and action generally
combine in what we designate as the event. Now, in the _first_ place,
action and adventure are the outcome of conscious life, the content
of which is not only ideally expressed in emotions, reflections, and
thoughts, but also quite as much in a practical way. We may regard
such realization from two distinct points of view. _First,_ we have
the ideal substance of the end presupposed and purposed, the general
character of which the individual must recognize, will, calculate and
accept. _Secondly_, there is the external reality of the spiritual or
human and the natural environment, within which he is only able to
act, and the accidental features of which at one time obstruct and at
another assist his path; so that either in the one case he is carried
forward by virtue of this favour to a successful issue, or, if in
the other he is not prepared wholly to give way to such opposition,
he finds it necessary to overcome them with his individual energy.
If now the world covered by this volitional power is conceived as
the indivisible unity of these two aspects, with the result that the
right of assertion by both is equally asserted, in that case what
is most pertinent to conscious life likewise enters into the formal
structure of the event, the form, that is, which confers on all human
action the _configuration of events_, in so far as the conscious or
subjective will, with its purposes, motives of passion, principles
and aims, can no longer appear the fact of most importance. Or, in
other words, in human _action_ everything is referred back to human
personality, personal obligation, opinion and intention. In the case of
the _event_, on the contrary, the external constitution of things is
permitted to assert its inviolable claim. Here it is objective reality
itself, which constitutes either the form assumed by the whole, or from
another point of view a fundamental part of the content. In agreement
with such a view I have already stated that it is the function of epic
poetry to demonstrate the _happening_ of an action, and thereby not
only to establish the external disposition of the execution of ends,
but also to meet as readily the claims of external condition, natural
occurrences, and all else of a contingent character, which, in action
taken simply as such, the ideal element of conscious life claims
exclusively as its province.

(_ββ_) With regard to the _particular_ end, the carrying out of which
the Epos unfolds under the mode of the event, it follows from our
previous conclusions that it must be no mere mental _abstraction_,
but on the contrary of wholly _concrete_ definition. At the same
time, inasmuch as it is realized within the substantive actuality of
the national unity, such a process must exclude the notion of merely
capricious activity. The political state as such--the fatherland,
let us say--or the history of a State and country, are essentially
something universal, which, regarded in the light of such universality,
does not appear under the mode of a subjectively individual existence,
or, in other words, in inseparable and exclusive coalition with one
definite living individual. For this reason the history of a country,
the development of its political life, its constitution and destiny
may also no doubt be narrated as event; if, however, the facts thus
described are not placed before us as the concrete deed, the conscious
aim, the passion, the suffering and accomplishment of particular
heroes, whose individuality supplies the form and content of the
realization in all its parts, the event merely assumes the rigid
form of its independent forward movement in the prosaic history of a
people or an empire. In this respect no doubt the most exalted action
of Spirit would be the history of the world itself. We can conceive
it possible that our poet might in this sense undertake to elaborate
in what we may call the absolute Epos this universal achievement on
the battlefield of the universal spirit, whose hero would be the
spirit of man, the _humanus_, who is drawn up and exalted from the
clouded levels[13] of conscious existence into the clearer region of
universal history. But in virtue of the very fact of its universality
a subject-matter of this kind would so be quite unfitted for artistic
treatment. It would not adapt itself sufficiently to individualization.
For on the one hand we fail altogether to find in such a subject a
clearly fixed background and world-condition, not merely in relation to
external _locale_, but also in that of morality and custom. In other
words, the only basis for all we could possibly presuppose would be the
universal World-Spirit or intelligence, whom we are unable to bring
visibly before us as a particular condition, and who is possessed of
the entire Earth as his local environment. And in like manner too the
one end fulfilled in such an Epos could only be the end proposed by the
World-Spirit himself,[14] who can only be apprehended and explicitly
disclosed in his true significance through the processes of thought. If
he is, however, to be represented in the form of poetry, or, at least,
if the whole is to receive its proper meaning and coalescence from
such a source, it is necessary that his presence should be expressed
as that which acts independently from its own resources. This could
only be possible for poetry, in so far as the ideal Taskmaster of
history, the eternal and absolute Idea, which is realized in humanity,
either was envisioned as a directive, active, perfecting individual
person, or was merely made effective under the concealing veil of an
ever-operative Necessity. In the first case, however, the infinity of
such a content must shatter the necessarily limited artistic vessel
of determinate individuality, or, as the only way of avoiding such a
defect, must assume the inadequate form of a dispassionate allegory
of general reflections over the destination of the human race and its
education, over the final purpose of mankind, its moral consummation,
or over whatever result the end of this World-history might establish.
In the alternative case it is the genius of the various peoples which
has in each example to be presented (in the heroic figure) in the
conflicting existence of whom history expands and moves forward in
progressive evolution. If, however, the genius of nations is really
to appear in poetical form this can be carried out in only one way,
namely, by placing before us the actual world-historical figures as
operative through their deeds. We should, however, then merely have a
series of particular characters, which emerged and again disappeared in
a wholly external succession, the objects of which lacked individual
unity and connection; and this would be so for the reason that the
controlling World-Spirit, under our conception of it, as the ideal
essence and destiny, could not, in the case supposed, be set forth as
itself an active individual and the culminating agent in the process.
And if, further, anyone was desirous of appropriating the spirits of
different nationalities in their universality, and of displaying them
as agents in such a substantive form, we should still only have a
similar series, the individuals whereof, apart from the fact that they
would merely possess an appearance of positive existence similar to
Hindoo incarnations, would, in the fictitious form of the imagination
they received pale into nothingness when contrasted with the truth of
the World-Spirit as realized in actual history.

(_γγ_) We may consequently lay it down as a general principle that the
particular epic event is only able to secure a vital form in poetry
when it is united in the closest state of fusion with _one_ individual.
Precisely as it is _one_ poet who thinks out and executes the whole,
so too _one_ individual must crown the edifice, with whom the event is
associated and in connection with whose single identity it is continued
and completed.

We must point out, however, that here too we are limited by essential
conditions. For just as in our previous discussion it was the
world-history, so too now, from the converse point of view, it is
possible that the biographical treatment in a poetic composition of
a definite life-history may appear to supply the most complete and
adequate subject-matter of the Epos. This, however, is not the case. No
doubt in biography the individual is one and the same throughout; but
the events, through which the life-development proceeds, may entirely
fall apart, and only retain the subject of the same in a wholly formal
and accidental bond of relation. If, on the other hand, the Epos is
essentially homogeneous, the event also, in the form of which the
content of the poem is disclosed, must itself possess intrinsic unity.
Both aspects, in short, the unity of the individual and that of the
objective event, as it is evolved, must coalesce and be united. In the
life and exploits of the Cid it is unquestionably true that on the
field of the Fatherland it is only one great personality which without
intermission remains true to himself, and in his development, chivalry
and end constitutes the interest. His deeds pass before him, much as if
he were the sculptured god; and finally all is gone and vanished for
us, no less than for himself.[15] But the poems of the Cid are also as
rhymed chronicles no genuine example of the Epos; and, in their later
form of romances, they are, as their specific type necessitates, merely
isolated situations split off from this national hero's life, which do
not necessarily coalesce in the unity of a particular event.

The finest examples, however, of the observance of the above rule
are to be met with in the Iliad and Odyssey, where Achilles and
Odysseus are respectively the prominent figures. The Ramajana, too,
resembles these poems in this respect. Dante's "Divine Comedy" is an
illustration, but in quite a unique way. In other words, it is the Epic
poet himself with whose single personality, in his wanderings through
hell, purgatory, and paradise, all and everything is so associated that
he is able to recount the picture of his imagination as a personal
experience, and is consequently entitled to interweave with the general
substance of his composition his private emotions and reflections to a
larger extent than is possible for other epic poets.

(_β_) However much then, speaking generally, epic poetry informs us
of actual fact and its occurrence, and thereby makes the objective
world its content and form, yet on the other hand, inasmuch as what
happens is an _action,_ which passes in successive views before us,
it is rather, and for this reason, to _individuals_, and their deed
and suffering that the main emphasis is attached. For it is only
individuals, be they gods or men, who can veritably act; and just in
proportion as they are interwoven in the vividness of life with such a
panorama, to that extent they are entitled to attract the main interest
to the fulness of their exposition. From this point of view epic poetry
stands on level terms with lyric no less than dramatic poetry. It is
therefore of some importance that we attempt to define more closely
what the _specific_ features are which distinguish the portrayal of
personality in the epic composition.

(_αα_) Now, first, what is essential to the objective aspect of an epic
character--I am speaking mainly of the leading personages--is that
they should be themselves essentially a _totality_ of such traits, in
other words complete men, and thereby display in themselves all aspects
of emotional life, or to put it better, should represent in a typical
way, national opinion and its active pursuits. In this respect I have
already in the first part drawn attention to the heroic characters
of Homer; and, in particular, to the variety of genuinely human and
truly national qualities which Achilles unites in himself so vitally,
the hero of the Odyssey supplying an admirable companion picture. The
Cid is similarly presented us with much variety of characterization
and situation, as son, hero, lover, husband, father, householder, and
in his relations to king, friends, and foes. Other Epopees of the
Middle Ages are a great contrast, far more abstract in their type of
personification, particularly so where their heroes merely champion the
cause of chivalry as such, and are removed from the sphere of the true
and actual life of the nation.

It is then the fundamental characteristic of the exposition of epic
personality that it should unfold itself as such a totality in the most
diverse scenes and situations. The characters of tragedy and comedy may
no doubt also possess a similar wealth of ideality; for the reason,
however, that in their case the sharp contrast between a pathos that is
never other than one-sided and a passion opposed to it is within very
definable limits and ends the thing of most importance, such a varied
character is in part, where it is not entirely superfluous, at least
more in the nature of a prodigality which is incidental, and in part
is also, as a rule, overpowered by the _one_ passion, its motives and
ethical considerations, and thus forced by the type of presentation
into the background. In the whole of the epic composition, on the
contrary, all aspects assert an equal right to assert themselves,
and expand with freedom and breadth. That they should do so is
indeed fundamental to the principle of epic composition; and from a
further point of view the personality here, in virtue of the entire
world-condition he presupposes, possesses a right to be, and to make
all that valid wherein his existence is realized, and for the good
reason that he lives in an age to which precisely this _objective_
being, this immediate individuality is appropriate. It is, of course,
for instance, quite possible for us, with regard to the wrath of
Achilles, to point out, as moral reflection may suggest, the injury
and loss which that wrath entailed, and therefrom to conclude that the
superiority and greatness of Achilles is very appreciably removed from
any approach to ideal perfection, whether as hero or man, having no
power apparently on a single occasion to moderate his anger or exercise
self-restraint. But for all that we do wrong in blaming Achilles. And
this is not because we may overlook the wrath in virtue of his other
great qualities. Achilles is, in other words, simply nothing more or
less than this portrait. So far as Epic poetry is concerned, that is
the end of the matter. The same observations apply to his ambition and
his love of glory. The main justification of these great characters
is the energy of their achievement; they carry, in fact, a universal
principle in their particularity. Conversely, ordinary morality tends
to depreciate its native personality, and hold in reserve the resources
of its life-force, and discovers its essential being in this attitude.
What an astonishing self-esteem, for instance, an Alexander asserted
over his friends and the life of I know not how many thousands.
Self-revenge, even traits of brutality, testify to an energy of the
same type in heroic times; and even in this respect Achilles, in his
rôle of epic hero, has little to learn.

(_ββ_) And it is just on account of this fact that such preeminent
figures are complete individuals, who have in resplendent degree all
that concentrated in them which otherwise is diffused and separate in
the national character, and thereby are throughout great, free, and
humanly beautiful characters that they are rightly set in the chief
place; and we find that the event of most significance is inviolably
linked with such individuality. The nation is, as it were, focussed
as a single living soul in them, and as such they fight out its main
enterprise, and suffer the hazards of its resulting experience. In
this respect Gottfried von Bouillon, in Tasso's "Jerusalem Liberated,"
is no such overpowering figure as Achilles, this typical youthful
bloom and perfection of the entire Grecian host; nor is he even an
Odysseus, although he is selected as the wisest, bravest, and most
just of leaders to command the entire army. The Achæans are unable to
win a victory if Achilles stands aloof from the contest; it is he
alone who, by means of his triumph over Hector, carries victory into
Troy itself; and in the return home of Odysseus we find a mirror of
the return of all the Greeks from Troy, only with the difference that
it is just in that which it is his destiny to endure we have placed
exhaustively before our vision the entire compass of the sufferings,
life experience, and conditions which are implied in the whole
subject-matter. The characters of the drama, on the other hand, are not
so represented as in themselves the absolute crowning point of all the
rest, which becomes objective in and through them. They rather are set
forth independently and for themselves in their purpose, which they
accept as the outcome of their character, or as the result of definite
principles which have grown up in conjunction with their more isolate

(_γγ_) There is a _third_ distinguishing feature in epic
characterization due to the fact that the Epos does not portray
an action simply as action, but an event. In drama the matter of
importance is that the individual manifests himself as operative for
his specific purpose, and is expressly represented in such activity and
its consequences. This undeviating consideration for the realization
of a distinct purpose is absent in the Epic. No doubt in this case,
too, heroes have desires and aims, but the main thing here is all that
they may happen to experience while fulfilling it, not the nature of
their conduct in the carrying it out. The circumstances are just as
active as themselves, frequently more active. The return to Ithaca,
for example, is the actual project of Odysseus. The Odyssey, however,
does not merely display this character in the active execution of his
predetermined end, but expands its account into all the variety of
occurrence which he happens to experience in his wanderings, what he
suffers, what obstructions meet him in the way, what dangers he has to
overcome, and all, in fact, that moves him. And this varied experience
is not, as would be necessary in the drama, a direct result of his
action, but is in great measure rather incidental to his journey, in
the main even independent of the concurrent action of the hero. After
his adventures with the Lotophagi, Polyphemus, and the Laestrygones,
the godlike Circe detains him for a full year. Further, after he has
visited the lower world and suffered shipwreck, he dallies with
Calypso, until he falls into home-sickness, wearies of the damsel, and
stares with tearful eyes over the solitary sea. Thereupon it is Calypso
herself who finally provides him with the means wherewith he builds
his boat, who provides him with food, wine and raiment, and takes her
right anxious and kindly farewell of him. Finally, after his sojourn
among the Phæacians, he is carried in sleep--he knows not how--to the
shores of his island. To carry out a purposed end in this sort of way
would not be possible for dramatic poetry. Again, in the Iliad, the
wrath of Achilles, which, along with all else that results from this
compelling force, constitutes the specific object of the narrative, is
throughout not an end, but rather an emotional state. When Achilles is
insulted he rages. In this condition, so far from doing anything truly
dramatic, he withdraws apart, does nothing with Patroclus by the ships
on the seashore, sullenly angry that he is not honoured by the lord of
the folk. Then follow the consequences of his retirement, and only at
last, when his friend has been slain by Hector, do we find Achilles
once more plunge into the conflict. In another way, again, is the end
prescribed to Æneas, which he has to carry out, where Virgil recounts
all the events as the result of which its realization is in such varied
ways postponed.

(_γ_) We have just one further important feature to mention in respect
to the form of the event in the Epos. I have already observed that
in the drama the conscious will, and that which the same demands
and wills, is essentially the determining factor, and constitutes
the permanent foundation of the entire presentation. All that is
carried out appears throughout as posited already by the personal
character and its aims; and the main interest above all turns upon the
justification or its absence of what is done within the situations
presupposed and the conflicts they bring about. If consequently it so
happens also that in the drama the external conditions are themselves
active, they nevertheless only retain their validity by virtue of
that which conscious feeling and volition makes of them, and the
ways and means under which character reacts upon them. In the Epos,
however, the circumstances and external accidents are effective on
level terms with the personal will itself. All that man accomplishes
passes before us precisely as any other event of the world outside
him, so that the human exploit is in this case likewise and equally
conditioned, and must be shown to be carried forward by the development
of such an environment. The individual, in short, in epic poetry does
not merely act freely of himself and independently. He is placed in
the midst of an assemblage of facts, whose end and actuality in its
wide correlation with an essentially unified world of conscious life
or objective existence supplies the irremovable foundation of the
life of each separate individual. This typical system is, in fact,
predominant in the Epos through all its content, whether in that of
passion, determined result, or general achievement. It is true that
at first sight we might expect that, on account of an equal cogency
being accorded to external condition in its independent eventualities,
we should find indisputable opportunity given for every shade of
contingency. And yet we have seen that it is the function of the Epos
to present what is truly objective--what is, in short, essentially
substantive existence. The solution of this contradiction is to be
found in this, that the principle of _necessity_ is involved in the
events, whether taken in detail or generally.

(_αα_) In this connection we may affirm of the Epos--not, however, as
is generally assumed of the drama--that _Destiny_ is a predominant
force. No doubt the dramatic character by the kind of end accepted,
which he endeavours to carry out despite all obstruction under the
circumstances given and recognized, makes of _himself_ his Destiny;
but in the Epos, on the contrary, it is _made for him_, and this force
of circumstances, which stamp their particular form on the deed,
apportions to each individual his lot, determines the result of his
actions--is, in short, the genuine control of Destiny. What happens
is appertinent to itself. It is so, and only thus; it is the fiat of
necessity. In lyric poetry we are conscious of emotion, reflection, the
personal interest, and yearning. The drama converts the ideal claim
of human action into an objective presence. The presentation of epic
poetry, on the other hand, moves, as it were, within the element itself
of essentially necessary existence. Therefore, the individual has no
choice but to follow this particular substantive condition; and, in
its process of being, to adapt himself to it or not, and then to suffer
as he is able and is forced to suffer. Destiny, in short, defines what
is and inevitably must be, and in the result success, misadventure,
life, and death are plastic precisely in the sense that individuals
are plastic. What does actually unfold before us is a condition of
universal expanse, in which the actions and destinies of mankind appear
as something isolated and evanescent. This fatality is the great
justice, and is not tragic in the dramatic sense of the term, in which
the individual appears judged as a _personality_, but in the epic sense
in which judgment is passed on man in all that concerns him.[16] The
tragic Nemesis consists in this, that the greatness of his concerns is
too great for the individual concerned. Consequently a certain tone of
sadness[17] prevails over the whole. What is most glorious is seen very
early to pass away. In the fulness of his life Achilles mourns over his
death; and at the conclusion of the Odyssey we view him and Agamemnon
as spirits that have passed away as shades, with the consciousness that
they are shades. Troy, too, falls; old Priam is slain hard by the altar
of the home; women and maidens become slaves. Æneas, in obedience to
the divine command, departs to found a new kingdom in Latium, and the
victorious heroes only return after manifold suffering to the happiness
or bitterness that awaits them at home.

(_ββ_) This necessity of events may, however, be represented in very
different ways.

The most obvious and least elaborate is the bare exhibition of such
events without any further explanation of the poet of a necessary
element existing in the particular occurrences and their general
consequence by his addition of a controlling world of gods disclosed in
the decision, interference, and co-operation of eternal powers. In such
a case we must, however, have the feeling brought home from the entire
atmosphere of the exposition, that in the recounted events and great
life-destinies of single individuals and entire families or races, we
are not merely confronted with what is mutable and contingent in human
existence, but with destinies which have an essential foundation,
whose necessity remains, however, the obscure operation of a power
which is not placed before us poetically as such a power in its divine
controlling energy to the point of defined individualization and in
its explicit activity. The Niebelungenlied retains this general tone
strongly, albeit it does not ascribe the direction of the blood-stained
final result of all committed deed either to Christian Providence or
the pagan world of gods. For in regard to Christendom, we merely hear
of churchgoing and mass. We have, indeed, the remark of the bishop
of Spejevs to the beautiful Ute, when the heroes withdraw into king
Etzel's country: "Please God, He will keep them there!" We have also no
doubt dreams of warning, the prophecy of the Danube maidens to Hagen,
and other examples of a similar kind, but no really conclusive witness
to the control and interference of gods. This leaves an impression on
this poetry as of a something unriddled, unyielding, a mournfulness
that is at the same time objective, and consequently wholly epic in
its tone. It is a great contrast to the poems of Ossian, in which
in the same way no gods appear, yet in which, on the other hand, we
find lamentation over the death and downfall of the entire heroic
stock presented under the form of the private sorrow of the dismayed
minstrel, and as the yearning of a woe-begone recollection.

Essentially distinct from the above type of conception is the complete
interlacement of all human destiny and natural event with the
resolution, volition and action of a many-sided world of gods such
as we find in the great Hindoo Epopees, and in Homer, Virgil, and
others. I have already expressly drawn attention to the varied poetic
interpretation which the poet himself supplies of events, which are
apparently accidental, through his assumption of the co-operation and
apparition of gods, and attempted to enforce the same by particular
examples from the Iliad and the Odyssey. Here we may observe that the
condition of most importance to the poetry in question is that in this
reciprocal action of gods and men the relative independence of both
aspects is maintained, so that neither the gods fall into lifeless
abstractions, nor the human individuals become purely subservient
vassals. How such a danger is to be avoided I have already discussed
at length in a previous passage. The Hindoo Epos is in this respect
unable to force its way fully to the truly ideal relation between
gods and mankind; on such a stage of imaginative symbolism the human
aspect still remains aloof in its free and beautiful actuality, and the
activity of individuals in part appears as the incarnation of gods,
and in part, as something of more incidental merit, vanishes, or is
depicted under the guise of ascetic exaltation to the condition and
power of gods. Conversely the variously personified powers, passions,
genii, angels, and so forth, that we meet with in Christendom possess
for the most part too little individual independence, and consequently
tend only to affect us in a cold and abstract sort of way. The case is
much the same in Mohammedanism. Through the deification of Nature and
the world of mankind, through the conception of a prosaic co-ordination
of reality, it is hardly possible to avoid the danger, more
particularly where we enter a region of fairyland, wherein a miraculous
interpretation is given to that which is essentially contingent and
indifferent in external circumstances, which are themselves only
present as a simple occasion for human action and as the ordeal of
individual character, without possessing therewith an ideal consistency
and foundation. By reason of this no doubt the infinitely extensible
connection of cause and effect is broken, and the many sections in this
prosaic concatenation of circumstances, which cannot be throughout
made clearly distinct, are brought all of a sudden into one union. If,
however, such a result is secured without the principle of necessity
and ideal reasonableness, such a mode of elucidation, as, for example,
frequently in "The Thousand and one Nights," appears as little more
than the sport of an imagination, which endeavours to unfold as
causality possible and actual, by means of such inventions, what is
otherwise incredible.

The fairest mean, on the other hand, in this respect is that retained
by Greek poetry, inasmuch as it is able to bestow both on gods and
men a reciprocally indestructible power and freedom of independent
individuality. And such is harmonious with its fundamental standpoint.

(_ββ_) There is, however, particularly in the epic conception of it,
a point of view relative to the collective world of gods, which I
have already referred to above in another connection. This is the
contrast which the _primitive_ Epopee presents to the _artificial_
composition of later times. This difference is very pronounced if
we compare Homer and Virgil. The level of education, from which the
Homeric poems originated, still continues in a fair harmony with the
poetic subject-matter. With Virgil, on the contrary, we are reminded by
every single hexameter that the general outlook of the poet is totally
different from the world, which it is his endeavour to depict; and
the gods more particularly have lost the freshness of their original
vitality. Instead of being living persons in their own selves, actual
witnesses to us of their existence, they have rather the appearance
of being mere creations of the poet and external instruments, which
it is neither possible for the poet or his audience to take quite
seriously, although there is an open pretence made that they have been
taken thus seriously. Throughout the whole of the Virgilian Epic we
feel ourselves in the atmosphere of ordinary life; the old tradition,
the saga, the fairyland of poetry enters with prosaic distinctness
into the frame of our common-sense faculties. What we have in the
Æneid is very much what we find in the Roman history of Livy, where
ancient kings and consuls make speeches, precisely as an orator made
his speech in the Agora of Rome, or the school of the rhetoricians in
the days of Livy himself. And, on the other hand, in what is really
retained from tradition, as an example of primitive speech, such as
the fable of Menenius Agrippa[18] about the functions of the belly, we
find a contrast which is almost repulsive. In Homer, however, the gods
are wafted in a magical light between poetry and reality: they are not
permitted to approach the imagination so nearly, that the apparition of
them confronts us with all the detail of ordinary life; nor are they
left so undefined, that they lose all appearance of vital reality as we
look at them. All that they do is readily explained by the soul-life
and activities of men; and that which supports our faith in them is
the substance and content upon which they essentially repose. From
this point of view the poet, too, is thoroughly in earnest with his
creations, though he treats with irony their form and external reality.
In agreement with this it appears that the ancients themselves believed
in this external form merely as works of art, which receive their
confirmation and significance as a gift of the poet. This light-hearted
and human freshness of presentment, in virtue of which the gods appear
human and natural, is one of the pre-eminent qualities of the Homeric
poems. The divine figures of Virgil float before our vision as so many
invented wonders, as members of an artificial system. Virgil has not
wholly escaped the charge of mere travesty, despite his earnestness;
nay, this earnest mien of his is rather the cause of it, and Blumauer's
Mercury with his boots and spurs and riding-whip is not without its
justification. There is no necessity for any one else to make the
Homeric gods ridiculous. His own picture of them makes them quite
ridiculous enough. Nay, in his own story the gods themselves have their
laugh over the lame Hephestus, and over the cunning net in which Mars
lies in company with Venus, to say nothing of the box on the ear that
Venus gets, and the howl of Mars as he collapses. By means of these
touches of natural lustiness and gaiety the poet at once liberates
us from the external form which he set up, and enforces all the more
emphatically our common human nature, which he values, and which
suffers, however, the necessary and substantive power involved therein,
and the faith in the same, to remain. But one or two more examples of
similar detail. The tragic episode of Dido is so entirely to the modern
colour, that it was able to inspire a Tasso with emulation, nay, even
in part to a literal translation. Even nowadays the French are moved
to something like ecstasy over it. And yet how totally different in
their human naïveté, simplicity and truth are the Homeric narratives of
Circe and Calypso. The contrast is the same in Homer's account of the
descent of Odysseus into Hades. This obscure and twilight like retreat
of the shades is shown us through a dusky cloud, in an intermingling of
imagination and reality, which takes hold of us with astonishing force.
Homer does not suffer his hero to descend into any Underworld ready to
hand. Odysseus himself digs a pit, and pours therein the blood of a ram
he has killed; he summons the shades, which are then under constraint
to circle round him, and bids some of them drink fresh blood that they
may address him, and give him news, and drives away others with the
sword as they throng round him in their thirst for life. Everything
that happens here is bound up with the life of the hero, whose general
demeanour is the reverse of the humble attitude of Æneas and Dante. In
Virgil's account Æneas descends in the ordinary way; and the flight
of steps, Cerberus, Tantalus, and all the rest leaves us with the
impression of a definitely organized family establishment, quite to the
pattern of an orthodox compendium of mythology.

With yet more force will this artificial _compôte_ of the poet appear
as such rather than a work that springs naturally from the subject
where we are already cognisant of the substance of the tale that
is told us in its fresh and primitive form, or as actual history.
Examples of this are Milton's "Paradise Lost," the "Noachid" of
Bodmer, Klopstock's "Messias," Voltaire's "Henriade," and others. In
all these poems we cannot fail to detect a real cleft between the
content and the reflection of the poet which modifies his description
of the events, characters and circumstances. In Milton's case, for
example, we find emotions and observations obviously the growth of an
imagination and ethical ideas inseparable from his own age. In the
same way with Klopstock we have God the Father, the history of Jesus
Christ, patriarchs and angels combined with our German education of
the eighteenth century, and the ideas of Wölffian metaphysic. This
twofold aspect asserts itself in every line. No doubt in these cases
the content itself offers many difficulties. For God the Father,
the heaven of the angels, and the angelic host are far less adapted
to the individualization of a free imagination than are the Homeric
gods, which, in a manner similar to the in part fantastic creations
in Ariosto, in their external mode of appearance, and so far as they
do not epitomize[19] human action, but rather independently confront
each other as individuals, do of themselves suggest the gibe over such
a presentment.[20] Moreover Klopstock, so far as a religious outlook
is concerned, introduces us to a world devoid of foundation, which he
crowds with the brilliant effects of a rather exhausting imagination,
and compels us to take everything as seriously as he means it himself.
This is particularly unfortunate in the case of his angels and devils.
Such creations only really have substance and can be brought home to
us in their individuality in so far as the material of their actions,
as with the Homeric gods, is rooted in the spiritual experience of
humanity, or in a reality already known to us, as in cases where
they claim importance as being the guardian spirits or angels of men
or cities, but who, apart from such a concrete significance, assert
what is just so much the more merely the vacancy of imagination in
proportion as a serious actuality is ascribed to them. Abbadona,
for instance, the repentant devil,[21] possesses neither a truly
allegorical meaning--for in the abstract notion of devil there can be
no inconsistency of guilt which can be converted into virtue--nor is
such a figure one that is essentially and truly concrete. If Abbadona
were a man, a conversion to God would no doubt be reasonable; but
where we have evil regarded as something independently substantive,
which is not an individual human evil, such a conversion is merely
a triviality of sentimental emotion. It is in fact a distinguishing
characteristic of Klopstock's invention that it creates such unreal
personages, conditions and events, which have nothing in common with
the actual world and its poetical content. And he fares no better in
the machinery of his judicial condemnation of riotous living in high
places, least of all in the contrast he presents to Dante, who condemns
the famous personalities of his time to hell with a power of detailed
realization of another type altogether. Equally destitute of real
content as poetry is the joy of the resurrection among the assembled
spirits of Adam, Noah, Shem, Japhet, and the rest, as depicted by
Klopstock, who, in the 11th canto of the Messias, at the command of
Gabriel, once more revisit their graves. Reason and rational ground
are alike absent here. The souls have lived in the Divine Presence;
they now behold the Earth, but they enter into no renewed relation
with it. We may presume that they could not do better than appear to
men; but of this there is not a single example. No doubt we find here
beautiful emotions, endearing situations; and above all the moment in
which the soul is once more united to a body is depicted in a way that
arrests us; but the _content_ remains none the less an invention that
possesses no real claim to credibility. In contrast to such abstract
ideas the blood-drinking of the phantoms in Homer, their reanimation
in memory and speech, possess for us infinitely more the truth and
realization of ideal poetry. And though from the point of view of
imaginative resource these pictures of Klopstock are decorative enough,
what is most essential in them is throughout the lyrical rhetoric of
angels, who appear merely as instruments of service, or of patriarchs
and other Biblical figures whose speeches and harangues have little in
harmony with their historical characters as we have received the same
from tradition. Mars, Apollo, War, Knowledge, and so forth--powers of
this kind are neither in respect to their content wholly inventions, as
the angels are, nor are they simply historical persons borrowed from
historical sources, as are the patriarchs; they are on the contrary
permanent forces, whose _form_ and mode of appearance is alone the
_poet's creation._ In the "Messias," however, admitting its excellence
in certain directions--its purity of feeling, the brilliancy of its
phantasy--yet it cannot be denied that by reason of the very type of
such a phantasy we have here very, very much indeed that is hollow,
without definite substance, and utilized simply as machinery for
something else, all of which, combined with the absence of continuity
in the content and its mode of conception, has even already covered
the entire poem with oblivion. Things only live and remain green,
which, essentially vital in themselves, unfold to us original life
and activity in their pristine mould. For this reason we must hold
fast to the primitive Epopees, and keep aloof, not only from modes
of conception which are antagonistic to the actual presence which is
vindicated in such, but also and above all from false aesthetic theory
and predilection, at least if we are really anxious to enjoy and study
the original world-outlook of nations, that great and spiritual[22]
natural history. We have every reason to congratulate recent times,
and our German nation in particular, that it is now on the road to
the attainment of this object; that it has, in short, broken through
the former obtuseness, of ordinary methods of thinking, and by its
liberation of the mind from restricted views made it more receptive
to ideas of the world which it is imperative that we as individuals
enter into, and which alone are able to restore to us, to the full
extent of their claim, the resurrected spirits of nations, whose ideal
significance and deed thus appear struck into life in these their own

(_c_) _The Epos as Unified Totality_

Hitherto, in considering the necessary qualifications of a genuine
Epos, we have on the one hand discussed the _general_ world-environment
and from a further point of view the nature of the particularized event
transacted on such a background by _individuals_ either acting under
the direction of gods or subject to destiny. These two fundamental
aspects have yet further to coalesce in one and the same epic totality.
In respect to this I will merely confine the reader's attention to the
following points of interest:

In the _first_ place we propose to consider the _collective aggregate
of objects_, a satisfactory exposition of which is necessary to
disclose the connection between the particular action and the
substantive ground referred to.

_Secondly_, we have to examine the nature of the difference which
obtains between the epic mode of _disclosure_ and that of lyric or
dramatic poetry.

_Thirdly_, we have to deal with the _unity_ in which an epic composition
is rounded off despite all its breadth of extension.

(_α_) The content of the Epos, as already observed, is the entirety of
a world in which an individual action is eventuated. In such a world
the greatest variety of objects appear necessarily appertinent to the
general views, deeds, and conditions of such a world.

(_αα_) Lyrical poetry is, no doubt, involved in definite situations,
within which the subject of the lyric is permitted to import a great
variety of content into its emotion and reflection. In this type of
poetry, however, it is throughout the form of conscious life itself
which characterizes such content; and for this reason excludes the
outlook on the objective world in all its breadth of extension.
Conversely the dramatic composition presents us characters and the
carrying out of the action itself with all the animated appearance
of life, so that here, too, the portrayal of local accessories, the
external form of the active personages and all that happens, in the
nature of the case tends to disappear. As a rule, what we have to
express is the soul-motive and purpose rather than its extensive
relations with the surrounding world of objects, or a description of
individuals in their positive appearance as part of them. In the Epos,
however, quite apart from the national actuality in the widest sense,
upon which the action is based, we must find room for the ideal or
soul aspect no less than the external or world aspect. We have in this
type, therefore, under review and in coalescence the entire totality
of all that we may reckon as comprised in the poetic presentation of
our human existence. In this content we must not merely include on
the one side the natural environment in the sense of this or that
specific locality in which the action takes place, but also the more
universal objective outlook such as I have already pointed out is a
feature we find illustrated in the Odyssey, enabling us to understand
how the Greeks in the times of Homer regarded the shape of the Earth,
the configuration of the seas, and similar geographical facts. At the
same time these natural aspects are not the object of most importance
in the poem; they are merely the foundation; there is, in short, the
further and more essential aspect of the composition unfolded in
the existence, activities, and co-operation of the entire world of
divinities; and between these two extremes we have humanity simply as
such in its collective relation to domestic, public, peaceful, and
warlike situations, ethical habit, customs, characters and events. And,
moreover, throughout we have to assume in both directions, whether
that is from the point of view of the individual event, or the general
condition, the all-embracing national and other actual complexus.

Finally, if we consider the nature of this intelligible content it
is not merely an external _événement_ that is presented us, but
in conjunction with such we must have, too, placed before us the
ideal world of emotion, the aims and purposes of mind, all that may
contribute to justify or condemn a deliberate line of conduct. In
short, the real subject-matter of lyric and dramatic poetry is not
wholly excluded, although in the epic type these aspects merely are
valid as subordinate features; they do not, as in the former cases,
constitute the essential form of the exposition, nor do they deprive
the Epos of its distinctive character. We may consequently affirm that
the distinctive note of the Epic is absent, when lyric expression
determines both tone and colour, as is the case, for example, in
Ossian, or when passages are emphasized in which the execution of
the poet is made as consummate as possible, as is to some extent the
case with Tasso, and to a still more marked degree characteristic of
Milton and Klopstock. Emotions and reflections ought rather, no less
than the portrayal of objective fact, to be transmitted as something
done, already spoken and thought, and not interrupt the tranquil
course of the Epic narrative. The incoherent exclamation of emotion,
the direct outcry of the soul mainly intent with its utterance upon
self-revelation, is out of place in such poetry. It will for the same
reason and as strongly abstain from an imitation of the animation
of dramatic dialogue, in which individuals carry on a conversation
as though face to face with each other, where the aspect of most
importance throughout is the contrast presented by different types of
character in their interchange of speech as they strive to convince,
command, impose upon, or passionately unravel their motives to one

(_ββ_) And, _secondly_, the Epos has not merely to bring before
our vision the manifold content above described in its actually
independent and subsistent objective form, but also the form in
which it essentially becomes the Epos is, as I have more than once
already described it, an _individual_ event. If this essentially
limited action is to remain united with all other material introduced,
this additional accretion of fact, must throughout be brought into
definite relation with the course of the individual event, that is to
say, it must not fall outside it as independent. We could not find a
more perfect illustration of this interweaving of all threads than
that of the Odyssey. The domestic arrangements of the Greeks, for
instance, no less than the ideas we get of foreign and barbarous folk
and countries, or of the realm of the shades, and much else, are so
closely interwoven with the personal wanderings of the home-returning
Odysseus and the fortunes of Telemachus on his journey after his
father, that not one of these aspects of the tale is held in a loose
and independent position apart from the main event, or, as with the
chorus of tragedy, which does not usually enter into the action
and merely deals with generalized reflections, is able to relapse
inactive into retrospection, but co-operates in the actual progress
of the event. In a similar manner Nature also and the world of gods
for the first time receives, not so much on their own account as in
their relation to the particular events, which it is the function of
the godlike to direct, an individual representation and one of rich
vitality. Only when such a condition is fulfilled, or, in other words,
when the narrative throughout informs us of the progressive movement
of the event, which the poet has selected as the unifying material of
his composition, can it never appear as a mere portrayal of independent
objects. On the other hand, the particular event for its part should
not be involved in and absorb the substantive national basis and
totality upon which it moves forward to such a degree, that these are
themselves divested of all independent existence, and fall by necessity
into a relation simply of service. In this respect the expedition of
Alexander against the East would not supply satisfactory subject-matter
for the true Epopee. An heroic exploit of this kind not merely in
respect to the original resolve, but also to its manner of execution,
depends so entirely on this _one_ single individual, his personality
and character is so exclusively that which supports it, that we lose
altogether the independent existence and self-assertion of the national
basis, the host and its leaders, which we have shown to be a necessary
condition. Alexander's army is his people, wholly bound up with him and
his command: it follows him rather in the relation of vassalage than
that of free will. In contrast to this the true vitality of the epic
consists in this, that both these fundamental aspects, the particular
action with its individual agents and the general world-condition,
while no doubt continuing under a mediated relation, yet in this
relation of reciprocity no less preserve their necessary independence
and thereby enforce themselves as one existing whole, at the same time
securing and possessing an independent entity.

(_γγ_) In a previous passage we laid it down generally that in order
to have an individual action the substantive basis of epic poetry must
offer the opportunity of collisions, and furthermore observed, that the
general foundation must not appear as wholly independent but under the
form of a specific event; we may now add that it is in this individual
_événement_ that we must seek the point of _departure_ for the entire
epic poem. This is pre-eminently of importance for the situations
connected with its commencement. Here, too, we may take the Iliad and
Odyssey for models. In the first the Trojan war is placed before us
as the general background of contemporary life, but only so far as it
comprises the particular events connected with the wrath of Achilles.
And for this reason the poem commences without any possible confusion
with situations which excite the passion of the principal hero against
Agamemnon. In the Odyssey there are two classes of subject-matter which
determine the content of its opening, that is to say, the wanderings of
Odysseus and the domestic complications at Ithaca. Homer brings them
together by giving us briefly information concerning Odysseus on his
home-journey to the effect that he is detained by Calypso, and then at
once passes to the sorrows of Penelope and the voyage of Telemachus. We
are, consequently, able to review at one glance what obstacle stands
in way of the return, and what is consequently rendered necessary for
those left behind at home.

(_β_) The advance, then, of the epic poem from a commencement such as
this is totally different from that of lyric or dramatic poetry.

(_αα_) In the first place we should draw attention to the possibilities
of _extension_ within the range of the Epos. These are quite as much
due to the form as they are to the content. We have already seen what
a variety of objects may be comprised in the world of the Epic as
fully elaborated, not merely in its ideal capacities, motives, and
aim, but also in respect to its objective situation and environment.
Inasmuch as all these aspects assume an objective form, an appearance
of reality, each one of them takes to itself a form of essentially
independent ideality and externality, in which the epic poet, either
in his exposition or description, is permitted freely to linger, and
to disclose in its positive appearance. The lyric, on the contrary,
concentrates all that it lays hold of within the ideal realm of the
emotions, or refines it away in the generalized vision of reflection.
In the objective world it is the immediate complex in juxtaposition, or
the varied wealth of manifold characteristics, which is presented us.
In this respect we find that in no other type of poetry is the claim
to introduce episodical matter, even to the point of to all appearance
absolute independence, more indisputable than in the Epos. The delight,
however, in actual fact for its own sake and in its natural form must,
as already observed, not be carried so far as to import into the
poem circumstances and facts which have no real connection with the
important action. Such episodes must assert themselves as effective in
the advance of such action, whether as events which are obstructive to
its course, or assistant in their mediation. Yet, despite of this, the
particular portions of the epic poem will be somewhat loosely bound
together. This is a necessary result of the mode of its objectivity.
For in what is objective mediation persists as the ideal essence; what
in contrast to this confronts the external aspect is the independent
existence of particular aspects. This defect in the direction of a
stringent unity and the emphasized relation of specific portions of the
epic poem, which, according to its primitive form, possesses moreover
a primitive period of origination, has this result, that it lends
itself more readily than lyric or dramatic compositions to subsequent
additions and continuations; and, further, it is enabled to appropriate
under its more recent and embracing whole even examples of the saga
which have already received artistic expression of a definite, if not
so exalted character.

(_ββ_)_Secondly_, if we look at the way in which epic poetry may be
justified in its _motivisation_ of the progress and course of events,
we shall find that it ought not either exclusively to take the ground
of what happens from the individual mood, nor yet from what is purely
personal character. In other words, it should not encroach upon
what is the proper sphere of the lyric and drama; it must, in this
respect too, adhere to the form of objectivity which constitutes the
fundamental epic type. We have, in fact, seen more than once previously
that external conditions were of no less importance, for an exposition
that takes the form of narrative, than states of soul which revealed
character. In the Epos character and the necessary rational condition
coalesce completely on terms of equality, and the epic character may
therefore give way to external conditions, without impairing his poetic
individuality, may be, in short, in his action, the result of relations
in such a way that these appear as the predominant factor rather than
the exclusively effective character as we find it in the drama. We
find in the Odyssey that the progress of events is almost entirely
motived in this way. We find the same thing in the adventures of
Ariosto and other Epopees, where the material of the song is borrowed
from the the Middle Ages. The divine command, too, which induces Æneas
to found Rome, no less than the varied episodes which extend its
embrace over a wide field, would involve a type of motivisation wholly
uncongenial to the drama. A further illustration of this is Tasso's
"Jerusalem Delivered," in which, quite apart from the brave antagonism
of the Saracens, many a natural event is opposed to the object of
the Christian host. Such examples might be indefinitely multiplied
from almost all the more famous Epopees. And, indeed, it is precisely
material of this kind, in which an exposition of this type is possible
and necessary, that the epic poet ought to select.

The same thing is effected where it is bound to appear as the result
of the actual decision of individuals. Here, too, we have neither
to assert nor to express that which the character in the dramatic
sense of the term--that is, according to his aim and the individual
passion which uniquely animates him--makes of the circumstances and
relations, in order to maintain his personality against this external
resistance no less than against other individuals. Rather the epic
character excludes this action viewed simply in reference to its
personal character, just as it excludes the tumult of purely subjective
states and feelings. Instead of this it cleaves fast, on the one
hand, to the circumstances and their reality; and on the other that,
whereby its movement is effected, must necessarily render explicit all
that is essentially valid, universal, and ethical. In Homer, as in
no other writer, we shall find inexhaustible material for pertinent
thought on this head. The lament of Hecuba over Hector, for instance,
or of Achilles over the death of Patroclus--episodes which, so far
as content is concerned, would lend themselves admirably to lyric
treatment--are in Homer held throughout within the epic temper. And
to quite as little extent do we find this poet handle in dramatic
style situations which would primarily adapt themselves to dramatic
exposition, such as the conflict between Agamemnon and Achilles in the
council of the chiefs, or the parting of Hector and Andromache. Only to
glance at the last-mentioned scene, this belongs unquestionably to one
of the finest conceivable efforts of epic poetry. Even in Schiller's
dialogue between Amalia and Carl in "The Robbers," where the same
subject ought to be treated in the lyric vein throughout, we distinctly
hear an epic reverberation from the Iliad. How consummately epic in its
effect, however, is Homer's description in the sixth book of the Iliad
of the way in which Hector vainly seeks for Andromache at home, then
at last meets her on the way to the Scæan gate, how she hurries toward
him, and when close to him, as he looks with a peaceful smile on his
little boy lying on the arm of his nurse, exclaims: "Amazing man, thy
courage will destroy thee, and thou compassionest neither thy infant
boy nor me, hapless wight, who will soon be widowed of thee. Ay, for
soon the Achaeans will slay thee, storming against thee together. And
if I lose thee it were better for myself to pass beneath the earth. No
other comfort is left for me, but only sorrow, if thou art stricken by
fate! Neither have I my father any more, nor yet my lady mother." After
which she narrates at length all the story about her father and the
death of her seven brothers, all of whom Achilles had slain, also the
captivity, ransom, and decease of her mother. Then at length she turns
with earnest plea to Hector, who is henceforward to her father and
mother, brothers, and spouse in the bloom of life, and implores him to
remain on the walls, and not to make his son an orphan and his wife a
widow. Hector replies in much the same spirit: "All this is also a care
to me, wife; but I fear too much the Trojans, if I avoid the battle
here, like a coward; the eddy, too, of the moment worries me not, who
am wont to be ever dauntless, and to fight in the foremost ranks of the
Trojans, protecting the high fame of my father and mine own. Ay, well
indeed I wot, both in mind and soul, that the day will come in which
sacred Troy shall fall, as also Priam and the folk of the king cunning
with the spear. But I sorrow not so much for the Trojans, nor yet for
Hecuba herself and Priam, nor the brothers of my flesh, who shall fall
beneath the foe, as for thee, when some bronze-greaved Achæan shall
bear thee away, robbing thee of thy day of freedom, and thou shalt spin
from the flax of another in Argos, or wearily draw water, loth indeed,
but the might of necessity will be upon thee; and I doubt not there
will be someone who will say, as he sees thee weeping: 'See yonder
Hector's wife, the bravest of all who fought among the Trojans when the
fight was over Ilium.' Thus perchance shall someone speak; and woe will
come upon thee, that thou hast no longer such a husband, to fend thee
from such serfdom. As for myself, may the earth cover me, or ever I
hear thy bitter cry and thy carrying off." All that Hector says here is
full of feeling, pathetic enough, yet not merely expressed in a lyrical
or dramatic manner, but in the epic vein, inasmuch as the picture which
he outlines of suffering, and which brings pain to himself, in the
first place depicts circumstantially objective conditions as such, and
in the second place because all that affects and moves him does not
appear as personal volition, or individual resolve, but rather as a
necessity which is not at the same time his own aim and will. Of much
the same epic effect are the pleas with which the vanquished plead, as
they may on various grounds, for their life with their victors; for a
movement of the soul, which proceeds merely from circumstances, and
only attempts to affect us through the causative effect of objective
relations and situations, is not dramatic, although modern tragedians
from time to time also make use of such a type of effect. The scene,
for example, in Schiller's "Maid of Orleans," on the battle-field
between the English knight Montgomery and Joan,[23] is, as others have
already justly observed, rather epic than dramatic. In the moment of
danger all courage forsakes the knight; yet, for all that, when pressed
by the fierce Talbot, who punishes cowardice with death, and the Maid,
who conquers even the bravest, he is unable to have recourse to flight,
and exclaims:

    O, wär ich nimmer über Meer hieher geschifft,
    Ich unglücksel'ger! Eitler Wahn bethörte mich,
    Wohlfeilen Ruhm zu suchen in dem Frankenkrieg,
    Und jetzo führt mich das verderbliche Geschick
    In diese blut'ge Mordschlacht. Wär ich weit von hier
    Daheim noch an der Savern' bluhendem Gestad
    Im sichern Vaterhause, we die Mutter mir.
    In Gram zurückblieb und die zarte süsse Braut.[24]

Expressions such as these are unmanly, and make the figure of this
knight neither fit for the genuine Epos nor the tragic drama, are in
fact rather suggestive of comedy. And when Joan, after exclaiming,

    Du bist des Todes! Eine britt'sche Mutter zeugte dich![25]

advances towards him, he throws away sword and shield and pleads at her
feet for his life. The reasons he gives at length in order to arouse
her sympathy: his defencelessness; the wealth of his father, who would
ransom him with gold; the gentleness of the sex to which Joan belongs
as maid; the love of his sweet bride, who waits for his return home in
tears; the grief of the parents whom he has left at home; the grievous
fate of death unwept for in a foreign land--all these motives are
themselves, in one aspect of them, essentially objective conditions,
effective and of value as such, and on the other hand, the tranquil
exposition of them is itself in the epic vein. In the same way the
poet motives the condition, that Joan must hearken to him, through the
external circumstance of the defencelessness of the pleader, although
from the dramatic point of view she ought without delay and at the bare
sight to have slain him, being as she was the relentless foe of all
Englishmen, and in fact expresses such destructive hatred with every
resource of rhetoric, justifying her action by the statement that she
is bound with most fearful vow to the spirit-world.

