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But of all the borrowers from Homer, Milton is perhaps the least indebted. He was naturally a thinker for himself, confident of his own abilities and disdainful of help or hindrance; he did not refuse admission to the thoughts or images of his predecessors, but he did not seek them. From his contemporaries he neither courted nor received support; there is in his writings nothing by which the pride of other authors might be gratified or favor gained, no exchange of praise nor solicitation of support.

His great works were performed under discountenance and in blindness, but difficulties vanished at his touch; he was born for whatever is arduous; and his work is not the greatest of heroic poems, only because it is not the first. Such are the accidents, which, sometimes remembered, and perhaps sometimes forgotten, produce that particular designation of mind, and propensity for some certain science or employment, which is commonly called Genius.

The true Genius is a mind of large general powers, accidentally determined to some particular direction. But of the learned puerilities of Cowley there is no doubt, since a volume of his poems was not only written but printed in his thirteenth year; containing, with other poetical compositions. This obligation to amorous ditties owes, I believe, its original to the fame of Petrarch, who, in an age rude and uncultivated, by his tuneful homage to his Laura, refined the manners of the lettered world, and filled Europe with love and poetry.

But the basis of all excellence is truth: he that professes love ought to feel its power. Petrarch was a real lover, and Laura doubtless deserved his tenderness. Of Cowley, we are told by Barnes, who had means enough of information, that, whatever he may talk of his own inflammability, and the variety of characters by which his heart was divided, he in reality was in love but once, and then never had resolution to tell his passion. Cowley, like other poets who have written with narrow views, and, instead of tracing intellectual pleasure to its natural sources in the mind of man, paid their court to temporary prejudices, has been at one time too much praised, and too much neglected at another.

Wit, like all other things subject by their nature to the choice of man, has its changes and fashions, and at different times takes different forms. About the beginning of the seventeenth century appeared a race of writers that may be termed the metaphysical poets; of whom, in a criticism on the works of Cowley, the last of the race, it is not improper to give some account. The metaphysical poets were men of learning, and to show their learning was their whole endeavor; but, unluckily resolving to show it in rhyme, instead of writing poetry, they only wrote verses, and very often such verses as stood the trial of the finger better than of the ear; for the modulation was so imperfect, that they were only found to be verses by counting the syllables.

If the father of criticism has rightly denominated poetry, an imitative art, these writers will, without great wrong, lose their right to the name of poets for they cannot be said to have imitated any thing; they neither copied nature nor life; neither painted the forms of matter, nor represented the operations of intellect.

Those, however, who deny them to be poets, allow them to be wits. Dryden confesses of himself and his contemporaries, that they fall below Donne in wit, but maintains that they surpass him in poetry. If by a more noble and more adequate conception that be considered as Wit, which is at once natural and new, that which, though not obvious, is, upon its first production, acknowledged to be just; if it be that, which he that never found it, wonders how he missed; to wit of this kind the metaphysical poets have seldom risen.

Their thoughts are often new, but seldom natural; they are not obvious, but neither are they just; and the reader, far from wondering that he missed them, wonders more frequently by what perverseness of industry they were ever found. But Wit, abstracted from its effects upon the hearer, may be more rigorously and philosophically considered as a kind of discordia concors ; a combination of dissimilar images, or discovery of occult resemblances in things apparently unlike. Of wit thus defined, they have more than enough. The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions; their learning instructs, and their subtlety surprises; but the reader commonly thinks his improvement dearly bought, and, though he sometimes admires, is seldom pleased.

This kind of writing, which was, I believe, borrowed from Marino and his followers, had been recommended by the example of Donne, a man of very extensive and various knowledge; and by Jonson, whose manner resembled that of Donne more in the ruggedness of his lines than in the cast of his sentiments. When their reputation was high, they had undoubtedly more imitators, than time has left behind. Their immediate successors, of whom any remembrance can be said to remain, were Suckling, Waller, Denham, Cowley, Cleveland, and Milton.

Denham and Waller sought another way to fame, by improving the harmony of our numbers.

National Endowment for the Humanities

Milton tried the metaphysic stile only in his lines upon Hobson the Carrier. Cowley adopted it, and excelled his predecessors, having as much sentiment, and more music. Suckling neither improved versification, nor abounded in conceits. The fashionable style remained chiefly with Cowley; Suckling could not reach it, and Milton disdained it. Cowley was, I believe, the first poet that mingled Alexandrines at pleasure with the common heroic ten syllables, and from him Dryden borrowed the practice, whether ornamental or licentious. He considered the verse of twelve syllables as elevated and majestic, and has therefore deviated into that measure when he supposes the voice heard of the Supreme Being.

Of his school performances has appeared only a poem on the death of Lord Hastings, composed with great ambition of such conceits as, notwithstanding the reformation begun by Waller and Denham, the example of Cowley still kept in reputation. Lord Hastings died of the small-pox, and his poet has made of the pustules first rosebuds, and then gems; at last exalts them into stars, and says,. At the university he does not appear to have been eager of poetical distinction, or to have lavished his early wit either on fictitious subjects or public occasions. He probably considered that he who purposed to be an author, ought first to be a student.

He obtained, whatever was the reason, no fellowship in the College. Why he was excluded cannot now be known, and it is vain to guess; had he thought himself injured, he knew how to complain. Oxford to him a dearer name shall be Than his own mother-university; Thebes did his rude unknowing youth engage; He chooses Athens in his riper age.

The reproach of inconstancy was, on this occasion, shared with such numbers that it produced neither hatred nor disgrace; if he changed, he changed with the nation. It was, however, not totally forgotten when his reputation raised him enemies. It is addressed to Sir Robert Howard by a letter, which is not properly a dedication; and, writing to a poet, he has interspersed many critical observations, of which some are common, and some perhaps ventured without much consideration.

