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susurrans apicula ; the ᾄδυ ψιθύρισμα, podera, for the sighing of the pine.
The Latin language teems with sounds adapted to every situation, and the English is not destitute of this significant energy. We have the cooing turtle, the sighing reed, the warbling rivulet, the sliding stream, the whispering breeze, the glance, the gleam, the flash, the bickering flame, the dashing wave, the gushing spring, the howling blast, the rattling storm, the pattering shower, the crimp earth, the mouldering tower, the twanging bowstring, the clanging arms, the clanking chains, the twinkling stars, the tinkling chords, the trickling drops, the twittering swallow, the cawing rook, the screeching owl; and a thousand other words and epithets, wonderfully suited to the sense they imply.
Among the select passages of poetry which we shall insert by way of illustration, the reader will find instances of all the different tropes and figures which the best authors have adopted in the variety of their poetical works, as well as of the apostrophe, abrupt transition, repetition, and prosopopoeia.
In the mean time it will be necessary still further to analyze those principles which constitute the essence of poetical merit; to display those delightful parterres that teem with the fairest flowers of imagination; and distinguish between the gaudy offspring of a cold insipid fancy, and the glowing progeny, diffusing sweets, produced and invigorated by the sun of genius.
Of all the implements of poetry, the metaphor is the most generally and successfully used, and indeed may be termed the Muse's caduceus, by the power of which she enchants all nature. The metaphor is a shorter simile, or rather a kind of magical coat, by which the same idea assumes a thousand different appearances. Thus the word plough, which originally belongs to agriculture, being metaphorically used, represents the motion of a ship at sea, and the effects of old age upon the human
-Plough'd the bosom of the deep
And time had plough'd his venerable front.
Almost every verb, noun substantive, or term of art in any language, may be in this manner applied to a variety of subjects with admirable effect; but the danger is in sowing metaphors too thick, so as to distract the imagina-` tion of the reader, and incur the imputation of deserting nature, in order to hunt after conceits. Every day produces poems of all kinds, so inflated with metaphor, that they may be compared to the gaudy bubbles blown up from a solution of soap. Longinus is of opinion, that a multitude of metaphors is never excusable, except in those cases when the passions are roused, and like a winter torrent rush down impetuous, sweeping them with collective force along. He brings an instance of the following quotation from Demosthenes; «Men,» says he, profligates, miscreants, and flatterers, who having seve
rally preyed upon the bowels of their country, at length betrayed her liberty, first to Philip, and now again to Alexander; who, placing the chief felicity of life in the indulgence of infamous lusts and appetites, overturned in the dust that freedom and independence which was the chief aim and end of all our worthy ancestors.»>
Aristotle and Theophrastus seem to think it is rather too bold and hazardous to use metaphors so freely, without interposing some mitigating phrase, such as, « if I may be allowed the expression, »> or some equivalent excuse. At the same time Longinus finds fault with Plato for hazarding some metaphors, which indeed appear to be equally affected and extravagant, when he says, « the government of a state should not resemble a bowl of hot fermenting wine, but a cool and moderate beverage chastised by the sober deity,»—a metaphor that signifies nothing more than « mixed or lowered with water.» Demetrius Phalereus justly observes, that though a judicious use of metaphors wonderfully raises, sublimes, and adorns oratory or elocution, yet they should seem to flow naturally from the subject; and too great a redundancy of them inflates the discourse to a mere rhapsody. The same observation will hold in poetry; and the more liberal or sparing use of them will depend in a great measure on the nature of the subject.
Passion itself is very figurative, and often bursts out into metaphors; but in touching the pathos, the poet must be perfectly well acquainted with the emotions of the human
· Ανθρωποί, φησι, μιαροὶ, καὶ αλάστορες, καὶ κόλακες, ἠκρωτηριασμένοι τὰς ἑαυτῶν ἕκαστοι πατρίδας, τὴν ἐλευθερίαν προπεπωκότες, πρότερον Φιλίππῳ, νῦν δ ̓ Αλεξάνδρῳ, τῇ γαστρὶ μετροῦντες καὶ τοῖς αἰσχίστοις τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν, τὴν δ ̓ ἐλευθερίαν, καὶ τὸ μηδένα ἔχειν δεσπότην αὑτῶν, ἃ τοῖς προτέροις, Ελλησιν ὅροι τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἦσαν καὶ κανόνες, etc.
soul, and carefully distinguish between those metaphors which rise glowing from the heart, and those cold conceits which are engendered in the fancy. Should one of these last unfortunately intervene, it will be apt to destroy the whole effect of the most pathetical incident or situation. Indeed it requires the most delicate taste, and a consummate knowledge of propriety, to employ metaphors in such a manner as to avoid what the ancients call the To puxpov, the frigid, or false sublime. Instances of this kind were frequent even among the correct ancients. Sappho herself is blamed for using the hyperbole auzoTÉPOL xióvos, whiter than snow. Demetrius is so nice as to be disgusted at the simile of swift as the wind; though, in speaking of a race-horse, we know from experience that this is not even an hyperbole. He would have had more reason to censure that kind of metaphor which Aristotle styles κατ' ἐνέργειαν, exhibiting things inanimate as endued with sense and reason; such as that of the sharp-pointed arrow, eager to take wing among the crowd. O'gubeλnç xa0' ὅμιλον ἐπιπτέσθαι μενεαίνων. Not but that in descriptive poetry this figure is often allowed and admired. The cruel sword, the ruthless dagger, the ruffian blast, are epithets which frequently occur. The faithful bosom of the earth, the joyous boughs, the trees that admire their images reflected in the stream, and many other examples of this kind, are found disseminated through the works of our best modern poets yet still they must be sheltered under the privilege of the poetica licentia; and, except in poetry, they would give offence.
More chaste metaphors are freely used in all kinds of writing; more sparingly in history, and more abundantly in rhetoric: we have seen that Plato indulges in them even The orations of Demosthenes are animated
and even inflamed with metaphors, some of them so bold as even to entail upon him the censure of the critics. τῷ Πυθωνι τῷ ῥήτορι ῥέοντι καθ' ὑμῶη.—«Then I did not yield to Python the orator, when he overflowed you with a tide of eloquence. Cicero is still more liberal in the use of them; he ransacks all nature, and pours forth a redundancy of figures, even with a lavish hand. Even the chaste Xenophon, who generally illustrates his subject by way of simile, sometimes ventures to produce an expressive metaphor, such as, part of the phalanx fluctuated in the march; and indeed nothing can be more significant than this word ežɛzúunve, to represent a body of men staggered, and on the point of giving way. Armstrong has used the word fluctuate with admirable efficacy, in his philosophical poem, entitled, The Art of Preserving Health.
O! when the growling winds contend, and all
The word fluctuate on this occasion not only exhibits an idea of struggling, but also echoes to the sense like the pie de pan of Homer; which, by the by, it is impossible to render into English, for the verb picow signifies not only to stand erect like prickles, as a grove of lances, but also to make a noise like the crashing of armour, the hissing of javelins, and the splinters of spears.
Over and above an excess of figures, a young author is apt to run into a confusion of mixed metaphors, which leave the sense disjointed, and distract the imagination : Shakspeare himself is often guilty of these irregularities.