    Mit dem Schwert zu tödten alles Lebende, das ihr
    Der Schlachten Gott verhängnissvoll entgegenschickt.[26]

If the point of importance to the maid were merely that Montgomery
ought not to die defenceless, he possessed apparently an excellent
means in his grasp of retaining his life; in other words he had merely
to refuse to take up his weapons. This view is supported by the fact
that Joan has already listened to him so long. Yet when she demands
that he should fight for his life with her, of mortal flesh like
himself, he again takes up his sword and falls by her hand. Such a
_development_ of the scene had been more in keeping with the drama had
it dispensed with all this varied epic exposition.

(_γγ_) In general, then, we may characterize the type in which we
have the poetic passage of epic events set before us in the following
way, namely, that the epic presentation does not merely linger over
the picture of objective reality and ideal conditions, but over and
above this provides _obstacles_ to a final solution. This not only
applies to its relation to the wide field of external condition, to
which the more immediate vision enforces us, but also in respect
to the culminating movement of the action, more especially in its
contrast to dramatic poetry. For this reason above all it diverts us
from the execution of the fundamental purpose, the connected course
of whose evolved conflict a dramatic poet ought never to lose sight
of, into much digressive matter; and, moreover, by this means avails
itself of the opportunity, to bring before our vision the complex
unity of a world of circumstances, which otherwise could not have
been expressed in speech. We have an illustration of such an obstacle
in the beginning of the Iliad. Homer here at once tells us about the
fatal sickness, which Apollo had spread throughout the Greek camp,
and connects with it the strife between Achilles and Agamemnon. This
wrath is the second impediment. Even more obviously in the Odyssey is
every adventure that Odysseus has to pass through, a delay to his home
return. More particularly, however, the distinct episode serves to
interrupt the unimpaired progression of the story, and is to a great
extent an obstacle to this. Such, for instance, is the shipwreck of
Æneas, his love for Dido, the appearance of Armida in Tasso, and we may
add as a rule the many independent love affairs of particular heroes
in the romantic Epos, which, in the poetry of Ariosto, accumulate and
interlace with such profusion, that the conflict between Christian and
Saracen is thereby entirely hidden. In the "Divine Comedy" of Dante
we do not find such definite examples of obstruction to the plot or
narrative. In this case we must associate the slow advance of the Epic
denouement partly with the generally pausing manner of the description,
and in part with the many little episodical histories and conversations
with particular characters, whether damned or otherwise, about whom the
poet permits himself more detailed information.

In this connection it is above all things necessary that impediments
of this description, which interfere with the flow of narrative to its
final end, should not be presented as though they were merely means
directed to objects of an objective character. For inasmuch as already
the general condition, on the basis of which the movement of the epic
world is carried forward, is only truly poetical where it appears as a
self-constructed growth, so too its entire course, either in virtue of
circumstances or the inherent destiny, must also appear self-originated
without our being able to detect thereby the personal views of
the poet; and this is all the more so because, in the form of its
objectivity--not merely under its aspects of phenomenal reality, but
also in respect to the substantive character of its content--it claims
for the whole no less than its divisible content that it is a positive
growth, spontaneous in its origin and independent. If, however, a
directive world of gods is its apex, controlling the course of events,
it is even more necessary that the poet himself should possess a lively
and vivid faith in them, because in that case it is generally through
the instrumentality of these that obstructions such as we have referred
to are asserted; consequently where these divine forces are treated
merely as some lifeless mechanism, it is inevitable that everything
for which they are responsible must equally become so in a poetic
composition which is artificial even in intention.

(_γ_) Having thus briefly adverted to the totality of objects, which
the Epos is able to unfold by interweaving a particular event with a
universal national world-condition, and, further, having discussed
the manner in which the course of events is developed, we have now,
_thirdly_, and in conclusion, to examine the problem as to the nature
of the _unity_ and _rounding off_ of an epic composition.

(_αα_) This is a point all the more important for the reason that in
our own day people are ready to take up the view that we may end an
Epic as we like, or continue it just as capriciously. Although this is
the opinion of men of talent and learning--it is in fact the contention
of F. N. Wolff--it remains none the less a crude and illiterate view.
It in fact amounts to nothing less than excluding from the finest
ethic compositions any genuine character of artistic composition. For
it is only in virtue of the fact that an Epos depicts an essentially
exclusive, and thereby, for the firs time independent world, that it
is at all a work of fine art in contrast to what is, in part, the
diffuse, and, in part, the finite, series of independent sections,
causes, effects, and other modes of self-causative reality. One can,
of course, so far admit that for the genuine and primitive Epos the
wholly aesthetic review of the design and organization of the parts,
of the position and completion of the episodes, of the kind of similes
employed, and so forth, this is not the point of most importance,
inasmuch as here, more than in lyrical poetry of a later date, and
its artificial elaboration of the drama, the general world-outlook,
the faith in divine beings, and, in a word, what is most essential in
such national Bibles, must be expressed as the aspect of most weight.
Nevertheless, these great national books, such as are the Ramajana, the
Iliad, and the Odyssey, and even the "Song of the Nibelings," ought not
to lose that quality which alone, in respect to both their beauty and
their art, can endow them with the worth and freedom of artistic works,
the quality, that is, whereby they bring before our vision a complete
sphere of action. What we have simply to do, therefore, is to discover
the appropriate form of this exclusive unity.

(_ββ_) The term Unity, if employed in this general sense, has become
a very commonplace one even for tragedy, one capable of much misuse.
For every event, in its causes and effects, creates an infinite chain,
which, in the direction of the past no less than the future, and in
a way that is in both directions incalculable, leads to a further
series of particular circumstances and actions, it being impossible
to determine all that may form part of the circumstances and detail
in other respects, or the mode of their coalescence. If we merely
confine our attention to this series, no doubt an Epos may be extended
backwards and forwards indefinitely; and, over and above this such
always offers opportunity for digression. But it is just such a series
as this which makes the composition prosaic. To adduce an example the
Greek cyclic poets have celebrated the entire cyclus of the Trojan
war, and in doing so continue at the point where Homer stops, with a
beginning, too, from the egg of Leda. But it is precisely on account
of this that they degenerate into prose, if we contrast them with
Homer's compositions. Just as little--I have already drawn attention
to this--can an individual as such surrender the central focus of his
unity, inasmuch as it is from this that the most varied events issue,
and are able to effect a union in the same, though they may be entirely
without connection regarded simply as events. We have consequently
to seek for another type of unity. In this respect we must briefly
determine the distinction between a mere _event_, and a _definite
action_, which accepts the form of event in the epic narrative. We
may define a mere event as the external aspect and realization of
every human action, without involving with it the execution of a
particular end; or, in general terms, we may call it every external
modification in the form and appearance of what actually exists. When
anyone is struck by lightning, that is a mere event, an external
occurrence. More is implied in the sack of a hostile city; we have here
the fulfilment of a predeterminate purpose. An essentially distinct
object of this kind, such as the liberation of the Holy Land from the
yoke of the Saracens and heathen, or better still the satisfaction of
a specific impulse, such as the wrath of Achilles, must, under the
mode of the epic eventuality, constitute the synthetic unity of the
Epopaea; and by this I mean that the poetic narrative must restrict
itself to that which is uniquely the effect of this conceived purpose
or specific impulse, and in this co-operation be rounded off in an
essentially exclusive unity. Action and execution of this type is,
however, only possible to human agency; so that, as the culminating
point of our composition, we must have in progressive conjunction
with purpose and impulse a _human personality._ Furthermore, if the
action and satisfaction of the entire heroic character, from which both
purpose and impulse proceed, are merely the result of wholly definite
situations and motives, which are dissipated as we look back in an
extensive complexity of relation, and if, further, the execution of the
purpose, as we look forward, carries with it a variety of result, then
in that case on the one hand no doubt a large number of presuppositions
will be involved with such a specific action, and on the other hand we
shall have many effects of reaction, which, however, will not be placed
in any more intimate poetic connection with just this determinate
character of the end under exposition. In this sense, for instance,
the wrath of Achilles has as little connection with the rape of Helen
or the judgment of Paris, although the one fact is presupposed in the
other, as it has with the actual sack of Troy. When, therefore, it is
contended that the Iliad neither possesses a necessary beginning, nor
an appropriate conclusion, such a verdict is due to an inability to see
distinctly that it is the wrath of Achilles which is the main subject
of the Iliad, and which consequently should supply the focus-point of
unity. If, on the contrary, we form a stable conception of the heroic
figure of Achilles, and assume that this, as asserted in the wrath
aroused in him by Agamemnon, is the connecting thread of the whole,
we shall be unable to conceive either a beginning or termination of
greater beauty. It is, as I have already pointed out, the direct motive
of this anger, which forms the poem's commencement; the consequences
of the same are comprised in all that follows. Against this critics
have attempted to enforce the view that in such a case the last cantos
are irrelevant, and might just as well be omitted. Such an opinion, if
we look at the poem itself, is untenable. For just as the dallying of
Achilles himself by the ships and his abstinence from the conflict are
purely the result of his indignant wrath, and are in this inactivity
bound up closely with the almost immediate success of the Trojans over
the Grecian host, no less than with the fight and death of Patroclus,
so, too, the lament and revenge of the noble Achilles and his victory
over Hector is closely linked with this fall of his brave friend. If in
the previous opinion it is implied that death is the end of everything,
and after that we may as well pack and be off, such a view merely
indicates extreme crudity of imaginative conception. With the idea of
death it is merely _Nature_ that is brought to a standstill; man is not
so, nor yet are the obligations of his _ethical life_ and _habit_,[27]
with their claim of honourable recognition for the fallen hero. In this
sense the sports that form part of the funeral rites of Patroclus,
the heartrending pleas of Priam, the reconciliation of Achilles, who
returns the father the corpse of his son, in order that in this case,
too, honour to the dead may not be absent, each and all are connected
with the previous events, and contribute to the supreme and satisfying
beauty of the narrative's conclusion.

(_γγ_) Inasmuch, however, as we have attempted above to make a
specifically individual action, which issues in accordance with a
deliberate purpose or heroic impulses, conform to the type of an epic
whole in which focal points are ascertainable that bind it together
and round off its completeness, the view is at least possible that
we have made the _unity_ of the Epos too nearly identical with that
of the _drama._ For in the drama also it is _one_ particular line of
action issuing from self-conceived purpose and character with its
conflict which constitutes the focal centre. In order, therefore,
not to involve these two types of poetry, the epos, that is, and the
drama, in confusion, though the confusion merely appear to be such, I
will yet again draw the reader's attention emphatically to my previous
explanation of the distinction between human action and event. And
quite apart from this the epic interest is not simply confined to
those characters, objects, and situations which have their ground
in the particular action as such, whose progress is the subject of
the epic narrative, but this action possesses the further stimulus
to its opposed factors and their resolution, and in fact is directed
throughout its course and exclusively within a _national_ and
_collective whole_, or substantive content, which claims on its own
account to assert a variety of characters, conditions, and events. In
this respect the final consummation of the Epos does not merely consist
in the particular content of the predominant action selected, but quite
as much in the entire synthesis of the _general world-survey_ whose
objective reality it undertakes to depict; in fact, the epic unity is
only then fully complete when the particular action, from one point of
view no doubt, in its independent character, but also from another,
regarded in its progression as the essentially rounded world within
the sphere of which it moves, is placed before us as one indissoluble
totality; and both of these spheres, or aspects of one sphere, repose
together in the mediating fulness and unimpaired unity of very life.

Such, then, are the most essential characteristics we find it possible,
within the limits accepted, to draw attention to in respect to the
genuine Epos.

It is, however, possible to apply the same form of objectivity to
other subject-matter, whose content does not carry with it the true
significance of genuine objectivity. It is very possible that a
theorist in Art will feel embarrassment when, with such modes of speech
before him, he is asked to make a classification adapted to all poems
without distinction; and we must not forget that under the generic term
of poem these hybrid forms have also to be reckoned. In any really
just classification, however, we ought only to include that which only
conforms with a definition of the generic notion.[28] All that is, on
the contrary, incomplete in content or form, or both, precisely for the
reason that it is not as it ought to be, is only subsumed defectively
under the notion, or in other words under the definition, which gives
us the thing as it ought to be, and in truth actually is. I only
propose, therefore, in conclusion and by way of supplement, to add a
few observations upon such subordinate and collateral branches of the
true epic composition.

To this class of poetry above all the _idyll_ belongs in the modern
sense of that term, viz., that in which poetry stands aloof from the
profounder interests of spiritual and ethical life, and depicts mankind
in its innocence. Innocent life in this sense amounts to little more
than an ignorance of everything except eating and drinking. We may
add that what we eat and drink here is extremely simple, it is goat's
milk merely, or sheep's milk, or at the most cow's milk, roots, acorns,
vegetables, and cheese made from milk. I should say that bread is no
longer in the truly idyllic sphere; we must, however, allow to it
flesh-eating; for it is hardly possible that our idyllic shepherds and
shepherdesses could have wished to sacrifice their herds exclusively
to the gods. Their occupation will consist in looking the whole day
long after their beloved herds with their faithful hound, in providing
their food and drink, and along with this giving vent, with as much
sentimental feeling as possible, to every kind of mood which does not
disturb this condition of repose and contentment. In a word, they are
satisfied with their peculiar piety and gentleness, piping away on
their reed or oat-pipes, warbling to each other, and above all making
love with the greatest tenderness and innocence.

The Greeks, on the contrary, possessed in their plastic representations
a more jubilant world, with its attendants of Bacchus, Satyrs and
Fauns, who, in their harmless service of a god, stimulated animal
life and human joviality with a vivacity and truth totally different
from the above pretentious innocence, piety, and emptiness. We may
also recognize the same essentially animated outlook on the world as
illustrated in lively pictures of national condition, in the Greek
Bucolic poets such as Theocritus; this is so whether our poet lingers
over actual situations of the life of fisher-folk, or shepherds,
or extends the mode in which he expresses this, or similar spheres
of life, to a yet wider circle, either depicting such states in an
epic form, or treating them in lyric form and that of the objective
drama. Virgil already sings to us with less warmth in his Eclogues.
Most tedious of all, however, is Gessner, so tedious that I suppose
no one reads him nowadays. We can only wonder that the French ever
had so much taste for him that they even ranked him highest among
German poets. Their morbid sensibility on the one hand, which evades
the tumult and changes of life, while yearning also for some kind of
movement, and on the other the absence of all true interest in such
poetry, so that the otherwise disturbing influences of our culture were
not represented--both of these factors, no doubt, contributed to this

We may reckon as a further class of this hybrid type of Epic those
poems which are half description and half lyrics, a favourite type
with the English, and one which for the most part accepts for its
subject-matter Nature, the Seasons, and similar subjects. We may also
associate with this type the various _didactic_ poems concerned with
physical science, astronomy, medicine, chess, fishing, and hunting--in
short, the art which loves to elaborate in a poetic form what is really
the content of prose, an art which has been cultivated with much talent
in later Greek poetry, and after that by the Romans, and, in our time,
pre-eminently by the French. Such poetry, despite its general epic
temper, will very readily pass over into the lyric treatment.

The _romances_ and _ballads_, which we find both in the Middle Ages and
modern times, are no doubt poetry of a kind, though it is impossible to
define accurately their type; so far as their content is concerned they
are in part epic. If we look at the form of their composition, however,
they are for the most part lyrical, so that we have perforce to reckon
them from different points of view to different types.

The _romantic_ novel, that Epopaea of _modern society_, opens a
different field altogether. In this we possess, on the one hand, in
all its completeness and variety, an epic prodigality of interests,
conditions, characters, and living relations, the extensive background
in fact of an entire world. We have also the epic exposition of events.
What fails us here is the _primitive_ world-condition as poetically
conceived, which is the source of the genuine Epos. The romance or
novel in the modern sense pre-supposes a basis of reality already
organized in its _prosaic form_, upon which it then attempts, in its
own sphere, so far as this is possible from such a general point of
view, both in its treatment of the vital character of events and the
life of individuals and their destiny, to make good once more the
banished claims of poetical vision. For this reason one of the most
common collisions in the novel, and one most suitable to it, is the
conflict between the poetry of the heart and the prose of external
conditions antagonistic to it, including with such the contingency
such imply. This is a conflict which may be resolved on the lines of
tragedy or comedy, or finds its settlement in the twofold conclusion,
first, that the characters which in the first instance contend with
the ordinary course of life are taught to recognize in it what is
the genuine heart of things, becoming thereby reconciled to their
conditions and ready to cooperate with them; and, secondly, that they
learn how to brush away the purely prosaic aspect of all that they do
and accomplish, and thereby replace the prose which they have found
there with a reality allied and congenial to beauty and art. In so
far as the form of the exposition is concerned, the genuine romance
pre-supposes, precisely as the Epos does, the synthesized purvey of
the world and life as one whole, the manifold contents of which are
manifested within the reach of the individual event which supplies
the focal centre of the entire complexus. In his attitude to detail,
however, the poet must here permit himself a freer play both of
conception and execution, and all the more so because he is here less
able to avoid the prose of actual life in his descriptions, though this
freedom should not make him any more inclined to dwell exclusively in
such an atmosphere of prose and ordinary occurrence.


In looking back upon the course of our previous consideration of
the other arts, we find that we reviewed the different stages of
the art of _building_ throughout in their historical development as
successively in symbolic, classic, and romantic architecture. In the
case of sculpture, on the contrary, we accepted the Greek type, by
virtue of its complete identity with the notion of this _classic_
art, as the real focal centre, from which we proceeded to develop
the specific characteristics of importance, so that here we did not
find it necessary to extend so far as in the previous case the range
of our historical survey. This contrast is further illustrated in
our treatment of the _romantic_ art-character of painting, which,
however,[29] not merely in respect to the fundamental notion of its
content, but also in that of the mode of its presentation, embraces
an equally wide and important range of development in different
nations and through different schools, so that in this case it was
necessary to make our reference to history more extensive and varied.
The nature of the art of music invited us to historical comparisons of
the same kind. Inasmuch, however, as I have neither obtained access
to the foreign literature dealing with the history of this art, nor
can claim personally to possess the adequate knowledge, I have been
forced to restrict myself to the mere outlines of what is required
incidentally. With regard to our immediate subject, that is, _epic_
poetry, the course of our enquiry will be very much that followed in
the case of sculpture. In other words, though the mode of exposition
branches off in several direct or collateral divisions, and embraces
many historical periods and peoples, yet we have already recognized in
the Epos of Greek literature the genuine type of it in its consummate
form and most artistic mode of realization. And the reason of this
is that in general the Epos possesses the closest affinity with the
plastic of sculpture and its objective presence; and, not merely in
respect to its substantive content, but equally so in the form of its
presentation as that of phenomenal reality. It is therefore by no means
simply an accident that we find epic poetry, no less than the art of
sculpture, assert itself pre-eminently among the Greeks in its original
and unsurpassed perfection. Stages of development, no doubt, are to be
met with on either side of this culminating point, stages which are
neither intrinsically subordinate or insignificant, but are necessary
conditions of the art's growth, inasmuch as all nations are essentially
within the sphere of poetic creation, and it is above all the Epos
which brings before us the heart and core of the national life. And
for this reason, the historical development of the Epic is of greater
importance than was the case with sculpture.

We may then classify the entire compass of epic poetry, or, to express
ourselves more accurately, of the Epopaea, in three fundamental stages;
and these, speaking generally, constitute the course of the art's

_Firsts_ we have the Oriental Epos, which makes the symbolic type its
focal centre.

_Secondly_, there is the classical Epos of the Greeks, with its
imitation in Roman authors.

_Finally,_ we have the abundant and many-sided unfolding of
epic-romantic poetry among Christian peoples; which, however, in
the first instance appears in Teutonic paganism; and again, from
another point of view, that is quite apart from what we may style the
chivalrous poetry of the Middle Ages, we find the old classic world
active in another province of life as instrumental to the purification
of literary taste or style, or still more directly utilized as a model,
until finally the modern romance replaces the Epos altogether.

We may now proceed to some review of single epic compositions: in this
it will only be possible to emphasize what is of most importance; and,
generally speaking, I can only pretend to give a rapid outline of this
field in the space at my disposal.

(_a_) In the case of Oriental peoples the art of poetry is, as we have
already observed, generally of a more primitive type, inasmuch as it
remains more closely related to what we may style the essential[30]
mode of envisagement, and the diffusion of the individual consciousness
in the sublime Unity of the _One._ And because of this, as a further
aspect, and relatively to the specific divisions of poetic composition,
it is unable to work out individual personality in the self-subsistency
of determinate characterization, with its aims and collisions, an
elaboration which is of first importance in the composition of genuine
dramatic poetry. The most essential result therefore we meet with here
is limited--if we exclude from attention an endearing, sweet-scented,
and delicate type of lyric, or one that uplifts itself to the one
unutterable God--to poems, which are to be counted of the epic mould.
Nevertheless it is only among the Hindoos and the Persians that we come
across the genuine Epopaea; but here at least we do meet it in colossal

(_α_) The Chinese, on the contrary, possess no national Epos. The
prosaic basis of their imaginative vision, which even to the earliest
origins of history offers the jejune form of a prosaically organized
historical reality, opposes from the first to this the most noble
type of epic composition an insuperable obstruction. The religious
conceptions of this people, little adapted as they are to artistic
configuration, contribute to the same result. We find, however, at a
later date and as some compensation, for their elaboration is most
profuse, little narratives, and romances spun out to great length,
which astound us by the vividness in which situations are realized,
the accuracy with which private and public relations are depicted,
the variety, fine breeding, or rather I should say frequently the
fascinating tenderness they display, more particularly in their female
characters, and in short by the art in every respect which succeeds in
making works so consummate.

(_β_) A world of great contrast to the above presents itself in the
Hindoo Epopaea. We find already in the most primitive compositions,
if we may form an opinion from the little made known to the general
public up to the present time from the Veda, most fruitful germs for
a mythology fitted to epic exposition; and these, associated with the
heroic exploits of men many centuries before Christ--for chronological
accuracy is still impossible--are elaborated into genuine Epopaea,
works, however, which are still composed in part from the wholly
religious point of view, and in part from that of unfettered poetry and
art. Pre-eminently do the two most famous of these poems, namely the
Ramajana and the Maha-Bharata, place before us the entire world-outlook
of the Hindoo race in all its splendour and glory, its confusion,
fantastical absurdity and dissolution, and withal, from the reverse
point of view, in the exuberant loveliness and the here and there fine
traits of heart and emotion, which characterize the profuse vegetation
of its spiritual growth. Mythical exploits of men are expanded into the
actions of incarnate gods, whose deed hovers vaguely between the divine
and human nature, and the determinate outlines of personality and
exploit are dissolved in an infinitude of extension. The substantive
bases of the whole are of a type such as our Western world-outlook,
assuming that it does not choose to surrender the higher claims of
freedom and morality, is neither able to find itself truly at home
in or to sympathize with. The unity of the particular parts is of an
extremely unstable kind; and layers upon layers of episodical matter,
consisting of tales of the gods, narratives of ascetic penances, and
the powers they create, tediously long expositions of philosophical
doctrines and systems, so entirely impair the collective unity that we
are forced to regard many of them as later accretions. But, however
this may be, the spirit from which these stupendous poems have
originated bears constant witness to an imagination, which is not only
anterior to all prosaic culture, but as a rule is wholly incompatible
with the faculty of ordinary common sense, and is capable in fact of
endowing the fundamental tendencies of this national consciousness, in
its essentially unique and collective conception of the universe, with
an original artistic form. The later Epics, on the contrary, which are
called _Puranas_, in the more restricted sense of the term, that is,
poems of the Past, appear rather to be compiled in the prosaic and dull
style similar to that adopted by post-Homeric cyclic poets, and pursue
their downward course at great length from the creation of the gods and
the universe to the genealogies of human heroes and princes. Finally
the epic care of the old myths dissolves into vapour and artificial
elegance of a purely external poetic form and diction, while on the
one hand the phantasy, which exhausted itself in a dreamy wonderland,
becomes the wisdom of fables whose most important function is to
instruct us in morality and worldly wisdom.

(_γ_) We may compare side by side in a _third_ division of epic
Oriental poetry that respectively belonging to Hebrews, Arabs, and

(_αα_) The sublimity of the Jewish imagination no doubt in its
conception of the Creation, in the histories of the Patriarchs, the
wandering in the wilderness, _the_ conquest of Canaan, and in the
further historical course of national event, full as such a vision
is of sterling content and natural truth, possesses many elements
of primitive epic poetry; the religious interest is here, however,
so predominant, that, instead of being genuine Epopaea, they merely
approximate either to religious myths in the guise of poetry, or to
religious narratives which are wholly didactic.

(_ββ_) The Arabs have always possessed a poetic nature, and from very
early days we find genuine poets among them. Even their heroic songs
of lyric narrative, styled the moallakat, which in part originate in
the century immediately previous to Mahomet, depict either with a few
bold and detached strokes and vehement ostentation, or at other times
with more tranquil self-possession, or a melting softness, the original
conditions of the still pagan Arabs. Here we find the honour of the
clan, the passion of revenge, the rights of hospitality, love, delight
in adventure, benevolence, sorrow, and yearning, in undiminished
strength, and in traits which remind us of the romantic character of
Spanish chivalry. Here, too, we meet with in the East for the first
time a real poetry, without fantastic elements, or prose, without
mythology, without gods, demons, fairies, genii, and everything else of
the kind common to the East, but rather with solid and self-sufficient
characters and, however unique and marvellous in the play of its images
and similes, yet for all that humanly real and self-contained. We have
the vision of a similar pagan world also set before us by a later age
in the collected poems of Hamasa, as also in the not yet edited "Divans
of the Hudsilites." After the extensive and successful conquests of the
Mohammedan Arabs this primitive heroic character gradually disappears;
and, in the course of the centuries, the province of Epic poetry is
replaced in part by the instructive fable and the witty proverb, in
part by the fairy-like narratives, of which the "Thousand and One
Nights" is an example, or in those tales of adventures which Rückert,
through a translation which reproduces for us the equally witty and
artistically elaborate Macamen of the Hariri in their metre, rhymes,
and articulate meaning, has unveiled in a manner deserving thoughtful

(_γγ_) In some contrast to this the efflorescence of Persian
poetry falls in the period of that reconstructed culture effected
by the change of language and nationality under the influence of
Mohammedanism. We, however, come across, in the very first opening of
this lonely springtime, an epic poem which, at least in its material,
takes us back to the remotest Past of ancient Persian saga and myth,
and carries forward its narrative through the heroic age right down
to the last days of the Sussanides. This comprehensive work is the
Shahnameh of Firdusi, the son of the gardener of Tus, a work the
origins of which are traceable to the Bastanameh.[31] We are, however,
unable to call even this poem a genuine Epopaea, because it does not
make any specific and individual line of action its focal centre. On
account of the lapse of centuries we lose our hold of the costume
appropriate to an age or a locality, and in particular the most ancient
mythical figures and gloomy intricate traditions hover in a world of
the phantasy, among the indefinite outlines of which we are often at a
loss to know whether we are face to face with persons or entire clans;
and then again we are often suddenly confronted with really historical
characters. As a Mohammedan the poet was no doubt able to handle his
subject-matter more freely; but it is just in this type of freedom
that we fail to meet with the stability in definite characterization,
as it was present in the design of the primitive heroic songs; and, on
account of the great gulf which separates him from that long-buried
world of saga, the freshness and breath of its immediate life vanish,
though absolutely necessary to the national Epos.

In its further course the epic art of the Persians expands into
Love-epopees of excessive softness and sweetness, as an author of which
Risami is pre-eminently distinguished. It further makes use of its
rich stores of life-experience in the interest of the teacher. In this
sphere the far-travelled Saadi was master. Finally, it plunges into
that pantheistic Mysticism, which Dschelaleddin Rumi recommends and
teaches in tales and legendary narrative.

I must, I fear, restrict myself to the above sketch.

(_b_) In the poetry of _Greece_ and _Rome_ we find ourselves for the
first time in the genuine sphere of epic art.

(_α_) Among these above all are included of course the _Homeric_ poems,
which we have already noted as the culminating point of all.

(_αα_) Either of these poems, despite all that may be advanced to the
contrary, is essentially self-complete, so definite and sensitive to
its construction as a whole, that in my own opinion the very view
which regards the present form of both as merely that in which they
were sung and handed down to posterity by rhapsodists, simply amounts
to little more than the just eulogy of such works in virtue of the
fact that they are, with regard to the entire atmosphere of their
content, national and realistic, and even in their particular parts
are so consummately finished, that all and each of them may be taken
as a whole in itself. Whereas in the East what is substantive[32] and
universal in the poet's survey still impairs the individuality of
character, and its aims and exploits by its symbolism or deliberate
instruction, and thereby injures the definite articulation and unity of
the whole. Here for the first time in these poems[33]we find a world
beautifully suspended as it were between the general life-conditions of
morality in family, state and religious belief, and the individuality
of distinctive character, and in this fair balance between the claims
of spirit and Nature, intentional action and objective event, between a
national basis of enterprise and particular aims and deeds, even though
individual heroes appear as the predominant feature in their free and
animated movement, yet this too is so mediated by the distinctiveness
of the aims proposed and the severe presence of destiny, that the
entire exposition can only remain even for ourselves the _ne plus
ultra_ of all attainment that we can either enjoy or admire in epic
composition. For we find no difficulty here in recognizing the real
significance of even the gods who withstand or assist these primitive
masculine heroes in their bravery, their straightforward and noble
actions: nor can we fail to return the merry smiles of an art which
depicts them as we see them here in all the _naïveté_ of their very
human, if also godlike impersonations.

(_ββ_) The _cyclic_ poets of an age subsequent to the Homeric poems
depart more and more from this genuine type of epic poetry. On the one
hand the tendency here is to break up the completeness of the national
world-survey into its petty provinces and aspects; and from another
point of view, instead of retaining a firm grasp of the poetic unity
and distinctive character of an individual action, to insist more
exclusively on the completeness of events as an historical series,
or on the unity of the personality, and by so doing to assimilate
epic poetry with the already emphasized historical impulse of the
logographers in their historical compilations.

(_γγ_) Finally Epic poetry of a still later date after the time of
Alexander either turns aside to the more limited province of bucolic
poetry, or introduces more learning and artifice than is compatible
with the truly poetic Epopaea being at last wholly didactic, a type
which increasingly suffers to escape every vestige of the primitive
freshness, simplicity and animation.

(_β_) This characteristic, with which the Epos of the Greeks
terminates, is from the first predominant among the _Romans._ An epic
Bible, such as are the Homeric poems, we shall therefore seek for here
in vain, however much critics have attempted, even quite recently, to
resolve the most ancient Roman history into national Epopaea. On the
other hand, even from the earliest times, along with genuine epic art,
of which our finest extant example here is the Æneid, the historical
Epos and the didactic poem supplies us with a proof that it is the
Romans who are mainly responsible for the elaboration of that province
of poetry which is already half prose; just as also it was in their
hands that the _satire_ received its most perfect form, being also that
most congenial to their character.

(_c_) For this reason epic poetry could only be infused with a fresh
breath and spirit through a change in its outlook on the world and in
its religious belief, and through the actions and destinies of new
nationalities. This is what we have in the case of the _Germans_,
not only as we see them in their primitive paganism, but also after
their conversion to Christianity. It may be further illustrated by
the Romance nations and all the more strongly, in proportion as their
subdivision into groups is more complete, and the principle of the
Christian view of life and reality is unfolded in all its various
phases. Yet it is precisely this many-sided expansion and subdivision
which oppose to a brief survey great difficulties. I will consequently
only draw attention to and emphasize fundamental tendencies.

(_α_) In our _first_ group we may reckon the residue of genuine poetry,
which later nationalities have still retained from an age previous
to Christianity, for the most part by means of oral tradition, and
consequently not wholly unimpaired.

We may include above all among these the poems which are usually
ascribed to _Ossian._ Although English critics of repute, such as
Johnson and Shaw, have been blind enough to publish them as the sole
composition of Macpherson, it is none the less wholly impossible that
a poet of our own time could create from his own resources alone such
ancient social conditions and events; consequently we must presuppose
here previous poems as the foundation of such a work, although too
in their entire atmosphere, and the mode of conception and feeling
expressed in them, many changes more in accord with our modern life may
have been introduced in the course of so many centuries. It is true
their actual date is not established; they may, however, very well have
retained a vital form in the mouth of the folk for one thousand or even
fifteen hundred years. Taking them as a whole their form appears to
be predominantly lyric. Ossian is here presented as the old minstrel
and hero, who has lost his sight, and suffers in a retrospect of
lament, the days of glory to rise before him. Yet although his songs
originate in woe and mourning they nevertheless are in themselves
fundamentally epic; for even these lamentations refer to what has been,
and depict this world which has now just vanished, with its heroes, its
love-adventurers, its exploits, its expeditions aver sea and land, its
chance of arms, its destiny and its downfall, in just the same epic and
realistic way--although broken here and there with lyrics--as we find
in Homer the heroes Achilles, Odysseus, or Diomede, talking of their
exploits, expeditions, and mischances. Yet the development of spiritual
emotion, and indeed of the entire national existence, despite the fact
that here heart and sentiment have a more exacting rôle to play, is
not carried so far as in Homer's case. Most of all we miss the assured
plastic form of his characterization and the daylight clarity of his
presentment. We are, in short, so far as _locale_ is concerned, exiled
in the tempestuous mists of the North, with its gloomy sky and heavy
clouds, upon which the spirits ride or appear to heroes, raimented in
their form. We may add that it is only quite recently that other Gaelic
minstrels of olden time have been discovered, rather connected, so
Wallis informs us, with England than Scotland or Ireland, minstrelsy
having been for a long time continuous in that country, which already
must have possessed a considerable literature.

In these poems we have among other things reference to emigrations to
America. Mention is also made of Caesar; but the reason here given for
his invasion is a private passion for some king's daughter, whom he saw
in Gaul and followed to England. As a striking characteristic of their
form triads are worthy of attention, which combine in three organic
parts three events of similar character, though dating from different
periods of time.

Finally, and more famous than these poems, are on the one hand the
heroic songs of the more ancient Edda, and on the other the myths with
which for the first time in this cycle of song along with the narrative
of human destinies we also come across various histories concerning the
origin, exploits, and downfall of the gods. I must, however, confess
I have been unable to acquire a taste for the empty exuberance of
these origins of a natural philosophy of symbolism, which, however,
are further attached to the appearance of particular human form and
physiognomy, such as Thor with his hammer, the Werewolf, the wild
mead-carousals, and in a word, the savagery and troubled confusion of
such a mythology. We must admit, of course, that all that intimately
concerns this folk of the North lies nearer to ourselves than, say,
the poetry of the Persians and Mohammedanism; but to press upon the
educated man among us such an admission to the point that it has still
at this time of day a claim upon his sympathy, and indeed ought to
pass for us as something national--such an assumption, though often
ventured, means not merely to overrate conceptions, which are to a
great extent misshapen and barbarous, but also to wholly misunderstand
the significance and spirit of our own times.

(_β_) If we, _secondly_, cast a glance over the poetry of the
Christian Middle Ages, what we ought in the first instance and above
all to consider are those works which have, without more direct and
penetrating influence of the old literature and culture, sprung up from
the fresh spirit of the Middle Ages and consolidated Catholicism. Here
we find the most multifold elements ready to supply the material and
stimulus of epic poetry.

(_αα_) We may in the _first_ place draw retention to that truly epic
subject-matter which comprises in its content interests, exploits, and
characters of the period mentioned of a wholly _national_ character.
Among these the Cid is pre-eminently worthy of our notice. The
significance of this blossom of national heroism in the Middle Ages to
the Spanish, this is set before us in epic guise in the poem Cid, and
then at a later date with more attractive excellence in a succession
of narrative romances, which Herder first brought to the notice of
Germany. We have here a string of pearls, every single picture entirely
complete in itself, and yet all so admirably in tune with each other
that they make a consistent whole; though throughout composed in
the spirit of chivalry, yet at the same time Spanish and national;
eminently rich in the content of their varied interests, whether these
concern love, marriage, honour, or the mastery of kings in wars waged
between Christians and Moors. All this material is voiced in so epic
and plastic a style, we have set before us the pertinent fact so simply
in the purity of its exalted content, and withal with such a wealth of
the noblest pictures of human life displayed in a panorama of the most
glorious exploit, and all this bound together in a wreath so fair and
fascinating, that we moderns may compare it with the most beautiful
creations of the ancient world.[34]

As a matter of fact it is as impossible to compare the Nibelungenlied,
as it is the Iliad and Odyssey, with this world of romance, which,
however dissevered in fragments it maybe, is none the less epic in
its fundamental type. For although in the former precious and truly
German work we have no lack of a national and substantive content, in
respect to family, matrimonial affection, duty of vassalage, loyalty
of service, heroism, and, in a word, genuine marrow and substance,
yet the entire collision, despite all its epic breadth of vision, is
rather one of a dramatic type, than truly epic, and the exposition,
with all its detail, neither tends towards the individualization of
its abundance, nor to a presentment that is wholly lifelike; and from
a further point of view it is frequently squandered in pure harshness,
savagery and ferocity, so that the characters, although we find them
compactly braced and robust in action, yet in their abstract ruggedness
rather resemble coarse images of wood, than are comparable to the
humanely evolved, genial individuality of the Homeric heroes and women.

(_ββ_) A second fundamental source of such literature is to be traced
in the religious poems of the Middle Ages, which take as their subject
the life of Christ, or those of the Madonna, the Apostles, the saints
and martyrs and the Last Judgment. The most essentially complete
and rich composition, however, the genuine art-Epic of Catholic
Christianity in the Middle Ages, the greatest subject-matter and the
greatest poem is in this sphere Dante's Divine Comedy. It is true that
we cannot call even this severely, rather I should systematically
organized poem, an Epopaea in the ordinary sense of the term. For
we have not here one progressive action, individual and exclusive,
on the broad basis of the entire poem: what, however, we do get in
a conspicuous degree in this Epos is the most secure articulation
and consummate finish. Instead of a particular event it has for its
subject-matter the eternal event, the absolute end, the Divine Love
in its imperishable eventuality, and in its unalterable circles'
of relation to the object. Possessing further Hell, Purgatory, and
Paradise for its locality, it plunges the living world of human action
and suffering or, more closely, that of individual acts and destinies
in this changeless existence. Everything single and particular in human
interests and aims here vanishes before the absolute greatness of the
purpose and end of all things; at the same time, however, what is
otherwise most perishable and evanescent in the living world receives
here a completely epic form objectively based on its own innermost
life, and adjudged in its worth and unworth by the supreme notion of
all, that is God. For as individuals were in their life and suffering,
their opinions and accomplishment on Earth, so are they here set before
us for ever consolidated, as it were, into images of bronze. It is in
this way that the poem embraces the totality of the most objective
life, that is, the eternal condition of Hell, of Purification, and
of Paradise; and it is on these indestructible foundations that the
characters of the actual world move in their particular personalities,
or rather they _have_ already moved, and are henceforward rendered
moveless, together with their action and being, in the everlasting
righteousness, and are themselves eternal. The Homeric heroes indeed
endure in _our_ memories through the song of the Muse. These characters
assert their condition on their own account, and in the cause of their
own individuality: they do not so much exist in our imagination;
they are _themselves_ essentially eternal. The perpetuation through
the Mnemosyne of the poet has here the objective force of the very
judgments of God, in whose Name the most dauntless spirit of his time
has damned or beatified the entire present and past.

The exposition also must perforce follow the above character of an
object, which is received rather than given. It can only be a wandering
through a world that is for ever determined; which, although it is
discovered, organized, and peopled with the freedom of the imagination
wherewith Hesiod and Homer created their gods, nevertheless undertakes
to give us a picture and a report of what has actually happened, an
account full of energetic movement, yet plastic in the rigidity of its
pains; rich in the flashes of its horror, yet mitigated pitifully in
Hell through Dante's own sympathy; more gracious in purgatory, but none
the less fully and completely elaborated; and, finally, translucent as
light in Paradise, and for ever without materia form in the eternal
ether of thought.

The ancient world no doubt peers into this world of the Catholic
poet, but only as the guiding star and companion of human wisdom and
culture; for, where it is a question of doctrine and dogma, it is the
scholasticism of Christian theology and love which speaks.

(_γγ_) A _third_ fundamental subject-matter, which arrests the interest
of the poetry of the Middle Ages, is that of _chivalry._ This interest
is not merely limited to its worldly and romantic association with
love-adventure and tilting matches, but is occupied with religious
objects in virtue of the mysticism of Christian knighthood. The
actions and events of such compositions have no relation to national
interests; they are matters effected by individuals, which only
concern the personal agent as such; they are generally similar to
what I have described in my previous reference to romantic chivalry.
Individuals are consequently placed in a position of complete freedom
and independence. A novel form of heroism is thereby created within a
social environment that is not as yet stereotyped to the prosaic mode
and temper; a heroism, however, which, on account of interests which
in part are due to religious phantasy, and in part--that is from the
worldly point of view--are wholly personal and imaginary, eschews that
substantive Real, upon the basis of which the Greek heroes are united,
or as units contend, are victorious or are vanquished. Despite all the
varied epic compositions, which such a course as the above occasions,
the adventurous character of the situations, conflicts and plots rather
tends, on the one hand, in the direction of a treatment usually met
with in romances, where the various examples of adventure are loosely
interwoven in no more stringent bond of unity, and on the other to that
which, while sharing the general features of such works, is not evolved
on the background of a consistently organized civic order and a truly
prosaic condition of general life. Moreover the imagination is not
content with the mere invention of knightly characters and adventures
outside the pale of the ordinary world of things; it furthermore
associates the exploits of the same with important legendary centres of
interest, pre-eminent historical personages, decisive conflicts of the
age, and receives by doing so, if we view its broader lines, at least
a foundation such as we found indispensable to epic creation. Such a
basis, however, we shall find is as a rule commingled with fantastic
elements, and is unable to secure the clarity of objective vision in
its elaboration, which above all distinguishes the Homeric Epos. Add to
this the fact that on account of the very similar treatment accorded
to the same subject-matter by Frenchmen, Englishmen, Germans, and to
some extent even Spaniards, we fail to find here relatively at least,
and if we contrast it with that of the Hindoo, Persian, Greek, and
Celt, the essentially national temper, which in the last-mentioned
cases constitutes in its security the epic core of the content and its
execution. I must, however, excuse myself here from entering further
into the detail of this aspect, either by way of illustration or
critical judgment. It will be sufficient if I merely draw attention to
the larger circle, within which the most important of these Epopaea of
knight-errantry are to be met with if we estimate them relatively to
their subject-matter.

As a _leading_ figure in this respect we have first Charles the Great
with his peers in the conflict fought against Saracens and pagans. In
this Frankish circle of legend feudal chivalry forms a background of
prime importance, and branches off into poems of every description,
whose most significant material is concerned with the exploits of one
of the twelve heroes, such as Roland or Doolin, of Maintz and others.
More particularly in France during the reign of Philip Augustus many of
such Epopees were composed. We have a _further_ garland of legend with
an English source, one which aims at reproducing the exploits of King
Arthur and the Round Table. Legendary tale, the chivalry of Normans and
Englishmen, service to woman, the fealty of the vassal, are all here
involved together in melancholy or fantastic combination with Christian
mysticism. The search for the Holy Grail, that chalice containing the
sacred blood of Christ, is, indeed, one main object of all knightly
exploit, and every description of fantastic adventure originates
in this source, until, finally, the entire company takes flight to
Abyssinia. The above two subjects of legendary story are worked out
with most completeness in Northern France, England, and Germany. And
as a last illustration we have a _third_ circle of chivalrous poetry,
composed with yet more caprice and less substantive content, which
ever tends to emphasize knightly heroism to an excess with ideas of
fairyland and fable; this rather points to Portugal or Spain as its
original nursery. In this the family of the Amadi are accepted as
principal heroes.

The great allegorical poems, so much beloved mainly in Northern France
in the thirteenth century, are more nearly prose compositions in their
abstract type. I will only mention one example of these, that is, the
famous _Roman de la Rose._ We may compare or rather contrast such
with the many anecdotes and still lengthier narratives, the so-called
_fabliaux_ and _contes_, which rather borrow their subject-matter from
contemporary life, tales of knights, priests, citizens, and above all
_amours_, lawful and the reverse, retailed to us sometimes in the comic
vein, at others in the tragic, now in prose, and again in verse. Such
was the type of writing which the clear intellect and trained culture
of a Boccaccio carried to its perfection.

There is a final class of such compositions, which, turning to the
ancients--with a casual knowledge of the Epic of Homer and Virgil, or
ancient legend, celebrates also, in precisely the manner of the Epopaea
of chivalry, the exploits of Trojan heroes, the foundation of Rome by
Æneas, the conquests of Alexander, and other like subjects.

And this will conclude what I have to say upon the Epic poetry of the
Middle Ages.

(_γ_) In a _third_ principal group of which I have still to speak,
the rich and pregnant study of _ancient_ literature marks a point of
departure for the purer artistic taste of a new culture, in whose
learning, assimilation, and blending of diverse elements, however,
we frequently miss that primitive creative power, which we admire in
the Hindoos, Arabs, as also in Homer and writers of the Middle Ages.
In the many-sided development in which, dating from this age of the
re-awakened sciences and their influence on national literatures, the
actual conditions of mankind undergo a reform in religion, political
condition, morals, and social relations, epic poetry also seizes hold
of the most varied content, as also the most manifold forms, the
historical course of which I can only direct attention to in its most
essential characteristics.

(_αα_) _First,_ we may remark that it is still the _Middle Ages_, which
now, as previously, supplies the material for the Epos, although the
same is conceived and presented in a new spirit, namely, one permeated
with the culture of classic literature> We find here pre-eminently two
directions in which the art of epic poetry displays itself.

On the one side the awakening consciousness of the age shows a
necessary tendency to treat as ridiculous all that is capricious in
the adventurous feats of the Middle Ages, all that is fantastic and
exaggerated in chivalry, all that is merely formal in the independence
and personal isolation of the heroes, and which is now contained within
a social reality embracing more abundance of national conditions and
interest; a consciousness which further brings this entire world before
our vision in the light of comedy, which does this, however much
what is really genuine within it is also asserted, with seriousness
and delight. As the culminating points of this genial conception
of the entire world of chivalry I have already pointed to Ariosto
and Cervantes. I will therefore in the present passage merely draw
attention to the brilliant facility, the charm and wit, the loveliness
and intense ingenuousness, with which Ariosto, whose poem still hovers
among the poetic aims of the Middle Ages, merely in a more veiled
and humorous fashion makes what is fantastic vanish away by means of
the incredibility of his nonsense, while the profounder romance of
Cervantes already assumes knight-errantry to be a Past behind it;
which, consequently, can only enter into the real prose and presence of
life as vanity in its isolation and fantastic folly; yet at the same
time it gives equal prominence to its great and noble aspects in their
contrast to what is awkward, stupid, devoid of reason and order in this
very prosaic reality, making the defects of the same live before our

Among writers who have contributed to a _second_ phase in this type
of epic development I will merely mention the representative name
of Tasso. In his "Jerusalem Delivered" this poet, in contrast to
the poetry of Ariosto, selects for his central theme, without any
admixture of the humorist's temper whatever, the great and common
aims of Christian chivalry, the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, the
victorious pilgrimage of the Crusades, and, after the model of Homer
and Virgil, creates an Epos with enthusiasm and study, which may even
be compared with the great prototypes abovementioned. And no doubt we
do discover in this work, quite apart from a genuine, and, in part,
too, national and religious interest, a type of unity, development,
and elaboration of the whole such as we have previously fixed as a
primary condition. We may add to this a fascinating music in the
verse, which makes the same still harmonious to living speech. What,
however, is pre-eminently wanting in this poem is just that kind of
primitive origin which is alone able to create the real Bible of
an entire nation. In other words, instead of having, as in Homer's
case, a work which, as true Epos, expresses once for all in language,
and with direct simplicity, that which the nation is through its
actions, the epic in question rather appears simply a poem, that is, a
poetically constructed event. We are mainly pleased and satisfied with
it in virtue of the artistic effect of its beautiful speech and form,
whether we consider its more lyrical aspects, or its epic descriptions.
Consequently, however much Tasso may have taken Homer for his model in
the collective arrangement of his material, in the entire spirit of the
conception and presentation it is rather and in chief the influence of
Virgil that we actually discover in the work, and of course do so not
to the poem's advantage.