As I have endeavored to adorn my poem with noble thoughts, so much more to express those thoughts with elocution. It is written in quatrains, or heroic stanzas of four lines; a measure which he had learned from the Gondibert of Davenant, and which he then thought the most majestic that the English language affords. Of this stanza he mentions the encumbrances, increased as they were by the exactness which the age required. It was, throughout his life, very much his custom to recommend his works by representation of the difficulties that he had encountered, without appearing to have sufficiently considered, that where there is no difficulty there is no praise.

Dryden may be properly considered as the father of English criticism, as the writer who first taught us to determine upon principles the merit of composition. Of our former poets the greatest dramatist wrote without rules, conducted through life and nature by a genius that rarely misled, and rarely deserted him. Of the rest, those who knew the laws of propriety had neglected to teach them. He who, having formed his opinions in the present age of English literature, turns back to peruse this dialogue, will not perhaps find much increase of knowledge or much novelty of instruction; but he is to remember that critical principles were then in the hands of a few, who had gathered them partly from the Ancients, and partly from the Italians and French.

The structure of Dramatick poems was not then generally understood. Audiences applauded by instinct, and poets perhaps often pleased by chance. A writer who obtains his full purpose loses himself in his own luster. Of an opinion which is no longer doubted, the evidence ceases to be examined.

Of an art universally practiced, the first teacher is forgotten. Learning once made popular is no longer learning; it has the appearance of something which we have bestowed upon ourselves, as the dew appears to rise from the field which it refreshes. To judge rightly of an author we must transport ourselves to his time, and examine what were the wants of his contemporaries, and what were his means of supplying them.

That which is easy at one time was difficult at another. Dryden at least imported his science, and gave his country what it wanted before; or rather, he imported only the materials, and manufactured them by his own skill. It may be doubted whether Waller and Denham could have over-borne the prejudices which had long prevailed, and which even then were sheltered by the protection of Cowley. The new versification, as it was called, may be considered as owing its establishment to Dryden; from whose time it is apparent that English poetry has had no tendency to relapse to its former savageness. The affluence and comprehension of our language is very illustriously displayed in our poetical translations of Ancient Writers; a work which the French seem to relinquish in despair, and which we were long unable to perform with dexterity.

Ben Jonson thought it necessary to copy Horace almost word by word, Feltham, his contemporary and adversary, considers it as indispensably requisite in a translation to give line for line. It is said that Sandys, whom Dryden calls the best versifier of the last age, has struggled hard to comprise every book of his English Metamorphoses in the same number of verses with the original. Holyday had nothing in view but to show that he understood his author, with so little regard to the grandeur of his diction, or the volubility of his numbers, that his meters can hardly be called verses; they cannot be read without reluctance, nor will the labor always be rewarded by understanding them.

Cowley saw that such copiers were a servile race; he asserted his liberty, and spread his wings so boldly that he left his authors. It was reserved for Dryden to fix the limits of poetical liberty, and give us just rules and examples of translation. When languages are formed upon different principles, it is impossible that the same modes of expression should always be elegant in both. While they run on together the closest translation may be considered as the best; but when they divaricate, each must take its natural course.

Where correspondence cannot be obtained, it is necessary to be content with something equivalent. Translation therefore, says Dryden, is not so loose as paraphrase, nor so close as metaphrase. All polished languages have different styles; the concise, the diffuse, the lofty, and the humble. In the proper choice of style consists the resemblance which Dryden principally exacts from the translator. A translator is to be like his author; it is not his business to excel him. The reasonableness of these rules seems sufficient for their vindication; and the effects produced by observing them were so happy, that I know not whether they were ever opposed but by Sir Edward Sherburne, a man whose learning was greater than his powers of poetry; and who, being better qualified to give the meaning than the spirit of Seneca, has introduced his version of three tragedies by a defense of close translation.

The authority of Horace, which the new translators cited in defense of their practice, he has, by a judicious explanation, taken fairly from them; but reason wants not Horace to support it. It seldom happens that all the necessary causes concur to any great effect: will is wanting to power, or power to will, or both are impeded by external obstructions. The exigences in which Dryden was condemned to pass his life, are reasonably supposed to have blasted his genius, to have driven out his works in a state of immaturity, and to have intercepted the full-blown elegance which longer growth would have supplied.

His prediction of the improvements which shall be made in the new city is elegant and poetical, and, with an event which Poets cannot always boast, has been happily verified. The poem concludes with a simile that might have better been omitted. Dryden, when he wrote this poem, seems not yet fully to have formed his versification, or settled his system of propriety. In rhyme he continued to improve his diction and his numbers. According to the opinion of Harte, who had studied his works with great attention, he settled his principles of versification in , when he produced the play of Aureng Zebe ; and, according to his own account of the short time in which he wrote Tyrannick Love and The State of Innocence , he soon obtained the full effect of diligence, and added facility to exactness.

Rhyme has been so long banished from the theatre that we know not its effect upon the passions of an audience; but it has this convenience, that sentences stand more independent on each other, and striking passages are therefore easily selected and retained. If it be considered as a poem political and controversial it will be found to comprise all the excellences of which the subject is susceptible: acrimony of censure, elegance of praise, artful delineation of characters, variety and vigour of sentiment, happy turns of language, and pleasing harmony of numbers; and all these raised to such a height as can scarcely be found in any other English composition.

This is there applied to the size of the polis and the multitude of its inhabitants. But the point is there associated with the idea of the order taxis which the city realizes through its laws cf.

