CANTO THE FOURTH.
Many are Poets who have never penned
Their inspiration, and perchance the best:
They felt, and loved, and died, but would not lend
Their thoughts to meaner beings; they compressed
The God within them, and rejoined the stars
Unlaurelled upon earth, but far more blessed
Than those who are degraded by the jars
Of Passion, and their frailties linked to fame,
Conquerors of high renown, but full of scars.
Many are Poets but without the name;10
For what is Poesy but to create,
From overfeeling, Good or Ill, and aim
At an external life beyond our fate,
And be the new Prometheus of new men,
Bestowing fire from Heaven, and then, too late,
Finding the pleasure given repaid with pain,
And vultures to the heart of the bestower,
- [So too Wordsworth, in his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads (1800); "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings."]
"Thy Godlike crime was to be kind,
To render with thy precepts less
The sum of human wretchedness...
But baffled as thou wert from high...
Thou art a symbol and a sign
Prometheus, iii. lines 35, seq.; vide ante, p. 50.
Compare, too, the Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte, stanza xvi. var. ii.—
"He suffered for kind acts to men."
Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 312.]