_Finally_, among the great Epopaea, which are constructed upon the
basis of a classic culture, we must include the "Lysiad" of Camoens.
In the subject-matter of this entirely national composition, which
celebrates the bold sea-faring of the Portuguese, we are already beyond
the true Middle Ages, and have interests unfolded, which inaugurate a
new era. But here, too, despite the glow of its patriotism, despite
the life-like character of the descriptive matter, based for the most
part upon the author's own experience, we are still conscious of a
real barrier between the subject that is national and an artistic
culture which is partly borrowed from the ancients and in part from the
Italians, and which impairs its impression as a truly original epic.

(_ββ_) The essentially new manifestations in the religious belief and
actual composition of modern life originate in the principle of the
Reformation. The whole tendency of this general change of outlook is,
indeed, rather favourable to lyric and dramatic, than epic poetry.
But we do find nevertheless, even in the latter sphere, an autumnal
blossoming of the religious Epopaea, of which the pre-eminent examples
are Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Klopstock's "Messias." In breadth
of culture, gained through study of the ancients, and the correct
elegance of his language, Milton is no doubt an admirable master
of his age. In the profundity of his content, in energy, original
invention and execution, and, above all, in the epic objectivity of
his presentment, however, he is in every respect inferior to Dante.
For not only does the conflict and the catastrophe of "Paradise Lost"
take a direction which is contrary to its dramatic character; but, as
I have above incidentally observed, it is, in a unique way, supported
by a lyrical impulse and ethical or didactic predilections, which lie
far enough away from the subject in its original form.[35] I have
already, in discussing Klopstock, referred to a similar cleft between
the material and the form, which a particular age gives to it in its
epic reflection. In the case of Klopstock, moreover, an endeavour is
throughout apparent through a rhetoric, which is little more than the
caricature of the Sublime, to infuse the reader with that recognition
of the worth and solemnity of his subject, which the poet has himself
experienced. From a somewhat different point of view we arrive at very
much the same conclusion in the case of Voltaire's "Henriade." At any
rate here too the poetry is an artificial production, and all the more
so, inasmuch as the material, as already observed, is not adapted to
the truly primitive Epos.

(_γγ_) If we try to discover really epic compositions in our own day
we shall find ourselves in an atmosphere totally different from that
of the genuine Epopaea. The general condition of the world to-day has
assumed a form, which, in its prosaic character, is diametrically
opposed to everything which we found indispensable to the genuine Epos,
while the revolutions, which have been imposed upon the actual social
conditions of states and nations, are still too strongly riveted in
our memory as actual experiences that they should be able to receive
an epic type of art. Epic poetry has consequently taken refuge from
the great national events in the narrow circle of the domestic life
of individuals in the country and in the small town, striving to find
here the material adapted to epic composition. In this way, more
particularly among us Germans, the Epic has become idyllic, after the
genuine Idyll, of the sweet sentimentality and wishy-washy type, died

As an example lying close to hand of an idyllic Epos I will merely
mention the "Luise" of Voss, as also and above all Goethe's
masterpiece, "Herman and Dorothea." In the latter work we have
no doubt our attention directed to the background of the greatest
world-event of our age, with which the circumstances of the innkeeper
and his family, of the pastor and the apothecary, are directly
associated. And inasmuch as the little country town is not placed
before us in its political relations we at once remark a gap in the
narrative which is not explained or mediated by any connecting link.
Yet it is precisely through this omission of the intermediate link
that the whole keeps its unique character. For with the stroke of a
master Goethe has removed the revolution into the background, despite
the fact that he has known how to make the most happy use of it in the
enlargement of his poem. He only interweaves such circumstances with
the action as, in their simple humanity, connect themselves absolutely
without constraint with domestic and civic conditions. The main point,
therefore, is that Goethe in this work has succeeded in detaching from
the reality of our modern life traits, descriptions, conditions, and
developments, and depicting the same, which in their province once more
make that alive which contributes to the imperishable charm of those
primitive human conditions of the Odyssey and the patriarchal picture
of the Old Testament.

In respect to other spheres of our present national and social life
I would observe in conclusion that in the field of epic poetry there
are practically unlimited opportunities for the _romance_, the
_narrative_, and the _novel._ I am, however, unable, even in the most
general outline, to follow the history of these in the breadth of their
development from their first appearance until the present time.

[Footnote 1: _Die echt poetische Abrundung._ Not, however, merely
literary finish, but complete ideal totality.]

[Footnote 2: _Einem bestimmten Tone_. Perhaps more truly "a particular
strain or atmosphere." But both aspects are suggested.]

[Footnote 3: There is a misprint here _eine recht_ for _einer echt_,
and also I should prefer eight lines lower down _die_ for _das_
agreeing with _Freiheit_ rather than _Leben._]

[Footnote 4: This sentence is obviously ironical, but the sense
intended is not very clear. The words _die sic_ are clearly a misprint
for _die sick,_ and I presume _kindisch_ is not used in its more common
depreciatory sense of childish. I am, however, not very confident of
my translation. _War es ein Zeichen_ would apparently refer back to
the general intention of the previous sentence, _i.e.,_ the attempt of
Klopstock and others to make a national book.]

[Footnote 5: See vol. I, pp. 240-289, and particularly pp. 270-289.]

[Footnote 6: _Eine Sittlichkeit._]

[Footnote 7: Poet., c. 14.]

[Footnote 8: That is to say, that the whole remains intact in its
opposition. The question of international ethics is not directly
considered, though reference is here made to historical evolution in
its widest sense.]

[Footnote 9: Wrong that is inflicted on a state which is, as a whole,

[Footnote 10: I presume the reference is mainly to the United States.
Hegel's sentence is _so möchten diese nur den Sieg dereinstiger
Americanischer lebendiger Vernünftigkeit über die Einkerkerung in ein
ins Unendliche fortgehendes Messen und Particularisiren darzustellen
haben._ It may be doubted, perhaps, whether he would have expressed
himself with equal confidence in our own day. At least the position of
the German States of his own time no doubt was strongly present in his

[Footnote 11: _Von einem anderen beschränkt._ Curtailed, I imagine, as
a spontaneous and free power.]

[Footnote 12: That is acting in subservience to eternal forces, not
directing those forces. Hegel conceives the event as supplying the
lines of direction through which the forces are effective.]

[Footnote 13: _Aus der Dumpfheit des Bewusstseyns._ Out of the
confusions of consciousness.]

[Footnote 14: I have adopted the masculine gender in accordance with
the text, though of course it does not imply personality in the
ordinary sense.]

[Footnote 15: I suppose the meaning is that it is a purely objective

[Footnote 16: _Seiner Sache,_ Somewhat vague and difficult to
translate. It means more than his affair or business.]

[Footnote 17: _Trauer._ Mournfulness or gloom is perhaps better.]

[Footnote 18: Liv., II, c. 32.]

[Footnote 19: Lit., so far as they do not emphasize essential phases in

[Footnote 20: I presume the allusion is to the way, already
illustrated, the Homeric gods do not take themselves seriously.]

[Footnote 21: Messias, Canto II, vv, 627-850.]

[Footnote 22: It is possible Hegel means by _geistige_ intelligible.]

[Footnote 23: Act II, sc. 6.]

[Footnote 24: "O, that I had never shipped hither over the sea, unhappy
that I am! Vain was the fancy which befooled me to seek an empty fame
in France; and now a fatal destiny carries me to this bloody field of
death. O that I were far from here housed at home on the banks of the
blue Severn, where the mother remained behind and the gentle sweet
bride mourning for me."]

[Footnote 25: "To Death thou art decreed! A British matron it was that
conceived thee!"]

[Footnote 26: "With vow to slay at everything alive with the sword that
the fateful god of battles confronts her with."]

[Footnote 27: _Sitte und Settlichkeit._]

[Footnote 28: That is of the Epos.]

[Footnote 29: The course of painting is similar to that of sculpture
in virtue of the fact that it is wholly of one type, viz., romantic,
but it differs from it in being less objective and requiring more
historical illustration.]

[Footnote 30: _Substantiellen_, _i.e.,_ an outlook which concentrates
attention on the one Divine substance, the essence beneath the

[Footnote 31: I presume this is another Persian composition, but it may
be a cult of some kind.]

[Footnote 32: Substantive as contrasted with phenomenal.]

[Footnote 33: That is the Iliad and Odyssey.]

[Footnote 34: What Hegel means to say by this and the following
paragraph is by no means clear. He first seems to state as a fact
that a rivalry may be asserted, or at least has been asserted by
others, between the Spanish romances and the finest Greek and Latin
epic literature, and then immediately afterwards denies the fact so
far as the Iliad and Odyssey is concerned. The confusion and indeed
uncertainty seems to be due to the fact that while explaining the
disadvantage in which the German work is placed as compared with the
Spanish romances, he merely contrasts the Homeric poems with the
former. What he apparently means us to infer is that the latter are
as superior as the German work is, at least as an Epos, inferior. The
words "we moderns" are apparently ironical. In any case the entire
passage is, I think, clearly one which needed revision, and it is
possible that the two paragraphs have been tacked together by Hegel's
editors from different connections.]

[Footnote 35: As we find it, presumably, in Genesis.]


The poetic imagination does not, as the plastic arts do, present the
objects of its creation before our vision in an objective shape,
but only envisages them to the inward vision and emotions. No doubt
from the first, relatively to certain aspects of this universal type
of composition, it is the _personal_ quality of ideal creation and
construction which pre-eminently asserts itself in the presented
work, and as such is to be contrasted with plastic construction. But
when epic poetry offers to our contemplation its object either in its
substantive universality, or under a mode comparable with that of
sculptor and painter--in other words, in its living presence--in that
case, at least where the art is most consummate, the individual mind
and soul of the creator involved in the creation disappears before
the objective result created. The above personal or subjective aspect
of mind can only completely be discarded in so far as, in the first
place, the entire world of objects and relations are essentially
absorbed by it and then permitted to stand forth freely from the
veiled presence of the individual consciousness, and, further, in so
far as the self-centred soul unbars its doors, opens wide its ears and
eyes, extends the purely unenlightened feeling to vision and idea,
and attaches to this wealth of hidden content word and speech as the
vehicle of its intimate self-expression. And just in proportion as
this kind of communication persists in shutting itself away from the
objective manifestation of epic art, to that extent, and precisely
for that reason, the subjective type of poetry is bound to find its
own forms, in a province of its own, wholly independent of the Epos.
In other words, the human spirit descends from the objectivity of
the object into its own private domain; it peers into its particular
conscious life; it endeavours to satisfy the desire to reproduce the
presence and reality of _that_, as displayed in soul, in the experience
of heart and reflected idea, and in doing so to unfold the content
and activity of the personal life rather than the actual presence of
the external fact. But, again, inasmuch as this expression, if it is
not simply to remain the chance expression of mere individuality[1]
in its immediate feeling and conception, must assert itself in speech
as the reflection of an inner life that is _poetic_, all that is
thus envisaged of feeling or otherwise--and however much, too, it
may be a part of the poet's unique personality, and be presented
by him as such--must nevertheless possess a universal validity, in
other words, it must essentially include feelings and reflections for
which the art of poetry is able to discover the vital and adequate
means of expression. And although, apart from this, pain and desire,
as conceived, described, and expressed in speech, may lighten the
heart, and poetic ebullition is unquestionably permissible for such a
purpose, yet its function is not restricted to such domestic service.
Rather it has a nobler vocation, which is not so much to liberate the
human spirit from emotion, but in the medium of the same. The blind
tumult of passion surges on in a union with the entire soul-life
unenlightened, unawakened to the grasp of mind. In such a state the
soul cannot assert itself in idea and expression. It is the function
of poetry no doubt to free the heart from such a prison house, in so
far as it presents that life as an object to it. But it does more
than this mere translation of content from the immediacy of emotional
experience; it creates therefrom an object which is purified from all
mere contingency of the passing mood; an object in which the soul-life
in this deliverance returns once more to itself freely and with
self-conscious satisfaction, and remains there at home. Conversely,
however, this primary objectivisation ought not to be carried to
the point of a reflection that actually discloses the individual
activity of the soul-life and its passions as it is carried forward in
practical impulse and _action_; in other words, in the self-return of
the individual upon himself in veritable deed. For the most pertinent
reality of our inner life is still itself an inward something, and
consequently this passage from itself can only give us the _sense_ of
deliverance from the immediate concentration of heart in its blind and
formless presence, which now unbars itself in self-expression, and in
doing so grasps and expresses what was previously merely felt in the
form of a self-conscious vision and ideas. And with these remarks I
think we have determined in their essential features both the sphere
and function of lyric poetry as contrasted with the epic and dramatic

As regards the more detailed examination and classification of our new
subject-matter, we cannot do better than follow the course previously
adopted in our examination of epic poetry.

_First_, we have to discuss the _general_ character of lyric

_Secondly_, we shall consider the _particular_ characteristics which
make the lyric work of art and the types of the same worthy of
attention in their more direct relation to the lyric poet.

_Thirdly_, we shall conclude the survey with a few remarks upon the
_historical_ development of this class of poetic work.

Generally I may remark that this survey will be extremely restricted,
and for two reasons--first, because I am compelled to reserve the
necessary space for the discussion of the dramatic field; secondly,
because I must limit myself exclusively to general considerations,
inasmuch as the detail embraced by it possesses far more incalculable
resources of manifold complexity than in the case of the Epos, and
could only be treated in greater fulness and completeness if viewed
historically, which is not within the aim of the present work.


In the stimulus of epic poetry is the desire to hear the thing or
matter which is unfolded on its own account, and independently of
the poet,[2] as an objective and essentially exclusive totality. In
the lyric, on the contrary, it is the converse need which finds its
satisfaction in self-expression and the coming to a knowledge of the
soul in this expression of itself. With regard to the nature of this
effusion,[3] we may enumerate its most important constituents as

_First,_ there is the _content_ in which soul-life is aware of itself
and reflects itself in idea.

_Secondly_, there is the _form,_ in virtue of which the expression of
this content becomes lyric poetry.

_Thirdly_, there is the stage of conscious life and culture from which
the person thus lyrically viewed discloses his feelings and ideas.

(_a_) The content of the lyric work of art cannot comprise the
development of an objective action in its possibilities of expansion
into all the breadth and wealth of a world. It is the single person,
and along with him the isolated fact of situation and objects, no less
than the mode and manner in which the soul is made aware of itself in
such content, with its private judgments, its joy, its wonder, its
pain, and its feeling, which it presents to our vision. Through this
principle of division and particularity, as present in the Lyric, the
content may be of the greatest variety, associated with every tendency
of national life. There is, however, this essential distinction, that
whereas the Epos combines in one and the same work the spirit of a
people in all its breadth, and in its actual deed and fashion, the more
definite content of lyrical poetry limits itself to one particular
aspect, or at least is unable successfully to attain to the explicit
completeness and exposition which the Epos ought at least to possess.
The entire wealth of lyrical poetry in a nation may, therefore, no
doubt embrace the collective exuberance of national interest, idea, and
purpose; but it is not the single lyrical poem that can do this.

The Lyric is not called upon to produce Bibles such as we have
discovered in Epic poetry. It does, however, enjoy the advantage
of being able to touch upon every conceivable aspect of national
development; whereas the true Epos is limited to distinct epochs of
a primitive age, and its success in our more recent times of prosaic
culture is very jejune.

(_α_) Within this field of particularization we have, to start with,
the _universal_ as such--the supreme height and depth of human belief,
imagination, and knowledge--the essential content of religion, art, ay,
even of scientific thought, in so far as the same is adaptable to the
form of imagination and creation, and can enter the sphere of emotions.
Consequently general opinions, what is of permanent substance in a view
of the world, the profounder grasp of far-reaching social conditions
are all not excluded from the Lyric; and a considerable part of the
material I have referred to[4] when discussing the more incomplete
types of the Epic falls rightly, and with pertinency into the sphere
now under review.

(_β_) And along with such essentially universal topics we have
associated the aspect of _particularity_, which can be so interwoven
with what is thus substantive that any specific situation, feeling, or
idea is thereby seized in its profounder significance and expressed in
a way wholly accordant thereto. This is, for example, almost always
the case in Schiller's lyrical work, as also in his ballads; in this
connection I will merely recall the superb description of the Eumenides
chorus in the Cranes of Ibicus, which is neither dramatic nor epic,
but lyrical. From a further point of view we may have this combination
so asserted that a variety of particular traits, moods, occurrences
are introduced by way of testimony to comprehensive views and maxims,
interlaced in vital coalescence by virtue of the general principle.
This style of writing is frequently employed in the elegy and epistle,
and generally in reflections upon life of a comprehensive character.

(_γ_) In conclusion, inasmuch as in lyrical composition what is
self-expressed is the _individual person_, a content, which is
extremely slight, will primarily suffice for this purpose. It is, in
other words, the soul itself, subjective life simply, which is the
true content. The emphasis is therefore throughout upon the animation
of feeling, rather than upon the more immediate object. The most
fleeting moods of the moment, the overjoyment of the heart, the swiftly
passing gleams or clouds of careless merriment and jest, sorrow,
melancholy, and complaint, in a word, all and every phase of emotion
are here seized in their momentary movement or isolated occurrence,
and rendered permanent in their expression. What we find here in the
domain of poetry may be paralleled with what I previously referred to
when describing _genre_ paintings. The content, the subject-matter, is
here the wholly contingent, and what is over and above this important
is exclusively the character of the individual conception and mode of
presentment, the charm of which in the Lyric will either consist in
the aroma of exquisite feeling, or in the novelty of arresting points
of view, and the genial suggestion of literary phrases and turns which

(_b_) In the _second_ place we may observe in general with respect
to the _form_, wherein the Lyric is composed, that here too it is
the individual person, in the intimacy of his ideas or emotion that
constitutes the focal centre. The growth of the whole is rooted in the
heart and temperament; it starts, to be more precise, from a particular
mood and situation of the poet. By virtue of this fact the content and
conjunction of the particular aspects of its growth are not inferred
from it objectively as a substantively independent content, or from
its external manifestation as some really self-exclusive event, but
are borrowed from the individual subject as such. But for this reason
it is essential that the individual in question should himself appear
poetical, rich in fancy and feeling, or imposing and profound in his
views and reflections, and above all should be essentially independent,
the possessor of a unique ideal world, from which the servility and
caprice of a prosaic nature is excluded.

The lyric poem, then, retains a mode of unity wholly different from
that of the Epos, in other words, the mysterious intimacy of the
mood or reflection, which expatiates upon itself, mirrors itself
in the objective world, describes itself, or concerns itself as it
wills with any other matter, always, however, retaining the right
in the pursuit of such an interest to begin and break off very much
as it pleases. Horace, for instance, very frequently comes to a stop
at the very point, where, in the commonplace view of its literary
treatment, we might suppose he had only just started with his subject.
In other words, what he describes is simply his feelings, commands or
arrangements for a banquet, say, without giving us further information
as to how it went off. In the same way we have every conceivable mode
of progression and combination supplied by the nature of the mood, the
actual condition of the individual soul-life, the degree of passion,
its excitement or rapid transition of conflicting emotion, or the
tranquillity of the heart or the mind in some long-drawn process of
contemplation. As a rule, in respect to all such subject-matter, we
are able to determine very little that is fixed, owing to the repeated
changes in the ever varied facets of the soul. I will therefore
restrict myself to a few salient points of distinction.

(_α_) Just as we met with several specific kinds of epic poetry which
showed a tendency to adopt a lyric vein of expression, so, too, the
Lyric may accept as its subject-matter and its form an occurrence,
which, so far as content and external appearance are concerned, are
epic, and to this extent it will approximate to the latter type. Heroic
songs, romances, and ballads belong to such a class. The form of the
whole is in such examples narrative, inasmuch as it is the progressive
advance of a situation or event, as among other instances, a particular
direction in the fate of a nation, which is communicated. And yet at
the same time the fundamental temper is wholly lyric, inasmuch as the
main object is not to give us a description and representation of the
actual fact apart from all relation to the narrator, but rather to
disclose his personal attitude to it in the way he conceives and feels
it, whether with delight or complaint, whether as a stimulus to good
or depressed spirits, the mood in short that rings throughout it. And
similarly the nature of the impression which the poet endeavours to
produce thereby is entirely that of the province of the lyric. In other
words, what the poet seeks to effect in his audience is precisely that
state of emotion, which the recounted event has produced in himself,
and which he therefore has attached to his composition. He expresses
his dejection, mourning, merriment, his fire of patriotism, and so
forth, in an appropriate occurrence in such a way that it is not this
fact so much which contributes, as it were, the focus, but rather the
state of his emotional life we find reflected therein. And for this
reason he, above all emphasizes those traits, and depicts the same with
feeling, which are in accord with his own personal impulses; and in
the degree of vivacity with which these are expressed by them the same
feelings are likely to be excited in his audience. And thus, though the
content may be epic, the treatment is lyrical.

(_αα_) To come yet more directly to detail there is, first, the
example of the _epigram_, in such a case where it is not merely an
inscription which states concisely the bald nature of some fact, but
further associates with this an emotional state; where, in short, the
content, regarded as the bare statement of external fact, is merged
in a condition of the soul. In other words, the writer here ceases
to surrender himself wholly to the object: rather he makes his own
personality expressive in it; he records his desires with regard to it;
he attaches to it his own sportive fancies, his acute or unexpected
suggestions and associations. The Greek Anthology contains many such
witty epigrams which have lost the epic manner. In more recent times
we find similar examples in the piquante couplets of the French,
abundantly illustrated in their Vaudevilles. We Germans have much the
same thing in our didactic distiches, Xenien, and the like. Even tomb
inscriptions frequently approximate to this lyrical character in virtue
of the strong emotions expressed.

(_ββ_) In much the same way the Lyric accepts a wider range in
descriptive narrative. I will merely mention, as a composition of this
class, the _romance._ It is the most obvious and simple form of it, in
so far that is as it isolates the different scenes of an event, and
then depicts rapidly and with the full force of their most important
characteristics each on its own account, in descriptions marked
throughout by sympathetic feeling. Such a consistent and well-defined
grasp of the characteristic features of a situation, together with an
emphatic assertion of the writer's absolute sympathy with his subject,
is above all nobly represented in Spanish literature and makes such
romances strikingly impressive. A peculiar clarity of atmosphere
surrounds these lyrical representations which rather identifies them
with the clear-cut definition of objective vision, than with the ideal
world of the imagination.

(_γγ_) The class of the _ballad_, in contrast to the above, includes
for the most part, if in less degree than the truly epic poem, the
completeness of an independent event, whose reflection, of course, it
merely embodies in the most conspicuous of its phases, while it seeks
at the same time to give full, if concentrated and ideal emphasis, to
the depth of the sentiment with which it is throughout interwoven, and
therein the plaint, dejection, joy, and so forth, of the soul. English
literature above all contains many such poetic compositions in the
early and more primitive epoch of its history; and, generally, popular
poetry delights in the narration of such histories and collisions,
usually unfortunate, with a true and emotional emphasis calculated
to make both heart and voice thrill and falter with anguish. But in
more recent times also among ourselves Bürger and, most famous of all,
Goethe and Schiller, have composed masterpieces in this field; Bürger
in virtue of his sombre tone of naïveté; Goethe through the impeccable
clarity of his emotional, no less than imaginative vision, which
forms the lyrical thread throughout; and Schiller, on account of his
superb emotional emphasis on the fundamental thought which he seeks,
in a wholly lyrical manner, to express under the form of an event, in
order thereby to affect the hearts of his readers with a similar lyric
movement of feeling and contemplation.

(_β_) The purely _personal_ element of lyric poetry is rightly
emphasized in those cases, when the fact of a given situation is taken
by the poet as an effective means of expressing his _own_ individuality
therein. Such is the case in the so-called poems _d'occasion._ So far
back as the poems of Callinus and Tyrtaeus we find elegies of battle
based on conditions regarded as real, which are made the stimulus
of a personal enthusiasm, albeit the poet's own individuality, his
purely private affections and feelings, are as yet not so much in
evidence. The Pindaric Odes also bring to light in their panegyrics
of particular contests, victors, and circumstances, a vein or impulse
that is more private; and yet more in some of the odes of Horace we
mark a definitely personal motive, or rather expressed thought to
the effect, "I will as myself a man of culture and fame, write a poem
on this subject." But the best illustration of all we have in our own
Goethe, whose partiality for such a style was due to the fact that he
discovered a poem in every incident of his life.

(_αα_) If, however, the lyric work of art is to be divested of all
_dependence_ of external occasion and purpose, that may be implied in
it, and to be composed as a self-subsistent whole on its own account,
it is obviously essential that the poet also only make use of such
external stimulus as an opportunity to express _himself,_ his mood,
delight, sorrow, or modes of thought and reflection generally. The
condition of most importance to such an intimate mode of personal
expression consists in the poet's ability to absorb the real content
absolutely, converting it thereby into his own possession. The true
lyric poet lives a life of introspection, he grasps relations in the
light of his poetic individuality; and, however in varied fashion his
inner life may be blended with the world around him, in its conditions
and destiny, what he presents to us exclusively in such material is the
unique and independent animation of his own emotions and observations.
When, to take our former example, Pindar was invited to celebrate a
victor of the Hellenic games, or undertakes this uninvited, he made
himself so entirely master of his subject-matter, that his composition
no longer so much appears a poem _on_ the victor as an effusion of song
created from his own resources.

(_ββ_) If we consider more closely the manner of presentment of such a
poem _d'occasion,_ we shall, no doubt, be ready to admit that the same
can to a real extent borrow its more defined material and character,
no less than its conceived organization as an artistic work, from the
actual features of the occurrence or individual which constitute its
content. It is, in fact, precisely from this content that the emotional
movement of the poet proceeds. As the most illuminating, though an
extreme example, I will merely mention Schiller's "Song of the Bell,"
which makes out of the varied stages of bell-foundry the significant
and arresting moments in the composition of the entire poem, and only
subject to this introduces the emotional element relevant thereto,
as also the various observations upon human life and the description
of its conditions. In a somewhat different manner, too, Pindar makes
use of the place of birth of the victor, the exploits of the family
to which he belongs, or other relations of life as an opportunity in
his own person to exalt certain gods to the exclusion of others, or to
mention these particular exploits and results alone, or to emphasize
exclusively the observations or maxims he has interpolated. From a
further point of view, however, the lyric poet is absolutely free,
inasmuch as it is not the external occasion as such, but rather the
poet's _own_ soul-life which is here the subject; and consequently it
entirely depends on the particular views of the poet and the character
of his general mood, what aspects of the subject-matter and in what
threads of connection and sequence they shall be composed. In other
words, we are unable to predict decisively and _a priori_ the degree
in which the objective occasion with its given content, or the purely
personal factor of poet, shall be predominant, or whether both aspects
shall on equal terms coalesce.

(_γγ_) Furthermore, it is not the incentive and its positive reality,
but the ideal movement and conception of the individual soul which
supplies the _focus of unity._ The particular mood or general review,
which is aroused poetically by the occasion, these constitute the
centre, radiating from which not merely the colour of the whole, but
also the embrace of the particular features unfolded, the very mode of
the execution and construction, and therewith the build and coalescence
of the poem as a work of art are determined. In this way, to return
to our previous example, Pindar possesses in the life-conditions
of his victors a genuine core of reality for differentiation or
amplification. In the particular poems, however, which he has written
it is invariably other points of view, another mood altogether,
whether it be of warning, comfort, or exaltation, which he makes most
pervasive, and which, although such exclusively belong to the poet in
his creative capacity, do none the less give him precisely that grasp
of all he wishes to touch upon, execute, and hand to posterity in
those historical facts, while unfolding therewith the illuminating and
constructive power of genius, without which he would fail to secure the
lyric effect intended.

(_γ_) But, _thirdly_, it is not absolutely necessary for the genuine
lyrical poet to start from the external occurrence, which he recounts
in a medium rich with emotion, or, indeed, from any such objectively
real stimulus of his efforts. He is, let us repeat, a truly exclusive
world _in himself._ He may find there both the original incentive
and content, and consequently go no further than this ideal world of
condition, event, and passion discovered in his own heart and soul.
This is that domain in which man becomes, in virtue of his private
inner life, himself the work of art; while the epic poet avails himself
exclusively of the hero and his exploits and experiences for this

(_αα_) And yet in this field, too, an element of narrative may enter,
where, as in the case of the songs of Anacreon, bright little pictures
of adventure with Eros and the like receive the finish of delightful
miniatures. Such an event, however, must obviously rather resemble the
unveiling of a condition of personal soul-life. In a somewhat different
mode of the same thing Horace, in his _Integer vitæ_ makes use of the
fact of his meeting a wolf, not to the extent that we can, therefore,
call his poem the verse _d'occasion_, but rather regarding this fact
as the prompting force of his first sentence and the serenity of the
feelings of affection with which he concludes.

(_ββ_) As a rule we may also observe that the situation under which the
poet depicts himself should not restrict itself merely to the _inner
personal_ life as such. It must rather attest itself as concrete,
and thereby we may even say external totality. The poet, in short,
reveals himself not merely in that inward personal life, but as one
of the objects of the external world. In the example just cited of
the Anacreon odes the poet depicts himself among roses, fair maidens,
and youths in the merry enjoyment of wine and dance, without regret
or yearning, without obligation, and yet without dislike of loftier
aims, which, indeed, are not present at all; reveals himself rather
as a hero, who freely and without reserve, and consequently without
hesitation or loss, is just this unity, is what he is, a man of his own
type, and figures as such in this intimate artistic presentment. In the
love-songs of Hafis also we may observe the entire vital individuality
of the poet in all its changes of content, pose, and an expression
which approaches close to self-conscious humour. And yet his poetry
is without any specific theme, any objective picture, any god, or
mythology; or, rather, when we peruse these light-hearted ebullitions,
one feels as though it would be impossible for the Oriental to possess
any such definite picture and constructive art. He passes easily from
one object to another; he takes his walks abroad, but it is a scene
in which the entire man, with his wine, his damsels, his court-life,
and all the rest of it, is placed before us with delightful unreserve,
without passion or self-seeking in the simplicity of his enjoyment eye
to eye and soul to soul. Improvisations of this type adapt themselves
in the most various ways not merely to a reflection of the soul-life,
but also to external condition. If, however, the poet is absorbed in
his own individual experience, we are not so much concerned to hear
his particular fancies, love affairs, domestic arrangements, and the
history of his uncles and aunts. We are so invited, for instance,
in Klopstock's Eidli and Fanny, as to nave some vision given us of
what is of universal human interest, in order that our sympathies may
be roused. From this point of view, therefore, such lyrical poetry
can readily degenerate into the spurious assumption that what is
essentially private and particular must necessarily awaken interest.
On the contrary, it would be no incorrect description of many songs
of Goethe if we called them "Songs of _Comradeship_," although they
are not exactly executed by the poet under such a category. In other
words, it is not so much himself that a man offers in society; rather
he places his particularity in the background, and converses with the
help of something else, whether it be a story or an anecdote, seizing
its specific features in some particular mood, and communicating them
agreeably to such a temper. In a case like this it is not exactly the
poet, and yet it is himself for all that. It is not himself he gives
us, but something else as best he can. He is, in short, an actor, who
runs through an infinite variety of parts. First he lingers on this,
then on that; he reviews momentarily a scene, then maybe a group of
people. But whatever he may endeavour to reproduce, it is throughout
his individual artistic soul-life, his own experience, his own feeling,
which is vitally interwoven with it.

(_γγ_) But, further, in so far as the individuality of self-conscious
life is the true source of the Lyric, the poet is justified in limiting
his expression to his own moods and reflections without any further
combination of them in a concrete situation that includes a truly
objective character. It is in this direction that examples of what is
little more than an empty fluting for fluting's sake, the song and
trill simply on its own account, will yet give us genuine lyrical
satisfaction. In such the words are to a more or less extent merely
the vehicle of cheerfulness or sorrow, whose effect, moreover, very
readily serves as an invitation to musical accompaniment. Folk-songs
especially very often amount to little more than this. In the songs of
Goethe, too, though we may no doubt discover here a more defined and
abundant mode of expression, it is not unfrequently simply a single and
transitory bit of merriment that is vouchsafed, a passing mood that the
poet does not attempt to throw aside, but on the tune of which he pipes
for a moment in his tiny song. In others, of course, his treatment of
similar moods is on a larger scale, even systematic, as, for instance,
in the poem: "_Ich hab mein Sach' auf nichts gestellt_," in which the
poet passes before us as things that come and vanish, first, money
and property, then women, travel, fame, honour, and, last of all,
fight and war, retaining throughout as the ever-recurring refrain of
stability his own free and careless cheerfulness. Conversely, however,
the intimate individual life may from the same point of view grow in
depth and expansion, in conditions of the soul of the most imposing
proportions and ideas that embrace the world itself. A considerable
number of Schiller's poems are of this type. What is great, what opens
to intelligence, this is the incentive of his heart. But he will
neither celebrate in hymn fashion a religious or otherwise profound
subject; nor will he be the minstrel who looks for inspiration without
him to the pertinent fact or occasion. He sings in the presence of, and
inspired by, his own soul-life, the highest interest of which are the
ideals of life, beauty, and the imperishable claims and thoughts of our

(_c_) There is a _third_ consideration we have to deal with in
connection with the general character of lyric poetry. It is the nature
of the general stage of human development and culture from which the
isolated poem originates.

In this respect, too, the Lyric occupies a position which is to be
contrasted with Epic poetry. In other words, while we regarded as
necessary for the full bloom of the true Epos a phase in the nation's
growth which was, speaking generally, undeveloped, at least in the
sense that it had not ripened in the prosaic acceptance of its actual
life, the times which favour most of all lyrical composition are those
which already are in possession of a more or less fixed organization
of social condition. It is in such a period that the individual seeks
a reflection of his intimate personal life in contrast to this outer
world, creating from it and within its limits an independent whole
of emotion and idea. For in the Lyric it is not, we repeat, the
objective solidarity and individual action, but the individual person
as self-conscious life which supplies both content and form. This,
however, must not be understood in such a way as though the individual,
in order to express himself in lyrical form, must perforce disjoin
himself from every connection with national interests and the opinions,
and with rigid and exclusive severity remain as he stands.

On the contrary, with such an abstract self-subsistency we should only
have left us for content the wholly contingent and particular passion,
the mere caprice of concupiscence and affection, false idiosyncrasies
and distorted originality would have unlimited opportunities. Genuine
lyrical poetry, like all other poetry, has no doubt to express the
content of the human heart in its truth. Yet none the less, regarded as
the content of the Lyric, what is most a matter of fact and substantial
must appear absorbed in personal feeling, vision, imagination, and
thought. And, in the _second_ place, the question here is not so much
simply expression of the personal inner life, is not so much concerned
with a primary and direct statement in the epic fashion, what the facts
are, as with an expression of the poetical nature in a manner both
artistically fruitful and wholly different from chance and ordinary
modes. It follows that the Lyric requires, precisely on account of the
fact that the concentrated life of the heart unfolds itself in manifold
feelings and comprehensive views, and the individual is conscious
of the poetry of his most intimate life as nested in a world that
is already more prosaically organized--an artistic culture already
secured, which must assert itself as the flower and independent product
of the individual's natural endowment thus trained to a perfect result.
For these reasons the Lyric is not limited to particular epochs of the
spiritual development of a people, but is the rich blossom of the most
varied. To an exceptional degree is it favoured in more recent times,
in which everybody is entitled to have and express his own views and

I will, however, draw attention, in the interest of really important
distinction, to the following general considerations.

(_a_) In the _first_ place, we have the type of lyrical expression
peculiar to _folk-songs._

(_αα_) In these above all we have witness to the varied and distinct
qualities of national character. It is on account of this, and
consonant with the widely-prevailing curiosity of our generation, that
great efforts are made to collect folk-songs of every kind, in order
to increase our acquaintance with the peculiarities of every national
spirit, and therewith our sympathies and vital contact with such.
Already Herder has done much in this direction. Goethe, too, with the
help of his own more independent imitations, has materially assisted an
approach to very different examples of this style of poetry. Complete
sympathy is, however, only possible for the songs of one's own people;
and however much we Germans are able to make ourselves at home in
the work of foreign lands, the fact remains that the ultimate aroma
in song[5] of the intimate life of another folk can only appear as
alien, that we shall only catch the echo of the tone of feeling that
truly belongs to it, with the assistance of a more native reflection
of its content.[6] This Goethe has imported into his songs of a
foreign subject-matter, stamped as they are with the finest sympathy
and beauty. We may take as an example the lament of the noble spouse
of Asan Aga, imitated from the Icelandic--only so far as to retain
throughout the unique spirit of such poems unimpaired.

(_ββ_) The general character of the lyrical folk-song is comparable to
the primitive Epos in virtue of the fact that here too the poet does
not make himself his subject-matter, but is absorbed in his selected
material. Although, therefore, intensity of soul in its extreme
concentration may express itself in the folk-song, it is nevertheless
not a single person with the artistic expression of whose private
experience we are made acquainted. It is rather a national state of
feeling, which the author completely assimilates, in so far as it
possesses, when taken by itself, no intimate form of idea or feeling
wholly independent of the nation's existence and interests. And a
condition is necessary, as the presupposition for such an inseparable
union, in which independent personal reflection and culture is not
yet awakened, so that the poet is simply in his creative capacity
merely the vehicle in the background, by means of whom the national
life is expressed in its lyrical emotion and general outlook. This
directly primitive character no doubt communicates to the folk-song an
unconscious freshness of downright grasp and striking veracity, which
is often very effective; but it receives thereby along with it very
readily a fragmentary appearance; it is defective in the continuity
of its exposition, which may amount to actual obscurity. The feeling
dives into depth, but cannot and will not attain to full utterance.
Moreover, as before observed, what is absent from such a point of view
throughout, however much the form in general is wholly lyric, in other
words subjective, is just the lyrical individuality, which expresses
this form and its content as the possession of its _own_ heart and
mind, and the creation of its _own_ artistic resources.

(_γγ_) Peoples, therefore, which confine themselves to poetry of this
type, and do not combine such composition with that of the further
stages of lyrical, epic, or dramatic work, are as a rule in great
measure barbarous nations, uncultured, characterized by transitory
feud and catastrophes. If they themselves, in such heroic ages, really
combined to form a truly pregnant whole, whose particular aspects
were already fused together in an independent and withal harmonious
objective union, which could supply the ground for essentially
concrete and individually distinct exploits, we should find in them,
along with such primitive poetry, epic poets as well. The condition,
out of which such songs assert themselves as the single and ultimate
mode of poetic expression, is therefore rather limited to the field
of family life and the association of clans, without any further
organization such as belongs already to the riper perfection of the
heroic community. If we are reminded here and there of national
exploits, such are for the most part conflicts waged against foreign
aggressors, expeditions of pillage, reprisals of savagery with
savagery, or deeds of one individual against another in the same
people, in the narration of which lament and dejection or ecstatic
jubilation over one conqueror after another, are the moods throughout
prevailing. The national life as it actually is, as yet unfolded in its
wholly free development, is relegated to the background in contrast
with the world of more personal feeling, which also, on its own
account, betrays an immaturity; and, however much thereby we gain in
concentration of effect, the result only too frequently remains, so far
as content is concerned, rude and barbarous. The question then, whether
folk-songs should possess for us a poetic interest, or on the contrary
repel us to some extent, depends on the kind of situation and emotion
they portray. That which appears admirable to the imagination of one
people, will readily strike another as wanting in taste, horrible, and
offensive. There is, for example, a folk-song which tells us the story
of a wife who was immured at the command of her husband, and all that
her plea for mercy could effect was that apertures should be left open
for her breasts, in order that she might suckle her child; we are told
that she remained alive until her child was weaned. This is a barbarous
and frightful situation. And in the same way tales of robbery, exploits
of the bluster or sheer savagery of individuals, possess nothing
in them in which alien peoples of a higher culture can sympathize.
Folksongs, consequently, very often run into great detail as to the
quality of which there is no fixed standard of comparison, because such
is too far removed from our common humanity. When we consequently, in
more recent times, are made acquainted with the songs of the Iroquois,
the Esquimaux, and other wild nationalities, the circle of a true
poetic enjoyment is in no wise thereby enlarged.

(_β_) Further, inasmuch as the Lyric is the entire expression of the
inward life of Spirit, it can neither restrict itself to the mode of
expression nor the content of the genuine folksong, or of later poems
composed in a similar spirit.

(_αα_) In other words, on the one hand, it is of essential importance,
as already remarked, that the wholly self-absorbed soul should detach
itself from this absolute concentration and its direct introspection,
and should pass on instead to the free grasp of itself which, in the
conditions above described, is only incompletely the case. On the
other, it is necessary that it should expand in a world abundant in
ideas, passions, varied conditions, and conflicts, in order to endow
with ideal expression everything that the human heart is essentially
able to apprehend, and then communicate as the birth of its own spirit.
For the collective wealth of lyrical poetry should express in poetic
form all that the inner life comprises, so far as the same can pass
into poetry, and therefore finds itself at home alike in all phases of
spiritual culture.

(_ββ_) And, _secondly_, with the advent of a free self-consciousness
is bound up the freedom of an assured _art_ of its own. The folk-song
sings forth, just as any natural song, straight from the heart. A free
art, however, is aware of itself; it requires a knowledge and desire of
that which it produces; and requires culture to promote this knowledge,
as also an executive power, which is expert in the finest composition.
When, consequently, genuine epic poetry has to conceal the individual
creative power of the poet, or rather it lies with the entire character
of the age of its origin that such should not yet be visible, this
result is merely because of the fact that the Epos deals with the
nation's positive existence rather than that which issues from the
personal life of the poet himself, and that it is not present in poetry
in such a close personal relation, but rather appears as a self-evolved
product essentially independent. In lyrical poetry, on the contrary,
the creative activity no less than the content are inseparable from the
inner life, and are bound to declare themselves as such in actual fact.

(_γγ_) In this respect, later forms of lyric art are expressly
distinguishable from the folk-song. There are, no doubt, folk-songs
which originate contemporaneously with the works of a genuine lyrical
_art._ These latter, however, belong to a range and type of individuals
such as--far from participating in more modern stages of artistic
culture--are, in the entire nature of their general outlook, not yet
liberated from the immediate popular sense. We must, however, not
regard this distinction between the Lyric of the folk-song and the
artistic poem as though it was only when reflection and the artistic
consciousness, in union with deliberate executive ability, appear
with all the elegance of such a union, that the Lyric attains to its
perfection. Such a notion would really amount to this--that a Horace,
for instance, and the Roman lyric poets generally, were to be reckoned
among the finest writers of this type, or even in their own range
that the Master Singers were preferable to the preceding epoch of
the genuine Minnesong. Such an extreme deduction from our previous
statement is not justified. What we ought to conclude is this, that
individual imagination and art directed to the service of this very
self-consistent personal life, which in fact constitutes its principle,
presupposes also, for the basis of their true perfection, a free and
self-trained recognition of imaginative idea no less than artistic

(_γ_) We have our _final_ phase of composition to distinguish from
those already discussed. The folk-song appears before the true
elaboration of a prosaically organized condition of actual conscious
life. Lyric poetry of the truly artistic type, on the other hand,
wrests itself away from the prosaic coordination which surrounds it,
and creates from the poet's imagination, in its acquired independence,
a new poetic world of inward observation and emotion, by means of
which, for the first time, the true content and type of expression
truly adequate to the human soul, as seen from within, becomes the
object of vital art. There is, however, over and above this, a form of
intelligence which, from this point of view, stands in a more exalted
position than the imagination of the emotional or conceptive life,
inasmuch as it is able, with more penetrative universality and more
necessary coalescence to bring its content before our free cognition
than is ever possible to art. This is _philosophical thought._
Conversely, however, this form is attached to the abstract condition of
being exclusively evolved in the medium of thought, posited as wholly
ideal universality; and, in consequence, the concrete man may find
himself also constrained to express the content and the results of his
philosophical consciousness in a concrete way, that is, as permeated by
his temperament and sensuous perception, his imagination and feeling,
in order thereby to possess and exhaust the absolute expression of all
that engages either soul or intellect.

From such a standpoint we may distinguish between two principal types
of conceptive activity. It may, in short, either be the imagination
which, straining beyond its own domain, struggles with the movement
of pure thinking, without successfully attaining the clarity and
secured exactness of philosophical exposition. In this case the Lyric
is for the most part the ebullition of a soul engaged in strife and
contention, which in its fermentation does violence both to art and
abstract thought. It transgresses one province without the ability to
make itself at home in another. Or we may find that it is rather the
tranquil movement of philosophical thought in its essential medium,
which may seek to animate its clearly grasped and systematically
developed thoughts with emotion, to make them perceptible to sensuous
apprehension, and to exchange the explicit scientific process and
sequence in its causal necessity for that free play of particular
aspects, beneath the apparently loose connection of which art is
the more compelled to conceal their ideal bonds of association in
proportion as it is disinclined to narrow itself to the jejune style of
purely didactic exposition. As an illustration of this latter tendency,
we may point to many of Schiller's poems.


Having thus considered the general character of the content of lyric
poetry, and the mode of its expression, as also the varied grades
of culture which are more or less consonant with its fundamental
principle, it will be our further task to examine these general points
of view more nearly in the _detail_ of their more important features
and relations.

Here, too, I ought at starting once again to emphasize the distinction
which obtains between epic and lyrical poetry. In our consideration
of the former we directed our attention above all to the primitive
national Epos, and merely referred incidentally to the inadequate
collateral branches, as also to the poet in his creative capacity.
This we are unable to do in the case of the type under discussion. On
the contrary, we shall find that subjects of the greatest importance
invite our review as respects the individual creative power; and,
on the other hand, in respect to the classification of the several
types in which lyrical poetry, whose general principle it is to
disintegrate and isolate the content and its configurations, is
respectively differentiated. We may define the subsequent course of our
investigation as follows:

_First,_ our attention will be directed to the lyrical poet himself.

_Secondly_, we propose to examine the lyrical work of art as the
creation of the individual poet's imagination.

_Thirdly_, we shall classify the types which are deducible from the
general notion of lyrical composition.

(_a_) _The Lyric Poet_

(_α_) Now the content of the Lyric embraces, as we have seen, first,
a type of contemplation, which connects the universal quality of
determinate being with its conditions, and, secondly, the manifold
character of its detailed aspects. Regarded, however, as pure
generalizations and particular points of view of emotional condition
these constituents, both of them, are nothing more than abstractions.
In order that these may acquire a vital lyrical individuality, a
principle of combination is necessary which can only be of an ideal, in
other words really personal[7] character. Consequently the creatively
concrete person, the _poet_ himself, must be further presupposed as the
focus and in fact realized content of lyrical poetry. He must be there,
however, in a form which is not carried to the point of definitive act
and deed, or to that of the evolved movement of dramatic conflicts. His
exclusive expression and activity is on the contrary restricted to the
fact that he endows his inner experience with an articulate speech such
as portrays the spiritual significance of himself as subject in his
self-expression, whatever the material selected may be, and endeavours
to arouse in and keep the hearer alive to the like meaning and spirit,
the same soul-state, the similar course of reflection.

(_β_) But, furthermore, the expression cannot rest alone in this
result, however successful, in so far as it is for others a free
overflooding of buoyant delight, or the resolution and reconciliation
of grief in song and lyric, or the yet profounder impulse, which issues
in the most serious emotions of heart and the most far-reaching views
of intelligence. The man who sings and can write poetry has a necessary
vocation thereto. He composes because he _cannot do otherwise._ At
the same time the external incentive, the direct invitation and the
like are by no means excluded. The great lyric poet, however, in such
a case soon swerves aside from such an external stimulus. His supreme
object is himself. To take the example once more to which we have
constantly recurred, Pindar was frequently invited to celebrate this
or that laurel-crowned victor, nay, he frequently accepted payment
therefor; and yet, for all that, it is he himself, the minstrel, who
changes places with his hero. He combines freely his own unfettered
imagination with his praise of the exploits of ancestors, or it maybe
his memory of myths; or, when he gives voice to his profound views
of life, of wealth, of mastery, of all that is great and deserving,
of the supremacy and loveliness of the Muses, and above all of the
high vocation of the singer. It is not so much the hero in the renown
that he spreads far and wide, that he honours in his poems. We are
invited to listen to him, the poet. The honour is not to him in that he
celebrates the victor, but rather to the victor that he is celebrated
by Pindar. And it is this emphatic personal sense of greatness which
constitutes the nobility of the lyric poet. Homer, as an individual
person, is in his Epos so entirely sacrificed that people nowadays
are loth to admit that he ever existed at all. His heroes live on for
ever. Pindar's heroes are for us little better than empty names. He
himself, however, the self-celebrated and self-honoured, remains before
us immortal as the poet. The fame which his heroes claim is merely an
appanage to that of the lyric singer. Even among the Romans the lyric
poet to some extent aspires to such an independent position. Suetonius
tells us, for instance, that Augustus wrote these works to Horace; _an
vereris, ne apud posteros tibi infame sit, quod videaris familiaris
nobis esse._ Horace, however, with the exception of those times, easily
demonstrable, where he writes in an _ex officio_ manner of Augustus,
betrays for the most part a precisely similar proud self-consciousness.
His fourteenth ode of the third book, for example, opens with a
reference to the return of Augustus from Spain after his victory over
the Cantabrians. But the poet goes on to celebrate the fact, that on
account of the tranquillity, which the emperor has given the world, he
himself as poet is able quietly to enjoy his easy-going leisure and his
muse; he calls for garlands, unguents, and venerable wine to celebrate
the occasion, and invites in all haste his mistress--in a word, he is
simply preoccupied with the arrangements for his own banquet. We hear,
however, at this time less of his love difficulties than in his youth,
when Plaucus was consul, an occasion where he expressly says to the
messenger he despatches:

    _Si per invisum mora janitorem_
    _Fiet, abito_.