Rupi Kaur Reads Timeless from Her Poetry Collection The Sun and Her Flowers

Symmetry or proportion is clearly taken as a criterion of beauty also in the passages of Politics III 11, III 13, and V 3, which were considered above ch. It can be added that, in Topics III 1, still using the example of an animal, Aristotle presents its beauty as residing in the symmetry of its members cf. How this is related to the others is not clarified by him. But it is clear, from what follows, that other authors also made recourse to it. Where he differs from other authors, and certainly from Plato, is in expressly propounding a neat distinction between what is beautiful and what is good, by restricting the latter to the field of action, in so far as is of interest for ethics and politics , and by excluding the former from this field.

Nicomachean Ethics III 6 [9], a and [10] b and his conception of the mean, as avoidance of excess and defect, has to do with beauty in the sense defined above, for he himself in that work, II 6, b7 ff. Galen adds that Polycleitus in his book gave information about all the proportions summetrias of the body and fashioned a statue in accordance with his theory his logos , but that all physicians and philosophers in the context he had named Chrysippus place beauty of the human body in the symmetry or proportion of its members - keeping it distinct from health as the proportion of the elements.

De architectura III 1, 1, and I 2, 4. On the one hand, in his treatise On beauty Enneads I 6, 1 , he notoriously criticized the view that beauty consists in the symmetry summetria and measure metron of things, symmetry itself concerning the parts in their relationship to one another and to the whole, because it is a view that cannot account for the beauty of what is simple. Though he probably has the Stoic position mainly in mind, he gives the impression of intending to criticise what was the prevailing view of beauty.

On the other hand, he himself could not do wholly without that conception of beauty, for, when talking of the perceptible products of the imitative arts, he makes their beauty reside in the symmetry which they realize, and extends this to animals cf. For instance in a testimony by Aristoxenus on the Pythagoreans, which is taken up by Stobaeus Flor. Order and symmetry are supposed to extend to music and assume a character of harmony and so forth using terms that may themselves be extended beyond the realm of music.

Beauty is implied though not explicitly mentioned in this connection. There the starting point is badness or vice kakia , of which it is said that there are two forms, both for the body and for the soul. This view is developed in the case of the soul, and it is said that beauty for it consists in proportion or measure summetria and ugliness consists again in lack of measure ametria cf.

The same view must also be present in Philebus 25db, though there Plato is not concerned with drawing a distinction between health and beauty assuming a parallel between body and soul , but both are made to reside in measuredness to emmetron and symmetry to summetron , these two terms themselves being associated with limit peras in opposition to unlimitedness apeiria. It is also likely that formedness as the opposite of lack of form, which is there mentioned only in connection with the body is to be understood as lack of order and definiteness the latter is in any case implied by limitedness in the Philebus , so that all the criteria are involved that are admitted by Aristotle.

In this passage, certainly, the beautiful is not kept separate from what is good. The same view must be present in Timaeus , 87c ff.


This point is then said to have application to any living being, which must possess symmetry summetria. The sort of symmetry or proportion he has in mind in the context concerns the relationship between the soul and the body, which must be harmonized to one another, without any excessive development of one of them at the expense of the other. This requirement becomes the justification of a paideia in which gymnastics, music and intellectual studies must all have a part.

At the end of Republic , book IV, in a passage to which reference was made there, he says explicitly that virtue is a sort of health hugieia and beauty kallos and good disposition euexia of the soul, while vice is a sort of illness and ugliness and weakness cf. In this passage he is not concerned with keeping these three positive conditions and the corresponding negative conditions well distinct from one another, and in the context cf.

It is sufficiently clear, on the other hand, that when in d ff. Further, even in introducing the virtue of justice he is willing to talk of harmony and of accord, in addition to order kosmos , as the condition that is to be realized in the soul, with an explicit allusion to what happens in music cf. As already pointed out above still in ch. III ea, but one may also compare Laches , d.

Gracefulness in speech and behaviour are made by him follow good character, clearly in the moral sense cf. Further, the exercise of such virtues as that of justice is made by him to follow on the condition of health and beauty of the soul that is described in the above mentioned passage at the end of Republic IV, for he regards the behaviour which realizes justice as the external manifestation of the harmony and concord that subsists in the soul of the agent cf. It is added that this is true in particular of the human soul, which implies that a soul which possesses kosmos is wise and good.

The same sort of order is then said, on the authority of some wise men manifestly a reference to the Pythagoreans , to apply to the universe, which for this reason is called kosmos cf. There is no reason to think that he was implicitly disagreeing with the distinction between the two which was propounded by Aristotle in the passages of the Metaphysics which were quoted at the beginning of this chapter.

Bringing back goodness to beauty makes sense if beauty is not assimilated to goodness, and in fact the admission that beauty involves symmetry excludes this possibility. What he is considering is, rather, the condition of the soul of the agent who behaves either in accordance with virtues such as justice or in contrast with them, thus he is considering the source and not the end of moral behaviour. And this condition of the soul is, in part, to be described in terms of beauty and ugliness, adopting the same definition of these terms that permits Aristotle to keep them distinct from moral goodness and badness.

Further, it is illustrated by examples taken from music such as that of a well-accorded or badly-accorded instrument. One cannot therefore claim that beauty and ugliness are assimilated to moral goodness and badness. Indeed, it is probably more correct to say that these concepts are common to both spheres, without this commonness depriving them of their aesthetic value.

There is much more flexibility in the use of these terms than is often allowed for by modern interpreters. This is a passage from a chapter of his De officiis ch. I 4 , where the author talks of the origin in human nature of our appreciation for what possesses moral value. It is in this way, he concludes, that there arises our sense for what has moral value honestum. One can see from this passage that the sense for what has moral value is supposed to find a source in our sense for aesthetic beauty, since this is disinterested free from passion and since this consists in an appreciation for qualities such as order and harmony, which are constitutive of moral value as well.

