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6. Behold the Sun hath burst the Eastern gates,
“ Right against the eastern gate,
Where the great Sun begins his state,
“ Thou Sun,
a dazzling deluge reigns."
“ Phæbus bade farewell to every leaf and flower." The aid derived from the figurative use of words in ¿pointing out minnte differences in the appearance of objects, may be learned from the following expressions which describe the passage of light :
“A peculiar melancholy reigns over the aisle where Mary lies buried. The light struggles dimly through windows darkened by dust."
The last beams of day were now fuintly streaming through the painted windows in the high vaults above me.”
“ The time shall come, when the garish sunbeam shall break into these gloomy mansions of death."
The advantages derived from the figurative use of words, in giving copiousness and richness to a language, are not confined to descriptive writing. Without aid of this kind, it would be difficult for the intellectual philosopher to conduct his reasonings and explain the phenomena of the mind.
3. The increased power of language may be mentioned as a third particular, in stating the advantages arising from the use of figurative terms. By the in
creased power of language, I here refer to its influence on the distinctness of our views, and in exciting the feelings and emotions of which we are susceptible. The passages quoted, when treating of vivacity as a quality of style, illustrate this remark. I shall therefore state but few instances here, and these without comment:
« Men looked up
The pall of a past world."
“ It broke the Sabbath stillness round.” “ The heavens present an immense concave reposing on the circular boundary of the world.”
A fondness for life and animated beings in preference to inanimate objects, may be stated as one of the principles in man, on which attempts to excite emotions of taste are founded. Whenever, therefore, a writer causes the imagination of his readers to regard inanimate objects, or such as have an existence in the mind only, as living and acting, or having the properties of a living being, such attempts, if authorized by the subject and occasion, are approved by literary taste. This is called PERSONIFICATION.
There are different ways in which the imagination is led to give life to inanimate objects. Sometimes it is by a direct address to them as listening, sometimes by a description of them as acting, and sometimes by merely ascribing to them the properties of intelligent or animated beings. Examples of these different methods will be given, accompanied with such remarks as may fully show the nature of such attempts and the cautions to be observed in their use.
Example 1. The following much admired instance of personification is from Milton. It is the language of Eve on leaving Paradise :
“ Must I leave thee, Paradise ? thus leave
In this example, the garden and the different objects it contains, are addressed as having life and intelligence. Eve parts from them, as from friends with whom she has long been familiar, and whom she fondly loves. What is most prominent in all instances of this kind of personification is, that they result from strong emotion; and this suggests one important rule respecting them :Personifications of the bolder kind should never be introduced, except when there is strong excitement.
Personifications both of inanimate objects, and of such as have an existence only in the mind, are frequently found in the commencement of poetical effusions. The poet struck with them as objects of beauty, or grandeur, or sublimity, becomes highly excited, and breaks forth in an address to them, as if they could hear his strains, and receive his praises.
Example 2. The following example of this kind is from Akenside :
“ Indulgent Fancy ! from the fruitful banks
Of Avon, whence thy rosy fingers cull
Where Shakspeare lies, be present.” In this example, there is a personification of a faculty of the mind—that which exists only as an object of thought or consciousness. Instances of this kind are common, and from their frequency do not appear so
bold, as those of inanimate material objects; but they are often justly regarded as happy attempts to excite emotions of taste. Like comparisons, in which intellectual are illustrated by material things, they assist the mind in the distinctness of its views. They also often bring before the mind an object or scene, in the view of which, from some original tendency of the mind, or from some association, an emotion of beauty is excited. In the example just stated, imagination causes a fair form to rise before us, whose occupation it is to “cull fresh flowers from the banks of the rivers,” and “sprinkle dew on poets' graves," and we regard the image presented with an emotion of beauty.
The most important caution to be observed in the introduction of personifications of the kind we are considering is, that the object addressed be one of sufficient dignity and importance. Should a writer address his inkstand, or his paper, as beings of life and intelligence, the effect would be unfavourable.
It will be noticed that, in the examples of personification which have been cited, inanimate objects and objects of thought are addressed as living agents. The writer calls upon them as beings that can hear and act. Examples will now be given, in which inanimate objects and objects of thought are described as acting and possessing the qualities of living beings. These instances form a second class of personifications, being less bold. than those before stated. Example 3. The following example is from Milton :
“ So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she ate.
That all was lost.” In this example, Earth, an inanimate material object, is described as feeling; and Nature, an object of thought,
as' acting. Though so high an excitement of the mind, as is necessary to authorize a personification of the preceding class, is not required to justify the introduction of a descriptive personification, such as just given, still that excitement must exist to a considerable degree. Had not the occasion been one of great importance, and the event one regarded with deep interest, the personifications of the earth and of nature here found, would not be approved. But so important was the occasion, and so momentous the event, that the method of description here adopted, is in agreement with our excited feel. ings. Hence, then, the caution given, in reference to the former class of personifications, is applicable in some degree to this.
Instances, in which objects of thought are represented as acting and exhibiting the qualities of active and intelligent beings, are frequent. One principal design of such personifications, as before remarked, is to aid the mind in the distinctness of its conceptions.
Example 4. The following example of this kind is from Hooker :
“ Of law, there can be no less acknowledged, than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world. All things in heaven and earth do her homage ; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power. Both angels and men and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy."
No one can read this passage without a consciousness, that the personification gives a unity and distinctness to his conception of the nature and offices of law; and this advantage is in addition to the pleasure, which is felt in the view of the venerated form of an intelligent being.
In connexion with this example, one caution may be given, as applicable to descriptive personifications. There should be consistency between the different parts; the language used throughout the whole description,