We may regard it as an even more honourable trait of Klopstock, that he
felt in his day the independent worth of the singer, and by his free
expression of this and his regulation of his behaviour consonantly
thereto, disengaged the poet from his subservience to a court and any
or every patron,[8] as also from a tedious and useless toying with
trifles, which is the ruin of a man. However, the fact remains that
it was no other than this very Klopstock whom, in the first instance,
the bookseller regarded as his poet. It was Klopstock's publisher in
Halle who paid him one or two thaler, it appears, for the manuscript
of his Messias, adding over and above this, however, an order for a
waistcoat and breeches, and introduced him thus set up into society,
letting it clearly be seen from the nature of such a get up that
he was responsible therefor. In some contrast to this, so at least
we are informed at a later date on evidence, however, that is not
irreproachable,[9] the Athenians erected a statue to Pindar, because
he had celebrated them in one of his poems, and sent him, moreover,
twice the amount of the fine[10] the Thebans refused to exempt him from
on account of the inordinate praise he had lavished on an alien city.
Indeed we have the statement that Apollo himself declared through the
mouth of the Pythian prophetess that Pindar was worthy of receiving
half of all the gifts which the whole of Hellas, as in custom bound,
brought to the Pythian games.

(_γ_) Throughout the entire compass of lyric poetry the synthetic unity
of a single personality asserts its presence in virtue of its poetic
soul-movement. The lyric poet is, in fact, moved to express everything
that assumes a poetic form either in his emotional or intelligent
life in the song. In this type of composition Goethe is pre-eminently
noteworthy, who in all the variety of his full life was thus
continuously creative. He was unquestionably in this respect a quite
exceptional model. It is rarely that we find an artistic personality,
who, while retaining as Goethe's did, an interest so active on all
sides and is able to live a life, despite all such self-expansion, so
entirely self-possessed, so ready to transmute everything it touches
into the poetic vision. His life in its public relations, the peculiar
nature of his heart, which rather impressed with its reserve than
the ease of its approach, the indefatigable effort of his scientific
pursuits and enquiry, the general conclusions of his trained and
practical experience, his ethical maxims, the impressions, which the
varied and conflicting facts of his times made upon him, the inferences
he deduced from such, the effervescent joy of life and courage of his
youth, the well-organized force and ideal beauty of his manhood, the
comprehensive genial wisdom of his old age--all this passed into the
magic crucible of his lyrics, where the most delicate play of emotion,
no less than the most severe and painful conflicts of spirit, alike
find their expression and by this means their deliverance.

(_b_) _The Lyric Work of Art_

_Secondly_, in respect to the lyric poem as a poetic work of art, we
are no doubt in general not able to advance much. The fortuitous
character of the abundance of its many modes of expression, and
the forms of its equally varied and incalculable content make this
inevitable. The peculiarly personal nature of this class of work,
however much the same is imperatively subject to the general principles
of beauty and art, none the less brings with it the necessary
result, that the range of the formal and melodious possibilities of
its exposition admit of no theoretic definition. For our purpose,
therefore, the only question of importance is the nature of the
distinction of artistic type that obtains between the lyric and the
epic product.

Upon this I will briefly draw attention to the following points of

_First_, the unity of the lyric composition.

_Secondly,_ the nature of its progressive disclosure.

_Thirdly_, the external aspect of its verse-measure and general

(_α_) The importance, which the Epos possesses for art lies, as already
observed, and pre-eminently so, in the case of the primitive Epopaea,
in the consummate elaboration of the perfected artistic form, which as
from the repository of the full embrace of the national spirit, places
before our vision one and the same composition in all the wealth of a
completely evolved content.

(_αα_) The true lyric work of art will not undertake to present thus
before us a synthesized whole of such extension. The principle of
personality can no doubt proceed to a comprehension of subject-matter
of universal pretensions. To be able truly to enforce itself, however,
in its individual independence, it necessarily implies the collateral
principle of disintegration and isolation. At the same time a variety
of truth, phenomenal or ideal, derived from natural environment,
the memory of one's own or another's experience, from mythical and
historical events, and the like, is not therefore excluded: but such
an extension of view must not be permitted, as with the Epos, on the
ground that it belongs to the unified _complexus_ of a given sphere
of reality, but is rather solely justifiable for the reason that it
springs to renewed life in the memory of the poet, and in his impulse
and gift of vivid association.

(_ββ_) We must consequently regard the intimate personal life as the
true integrating principle of the lyric poem. This inward life, taken
simply, is in part the wholly formal unity of the self-conscious
self; in part also it is split up and dispersed in the most varied
particularity, and the most diverse content of ideas, feelings,
impressions, and perceptions, whose power of combination is solely due
to the fact that it is one and the selfsame personal identity which
serves essentially as their vehicle. In order therefore that this
selfidentical subject may form the focal centre of the work of art,
it must, on the one hand, have reached the point where the mood or
situation is _defined_ in its _concreteness_, and on the other it must
_affiliate_ itself with this isolation of its own possessions as with
itself to the extent that it feels and pictures itself in the same.
It is only by this means that it becomes an essentially defined whole
of such a personal character, and exclusively expresses that which is
emphasized by reason of such definition, and is yet coalescent with it.

(_γγ_) Lyrical in the most pertinent sense is in this connection the
emotional mood or colour as concentrated in a concrete condition,
inasmuch as the sensitive heart is that which is the most vital and
personal factor of the subjective lips. Reflection and a contemplation
which is mainly absorbed in generalization very readily tend to the
didactic, or are likely to assert what is substantive and positive in
the content under an epic mode.

(_β_) With respect to our _second_ point, viz., the progressive
disclosure of the lyric subject-matter, speaking generally, exact
definition is here too out of the question. I shall, therefore,
restrict myself to a few searching observations.

(_αα_) The progressive exposition of the Epos is of a dilatory
description, and it expands throughout in the display of an actual
world of diversified character. In the Epos the poet projects himself
into the _objective_ world, which is set before us in the independent
form and movement of its own reality. In contrast thereto it is the
emotions and reflection which in the lyric composition absorb the
given world into themselves, animate the same within this ideal
element, and, only after it is itself converted into a constituent
of this personal life, give form and expression to it in language. In
contrast to the epic principle of extension we have therefore in the
Lyric that of _assimilation_,[11] and have above all to seek for our
effect by means of the implied ideal depth of expression rather than
the diffuseness of descriptive or explanatory detail. None the less,
however, between the extremes of an almost speechless conciseness and
the idea worked out into absolute lucidity of speech every conceivable
sort of nuance and degree of clarity is still possible. To as little
extent is it necessary that a ban be placed on all reflection of
external objects. On the contrary genuinely concrete lyric compositions
disclose the individual in his external conditions; they accept,
therefore, as an essential feature of their content, natural and
local environment. In fact there are poems entirely limited to such
descriptions. In such cases, however, it is not so much the reality
in its objective presence and its plastic presentment, as the accord
with which such objects affect the soul, the mood excited by them,
the feelings of the heart under such positive conditions, which are,
in fact, the lyric result. It is in short not this or that object as
presented to our eyes, in its several features, which ought mainly
to impress our inward vision, but the emotional forces which are
made vital in the same, and which have for their aim a similar state
of feeling and contemplation in ourselves. Romances and ballads are
perhaps the most obvious illustration of this, which, as I have
previously maintained, approach the lyrical type in proportion as they
exclusively emphasize those characteristics of a given event which are
consistent with the state of the inner life, in which the poet writes,
and disclose the course of his narrative in such a way, that we receive
a distinct and life-like echo back again of this personal temper.
For such reasons all out and out reproduction of material objects,
even though stamped with considerable emotion, nay, even the diffuse
characterization of emotional states, can only be of subordinate effect
in lyrical effort, if compared with concise concentration of effect and
the vivid and significant expression.

(_ββ_) We may add that _episodes_ are permissible as well to the lyric
poet; but he ought to employ them on other grounds than those which
justify their epic use. In the latter case they are implied in the
notion of the externally independent collocation of the different
aspects contained; and, in respect to the advance of the epic action,
they also are significant as points of retardation and hindrance.
Their lyrical justification is rather subjective in its character. The
living personality in short surveys his private world more rapidly;
his memory recurs to the most varied subjects on equally various
occasions; he combines material of the most divergent nature; and,
without departing from his true and fundamental emotional state, or the
object of his thought, gives free play on all sides to his imagination
and contemplation. An animating spirit of the same kind pervades the
inner poetical life, although for the most part it is impossible to say
whether this or that feature in a lyric poem is to be understood as
episodical or not. As a general rule, however, digressions, so long as
they do not violate the unity, and above all unexpected changes, witty
combinations and sudden, or even violent transitions are peculiarly
appropriate to the Lyric.

(_γγ_) On account of this the nature of the forward movement and bond
of connection in this domain of poetry may be various, and in some
measure marked by excessive contrast. Generally no doubt the Lyric,
quite as little as the Epos, adopts the caprices of ordinary conscious
life, or the purely scientific consequences, or the speculative process
of philosophical thought in its necessary development. It requires
indeed a freedom and self-subsistency in its single features. But
whereas, in the case of the Epos, this relative isolation is referable
to the form of the phenomenal reality, in the type of which its
realization is centered, the lyric poet, on the contrary, communicates
to the particular emotions and ideas, in which he is himself expressed,
the character of a free self-assertion. Each and all, although equally
distrained from similar modes of feeling and observation, nevertheless,
as viewed separately, absorb his spirit, which remains concentrated
upon each severally, until it is diverted to other points of view or
other emotional states. The movement of the whole may therefore have
little to arrest its tranquil flow, but with equal right we may find it
pass without any mediation, and in one bound to material of a totally
different character. The poet, instead of following the logical
current of his thought, becomes, it would seem, in this sudden flight
of ecstatic intoxication mastered by a force, the pathos of which rules
and carries him away in spite of himself. The impulse and conflict of
such passionate intensity is so characteristic a feature of certain
forms of lyric composition, that, for example, Horace in many of his
poems is at pains to harmonize with deliberate artistic means such
apparently dislocating breaks in the poem's connection. For the rest I
must entirely pass over the various intermediate phases of treatment,
which fall between the extremes of the most lucid connection and most
even flow on the one side, and that of the unrestrained impetuosity of
passion and enthusiasm on the other.

(_γ_) _Finally_, of our above three divisions of the immediate subject,
we have left us to discuss the _external form_ and actual presentment
of the lyric composition. Above all we shall have to deal with _metre_
and the _musical accompaniment._

(_αα_) It is obvious enough that the hexameter in its even, sustained
and none the less life-like forward movement is most exceptionally
fitted as the measure of the Epic. The demand of the Lyric is rather
for an extreme _variety_ of metres with every kind of co-ordination
in their form. The material of the lyric poem in short is not the
object in the form wherein it unveils itself in Nature, but the
movement of the poet's own soul, the regularity or change of which, its
perturbation or repose, its peaceful flow or tumultuous wave and leap,
must find expression in the time-movement of the word-length, in which
such inward life is asserted. The nature of the prevailing mood and the
mode of imaginative conception throughout ought to meet with an echo in
the verse-measure itself. The lyric effusion indeed is placed in a far
more intimate relation to time, regarded as the external medium of its
communication, than the epic narrative, which consigns its phenomenal
facts to the past, and associates or interweaves them under a mode of
extension more analogous to that of spatial condition. The Lyric, in
contrast to this, displays the momentary emergence of emotion and idea
in the temporal juxta-position of their origin and elaboration. It
has therefore to clothe in artistic form the varied temporal movement
itself. To this distinctive character belongs, in the _first_ place,
the more diverse sequence of long and short syllables in a more
strongly emphasized inequality of rhythmical feet; and, _secondly_, the
more varied use of the caesura verse--and _thirdly_ the rounding off of
the strophes, which not only admit of abundant alternation in respect
to the comparative length of particular lines, but also relatively to
the rhythmic configuration of these on their own account and in their
immediate sequence to each other.

(_ββ_) Yet more lyrical in its effect--a second feature this--is
the musical sound of words and syllables simply. The most important
examples of this are alliteration, rhyme and assonance. In the system
of versification under discussion what is predominant, as I have
already explained in a previous passage, is, on the one hand, the
ideal significance of syllables, the accent of the meaning, which
disjoins itself from the purely natural element, as taken by itself,
of their assured quantity, and then defines under the direction of
the mind their duration, emphasis and subordination; which, from a
further point of view, asserts itself in isolation as the expressly
concentrated sound of definite letters, syllables, and words. The Lyric
is pre-eminently associated with this spiritualizing process effected
by ideal significance, no less than this emphatic insistence of sound.
It in fact not merely restricts its acceptance and expression of all
that positively is or appears to the meaning which such possesses for
the inward life, but also lays hold of sound and musical tone as the
significant medium of its communication. No doubt in this sphere, too,
the element of rhythm may associate with rhyme; but even here this
is effected in a manner which is closely related to the time-beat of
music. Strictly speaking, therefore, the poetic use of assonance,
alliteration and rhyme is limited to the province of the Lyric. For
although the Epos of the Middle Ages is, in accordance with the nature
of more modern languages, unable to keep itself aloof from these forms,
this is mainly permitted for the reason that here, too, the lyrical
element is throughout more insistently active within the domain of
epic poetry itself, and effects a more forceful entrance where the
subject-matter consists of heroic songs, romances, ballads, tales,
and the like. And we find the same thing in dramatic poetry. What,
however, is the peculiar possession of the Lyric, is the diversified
configuration of rhyme, which is elaborated and perfected by means of
the recurrence of similar or the alternation of different letters,
syllables and verbal quantity in variously organized and alternated
strophes of rhyme. Such differentiation is also of undoubted service
both to epic and dramatic poetry, but only on the same ground that
rhyme itself is not excluded altogether. The Spaniards, for instance,
in the most cultured epoch of their dramatic development, gave the
freest play to such craft in the expression of passion by no means
appropriate to the genuine drama, interweaving octave rhymes, sonnets
and the like with more usual verse-measures. By so doing they at
least testify, in the continuity of such assonances and rhymes, their
predilection for the musical element in language.

(_γγ_) _Finally_, lyric poetry, to a far more considerable extent
than is possible with the unassisted aid of rhyme, avails itself of
_music_, by means of which the uttered word becomes veritable melody
and song. Such a leaning may, moreover, be completely justified. Or,
in other words, the less lyric subject-matter and content possess on
their own account independence and objective stability, but are rather,
above all, of an ideal character, rooted exclusively in the personal
life, while at the same time an external medium of articulate arrest
is essential, to that extent is the demand for a decisive medium of
communication more insistent. Precisely for the reason that it remains
of ideal intention, the means it employs as a stimulus to others must
be the more effective. Such an excitant of our emotional life can only
be music.

We find consequently, even in respect to external execution, that lyric
poetry is almost invariably associated with musical accompaniment. At
the same time we should note an essential gradation in this power of
combination. The romantic and above all the modern lyric, no doubt more
exceptionally so in such songs, in which the temper, the emotional mood
is predominant, and the function of music is to emphasize and expand
this inner beat of soul-life in actual melody--are no doubt most
readily adapted to such melodic fusion. The folk-song is an obvious
example which both delights in and demands a musical accompaniment. We
shall find in modern times more rarely a composer for the canzonet,
elegy, epistle, or even the sonnet. The reason of this is that in
cases where idea, reflection, nay, even emotion are made completely
explicit in the poetry, and increasingly liberated from the bare point
of spiritual selfconcentration, and, further, from the sensuous medium
of the art, the Lyric already secures, in its deliverance as speech,
a greater self-stability, and lends itself less simply to a free
association with the vague definition of music. On the other hand in
proportion as the inner life expressed is not made explicit to that
extent the aid of melody is required. How it came about, however, that
the ancients, despite the pellucid clarity of their diction, availed
themselves of music in its actual delivery, and the measure in which
they did thus make use of it, I shall have occasion to deal with

(_c_) _Types of the Genuine Lyric_

With regard to specific types, in which we may classify lyrical
composition, I have already referred with more detail to some which
form the transition step from the narrative form of the Epos to the
more subjective mode of exposition. From a contrary point of view it
might seem desirable in the same way to demonstrate the beginnings of
the dramatic. This inclination, however, of passage to the animation
of the drama is exclusively and in essentials restricted to the
circumstance that the lyric poem too as conversation, without, however,
carrying the movement of action to the point of actual conflict, may
itself accept the external form of dialogue. We shall nevertheless omit
further allusion to these intermediate and hybrid stages, and restrict
our cursory examination to those forms in which the real principle of
the Lyric fully asserts itself. The main cause of this distinction is
to be found in the attitude, which the artistic consciousness assumes
relatively to its object.

(_α_) To be more definite the poet--this at least is one
direction--annuls the particularity of his emotion and idea, and is
absorbed in the general contemplation of God or gods, whose greatness
and might permeates the whole of the personal life, and causes the poet
as an individual person to vanish. Hymns, dithyrambs, paeans, psalms,
all belong to this class, which are moreover quite differently treated
by different peoples. I propose merely to draw general attention to the
following characteristic of such poetry.

(_αα_) The poet, who is raised above the narrow limitation of his own
purely personal life and external conditions, or the ideas which are
therewith associated, replacing these with that which appears to him
and his people as absolute and divine, may, in the _first_ instance,
completely depict the divine in an objective presentment, and set
forth this, as thus projected and executed for the spiritual vision of
others, to the honour and power of the glorified god. The hymns which
are ascribed to Homer are of this character. They contain above all
mythological situations and histories of the divine Being, in whose
celebration they are composed, which are not merely conceived in the
ideas of symbolism, but are clothed in the downright objectivity of the

(_ββ_) In contrast to this, _secondly_, the dithyrambic impulse, in
its more _personal_ aspect of an exalted divine service--overwhelmed,
as it is, by the power of its object, shattered and stunned to its
soul-foundations--cannot, by reason of the general diffusion of its
emotional state, go so far as to present an objective image and form.
It is more akin to the lyrical absorbtion. We have here simply ecstatic
rapture of soul. The singer breaks out and forth from himself; he is
so exalted directly into the Absolute, steeped in the being and might
of whom he exultantly sings his praise of the Infinite, into the depth
whereof he plunges, or that of the natural world, in whose splendour
the profound wealth of the Godhead is declared.

The Greeks, in the solemnities of their worship, have not limited
themselves for long to such mere outcries and appeals. They have
sought to intermingle with such ecstasies the narrative of, definite
mythical situations and actions. Such expositions interposed between
the effusion of lyric poetry, became gradually of most importance, and
created the drama, such narratives being asserted as action in its
lifelike form, and independently on its own account, a drama, which
again in its turn received as a constituent feature the lyrics of its

Even more searching in its utterance is this impulse of exultation,
this adoration, jubel and outcry of soul to the One, wherein the
individual discovers the end of conscious life and the true object of
all might and truth, no less than glory and praise, as we meet it in
many of the sublime psalms of the Old Testament. Take the words of the
thirty-third psalm, for example:

    "Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous, for praise is comely
    for the upright.

    "Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with psaltery and
    an instrument of ten strings.

    "Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

    "For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are
    done in truth.

    "He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of
    the goodness of the Lord.

    "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the
    host of them by the breath of his mouth."[12]

    Or take the twenty-ninth psalm: "Give unto the Lord, O ye
    mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength.

    "Give unto the Lord the honour due unto his name: worship
    the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

    "The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory
    thundereth: the Lord is upon great waters.

    "The voice of the Lord is powerful, the voice of the Lord is
    full of majesty.

    "The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; yea, the Lord
    breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

    "He maketh them to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like
    a young unicorn.

    "The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire.

    "The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord
    shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh," etc.

An exaltation and lyric sublimity such as the above contain a power
of personal detachment,[13] and is consequently less adapted to
self-absorbtion in the concrete content, wherein the imagination can
lay hold of the fact in tranquil satisfaction. It is rather inclined
to soar up in an indefinite enthusiasm, which strains to make present
to feeling and perception what is unutterable for the intelligence.
In this atmosphere of indeterminacy the individual soul is unable to
envisage its unreachable object in quiescent beauty, or enjoy its
self-expression in a work of art. Instead of a tranquil picture the
imagination sets forth external phenomena without co-ordination and in
fragments; and, inasmuch as it does not succeed with emotional effort
in any consistent articulation of its separate ideas, in its positive
artistic form, too, it employs a somewhat arbitrary and insurgent

The _prophets_, who oppose the mass of the community, partly in the
fundamental tones of grief and lamentation over the condition of their
people, partly, too, in this feeling of alienation and decadence, carry
to yet a further extreme this type of paranetic lyric in the sublime
flame of their emotion and political indignation.

In a more modern age of imitation this sublime passion, however, is
exchanged for a more artificial warmth, which easily cools and becomes
abstract. Thus, for example, we have much hymn and psalm-writing of
Klopstock, which possesses neither depth of thought, nor the tranquil
development of any religious content whatever. What is expressed
is, above all, an effort of this exaltation to the Infinite, which,
agreeably with modern scientific ideas, merely discloses the empty
incommeasurability and inconceivable might, greatness, and splendour of
God, in its contrast to the very intelligible impotence and finitude of
the poet.

(_β_) From a second point of view, we have those types of lyric poetry
which may be described generally as odes, in the more modern meaning of
the term. In these, as distinguished from the type above described, it
is the _personal life_ of the poet, in its independence, which asserts
itself as a fundamental feature. It is, indeed, the culmination, which
may be enforced in a twofold manner.

(_αα_) From one point of view the poet may, within this new mode of
expression, select, as he previously did, a subjective matter itself
of essential importance, such as the glory and celebration of gods,
heroes, princes, love, beauty, art, friendship, and the like, while he
displays his inner life as so completely steeped and carried away by
this content and its concreteness, that it appears as though, in this
impulse of enthusiasm, the subject has wholly mastered his soul, and is
present in it now, as the one predominant power. If this was entirely
so the facts which master him might secure, in their independence, the
plastic form, motion, and stability of an epic sculpturesque image.

Or, as a converse case, it is just the personal life of the poet
himself and its greatness which he seeks to express and make real on
its own account. As for the object itself, it is that whereof he makes
himself master; he assimilates this in his own life, expresses himself
in and through this. By so doing he freely and without reserve breaks
up the more positive course of his subject with his own emotion or
reflection; he illuminates it from within; he changes it; and the final
result is that it is not so much the subject, but rather the _personal
enthusiasm_ in which it has steeped him, which is most effective. In
this connection, however, we have two distinct aspects to consider.
First, there is the compelling force of the subject-matter; secondly,
we have that independent freedom of the poet which flashes into view
in its conflict with that which would otherwise master it. It is above
all the stress of this opposition, which renders inevitable the swing
and the boldness of utterance and image, the apparent absence of order
in the ideal construction and course of the poem, its digressions,
_lacunae_, and sudden transitions, and which preserves the ideal
elevation of the poet, by means of the mastery with which he is
enabled, through the artistic perfection of his work, to overcome this
disunion, and to produce an' essentially harmonious whole, which places
him, as _his_ work, in relief above the greatness of his subject.

It is to such a type of lyric enthusiasm that many of the Pindaric odes
are referable, whose triumphant, albeit personal glory is disclosed
in a mode of rhythm equally conspicuous for its varied movement,
and yet for all that stringently regulated measure. Horace, on the
contrary, more especially where he aims most at self-assertion, is
rather lacking in warmth and insipid. We detect here an imitative
artificiality, which vainly endeavours to conceal the purely technical
preciosity of his composition. The enthusiasm of Klopstock in the same
way is never entirely genuine. It too frequently gives the impression
of laboured artifice, despite the fact that many of his odes are rich
in true and genuine emotion, and stamped with an engaging masculine
worth and force of expression.

(_ββ_) From another point of view, however, it is not at all necessary
that the content itself should be substantial or important. The poet
is himself, in his own personality, of such weight that he can attach
to even the more trifling objects worth, nobility, or at least in a
general way a more exalted interest owing to the fact that they are
embodied in his poetic work. Many of the Odes of Horace are of this
type. Klopstock, too, with many another, may be included in such a
category. In such cases it is not the importance of the material
itself, which engages the poet's effort, but on the contrary that of
the process in virtue of which he exalts what is on its own account
insignificant, either in external facts or petty occurrences, to the
height of the emotion and idea they excite in himself.

(_γ_) In conclusion, the entire infinite multiplicity of lyrical
mood and reflection reaches its fullest compass in the sphere of the
_song_, in which consequently differences of national custom and
creative individuality have their freest play. Characteristics of every
extreme of diversity meet together here, and the task of adequate
classification is beset with difficulty. We will restrict ourselves to
pointing out a few of the most general character.

(_αα_) We have, then, _first_, the _genuine song_ intended for singing
or purely musical practice,[14] whether in private or before others.
Much intelligible content, ideal greatness and loftiness is not
necessary. On the contrary, worth, nobility, weight of thought can only
prove an obstacle to the desire of direct self-expression. Imposing
ideas or reflections, or sublime emotions compel the artist to detach
himself from his immediate personality and its interests. And yet it
is precisely this immediacy of joy and sorrow, what we may call the
unrestricted and momentary personal experience, which ought to find its
expression in the song. And it is on this account that every folk is in
a peculiar way at home and at ease in its songs. Despite the unlimited
variety of content and of melodic exposition that offers itself
here, every song is without exception distinct from types previously
considered by virtue of the simplicity of its subject-matter, movement,
metre, verbal expression, and images. The point of departure is direct
from the soul; the movement of inspiration is not so much from one
object to another, but is, generally speaking, centered exclusively in
one and the same content, whether it be a single emotional state, or
any definite expression of delight or sorrow, that mood, in short, the
effect of which carries the heart with it. In this emotion or temper
the song persists with no interruption in its flight and impression,
quietly and simply abiding therein without any strikingly bold contrast
or transitions of idea; and it creates thereby in the even flow of its
images this one perfected whole, sometimes without any interruption
or disunion, at others in a more expansive and consequential survey,
employing therewith rhythms adapted to song or the recurrence of rhymes
easily intelligible and without any considerable complexity. Inasmuch,
however, as it possesses for the most part as its content what is
essentially transitory we are not to suppose that a nation is likely to
sing the same songs over and over again, for a hundred or a thousand
years. A people which can at all claim progressive development is
neither so poor nor so so barren as only to possess poets of the song
at one period of its life. It is just the poetry of the song, which, in
contrast to the Epopaea, does not so much die as it is forever being
awakened anew. This field of blossom starts up afresh every spring; and
it is only in the case of oppressed peoples, peoples precluded from
every advance, which are unable to experience the ever requickened
delight in poetic composition, that the old and the oldest songs are
retained. The particular song, just like the particular mood, arises,
and then passes; it animates, delights, and is forgotten. Whoever knows
or sings, for example, the songs which fifty years ago were everywhere
known and beloved? Every century strikes its own particular keynote;
the previous one sounds out of tune, until it stops altogether. None
the less, however, must every song possess not so much a revelation
of the personality of the singer as a certain community of sentiment,
which meets with response from all sides; which excites in others a
like emotion and so, too, passes from mouth to mouth. Songs which are
not generally current as such in their time are seldom of the genuine
stamp. As an essential distinction in the composition of song I will
merely emphasize two main aspects which I have already referred to.
On the one hand the poet may express his inner life in its emotions
quite openly and without reserve, more especially the feelings and
state of joyfulness, and so that he communicates completely all that
he experiences. On the other hand, and in extreme contrast to this,
he may only suffer us to surmise through his very speechlessness,
what is brought to a focus in the unopened chamber of his heart. The
first type belongs mainly to the East, and more especially to the
careless hilarity and contented expansiveness of Mohammedan poetry,
the splendid outlook of which loves to dilate itself hither and
thither in all the breadth of sensuous perception and witty conceit.
The second type, on the contrary, applies with more force to our
Northern self-concentration and intimacy of soul-life, which in its
compressed tranquillity is often only able to seize hold of objects
which are wholly external and to put suggestions in _them,_ while the
essentially suppressed spirit is unable to express itself or find a
bent, but rather, like the child with whom that father in the Erl King
rides through the night and the wind, dies away with its glow on the
wick. The distinction above noticed applies also in a broader sense
to other forms of lyrical composition such as the folk-song and more
elaborate poetry; it recurs again in the simple song with many shades
and intermediate links in its variety. With regard to particular forms
applicable to this class of composition I will restrict myself to the
following examples.

We may mention, to start with, the _folk-song_, which, on account
of its direct appeal, is mainly of the nature of the simple song,
being also generally adapted to singing, or, rather, requiring the
musical accompaniment. Its subject-matter is in part national exploit
and event, in which the nation is emotionally made aware of and
recalls again its most essential life; in part, too, feelings and
situations are directly expressed which relate to particular classes.
It associates, in short, civic life with its natural condition and its
closest human relations, and it does so with every variety of note,
whether of exultation or sorrow, which may duly harmonize with such.
In contrast to the above, we have, secondly, songs of a more various
and enriched culture, a culture which finds its entertainment in the
companionable amusement of all kinds of pleasantry, graceful turns
of phrase, casual occurrences, or polite modes of address, or, with
more intensity of feeling, recurs to the pathos or necessities of less
favoured conditions of life, describing therein both the facts and the
consequent feelings they excite, the poet always making his appeal
from his own breast and the facts of his own sympathetic experience.
If such songs go no further than the bare narrative, more particularly
of natural phenomena, the result is likely to be trivial and to betray
the lack of imaginative resources. The bare description of emotional
states, moreover, not unfrequently fares little better. The truth is
that our poet in such descriptions, whether of objective facts or
emotions, must not restrict his survey to the narrow outlook of direct
wishes and desires, but must already in the freedom of his intelligence
have raised himself into a more serene atmosphere wherein the main
thing of importance to himself is the satisfaction which the exercise
of his imagination has afforded. An undisturbed sense of freedom such
as this, through expansion of heart and delight in conceptive idea on
its own account, confers on many songs of Anacreon, as also certain
poems of Hafis and the Westöstliche Divan of Goethe the rarest charm of
an unfettered creative gift.

There is a yet further type of composition of this general class,
to which we must concede a more exalted or, at least, a more widely
embracing content. The large majority of Protestant hymns composed for
spiritual edification are essentially songs. They express the yearning
after God, the plea for His grace, repentance, hope, trust, doubts,
faith, and the like of the religious heart; no doubt, in the first
instance, to meet the importunity of the individual soul, but at the
same time in a manner of general significance, wherein such feelings
and states of soul may or ought to apply, to a greater or less extent,
to every member of the Christian Church.

(_ββ_) We may further return to another division of this class, the
_sonnet, sestine, elegy, epistle_, and a few other such modes. These
latter assert themselves as distinct from the ordinary sphere of
song previously discussed. The immediacy of feeling and expression
is emphasized in this class as a mediating bond with reflection,
and a contemplation which, while remaining alert to many features
of its subject, conceives the particular detail of perception and
soul-experience under more general points of view. Science, learning,
and, in short, a wide culture may be here effective; and if also in all
the relations thus established the personal life, which connects and
mediates in itself the particular fact with the general concept, is
and remains the insistent and predominant factor, yet the standpoint
presupposed is of a wider and more universal import than that of the
ordinary song. The Italians in particular have given us splendid
examples of a highly sensitive type of feeling and reflection in
their sonnets and sestines. Such not only directly expresses in a
given situation states of yearning, grief, longing, and the like,
or the counterfeit of external objects, with a peculiarly intimate
concentration, but includes many a diversion, many a shrewd glance
into mythology and history, whether past or present, while remaining
throughout able to return upon itself, true to the fundamental demand
of selfrestriction and concentration. The simplicity of the song is
incompatible with a culture of this kind. The exalted character of
the ode is equally disallowed. As a primary consequence of this the
possibility of actual musical delivery vanishes; but, on the other
hand, as some set-off to the absence of musical accompaniment, the
verbal expression itself, in its sound and composed rhymes, becomes a
melodic flow of speech. The Elegy, moreover, may, in the measure of its
syllables, its meditation, its comments, and the descriptive display of
emotional life, assume the form of the Epic.

(_γγ_) The _third_ type of composition in this class is characterized
by a mode of treatment which in recent times is most clearly
represented among us Germans in the work of Schiller. The majority of
his lyrical poems, such as those named by him Resignation, the Ideals,
the realm of Shades, Artists, the Ideal and Life, are just as little
songs in the true sense as they are odes or hymns, epistles, or elegies
in the classic sense. Their position, on the contrary, is distinct
from all these types. Their significance consists above all in the
imposing fundamental thought of their content by the force of which,
however, the poet neither appears to be carried away as a dithyrambic
poet might be, nor in the press of his enthusiasm is there any
appearance of conflict with the greatness of his subject. He remains
rather throughout completely master of the same, and unfolds all
that is therein implied from every point of view with his own poetic
reflection. And he does this in the full impulse of genuine feeling,
no less than with the comprehensive breadth of his intelligence,
expressed with a compelling force in the most admirable and full-toned
utterance and image, and yet, withal, for the most part in quite
simple, if really arresting rhythms and rhymes. These great thoughts
and fundamental interests, to which his entire life was dedicate,
appear consequently as the most intimate possession of his spirit. But
he does not sing so much as one tranquilly self-absorbed,[15] or to a
circle of companions, as the rich-songed mouth of Goethe was wont to
do, but as a singer who delivers himself of what is on its own account
intrinsically of worth in a storehouse of all that is most excellent
and distinguished. His songs ring out, in fact, much as he says of his

    Hoch über'm niedern Erdenleben
    Soll sie im blauen Himmelszelt,
    Die Nachbarin des Donners, schweben
    Und grenzen an die Sternen weit,
    Soll eine Stimme seyn von oben,
    Wie der Gestirne helle Schaar,
    Die ihren Schöpfer wandelnd toben
    Und führen das bekränzte Jahr.
    Nur ewigen und ernsten Dingen
    Sei ihr metall'ner Mund geweiht,
    Und stündlich mit den schnellen Schwingen
    Berühr' im Fluge sie die Zeit.[16]


It will already have sufficiently appeared from what I have pointed
out in relation to the general character, as also the more detailed
features discussed with reference to the poet, the lyrical composition
and the several types of the art that to a singular degree in this
province of poetry a concrete treatment is only possible which accepts
the historical narrative as a constituent feature. The universal, which
can be set forth in its independence, does not merely remain restricted
in its compass, but is also abstract in its valid worth. And this is
so because in no other art to the like extent does the particularity
of the time, condition, and nationality, no less than the specific
idiosyncracy of individual genius, supply the determinating factor of
the content and form of the artistic product. But in proportion as the
strength of the demand forces itself on our attention that such an
historical exposition should be avoided, I feel myself obliged, in the
interests of the very variety of material comprised in the embrace of
lyric composition, to limit myself exclusively to a very partial survey
of all that I am acquainted of in this particular class of work, and in
which my lively interest could have been extended.

As the basis of our general classification of the varied national and
more personal lyric compositions, as in the case of epic poetry, we
cannot do better than follow the order of those radical types under
which artistic creation generally is unfolded, and which we now know as
symbolic, classic, and romantic art. As the main division, therefore,
of our present subject-matter, we may, in other words, adopt a similar
sequence from Oriental compositions to the Lyric of the Greeks and
Romans, and then from this to the Slavonic, Romance, and German peoples.

(_a_) Taking, then, the Oriental lyric first, we may observe that it
differs essentially from the lyrical composition of the West through
its inability to attach to it the independent personality and free
spirit of the poet, or that unity which characterizes every content
of romantic art, its essential infinity, reflecting, in fact, the
potential depth of the romantic soul. Such a distinction is only in
keeping with the universal principle of the East. The individual
conscious life is here, referably to its content, directly absorbed
in the detail of external fact, expressing itself under the condition
and specific relations of this inseparable unity. And, from a further
point of view, it asserts itself, without being able to secure a
firm ground of stability in itself, as opposed to what it conceives
to be of potency and substance in Nature and the conditions of human
existence, which it wrestles to reach whether through emotion or
imagination, at one time situated towards it rather in the relation
of pure opposition, at another with more freedom, but in either case
with ultimate failure. What we find here, therefore, if we confine
our attention to _form_, is not so much the poetic expression of
independent ideas over objects or their connections, as it is the bare
mirror of this unreflecting absorption,[17] wherein the individual
consciousness does not disclose itself in its own self-concentration
as free personality,[18] but rather in its self-annulment[19] before
the external object or condition. Thus regarded, the Oriental lyric
frequently, particularly in its contrast to the romantic, assumes a
more objective tone. Here we shall often enough find that the poet does
not so much express facts and conditions as they affect him, but rather
as they are in themselves, a disclosure which frequently bestows on
them an independent soul of vitality of their own. For illustration we
may take that exclamation of Hafis:

"Come, O come! The nightingale passeth from the soul of Hafis once
again over the scent of the roses of delight."

Regarded in another light, the tendency of this lyrical poetry, by
freeing the poet from the limitations of his private individuality,
is to replace this with a kind of primitive expansion of soul, which,
however, very easily loses itself in mere boundlessness, or is merged
in a deliberate effort to express that which it accepts as object but
cannot fully penetrate, because this content is itself the formless
substance. For this reason, speaking generally, the lyric of the East,
more especially among the Hebrews, Arabs, and Persians, possesses the
character of hymns of exaltation. With spendthrift prodigality all
greatness, might, and glory are lavished upon the creature, in order
to make all such transitory splendour vanish before the unspeakable
majesty of God; or, at least, it never is tired of stringing together
in some precious chain everything that is lovable or fair, in order to
present the same as a thankoffering to the object, be it Sultan, the
beloved, or the wine-shop, which the poet has set himself above all
things to celebrate.

In conclusion, if we look more closely at form of expression in this
type of poetry, we shall find that it is mainly the _metaphor_, the
_image_, and the _simile_ which are favoured. For, in the first
place, on account of the fact that he is not himself wholly free to
express his own personal life, the poet can only disclose himself in
something else, something external to himself, with the aid of life
that can compare with himself. And also we may observe that what is
here universal and substantive remains abstract; that is to say, it is
unable to merge itself in the definite form of a free individuality, so
that now, even on its own account, it is only in comparisons with the
varied phenomena of the world that it is able to envisage itself; and
we may add that both these cases, in the last instance, only possess
the worth of being able to assist some comparable approach to that One
which alone possesses significance, and is worthy of honour and praise.
These metaphors, images, and similes, however, in which the individual
soul, as it asserts itself, is exclusively identified almost to the
point of visibility, are not the actual feeling and spiritual state
itself, but rather a mode of expression which is wholly personal and
of the poet's composition. What, therefore, the lyrical artist here
loses in the concreteness of his spiritual freedom, this we find is
replaced by the freedom of his expression, which moves forward through
all the most manifold phases; that is, from the naïve simplicity of
its images and similes to every conceivable audacity and the acutest
ingenuity of novel and surprising combinations. As regards particular
nations in which we find this Oriental type of lyric represented, we
may mention, first, the Chinese; secondly, the Hindoos; thirdly, and
to a pre-eminent degree, the Hebrews, Arabs, and Persians. I cannot,
however, enter into any closer description of these.

(_b_) In the case of the second principal division of our present
poetic type, that is in the Lyric of the Greeks and Romans, it is the
principle of _classic_ individuality which, above all, distinguishes
its character. In accordance with this principle, the artistic
consciousness, which seeks for lyrical expression, neither loses itself
in the facts of the natural world, nor exalts itself over itself to
the height of that Sublime outcry to all creation: "Let all that hath
breath praise the Lord!" Nor is it absorbed, after divesting itself
joyfully from all the bonds of finite existence, in that One Being in
which all live and move. Rather the poet here is freely merged in the
Universal, regarded as the very substance of his own spirit; and in
this personal union within himself attains his self-conscious poetic

And just as the Lyric of the Greeks and Romans is distinct from that
of the _Orientals_, so too, from another point of view, it differs
from the _romantic._ In other words, instead of unveiling its depths
in the intimacy of particular moods and states of feeling, it rather
elaborates, to the point of the most explicit definition, this inward
life of its individual passion and meditation. And by doing so it even
retains, even as the expression of this inward spirit, so far as this
is permitted to the Lyric, the plastic type of classic art. All that
it communicates, in short, of the views and maxims of life and wisdom,
despite all the penetration of its general principle, nevertheless
does not dispense with the free individuality of independent thought
and conception. It expresses itself less in the wealth of image and
metaphor, than directly and categorically. At the same time, also, the
personal feeling, at one time in more general relations, at another
in the form of vision itself, is on its own account objective. In the
same mode of individuality the particular types may be classified
as distinct from each other in conception, expression, phraseology,
and verse-measure, until they reach the culminating point of their
independent elaboration. And as we have found it true of the soul
itself and its ideas, so, too, the external presentment is of more
plastic type. In other words, from a musical point or view, it
emphasizes less the ideal soul-melody of emotion than the sensuous
verbal quantity in the rhythmical measure of its movement, to which it
may further attach the complex mazes of the dance.

(_α_) With the richest originality this artistic form of Greek lyric
poetry is perfected. In the first instance we may trace it in those
_hymns_ possessing a content as yet more akin to the epic mode, which
do not so much express in their epic metre a personal enthusiasm as
they set before us a plastic image of gods in deliberately objective
outlines. The next step, so far as metre is concerned, we mark in the
_elegiac_ syllabic measure, which associates the pentameter with the
hexameter, which, in the regular recurrence of its ending after the
hexameter, and with its two equally divided sections, opens the way
to the complete singularity of the verse strophe. The elegy is also
throughout in its tone of the lyric type. This is so in the case of
the political elegy no less than the erotic, although, particularly
as gnomic elegy, it still closely approaches the epic insistence upon
and expression of the substantive as such, and for this reason almost
exclusively belongs to the Ionians, with whom the objective point
of view was generally predominant. In respect also to its musical
side, it is primarily the aspect of rhythm which is here successfully
worked out. And, on parallel lines with it, we may observe, thirdly,
the development of the _Iambic_ poem in a novel verse-measure. This,
however, is, by reason of the keenness of its invectives, from the
first of a more subjective or personal tendency. The genuine mode of
lyrical reflection and passion, however, receives for the first time
its full development in the so-called _Melisian_[20] lyric. The metres
are more varied, more capable of change; the strophes are more rich;
the suggestions of musical accompaniment are more complete in virtue
of the nature of the accepted modulation. Each poet creates a syllabic
measure which corresponds with his or her lyrical nature. Thus Sappho
adapts one to a type of composition which is sensuous, inspired with
the glow of passion and expressed with an effect which works up to a
supreme crisis. Alcaeus moulds one in harmony with his masculine and
bolder odes. To an exceptional degree, too, the Scoliasts supply many
indications of the finer nuances of diction and metre by reason of the
variety of their content and melodic utterance.

Last of all, the lyric of the _chorus_ is richest of all in the
wealth of what it unfolds, and not merely so in what concerns idea
and thought, boldness of transition and connection or the like, but
also relatively to its external presentment. The choral song may be
interchanged for the single voice, and the ideal movement is not
merely satisfied with the bare rhythm of speech and the modulations
of music, but summons as its associate the plastic pose and movement
of the dance. The ideal aspect of the Lyric is consequently balanced
to perfection with the sensuous character of its delivery. The
subject-matter of this type of inspired verse is the most substantive
and weighty. Such poems celebrate the power and glory of the gods,
or that of victors in the games. Greeks, who not unfrequently were
divided in their political relations, found in them the positive vision
of their national unity. And, partly for this reason, aspects of
their ideal construction are not wanting which approach the objective
standpoint of the Epic. Pindar, for example, who reaches the highest
point of attainment in this type of composition, moves with ease, as I
have already pointed out, from the external motives of his compositions
to profound observations upon the general nature of ethical principle
and divine matters, or it may be upon heroes, heroic exploit, the
foundations of States, and the like. His creative gift possesses, in
short, the plastic sense of realization quite as much as the individual
sweep of imaginative energy. On this very account, however, it is not
so much the facts which follow their independent course in the epic
manner, as the personal enthusiasm, carried away by its object so
completely that the latter appears to be the burden and product of the

Later lyric verse of the Alexandrines is less an independent
development and more a mere scholastic imitation and affectation of
elegance and correctness of expression, until finally it dissipates
itself in trifling graces and pleasantries, or seeks to bind up afresh
flowers of art and life already to hand in a garland of tender feeling
and conceit, and the witty experiment of eulogy or satire.

(_β_) Among the Romans lyric poetry finds a soil no doubt fashioned
for it in various ways, but of less original productive qualities. The
period of its splendour is limited mainly to the age of Augustus, in
which it is cultivated as the elaborate expression and relaxation of
cultured society; or indeed, to a considerable degree, it is rather
an affair of the clever translator or copyist, and the fruit of taste
and research, than that of spontaneous feeling and really original
conception. At the same time it must be admitted that, despite the
learning and an alien mythology, to say nothing of the preferred
imitation of Alexandrine models, where the warmth of life is least
apparent, yet as a rule the characteristics of Roman personality no
less than the individual genius of particular poets, do assert an
independent position, and, so long as we put entirely on one side
the most intimate soul and expression of the art of poetry, have
accomplished sterling and consummate results, not merely in the
province of the ode, but also in that of epistles, satires, and elegy.
On the other hand, the later type of satire, which follows as a kind of
supplement, in its bitterness toward the decadence of the times, its
goaded indignation and virtuous declamation, fails to represent the
genuine sphere of an unperturbed poetical vision just in the degree
that it possesses nothing whatever to oppose to its picture of a
demoralized present save this very indignation and abstract rhetoric of
virtuous excitement.

(_c_) For this reason, consequently, it is only after more modern
nationalities have appeared that a really original content and spirit
are communicated to lyrical composition, as we have previously seen,
was the case, too, with the Epic. This is due to the German, Romance,
and Slavonic peoples, which already, in their previous pagan days,
but principally after their conversion to Christianity, both in the
Middle Ages and in more recent times, have brought into being, and
continuously elaborated in various ways, a _third_ fundamental revival
of lyrical creation in what we may generally characterize as the
_romantic_ art-type.

In this third branch of its activity, lyric poetry is of so
overwhelming an importance that its principle is enforced, more
--especially in the first instance, relatively to the Epos, but
consequently in its more modern development and relatively to the
drama, with a far profounder significance than was possible with
either Greek or Roman. Indeed, among certain nations, even genuine
epic materials are treated exclusively under the type of the lyric
narrative; in this way we have compositions as to which we may find
real difficulty in deciding the class to which they more truly belong.
The cause of this conspicuous tendency towards lyric composition is
mainly due to the fact that the entire evolution of the life of these
nations is based on this very principle of subjectivity, which is
constrained to assert and clothe what is substantive and objective as
its own from its own resources, and grows more and more self-conscious
of this penetration into its own personal wealth. Such a principle
declares its vigour in its least perturbed and most complete character
among the German peoples. The Slavonic races have, on the contrary,
first to wrestle forth from the Oriental absorption in the substantive
One and Universal. Between the two we may place the Romance stock,
which are confronted, in the conquered provinces of the Roman Empire,
not merely with the residue of Roman science and culture, but a social
system more elaborate from every point of view. In the process of
self-fusion with such conditions, they inevitably lose a part of their
original character. As for the subject-matter of this poetry, we may
describe it as dealing with pretty nearly every phase of national or
individual development, capable of expressing either the religious or
secular life of these nations as it expands in ever widening range,
and through the process of the centuries reflects in varied condition
and emotional state the heart of its spiritual substance. And the
fundamental type of it is either the expression of an emotional
state, concentrated to the most intimate self-possession, whether the
immediate object of attraction be national and other events, Nature
and external environment, or simply and solely itself, or whether it
be of the nature of reflection, both searching and self-introspective,
upon all that is implied for itself in such an extension of culture.
Regarded on its formal side, the plastic character of rhythmical
versification is exchanged for the music of alliteration, assonance,
and manifold alternations of rhyme. These novel elements it makes
use of sometimes in a quite simple and unassuming manner; in other
connections with much art and invention of modes of versification
wholly distinct in character. At the same time the external delivery
becomes increasingly more elaborate in its powers of adaptation to the
accompaniment of vocal and instrumental music.

In our classification of the extensive compass of this group, we cannot
do better than follow that we accepted in the case of epic poetry.