The choice of literary contents is manifestly greatly determined by ethical considerations. The same however can be said of music and of the other arts only to a limited extent.

OBSERVATIONS: Visible and Poetic

To a large extent the effect that they produce is through the gracefulness and harmony of their products and consists in establishing a similar gracefulness and harmony in the soul. Hence it would be erroneous to suppose that, since music and the other arts are given a great role to play in education, thus in the formation of the character of young persons, no recognition is given to aesthetic experience as such. Music includes something more because of its emotional impact hence its centrality in education.

If we leave out what is peculiar to music, the conclusion has to be drawn that he has in mind qualities or characteristics which are mainly formal and which are not restricted to the products of the arts This is restated a little later, in e quoted above, ch. In fact it is sufficiently clear that qualities such as measure and symmetry or proportion which explain gracefulness cannot be restricted to the products of the arts.

In this connection it has to be remarked that the parallel between the beautiful animal and the beautiful poetic work which we have found is adopted by Aristotle goes back to Plato. However it is clear, from the same dialogue, that Plato is willing to extend the parallel to the beautiful animal. He says in fact of tragedy that it is something more than short or long passages including speeches that are piteous or frightening, for it must be a composition sustasis of them which are put together so as to fit prepousa both each other and the whole cf.

Clearly tragedy here is just an example of a poetic work, and the way in which it is characterized recalls what he had said of speech in the former passage, where the parallel with the animal is explicit. Further, what is true of human techne is also supposed to be true of divine techne , which is treated as parallel to it for instance in Sophist , b ff.

In this connection it may be remarked, finally, that the world as a whole, taken as the production of a divine artisan, is said to be particularly beautiful cf. Timaeus , 30b and c , and that even the geometrical figures by which the bodies which belong to it are constituted are said to be the most beautiful among all geometrical figures cf. Republic VII, ca. Rather than talking of a contradiction, as it is done by some interpreters, one should admit that he adopts different points of view, for in the first group of passages he seems to be concerned with the formal characteristics which are instantiated by a good painting rather than with its being a reproduction of some physical object.

One may establish a connection between this passage and the passage of the Philebus in which he admits that there are beautiful shapes and colours which give rise to pleasures that are particularly pure cf. It is true that in that dialogue he thinks that beauty is realized in the fullest way and gives rise to the purest pleasure when what is contemplated are not paintings that are seen in relation to something else clearly the physical object that is reproduced but geometrical figures one may recall that beauty is attributed to certain of them also in the above mentioned passage of Timaeus 53ea.

However, those other passages show that Plato is willing to concede that one may, in contemplating a painting, appreciate its formal qualities rather than fidelity to some given physical object. Poetics 4, b [quoted above, I, ch. This explicitness is certainly not found in Plato. Sophist , d ff. What is not usually noticed about this passage of the Sophist is that Plato is assuming that the objects imitated are themselves beautiful, and beautiful because they realize symmetry or proportion, so that their beauty can be preserved in the reproduction only if this remains faithful to the symmetry or proportion which is instanced by the original, otherwise it is somehow impaired.

One may question his concern with faithfulness to the original, which cannot be defended in this way if the original is not itself beautiful, but one cannot say that the aesthetic point of view is left out of consideration by him. He tends to summarise the techniques of illusionism under the term skiagraphia , which is probably used by him in a generic way to cover them all the sense of depth due to perspective seems to be suggested more by skenographia than by this other term, which initially must have alluded to the use of shading to give relief to the figures in pictures As we shall see in connection with his treatment of tragedy, he uses that term to suggest the recourse to some form of deception, which for this very reason is to be rejected.

To those developments in Greek art he opposes in Laws II, d ff. Egyptian art in that passage is appreciated for having remained the same across the centuries and possibly also for its hieratic character, but it is not clear whether he had any precise idea of its technical nature and wanted to commend it also from this point of view. It can only be remarked that these, just as the other criteria that have been mentioned, are not apt to put in evidence the originality of the works that are submitted to judgement or the creativity of the artist.

Already from the presentation of these works it is evident that symmetria he renders the Greek word with a transliteration was a central notion in architecture as well cf. Another term of which he makes use, eurythmia , is treated by him as venusta species cf. It would thus seem that all the terms he uses as permitting us to give a judgement of the value of a building are to be considered as forms or criteria of beauty.

I cannot enter into an examination of the definitions he gives of these terms, but it is sufficiently clear that there is some adaptation to architecture particularly evident in the introduction of distributio of terms that, as we have seen above, were commonly used to make evident the requirement that any object must satisfy in order to be said to be beautiful.

This he suggests somewhat confusedly by expressly using the term proportio as an equivalent of the Greek analogia cf. III, ch. There is some confusion, because this term is also the equivalent of the Greek summetria , and Vitruvius is unable to keep them well distinct. It is manifest that he depends on some Greek writer on architecture who maintained that the summetria that is realized by the human body and the summetria that is realized by a building such as a temple show the existence of an analogia between them. The temple thus tends to be conceived symbolically as an extended reproduction of the human body just as the Christian temple tends to be conceived as an extended reproduction of the cross , but clearly it would be out of place to talk of mimesis in this connection.

It does not seem, however, that any distinct account of its beauty is given either by Plato or Aristotle. Thus in the passage of the Timaeus quoted above ch. In the Republic he admits as was also seen in ch. Since virtue is made to depend on order and harmony in the soul, these two accounts are complementary to one another. Pleasure in the refined form is reserved to those who appreciate music which conforms to those formal characteristics and have a grasp of the intelligible structure they reveal, while irrational pleasure is reserved to those who appreciate music which involves emotional excesses and are deprived of any such grasp.

