Kentucky and Tennessee, my hostess said to me, one day,

-- * proper: In the sense of the Latin PROPRIUS, peculiar, private, personal. --

Kentucky and Tennessee, my hostess said to me, one day,

There is no `tabula rasa' doctrine in these passages, nor in any others, in the poet's voluminous works; and of all men of great intellect and learning (it is always a matter of mere insulated intellect), born in England since the days of John Locke, no one, perhaps, has been so entirely untainted with this doctrine as Robert Browning. It is a doctrine which great spiritual vitality (and that he early possessed), reaching out, as it does, beyond all experience, beyond all transformation of sensations, and all conclusions of the discursive understanding, naturally and spontaneously rejects. It simply says, "I know better", and there an end.

Kentucky and Tennessee, my hostess said to me, one day,

The great function of the poet, as poet, is, with Browning, to open out a way whence the imprisoned splendor may escape, not to effect entry for a light supposed to be without; to trace back the effluence to its spring and source within us, where broods radiance vast, to be elicited ray by ray.

Kentucky and Tennessee, my hostess said to me, one day,

In `Fifine at the Fair', published thirty-seven years after `Paracelsus', is substantially the same doctrine: -- "Truth inside, and outside, truth also; and between Each, falsehood that is change, as truth is permanence. The individual soul works through the shows of sense, (Which, ever proving false, still promise to be true) Up to an outer soul as individual too; And, through the fleeting, lives to die into the fixed, And reach at length `God, man, or both together mixed'."

In his poem entitled `Popularity', included in his "fifty men and women", the speaker, in the monologue, "draws" his "true poet", whom HE knows, if others do not; who, though he renders, or stands ready to render, to his fellows, the supreme service of opening out a way whence the imprisoned splendor of their souls may escape, is yet locked safe from end to end of this dark world.

Though there may be, in his own time, no "reapers reaping early in among the bearded barley" and "piling sheaves in uplands airy" who hear his song, he holds the FUTURE fast, accepts the COMING AGES' duty, their present for this past. This true, creative poet, whom the speaker calls "God's glow-worm, creative in the sense of revealing, whose inmost centre, where truth abides in fulness, has that freedom of responsiveness to the divine which makes him the revealer of it to men, plays the part in the world of spirit which, in the material world was played by the fisher who, first on the coast of Tyre the old, fished up the purple-yielding murex. Until the precious liquor, filtered by degrees, and refined to proof, is flasked and priced, and salable at last, the world stands aloof. But when it is all ready for the market, the small dealers, "put blue into their line", and outdare each other in azure feats by which they secure great popularity, and, as a result, fare sumptuously; while he who fished the murex up was unrecognized, and fed, perhaps, on porridge.

Stand still, true poet that you are! I know you; let me try and draw you. Some night you'll fail us: when afar You rise, remember one man saw you, Knew you, and named a star! *1


My star, God's glow-worm! Why extend That loving hand of His which leads you, Yet locks you safe from end to end Of this dark world, unless He needs you, Just saves your light to spend?

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