_First,_ we have the lyric composition of these modern nations while
still in the state of primitive paganism.

_Secondly_, there is the richer development of this type in the
Christian Middle Ages.

_Thirdly_, there is that lyric art based in some measure on the
reawakened study of ancient art, and in part on the fundamental
principle of modern Protestantism, a principle essential to its final

In the present work, however, I shall be unable to discuss with more
detail the characteristics of the above development. I will, by way of
conclusion, merely draw attention to one German poet, whose influence
has given in modern times a quite extraordinary impetus to the lyric
poetry of our own fatherland, and whose services in this respect are
by no means appreciated by contemporary criticism as they deserve
to be. I refer to the poet of the Messias. Klopstock is among the
great Germans, who have inaugurated the new artistic epoch of their
people. He is a great figure, who, by means of courageous enthusiasm
and superb self-respect, wrested our poetry from the stupendous
insignificance of the Gottsched[21] period, which with its blockish
superficiality had completely destroyed the life of all that is noble
and of worth in the genius of our race; who has, in short, given us
poems fully awake to the highest demand of the poet's vocation, in a
form of thorough artistic excellence, if also somewhat austere, the
majority of which are stamped with the permanency of a classic. Some
of the odes of his youth are dedicated to a generous _friendship_,
which was to him at once symbolic of nobility, staunchness, honour,
the pride of his soul, a temple of his spirit. Others have reference
to a _personal_ attachment of real emotional depth, although it is
precisely in this field that we meet with many compositions which a
critical sense can only regard as so much prose. "Selmar and Selma"
is a poem of this class, a gloomy and tedious altercation between
lovers, which, not without many tears, woe, empty yearning, and useless
feats of melancholy emotion, revolves round the one mouldy and musty
question, which of the two, Selmar or Selma, is first to die. But in
Klopstock we find at least a genuine impulse of patriotism alive in
every pore. As a good Protestant the Christian mythology, with its
sacred legends and so forth--we must except the angels, for whom he
retained as a poet a profound respect, although they can only appear
abstract and lifeless in a type of poetry such as his, which claimed
the realism of life--neither satisfied his sense of the ethical
seriousness of art, nor yet the vigour of life and an intelligence,
which aspired to something more than blind wailing and self-abasement,
was, in short, both self-respecting and actively religious. The need
of some mythology, however, and one connected with Germany impressed
him strongly as a poet, in order that he might have definite names and
characters ready to hand as a stable basis of his imaginative creation.
It is impossible to associate such patriotic sentiments with the gods
of Greece. Consequently Klopstock attempted, we may justly say from
genuine national pride, to give a renewed life to the old mythology
of Wodan, Hertha and the rest. He was unfortunately as little able
to carry his aim to the point of objective effect and sufficiency by
this adoption of names of gods, which are no longer really Germanic,
however much they may have been so, as, let us say, the imperial museum
in Regensburg is qualified to stand for the ideal of our present
political life. However strongly, then, he may have felt the need to
be able to realize in poetry and as fact in a national form a general
folk-mythology, the truth of Nature and conscious life, these twilight
gods remain entirely devoid of essential truth; we may add there is a
kind of childish self-flattery in the belief that either reasonable
people or the national faith could take such an attempt seriously.
Apart from this, as objects of interest to the imagination, the
figures of Greek mythology are elaborated in ways with incomparably
more variety, infinitely stronger appeal to our aesthetic taste, our
sense of delight and freedom. In lyric poetry, however, it is the
self-revelation of the poet that is all-important. We ought at least
to honour in our patriotic poet this his solicitude and effort, an
effort which was sufficiently effective to bear subsequent fruit, and,
even in the field of poetry, to stimulate by its suggestion composition
on similar subjects. We have, however, to conclude our review, no word
to say against the purity, excellence, and admirable influence of this
patriotic sentiment of Klopstock as expressed in his enthusiasm for the
honour and value of our German speech, and certain characters of our
former history, that of Herrmann, for example, and above all particular
German Kaisers, who in some instances have even been self-celebrated in
song. Vital in him throughout is his justifiable pride in the German
muse, and his faith in her increasing courage to contend on equal
terms and in high-spirited self-reliance with that of the Greek, the
Roman, and the Englishman. And no less a genuine reflection of his
patriotism is the nature of his survey of the royal princes of Germany,
the expectations which their character have or had it in their power
to arouse on all that generally concerns honour, art, and science,
questions of public import and spiritual objects of essential value. On
the one hand we find him expressing his contempt of our princes, who,
as he tells us, remain on their comfortable chairs, surrounded with the
tobacco smoke of courtiers, buried in present obscurity and yet deeper
to be buried in the future. Or he may express his feelings in the
lament that even Frederick II

    Nicht sah, dass Deutschland's Dichtkunst sich schnell erhob,
    Aus fester Wurzel daurendem Stamm, und weit,
    Der Æste Schalten wurf![22]

With pain of a like quality those vain hopes, too, return back to him,
in which he saw in Kaiser Joseph the uprise of a new world of spiritual
effort and poetry. And, finally, it is an honour to the heart of the
old veteran at least as great that he sympathizes with the present fact
that a people had shattered its fetters of every kind, had trodden
under foot the injustice of a thousand years, and for the first time
sought to found its political life on reason and right.

He greets this new

          Labende, selbst nicht geträumte Sonne.
    Geseegnet sei mir du, das mein Haupt bedeckt,
    Mein graues Haar, die Kraft, die nach sechzigen
        Fortdauert; denn sie war's, so weithin
        Brachte sie mich, dass diess Erlebte![23]

Nay, he will even express his gratitude to France:[24]

    Verzeiht, O Franken (Namen der Bruder ist
    Der edle Name) dass ich den Deutschen einst
    Zurufte, das zu fliehen, warum ich
      Ihnen jetzt flehe, euch nachzuahmen.

And, naturally, the acerbation of the poet was all the more bitter,
when this fair dawn of freedom changed to a day that was steeped in
horror and blood, one that murdered liberty. Klopstock, however, was
unable to give poetical expression to such painful feelings. What he
did find the opportunity to say was all the more prosaic, without
definite structure and logical consequence on account of the fact that
he had no higher purpose,[25] veiled in such facts, to set off against
his disappointed hope. His genius was in short entirely blind to any
more profound demand of reason in the facts of such a revolution.

The greatness of Klopstock consists then essentially in his national
sympathies, his keen sense of freedom, friendship, love, and his
staunch Protestantism. We may justly honour him for his noble character
and his noble art, for his effort and achievement. And if, too, in many
directions he shares the limitations of his own times, and in truth is
responsible for many odes that are solely of interest to the critic,
the grammarian, the metrist, odes deficient in all poetic vitality, we
may affirm, nevertheless, that with the single exception of Schiller,
we shall find in our subsequent literature no more noble figure, no
disposition of such serious and masculine independence.

We have, indeed, to compare with him Schiller and Goethe, who are not
merely the poetic exponents of their own times in a spirit resembling
his own, but in their experience as poets are of course far more
comprehensive. And, above all, in the songs of Goethe we Germans
unquestionably possess the most consummate, profound, and influential
poetic compositions of modern times. If they are wholly an expression
of the poet they are equally the treasure of his people; and, in fact,
as the genuine growth of his native soil, are completely in accord with
the fundamental tones of our national life and genius.

[Footnote 1: _Subjectivität._ Individual self-conscious life.]

[Footnote 2: _Das Subject_, here the individual consciousness which

[Footnote 3: _Ergusses,_ the pouring out into a mould.]

[Footnote 4: Vol. IV, pp. 169-172.]

[Footnote 5: This appears to be the meaning of the words _die letzte
Music eines nationalen Inneren._]

[Footnote 6: I presume by _Nachhülfe_ Hegel practically means imitation
rather than translation. It may be very much doubted whether any
composition, involving a change of language, can give anything but the
faintest knowledge of the original folk-song. Goethe's genius could
produce poetry out of strange materials, but he could not reproduce the
music of another medium.]

[Footnote 7: _Subjektiver Art_.]

[Footnote 8: Or as the text runs, "and as everybody's poet."]

[Footnote 9: Pausanias, I, c. 8.]

[Footnote 10: Æschines, ep. 4.]

[Footnote 11: _Zusammengezogenheit._ The idea of concentration is also

[Footnote 12: I have taken the revised translation.]

[Footnote 13: _Äussersichseyn._ The being beside or aloof from oneself,
not so much in the sense of infatuation as ecstasy.]

[Footnote 14: I presume Hegel means this by the words _nur zum
Trällern_; it might mean "merely to be hummed."]

[Footnote 15: _Still in sich_.]

[Footnote 16: High above the life of earth beneath it shall wave in the
blue band of heaven, neighbour to the thunder, on the boundary of the
starry world. It shall be a voice from above, ay, as the bright choir
of the stars, who praise their Creator in their motion and conduct the
garlanded year. Its voice of bronze is dedicate to eternal and earnest
matters alone, and, hour by hour, as it swiftly swings backwards and
forwards, it is one with Time in its flight.]

[Footnote 17: _Einlebung._ This vital fusion with the object.]

[Footnote 18: _In seiner in sich Zurückgenommenen Innerlichkeit_.]

[Footnote 19: _In seinem Aufgehohenseyn._]

[Footnote 20: That is, of the isle of Melos, Sappho's birthplace.]

[Footnote 21: Readers of the Xenien of Goethe and Schiller will recall
the unsparing attacks which were directed against this formalist and

[Footnote 22: Even Frederick II "did not see that the art of German
poesy was raising itself swift on high from the enduring stock of a
stable root, and spread the shade of its branches far abroad."]

[Footnote 23: He greets this new "reawakened sun, no mere dream at
least of mine. Verily I bless thee, who sweepest over my head, my grey
hairs, the strength of me that still endures after its sixty years. Ay,
for was it not this strength which has carried me so far to see this
very vision!"]

[Footnote 24: "Forgive me, brother of France, and brotherhood is the
noblest tie after all, that I once cried to my Germans to flee from
that, which I now implore them to follow--imitation of you." The
reference is of course to the French Revolution.]

[Footnote 25: Hegel may mean that Klopstock was unable to see the real
benefits which would result from the French Revolution despite its
apparent failure. The sentence which follows would, however, suggest an
alternative interpretation that the poet was unable to see the higher
demand which the facts of Revolution made upon the French people,
and which from the first, that is, even when Klopstock admired them,
they did not either frankly face or successfully respond to. I think,
indeed, this latter is most probable.]


The reason that dramatic poetry must be regarded as the highest phase
of the art of poetry, and, indeed, of every kind of art, is due to
the fact that it is elaborated, both in form and substance, in a
whole--that is the most complete. For in contrast to every other sort
of sensuous _materia_, whether it be stone, wood, colour, or tone, that
of human speech is the only medium fully adequate to the presentation
of spiritual life; and further, among the particular types of the art
of articulate speech, dramatic poetry is the one, in which we find the
objective character of the Epos essentially united to the subjective
principle of the Lyric. In other words it presents directly before
our vision an essentially independent action as a definite fact,
which does not merely originate from the personal life of character
under the process of self-realization, but receives its determinate
form as the result of the substantive interaction in concrete life of
ideal intention, many individuals and collisions. This mediated form
of epic art by means of the intimate personal life of an individual
viewed in the very presence of his activity does not, however,
permit the drama to describe the external aspects of local condition
and environment, nor yet the action and event itself in the way that
they are so described in the epic. Consequently, in order that the
entire art-product may receive the full animation of life, we require
its complete scenic representation. And, finally, the action itself,
regarded in the full complexus of its ideal and external reality, is
adapted to two distinct types of composition of the most opposite
character, the predominant principles of which, regarded severally
as the tragic and comic type, create in their turn also a further
fundamental and specific point of view in our attitude to the dramatic

Starting then from the vantage of these general observations we may
indicate the course of our inquiry as follows:

_Firsts_ we propose to consider the dramatic composition, both in its
general and more detailed features, in the contrast it presents to epic
and lyrical poetry.

_Secondly_, our attention will be directed to its scenic presentation
and the conditions of this necessity.

_Thirdly_, we shall pass under review the different types of dramatic
poetry as we find them realized in the concrete facts of past history.


What we have, in the first instance, to define more emphatically is the
poetic aspect of the dramatic composition as such, that is to say in
its independence of the fact that the same is necessarily presented to
our direct vision on the stage. Our investigation of this will do well
to concentrate itself on the following points:

_Firsts_ there is the general principle of dramatic poetry.

_Secondly_, we have the several specific types of dramatic composition.

_Thirdly_, there is the relation which obtains between these and the
public audience.

(_a_) _The Principle of Dramatic Poetry_

The demand of the drama, in the widest sense, is the presentation of
human actions and relations in their actually visible form to the
imaginative consciousness, that is to say, in the uttered speech of
living persons, who in this way give expression to their action.
Dramatic action, however, is not confined to the simple and undisturbed
execution of a definite purpose, but depends throughout on conditions
of collision, human passion and characters, and leads therefore to
actions and reactions, which in their turn call for some further
resolution of conflict and disruption. What we have consequently
before us are definite ends individualized in living personalities and
situations pregnant with conflict; we see these as they are asserted
and maintained, as they work in co-operation or opposition--all in a
momentary and kaleidoscopic interchange of expression--and along with
this, too, the final result presupposed and issuing from the entirety
of this interthreading and conflicting skein of human life, movement,
and accomplishment, which has none the less to work out its tranquil
resolution. The mode of poetical composition adapted to this novel type
of content can be, as already suggested, no other than a mediating
union of the principles of epic and lyrical art respectively.

(_α_) The _first_ point of importance we have to settle to our
satisfaction is that of the _time_ at which dramatic poetry is able
to assert itself in all its predominance. Drama is the product of an
already essentially cultured condition of national life. It already
presupposes as essentially a feature of past history not only the
primitive poetic period of the genuine Epos, but also the independent
personal excogitation of lyrical rapture. The bare fact that, while
combining these two points of view, it is satisfied with neither
sphere in its separation proves that this is so. And in order that
we may have this poetic combination the free self-consciousness of
human aims, developments and destinies must be already fully alert
and awake, must have attained, in short, a degree of culture such as
is only possible in the intermediate and later epochs of a nation's
development. For this reason, too, the greatest exploits and events
of a nation's primitive history are rather of an epic than a dramatic
type. Such are features of the national existence for the most part
related to communities outside it, such as the Trojan war, or the wave
of popular migration, as illustrated in the Crusades, or the national
resistance to a common enemy, as was the case in the war of Greece
against Persia. It is only at a later stage that we meet with the more
stable independence of single heroes, who create for themselves and out
of themselves in their isolation definite ends, and carry through the
undertakings they imply.

(_β_) We may add the following remarks upon the nature of this
_mediation_ between the opposed principles of _epic_ and _lyric poetry._

The Epos already makes an action visible to our imaginative sense. It
is, however, here presented as the substantive entirety of a national
spirit under the form of definite events and exploits of external life,
in which personal volition, the individual aim and the externality of
vital conditions, together with the obstructions which such external
facts present, are retained in an equal balance. In the Lyric, on the
contrary, it is the individual person, which is emphasized in the
independence of his subjective life and as such expressed.

(_αα_) In combining these two points of view drama has in the _first_
place, following in this respect the Epos, to bring before our vision
an event, action, or practical affair. But above all in everything that
is thus presented the factor of bare externality must be obliterated,
and in, its place the self-conscious and active personality is posited
as the paramount ground and vital force. The drama, in short, does
not take exclusive refuge in-the lyric presence of soul-life, as such
stands in contrast to an external world, but propounds such a life
in and through _its_ external realization. And in virtue of this
the event does not appear to proceed from external conditions, but
rather from personal volition and character; it receives in fact its
dramatic significance exclusively in its relation to subjective aims
and passions. At the same time the individual is not left exclusively
rooted in his self-exclusive independence; he comes to his own through
the peculiar nature of the conditions in which he is placed, and
subject to which his character and purpose become the content of his
volitional faculty, quite as much so in fact as in virtue of the
nature of the particular purpose itself in its opposition to and
conflict with other ends. Consequently the dramatic action in question
must submit to a process of development and collision with other
forces, which themselves, on their own account, and even in a contrary
direction to that willed and intended by the active personality, effect
the ultimate course of the events through which the personal factor,
in its essential, characteristics of human purpose, personality, and
spiritual conflict, is asserted. This substantive or objective aspect,
which is enforced along with the individual character, in other
respects acting independently from its own ideal resources, is no other
than the very point of view which we find effective and vital in the
principle of dramatic poetry, when it coincides with that of the epic

(_ββ_) However much, therefore, we may have as a centre of attraction
the intimate soul-life of particular men and women, nevertheless
dramatic composition cannot rest content with the purely lyrical
conditions of the emotional life; nor can the poet of such merely limit
his sympathy to the dusty record of exploits that are already complete,
or, speaking generally, merely describe the experience of enjoyment
or other states of emotional or contemplative life. The drama, on the
contrary, has to exhibit situations and the spiritual atmosphere that
belongs to them as definitely motived by the individual character,
which is charged with specific aims, and which makes these an effective
part of the practical content of its volitional self-identity. The
definition of soul-life, therefore, in the drama passes into the
sphere of impulse, the realization of personality by means of active
volition, in a word, effective action; it passes out of the sphere
of pure ideality, it makes itself an object of the outer world, and
inclines itself to the concrete facts of the epic world. The external
phenomenon, however, instead of attaining existence in the bare fact of
an event, is here, in the view of the acting character himself, charged
with the opinions and aims he forms on his own account. Action is here
the executed will, which as such is at the same time _recognized_,
recognized, that is, not merely in its origin and point of departure
from the soul-life, but also in respect to its ultimate purpose. In
other words, all that issues from the action, issues, so far as the
personality in question is concerned, from himself, and reacts thereby
on his personal character and its circumstances. This constant
relation of the entire complexus of external condition to the soul-life
itself of the self-realized and self-realizing individuality, who is
at once the basis and assimilating force of the entire process, marks
the point where dramatic poetry falls in line with the truly lyrical

(_γγ_) It is only when thus regarded that human action asserts itself
as _action_ in the supreme sense, that is, as actual execution of
ideal intentions and aims with the realization of which the individual
agent associates himself as with himself, discovers himself and his
satisfaction therein, and thereupon further takes his stand with his
entire being in all that proceeds from it as a constituent of the
objective world. A character which is dramatic plucks for himself the
fruit of his own deeds.

Inasmuch, however, as the interest, in a dramatic sense, restricts
itself to the personal aim, whose hero the active personality is, and
it is only necessary in the artistic work to borrow from the external
world so much as is bound in an essential relation to this purpose,
which originates in self-conscious life, for this reason the drama is
_primarily_ of a more abstract nature than the epic poem. For on the
one hand the action, in so far as it reposes in the self-determination
of character, and is deducible from this vital source and centre, does
not presuppose the epic background of an entire world through all the
varied aspects and ramifications of its positive realization, but is
concentrated in the simpler definition of circumstance subject to which
the individual man is absorbed in his immediate purpose and carries
the same to accomplishment. And from a further point of view we have
not here the type of personality which asserts its development to our
vision in the _entire complexity_ of national qualities as such are
displayed by the epic, but rather character viewed in _direct_ relation
to its action, character which possesses a _definite_ end directed to
spirit life in its universality. This end or purpose, this eventual
fact on which it depends, is placed in a more exalted position than
is possible to the extension of the purely individual life, which
appears inclusively as living organ and animating vehicle of the same.
A more widely extended unveiling of character under the most varied
aspects which are present either in no connection at all or only in
a more remote one to its action, as we find it concentrated on _one_
single point of interest would be a superfluity; consequently in this
respect, too, that is, in its relation to the active personality,
dramatic poetry ought to be more simply concentrated than epic poetry.
The same generalization is applicable to the number and variety of
the characters represented. For in virtue of the fact, as previously
insisted, that the movement of the drama is not thrown upon the
background of a national existence essentially complete in its
envisagement of every conceivable variety of class, age, sex, activity,
and so forth, but on the contrary, rivets our attention throughout
on _one_ fundamental purpose and its achievement, a realization of
objective fact so extended and intricate as this would not merely be
ineffective, but would actually impair the result proposed. At the
same time, however, and _secondly_, the end and content of an action
is only dramatic by reason of the fact that on account of its defined
character, in the distinctive qualities of which the particular
personality itself can alone lay hold of it under equally definite
conditions, it calls into being in other individuals other objects
and passions opposed to it, This pathetic excitant[1] may, no doubt,
in each separate active agent, assume the form of spiritual, ethical,
and divine forces, such as duty, love to fatherland, parents, wife,
relations, and the like. If, however, this essential content of human
feeling and activity is to assert itself as dramatic it must in its
specialization _confront_ us as distinct ends, so that in every case
the action will inevitably meet with obstruction in its relation
to other active individuals, and fall into subjection to changing
conditions and contradictions, which alternately prejudice the success
of their own particular fulfilment. The genuine content, the essential
operative energy throughout may therefore very well be the eternal
forces, the essentially explicit ethical State, the gods of vital
reality, in a word the divine and the true, but it is not these in the
might of their tranquillity, in that condition, so to speak, wherein
the unmoved gods abide, saved from all action, as some serene figures
of sculpture self-absorbed in a state of blessedness. What we have here
is the divine in its community, as content, that is, and object of
human personality, as concrete existence in its realization,[2] invited
to act and charged with movement.

If, however, as above described, the godlike presence constitutes
the most vital objective truth in the external precipitate[3] of
human action, then, _thirdly_, the deciding factor in the course and
original departure of such an evolution and conflict cannot reside with
particular individuals, which are placed in a relation of opposition
to one another; it must be referred to the divine presence itself,
regarded as essential totality: and for this reason, the drama, it
matters not in what form it may be shaped, will have to propound to
us the vital energy of a principle of Necessity which is essentially
self-supporting, and capable of resolving every conflict and

(_γ_) Consequently, we have before everything else the demand made
on the dramatic _poet_ in his creative capacity, that to the fullest
extent his intelligence is awake to that ideal and universal substance
which is at the root of human ends, conflicts, and destinies. He must
fully acquaint himself with all the contradictions and developments
which the particular action will, under the proposed conditions,
necessarily involve and display. He must not merely be aware of them
in so far as they originate in personal passion and the specific
characterization of particular individuals, or as he finds such
related to the actual content of human designs and resolves; but also
in so far as they are simply referable to the external relations
and circumstances of concrete life. And, along with this, it should
be within his powers to recognize what the real nature of these
paramount forces are, which apportion to man the just guerdon of his
achievements. The rightful claim, no less than the wrongful misuse
of the passions, which storm through the human heart, and excite to
action, must lie disclosed to him with equal clarity, in order that
precisely in those cases where the ordinary vision can only discover
the ascendancy of obscurity, chance, and confusion, he, at least, will
find revealed the actual selfaccomplishment of what is the essence of
reason and truth itself. It follows, therefore, that the dramatic poet
ought as little to confine his efforts to the indefinite exploration
of the depths of emotional life, as the one-sided retention of any
single exclusive mood of soul-life, or any limited partiality in
the type of his sense-perception and spiritual outlook generally.
He ought, rather, to exclude nothing from his vision that may be
embraced by the widest expansion of Spirit conceivable. And this is
so because the spiritual powers which are exclusively distinct in the
mythological Epos, and which, by virtue of the many-sided aspects of
_actual individualization_[4]tend to lose the _clear definition_ of
their significance, assert themselves in dramatic poetry in consonance
with their simple substantive content as pathos altogether, and as
apart from individual characters. The drama is, in fact, the resolution
of the one-sided aspect of these powers, which discover their
self-stability in the dramatic character. And this is so whether, as
in tragedy, they are opposed to such in hostility, or, as in comedy,
they are displayed within these characters themselves, without further
mediation, in a condition of resolution.

(_b_) _Dramatic Composition_

In discussing the drama as a concrete work of art, I propose to
emphasize, briefly, the following fundamental points:

_First_ there is the unity of the same viewed in contrast to that of
the Epos and the lyric poem.

_Secondly_, we have to consider the articulation of its parts, of its
separate parts and their development.

_Thirdly_, there is the external aspect of diction, dialogue, and

(_α_) What we have in the first instance to observe and, from the
broadest point of view, to establish with regard to the unity of the
drama, is connected with a remark made in a previous passage to the
effect that dramatic poetry, in contradistinction to the Epos, must
be more strenuously self-concentrated. For, although the Epic makes
a specific event its centre of unity, this is none the less expanded
over a wide and manifold field of the national existence, and may
break up into very various episodes and the independent presentation
which belongs to each as parts of the entire panorama. An analogous
appearance of merely general connection, on grounds which are converse
to the above, is permissible to certain types of lyrical poetry.
Inasmuch, however, as in dramatic poetry, from one point of view,
that epic foundation, as we have seen, falls away--and as, otherwise
regarded, the individual characters do not find their expression
under the insulation proper to lyric expression, but rather assert
in such a way their mutual relations to one another, by means of the
opposed features of their characterization and aims, that it is just
this personal relation which constitutes the ground of their dramatic
realization--it follows, as by a law of necessity, that the synthetic
unity of the entire composition is of a more stringent character. Now
this more restricted homogeneity is quite as much objective as it is
ideal in its nature. It is objective relatively to the features of the
practical content of the objects, which the different characters carry
out in a condition of conflict. It is ideal or subjective in virtue of
the fact that this essentially substantive content appears in dramatic
work as the passion of particular characters, so that the ill-success
or achievement, fortune or misfortune, victory or defeat, essentially
affect the individuals, whom such concern, in their actual intention.[5]

The more obvious laws of dramatic composition may be summarized in the
time-honoured prescription of the so-called unities of place, time, and

(_αα_) The inalterability of one exclusive _locale_ of the action
proposed belongs to the type of those rigid rules, which the French
in particular have deduced from classic tragedy and the critique of
Aristotle thereupon. As a matter of fact, Aristotle merely says[6]
that the duration of the tragic action should not exceed at the most
the length of a day. He does not mention the unity of place at all;
moreover, the ancient tragedians have not followed such a principle
in the strict sense adopted by the French. As examples of such a
deviation, we have a change of scene both in the Eumenides of Æschylus
and the Ajax of Sophocles. To a still less extent can our more modern
dramatic writing, in its effort to portray a more extensive field of
collision, _dramatis personae_ of whatever kind and incidental event,
and, in a word, an action the ideal explication of which requires,
too, an external environment of greater breadth, subject itself to
the yoke of a rigid identity of scene. Modern poetry, in so far, that
is, as its creations are in harmony with the romantic type, which as
a rule displays more variety and caprice in its attitude to external
condition, has consequently freed itself from any such demand. If,
however, the action is in truth concentrated in a few great motives, so
that it can avoid complexity of external exposition, there will be no
necessity for considerable alternation of scene. Indeed, the reverse
will be a real advantage. In other words, however false such a rule
may be in its purely conventional application, it contains at least
the just conception that the constant transition of scene, without
any particular reason why we should have one more than another, is
obviously quite inadmissible. The dramatic concentration of the action
ought necessarily to assert itself also in this external aspect, and
thus present a contrast to the Epos, which is permitted in the most
varied way to adapt itself to the fresh expatiation in the form of
the spatial condition and its changes. Moreover, from a further point
of view, the drama is not, as the Epos, composed exclusively for the
imaginative sense, but for the direct vision of our senses. In the
sphere of the pure imagination we can readily pass from one scene to
another. In a theatrical representation, however, we must not put
too great a strain on the imaginative faculty beyond the point which
contradicts the ordinary vision of life. Shakespeare, for example,
in whose tragedies and comedies there is a very frequent change of
scene, had posts put up with notices attached to them indicating
the particular scene on view. A device of this kind is a poor sort
of affair, and can only impair the dramatic effect. For this reason
the unity of place is at least commendable to the extent that its
intelligibility and convenience are _primâ facie_ assured, in so far,
that is, that all confusion is thus avoided. But after all, no doubt,
much may still be trusted to the imagination, which would conflict with
our ordinary perception and notion of probability. The most convenient
course in this, as in other matters, is a happy mean; in other words,
while not wholly excluding the claim of purely natural fact and
perception, we may still permit ourselves considerable license in our
attitude to both.

(_ββ_) The unity of _time_ is a precisely similar case. In the pure
realm of imaginative idea we may no doubt, with no difficulty, combine
vast periods of time; in the direct vision of perception we cannot
so readily pass over a few years. If the action is, therefore, of a
simple character, viewed in its entire content and conflict, we shall
do best to concentrate the time of such a conflict, from its origin
to its resolution, in a restricted period. If, on the contrary, it
demands character richly diversified, whose development necessitates
many situations which, in the matter of time, lie widely apart from
one another, then the formal unity of a purely relative and entirely
conventional duration of time will be essentially impossible. To
attempt to remove such a representation from the domain of dramatic
poetry, on the _primâ facie_ ground that it is inconsistent with the
strict rule of time-unity would simply amount to making the prose of
ordinary facts the final court of appeal, as against the truth of
poetic creation. Least of all need we waste time in discussing the
purely empirical probability that as audience we could, in the course
of a few hours, witness also, directly through our sense, merely the
passage of a short space of time. For it is precisely in the case
where the poet is most at pains to illustrate this conclusion that,
from other points of view, he well-nigh invariably perpetrates the most
glaring improbabilities.

(_γγ_) In contrast to the above examples of unity, that of _action_ is
the one truly inviolable rule. The true nature, however, of this unity
may be a matter of considerable dispute. I will therefore develop my
own views of its significance at greater length.

Every action must without exception have a _distinct_ object which it
seeks to achieve. It is through his action that man enters actively
into the concrete actual world, in which also the most universal
subject-matter is in its turn accepted in the poetic work and
defined under more specific manifestation. From this point of view,
therefore, the unity will have to be sought for in the realization of
an end itself essentially definite, and carried under the particular
conditions and relations of concrete life to its consummation. The
circumstances adapted to dramatic action are, however, as we have
seen, of a kind that the individual end meets with obstructions at
the hands of other personal agents, and this for the reason that
a contradictory end stands in its path, which in its turn equally
strives after fulfilment, so that it is invariably attached to the
reciprocal relation of conflicts and their devolution. Dramatic action
in consequence rests essentially upon an action that is involved with
_resistance_;[7] and the genuine unity can only find its _rationale_
in the entire movement which consists in the assertion of this
collision relatively to the definition of the particular circumstances,
characters, and ends proposed, not merely under a mode consonant
to such ends and characters, but in such a way as to resolve the
opposition implied. Such a resolution has, precisely as the action
itself has, an external and an inside point of view. In other words, on
the one side, the conflict of the opposed _ends_ is finally composed;
and on the other the particular _characters_, to a greater or less
extent, have committed their entire volitional energy and being to
the undertaking they strive to accomplish. Consequently the success
or misadventure of the same, to complete or partial execution, the
inevitable disaster or the secure union effected with intentions that
are apparently opposed to their extent, also determine the destiny
of the character in question, that it is inextricably involved with
that which it was impelled to commit to such activity. A true end is
therefore only then consummated, where the object and interest of the
action, around which all revolves, are identified with the individuals
concerned, and absolutely united to them. And whether the difference
and opposition of the dramatic character assumes a simple form or
branches out in various accessory episodes and individuals, the unity
in either case may be of a more severe or less stringent nature.
Comedy, for instance, in the many-sided features of its worked-out
intrigue does not require such deliberate self-concentration as tragedy
does, which is as a rule motived on grandiose and simple lines.
Romantic tragedy, however, is also in this respect more varied and
less consistent in its unity than is classic tragedy. And even where
there is more licence the relation of the episodes and supplementary
characters must be throughout recognizable; and the entirety of the
piece should also naturally and without strain fit in with and help to
complete the conclusion. So, for example, in "Romeo and Juliet," the
discord between the families, which lies outside the lovers and their
object and destiny, is no doubt the base on which the action is shaped,
though not the actual matter on which all actually depends. Shakespeare
consequently devotes the necessary, if also wholly subordinate
attention to the final issue of this conflict in his conclusion. In
the same way in "Hamlet" the fortunes of Denmark remain a subsidiary
interest, though with the entrance of Fortinbras they are apparently
considered, and are settled at last satisfactorily.

No doubt in the particular end, which resolves the colliding factors,
the possibility of fresh interests and conflicts may be presented; it
is, however, the _one_ collision with which the action is concerned,
which has to discover its final adjustment in the essentially
independent composition. Of this type are the three tragedies of
Sophocles borrowed from the Theban cycle of myths. The first contains
the discovery by Œdipus of the murderer of Laius; the second his
peaceful death in the home of the Eumenides; the third the fate of
Antigone. And, despite of this connection, every one of the three is
equally an intrinsically complete whole independent of the other two.

(_β_) With regard to our _second_ point, namely, that of the mode of
denouement in a dramatic composition, we have three main features of
distinction to consider between it and epic composition or the song,
namely, the size of its extension, the nature of its progression and
its division into scenes and acts.

(_αα_) We have already seen that the embrace of a drama--is not
so extensive as the demand of the epos implies. I propose,
therefore--over and above the two features already discussed of
that world-condition, which is necessarily implied in the complete
picture of the epic, and the more simple collision which is an equally
essential constituent of the content of drama--merely to advert to
the further ground, that in the drama the greater part of everything
that the muse of the epic poet has to describe and linger over as
servant of our imaginative vision, is omitted altogether from the
scenic reproduction. And, further, in the case of drama it is not
actual exploit, but the exposition of personal passions which is
here the main thing. This personal life, however, in contrast to the
expanse of the phenomenal world, is concentrated in simple emotions,
sentences, decisions, and the like; and here, too, as distinct from
the collateral display of epic narration and its historical part, it
gives effect to the principle of lyric absorption and the origination
and expression in present time of passion and idea. Dramatic poetry is,
however, not satisfied with merely _one_ situation;[8] it presents the
ideal world of emotional life or intelligence in active self-assertion
as a totality of circumstances and ends of very various character,
which expresses taken together, all that, if viewed relatively to
its activity, passes in such an inward world. In comparison with the
lyrical poem, the drama reaches out to and is completed in a far more
extensive embrace of subject-matter. To summarize this comparative
relation we may say, perhaps, that dramatic poetry stands as a
mean between the wide embrace of the Epopaea and the concentrated
compression of the Lyric.

(_ββ_) Yet more important than this aspect of external extension is
the nature of the _dramatic progression_ as opposed to the mode of the
epic's devolution The form of the epic objectivity demands throughout,
as we have seen, a lingering style of description, which may along
with this become more intense and pointed in its display of active
obstruction. It is possible that we may at first blush incline to the
view that, inasmuch as other ends and characters resist the main end
and principal character in dramatic exposition, dramatic poetry is
entitled to accept this sort of pause and obstacle as an essential
feature of its principle. As a matter of fact just the reverse is
the case. The true dramatic progression is a _continuous_ movement
_onwards_ to the final catastrophe. This is clear from the simple fact
that it is in _collision_ that we find the emphatic turning point. In
consequence of this we have the twofold view of, in the first place, a
general strain towards the outbreak of this conflict, and, secondly,
the necessity implied in this discord and contradiction of views, ends,
and activities, that they should find some resolution to which they are
driven forwards. By this we by no means assert that mere celerity of
forward movement is simply in itself beautiful in the dramatic sense.
On the contrary, the dramatic poet should have himself room to supply
every situation on its own account with all the motives which it truly
implies. Episodical scenes, however, which only impede the action are
contrary to the nature of the drama.

(_γγ_) As a final point, we may divide the course of the dramatic work
most naturally by simply following the stages implied in the notion
of dramatic movement itself. In this connection Aristotle[9] long ago
remarks that a whole is that which possesses a beginning, a middle,
and a conclusion. He further defines a beginning 'as that which, of
itself necessary, does not issue from something else, and out of
which something other than itself issues and proceeds. The end is the
reverse of this, namely, that which originates from something else,
either of necessity, or mainly so at least, but which does not itself
lead to further consequence. The middle is that which both issues from
something else, and also is that from which something else proceeds.

Now no doubt in the reality of our experience every action includes
many presuppositions which make it a difficult matter to decide the
exact point where we may find the true commencement. In so far,
however, as dramatic action rests essentially on a definite state of
collision, the right point of departure will lie in the situation,
out of which the future devolution of that conflict, despite the fact
that it has not as yet broken out, will none the less in its further
course issue. The end, on the contrary, will then be attained, when
the resolution of the discord and its development is secured in every
possible respect. In the midway condition between origination and end
we have the conflict of ends, and the struggle of individual persons
in collision. These different section's are in dramatic composition,
so to speak, the phases or moments of the action of what are also
actions, and the definition of this is admirably indicated by the
_acts_ of the piece. They are now of course more or less equivalent
to pauses of time, and a prince on one occasion, who was either in a
hurry, or wished the action to proceed without interruption, blamed
his chamberlain openly that such a pause occurred. With regard to
their _number three_ such acts for every kind of drama is the number
that will adapt itself most readily to intelligible theory. Of
these the _first_ discloses the appearance of the collision, which
is thereupon emphasized in the _second_ with all the animation of
conflicting interests as the positive difference of such discord and
its progression, until, _finally_, driven as it were upon the very
apex of its contradiction, it is necessarily resolved. We may cite--as
some kind of illustration of this division which the nature of such an
action suggests--from ancient drama, in which no doubt the dramatic
articulation is as a rule less distinct, the trilogies of Æschylus,
in which each single play combines with the others to form a single
and completely exclusive whole.[10] In modern poetry the Spaniards
mainly follow such a division into three acts. The English, French,
and Germans, on the contrary, for the most part divide the entire
play into _five_ acts, in which the initial exposition is assigned to
the first, the three next are occupied with the various aggressions
and reactionary effects, the complex intentions and conflicts of the
opposed parties; and it is not until the fifth that we reach the entire
resolution of such contending forces.

(_γ_) The third and final important aspect we have to investigate in
our present connection is the nature of the _external means_, in so far
as the employment of the same by dramatic art can be held distinct from
and independent of the actual scenic representation that is otherwise
essential to its complete display. An account of the specific nature
of diction which is frequently dramatic generally, secondly, of the
distinguishing features of the monologue, dialogue, and the like, and,
lastly, of verse measure, will be all that is necessary here. As we
have more than once insisted in the drama the fact of the action is
not the external aspect to which we refer, but the exposition of the
ideal spirit of the action, not merely in respect to the _dramatis
personae_ and their passion, pathos, resolve, interaction, and
mediation, but also relatively to the universal essence of the action
in its conflict and destiny. It is this ideally pregnant spirit,
in so far as poetry gives embodiment to it in poetic form, which
pre-eminently discovers an appropriate expression in the language
of poetry, viewing this, as we should, as the most spiritual way of
expressing emotions and ideas.

(_αα_) But, moreover, just as the drama combines the principles of
the Epos and the Lyric, dramatic diction, too, is compelled both to
carry and assert within itself elements that are lyrical and those
that are epic. The _lyrical_ approach is rather a special feature of
modern drama, and as a rule in those cases where the personal life is
or tends to be self-absorbed, and seeks in its decision and action
throughout to retain the self-consciousness of its inward resources.
But none the less this unveiling of the individual heart-life, if it is
to remain dramatic, ought not merely to be the exploitation of a vague
and variable cloud of emotions, memories, and visions; it should keep
its relation to the action constant throughout, should make its result
identical with that of the different phases of the same.

In contrast to this subjective pathos the epic character of the
diction, which we may define as the _objective_ pathos, is mainly
concerned with the unfolding of what is substantive in dramatic
relations, ends, and persons on lines rather directed to the vision of
the audience. Such a point of view can also in part assume a lyrical
tone, remaining when it does so dramatic only in so far as it does not
more entirely in its independent force form the progress of the action
and its asserted relation to the same. And over and above this, as a
second residue, so to speak, of epic poetry, we may have the records of
narrative, descriptions of battles and the like thrown in. But these
also, in genuine dramatic composition, ought to be marked with greater
compression and animated movement, and, relatively to their presentment
as narrative, a necessary connection with the progress of the action
should be evident.

In conclusion, genuine dramatic art consists in the expression of
individuals in the conflict of their interests and the discord roused
between their characters and their transitory passions. It is here that
the twofold aspect of lyric and epic poetry[11] will assert its power
in true dramatic union: and we have then attached to this the aspect of
positive external fact expressed likewise in the medium of language, as
where we have, for instance, the departure and entrance of _dramatis
personae_ as a rule announced beforehand; not unfrequently also their
external habit or demeanour is indicated by other persons.

A fundamental distinction over the entire field now under review is the
so-called realistic mode of expression, as opposed to a conventional
speech of the theatre and its rhetoric. Diderot, Lessing, Goethe, and
Schiller also in their youth addressed themselves in modern times
above all to this attitude of direct and natural expression. Lessing
did so with the powers of a trained and sensitive observation Schiller
and Goethe did so with their predilection for the direct animation
of unembellished robustness and force. That men should converse with
one another as in the Greek, or with more insistance--and in this
latter respect the criticism has a reasonable basis--as in French
comedy and tragedy was scouted as contrary to Nature. This type of
naturalism, however, may very readily, with its superfluity of merely
realistic traits, fall into the other extreme of dryness and prose, in
so far, that is, as the characters are not developed in the essential
qualities of their emotional life and action, but only as they happen
to express themselves in the literal accuracy of their individual life,
without indicating therein any more significant self-consciousness
or any further sense of their essential position. The more natural
the characterization is allowed to remain in this sense the more
prosaic it becomes. In actual life men converse and strive with one
another before everything else on the mere basis of their _distinct
singularity._ If our object is to depict them simply as such it
is impossible that they should also be represented in their truly
substantive significance.[12] And, if we look at the essence of the
matter, this question of crudeness and urbanity can only be in the last
instance treated subject to the above considerations. In other words
while, on the one hand, such crudeness or coarseness is made to issue
from the particular personality, which is exclusively committed to the
unmediated dictation of an imaginative type of outlook and feeling, in
the converse treatment an urbanity is the outcome of a purely abstract
and formal generalization of consideration for others, recognition
of the claims of personality, love, honour, and the like, in which
nothing that is suggestive of a rich and objective content can be
expressed.[13] Between these two extremes of a purely formal generality
and this natural expression of unpolished peculiarities we have the
true universal, which is throughout neither formal nor destitute of
individuality, but finds its concrete realization in a twofold way from
the defined content of character and the objective presence of opinions
and aims. Genuine poetry will therefore consist in the assertion
of what belongs to immediate and actual life as characteristic and
individual in the purifying medium of universality,[14] both aspects
being permitted to mediate each other. In this case we are conscious,
even in respect to diction, that without being wholly banished from the
basis of reality and its actual traits of truth, we are nevertheless
carried into another sphere, that is to say the ideal realm of art.
Of this latter character is the diction of Greek dramatic poetry, the
later diction of Goethe, and in part, too, that of Schiller, and in
his own way Shakespeare's also, although the Englishman, owing to the
peculiar conditions of the contemporary stage, is forced in part now
and again to accommodate his verbal language to the actual ability of
the actor.[15]

(_ββ_) We may _further_ classify the mode of dramatic expression as
that of choral interlude, monologue, and dialogue. It is the ancient
drama which has pre-eminently elaborated the distinction between
chorus and dialogue. In our modern drama this falls away. What, in
the classical composition, was presented by the _chorus_, is now
rather placed in the mouths of the leading characters. The choric song
expresses, among the ancients, by way of contrast to the particular
characters and their more personal or more reciprocal conflict, the
general or more impersonal view of the situation, and the emotions it
excites, in a manner which at one time inclines to the objective style
of epic narrative, at another to the impulsive movement of the Lyric.
In the _monologue_, on the other hand, it is the isolated individual
who, in a given situation of the action, becomes objective on his
own account. Monologues are, therefore, dramatically in their right
place at those moments chiefly when the emotional life is entirely
self-concentrated as the result of previous events; when it sums up,
as it were, the nature of the cleft between itself and others, or its
own spiritual division; or when it arrives at some sudden decision, or
comes to the final point of resolve on matters already long debated.

The _third_ and complete form of the drama, however, is the _dialogue_.
For in this the _dramatis personae_ are mutually able to express their
character and aims, not merely relatively to their personal attitude
to each other, but also to the substantive character of the pathos
disclosed; they engage in conflict, and thereby actually advance the
movement of the action. We may further distinguish in the dialogue
between the expression of a pathos that is _subjective_ and one that
is _objective._ The first rather appertains to a given passion of more
accidental a nature, whether it be the case in which it is retained
essentially in suppression, and is only expressed aphoristically, or
that in which it finds a vent in the most complete and exhaustive
explosion. Poets, who endeavour to arouse the full movement of personal
emotion by means of poignant scenes, are exceptionally partial to this
type of pathos. Nevertheless, despite all their endeavour to depict
personal suffering and unrestrained passion, or the unreconciled inward
dissension of soul-life, it remains the fact that the human soul,
in its depth, is less effected thereby than it is through a pathos,
wherein at the same time a genuine objective content is evolved.
For this reason the earlier plays of Goethe, despite all the real
penetration of their subject-matter and the natural force of their
dialogue, make on the whole a weaker impression. And, in the same way,
outbreaks of unrelieved distraction and unrestrained fury, effect a
truly healthy sense only in subordinate degree; and, above all, what
is wholly frightful rather chills us than makes the blood flow. The
poet may describe passion with all the overwhelming power possible.
It is ineffective; the heart is merely rent in pieces,[16] and turns
aside from it. What we fail to find here is that which art can least
dispense with, the positive aspect of reconciliation. The ancient
tragedians, therefore, mainly sought for their effect by means of the
objective type of pathos; nor is there wanting here genuine human
individuality, so far as this was compatible with their art. The plays,
also, of Schiller possess this pathos of a great spiritual force,[17] a
pathos which is penetrative throughout, and is manifested and expressed
everywhere as fundamental to the action. It is, above all, to this
circumstance that we may ascribe the lasting effect which the tragedies
of Schiller produce even in our own day; I refer in particular to
their scenic reproduction. For that which produces a profound dramatic
effect of universal and enduring appeal can be only the substantive in
action--by which I mean, viewing it as definite content, the ethical
substance therein, or, in its more formal aspect, the grandeur of ideal
reach and character, in which respect, again, Shakespeare is supreme.

(_γγ_) I will, in conclusion, add merely a word or two on the point of
_verse-measure._ Dramatic metre is best when it lies midway between
the tranquil, uniform flow of the hexameter and the more interrupted
and split-up syllabic metres congenial to the Lyric. In this respect
the iambic metre is above all others commendable. For the iambus, with
the rhythm of its onward movement, which may be either accelerated by
anapaests, or be made more solemn and weighty with the spondee, forms a
most fitting accompaniment to the march of the action; and in quite a
peculiar way the senarius possesses a real tone of noble and restrained
emotional force. Among modern authors the Spaniards, with an artistic
purpose the reverse of this, adopt trochaeic tetrameters, the effect of
which is one of tranquil retardation; a measure which, with its variety
of interwoven rhymes and assonances, in part, too, with its alternative
absence of rhyme, is admirably adapted to the imaginative exuberance
of phantasy, and to the fine-drawn argumentative antitheses, which
characterize this poetry and impede rather than advance the action.
In a contrast of a similar kind, the French Alexandrine is harmonious
with the formal carriage and the declamatory rhetoric of passions,
sometimes held in restraint and at others expressed at full heat, the
conventional expression of which the art of French drama has tasked
itself to elaborate. The more realistic Englishman, whom we Germans too
have followed in more recent times, has, on the contrary, retained the
iambic metre, which Aristotle long ago defined as τὀ μάλιστα λεκτικὸν
τῶν μἐτρων[18] He has, however, not accepted the same in identical form
with the Greek trimeter, but substituted a measure of less pathetic
character, if capable of the greatest freedom of treatment.