Plato does not usually talk of beauty in this connection. However in the passage of Phaedrus , c to which reference was made in ch. If tragedy, in spite of this, becomes an object of condemnation, it is one can reasonably presume because these formal qualities cannot compensate the morally negative contents it presents. While in music there may be a reciprocal integration between the images of virtue it offers and the formal characteristics it presents, this does not happen in the case of tragedy, for the images of virtue it offers are deceptive as we shall see below, esp.

A similar contrast between form and contents is also presented by comedy, but what it represents is less harmful than what tragedy represents for reasons to be given there , so that it can be tolerated within certain limits. This leads him to stress the composition and arrangement of the tragedy as a whole and its parts, by concentrating his attention on the plot or story muthos and on those crucial moments such as recognition and reversal which determine the way in which a plot develops.

Though some features thus considered are rather typical of tragedies, this sort of approach does not serve much to clarify what is peculiar to a tragedy. The category of the tragic is even absent in his Poetics. He has more to say on drama in general, for he shows some recognition of its nature as pointed out above, esp. One question which remains open is how a tragedy or a comedy can be beautiful in spite of having some ugly contents. I come back to this issue below, ch. About the parallel that Plato propounds there between painting and poetry it is difficult to escape the conclusion that it is rather unsatisfactory.

This problem of recognizing who is truly virtuous by distinguishing him from whom is not so does not arise in the case of painting, for the painter has no difficulty in recognizing the couch he wants to paint. The restriction that is proper to the first position must be that which is applicable to the poet according to the account given in Republic X. This restriction concerns any other Idea, but concerns in particular the idea of beauty, as the account of the Symposium suggests.

Its splendour in this world makes it most loved in addition to being most manifest cf. In the Symposium he notoriously describes the gradual ascent from the many beautiful things, which are first beautiful bodies one body, then more than one, then many bodies , then beautiful souls, then beautiful institutions and laws, etc. It is in this connection that he makes the distinction between the one who begets true virtue and the one who begets images of virtue.

And this has been taken as an indication of the fact that Plato has no consciousness of this sort of beauty as distinct from other sorts which are deprived of aesthetic meaning. But, in approaching these texts with the expectation to find a recognition of aesthetic beauty, they adopt a point of departure which is not justified.

Aesthetic experience may be thought of as leading to eroticism as I suggested above, Part I, ch. Its object, when the ascent towards the Idea of beauty takes place, only apparently is identical with the object of aesthetic experience. It is true that this is always constituted by what is beautiful, but in one case this is the beauty of the Idea which manifests itself as something identical in a variety of different entities that are said to be beautiful.

For instance when one has experience of the beauty of beautiful bodies what one has to grasp is that the beauty the kallos which is present in all of them is one and the same hen kai tauton cf. Symposium b. On the other hand those who, like the lovers of beautiful sights, cultivate an aesthetic experience, do not grasp an identical beauty in many different entities if they grasped it, they would already have some grasp of the idea of beauty, what for them is explicitly excluded , but see those entities as being beautiful on many different grounds because of their colours, which are not identical in all of them, because of their figures, which again are not identical, and so forth, or because of a combination of colour and figure, etc.

What they see are different things which are beautiful in quite different ways, without any identical beauty being detected in them. This is for them a completely satisfying experience, which, precisely for this reason, does not lead them in any way to accomplish an ascent towards the Idea of beauty.

Aesthetic experience, far from opening the road to the contemplation of the ideas, is an obstacle to it, since it encourages those who cultivate it to find their happy realization in the world of the many beautiful tones and beautiful colours and shapes, thus in the empirical world around us.

Cultivating aesthetic experience and cultivating philosophy are alternatives, and this is one reason why there is a quarrel between poetry and philosophy on this quarrel see below, ch. But it is sufficiently clear, from what he says of the lovers of beautiful sights towards the end of book V of the Republic , that their experience is limited to the sphere of the many beautiful things and excludes any contemplation of the Idea of beauty cf. But this is to admit that their position is in some manner an alternative to that of the philosopher and to let it be understood that it offers satisfactions of its own.

That this contemplation exists and offers satisfactions of its own cannot be denied. In book X this alternative is even more in the background, but if Plato did not have it in mind there would have been little point on his part in referring to the ideas it would have been sufficient to suggest that the imitator produces imitations of such things as the products of the artisans and to lay stress on the existence of a quarrel between poetry and philosophy.

And the three levels distinguished in the case of painting find no correspondence in the allegory of the cave. The poet, together with the sophist and the rhetorician, contributes to the creation of that deception by which men are induced to regard the reality which falls under our senses as the only reality. The operations he accomplishes are restricted to the sphere of the perceptible, and he encourages men to find themselves at home in this sphere, by getting pleasure from his beautiful imitations.

These imitations do not offer signs which can lead out of the cave. Only philosophical knowledge can teach us to see these signs and make use of them to obtain the condition of genuine freedom. It is also for this reason, and not only because of their competition for education in the cities, that there is a quarrel between poetry and philosophy.

More positively, it can be admitted that the attribution of an idealistic aesthetics to Plato is not arbitrary. In my exposition I offer a rapid synthesis, without keeping distinct the contributions of ancient authors, especially Proclus, and those of modern authors, especially Tate and Verdenius. On the other hand, it has to be remarked at once that these three are not problematic points that are all centred on one issue, so that the interpreter can establish a convergence on the basis of one theory such as that of idealistic aesthetics.

It is supposed that, at least in particularly favourable cases, poets and other artists can also make recourse to this second sort of imitation, of which Plato does talk in some contexts for instance Tate adduces passages such as Republic V, d, on which see above, ch. Thus Proclus admitted that this happens in the case of those poets whose inspiration is truly divine, making appeal to the doctrine of the Phaedrus see above, Part II, ch. He is followed on this point by Verdenius Verdenius, op. Now there is a problem discussed above, ch.

