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Page:Biographical and critical studies by James Thomson ("B.V.").djvu/316

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CRITICAL STUDIES

"This little volume, which I neither value nor undervalue, is one man's earliest essay to receive with upstretched palms some of these long- travelling, most-unnoticed, and yet unchangeable and immortal rays. It was given just as the reader reads it—with no hesitation, without the correction of one word from beginning to end; and how much it differs from other similar collections in process it were difficult to convey to the reader; suffice it to say that every piece was produced without premeditation or preconception: had these processes stolen in, such production would have been impossible. The longest pieces in the volume occupied from thirty to forty-five minutes.[1]

"Altogether about fifty hours of recreation, after days not unlaborious, are here put in print. The production was attended by no feeling and by no fervour, but only by an anxiety of all the circumstant faculties, to observe the unlooked-for evolution, and to know what would come of it. For the most part, the full import of what was written was not obvious until one or more days had elapsed: the process of production seemed to put that of appreciation in abeyance.

"Many of the poems are written by Correspondences, as Swedenborg terms the relations which natural objects bear to spiritual life; or to the varieties of Love, which is the grand object of all. Hence it is the readers of Swedenborg who will best understand this class of poems."

There are three important things left vague in this otherwise admirably clear account of the genesis of these poems. Dr. Wilkinson writes: "A theme is chosen and written down," but does not state whether chosen by himself or another. There are certain cases in which lines of introduction to the pieces appear to indicate that the theme was not really chosen, but was passively accepted from the "Spirit," in the same way as the piece itself. Thus, p. 20:—

  1. The poem called "The Second Völuspá" (pronounced Völyspou), the longest in the book, occupied from fifty to sixty minutes. As a rule it requires twice as long to copy a poem as to write one.—Author's Note.