(_c_) _The Relation of the Dramatic Composition to the General Public._

Although the advantages or defects of diction and metre are important,
also, in epic and lyrical poetry, we must nevertheless ascribe a
more emphatic effect to them in dramatic compositions, in virtue of
the circumstance that we are in this case dealing with opinions,
characters, and actions which have to appear before us in all the
reality of life itself. A comedy of Calderon, for example, with all
the interplay of fantastic wit we may assume, embodied, however, in
the kind of diction we associate with this poet, with its logical
niceties and its bombast--subject, also, to all the variations of his
lyrical metres--would not, we may presume, on the simple ground of this
manner of expression, be likely to arouse any general sympathy. It is
on account of this visual presence and nearness of approach that the
other aspects of the content, apart from that of purely dramatic form,
are brought into a far more direct relation to the public before whom
they are reproduced. We should like shortly to explain the nature of

Scientific compositions and lyrical or epic poems either possess a
distinct public, whose interest in such works is associated with their
profession, or it is a matter of chance into what hands compositions
of this character may fall. If a book does not please anyone it can be
neglected, just as a man passes by the picture or statue that he does
not like; such works may, in fact, be held to carry to some extent
with them the author's admission that his book is not written for
such. The case is somewhat otherwise with dramatic works. Here we have
a distinct public for which the author has to cater, and he is under
certain obligations towards it. Such a public possesses the right of
applause no less than expressed displeasure; inasmuch as a work is
represented before it in its entirety, and the appeal is made that it
should be enjoyed, with sympathy in a given place and at a stated time.
A public of this sort, as in the case of any--other public jury, is
of a very varied character; it differs in its education, interests,
accustomed tastes, and hobbies, so that to secure complete success in
certain distinct respects a talent in the display of vulgar effect, or
at least a relative shame-facedness in regard to the finest demand of
genuine art, may be necessary. No doubt the dramatic poet has always
the alternative left him to despise his public. But in that case he
obviously fails to secure the very object for which dramatic writing
exists. With us Germans, to an exceptional extent, it has become the
fashion since the times of Tieck thus to scorn the public. Our German
play-writer will express his own particular individuality, but takes
no trouble to commend the result to his audience. The ideal of our
German egotism is quite the reverse, namely, that every man must turn
out something different to that of other people, in order that he
may prove his originality. It was owing, in part, to this that Tieck
and the brothers Schlegel, men who, from the very nature of their
sentimental irony, were quite unable to master the emotional forces
and intelligence of their nation and time, fell foul of Schiller,
and tried to blacken his poetical reputation on the ground that he
did among us Germans manage to strike the right key, and obtain a
popularity unsurpassed. With our neighbours, the French, we find the
opposite. Their authors write with the present effect on the public
always in view, which further, on its own account, is capable of being
a keener and less indulgent critic of the author, owing to the fact
that a more definite artistic taste is already fixed in France: with us
anarchy prevails, and everyone expresses his critical views, applauds
or condemns just as he likes, or as his opinions, emotion, and mood may
chance to dictate.

Inasmuch, however, as it is an essential part of the definition of
the dramatic composition that it should possess the vitality able
to command a favourable popular reception, the dramatic poet should
submit to the conditions--quite apart, that is, from the accidental
circumstances or tendencies of the time--which are likely to secure
this result in an artistic form. What these are I will attempt to
explain, at least in their more general features.

(_a_) Now, in the _first_ place, the ends, which in a dramatic work
come into conflict and are resolved out of such conflict, either
possess a general human interest, or at least have at bottom a pathos,
which is of a valid and substantive character for the people for whom
the poet creates his work. In such a case, however, the universal human
quality and what is more definitely national, in so far as either are
connected with the substance of dramatic collisions, may lie very
widely apart. Compositions, which stand in the national life, at the
very summit of their dramatic art and development, may consequently
quite fail to be appreciated by another age and nation. We find, for
example, in Hindoo lyrical poetry, even in our own time, much that
carries with it a real charm, tenderness, and fascinating sweetness.
The particular collision, however, around which the action in the
"Sakontala" revolves, in other words, the furious curse upon Sakontala
of the Brahman, because she does not see him, and omits to make her
obeisance, can only strike us as absurd, so much so in fact that,
despite all other excellences in this quite exceptionally beautiful
poem, we fail to discover any interest in the very culminating crisis
of the action. We may affirm very much the same thing of the way
in which the Spaniards treat the motive of personal honour with the
abstract severity of a logic, the brutality of which outrages most
deeply all our ideas and feelings. Let me recall, for example, the
attempt made by our own theatrical management to bring upon the stage
one of the less famous plays of Calderon entitled "Clandestine Revenge
for Clandestine Insult," an attempt condemned to failure from the first
on this ground. Another tragedy, which on similar lines portrays a
more profound human conflict, "The Physician of his own Honour," under
the changed title of "The Intrepid Prince," has after some revision
secured more leeway; but this, too, is handicapped by its abstract
and unyielding Catholic principle. Conversely, and in an opposite
direction, the Shakespearian tragedies and comedies are appreciated
by a public that is constantly increasing. We find here that, despite
all their nationality, the universal human interest is incomparably
greater. Shakespeare has only failed to secure an entrance where the
national conventions of art are so narrow and specific that they either
wholly exclude or materially weaken works of the Shakespearian type. A
similar position of advantage, such as that we allow to Shakespeare,
would be attributable to the tragedies of the ancients, if we did not,
apart from our changed habits in respect to scenic reproduction and
certain aspects of the national consciousness, make the further demand
of a profounder psychological penetration and a greater breadth of
particular characterization. So far, however, as the _subject-matter_
of ancient tragedy is concerned, it could never at any time fail in
its effect. We may, therefore, broadly affirm that, in proportion as
a dramatic work accepts for its content wholly specific rather than
typical characters and passions, conditioned, that is, exclusively
by definite tendencies of a particular epoch of history, instead of
mainly concerning itself with human interests substantive in all times,
to that extent, despite of all its other advantages, it will be more

(_β_) And, _further_, it is necessary that universal human ends and
actions of this kind should emphasize their poetic individualization to
the point of animated life itself. Dramatic composition does not merely
address itself to our sense of vitality, a sense which even the public
certainly ought to possess, but it must itself, in all essentials,
offer a living actual presence of situations, conditions, characters,
and actions.

(_αα_) I have already, in a previous passage of this work,[19]
entered into some detail relatively to the aspect of local
environment, customs, usages and other matters which affect the visual
representation of action. In this respect dramatic individualization
ought to be either so thoroughly poetical, vital, and rich with
interest that we can discount what is alien to our sense, and feel
ourselves attracted to the performance by this vital claim on our
attention, or it should not pretend to do more than present such
characteristics as external form, which is entirely outshone by the
spiritual and ideal characteristics which underlie it.

(_ββ_) More important than this external aspect is the vitality of the
_dramatis personae._ Such ought not to be merely specific interests
personified, which is only too frequently the case at the hands
of modern dramatists. Such abstract impersonations of particular
passions and aims are wholly destitute of dramatic effect. A purely
superficial individualization is equally insufficient. Content and form
in such cases, as in the analogous type of allegorical figures, fail
to coalesce. Profound emotions and reflections, imposing ideas and
language offer no real compensation. Dramatic personality ought to be,
on the contrary, vital and self-identical throughout, a complete whole
in short, the opinions and characterization of which are consonant with
its aims and action. It is not the breadth of particular traits which
is here of first importance, but the permeating individuality, which
synthetically binds all in the central unity, which it in truth is, and
displays a given personality in speech and action as issuing from one
and the same living source, from which every characteristic, whether
it be of idea, deed or manner of behaviour, comes into being. That
which is merely an aggregate of different qualities and activities,
even though such be strung together in one string, will not give us
the vital character we require. This presupposes from the point of
view of the poet himself a creative activity which is instinct with
life and imagination. It is to the latter type, for instance, that
the characters of the Sophoclean tragedies belong, despite the fact
that they do not possess the variety of particular characteristics
which distinguish the epic heroes of Homer. Among later writers
Shakespeare and Goethe are pre-eminently famous for the vitality of
their characterization. The French, on the contrary, particularly
in their earlier dramatic compositions, appear to have been rather
content to excogitate characters that are little more than the formal
impersonations of general types and passions, than to have aimed at
giving us true and living persons.

(_γγ_) But, _thirdly_, the task of dramatic creation is not completed
with the presentment of vital characterization. Goethe's Iphigeneia
and Tasso throughout are good enough examples of this poetic
excellence--and yet they are not, if we look at them more strictly,
by any means perfect examples of dramatic vitality and movement. It
is for this reason that Schiller long ago remarked of the Iphigeneia,
that in it is the ethical content, the heart experience, the personal
opinion which is made the object of the action, and is as such visually
reproduced. And unquestionably the display and expression of the
personal experience of different characters in definite situations
is not by itself sufficient; we must also have real emphasis laid
on the collision of the _ultimate ends_ involved, and the forward
and conflicting movement which such imply. Schiller is consequently
of the view that the movement of the Iphigeneia is not sufficiently
disturbed; we are permitted to linger within it too long and easily. He
even maintains that it without question inclines to the sphere of epic
composition, if we contrast it at least with any strict conception of
tragedy. In other words, dramatic effect is action simply as action; it
is not the exposition of personality alone, or practically independent
of the express purpose and its final achievement. In the Epos play
may be permitted to the breadth and variety of character, external
conditions, occurrences and events; in the drama, on the contrary, the
self-concentration of its principle is most asserted relatively to the
particular collision and its conflict. It is thus that we recognize
the truth of Aristotle's dictum,[20] that tragic action possesses two
sources (αἴτια δὐo), opinion and character (διάνoια καὶ ἦδoς), but what
is most important is the end (τέλoς), and individuals do not act in
order to display diverse characters, but these latter are united with a
common bond of imaginative conception to the former in the interest of
the action.

(_γ_) As a matter for our _final_ consideration in this place there is
the relation in which the _poet_ is placed to the general public. Epic
poetry in its truly primitive state requires that the poet place wholly
on one side his distinctive personality in its contrast to his actually
objective work. He offers us the content of that and only that. The
lyric poet, on the contrary, deliberately expresses his own emotional
life and his personal views of the world.

(_αα_) We might imagine that the poet must perforce withdraw himself
in the drama by reason of the very fact that he brings action before
us in its sensuous presence, and makes the characters speak and active
in their own names, to a greater extent than in the Epos, in which he
appears at any rate as narrator of the events. Such an impression is
only, however, very partially valid. For, as I have already contended,
the drama is exclusively referable in its origin to those epochs, in
which the personal self-consciousness, both relatively to the general
outlook on life and artistic culture, has already reached a high degree
of development. A dramatic composition therefore should not, as an
epic one does, present the appearance as though it originated from the
popular consciousness simply, for the display of which content the poet
is merely an instrument of expression which possesses no reference
to the poet's personal life; rather what we seek to recognize in the
complete work is quite as much the product of the self-aware and
original creative force, and by reason of this the art and virtuosity
of a genuine poetic personality. It is only thereby that dramatic
productions attain to the genuine excellence of their artistic vitality
and definition, as contrasted with the actions and events of natural
life. It is on this account that where the authorship of dramatic works
is a subject of controversy we find such to be nowhere more frequent
than where it concerns the primitive Epopaea.

(_ββ_) From the opposite point of view the general public too, if it
has itself preserved a true sense of meaning of art, will not submit
to have placed before it in a drama the more accidental moods and
opinions, the peculiar tendencies and the one-sided outlook of this
or that individual, the expression of which is more appropriate to
the lyric poet. It has a right to demand that in the course and final
issue of the dramatic action, whether of tragedy or comedy, what is
fundamentally reasonable and true should be vindicated. Being myself
convinced of this I have in a previous passage given a place of first
importance to the demand that the dramatic poet must in the profoundest
sense make himself master of the essential significance of human
action and the divine order of the world, and along with this of a
power to unfold this eternal and essential foundation of all human
characters, passions and destinies in its clarity as also in its vital
truth. It is no doubt quite possible that a poet, in rising equal to
this demand upon his powers of penetration and artistic achievement,
may under particular circumstances find himself in conflict with
the restricted and uncultured ideas of his age and nation. In such
a case the responsibility for such a disunion does not rest with
himself, but is a burden the public ought to carry. He has the single
obligation to follow the lead of truth and his own compelling genius,
the ultimate victory of which, provided it is of the right quality,
is no less assured than that of ultimate truth itself universally. It
is impossible to define closely the limits within which a dramatic
poet is entitled to bring his actual personality before the public. I
will therefore merely recall attention to the fact in a general way
that in many periods of history dramatic poetry, no less than other
kinds, is induced to disseminate with a vital impulse novel ideas
upon politics, morals, poetry, religion, and the like. So early as
Aristophanes we have polemics in those comedies of his youth against
the domestic condition of Athens and the Peloponnesian war. Voltaire
again frequently endeavours in his dramatic works to popularize his
free thought principles. But above all worthy of notice is the effort
of our Lessing in his "Nathan" to vindicate his ethical faith against
the strait waistcoat of a blockish orthodoxy. In still more recent
times too Goethe has in his earliest works challenged the prose of our
German life and its defective views of art. Tieck has to some extent
followed his lead in this respect. Where personal views of the above
type are not only of superior worth, but are further not expressed in
such deliberate separation from the action of the drama as to make
the latter appear as a mere means for their exploitation, the claims
of true art are not likely to suffer injury. If, however, the freedom
of the composition is thereby impaired, though no doubt the poet may
possibly produce no inconsiderable impression on the public by his
introduction of his own predilections into his work; yet, however true
they may be, if they are at the same time unable to coalesce with the
work as an artistic whole the interest thereby aroused can only be
limited to the matters thus handled; it is in fact no true artistic
interest at all. The worst case of all is that, however, where a poet
with similar deliberation seeks, out of pure flattery and in order to
please, to give prominence to some popular prejudice which is entirely
false. His sins of commission are in that case twofold, not merely
against art, but truth no less.

(_ββ_) One further remark may be perhaps admitted in this connection
to the effect that among the particular types of dramatic art a more
limited measure of indulgence is permitted to tragedy than to comedy
in this more free expatiation of the personality of the poet. In the
latter type the contingency and caprice of individual self-expression
is from the first agreeable to its main principle. Thus we find that
Aristophanes frequently makes matters of immediate interest to his
Athenian public the subject of his parabases. In portions of these
he gives free utterance to his own views upon contemporary events
and circumstances, and withal shrewd advice to his fellow citizens.
He is at other times concerned to defend himself from the attacks of
political opponents and his artistic rivals. Indeed there are passages
in which he deliberately eulogizes himself and his peculiarities.


Poetry, alone among the arts, completely dispenses with the sensuous
medium of the objective world of phenomena. Inasmuch moreover as the
drama does not interpret to the imaginative vision the exploits of
the past, or express an ideal personal experience to mind and soul,
but rather is concerned to depict an action in all the reality of its
actual presence, it would fall into contradiction with itself if it
were forced to remain limited to the means, which poetry, simply as
such, is in a position to offer. The present action no doubt belongs
entirely to the personal self, and from this point of view complete
expression is possible through the medium of language. From an opposite
one, however, the movement of action is towards objective reality, and
it requires the complete man to express its movement in his corporeal
existence, deed and demeanour, as well as the physiognomical expression
of emotions and passions, and not only these on their own account,
but in their effect on other men, and the reactions which are thereby
brought into being. Moreover, in the display of individuality in its
actual presence, we require further an external environment, a specific
_locale_, in which such movement and action is achieved. Consequently
dramatic poetry, by virtue of the fact that no one of these aspects can
be permitted to remain in their immediate condition of contingency,
but have all to be reclothed in an artistic form as phases of fine
art itself, is compelled to avail itself of the assistance of pretty
well all the other arts. The surrounding scene is to some extent,
just as the temple is, an architectonic environment, and in part also
external Nature, both aspects being conceived and executed in pictorial
fashion. In this _locale_ the sculpturesque figures are presented with
the animation of life, and their volition and emotional states are
artistically elaborated, not merely by means of expressive recitation,
but also through a picturesque display of gesture and of posture and
movement, which, in its objective form, is inspired by the inward
soul-life. In this respect we may have brought home to us a distinction
which recalls a feature I have at an earlier stage indicated in the
sphere of music as the opposition implied in the arts of declamation
and melody. In other words, just as in declamatory music language in
its spiritual signification is the aspect of most importance, to the
characteristic expression of which the musical aspect is entirely
subordinate, whereas the movement of melody is unfolded freely on its
own account in its own specific medium, although it too is able to
assimilate the content of language--so also dramatic poetry, on the one
hand, avails itself of those sister arts merely as instrumental to a
material basis and environment, out of which the language of poetry is
in its free domination asserted as the commanding central focus, upon
and around which all else really revolves. From the further point of
view, however, that which in the first instance had merely the force of
an assistant and accompaniment, becomes an object on its own account,
and receives the appearance in its own domain of an essentially
independent beauty. Declamation passes into song, action into the mimic
of the dance, and scenery in its splendour and pictorial fascination
itself puts forward a claim to artistic perfection.

In contrasting, then, a contrast frequently insisted upon, and more
particularly in recent times, poetry in its simplicity with the
external dramatic execution such as we have above described, we
may continue the course of our review under the following heads of

_First,_ there is the dramatic poetry, whose object is to restrict
itself to the ordinary ground of poetry, and consequently does not
contemplate the theatrical representation of its productions.

_Secondly_, we have the genuine art of the theatre, to the extent that
is in which it is limited to recitation, play of pose and action, under
the modes in which the language of the poet is able throughout to
remain the definitive and decisive factor.

_Lastly_, there is that type of reproduction, which admits the
employment of every means of scenery, music and dance, and suffers the
same to assert an independent position as against the dramatic language.

(_a_) _The Reading and Recitation of Dramatical Compositions._

The true sensuous medium or instrument of dramatic poetry is, as we
have seen, not only the human voice and the spoken word, but the entire
man, who not merely expresses emotions, ideas, and thoughts, but, as
vitally absorbed in a concrete action, in virtue of all that he is
influences the ideas, designs, the action and behaviour of others,
experiences similar effects on himself, or maintains his independent
opposition to them.

(_α_) In contrast to such a definite view, which is based upon the
essential character of dramatic poetry itself, it is a feature of
modern notions on the subject, particularly so among ourselves,
to regard the organization of drama with a view to its theatrical
reproduction as unessential and subsidiary, although as a fact all
dramatic authors, even when they adopt this attitude of indifference
and contempt, entertain the wish and hope to see their compositions
on the stage. The result is that the greater number of more recent
dramas are unable ever to find a stage, and the simple reason of this
is that they are undramatical. We are not of course, therefore, in a
position to deny that a dramatic composition may satisfy the conditions
of genuine poetry in virtue of its intrinsic worth. What we affirm is
that it is only to an action, the dramatic course of which is admirably
adapted to theatrical representation, that we are to attribute such
intrinsic dramatic worth. The best authority for such a statement is
supplied by the Greek tragedies. It is true that we no longer see these
on the contemporary stage, but they do nevertheless, if we regard the
facts more closely, completely satisfy us to a real extent precisely on
this ground that they were written without reserve for the theatre of
their day. What has banished them from the theatre of today is not so
much the character of their dramatic organization, which differs mainly
from that of to-day in its employment of the chorus, as in the nature
of national predilections and conditions, upon which for the most part,
if we consider their content, they are based, and in which owing to the
distance in which they are placed relatively to our own contemporary
life we are unable now to feel ourselves at home. The malady of
Philoctetes, for instance, the loathsome ulcer on his foot, his
ejaculations and outcries, are as little likely to awaken the genuine
interest of a modern audience as the arrows of Hercules, about which
the main course of that drama revolves. In a similar way, though we may
admit the barbaric cruelty of the human sacrifice in the Iphigeneia
in Aulis and Tauris in an opera, we find it absolutely necessary in
tragedy at any rate that this aspect should be wholly revised as Goethe
has in fact done.

(_β_) The difference, however, thus indicated between ancient and
modern customs, which effects the mere perusal of such works, no
less than the complete and vital reproduction of them as a whole, has
had the further effect of pointing out to us another by-way, in which
poets to some extent deliberately fashion their work exclusively for
the reader's perusal, and in a manner by which the difficulty above
indicated no longer affects the character of such compositions. There
are no doubt in this connection isolated points of view, which merely
refer to features of external form, which are implied in the so-called
knowledge of the stage, and an indifference as to which does not lessen
the poetical worth of a dramatical production. To these belong, for
example, the careful regulation of the scenic arrangements, that one
scene can follow without difficulty after another, though it requires
great alterations in the scenery, or that the actor is given sufficient
time to make the necessary change of costume, or to recover from his
previous exertions. A knowledge and aptitude of this nature is neither
indicative of any poetical superiority or the reverse; they rather
depend upon the naturally varying and conventional arrangements of
the theatre. There are, however, other features relatively to which
the poet, in order to be truly dramatical, must have the animated
reproduction visibly present in its substance, must make his _dramatis
personae_ speak and act conformably thereto, that is, in complete
congruity with an actually present realization. Viewed in this light
theatrical reproduction is a real test. For in the presence of the
supreme court of appeal of a sound and artistic public the mere
speeches and tirades of our so-called exquisite diction, if dramatic
truth is not thereby asserted, will not hold water. There are periods,
no doubt, in which the public also is corrupted by the culture it is
the fashion so highly to praise, I mean by heads generally overstocked
with the current opinions and fancies of the connoisseur and critic.
Let it however only retain its own essentially sterling commonsense,
and it will only be satisfied in those cases where characters express
themselves and act precisely as the reality of life no less than
art demands and necessitates. If the poet, on the contrary, writes
exclusively for the single reader he very readily gets no further
than making his characters speak and behave much as they might do in
an epistolary correspondence. If any one thus gives us the reasons
for his aims and what he does, or unbares his heart in any other
respect, instead of that which we should at once remark thereupon we
get between the receipt of the letter and our immediate reply time
for all kinds of reflection and idea. The imagination opens in this
case a wide field of possibilities. In the _actually present_ speech
and rejoinder we have to presuppose that as between man and man the
volition and heart, the movement of feeling and decision are more
direct, that in short the dialogue passes on without any such recourse
to considerable reflection, but at once from soul to soul, as eye to
eye, mouth to mouth, and ear to ear. Only in such a case the actions
and speeches are expressed with life from the actual personality, who
has no time left him to make a careful selection from one out of many
possibilities. Under this view of the case it is not unimportant for
the poet throughout his composition to keep his eye on the stage, which
renders such a direct type of animation necessary. Nay, for myself
I go to the length of maintaining that no dramatic work ought to be
printed, but rather, as no doubt with the ancients, it should belong to
the stage repertory in manuscript form,[21] and only receive quite an
insignificant circulation. We should at least in that case limit very
considerably the present superabundance of dramas, which it is possible
possess the speech of culture, fine sentiments, excellent reflections,
and profound thoughts, but which are defective in the very direction
which makes a drama dramatical, that is, in the display of action, and
the vital movement which belongs to it.

(_γ_) In the mere _perusal_ and _reading aloud_ of dramatic
compositions we find a difficulty in deciding whether they are of
a type which would produce the due effect from the stage. Even
Goethe, whose experience of stage management in his later years was
exceptional, was far from being dependable on this head, a result no
doubt mainly due to the extraordinary confusion of our public taste,
which is able to accept with approval almost anything and everything.
If the character and object of the _dramatis personae_ are on their
own account great and substantive the manner of composition no doubt
presents less difficulty. But as regards the motive force of interests,
the various phases in the progress of the action, the suspended
interest and development of situations, the just degree in which
characters assert their effect on each other, the appropriate force
and truth of their demeanour and speech--in all such respects the mere
perusal unassisted by a theatrical performance can only in the rarest
cases arrive at a reliable decision. Reading a work aloud is only under
great qualification a further assistance. Speech in drama requires
the presence of separate individuals. The delivery of _one voice_,
however artistically it may adapt itself to different shades of tone
in alternate or varying change is insufficient. Add to this the fact
that in reading aloud we are throughout confronted with the difficulty
whether on every occasion the persons speaking should be mentioned or
not. Both alternations are equally open to objection. If the delivery
is that of one voice the statement of the names of the characters
speaking becomes an indispensable condition of intelligibility, but by
doing so the expression of pathos throughout suffers violence. If, on
the other hand, the delivery is vitally dramatic, and we are carried
thereby into the actual situation, a further kind of contradiction
can hardly fail to appear. For with the satisfaction of our sense of
hearing that of sight puts forward a certain claim of its own. For
when we listen to an action we desire to see the acting persons, their
demeanour and surroundings; the eye craves for a completed vision, and
finds instead before it merely a reciter, who sits or stands peacefully
in a private house with company. Reading aloud or recitation is
consequently always an unsatisfying compromise between the unambitious
pretensions of private perusal, in which the aspect of realization is
absent entirely and all is left to the imagination, and the complete
theatrical presentation.

(_b_) _The Art of the Actor_

In conjunction with actual dramatic reproduction there is along with
music a second practical art, namely, that of _acting_, the complete
development of which belongs entirely to more recent times. Its
principle consists in this, that while it summons to its assistance
dramatic posture, action, declamation, music, dance, and scenery,
it accepts as the predominant mark of its effort human speech and
its poetical expression. And this is for poetry in its simplest
significance the exclusively just relation. For if mere mimicry or song
or dance once begin to assume an independent position of their own,
poetry viewed as a fine and creative art is degraded to the position
of an instrument, and loses its ascendancy over the in other respects
accompanying arts. We will venture to point out a few characteristic
distinctions in this connection.

(_α_) The primary phase of the art of acting is to be found among
the Greeks. Here, as one aspect of the matter, the art of speech is
affiliated with that of sculpture. The acting _dramatis personae_
stands before us as an objective figure in his entire bodily
realization. In so far as here this statuesque figure is animated,
assimilates and expresses the content of the poetry, enters into every
movement of personal passion and at the same time asserts it through
word and voice, this presentation is more animated and more spiritually
transparent than any statue or picture.

As to this quality of living animation we may draw a distinction
between two distinct ways of regarding it.

(_αα_) _First_, there is declamation in the sense of artistic speech.
Declamation was not carried far among the Greeks; intelligibility is
here what is of most importance. We desire to recognize in the tone of
the voice and in the quality of the recitations the characterization
of soul-life in its finest shades and transitions, as also in its
oppositions and contrasts, in short, in its entire concreteness.
The ancients, on the contrary, added a musical accompaniment to
declamation, partly to emphasize rhythm, and in part to increase
the modulation of the verbal expression. At the same time it is
probable that the dialogue was either not at all or only very lightly
accompanied. To the reproduction of the choruses, however, the lyric
association of music was essential. It is highly probable that
singing, by means of its more definite accentuation of the meaning of
the language used in the choice strophes and antistrophes, made the
same more intelligible; only under such an assumption can I myself
understand how it was possible for a Greek audience to follow the
choruses of either Æschylus or Sophocles. I admit that such choruses
might not necessarily present to a Greek all the difficulties _we_
ourselves experience; at the same time I confess that, though I know
the German language well and am not wholly destitute of imagination,
German lyrics written in the same style, if declaimed from the stage,
even with the full accompaniment of song, would still be far from
wholly intelligible.

(_ββ_) A _further_ means of interpretation is supplied by the pose and
movement of the body. In this respect it is worth noticing that with
the Greeks the play of facial expression is entirely absent, by reason
of the fact that their actors wore masks. The facial contour returned
an unalterable sculpturesque image, the plastic outlines of which were
as unable to assimilate the varied expression of particular states
of soul, as to reproduce the acting characters, which fought through
a pathos securely fixed and universal in the nature of its dramatic
conflict, and neither deepened the substance of this pathos to the
ideal intensity of our modern emotional life, nor suffered it to expand
into all the particularization of the world of dramatic individualities
now in vogue. The action was equally simple, for which reason we do
not possess any tradition of famous Greek mimes. Sometimes the poet
himself was actor; both Sophocles and Aristophanes are examples. To
some extent the mere citizen, who was not strictly a professional actor
at all, took a part in tragedy. As a set-off to such difficulties the
choric songs were accompanied with the dance, a procedure which can
only appear frivolous to us Germans in the view we generally take of
the dance. With the Greeks it belonged as an essential feature to their
theatrical performances.

(_γγ_) To summarize, then, we find that among the ancients not only
was the poetical claim of language, and the intelligible expression
of general emotional states, freely admitted, but also the external
realization received the most complete elaboration by means of musical
accompaniment and the dance. A concrete unity of this kind gives to
the entire presentation a plastic character. What is spiritual is not
on its own account idealized as part of a personal soul-life, nor is
it expressed under such a mode of particularization; the main effect
is to bring about its complete affiliation and reconciliation with the
external aspect of sensuous appearance whose correspondent claim is
equally recognized.

(_β_) In rivalry with music and the dance speech suffers injury, in so
far as it ought to remain the _spiritual_ expression of spirit. Our
modern art of the theatre has consequently succeeded in liberating
itself from such features. The poet is by this means exclusively placed
in a relation to the actor simply, who, by his declamation, play of
facial expression, and posture, has to represent to vision the poetical
work. This relation of the author to the external material is, however,
in its contrast to other arts, quite unique. In painting and sculpture
it is the artist himself, who executes his conceptions in colour,
bronze, or marble; and although musical execution is dependent upon
the hands and voices of others, yet the feature thus added, albeit, of
course, the element of soul in the delivery ought not to be absent,
is none the less, to a more or less degree, overwhelmingly mechanical
technique and virtuosity.[22] The actor, on the contrary, appears
before us in the entire personality which combines his bodily presence,
physiognomy, voice, and so forth, and it is his function to coalesce
absolutely with the character he portrays.

(_αα_) In this respect the poet has the right to demand of the actor
that he enters with all his faculties into the part he receives,
without adding thereto anything peculiar to himself, that, in short, he
acts in complete consonance with the creative conception and means of
its display supplied by the poet. The actor ought, in fact, to be the
instrument upon which the author plays, an artist's brush which absorbs
all colours and returns the same unchanged. Among the ancients this was
more easily achieved for the reason that declamation, as above stated,
was mainly restricted to clarity of meaning, and music looked after
the aspect of rhythm, while masks concealed the faces, and, moreover,
not much scope was left to the action. Consequently, the actor could
without real difficulty conform in his delivery to a universal tragic
pathos; and although too, in comedy, portraits of living people such
as Socrates, Nicias, Creon, and so forth, had to be represented, in a
real measure the masks reproduced characteristic traits with sufficient
force, and further we should note that a detailed individualization
was less necessary, inasmuch as the comic poets, as a rule, merely
introduced such characters in order to represent general tendencies of
the time.

(_ββ_) The position is different in the modern theatre. Here, to start
with, we have no masks or musical accompaniment, but have instead of
these the play of facial expression, the variety of pose, and a richly
modulated style of declamation. For, on the one hand, human passions,
even when they are expressed by the poet in a more general and typical
characterization, have none the less to be asserted as part of an inner
and personal life; and for the rest our modern characters receive,
for the most part, a far more extended compass of particularization,
the distinctively appropriate expression of which has in the same way
to be placed before us with all the animation of present life. The
characters of Shakespeare are, above all, entire men, standing before
us in distinctively unique personality, so that we require of our
actors that they, for their part, give us back the entire impression of
such complete creations. There is no specific rôle here that does not
require a definite kind of expression fitted to it, and which covers
in fact every feature of its display, whether we regard that which we
cannot see or that which we do, whether it be in the tone of the voice,
the mode of delivery, gesticulation, or facial expression. For this
reason, apart from the nature of the dialogue, the varied character
of the pose and gesture, through every possible shade, receives an
entirely new significance. In fact, the modern poet leaves to the actor
self-expression here much that the ancients would have expressed in
words. Take the example of the final scene of Wallenstein. The old
Octavio has assisted materially in the downfall of Wallenstein. He
finds him treacherously murdered by the machinations of Buttler, and at
the very moment when the Countess Terzky makes the announcement that
she has taken poison, an imperial letter arrives. Gordon, after reading
the same, hands it to Octavio with a glance of reproach, adding the
words, "To the Lord Piccolomini." Octavio is confounded, and, pained
to the heart, glances heavenwards. That which Octavio experiences in
this reward for a service, for the bloody issue of which he himself is
mainly responsible, is in this passage not expressed in so many words,
but is left solely to the gesture of the actor.

(_γγ_) Owing to demands of this kind made by our modern art of
acting, poetry may, relatively to the material of its presentation,
not unfrequently opens up difficulties unknown to the ancients. In
other words, the actor, being the man he is, possesses, in respect
to voice, figure, physiognomical expression, as everybody else, his
native peculiarities, which he is compelled to set on one side, either
owing to their incompatibility with a pathos of universal import and a
really typical characterization, or to bring them into harmony with the
more complete personalities of a type of poetry rich in its power of

Actors claim the title of artists, and receive all the honours of an
artistic profession. According to our modern ideas, no taint of any
sort, whether ethical or social, is implied in the fact of being a
dramatic actor. This view is the right one. The profession demands
conspicuous talent, intelligence, perseverance, energy, practice,
knowledge, and, indeed, its highest attainment is impossible without
the rare qualities of genius. The actor has not only to assimilate
profoundly the spirit of the poet and the part he accepts, and to make
his own individuality conform entirely to the same, both inwardly and
outwardly; he has, over and above this, in many respects to supplement
the part with his own creative insight, to fill in gaps, to discover
modes of transition, and generally, by his performance, to interpret
the poet by making visibly and vitally present and intelligible
meanings which lie beneath the surface, or the less obvious touches of
a master's hand.

(_c_) _The Theatrical Art which is more Independent of Poetical

Finally, we shall have that further, or _third_ aspect of the art in
its actual employment, where it liberates itself from the exclusive
precedency of articulate poetry, and accepts as an independent end
what was previously, to a more or less extent, a mere accompaniment
or instrument, and elaborates the same on its own account. To carry
out this emancipation, music and the dance are quite as much essential
features of the dramatic development as the art of the actor simply.

(_α_) In respect to this change in the art, there are broadly speaking
two systems. The first, according to which the performer tends to
be simply in spirit and body the living instrument of the poet, we
have already referred to. The French, who make much of professional
rôles[23] and schools, and are, as a rule, more typical in their
theatrical representations, have shown an exceptional fidelity to this
system in their tragedy and _haute comédie_. What we may define here
as the position of the art of acting reversed consists in this, that
the entire creation of the poet now tends to be purely an appendage
or frame to and for the natural endowment, technical ability, and
art of the actor. It is by no means uncommon to hear actors make the
demand that poets should write expressly for them. The soul function
of poetical composition is, in this view, to give the artist an
opportunity to display and unfold in all its brilliance his emotional
powers and art, to let us see the final outcome of his particular
individuality. Among the Italians, the _commedia dell' arte_ belongs
to this type. Here, no doubt, we have certain definite types of
character such as those of the _arlecchino_, _dottore_, and the like,
with appropriate situations and series of scenes; the more detailed
execution is, however, almost entirely left to the discretion of the
actors. Among ourselves, the dramatic pieces of Iffland and Kotzebue,
and many others besides, though in large measure regarded as poetry,
unimportant or even bad compositions, nevertheless offer such an
opportunity for the creative powers of the actor, who is compelled to
initiate and shape something from such generally sketchy and artificial
productions, which on account of a vital and independent performance
of this kind receives a unique interest exclusively united to one and
no other artist. It is here, more especially, that we find our much
belauded realistic effects are displayed, a style carried to such
lengths that a mere mumble and whisper of articulate speech, quite
impossible to follow, will pass as an admirable performance. In protest
to such a style, Goethe translated Voltaire's "Tancred" and "Mahomet"
for the Weimar stage, in order to compel its actors to drop this
vulgar naturalism, and accustom themselves to a more noble exposition.
And this is invariably the case with the French, who, even in all
the animation of the farce, always keep the audience in view, and
throughout address themselves to it. As a matter of fact, mere realism
and imitation of our everyday expression is as little exhaustive of
the real problem as the mere intelligibility and clever use made of
characterization. If an actor seeks to produce a really artistic effect
in such cases, he will have to extend his powers to a genial virtuosity
similar to that I have described already in a previous passage when
referring to musical execution.[24]

(_β_) A _second_ province belonging to the type under consideration
is that of the modern _opera_, in the direction, at least, which
it more and more is inclined to take. In other words, although in
opera, generally speaking, the music is of most importance, which of
course possesses a content in partnership with the poetry and the
libretto, albeit it treats and executes the same freely as it thinks
best, yet in more recent times, and particularly among ourselves,
it has become increasingly an affair of luxurious display. It has
carried its _accessoires_, in the splendour of its decorations, the
pomp of its costumes, the completeness of its choruses and their
grouping, to a degree of independence that throws all else into the
shade. It was a magnificence of this kind, sufficiently criticized
among ourselves, which Cicero long ago complains of when referring
to Roman tragedy. In tragedy, where the poetry is always the most
essential thing, such a lavish display of the sensuous side of things
is no doubt not in its right place, although Schiller, in his "Maid
of Orleans," shows a tendency here to run astray. In the opera, on
the contrary, with its sensuous exuberance of song and the melodic,
thundering chorus of voices and instruments, we may with more reason
admit such an emphasized charm of external embellishment and display.
If the decorations are splendid, then the groups and processions, to
give point to them, must be equally gorgeous, and everything else must
be adapted to the same scale. The subject most suited to a sensuous
luxuriance of this kind, which, no doubt, is always some indication
of the decline of genuine art, is that part of the entire performance
which inclines to the wonderful, fantastic, or fairy tale. Mozart, in
his "Magic Flute," has supplied us with an example which is not too
extravagant, and is worked out on completely artistic lines. At the
same time, we may entirely exhaust all the arts of scenic display,
costume, instrumentation and the rest, but the fact remains that, if we
are not really in earnest with that part of the content which concerns
real dramatic action, the impression upon us can be at the strongest
merely that of a perusal of the fairy-tale of "The Thousand and One

(_γ_) The same observations apply to the modern _Ballet_, which above
all is most suited to fairy-land and miracle of all kinds. Here, too,
we note as one supreme feature, quite apart from the picturesque
beauty of the grouping and tableaux, the kaleidoscopic splendour and
fascination of the decorations, costumes, and lighting, to an extent
that ordinary persons find themselves transported into a world in
which common sense and the laws and pressure of our daily life vanish
altogether. As a further aspect of these performances, connoisseurs
in such subjects will go into ecstacies over the elaborately trained
dexterity and virtuosity of legs, which is nowadays an essential
feature of the dance. If, however, any more spiritual significance is
to flash athwart such mere physical agility, which we have reduced
to the final ultimatum of senselessness and ideal poverty, we ought
to have associated with the complete command over all the executive
difficulties implied a real measure and euphony of movement, a freedom
and grace such as finds a response in the soul; and it is only very
rarely that we do so. As a further element in association with the
dance here, which stands in the place of the choruses and solos of
the opera, we find as real expression of action the Pantomime. This,
however, in proportion as our modern dance has advanced in technical
dexterity, has fallen from the rank which it once possessed, and,
indeed, has so deteriorated that the very thing tends once more to drop
out of the modern ballet altogether, which is alone able to lift the
same into the free domain of art.


Viewing for a moment the course of our present inquiry in retrospect,
it will be seen that we have, _first,_ established the principle of
dramatic poetry in its widest and more specific characteristics,
and, further, in its relation to the general public. _Secondly_, we
deduced from the fact of the drama's presenting an action distinct and
independent in its actually visible development the conclusion that a
fully complete sensuous reproduction is also essential, such as is for
the first time possible under artistic conditions in the theatrical
performance. In order that the action, however, may adapt itself to an
external realization of this kind, it is necessary that both in poetic
conception and detailed execution it should be absolutely definite
and complete. This is only effected, our _third_ point, by resolving
dramatic poetry into _particular types_, receiving their typical
character, which is in part one of opposition and also one of mediatory
relation to such opposition, from the distinction, in which not only
the end but also the characters, as also the conflict and entire result
of the action, are manifested. The most important aspects emphasized
by such distinction and subject to an historical development are those
peculiar to tragedy and comedy respectively, as also the comparative
value of either mode of composition. This inquiry in dramatic poetry is
for the first time so essentially important that it forms the basis of
classification for the different types.

In considering more closely the nature of these distinctions we shall
do well to discuss their subject-matter in the following order.

_First_, we must define the general principle of tragedy, comedy, and
the so-called drama.

_Secondly_, we must indicate the character of ancient and modern
dramatic poetry, to the contrast between which the distinctive relation
of the above-named types is referable in their historical development.

_Thirdly_, we will attempt, in conclusion, to examine the concrete
modes, which these types, though mainly comedy and tragedy, are able to
exhibit within the boundary of this opposition.

(_a_) _The Principle of Tragedy, Comedy, and the Drama, or Social Play_

The essential basis of differentiation among the types of epic poetry
is to be found in the distinction whether the essentially substantive
displayed in the epic manner is expressed in its universality, or
is communicated in the form of objective characters, exploits, and
events. In contrast to this, the classification of lyric poetry, in
its series of varied modes of expression, is dependent upon the degree
and specific form in which the content is assimilated in more or
less stable consistency with the soul experience, according as such
content asserts this intimate life. And, finally, dramatic poetry,
which accepts as its centre of significance the collision of aims and
characters, as also the necessary resolution of such a conflict, cannot
do otherwise than deduce the principle of its separate types from the
relation in which _individual persons_ are placed relatively to their
purpose and its content. The definition of this relation is, in short,
the decisive factor in the determination of the particular mode of
dramatic schism and the issue therefrom, and consequently presents
the essential type of the entire process in its animated and artistic
display. The fundamental points we have to examine in this connection
are, speaking broadly, those phases or features in the process, the
mediation of which constitutes the essential purport of every true
action. Such are from one point of view the substantively sound and
great, the fundamental stratum of the realized divine nature in the
world, regarded here as the genuine and essentially eternal content
of individual character and end. And, on its other side, we have the
_personal conscious life_ simply as such in its unhampered power of
self-determination and freedom. Without doubt, essential and explicit
truth is asserted in dramatic poetry; it matters not in what form it
may be manifested from time to time in human action. The specific type,
however, within which this activity is made visible receives a distinct
or, rather, actually opposed configuration, according as the aspect
of substantive worth or in its opposition thereto, that of individual
caprice, folly, and perversity is retained as the distinctive _modus_
of operation either in individuals, actions, or conflicts.

We have therefore to consider the principle in its distinctive relation
to the following types:

_First_, as associated with tragedy in its substantive and primitive

_Secondly_, in its relation to comedy, in which the life of the
individual soul as such in volition and action, as well as the external
factor of contingency, are predominant over all relations and ends.

_Thirdly_, in that to the drama, the theatrical piece in the more
restricted use of the term, regarding such as the middle term between
the two first-mentioned types.

(_α_) With respect to _tragedy_, I will here confine myself to a
consideration of only the most general and essential characteristics,
the more concrete differentiation of which can only be made clear by
a review of the distinctive features implied in the stages of its
historical process.

(_αα_) The genuine content of tragic action subject to the _aims_ which
arrest tragic characters is supplied by the world of those forces
which carry in themselves their own justification, and are realized
substantively in the volitional activity of mankind. Such are the love
of husband and wife, of parents, children, and kinsfolk. Such are,
further, the life of communities, the patriotism of citizens, the will
of those in supreme power. Such are the life of churches, not, however,
if regarded as a piety which submits to act with resignation, or as a
divine judicial declaration in the heart of mankind over what is good
or the reverse in action; but, on the contrary, conceived as the active
engagement with and demand for veritable interests and relations.
It is of a soundness and thoroughness consonant with these that the
really tragical _characters_ consist. They are throughout that which
the essential notion of their character enables them and compels them
to be. They are not merely a varied totality laid out in the series
of views of it proper to the epic manner; they are, while no doubt
remaining also essentially vital and individual, still only the one
power of the particular character in question, the force in which such
a character, in virtue of its essential personality, has made itself
inseparably coalesce with some particular aspect of the capital and
substantive life-content we have indicated above, and deliberately
commits himself to that. It is at some such elevation, where the mere
accidents of unmediated[25] individuality vanish altogether, that we
find the tragic heroes of dramatic art, whether they be the living
representatives of such spheres of concrete life or in any other way
already so derive their greatness and stability from their own free
self-reliance that they stand forth as works of sculpture, and as such
interpret, too, under this aspect the essentially more abstract statues
and figures of gods, as also the lofty tragic characters of the Greeks
more completely than is possible for any other kind of elucidation or

Broadly speaking, we may, therefore, affirm that the true theme of
primitive tragedy is the godlike.[26] But by godlike we do not mean
the Divine, as implied in the content of the religious consciousness
simply as such, but rather as it enters into the world, into
individual action, and enters in such a way that it does not forfeit
its substantive character under this mode of realization, nor find
itself converted into the contradiction of its own substance.[27] In
this form the spiritual substance of volition and accomplishment is
ethical life.[28] For what is ethical, if we grasp it, in its direct
consistency--that is to say, not exclusively from the standpoint of
personal reflection as formal morality--is the divine in its secular or
world realization, the substantive as such, the particular no less than
the essential features of which supply the changing content of truly
human actions, and in such action itself render this their essence
explicit and actual.

(_ββ_) These ethical forces, as also the characters of the action,
are _distinctively defined_ in respect to their content and their
individual personality, in virtue of the principle of differentiation
to which everything is subject, which forms part of the objective world
of things. If, then, these particular forces, in the way presupposed
by dramatic poetry, are attached to the external expression of human
activity, and are realized as the determinate aim of a human pathos
which passes into action, their concordancy is cancelled, and they are
asserted _in contrast_ to each other in interchangeable succession.
Individual action will then, under given conditions, realize an object
or character, which, under such a presupposed state, inevitably
stimulates the presence of a pathos[29] opposed to itself, because it
occupies a position of unique isolation in virtue of its independently
fixed definition, and, by doing so, brings in its train unavoidable
conflicts. Primitive tragedy, then, consists in this, that within a
collision of this kind both sides of the contradiction, if taken by
themselves, are _justified_; yet, from a further point of view, they
tend to carry into effect the true and positive content of their end
and specific characterization merely as the negation and _violation_ of
the other equally legitimate power, and consequently in their ethical
purport and relatively to this so far fall under _condemnation._

I have already adverted to the general ground of the necessity of
this conflict. The substance of ethical condition is, when viewed
as concrete unity, a totality of _different_ relations and forces,
which, however, only under the inactive condition of the gods in
their blessedness achieve the works of the Spirit in enjoyment of
an undisturbed life. In contrast to this, however, there is no less
certainly implied in the notion of this totality itself an impulse
to move from its, in the first instance, still abstract ideality,
and transplant itself in the real actuality of the phenomenal world.
On account of the nature of this primitive obsession,[30] it comes
about that mere difference, if conceived on the basis of definite
conditions of individual personalities, must inevitably associate with
contradiction and collision. Only such a view can pretend to deal
seriously with those gods which, though they endure in their tranquil
repose and unity in the Olympus and heaven of imagination and religious
conception, yet, in so far as they are actual,[31] viewed at least as
the energic in the definite pathos of a human personality, participate
in concrete life, all other claims notwithstanding, and, in virtue of
their specific singularity and their mutual opposition, render both
blame and wrong inevitable.

(_γγ_) As a result of this, however, an unmediated contradiction is
posited, which no doubt may assert itself in the Real, but, for all
that, is unable to maintain itself as that which is wholly substantive
and verily real therein; which rather discovers, and only discovers,
its essential justification in the fact that it is able to _annul_
itself as such contradiction. In other words, whatever may be the
claim of the tragic final purpose and personality, whatever may be
the necessity of the tragic collision, it is, as a consequence of our
present view, no less a claim that is asserted--this is our _third_
and last point--by the tragic resolution of this division. It is
through _this_ latter result that Eternal Justice is operative in such
aims and individuals under a mode whereby it restores the ethical
substance and unity in and along with the downfall of the individuality
which disturbs its repose. For, despite the fact that individual
characters propose that which is itself essentially valid, yet they
are only able to carry it out under the tragic demand in a manner that
implies contradiction and with a onesidedness which is injurious.
What, however, is substantive in truth, and the function of which
is to secure realization, is not the battle of particular unities,
however much such a conflict is essentially involved in the notion
of a real world and human action; rather it is the reconciliation in
which definite ends and individuals unite in harmonious action without
mutual violation and contradiction. That which is abrogated in the
tragic issue is merely the _one-sided_ particularity which was unable
to accommodate itself to this harmony, and consequently in the tragic
course of its action, through inability to disengage itself from
itself and its designs, either is committed in its entire totality
to destruction or at least finds itself compelled to fall back upon
a state of resignation in the execution of its aim in so far as it
can carry this out. We are reminded of the famous dictum of Aristotle
that the true effect of tragedy is to excite and purify _fear_ and
_pity._ By this statement Aristotle did not mean merely the concordant
or discordant feeling with anybody's private experience, a feeling
simply of pleasure or the reverse, an attraction or a repulsion, that
most superficial of all psychological states, which only in recent
times theorists have sought to identify with the principle of assent
or dissent as ordinarily expressed. For in a work of art the matter of
exclusive importance should be the display of that which is conformable
with the reason and truth of Spirit; and to discover the principle
of this we have to direct our attention to wholly different points
of view. And consequently we are not justified in restricting the
application of this dictum of Aristotle merely to the emotion of fear
and pity, but should relate it to the principle of the _content_ the
appropriately artistic display of which ought to purify such feelings.
Man may, on the one hand, entertain fear when confronted with that
which is outside him and finite; but he may likewise shrink before the
power of that which is the essential and absolute subsistency of social
phenomena.[32] That which mankind has therefore in truth to fear is
not the external power and its oppression, but the ethical might which
is self-defined in its own free rationality, and partakes further of
the eternal and inviolable, the power a man summons against his own
being when he turns his back upon it. And just as fear may have two
objectives, so also too compassion. The first is just the ordinary
sensibility--in other words, a sympathy with the misfortunes and
sufferings of another, and one which is experienced as something finite
and negative. Your countrified cousin is ready enough with compassion
of this order. The man of nobility and greatness, however, has no wish
to be smothered with this sort of pity. For just to the extent that
it is merely the nugatory aspect, the negative of misfortune which is
asserted, a real depreciation of misfortune is implied. True sympathy,
on the contrary, is an accordant feeling with the ethical claim at
the same time associated with the sufferer--that is, with what is
necessarily implied in his condition as affirmative and substantive.
Such a pity as this is not, of course, excited by ragamuffins and
vagabonds. If the tragic character, therefore, just as he aroused our
fear when contemplating the might of violated morality, is to awake a
tragic sympathy in his misfortune, he must himself essentially possess
real capacity and downright character. It is only that which has a
genuine content which strikes the heart of a man of noble feeling, and
rings through its depths. Consequently we ought by no means to identify
our interest in the tragic _dénouement_ with the simple satisfaction
that a sad story, a misfortune merely as misfortune, should have a
claim upon our sympathy. Feelings of lament of this type may well
enough assail men on occasions of wholly external contingency and
related circumstance, to which the individual does not contribute, nor
for which he is responsible, such cases as illness, loss of property,
death, and the like. The only real and absorbing interest in such
cases ought to be an eager desire to afford immediate assistance. If
this is impossible, such pictures of lamentation and misery merely
rack the feelings. A veritable tragic suffering, on the contrary, is
suspended over active characters entirely as the consequence of their
own act, which as such not only asserts its claim upon us, but becomes
subject to blame through the collision it involves, and in which such
individuals identify themselves heart and soul.