Proclus and Verdenius with him solves the problem by going against the evidence. It is true that Plato attaches much value to the likeness of a work of art, but this idea should not be interpreted in modern terms. In true art likeness does not refer to commonplace reality, but the ideal Beauty. I take the passage of the Laws to concern the imitation of someone beautiful in the sense now specified, there being no reference at all to ideas in the context. What remains true, first of all, is that Plato as was suggested above, ch.

Republic IV, c, also b , but these are images that are different from the images of virtue eidola aretes of which there is talk in Republic X in connection with painting and with poetry cf. Secondly, music can be the source of a pleasure that can be evaluated in a positive way, as recognized in Timaeus , 80b also discussed above, in ch. Thirdly, it is a source of this sort of pleasure when the harmonies it realizes are an imitation of the harmonies that are realized at a cosmic level, and especially in the movements of the celestial bodies.

These harmonies are clearly an instantiation of certain formal characters that in various dialogues are recognized as constituting the criteria of beauty, such as order, measure and proportion see above, ch. In the fourth place, the requirement of satisfying these criteria of beauty can be extended even to the products of certain imitative arts like painting, when they are considered independently of what they reproduce, and to other objects that are not produced by the human hand, including the world as a whole. Thus there is a field in which beauty is instantiated without having to fall under the condemnation that is applied to the products of the imitative arts.

Enneads V 9, And there is some justification in giving a positive reply to this question, for the order which is realized by perceptible reality, as described in a work like the Timaeus , clearly depends on an intelligible order. The first is that Plato does not think there is a single idea, like the idea of beauty, which by itself constitutes the intelligible basis for that order, for this could only justify the presence of an identical beauty or whatever in all perceptible things.

The objection by Plotinus that, by reference to the idea of beauty, it is not possible to conceive beauty in terms of symmetry and so forth, for in this way a plurality is involved which beauty excludes, has a justification already from the Platonic point of view and is in fact a development of certain of the objections against the various definitions of beauty that are to be found in the Greater Hippias.

It is then not a single idea which constitutes that basis, but the whole ordered world kosmos of ideas, as it is presented in Republic VI, b ff. It is similarly a whole world, manifestly always the world of ideas, that constitutes the model for the divine artisan who produces the perceptible world according to the account given in the Timaeus cf.

So it is sufficient to have an eye for the beauty that manifests itself in perceptible reality in order to be able to do the work of a good painter or a good musician. And the failure to draw this distinction leads as we have seen to dismissive judgements which concern the imitative arts without reservations. What sort of poetry is to be kept out from the well-governed city cf. When he talks of an ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry, it would seem that all poetry constitutes his target.

The willingness to leave a place in the best city to hymns to the gods and praises of good men cf. It was classified as particularly mimetic already in book III, in the sense that it directly brings in the speech and action by the persons represented and is not an exposition of facts or a report of words by the poet himself. It is clearly treated in this way in book X. Concerning lyrics in particular, this is mentioned together with epic in Republic X, a, thus it is not wholly ignored. It is to be rejected in so far as it is imitative.

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Tragedy is most typical from this point of view, but lyrics need not be excluded. For instance Sappho gives expression to her unhappiness when her love is not returned, as if suffering an injustice, yet she clearly considers herself a virtuous person. It is precisely this discrepancy which Plato does not admit. Tragedy exemplifies it in the fullest way, because it often consists in a story which illustrates a passage from good to bad fortune with good fortune that seems to be deserved and bad fortune not , but, in so far as any other sort of poetry illustrates it, it should be dismissed.

This devaluation in itself is not without ambiguity, for Plato sometimes suggests that the whole of human life must be regarded as a sort of play see below, ch. However awareness of this human condition is limited to the philosopher, who is the only one to possess the antidote pharmakon of knowledge cf. What he adds in what follows, as the greatest accusation against mimetic poetry 33 , is not really different from what has already been said about its effect except in stressing its attractiveness. On the whole this negative judgement is not far from that already expressed in Protagoras , ca, where discussing poetry was said by Socrates to be similar to the hiring of girl-musicians to entertain at symposia, instead of getting entertainment from their own conversations, as truly noble and educated people would do.

This appeal is made in the attempt to save Plato from giving a general and not too persuasive condemnation of imitation, by suggesting instead that what is at issue is only a misconception not shared by him about the nature of imitative poetry. But the difficulty with this charitably meant explanation is that Plato makes it sufficiently clear that, if certain people have come to adopt this position, it is because they have been deceived exepatentai , e, also d by the poets themselves, being the victims of some sort of spell that has been cast on them by the imitator who acts like a sort of magician goes and who in this way creates the impression of being all-wise cf.

See my discussion of this passage above, ch. So it is not just a matter of rejecting an exaggerated claim by some few people. And if their position were not representative of a widely held view about poetry, why bother to give an ample refutation of it? Recitation and memorization of large parts of the poems of Homer, Hesiod and other poets constituted one main feature, if not the main feature, of traditional education, as it is clear from indications given by Plato himself, by Aristophanes, etc. This happened, to some extent at least, because there prevailed a didactic view of the function of poetry.

One can raise the question whether he is always fair in doing so, but the assumption underlying this procedure, that the poets can be criticized for what they say, for the ideology they propound, cannot be seen as illegitimate against this background. Nothing in what was normally said about the poets and in the use that was made of their poems justifies this further assertion. There are only two passages by ancient authors that can be quoted and are usually quoted by scholars in this connection as offering some support, but they cannot be used without reservations.