Over and above mere fear and tragic sympathy we have therefore the
feeling of _reconciliation_, which tragedy is vouched for in virtue of
its vision of eternal justice, a justice which exercises a paramount
force of absolute constringency on account of the relative claim of all
merely contracted aims and passions; and it can do this for the reason
that it is unable to tolerate the victorious issue and continuance in
the truth of the objective world of such a conflict with and opposition
to those ethical powers which are fundamentally and essentially
concordant.[33] Inasmuch as then, in conformity with this principle,
all that pertains to tragedy pre-eminently rests upon the contemplation
of such a conflict and its resolution, dramatic poetry is--and its
entire mode of presentation offers a proof of the fact--alone able to
make and completely adapt its form throughout its entire course and
compass to the principle of the art product. And this is the reason
why I have only now found occasion to discuss the tragic mode of
presentation, although it extends an effective force, if no doubt one
of subordinate degree, in many ways over the other arts.

(_β_) In tragedy then that which is eternally substantive is
triumphantly vindicated under the mode of reconciliation. It simply
removes from the contentions of personality the false one-sidedness,
and exhibits instead that which is the object of its volition, namely,
positive reality, no longer under an asserted mediation of opposed
factors, but as the real support of consistency.[34] And in contrast to
this in _comedy_ it is the purely _personal experience_, which retains
the mastery in its character of infinite self-assuredness.[35] And it
is only these two fundamental aspects of human action which occupy a
position of contrast in the classification of dramatic poetry into its
several types. In tragedy individuals are thrown into confusion in
virtue of the abstract nature of their sterling volition and character,
or they are forced to accept that with resignation, to which they have
been themselves essentially opposed. In comedy we have a vision of the
victory of the intrinsically assured stability of the wholly personal
soul-life, the laughter of which resolves everything through the medium
and into the medium of such life.

(_αα_) The general basis of comedy is therefore a world in which
man has made himself, in his conscious activity, complete master of
all that otherwise passes as the essential content of his knowledge
and achievement; a world whose ends are consequently thrown awry on
of their own lack of substance. A democratic folk, with egotistic
citizens, litigious, frivolous, conceited, without faith or knowledge,
always intent on gossip, boasting and vanity--such a folk is past
praying for; it can only dissolve in its folly. But it would be a
mistake to think that any action that is without genuine content is
therefore comic because it is void of substance. People only too
often in this respect confound the merely _ridiculous_ with the true
comic. Every contrast between what is essential and its appearance,
the object and its instrument, may be ridiculous, a contradiction in
virtue of which the appearance is absolutely cancelled, and the end is
stultified in its realization. A profounder significance is, however,
implied in the comic. There is, for instance, nothing comic in human
crime. The satire affords a proof of this, to the point of extreme
aridity, no matter how emphatic may be the colours in which it depicts
the condition of the actual world in its contrast to all that the man
of virtue ought to be. There is nothing in mere folly, stupidity, or
nonsense, which in itself necessarily partakes of the comic, though
we all of us are ready enough to laugh at it. And as a rule it is
extraordinary what a variety of wholly different things excite human
laughter. Matters of the dullest description and in the worst possible
taste will move men in this way; and their laughter may be excited
quite as much by things of the profoundest importance, if only they
happen to notice some entirely unimportant feature, which may conflict
with habit and ordinary experience. Laughter is consequently little
more than an expression of self-satisfied shrewdness; a sign that they
have sufficient wit to recognize such a contrast and are aware of
the fact. In the same way we have the laughter of the scoffer, the
scornful and desperation itself. What on the other hand is inseparable
from the comic is an infinite geniality and confidence[36] capable of
rising superior to its own contradiction, and experiencing therein no
taint of bitterness or sense of misfortune whatever. It is the happy
frame of mind, a hale condition of soul, which, fully aware of itself,
can suffer the dissolution of its aims and realization. The unexpansive
type of intelligence is on the contrary least master of itself where it
is in its behaviour most laughable to others.

(_ββ_) In considering with more detail the kind of content which
characterizes and educes the object of comic action, I propose to limit
myself to the following points of general interest.

On the _one_ hand there are human ends and characters essentially
devoid of substantive content and contradictory. They are therefore
unable to achieve the former or give effect to the latter. Avarice,
for example, not only in reference to its aim, but also in respect
to the petty means which it employs, is clearly from the first and
fundamentally a vain shadow. It accepts what is the dead abstraction
of wealth, money simply as such, as the _summum bonum_, the reality
beyond which it refuses to budge; and it endeavours to master this
frigid means of enjoyment by denying itself every other concrete
satisfaction, despite the fact too that, in the impotency of its
end no less than the means of its achievement, it is helpless when
confronted with cunning and treachery, and the like. In such a case
then, if anyone identifies _seriously_ his personal life with a content
so essentially false, to the extent of a man confining the embrace
of his soul-life to that exclusively, and in the result, if the same
is swept away as his foot-hold, the more he strives to retain that
former foot-hold, the more the life collapses in unhappiness--in such a
picture as this what is most vital to the comic situation fails, as it
does in every case where the predominant factors are simply on the one
side the painfulness of the actual conditions, and on the other scorn
and pleasure in such misfortune. There is therefore more of the true
comic in the case where, it is true, aims intrinsically mean and empty
would like to be achieved with an appearance of earnest solemnity and
every kind of preparation, but where the individual himself, when he
falls short of this, does not experience any real loss because he is
conscious that what he strove after was really of no great importance,
and is therefore able to rise superior with spontaneous amusement above
the failure.

A situation which is the reverse of this occurs where people vaguely
grasp at aims and a personal impression of real substance, but in their
own individuality, as instruments to achieve this, are in absolute
conflict with such a result. In such a case what substance there is
only exists in the individual's imagination, becomes a mere appearance
to himself or others, which no doubt offers the show and virtue of
what is thus of material import, but for this very reason involves end
and personality, action and character in a contradiction, by reason
of which the attainment of the imaged end or characterization is
itself rendered impossible. An example of this is the "Ecclesiazusae"
of Aristophanes, where the women who seek to advise and found a new
political constitution, retain all the temperament and passions of
women as before.

We may add to the above two divisions of classification, as a distinct
basis for yet _another_, the use made of external accident, by means of
the varied and extraordinary development of which situations are placed
before us in which the objects desired and their achievement, the
personal character and its external conditions are thrown into a comic
contrast, and lead to an equally comic resolution.

(_γγ_) But inasmuch as the comic element wholly and from the first
depends upon contradictory contrasts, not only of ends themselves
on their own account, but also of their content as opposed to the
contingency of the personal life and external condition, the action
of comedy requires a _resolution_ with even more stringency than the
tragic drama. In other words, in the action of comedy the contradiction
between that which is essentially true and its specific realization is
more fundamentally asserted.

That which, however, is abrogated in this resolution is not by any
means either the _substantive_ being or the _personal_ life as such.

And the reason of this is that comedy too, viewed as genuine art, has
not the task set before it to display through its presentation what
is essentially rational as that which is intrinsically perverse and
comes to naught, but on the contrary as that which neither bestows
the victory, nor ultimately allows any standing ground to folly and
absurdity, that is to say the false contradictions and oppositions
which also form part of reality. The masculine art of Aristophanes,
for instance, does not turn into ridicule what is truly of ethical
significance in the social life of Athens, namely genuine philosophy,
true religious faith, but rather the spurious growth of the democracy,
in which the ancient faith and the former morality have disappeared,
such as the sophistry, the whining and querulousness of tragedy, the
inconstant gossip, the love of litigation and so forth; in other
words, it is those elements directly opposed to a genuine condition of
political life, religion and art, which he places before us in their
suicidal folly. Only in more modern times do we find in such a writer
as Kotzebue the baseness possible which throws over moral excellence,
and spares and strives to maintain that which only exists under a
condition of sufferance. To as little extent, however, ought the
individual's private life suffer substantial injury in comedy. Or to
put it otherwise, if it is merely the appearance and imagined presence
of what is substantive, or if it is the essentially perverse and petty
which is asserted, yet in the essential self stability of individual
character the more exalted principle remains, which in its freedom
reaches over and beyond the overthrow of all that such finite life
comprises, and continues itself in its character of self-security and
self-blessedness. This subjective life that we above all identify with
comic personality has thus become master of all the phenomenal presence
of the real. The mode of actual appearance adequate to what is, so to
speak, substantive, has vanished out of it; and, if what is essentially
without fundamental subsistence comes to naught with its mere pretence
of being that which it is not, the individual asserts himself as master
over such a dissolution, and remains at bottom unbroken and in good
heart to the end.[37]

(_γ_) Midway between tragedy and comedy we have furthermore a _third_
fundamental type of dramatic poetry, which is, however, of less
distinctive importance, despite the fact that in it the essential
difference between what is tragic and comic makes an effort to
construct a bridge of mediation, or at least to effect some coalescence
of both sides in a concrete whole without leaving either the one or the
other in opposed isolation.

(_αα_) To this class we may, for example, refer the _Satyric_ drama of
the ancients, in which the principal action itself at least remains of
a serious if not wholly tragic type, while the chorus of its Satyrs is
in contrast to this treated in the comic manner. We may also include
in such a class the tragic-comedy. Plautus gives an example of this in
his "Amphitryo," and indeed in the prologue, through verses given to
Mercury, asserts this fact; the declamation runs as follows:

    Quid contraxistis frontem? Quia Tragoediam
    Dini futuram hanc? Deus sum: commutavero
    Eamdem hanc, si voltis: faciam, ex Tragoedia
    Comoedia ut sit, omnibus eisdem versibus.
    Faciam ut conmista sit Tragicocomoedia.

He offers us as a reason for this intermixture the fact, that while
gods and kings are represented among the _dramatis personae_, we have
also in comic contrast to this the figure of the slave Sofia. With
yet more frequency in modern dramatic poetry we have the interplay of
tragic and comic situation; and this is naturally so, because in modern
compositions the principle of an intimate personal life has its place
too in tragedy, the principle which is asserted by comedy in all its
freedom, and from the first has been predominant, forcing as it does
into the background the substantive character of the content in which
the ethical forces, I have referred to previously, are paramount.

(_ββ_) The profounder mediation, however, of tragic and comic
composition in a new whole does not consist in the juxtaposition or
alteration of these contradictory points of view, but in a mutual
accommodation, which blunts the force of such opposition. The element
of subjectivity, instead of being exercised with all the perversity
of the comic drama, is steeped in the seriousness of genuine social
conditions and substantial characters, while the tragic steadfastness
of volition and the depth of collisions is so far weakened and reduced
that it becomes compatible with a reconciliation of interests and a
harmonious union of ends and individuals. It is under such a mode of
conception that in particular the modern play and drama arise. The
profound aspect of this principle, in this view of the playwright,
consists in the fact that, despite the differences and conflicts
of interests, passions and characters, an essentially harmonious
reality none the less results from human action. Even the ancient
world possesses tragedies, which accept an issue of this character.
Individuals are not sacrificed, but maintained without serious
catastrophe. In the "Eumenides" of Æschylus, for example, both parties
there brought to judgment before the Areopagus, namely Apollo and
the avenging Furies, have their claims to honorable consideration
vindicated. Also in the "Philoctetes" the conflict between Neoptolemos
and Philoctetes is disposed of through the divine interposition of
Hercules and the advice he gives. They depart reconciled for Troy. In
this case, however, the accommodation is due to a _deus ex machinâ_ and
the actual source of such is not traceable to the personal attitude
of the parties themselves. In the modern play, however, it is the
individual characters alone who find themselves induced by the course
of their own action to such an abandonment of the strife, and to a
reciprocal reconciliation of their aims and personalities. From this
point of view the "Iphigeneia" of Goethe is a genuine model of a play
of this kind, and it is more so than his "Tasso," in which in the
first place the reconciliation with Antonio is rather an affair of
temperament and personal acknowledgment that Antonio possesses the
genuine knowledge of life, which is absent from the character of Tasso,
and along with this that the claim of ideal life, which Tasso had
rigidly adhered to in its conflict with actual conditions, adaptability
and grace of manners, retains its force throughout with an audience
merely in an ideal sense, and relatively to actual conditions at most
asserts itself as an excuse for the poet and a general sympathy for his

(_γγ_) As a rule, however, the boundary lines of their intermediate
type fluctuate more than is the case with tragedy or comedy. It is
also exposed to a further danger of breaking away from the true
dramatic type, or ceasing to be genuine poetry. In other words, owing
to the fact that the opposing factors, which have to secure a peaceful
conclusion from out of their own division, are from the start not
antithetical to one another with the emphasis asserted by tragedy;
the poet is for this reason compelled to devote the full strength
of his presentation to the psychological analysis of character,
and to make the course of the situations a mere instrument of such
characterization. Or, as an alternative, he admits a too extensive
field for the display of the material aspect of historical or ethical
conditions; and, under the pressure of such material, he tends to
restrict his effort to keep the attention alive to the interest of
the series of events evolved alone. To this class of composition we
may assign a host of our more recent theatrical pieces, which rather
aim at theatrical effect than claim to be poetry. They do not so
much seek to affect us as genuine poetical productions as to reach
our emotions generally as men and women; or they aim on the one hand
simply at recreation, and on the other at the moral education of public
taste; but while doing so they are almost equally concerned to provide
ample opportunity to the actor for the display of his trained art and
virtuosity in the most brilliant manner.

(_b_) _The Difference between Ancient and Modern Dramatic Poetry_

The same principle which offered us a basis for the classification of
dramatic art into tragedy and comedy also will give us the essential
points of arrest in the history of their development. The progress we
find in this course of evolution can only appear after we have placed
such particular phases in the process side by side for comparison and
analysis. They subsist, in short, in the notion of dramatic action,
with the result that on the one hand the entire composition and its
theatrical execution emphasizes what is _substantive_ in the ends,
conflicts, and characters, and on the other that the _personal_
factor of conscious and individual life constitutes the focal centre

(_α_) With regard to such an inquiry we may at once in the present
work, which does not attempt to include an exhaustive history of art,
leave out altogether those origins of dramatic art which we find
among Oriental peoples. Despite the considerable progress made by
Eastern poetry in the epic and certain types of lyrical composition
the entire world-outlook of such peoples nevertheless from the first
excludes an artistic development favourable to dramatic art. And the
reason is that to genuine _tragic_ action it is essential that the
principle of _individual_ freedom and independence, or at least that
of self-determination, the will to find in the self the free cause
and source of the personal act and its consequences, should already
have been aroused; and we may observe that to a still more emphatic
degree is this free claim of the personal life and its self-recognized
_imperium_ a necessary condition to the appearance of comedy. In the
East we find in neither case such a condition satisfied. In particular
remoteness from any and every attempt at real dramatic self-expression
is that imposing sublimity of Mohammedan poetry, although from a
certain point of view it is capable with real power of vindicating the
claim of individual independence. But it necessarily fails, because
it is an equally essential assumption of it that the One substantive
Power overrules every created being and determines his irreversible
destiny, and with all the more irresistible fatality in proportion as
such a spirit is asserted. The justification of a particular content
of individual action and of a personal life which explores its own
most intimate substance, in the sense that dramatic art presupposes,
is here impossible; indeed it is precisely in Mohammedanism that the
subjugation of the individual self to the will of God is the more
abstract in proportion as the One predominant Power, who rules the
universe, is more abstractly conceived in his universality, and in the
last instance will not tolerate one shred of particularity to remain.
We consequently only find origins of dramatic composition among the
Chinese and Hindoos. But here, too, so far as our present scanty
evidence carries us, these do not so much amount to the execution of
any free and individual action; they merely reflect the animated life
of events and emotions under the mode of definite situations, which are
displayed in their course as they actually happen.

(_β_) The true beginning of dramatic poetry we have consequently to
seek among the Hellenes, with whom for the first time and in every
respect the principle of free individuality renders the perfect
elaboration of the classic type of art possible. Compatibly with
this type of art, however, and in its relation to human action,
individuality is only so far asserted as it directly demands the
free animation of the essential content of human aims. That which
pre-eminently is of valid force in ancient drama, therefore, whether
it be tragedy or comedy, is the universal and essential content of
the end, which individuals seek to achieve. In tragedy this is the
ethical claim of human consciousness in view of the particular action
in question, the vindication of the act on its own account. And in the
old comedy, too, it is in the same way at least the general public
interests which are emphasized, whether it be in statesmen and the
mode in which they direct the State, questions of peace or war, the
general public and its moral conditions, or the condition of philosophy
and its decline. And it is owing to this that here neither the varied
exposition of personal soul-life and exceptional character, nor the
equally exceptional plot and intrigue can obtain the fullest play, nor
does the main interest revolve so much around the fate of individuals.
In the place of this interest for such particular aspects of the
drama above all else sympathy is evoked and claimed for the simple
conflict and issue of the essential powers of life, and for the godlike
manifestations of the human heart,[38] as distinctive representatives
of which the heroes of tragedy are set before us in much the same
way as that in which the figures of comedy make visible the general
perversity of mankind, to the expression of which, in the reality of
the actual present, even the fundamental institutions of public life
have been corrupted.

(_γ_) In _modern_ romantic poetry, on the contrary, it is the
individual passion, the satisfaction of which can only be relative to a
wholly personal end, generally speaking the destiny of some particular
person or character placed under exceptional circumstances, which forms
the subject-matter of all importance.

From such a point of view the poetic interest consists in that
greatness of characters, which, in virtue of their imaginative power or
their disposition and talents, display a spiritual[39] elevation over
their situations and actions no less than over the entire wealth of
their soul-life, and show it as the real substance of political forces,
though often, too, these may be obstructed and, indeed, annihilated in
the stress of particular circumstances and the current of events; and
we may add that in the greatness of such natures it is not infrequent
to find that a power of recovery[40] is further contained. With regard
to the particular content of the action in this style of composition
it is not therefore the ethical vindication and necessity, but rather
the isolated individual and his conditions to which our interest is
directed. From a standpoint such as this, therefore, a fundamental
motive will arise in such qualities as love and ambition; indeed, crime
itself is not excluded. But in the latter case we may easily find
rocks ahead difficult indeed to clear. For an out and out criminal,
and irrevocably so when he is weak and a thoroughly mean scamp, as
is the hero in Milliner's drama, "Crime," is something more than a
sorry sight. What we require therefore above all in such cases is at
least the formal[41] greatness of character and power of the personal
life which is able to ride out everything that negates it, and which,
without denial of its acts or, indeed, without being materially
discomposed by them, is capable of accepting their consequences.
And on the other side we find that those substantive ends, such as
patriotism, family devotion, loyalty, and the rest, are by no means to
be excluded, although for the individual persons concerned the main
question of importance is not so much the substantive force as their
own individuality. But in such cases as a rule they rather form the
particular ground upon which such persons, viewed in the light of their
private character, take their stand and engage in conflict, rather than
have supplied what we may regard as the real and ultimate content of
their volition and action.

And further, in conjunction with a personal self-assertion of this type
we may have presented the full extension of individual idiosyncrasy,
not merely in respect to the soul-life simply, but also in relation
to external circumstances and conditions, within which the action
proceeds. And it is owing to this that in distinctive form the simple
conflicts which characterize more classical dramatic composition, we
now meet with the variety and exuberance of the characters dramatized,
the unforeseen surprises of the ever new and complicated developments
of plot, the maze of intrigue, the contingency of events, and, in a
word, all those aspects of the modern drama which claim our attention,
and the unfettered appearance of which, as opposed to the overwhelming
emphasis attached to what is essentially most fundamental in the
content, accentuates the type of romantic art in its distinction from
the classic type.

But again, even in the cases above indicated, and despite all this
apparently untrammelled particularity, the whole ought to continue to
be both dramatic and poetical. In other words, on the one hand, the
harshness of the collision, which has to be fought through, ought to
be visibly obliterated, and on the other, pre-eminently in tragedy,
the predominant presence of a more exalted order of the world, whether
we adopt the conception of Providence or Fatality, ought to plainly
discover itself in and through the course and issue of the action.

(_c_) _The Concrete Development of Dramatic Poetry and its Types_

Within the essential distinctions of conception and poetical
achievement which we have just considered the different types of
dramatic art assert themselves, and, for the first time in such
association, and in so far as their development follows either one
or the other direction, attain a really genuine completeness. We
have, therefore, in concluding the present work, still to concentrate
our inquiry upon the concrete mode under which they receive such a

(_α_) Excluding as we shall do for the reasons already given from
our subject-matter the origins of such poetry in Oriental literature,
the material of first and fundamental importance which engages our
attention, as the most valuable phase of genuine tragedy no less than
comedy, is the dramatic poetry of the _Greeks._ In other words, in
it for the first time we find the human consciousness is illuminated
with that which in its general terms the tragic and comic situation
essentially is; and after that these opposed types of dramatic outlook
upon human action have been securely and beyond all confusion separated
from each other, we mark first in order tragedy, and after that comedy,
rise in organic development to the height of their achievement. Of
such a successful result the dramatic art of Rome merely returns a
considerably attenuated reflection, which does not indeed reach the
point secured by the similar effort of Roman literature in epic and
lyrical composition. In my examination of the material thus offered my
object will be merely to accentuate what is most important, and I shall
therefore limit my survey to the tragic point of view of Æschylus and
Sophocles, and to Aristophanes so far as comedy is concerned.

(_αα_) Taking, then, tragedy first, I have already stated that the
fundamental type which determines its entire organization and structure
is to be sought for in the emphasis attached to the substantive
constitution of final ends and their content, as also of the
individuals dramatized and their conflict and destiny.

In the tragic drama we are now considering, the general basis or
background for tragic action is supplied, as was also the case in the
Epos, by that world-condition which I have already indicated as the
_heroic_. For only in heroic times, when the universal ethical forces
have neither acquired the independent stability of definite political
legislation or moral commands and obligations, can they be presented
in their primitive jucundity as gods, who are either opposed to each
other in their personal activities, or themselves appear as the
animated content of a free and human individuality. If, however, what
is intrinsically ethical is to appear throughout as the substantive
foundation, the universal ground, shall we say, from which the growth
of personal action arrests our attention with equal force in its
disunion, and is no less brought back again from such divided movement
into unity, we shall find that there are two distinct modes under which
the ethical content of human action is asserted.

_First,_ we have the simple consciousness, which, in so far as it
wills its substantive content[42] wholly as the unbroken identity of
its particular aspects, remains in undisturbed, uncriticized, and
neutral tranquillity on its own account and as related to others.
This undivided and, we may add, purely formal[43] state of mind in
its veneration, its faith, and its happiness, however, is incapable
of attaching itself to any definite action; it has a sort of dread
before the disunion which is implied in such, although it does, while
remaining itself incapable of action, esteem at the same time that
spiritual courage which asserts itself resolutely and actively in a
self-proposed object, as of nobler worth, yet is aware of its inability
to undertake such enterprize, and consequently considers that it can
do nothing further for such active personalities, whom it respects so
highly, than contrast with the energy of their decision and conflict
the object of its own wisdom, in other words, the substantive ideality
of the ethical Powers.

The _second_ mode under which this ethical content is asserted is that
of the individual pathos,[44] which urges the active characters to
their moral self-vindication into the opposition they occupy relatively
to others, and brings them thereby into conflict. The individuals
subject to this pathos are neither what, in the modern use of the
term, we describe as characters, nor are they mere abstractions. They
are rather placed in the vital midway sphere between both, standing
there as figures of real stability, which are simply that which they
are, without aught of collision in themselves, without any fluctuating
recognition of some other pathos, and in so far--in this respect
a contrast to our modern irony--elevated, absolutely determinate
characters, whose definition, however, discovers its content and
basis in a particular ethical power. Forasmuch as, then, the tragic
situation first appears in the _antagonism_ of individuals who are
thus empowered to act, the same can only assert itself in the field
of actual human life. It results from the specific character of this
alone that a particular quality so affects the substantive content of
a given individual, that the latter identifies himself with his entire
interest and being in such a content, and penetrates it throughout with
the glow of passion. In the blessed gods, however, it is the divine
Nature, in its indifference, which is what is essential; in contrast
to which we have the contradiction, which in the last instance is not
treated seriously, rather is one which, as I have already noticed
when discussing the Homeric Epos, becomes eventually a self-resolving
irony. These two modes or aspects--of which the one is as important
for the whole as the other--namely, the unsevered consciousness of
the godlike, and the combating human action, asserted, however, in
godlike power and deed, which determines and executes the ethical
purpose--supply the two fundamental elements, the mediation of which is
displayed by Greek tragedy in its artistic compositions under the form
of _chorus_ and _heroic figures_ respectively.

In modern times, considerable discussion has been raised over the
significance of the Greek chorus, and the question has been raised
incidentally whether it can or ought to be introduced into modern
tragedy. In fact, the need of some such substantial foundation has
been experienced; but critics have found it difficult to prescribe
the precise manner in which effect should be given to such a change,
because they failed to grasp with sufficient penetration the nature
of that in which true tragedy consists and the necessity of the
chorus as an essential constituent of all that Greek tragedy implies.
Critics have, no doubt, recognized the nature of the chorus to the
extent of maintaining that in it we find an attitude of tranquil
meditation over the whole, whereas the characters of the action remain
within the limits of their particular objects and situations, and,
in short, receive in the chorus and its observations a standard of
valuation of their characters and actions in much the same way as the
public discovers in it, and within the drama itself, an objective
representative of its own judgment upon all that is thus represented.
In this view we have to this extent the fact rightly conceived, that
the chorus is, in truth, there as a substantive and more enlightened
intelligence, which warns us from irrelevant oppositions, and reflects
upon the genuine issue. But, granting this to be so, it is by no
means a wholly disinterested person, at leisure to entertain such
thoughts and ethical judgments as it likes as are the spectators,
which, uninteresting and tedious on its own account, could only be
attached for the sake of such reflections. The chorus is the actual
substance of the heroic life and action itself: it is, as contrasted
with the particular heroes, the common folk regarded as the fruitful
heritage, out of which individuals, much as flowers and towering trees
from their native soil, grow and whereby they are conditioned in this
life. Consequently, the chorus is peculiarly fitted to a view of life
in which the obligations of State legislation and settled religious
dogmas do not, as yet, act as a restrictive force in ethical and
social development, but where morality only exists in its primitive
form of directly animated human life, and it is merely the equilibrium
of unmoved life which remains assured in its stability against the
fearful collisions which the antagonistic energies of individual action
produces. We are made aware of the fact that an assured asylum of
this kind is also a part of our actual existence by the presence of
the chorus. It does not, therefore, practically co-operate with the
action; it executes by its action no right as against the contending
heroes; it merely expresses its judgment as a matter of opinion; it
warns, commiserates, or appeals to the divine law, and the ideal forces
imminent in the soul, which the imagination grasps in external guise
as the sphere of the gods that rule. In this self-expression it is, as
we have already seen, lyrical; for it does not act and there are no
events for it to narrate in epical form. The content, however, retains
at the same time the epic character of substantive universality; and
its lyric movement is of such a nature that it can, and in this respect
in contrast to the form of the genuine ode, approach at times that of
the paean and the dithyramb. We must lay emphatic stress upon this
position of the chorus in Greek tragedy. Just as the theatre itself
possesses its external ground, its scene and environment, so, too, the
chorus, that is the general community, is the spiritual scene; and we
may compare it to the architectural temple which surrounds the image
of the god, which resembles the heroes in the action. Among ourselves,
statues are placed under the open sky without such a background, which
also modern tragedy does not require, for the reason that its actions
do not depend on this substantive basis, but on the personal volition
and personality, no less than the apparently external contingency of
events and circumstances.

In this respect it is an entirely false view which regards the chorus
as an accidental piece of residuary baggage, a mere remnant from the
origins of Greek drama. Of course, it is incontestable that its source
is to be traced to the circumstance that, in the festivals of Bacchus,
so far as the artistic aspect is concerned, the choral song was of most
importance until the introduction and interruption of its course by
one reciter, whose relation finally was transformed into and exalted
by the real figures of dramatic action. In the blossoming season of
tragedy, however, the chorus was not by any means merely retained in
honour of this particular phase of the festival and ritual of the god
Bacchus; rather it became continuously more elaborate in its beauty and
harmonious measures by reason of the fact that its association with the
dramatic action is essential and, indeed, so indispensable to it that
the decline of tragedy is intimately connected with the degeneration of
the choruses, which no longer remain an integral member of the whole,
but are degraded to a mere embellishment. In contrast to this, in
romantic tragedy, the chorus is neither intrinsically appropriate nor
does it appear to have originated from choric songs. On the contrary,
the content is here of a type which defeats from the first any attempt
to introduce choruses as understood by Greek dramatists. For, even if
we go back to the most primitive of those so-called mysteries, morality
plays and farces of a similar character, from which the romantic drama
issued, we find that these present no action in that original Greek
sense of the term, no outbreak, that is, of opposing forces from the
undivided consciousness of life and the god-like. To as little extent
is the chorus adapted to the conditions of chivalry and the dominion
of kings, in so far as, in such cases, the attitude of the folk is one
of mere obedience, or it is itself a party, involved together with the
interest of its fortune or misfortune in the course of the action. And
in general the chorus entirely fails to secure its true position where
the main subject-matter consists of particular passions, ends, and
characters, or any considerable opportunity is admitted to intrigue.

In contrast to the chorus, the _second_ fundamental feature of dramatic
composition is that of the _individuals_ who act in _conflict_ with
each other. In Greek tragedy it is not at all the bad will, crime,
worthlessness, or mere misfortune, stupidity, and the like, which act
as an incentive to such collisions, but rather, as I have frequently
urged, the ethical right to a definite course of action.[45] Abstract
evil neither possesses truth in itself, nor does it arouse interest.
At the same time, when we attribute ethical traits of characterization
to the individuals of the action, these ought not to appear merely
as a matter of opinion. It is rather implied in their right or claim
that they are actually there as essential on their own account. The
hazards of crime, such as are present in modern drama--the useless, or
quite as much the so-called noble criminal, with his empty talk about
fate, we meet with in the tragedy of ancient literature, rarely, if at
all, and for the good reason that the decision and deed depends on the
wholly personal aspect of interest and character, upon lust for power,
love, honour, or other similar passions, whose justification has its
roots exclusively in the particular inclination and individuality. A
resolve of this character, whose claim is based upon the content of its
object, which it carries into execution in one restricted direction of
particularization, violates, under certain circumstances, which are
already essentially implied in the actual possibility of conflicts,
a further and equally ethical sphere of human volition, which the
character thus confronted adheres to, and, by his thus stimulated
action, enforces, so that in this way the collision of powers and
individuals equally entitled to the ethical claim is completely set up
in its movement.

The sphere of this content,[46] although capable of great variety of
detail, is not in its essential features very extensive. The principal
source of opposition, which Sophocles in particular, in this respect
following the lead of Æschylus, has accepted and worked out in the
finest way, is that of the _body politic_, the opposition, that is,
between ethical life in its social universality and the family as the
natural ground of moral relations. These are the purest forces of
tragic representation. It is, in short, the harmony of these spheres
and the concordant action within the bounds of their realized content,
which constitute the perfected reality of the moral life. In this
respect I need only recall to recollection the "Seven before Thebes"
of Æschylus and, as a yet stronger illustration, the "Antigone" of
Sophocles. Antigone reverences the ties of blood-relationship, the
gods of the nether world. Creon alone recognizes Zeus, the paramount
Power of public life and the commonwealth. We come across a similar
conflict in the "Iphigeneia in Aulis," as also in the "Agamemnon," the
"Choephorae," and "Eumenides" of Æschylus, and in the "Electra" of
Sophocles. Agamemnon, as king and leader of his army, sacrifices his
daughter in the interest of the Greek folk and the Trojan expedition.
He shatters thereby the bond of love as between himself and his
daughter and wife, which Clytemnestra retains in the depths of a
mother's heart, and in revenge prepares an ignominious death for her
husband on his return. Orestes, their son, respects his mother, but is
bound to represent the right of his father, the king, and strikes dead
the mother who bore him.

A content of this type retains its force through all times, and its
presentation, despite all difference of nationality, vitally arrests
our human and artistic sympathies.

Of a more formal type is that second kind of essential collision,
an illustration of which in the tragic story of Œdipus the Greek
tragedians especially favoured. Of this Sophocles has left us the
most complete example in his "Œdipus Rex," and "Œdipus in Colonos."
The problem here is concerned with the claim of alertness in our
intelligence, with the nature of the obligation[47] implied in that
which a man carries out with a volition fully aware of its acts as
contrasted with that which he has done in fact, but unconscious of
and with no intention of doing what he has done under the directing
providence of the gods. Œdipus slays his father, marries his mother,
begets children in this incestuous alliance, and nevertheless is
involved in these most terrible of crimes without active participation
either in will or knowledge. The point of view of our profounder modern
consciousness of right and wrong would be to recognize that crimes of
this description, inasmuch as they were neither referable to a personal
knowledge or volition, were not deeds for which the true personality of
the perpetrator was responsible. The plastic nature of the Greek on the
contrary adheres to the bare fact which an individual has achieved, and
refuses to face the division implied by the purely ideal attitude of
the soul in the self-conscious life on the one hand and the objective
significance of the fact accomplished on the other.

For ourselves, to conclude this survey, other collisions, which either
in general are related to the universally accepted association of
personal action to the Greek conception of Destiny, or in some measure
to more exceptional conditions, are comparatively speaking less

In all these tragic conflicts, however, we must above all place on one
side the false notion of _guilt_ or _innocence_. The heroes of tragedy
are quite as much under one category as the other. If we accept the
idea as valid that a man is guilty only in the case that a choice
lay open to him, and he deliberately decided on the course of action
which he carried out, then these plastic figures of ancient drama
are guiltless. They act in accordance with a specific character, a
specific pathos, for the simple reason that they are this character,
this pathos. In such a case there is no lack of decision and no choice.
The strength of great characters consists precisely in this that they
do not choose, but are entirely and absolutely just that which they
will and achieve. They are simply themselves, and never anything else,
and their greatness consists in that fact. Weakness in action, in
other words, wholly consists in the division of the personal self as
such from its content, so that character, volition and final purpose
do not appear as absolutely one unified growth; and inasmuch as no
assured end lives in the soul as the very substance of the particular
personality, as the pathos and might of the individual's entire will,
he is still able to turn with indecision from this course to that, and
his final decision is that of caprice. A wavering attitude of this
description is alien to these plastic creations. The bond between the
psychological state of mind and the content of the will is for them
indissoluble. That which stirs them to action is just in this very
pathos which implies an ethical justification and which, even in the
pathetic aspects of the dialogue, is not enforced in and through the
merely personal rhetoric of the heart and the sophistry of passion,
but in the equally masculine and cultivated objective presence, in
the profound possibilities, the harmony and vitally plastic beauty of
which Sophocles was to a superlative degree master. At the same time,
however, such a pathos, with its potential resources of collision,
brings in its train deeds that are both injurious and wrongful. They
have no desire to avoid the blame that results therefrom. On the
contrary, it is their fame to have done what they have done. One can in
fact urge nothing more intolerable against a hero of this type than by
saying that he has acted innocently. It is a point of honour with such
great characters that they are guilty. They have no desire to excite
pity or our sensibilities. For it is not the substantive, but rather
the wholly personal deepening[48] of the individual character, which
stirs our individual pain. These securely strong characters, however,
coalesce entirely with their essential pathos, and this indivisible
accord inspires wonder, but does not excite heart emotions. The drama
of Euripides marks the transition to that.

The final result, then, of the development of tragedy conducts us
to this issue and only this, namely, that the twofold vindication
of the mutually conflicting aspects are no doubt retained, but the
_onesided_ mode under which they were maintained is cancelled, and
the undisturbed ideal harmony brings back again that condition of
the chorus, which attributes without reserve equal honour to all
the gods. The true course of dramatic development consists in the
annulment of _contradictions_ viewed as such, in the reconciliation
of the forces of human action, which alternately strive to negate
each other in their conflict. Only so far is misfortune and suffering
not the final issue, but rather the satisfaction of spirit, as for
the first time, in virtue of such a conclusion, the necessity of all
that particular individuals experience, is able to appear in complete
accord with reason, and our emotional attitude is tranquillized on
a true ethical basis, rudely shaken by the calamitous result to the
heroes, but reconciled in the substantial facts. And it is only in so
far as we retain such a view securely that we shall be in a position to
understand ancient tragedy. We have to guard ourselves therefore from
concluding that a _dénouement_ of this type is merely a moral issue
conformably to which evil is punished and virtue rewarded, as indicated
by the proverb that "when crime turns to vomit, virtue sits down at
table." We have nothing to do here with this wholly personal aspect of
a self-reflecting personality and its conception of good and evil, but
are concerned with the appearance of the affirmative reconciliation and
with the equal validity of both the powers engaged in actual conflict,
when the collision actually took place. To as little extent is the
necessity of the issue a blind destiny, or in other words a purely
irrational, unintelligible fate, identified with the classical world
by many; rather it is the rationality of destiny, albeit it does not
as yet appear as self-conscious Providence, the divine final end of
which in conjunction with the world and individuals appears on its own
account and for others, depending as it does on just this fact that the
highest Power paramount over particular gods and mankind cannot suffer
this, namely, that the forces, which affirm their selfsubsistence
in modes that are abstract or incomplete, and thereby overstep the
boundary of their warrant, no less than the conflicts which result
from them, should retain their self-stability. Fate drives personality
back upon its limits, and shatters it, when it has grown overweening.
An irrational compulsion, however, an innocence of suffering would
rather only excite indignation in the soul of the spectator than
ethical tranquillity. From a further point of view, therefore, the
reconciliation of _tragedy_ is equally distinct from that of the
_Epos._ If we look at either Achilles or Odysseus in this respect we
observe that both attain their object, and it is right that they do
so; but it is not a continuous happiness with which they are favoured;
they have on the contrary to taste in its bitterness the feeling of
finite condition, and are forced to fight wearily through difficulties,
losses and sacrifices. It is in fact a universal demand of truth that
in the course of life and all that takes place in the objective world
the nugatory character of finite conditions should compel attention. So
no doubt the anger of Achilles is reconciled; he obtains from Agamemnon
that in respect of which he had suffered the sense of insult; he is
revenged upon Hector; the funeral rites of Patroclus are consummated,
and the character of Achilles is acknowledged in all its glory. But his
wrath and its reconciliation have for all that cost him his dearest
friend, the noble Patroclus; and, in order to avenge himself upon
Hector for this loss, he finds himself compelled to disengage himself
from his anger, to enter once more the battle against the Trojans,
and in the very moment when his glory is acknowledged receives the
prevision of his early death. In a similar way Odysseus reaches Ithaca
at last, the goal of his desire; but he does so alone and in his sleep,
having lost all his companions, all the war-booty from Ilium, after
long years of endurance and fatigue. In this way both heroes have paid
their toll to finite conditions and the claim of nemesis is evidenced
in the destruction of Troy and the misfortunes of the Greek heroes.
But this nemesis is simply justice as conceived of old, which merely
humiliates what is everywhere too exalted, in order to establish
once more the abstract balance of fortune by the instrumentality of
misfortune, and which merely touches and affects finite existence
without further ethical signification. And this is the justice of the
Epic in the field of objective fact, the universal reconciliation
of what is simply accommodation.[49] The higher conception of
reconciliation in tragedy is on the contrary related to the resolution
of specific ethical and substantive facts from their contradiction into
their true harmony. The way in which such an accord is established is
asserted under very different modes; I propose therefore merely to
direct attention to the fundamental features of the actual process
herein involved.

_Firsts_ we have particularly to emphasize the fact, that if it is
the onesidedness of the pathos which constitutes the real basis of
collisions this merely amounts to the statement that it is asserted in
the action of life, and therewith has become the unique pathos of a
particular individual. If this one-sidedness is to be abrogated then it
is this individual which, to the extent that his action is exclusively
identified with this isolated pathos, must perforce be stripped and
sacrificed. For the individual here is merely this single life, and,
if this unity is not secured in its stability on its own account, the
individual is shattered.

The most complete form of this development is possible when the
individuals engaged in conflict relatively to their concrete or
objective life appear in each case essentially involved in one whole,
so that they stand fundamentally under the power of that against which
they battle, and consequently infringe that, which, conformably to
their own essential life, they ought to respect. Antigone, for example,
lives under the political authority of Creon; she is herself the
daughter of a king and the affianced of Haemon, so that her obedience
to the royal prerogative is an obligation. But Creon also, who is
on his part father and husband, is under obligation to respect the
sacred ties of relationship, and only by breach of this can give an
order that is in conflict with such a sense. In consequence of this
we find immanent in the life of both that which each respectively
combats, and they are seized and broken by that very bond which is
rooted in the compass of their own social existence. Antigone is put
to death before she can enjoy what she looks forward to as bride, and
Creon too is punished in the fatal end of his son and wife, who commit
suicide, the former on account of Antigone's death, and the latter
owing to Haemon's. Among all the fine creations of the ancient and the
modern world--and I am acquainted with pretty nearly everything in
such a class, and one ought to know it, and it is quite possible--the
"Antigone" of Sophocles is from this point of view in my judgment the
most excellent and satisfying work of art.

The tragic issue does not, however, require in every case as a means
of removing both over-emphasized aspects and the equal honour which
they respectively claim the downfall of the contestant parties. The
"Eumenides" does not end, as we all know, with the death of Orestes,
or the destruction of the Eumenides, these avenging spirits of
matricide and filial affection, these opponents of Apollo, who seeks
to protect unimpaired the worth of and reverence for the family chief
and king, the god who had prompted Orestes to slay Clytaemnestra, but
will have Orestes released from the punishment and honour bestowed
on both himself and the Furies. At the same time we cannot fail to
see in this adjusted conclusion the nature of the authority which
the Greeks attached to their gods when they presented them as mere
individuals contending with each other. They appear, in short, to
the Athenian of everyday life merely as definite aspects of ethical
experience which the principles of morality viewed in their complete
and harmonious coherence bind together. The votes of the Areopagus are
equal on either side. It is Athene, the goddess, the life of Athens,
that is, imagined in its essential unity, who adds the white pebble,
who frees Orestes, and at the same time promises altars and a cult
to the Eumenides no less than Apollo. As a contrast to this type of
objective reconciliation the settlement may be, _secondly_, of a more
personal character. In other words, the individual concerned in the
action may in the last instance surrender his onesided point of view.
In this betrayal by personality of its essential pathos, however, it
cannot fail to appear destitute of character; and this contradicts the
masculine integrity of such plastic figures. The individual, therefore,
can only submit to a higher Power and its counsel or command, to the
effect that while on his own account he adheres to such a pathos, the
will is nevertheless broken in its bare obstinacy by a god's authority.
In such a case the knot is not loosened, but, as in the case of
Philoctetes, it is severed by a _deus ex machinâ._

But as a _further_ and final class, and one more beautiful than the
above rather external mode of resolution we have the reconciliation
more properly of the soul itself, in which respect there is, in
virtue of the personal significance, a real approach to our modern
point of view. The most perfect example of this in ancient drama is
to be found in the ever admirable "Œdipus Coloneus" of Sophocles. The
protagonist here has unwittingly slain his father, secured the sceptre
of Thebes, and the bridal bed of his own mother. He is not rendered
unhappy by these unwitting crimes; but the power of divination he has
of old possessed makes him realize, despite himself, the darkness
of the experience that confronts him, and he becomes fearfully, if
indistinctly, aware of what his position is.[50] In this resolution of
the riddle in himself he resembles Adam, losing his happiness when he
obtains the knowledge of good and evil. What he then does, the seer,
is to blind himself, then abdicate the throne and depart from Thebes,
very much as Adam and Eve are driven from Paradise. From henceforward
he wanders about a helpless old man. Finally a god calls the terribly
afflicted man to himself,[51] the man, that is, who refusing the
request of his sons that he should return to Thebes, prefers to
associate with the Erinnys; the man, in short, who extinguishes all
the disruption in himself and who purifies himself in his own soul.
His blind eyes are made clear and bright, his limbs are healed, and
become a treasure of the city which received him as a free guest. And
this illumination in death is for ourselves no less than for him the
more truly visible reconciliation which is worked out both in and for
himself as individual man, in and through, that is, his essential
character. Critics have endeavoured to discover here the temper of the
Christian life; we are told we have here the picture of a sinner, whom
God receives into His grace; and the fateful misfortunes which expire
in their finite condition, are made good with the seal of blessedness
in death. The reconciliation of the Christian religion, however, is an
illumination of the soul, which, bathed in the everlasting waters of
salvation, is raised above mortal life and its deeds. Here it is the
heart itself, for in such a view the spiritual life can effect this,
which buries that life and its deed in the grave of the heart itself,
counting the recriminations of earthly guilt as part and parcel of its
own earthly individuality; and which, in the full assuredness of the
eternally pure and spiritual condition of blessedness, holds itself in
itself calm and steadfast against such impeachment. The illumination of
Œdipus, on the contrary, remains throughout, in consonance with ancient
ideas, the restoration of conscious life from the strife of ethical
powers and violations to the renewed and harmonious unity of this
_ethical content itself._[52]

There is a further feature in this type of reconciliation, however,
and that is the _personal_ or ideal nature of the satisfaction. We may
take this as a point of transition to the otherwise to be contrasted
province of _comedy_.

(_ββ_) That which is comic is, as we have already seen, in general
terms the subjective or personal state, which forces and then
dissolves the action which issues from it by its own effect into and
in contradiction, remaining throughout and in virtue of this process
tranquil in its own self-assurance. Comedy possesses, therefore,
for its basis and point of departure that with which it is possible
for tragedy to terminate, that is, a soul to the fullest extent and
eventually reconciled, a joyous state, which, however much it is
instrumental in the marring of its volitional power, and, indeed, in
itself comes to grief, by reason of its asserting voluntarily what
is in conflict with its aim, does not therefore lose its general
equanimity. A personal self-assurance of this character, however is,
from a further point of view, only possible in so far as the ends
proposed, and withal the characters include nothing that is on its
own account essentially substantive; or, if they do possess such an
intrinsic worth, it is adopted and carried out intentionally under
a mode which is totally opposed to the genuine truth contained, in
a form, therefore, that is destitute of such truth, so that in this
respect, as in the previous case, it is merely that which is itself
essentially of no intrinsic importance, but a matter of indifference
which is marred, and the individual remains just as he was and

Such a view is, too, in its general lines the conception of the old
classic comedy, in so far as tradition reflects it in the plays of
Aristophanes. We should, however, be careful to notice the distinction
whether the individuals in the play are aware that they are comic,
or are so merely from the spectator's point of view. It is only the
first class that we can reckon as part of the genuine comedy in which
Aristophanes was a master. Conformably to such a type a character is
only placed in a ridiculous situation, when we perceive that he himself
is not serious in what is actually of such a quality in his purpose
and voluntary effort, so that this constituent of either is throughout
the means of his own undoing, inasmuch as throughout such a character
is unable to enter into any more noble and universally valid interest,
which necessarily involves it in a situation of conflict;[53] and,
even assuming that he does actually partake of it, merely does so in a
way that shows a nature, which, in virtue of its practical existence,
has already annihilated that which it appears to strive to bring into
operation, so that after all one sees such a coalescence has never been
really effected. The comic comes, therefore, rather into play among
classes of a lower social order in actual conditions of life, among
men who remain much as they are, and neither are able or desire to be
anything else; who, while incapable of any genuine pathos, have no
doubt whatever as to what they are and do. At the same time the higher
nature that is in them is asserted in this that they are not with any
seriousness attached to the finite conditions which hem them in, but
remain superior to the same and in themselves essentially steadfast and
self-reliant against mishap and loss. This absolute freedom of spirit,
which brings its own essential comfort from the first in all that a man
undertakes, this world of the blitheness of human soul-life is that to
which Aristophanes conducts us. Without a reading of him it is hardly
possible to imagine what a wealth of exuberance there is in the human

The interests among which this type of comedy moves are not necessarily
taken from the opposed spheres of religion, morality, and art. On the
contrary the old Greek comedy remains no doubt within the limits of
this positive and substantive content of human life; but it is the
individual caprice, the vulgar folly and perversity, by reason of
which the characters concerned bring to nought activities which in
their aim have a finer significance. And in this respect an ample and
very pertinent material is supplied Aristophanes partly by Greek gods,
and partly by the life of the Athenian people. In other words, the
configuration of the divine in human impersonation itself possesses, in
its mode of presentation and its particularization, to the extent at
least that it is further enforced in opposition to that which is merely
one-sided and human, the contradiction that is opposed to the nobility
of its significance; it is thus permitted to appear as a purely empty
extension of this personal life which is inadequate wholly to express
it. More particularly, however, Aristophanes revels in the follies of
the common folk, the stupidities of its orators and statesmen, the
blockheadedness of war, and is eager, above all, and with all the
politeness of his satire and the full weight of his ridicule, but also
not without the profoundest meaning, to hand over the new tendencies
of the tragedies of Euripides to the laughter of his fellow-citizens.
The characters he has imported into the substance of his amazing
artistic creations he runs into the mould of fool from the start with
a sportive fancy that seems inexhaustible, so that the very idea of a
rational result is impossible. He treats all alike, whether it be a
Strepsiades, who will join the ranks of philosophers in order to be
rid of his debts, or a Socrates, who offers to instruct the aforesaid
Strepsiades and his son, or Bacchus, whom he makes descend into the
lower world, in order to bring up a genuine tragic poet, and in just
the same way Cleon, the women and the Greeks, who would like to pump
up the goddess of Peace from the well. The key-note that we find in
all these various creations is the imperturbable self-assurance of
such characters one and all, which becomes all the more emphatic in
proportion as they prove themselves incapable of carrying into effect
that which they project. Our fools here are so entirely unembarrassed
in their folly, and also the more sensible among them possess such a
tincture of that which runs contrary to the very course upon which they
are set, that they all, the more sensible with the rest, remain fixed
to this personal attitude of prodigious imperturbility, no matter what
comes next or where it carries them. It is in fact the blessed laughter
of the Olympian gods, with their untroubled equanimity, now at home
in the human breast, and prepared for all contingences. And withal we
never find Aristophanes merely a cold or evil-disposed mocker. He was a
man of the finest education, a most exemplary citizen, to whom the weal
of Athens was of really deep importance, and who through thick and thin
shows himself to be a true patriot. What therefore is in the fullest
sense resolved in his comedies is, as already stated, not the divine
and what is of ethical import, but the thoroughgoing upside-down-ness
which inflates itself into the semblance of these substantive forces,
the particular form and distinctive mode of its manifestation, in which
the essential thing or matter is already from the first no longer
present, so that it can without restriction be simply handed over to
the unconcerned play of unqualified personal caprice. But for the very
reason that Aristophanes makes explicit the absolute contradiction
between the essential nature of the gods, or that of political and
social life, and the personal activities of individual persons or
citizens, who ought to endow such substantive form with reality, we
find in this very triumph of purely personal self-assertion, despite
all the profounder insight which the poet displays, one of the greatest
symptoms of the degeneracy of Greece. And it is on account of this that
these pictures of a wholly unperturbed sense of "everything coming
out right in the end" [54] are as a matter of fact the last important
harvest which we have from the poetry created by the exuberant genius,
culture, and wit of the Greek nation.

(_β_) I shall now direct attention to the dramatic art of the modern
world, and here, too, I only propose to emphasize the more general and
fundamental features which we find of importance, whether dealing with
tragedy or the ordinary drama and comedy.

(_αα_) Tragedy, in the nobility which distinguishes it in its ancient
plastic form, is limited to the partial point of view that for its
exclusive and essential basis it only enforces as effective the
ethically substantive content and its necessary laws; and, on the other
hand, leaves the individual and subjective self-penetration of the
dramatic characters essentially unevolved; while comedy on its part,
to complete what we may regard as the reversed side of such plastic
construction, exhibits to us the personal caprice of soul-life in the
unfettered abandonment of its topsy-turvydom and ultimate dissolution.

_Modern tragedy_ accepts in its own province from the first the
principle of subjectivity or self-assertion. It makes, therefore, the
personal intimacy of character--the character, that is, which is no
purely individual and vital embodiment of ethical forces in the classic
sense--its peculiar object and content. It, moreover, makes, in a type
of concurrence that is adapted to this end, human actions come into
collision through the instrumentality of the external accident of
circumstances in the way that a contingency of a similar character is
also decisive in its effect on the consequence, or appears to be so

In this connection we would subject to examination the following
fundamental points:

_Firsts_ the nature of the varied _ends_ which ought to come into
the executive process of the action as the content of the characters

_Secondly_, the nature of the tragic _characters_ themselves, as also
of the collisions they are compelled to face.

_Thirdly_, the nature of the final _issue_ and tragic reconciliation,
as these differ from those of ancient tragedy.

To start with, we may observe that, however much in romantic tragedy
the personal aspect of suffering and passions, in the true meaning
of such an attitude, is the focal centre, yet, for all that, it is
impossible in human activity that the ground basis of definite ends
borrowed from the concrete worlds of the family, the State, the
Church, and others should be dispensed with. In so far, however, as
in the drama under discussion, it is not the substantive content as
such in these spheres of life which constitutes the main interest of
individuals. Such ends are from a certain point of view particularized
in a breadth of extension and variety, as also in exceptional modes of
presentment, in which it often happens that what is truly essential is
only able to force itself on our attention with attenuated strength.
And over and above this fact, these ends receive an entirely altered
form. In the province of religion, for example, the content which
pre-eminently is asserted is no longer the particular ethical powers
exhibited imaginatively under the mode of divine individuals, either in
their own person or in the pathos of human heroes. It is the history of
Christ, or of saints and the like, which is now set before us. In the
political community it is mainly the position of kingship, the power of
vassal chiefs, the strife of dynasties, or the particular members of
one and the same ruling family which forms the content of the varied
picture. Nay, if we take a step further we find as the principal
subject-matter questions of civic or private right and other relations
of a similar character; and, further, we shall find a similar attention
paid to features in the family life which were not yet within the reach
of ancient drama. And the reason of this is that, inasmuch as in the
spheres of life above-mentioned the principle of the personal life in
its independence has asserted its claim, novel phases of existence make
their inevitable appearance in each one of them, which the modern man
claims to set up as the end and directory of his action.

And, from a further point of view in this drama, it is the right
of subjectivity, as above defined, absolutely unqualified, which is
retained as the dominating content; and for this reason personal love,
honour, and the rest make such an exclusive appeal as ends of human
action that, while in one direction other relations cannot fail to
appear as the purely external background on which these interests
of our modern life are set in motion, in another such relations on
their own account actively conflict with the requirements of the more
individual state of emotion. Of more profound significance still is
wrong and crime, even assuming that a particular character does not
deliberately and to start with place himself in either, yet does not
avoid in order to attain his original purpose.

And, furthermore, in contrast to this particularization and individual
standpoint, the ends proposed may likewise either in one direction
expand to cover the universality and all-inclusive embrace of the
content, or they are in another apprehended and carried into execution
as themselves intrinsically substantive. In the first respect, I will
merely recall to memory that typically philosophical tragedy, the
"Faust" of Goethe, in which, on the one hand, a spirit of disillusion
in the pursuit of science, and, on the other, the vital resources of a
worldly life and earthly enjoyment--in a word, the attempted mediation
in the tragic manner of an individual's wisdom and strife with the
Absolute in its essential significance and phenomenal manifestation,
offers a breadth of content such as no other dramatic poet has hitherto
ventured to include in one and the same composition. The "Carl Moor"
of Schiller is something of the same fashion. He rebels against the
entire order of civic society and the collective condition of the
world and the humanity of his time, and fortifies himself as such
against the same. Wallenstein in the same way conceives a great and
far-reaching purpose, the unity and peace of Germany, an object he
fails to carry into effect by the means which, in virtue of the fact
that they are wielded together in an artificial manner, and one that
lacks essential coherence, break in pieces and come to nought precisely
in the direction where he is most anxious of their success; and he
fails in the same way by reason of his opposition to the imperial
authority, upon which he himself and his enterprise are inevitably
shattered. Such objects of a world-wide policy, such as a Carl Moor or
a Wallenstein pursue, are as a rule not accomplished at the hands of
a single individual by the simple means that other men are induced to
obey and co-operate; they are carried into effect by the commanding
personality, partly acting in conjunction with the wills of many
others, and in part in opposition to, or at least on lines of which
they have no knowledge. As an illustration of a conception of objects
viewed in their essential significance, I will merely instance certain
tragedies of Calderon, in which love, honour, and similar virtues
are respectively to the rights and obligations in which they involve
the characters of the action, treated as so many unyielding laws of
independent force with all the stringency of a code. We find also
frequently much the same thing assumed in Schiller's tragic characters,
though the point of view is no doubt wholly different, at least to the
extent that such individuals conceive and combat for their ends with
the assumption they are universal and absolutely valid human rights. So
in the early play of "Kabale und Liebe" Major Ferdinand seeks to defend
the rights of Nature against the conveniences of fashionable society,
and, above all, claims of the Marquis Posa freedom of thought as an
inalienable possession of humanity.

Generally speaking, however, in modern tragedy it is not the
substantive content of its object in the interest of which men act,
and which is maintained as the stimulus of their passion; rather
it is the inner experience of their heart and individual emotion,
or the particular qualities of their personality, which insist on
satisfaction. For even in the examples already referred to we find that
to a real extent in those heroes of Spanish honour and love the content
of their ultimate ends is so essentially of a personal character that
the rights and obligations deducible from the same are able to fuse in
direct concurrence with the individual desires of the heart, and to a
large extent, too, in the youthful works of Schiller this continual
insistence upon Nature, rights of man, and a converted world somewhat
savours of the excess of a wholly personal enthusiasm. And if it came
about that Schiller in later years endeavoured to enforce a more mature
type of pathos, this was simply due to the fact that it was his main
idea to restore once again in modern dramatic art the principle of
ancient tragedy.

In order to emphasize still more distinctly the difference which in
this respect obtains between ancient and modern tragedy, I will merely
refer the reader to Shakespeare's "Hamlet." Here we find fundamentally
a collision similar to that which is introduced by Æschylus into his
"Choeporae" and that by Sophocles into his "Electra." For Hamlet's
father, too, and the King, as in these Greek plays, has been murdered,
and his mother has wedded the murderer. That which, however, in
the conception of the Greek dramatists possesses a certain ethical
justification--I mean the death of Agamemnon--relatively to his
sacrifice of Iphigeneia in the contrasted case of Shakespeare's play,
can only be viewed as an atrocious crime, of which Hamlet's mother
is innocent; so that the son is merely concerned in his vengeance to
direct his attention to the fratricidal king, and there is nothing in
the latter's character that possesses any real claim to his respect.
The real collision, therefore, does not turn on the fact that the son,
in giving effect to a rightful sense of vengeance, is himself forced
to violate morality, but rather on the particular personality, the
inner life of Hamlet, whose noble soul is not steeled to this kind of
energetic activity, but, while full of contempt for the world and life,
what between making up his mind and attempting to carry into effect or
preparing to carry into effect its resolves, is bandied from pillar
to post, and finally through his own procrastination and the external
course of events meets his own doom.

If we now turn, in close connection with the above conclusions, to
our _second_ point of fundamental importance in modern tragedy--that
is to say, the nature of the characters and their collisions--we
may summarily take a point of departure from the following general

The heroes of ancient classic tragedy discover circumstances under
which they, so long as they irrefragably adhere to the _one_ ethical
state of pathos which alone corresponds to their own already formed
personality, must infallibly come into conflict with an ethical
Power which opposes them and possesses an equal ethical claim to
recognition. Romantic characters, on the contrary, are from the first
placed within a wide expanse of contingent relations and conditions,
within which every sort of action is possible; so that the conflict,
to which no doubt the external conditions presupposed supply the
occasion, essentially abides within the _character_ itself, to which
the individuals concerned in their passion give effect, not, however,
in the interests of the ethical vindication of the truly substantive
claims, but for the simple reason that they are the kind of men they
are. Greek heroes also no doubt act in accordance with their particular
individuality; but this individuality, as before noted, if we take
for our examples the supreme results of ancient tragedy, is itself
necessarily identical with an ethical pathos which is substantive. In
modern tragedy the peculiar character in its real significance, and to
which it as a matter of accident remains constant, whether it happens
to grasp after that which on its own account is on moral grounds
justifiable, or is carried into wrong and crime, forms its resolves
under the dictate of personal wishes and necessities, or among other
things purely external considerations. In such a case, therefore,
though we may have a coalescence between the moral aspect of the object
and the character, yet, for all that, such a concurrence does not
constitute, and cannot constitute--owing to the divided character of
ends, passions, and the life wholly personal to the individual, the
_essential_ basis and objective condition of the depth and beauty of
the tragic drama.

In view of the great variety of difference which further separates
particular characters in this type of poetry, it is impossible to do
much in the way of generalization. I will, therefore, restrict myself
to a reference to the following fundamental points of view. A primary
opposition which at once invites notice is that of an _abstract_, and
consequently formal, characterization in its contrast with the actual
individuals whom we are accustomed to meet in the concrete living
world. As example of this type, we may with exceptional pertinency cite
the tragic characters of the French and Italians, which, originating
in the imitation of ancient drama, to a greater or less degree merely
amount to pure personifications of specific passions, such as love,
honour, fame, ambition, tyranny, and so forth, and which, while they
present the motives of their actions, as also the gradation and
quality of their emotions to the best advantage with a lavish display
of declamation, and all the arts of rhetoric, none the less by doing
so rather resemble the dramatic failures of Seneca than the dramatic
masterpieces of the Greeks. Spanish tragedy also receives the stamp
of this abstract style of character-drawing. In this case, however,
the pathos of love, in its conflict with honour, friendship, royal
prerogative, and the rest is itself of so abstract a subjective
character that in the case where the intention is to make this equally
ideal[55] substantiality stand out as the genuine object of interest,
a more complete particularization of characters is hardly feasible.
The characters of Spanish drama, however, often possess a certain kind
of solidity, and, if I may use the expression, inflexible personality,
however wanting in content it may be, a feature that is absent from
French work; and at the same time Spanish writers, here also in
contrast to the cold simplicity which the movement of French tragedies
exhibits even in their tragic composition, know how to make up with the
cleverly invented abundance of interesting situations and developments
the deficiency referred to in the matter of characterization.

In contrast to both these schools, and in their mastery of the
exposition of fully developed human characters and personality,
the English are exceptionally distinguished; and among them, and
soaring above the rest at an almost unapproachable height, stands
Shakespeare. For even in the cases where a purely formal passion,
as for instance ambition in Macbeth, or jealousy in Othello, claims
as its field the entire pathos[56] of his tragic hero, such an
abstraction impairs by no fraction the full breadth of the personality.
Despite of this restriction of analysis[57] the characters remain
throughout entire men. In fact, the more Shakespeare on the infinite
embrace of his world-stage, proceeds to develop the extreme limits
of evil and folly, to that extent, as I have already observed, on
these very boundaries--of course, not without real wealth of poetic
embellishment--he concentrates these characters in their limitations.
While doing so, however, he confers on them intelligence and
imagination; and, by means of the image in which they, by virtue of
that intelligence, contemplate themselves objectively as a work of art,
he makes them free artists of themselves, and is fully able, through
the complete virility and truth of his characterization, to awaken our
interest in criminals, no less than in the most vulgar and weak-witted
lubbers and fools. Of a similar nature is the style of expression he
makes his tragic characters adopt. It is at once individual, realistic,
emphatically vital, extraordinarily various, and, moreover, where
it seems advisable, it can rise to sublimity and is marked by an
overwhelming force of utterance. Its ideal intensity and its qualities
of invention are displayed in images and simile that flash from each
other with lightning rapidity. Its very rhetoric, here the barren
child of no school, but the growth of genuine emotion and penetration
into human personality, is such that, if we take into account this
extraordinary union of the directness of life itself and ideal
greatness of soul, we shall find it hard indeed to point to a single
other dramatic poet among the moderns whom we are entitled to rank in
his company. No doubt Goethe in his youth made a real effort to achieve
some approach to a like natural truth and detailed characterization;
but in the ideal force and exaltation of passion his rivalry collapses.
The style of Schiller, again, has shown an increasing tendency to
violent methods, the tempestuous expatiation of which lack the true
core of reality for their basis.

Modern characters also differ in the nature of their _constancy_ or
their spiritual _vacillation_ and distraction. We find, no doubt, the
weakness of indecision, the fluctuations of reflection, the weighing
of reasons, conformably to which a resolve should be directed, here
and there in classic drama, and more particularly in the tragedies
of Euripides. But Euripides is a writer whose tendency is already to
forsake the wholly plastic completeness of characterization and action
and to develop exceptional aspects of personal sensibility. In modern
tragedy we meet yet more frequently such vacillating characters, more
particularly on the ground that they are essentially under the sway
of two opposed passions, which make them fluctuate from one resolve
or one kind of deed to another. I have already made some observations
on this attitude of vacillation in another context, and will now
merely supplement this by stating that, although the tragic action
must depend on colliding factors, yet where we find such a division in
_one_ and the same individual such a concurrence is always attended
with precarious consequences. And the reason is that this disruption
into interests, which are opposed to each other, is due in part to an
obscurity and obtuseness of the intelligence, and in some measure,
too, to weakness and immaturity. We come across characters of this
type in the creations of Goethe's younger days, notably Weisungen,
Fernando in "Stella," and above all Clavigo. They are, as we may
say, double men, who are unable to secure a ready, and so stable,
individuality. It is wholly another matter when two opposed spheres of
life or moral obligation are equally sacred to a character which, on
its own account, is not deficient in stability, and such a person is
under the necessity of ranking himself on _one_ side to the exclusion
of the other. In a case of that kind, the vacillation is merely a
moment of passage, and does not itself constitute, as it were, the
nervous system of the character. Again, of a somewhat similar kind,
is the tragic case where the spiritual life is seduced, despite its
nobler purpose, into objects of passion which are contradictory[58]
to the same, as in the case of Schiller's "Holy Maid," and are then
forced to seek a recovery from this division of the soul in their own
intimate or objective life, or pay the penalty. At the same time, this
personal tragedy of the distraction of soul-life, when it is made the
pivot on which the tragic action revolves,[59] contains, as a rule,
what is merely pitiful and painful, or, from another standpoint,
exasperating;[60] and the poet will rather do better to avoid it than
go out of his way to find it and develop it. The worst case is that,
however, where such a vacillation and veering round of character and
the entire personality is--the very dialectic of art being thrown awry
for this purpose--made the principle of the entire presentation, as
though the truth of all importance was to demonstrate that no character
is in itself firmly rooted and self-assured. The one-sided ends of
specific passions, it is true, ought not to bring about a realization
which is secured without a battle; and also, in everyday life, they
cannot fail to experience, through the reactionary power of conditions
and individuals which oppose them, their finite character and lack
of stability. An issue of this kind, however, before the appearance
of which we are unable to get the pertinent conclusion, ought not to
be introduced as a dialectical piece of wheel adjustment[61] in the
personality itself; if it is, the person concerned, viewed as _this_
personal state of the soul, is a wholly empty and undefined form,
whose collective living growth is found, no less in respect to its
objects than in its character, to be wholly wanting in definition. In
much the same way the case, also, is otherwise, where the change in
the spiritual condition of the entire man itself appears as a direct
consequent of just this, its own kind of self-detachment, so that only
that is developed and emphasized which essentially and from the first
lay secured in the character. As an example, we find in Shakespeare's
Lear that the original folly of the old man is intensified to the point
of madness much in the same way that Gloster's spiritual blindness is
converted into actual physical blindness, in which for the first time
his eyes are opened to the true distinction in the love he entertains
for his two sons respectively. It is precisely Shakespeare who, as a
contrast to that exposition of vacillating and essentially self-divided
characters, supplies us with the finest examples of essentially stable
and consequential characters, who go to their doom precisely in virtue
of this tenacious hold upon themselves and their ends. Unsupported by
the sanction of the moral law, but rather carried onward by the formal
necessity of their personality, they suffer themselves to be involved
in their acts by the coil of external circumstances, or they plunge
blindly therein and maintain themselves there by sheer force of will,
even where all that they do is merely done because they are impelled to
assert themselves against others, or because they have simply come to
the particular point they have reached. The rise of insurgent passion,
one essentially consonant with a certain type of character, one which
has not as yet fully emerged, but now secures its utmost expansion,
this onward movement and process of a great soul, with all the intimate
traits of its evolution, this picture of its selfdestructive conflict
with circumstances, human and objective conditions and results, is the
main content of some of Shakespeare's most interesting tragedies.

The last of the subjects which we have still to discuss as proposed
is the nature of the _tragic issue_ which characters in our present
drama have to confront, as also the type of tragic _reconciliation_
compatible with such a standpoint. In ancient tragedy it is the eternal
justice which, as the absolute might of destiny, delivers and restores
the harmony of substantive being in its ethical character by its
opposition to the particular forces which, in their strain to assert
an independent subsistence, come into collision, and which, in virtue
of the rational ideality implied in its operations, satisfies us even
where we see the downfall of particular men. In so far as a justice
of the same kind is present in modern tragedy, it is necessarily, in
part, more abstract on account of the closer differentiation of ends
and characters, and, in part, of a colder nature and one that is more
akin to that of a criminal court, in virtue of the fact that the wrong
and crime into which individuals are necessarily carried, in so far
as they are intent upon executing their designs, are of a profounder
significance. Macbeth, for instance, the elder daughters of Lear and
their husbands, the president in "Kabale und Liebe," Richard III,
and many similar examples, on account of their atrocious conduct,
only deserve the fate they get. This type of _dénouement_ usually is
presented under the guise that individuals are crushed by an actual
force which they have defied in order to carry out their personal aims.
Wallenstein, for example, is shattered on the adamantine wall of the
imperial power; but the old Piccolomini, who, in order to maintain the
lawful régime, betrays a friend and misuses the rights of friendship,
is punished through the death and sacrifice of his son. Götz von
Berlichingen, too, attacks a dominant and securely founded political
order, and goes to ground, as also Weislingen and Adelheid, who range
themselves, no doubt, on the side of this organized power, but, through
wrongful deed and disloyalty, prepare the way to disaster. And along
with this we have the demand emphasized, in virtue of the personal
point of view of such characters, that these should of necessity appear
themselves to acknowledge the justice of their fate. Such a state of
acceptance may either be of a religious nature, in which case the
soul becomes conscious of a more exalted and indestructible condition
of blessedness with which to confront the collapse of its mundane
personality; or it may be of a more formal, albeit more worldly, type,
in so far, that is, as the strength and equanimity of the character
persists in its course up to the point of overthrow without breaking
asunder; and in this way, despite all circumstances and mischances,
preserves with unimpaired energy its personal freedom. Or, as a final
alternative, where the substance of such acceptance is of more real
value, by the recognition that the lot which the individual receives is
the one, however bitter it may be, which his action merits.

From another point of view, however, we may see the tragic issue
also merely in the light of the effect of unhappy circumstances
and external accidents, which might have brought about, quite as
readily, a different result and a happy conclusion. From such a
point of view we have merely left us the conception that the modern
idea of individuality, with its searching definition of character,
circumstances, and developments, is handed over essentially to the
contingency of the earthly state, and must carry the fateful issues
of such finitude. Pure commiseration of this sort is, however,
destitute of meaning; and it is nothing less than a frightful kind of
external necessity in the particular case where we see the downfall
of essentially noble natures in their conflict thus assumed with the
mischance of purely external accidents. Such a course of events can
insistently arrest our attention; but in the result it can only be
horrible, and the demand is direct and irresistible that the external
accidents ought to accord with that which is identical with the
spiritual nature of such noble characters. Only as thus regarded can we
feel ourselves reconciled with the grievous end of Hamlet and Juliet.
From a purely external point of view, the death of Hamlet appears as
an accident occasioned by his duel with Laertes and the interchange of
the daggers. But in the background of Hamlet's soul, death is already
present from the first. The sandbank of finite condition will not
content his spirit. As the focus of such mourning and weakness, such
melancholy, such a loathing of all the conditions of life, we feel from
the first that, hemmed within such an environment of horror, he is a
lost man, whom the surfeit of the soul has wellnigh already done to
death before death itself approaches him from without. The same thing
may be observed in the case of Romeo and Juliet. The ground on which
these tender blossoms have been planted is alien to their nature; we
have no alternative left us but to lament the pathetic transiency of
such a beautiful love, which, as some tender rose in the vale of this
world of accident, is broken by rude storms and tempests, and the
frangible reckonings of noble and well-meaning devices. This pitiful
state of our emotions is, however, simply a feeling of reconciliation
that is painful, a kind of _unhappy blessedness_ in misfortune.

(_ββ_) Much as poets present to us the bare downfall of particular
people they are also able to treat the similar contingency of the
development of events in such a way, that, despite of the fact the
circumstances in all other respects would appear to give them little
enough support, a happy issue of such conditions and characters is
secured, in which they elicit our interest. No doubt the favour of
such a destiny of events has at least an equal claim upon us as the
disfavour. And so far as the question merely concerns the nature of
this difference, I must admit that I prefer a happy conclusion. How
could it be otherwise? I can myself discover no better ground for the
preference of misfortune, simply on its own account as such, to a
happy resolution than that of a certain condition of fine sensibility,
which is devoted to pain and suffering, and experiences more interest
in their presence than in painless situations such as it meets with
every day. If therefore the interests are of such a nature, that it is
really not worth the trouble to sacrifice the men or women concerned
on their altar, it being possible for them either to surrender their
objects, without making such surrender as is equivalent to a surrender
of their individuality, or to mutually come to an agreement in respect
thereof, there is no reason why the conclusion should be tragic. The
tragic aspect of the conflicts and their resolution ought in principle
merely to be enforced in the cases where it is actually necessary
in order to satisfy the claim of a superior point of view. If this
necessity is absent there is no sufficient ground for mere suffering
and unhappiness. And it is simply due to this fact that social _plays_
and _dramas_ originate which form, as it were, an intermediate link
between tragedies and comedies. I have already in a previous passage
explained the poetical standpoint of this class of composition. Among
us Germans we find it to some extent appropriating what readily moves
us in the world of the citizen and family life; in another direction
it is preoccupied with chivalry, a movement to which the Götz of
Goethe has given a decided stimulus; mainly, however, we may call it
the triumph of _ordinary morality_, which in the large majority of
cases is the main thing celebrated. The subject-matter of such plays
most in vogue are questions of finance or property, differences of
status, unfortunate love affairs, examples of spiritual baseness in
the more restricted conditions and affairs of life and so on. In one
word, what we have here is that which otherwise is already before our
eyes, only with this difference, that in such moral dramas, virtue and
duty obtain the victory, and crime is shamed and punished, or betakes
itself to repentance, so that in a moral conclusion of this kind the
reconciliation ought to centre in this, namely, that whatever happens
good is the result. Thereby the fundamental interest is concentrated
in the personal or spiritual quality of views held and a good or evil
heart. The more, however, the abstractly moral state of mind or heart
supplies the pivot on which all turns, so much the less can it be the
pathos of a particular matter, or an intrinsically essential object, to
which the personality in question is attached. And add to this, from
a further point of view, so much the less ultimately is the definite
character able to maintain itself and persist in such self-assertion.
If all is to be finally focussed in the purely moral aspects of the
psychological state, or the condition of the heart, from a subjective
point of view such as this, with its dominating emphasis on ethical
reflection, no standing ground remains for any other definite
characteristics, or at least specific ends to be proposed. Let the
heart break and change its views. Such seems to be the idea. Pathetic
dramas of this type, notably Kotzebue's "Menschenhass und Reue,"
and also too many moral offences in the dramas of Iffland, strictly
speaking, have therefore an issue which we can neither call good or
bad. I mean by this that the main thing is as a rule the question of
pardon and the promise of moral improvement, and we are therefore
confronted with that possibility of spiritual conversion and surrender
of the self. No doubt in this fact we discover the exalted nature and
greatness of Spirit. When, however, the jolly dog,[62] as the heroes
of Kotzebue are for the most part, and not unfrequently Iffland's too,
after being a scamp and a rascal, suddenly promises to turn over a new
leaf, it is frankly impossible with a good-for-nothing chap of this
sort that his conversion can be otherwise than mere pretence, or of so
superficial a character that it merely affects his skin, and merely
supplies a momentary conclusion to the course of events that has no
substantial basis, but rather, by all ordinary reckoning, will take the
knave to disreputable quarters, if we will only acquaint ourselves with
his subsequent history.

(_γγ_) As regards our _modern comedy_ I must draw particular attention
to one point of difference, to which I have already alluded when
discussing the old Attic comedy. The point is this--whether the
folly and restricted outlook of the characters of the drama merely
appears ridiculous to others, or is equally perceived as such by those
persons themselves; whether in short the comic characters are an
object of laughter only to the audience, or also to such characters.
Aristophanes, that creator of genuine comedy, exclusively accepted
as the main principle of his plays the latter alternative. Already,
however, in Greek comedy of a later date, and subsequently in the hands
of Plautus and Terence, the opposite principle came into vogue; and in
our modern examples of comedy it has been carried to such a length that
we find a large number of comic compositions the inclination of which
is more or less the subject-matter which is ridiculous in a purely
prosaic sense, or rather we might say matters that leave a sour taste
in the mouth of and are repugnant to the comic characters. This is
the standpoint of Molière in particular in his best comedies, which
have no right to be regarded as farces. The prosaic quality here is
justified on the ground that the objects aimed at by such characters
are a matter of bitter earnest. They are deadly serious in the pursuit
of it; they are therefore quite unable to join with satisfaction in the
laughter, when they are finally deceived, or themselves are responsible
for its failure. They are in short merely the disillusioned objects of
a laughter foreign to themselves and generally damaging to themselves.
As an example: Molière's Tartuffe _le faux dévot_, viewed as the
unmasking of a really damned rascal has nothing funny in it, but is a
very earnest business, and the deception of the deluded Orgon amounts
to a sheer intensity of misfortune, which can only be resolved by the
_Deus ex machina_, in reference to whom the official of the court of
justice utters the following exhortation:

    Remettez-vous, monsieur, d'une alarme si chaude.
    Nous vivons sous un prince, ennemi de la fraude,
    Un prince dont les yeux se font jour dans les coeurs,
    Et que ne peut tromper tout l'art des imposteurs.

We may add, too, that the odious abstract[63] excess of characters
so stable as, for example, Molière's "Miser," the absolutely stolid
and serious subjection of whom to his idiotic passion renders any
emancipation from such fetters impossible, contains in it nothing that
is genuinely comic.

It is pre-eminently in this field that for compensation of such defects
a fine artistic power in the accurate and exhaustive delineation of
character is manifested, or a true mastery of the craft discovers its
best opportunity for an admirably thought-out intrigue. As a rule the
occasion for such an intrigue is supplied by the circumstance that some
character or other endeavours to secure his objects by deluding some
one else, such a course appearing to harmonize with these interests
and advance them. As a matter of fact, however, it only results in the
contradictory situation that it is through this pernicious demand they
are self-destructive. In opposition to such a plot we find as a rule
a similar plot of dissembled appearances put in motion, which has for
its object the like confusion of the original plotter. Such a general
scheme admits of an infinite number and degree of ups and downs in the
interweaving of its situations which are adapted to every conceivable
subtlety. The Spaniards are, in particular, the most consummate masters
in the invention of such intrigues and developments, and have composed
much that is delightful and excellent in this class of work. The
subject-matter generally consists of the attractive incidents of love
or affairs of honour and the like. In tragedy these bring about the
profoundest collisions; in comedy, however, where such qualities as
pride and love that has been long experienced do not assert themselves
as such, but rather by doing the reverse and in the result give the
lie to themselves, such interests can merely appear to us as entirely
superficial and comic.[64] A word in conclusion as to the characters
who hatch and carry out such intrigues. Such are usually, following
the example of the slaves in the Roman comedy, servants or menials,
who have no respect for the objects of their superiors, but rather
make them subordinate to their own advantage or bring them to nought,
and merely present us with the amusing position, that the real masters
are the servants and the masters the slaves, or at least give rise to
all kinds of comic situation, which come about accidentally, or are
directly the result of intention. We of course, as audience, are in the
know of such mysteries, and can fortify ourselves against every sort of
cunning and deceit, which often carries the most serious consequences
to fathers, uncles, aunts, and the rest, all of the most respectable
antecedents; and we may laugh as we please over the contradictory
situations that appear before us, or are involved in such ingenious

In this kind of way our modern comedy, generally speaking, gives play
on the stage to private interests and personalities of the social life
I have mentioned in their accidental vagaries, laughable features,
abnormal habits and follies, partly by means of character delineation,
and partly with the help of comic developments of situations and
circumstances. A joviality so frank and genial as that which persists
in the Aristophanic comedy as the mediating element of its resolution,
does not animate this kind of comedy; or rather cases occur where
it can be actually repulsive, that is to say, where that which is
essentially evil, the tricks of menials, the treachery of sons and
wards towards worthy men, fathers and guardians is triumphant, always
assuming that the persons deluded have in no way themselves been
influenced by false prejudices or eccentricities of such a kind that
there is some reason why they should be made to appear ridiculous in
their helpless stupidity and handed over as the sport of the aims of

In a converse way, however, and in contrast as such to the above
generally prosaic type of treatment, the modern world, too, has
elaborated a world of comedy which is both truly comic and poetical
in its nature. The fundamental note here again is the cheeriness of
disposition, the inexhaustible resources of fun, no matter what may
be the nature of miscarriage or bad luck, the exuberance and dash of
what is at bottom nothing better than pure tomfoolery, and, in a word,
exploited self-assurance. We have here as a result, in yet profounder
expatiation, and yet more intense display of humour, whether the sphere
of it be more restricted or capacious, and whether the mode of it be
more or less important, what runs on parallel lines with that which
Aristophanes in the ancient world and in his own field created beyond
all rivalry. As the master, who in a similar way outshines all others
in his field, or rather the particular portion to which I now refer,
I will, though without now further entering into detail, once again
emphasize the name of William Shakespeare.


Having completed our review of the types under which comedy is
elaborated we have at last reached the absolute conclusion of our
scientific inquiry. We started with symbolical art, in which the
ideality of the human soul struggles to discover itself as content
and configuration, and, in a word, to become an object to itself.
We passed on to the plastic of classical art, which displays to
human vision that which has become unveiled to itself as substantive
being in man's vital personality. We reached our conclusion in the
romantic art of the individual soul-life, that inward world united to
the absolute medium of its self-conscious energy, which expatiates
unfettered within its own ideal life of Spirit; and which, content
with that realm, no longer unites itself with what is objective
and particularized, and finally makes itself aware of the negative
significance of such a resolution in the humour of the comic Spirit.
Nevertheless we find that in this very consummation it is Comedy which
opens the way to a dissolution of all that human art implies. For
the aim of all art is nothing else than that identity asserted and
displayed by the human Spirit, in which the eternal, the Divine, the
essential and explicated truth is unfolded in the forms and phenomenal
presence of the objective world to the apprehension of our external
senses and our emotional life and imagination. If, however, as is the
fact, comedy merely enforces this unity under a mode that annihilates
it, inasmuch as the absolute substance,[65] which strives here to
enforce its realized manifestation, perceives that this realization
is,--through the instrumentality of those interests which have now
secured an independent freedom within the embrace of the objective
world of Nature,[66] and are as such exclusively directed to what is
contingent and personal to the soul,--itself shattered, it follows that
the presence and activity of the Absolute is no longer truly asserted
in positive coalescence with the individual characters and ends of
existing objective reality, but rather solely gives effect to itself in
the negative form that everything which does not correspond with itself
is thereby cancelled, and all that remains is the presence of this
free personal activity of soul-life which is displayed in and along
with this dissolution as aware of itself and self-assured.

By such a path, then, as this we have arrived at our goal; and with
the aid of our philosophical method have gathered every essential type
and determinant of the beauty and conformation of art into a garland,
the task of arranging which in its associate completeness belongs to
the most worthy of any within the range of human science to undertake.
For in human Art we are not merely dealing with playthings, however
pleasant or useful they may be, but with the liberation of the human
Spirit from the substance and forms of finite condition. We are
occupied with the presence and reconciliation of the Absolute in sense
and the phenomenal, with a revelation of truth, which is not exhausted
of its wealth in natural-history, but is unfolded in the history of
the world, as a constituent part of which Art supplies us with the
most beautiful point of view, the most generous reward for the severe
labours of our contact with objective reality and the grievous pains
of knowledge. And for this reason it was impossible that our inquiry
should wholly restrict itself to the criticism of individual works
of art, or any mere recipe or inducement to their production. Rather
it could have but the one object, namely, that of following up, of
seizing and retaining in and through the instrumentality of thought the
fundamental notion of beauty and art through all the stages which it
passes in its process of realization.

If I may be permitted to assume that from the above explained point
of view my exposition has not been wholly inadequate to general
expectation, and that the bonds of obligation with which I have
throughout been united to my reader in the pursuit of an object which
we hold in common are now released, I will merely add the wish, it is
my last word, that a bond yet more exalted and indestructible with the
idea of beauty and truth may rivet itself between us in place of that
released, and establish an union which shall now and for good remain

[Footnote 1: _Diess treibende Pathos._ Pathos is here used to signify
the emotional state. This "motive force" would give the sense.]

[Footnote 2: _Als konkretes Daseyn zur Existence gebracht._]

[Footnote 3: _In der äusseren Objektivität._]

[Footnote 4: The reference is of course to lyric composition. By _reale
Individualisirung_ Hegel seems to refer to the apprehension by the
lyric poet of the individual subjective experience in its independent

[Footnote 5: What Hegel means apparently by this statement is that
the results of the action are in the view of the persons concerned
primarily referred to their own act of volition and sense of
responsibility, and as such they modify their future intention or

[Footnote 6: Poet. c. 5.]

[Footnote 7: _Einem colliderenden Handeln._]

[Footnote 8: As lyric poetry is.]

[Footnote 9: Poet., c. 7.]

[Footnote 10: The fact should be noted, however, that in the
illustration each division is a complete whole in itself.]

[Footnote 11: Hegel apparently means this by his reference to _die
beiden ersten Elemente_, but the passage is not very clear.]

[Footnote 12: _Gehalt_. That is, an imaginative personality, which
seizes the type and our general humanity.]

[Footnote 13: In this obscure passage I have rather sought to emphasize
what appears to me the general sense than adhere to literal accuracy.
What is contrasted is clearly the naturalism of such a diction as
Schiller's "Robbers" and the French classic diction.]

[Footnote 14: _Der Allgemeinheit._ We should say of "a more ideal or
creative atmosphere." The creative poet imports his own universality
into the final result both of diction and imaginative conception. Hegel
adheres to the philosophical term, which, apart from explanation, is
certainly very bald, and even, as it stands, unintelligible.]

[Footnote 15: It is not very clear to what Hegel here refers unless to
the fact that female parts were played by youths.]

[Footnote 16: We should say rather "stunned as by a blow,"
_zerschmettert,_ rather than _zerschnitten._]

[Footnote 17: _Eines grossen Gemüths._ It is not clear how far the
reference is to the poet or the characters. It applies to both.]

[Footnote 18: Poet., c. 4.]

[Footnote 19: Vol. I, pp. 355-379.]

[Footnote 20: Poet., c. 6.]

[Footnote 21: Apart from the practical impossibility of enforcing such
a condition in modern times, Hegel appears here rather to overlook
the fact that the printing of a work is of great convenience, and may
even involve less expense where its repetition in several theatres is
possible, and, after all, important drama is literature. Where the art
is bad it is no more possible to prevent its appearance, if the artist
is able to afford the expense of publication, than in any other art.
In the one case as in the other public taste and the law of supply and
demand are here the sole and ultimate tests. Sophocles may have written
his dramas, no doubt, with a particular stage in view, but we are not
therefore entitled to conclude that either he or Aristophanes would
have refused assent to the publication of any or all of their works had
there been a publisher willing to accept responsibility. Most certainly
we may suppose that Shakespeare would not have done so, at least after
due representation and revision. I have, however, met with students of
Shakespeare who maintain that no complete autograph manuscript of any
single drama of this poet ever existed.]

[Footnote 22: I think it is obvious that if we take the case of the
finest musical reproduction by individual artists of the first rank
this distinction is not so emphatic as Hegel would make it out to
be. A really great musical performance is something much more than a
reproduction of musical sound. The effect of personality plays here a
part of real and essential importance.]

[Footnote 23: _Rollenfächer._ Hegel may possibly mean "the professional
adjustment of harmonious castes."]

[Footnote 24: See vol. III, pp. 427-430.]

[Footnote 25: _Unmittelbaren Individualität._ Hegel means the
individuality that is abstract, not soldered into the substance of
concrete human life.]

[Footnote 26: _Das Göttliche._]

[Footnote 27: _In Gegentheil seiner._ Hegel means, apparently, that the
principle asserts itself positively rather than as the mere negation of
the finite, as in exclusive asceticism.]

[Footnote 28: _Das Sittliche_, _i.e.,_ concrete ethical condition.]

[Footnote 29: Hegel appears to understand by pathos here little more
than a psychological state.]

[Footnote 30: _Element_, _i.e.,_ apparently, "this primitive impulse of

[Footnote 31: Hegel's language, _wenn sie itzt aber wirklich_, seems to
go as far as my translation. The difficulty of the entire passage, and
it is no doubt considerable, is primarily due to the fact that Hegel
is here importing into the notion of classic divinities the profounder
significance of what he calls _sittlichen Mächte_. By doing this he
can more readily shelve the problem how we are to regard the nature of
their existence as potential forces of the Divine Being; that is, apart
from their operative energy in human life, as also the _modus operandi_
of such Divine energy in its original participation with a real
world. He avoids, no doubt, one of the most disputed aspects of his
philosophy. But if it is urged in criticism that at least in part his
present exposition tends rather to vagueness, or at least to accept a
certain measure of symbolism rather than remain severely on the ground
of genuine philosophical method and thought, to associate itself rather
with Plato than Aristotle, in the present context, at any rate, I am
inclined to agree with it.]

[Footnote 32: _Der Gewalt des Anundfürsichseyenden._ Lit., of that
which is or becomes explicit on its own account, i.e., essentially.
Hegel refers, of course, to the ethical forces in the process of life.]

[Footnote 33: Hegel here uses the word _einig_ rather in its secondary
sense than in its primary one of _unique._]

[Footnote 34: _Als das zu Erhaltende,_ viz., the consistency of
concrete life.]

[Footnote 35: By _ihrer unendlichen Sicherheit_ Hegel refers to
the stability of the principle of self-conscious, and self-assured
character, which in its weakness may be merely equivalent to

[Footnote 36: _Wohlgemuthkeit und Zuversicht_.]

[Footnote 37: Hegel seems to have in his mind characters in comedy of
which Falstaff may be taken as a supreme example, and Shakespeare above
all the creator of many such. Roy Richmond and Sancho Panza are of the
same type.]

[Footnote 38: _Der in der Menschenbrust waltenden Götter._]

[Footnote 39: In no religious or even strictly ethical sense of course.]

[Footnote 40: I am not quite sure what Hegel means by his use here of
the word _Versühnung_, lit., reconciliation. I presume he means a power
of harmonious recovery, whether in a good sense is not quite clear.]

[Footnote 41: Formal as contrasted with really ethical content.]

[Footnote 42: _Die Substanz_. I presume this is the meaning, _i.e_.,
the substantive ideality of the ethical forces inherent in man. The
entire passage is sufficiently difficult to translate, or indeed wholly
to follow, or at least apart from its subsequent application to the
chorus of Tragedy.]

[Footnote 43: _Allgemeine._ Formal in the sense that such a state is
not concretely realized in action, but restricts itself to the ideal
homogeneity of its form.]

[Footnote 44: It is perhaps best to repeat Hegel's own phrase.]

[Footnote 45: _Die sittliche Berechtigung zu einer bestimmten That._
The context shows that Hegel does not merely mean the justification in
the individual conscience, which is demanded by and perfected in such
activity, but the actual ethical claim which is vindicated in such

[Footnote 46: That is, the content of the dramatic action in Greek

[Footnote 47: By _Rechtfertigung_ Hegel here seems to mean not so much
the vindicated right as the degree of responsibility which a certain
attitude of mind involves. It is the nature of the subjection to the
vindicated right, or its absence.]

[Footnote 48: By _die subjektive Vertiefung der Persönlichkeit_ Hegel
would seem to mean the psychological analysis of character on its own

[Footnote 49: _Blosser Ausgleichung._ The metaphor seems to be that of
a final settlement of accounts, a general settlement would be perhaps a
better translation.]

[Footnote 50: Hegel's statement is hardly supported by the facts as
they are narrated in the "Œdipus Rex." It is the force of facts rather
than a power of prevision, which arouse the knowledge of the terrible
truth. But Hegel is here evidently most absorbed in the ideal and
universal significance of the drama.]

[Footnote 51: That is, of course, in death. Sophocles himself of course
only very indefinitely, through the evidence of an eye-witness, refers
to such a possible apotheosis.]

[Footnote 52: The statement of the general contrast is no doubt true
enough. It may be doubted, however, whether Hegel's own interpretation
of the reconciliation of Œdipus as one consummated in death can be
wholly brought under the ancient conception. It would seem truer to
admit that in the spirit at least of the "Œdipus Coloneus" we have, at
least in so far as that reconciliation is objective, and not merely a
reconciling influence on our minds, the spectators, as in the case of
the deaths of King Lear or Cornelia, in the sense that "death makes all
things sweet," a mysterious approach to problems which Christianity
first attempted seriously to solve, and which are usually regarded
as insoluble without the assumption of a future state, or at least
a divine absorption. Even admitting that Œdipus in his death became
a real constituent of the harmonious unity of the civic life that
received him, we cannot with truth say that such a reconciliation was
one in which he shared personally, and whereof he was conscious, except
in so far as he was aware of this by prevision; and to that extent the
reconciliation was not in his death, but rather, as in the Christian
view, a condition of the soul, a conviction that by his death he would
live again,--almost identical in fact with some modern interpretations
of immortality.]

[Footnote 53: Hegel means the conflict between the universal social
interest and the private interest, between the concrete social life and
the wholly private life.]

[Footnote 54: I think this gives the nearest approach I can make to the
self-coined word _Grundwohlseyns_, lit., "the at bottom well being."]

[Footnote 55: _Subjektiven Substantialität._ Ideal, that is, as
opposed to a substantive content based on the facts of living people.
Impersonations of qualities imagined rather than portraits of living
men, ideal therefore in a theoretic and bad sense.]

[Footnote 56: As previously stated I adopt Hegel's expression, being
unable to express it otherwise better. The whole emotional condition is
more or less the meaning, but it is rooted in Greek literature.]

[Footnote 57: _In dieser Bestimmtheit_, lit., in this particular
definition of their content.]

[Footnote 58: Hegel may mean that the passions are opposed to each
other. The nett result is the same.]

[Footnote 59: Lit., "Is made the tragic lever."]

[Footnote 60: The epithet might mean also "suggestive of personal
irritation," but the other epithets rather negative this rendering.]

[Footnote 61: _Räderwerk._ The whole of this passage, in its
theoretical analysis, is extremely difficult not merely to translate,
but to follow clearly.]

[Footnote 62: I presume this is the meaning of _Pursche_ or _Bursche_,
and not merely "youngster."]

[Footnote 63: Abstract in the sense that the vices are detached in
their extreme from concrete human nature.]

[Footnote 64: I have made the best I can of a very badly expressed
sentence, and, as I should add, a very meagre description of the aim of
modern comic drama. I am, however, not quite satisfied that it is an
adequate translation, or that I have grasped what Hegel means by the
words _nicht gestehen zu wollen_. It would apply very aptly to such a
character as Sir Willoughby Patterne, but the pertinency of such an
epithet as _lang empfunden_ I fail to see. I doubt myself if we have
here anything more than a chance note of Hegel tacked in by editors.
The whole of the present paragraph is a very jejune description of the
treatment of the love passion or affairs of honour by modern drama. A
pity we cannot supplement it with the substance of Meredith's "Essay on
Comedy." The passage, however, must be read as qualified by the further
note lower down on the exuberance of one aspect of modern comedy. But
the reference to "Comedy" in the modern sense is a mere fragment.]

[Footnote 65: That is, self-conscious life. The Absolute here seems to
be identified with man's self-conscious activity.]

[Footnote 66: I think this is what Hegel must mean here by _im Elemente
der Wirklichkeit_, in the element, that is, of material reality.]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Philosophy of Fine Art, volume 4 (of 4) - Hegel's Aesthetik" ***

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