This boast is rendered suspicious by the fact that it takes place at a party and that he is not immune from Socratic thought. Partly on the same lines is a passage in Aristophanes It is Frogs , vv. Further, this passage too does not separate competence in the arts from others sorts of knowledge and is to be understood as part of a comedy. But in the end he admits that strictly technical information, e. Overall, this kind of information forms an exercise in general education, not the specifics of skilled performance.

In fact, as already remarked above ch. Homer talks of generalship e. He talks of medicine e. This criticism, it should be noted, is quite different from a criticism concerning certain given contents, such as that concerning the view offered by Homer about the gods.

This is a strong claim, but not a repetition of the claim about possession of all the arts. So there is reason to suspect that this other claim is an invention by Plato, even if to some extent he himself may be the victim of a certain lack of distinction between technical and non technical knowledge. If it turns out that this claim is not implied, and that the poets are not doing anything more than innocuously imitate the parlance and demeanour of generals, doctors, and so forth, the argument misfires.

Of course there remain other grounds for criticism, concerning the image that the poets offer of the gods, and so forth, but these cannot be put on the same plane as the general criticism of Republic book X and of the Ion. There also remains the criticism that poets do not know what is just, what is good, and so forth, and this cannot be dismissed as being wholly without substance see on this point next ch. However I have not met, so far, any persuasive attempt to explain away those assertions by Plato that show him dismissive of poetry.

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The suggestion put forward in a conversation by Maria Villela-Petit that he is giving an ironical presentation of an account of poetry that is not his own but belongs to the sophists does not seem to have any substantial basis. As I point out in previous parts of this essay, there are passages e. Republic X, d-e, cannot be taken for reasons given above in this sense. It is also surprising that Plato should use concepts drawn from his own philosophy starting with the theory of ideas, even if in a version that cannot be taken quite seriously to expound a position that is not his own.

Something about deception apate obtained by a sort of sorcery can be found in Gorgias, and I myself do think there are points of contact between his position and that adopted by Plato, but nothing in the testimonies suggests that the sophist had an account of mimesis similar to that provided in Republic X. In the case of other sophists there are not even these partial points of contact. Nothing makes one think that such a theory was current at that time.

One ground for her suggestion is that Socrates, in Republic X, states that he is willing to retract his criticism if a proper defence of poetry could be given cf. However, it is difficult to take this concession very seriously, in the light of what precedes it. Even in this passage there is the assertion that it would be impious to betray the truth, which suggests that what precedes is not just a theory about poetry but the truth about it.

And the defence which is expected would at best show that poetry is not harmful against what had been claimed before , and would not consist in propounding a new theory of poetry. The ability to see things normally is no small thing; to be really normal is the unusual. In that normality begins to bubble up inspiration. The flower that follows the sun does so even on cloudy days. The eye alterning, alters all. There's a saying among prospectors: "Go out looking for one thing, and that's all you'll ever find. Every fight is one between different angles of vision illuminating the same truth.

When your eyes are functioning well you don't see your eyes. If your eyes are imperfect you see spots in front of them. In the same way, you don't hear your ears. If you have a ringing in your ears it means there's something wrong with your ears. Therefore, if you do feel yourself, there must be something wrong with you. Whatever you have, the sensation of I is like spots in front of your eyes - it means something's wrong with your functioning. The sky is not less blue because a blind man does not see it. To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.

Men are born with two eyes, but only one tongue, in order that they should see twice as much as they say. The contented person enjoys the scenery of a detour. Now is the time of the illuminated woods We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. God manifests Himself everywhere, in everything - in people and in things and in nature and in events The only thing is we don't see it I have no program for this seeing.

It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere. The idea of linking color and behavior is reasonable enough. Anyone who has ever felt blue, seen red, blacked out, or turned green knows we're prone to make emotional associations with different shades. If you look at a thing times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it for the th time, you are in danger of seeing it for the first time. The longer you garden the better the eye gets, the more tuned to how colors vibrate in different ways and what they can do to each other. You become a scientist as well as an artist, with the lines between increasingly blurred.

To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.

If your vision doesn't scare you, then both your vision and your God are too small. The true seeing is when there is no seeing. The eyes are not responsible when the mind does the seeing. This is your world! You can't not look. There is no other world. This is your world; it is your feast. You inherited this; you inherited these eyeballs; you inherited this world of color. Look at the greatness of the whole thing. Don't hesitate - look! Open your eyes. Don't blink, and look, look - look further. Seeing is different than being told. We all live under the same sky, but we don't all have the same horizon.

Close your bodily eye, that you may see your picture first with the eye of the spirit. Then bring to light what you have seen in the darkness, that its effect may work back, from without to within. Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Don't think of words when you stop but to see the picture better. You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. Seeing within changes one's outer vision.

Nature composes some of her lovliest poems for the microscope and the telescope. We look at many things and never see; art is seeing and feeling. No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. It is the familiar that usually eludes us in life. What is before our nose is what we see last.

That's where the material of our art is: in what our eyes think. Information in itself, about anything, is light. Art is light synthesis. I learn from everything I look at, good, bad or indifferent. I follow my eye reflexively; if it is drawn toward something, I pay attention and try to find out why. You train your eye, build up a mental image bank, and constantly try to pinpoint why some things are convincing and others aren't. Vision without action is a daydream.

Action without vision is a nightmare. If we study Japanese art, we see a man who is undoubtedly wise, philosophic and intelligent, who spends his time doing what? He studies a single blade of grass. Seeing is such a privilege. Who notices the way the screech of a gull looks, the look of a gale, the sight of some fragrance? Some things have to be believed to be seen. Zen is like looking for the spectacles that are sitting on your nose. An artist sees things not as they are, but as he is. To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.

Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the arts that have influenced us. To look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty. Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world. The thing known and the thing seen are not the same. This is the paradox of vision: Sharp perception softens our existence in the world. He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. It is the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive.

Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye. Jackson Brown Jr. Open your eye that you may see The beauty that around you lies, The misty loveliness of the dawn, The glowing colors of the skies; The Child's bright eager eyes of blue, The gnarled and wrinkled face of age, The bird with crimson on his wing Whose spirit never knew a cage; The roadsides blooming goldenrod So brave through summer's wind and heat, The brook that rushes to the sea With courage that naught may defeat.

Open your eyes that you may see The wonder that around you lies; It will enrich your every day And make you glad and kind and wise. It is only in the microscope that our life looks so big. An eye can threaten like a loaded and levelled gun, or it can insult like hissing or kicking; or, in its altered mood, by beams of kindness, it can make the heart dance for joy.

One of the most wonderful things in nature is a glance of the eye; it transcends speech; it is the bodily symbol of identity. What we see depends mainly on what we look for. Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction. Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn, A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding; And haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away.

Paint what you see, not what you know. If we see an object as a "bowl," it may inhibit seeing it as "craft," just as seeing it as "craft" might inhibit seeing it as "art. What is art but a way of seeing. One who returns to a place sees it with new eyes. Although the place may not have changed, the viewer inevitably has. For the first time things invisible before become suddenly visible.

Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're livin'? Vipassana : looking into something with clarity and precision, seeing each component as distinct, piercing all the way through so as to perceive the most fundamental reality of that thing. He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye. The only sense we still respect is eyesight, probably because it is so closely attached to the brain.

Go into any American house at random, you will find something -- a plastic flower, false tiles, some imitation something -- something which can be appreciated as material only if apprehended by eyesight alone.

A Poet’s Inner Eye | National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

Don't we go sightseeing in cars, thinking we can experience a landscape by looking at it through glass? See deeply the beauty and interconnectedness of all life; then think, speak and act from what you see. It's better not to see than to see wrongly. The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion; the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, An appetite; a feeling and a love that had no need of a remoter charm by thought supplied, nor any interest Unborrowed from the eye.

There is more to us than we know. It takes time to really see. Seeing is in itself an art. Perhaps that is what art is, the crystalization of a vision. A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. The beauty that addresses itself to the eyes is only the spell of the moment; the eye of the body is not always that of the soul. Direct your eye right inward, and you'll find a thousand regions in your mind yet undiscovered.

Travel them and be expert in home-cosmography. Content is a glimpse. I could paint these mountains the way they look, but it isn't how I see them. When a good poet looks at an object with the eyes in his head, he sees more than merely accurately. When you see a palm tree, the palm tree has seen you. Gardening isn't a hobby anymore. It is a lifestyle, a paradigm shift. It is no longer about landscaped color or upgrades in the landscape.

Gardening is about seeing. Gardening is about awareness. Though we travel the world over to find beauty, we must carry it with us or we find it not. The difference between landscape and landscape is small, but there is a great difference in beholders. It is impossible to do a thing the way I see it because the closer I get the more differently I see. As I grow older, I pay less attention to what people say. I just watch what they do.

Keep this point clear: central to discovering an experience's perceptual meaning is a recognition of its identity and its individuality. Gardening can bring out the inner child, and sometimes, especially after all that time out in the hot sun, it can bring out the inner surrealist.

When the urge comes over you to construct a zucchini zeppelin or a tomato truck, give in to your muse and then document [photograph] your masterpiece, preferably against an uncluttered background. We do not see with our eyes, but through them. The only limits are, as always, those of vision.

Fundamentally, art is a way of seeing rather than of doing or making. Others can measure their visions by what we see. Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it. Hardly any one is able to see what is before him, just as it is in itself. He comes expecting one thing, he finds another thing, he sees through the veil of his preconception, he criticizes before he has apprehended, he condemns without allowing his instinct the chance of asserting itself.

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing. Where there is great love there are always miracles. Miracles rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming to us from far off, but on our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always. When there's nothing to see, look. We have five senses in which we glory and which we recognize and celebrate, senses that constitute the sensible world for us.

But there are other senses - secret senses, sixth senses, if you will - equally vital, but unrecognized, and unlauded It skims in through the eye, and by means of the utterly delicate retina hurls shadows like insect legs inward for translation. Then an immense space opens up in silence and an endlessly fecund sub-universe the writer descends, and asks the reader to descend after him, not merely to gain instructions but also to experience delight, the delight of mind freed from matter and exultant in the strength it has stolen from matter.

Our normal expectations about reality are created by a social consensus. We are taught how to see and understand the world. The trick of socialization is to convince us that the descriptions we agree upon define the limits of the real world. What we call reality is only one way of seeing the world, a way that is supported by social consensus. Leaders must invoke an alchemy of great vision. Every scene, even the commonest, is wonderful, if only one can detach oneself, casting off all memory of use and custom, and behold it as it were for the first time; in its right, authentic colors; without making comparisons.

Cherish and burnish this faculty of seeing crudely, simply, artlessly, ignorantly; of seeing like a baby or a lunatic, who lives each moment by itself and tarnishes by the present no remembrance of the past. It is only necessary to behold the least fact or phenomenon, however familiar, from a point a hair's breadth aside from our habitual path or routine, to be overcome, enchanted by its beauty and significance To perceive freshly, with fresh senses is to be inspired.

The gross elements are earth, water, air and fire, with the fifth being space. Each particle of the body is made up of these five elements, which are manifested in different colors. In their true quality, space is blue light, water is white, earth is yellow, fire is red, and air is green. November: Quotes, Poems, Sayings.