FORM, AND REALITY
It has been said that the object of all bring the mind of man into harmony with the outer world of nature, so that the distinction between the 'I' and the 'it' is broken down. Poets note this distinction, and they are especially sensitive to the frustrations which it imposes. There is mental tension and pressure, till, in poetry's expression and solution, the frustration is overcome and the distinction removed. This is how poets come to be poets at all.
Vergil displays this process with unusual precision. Throughout his work he is conquering areas of experience to be a home for the spirit, instead of being remote and unfriendly to it. There is always his own, friendly world, to which he is trying to annex another world, still strange. Sometimes part of the friendly world is lost, and has to be won again. At the cost of some over-simplification, it could be said that, for Vergil, there are four great tracts in particular; the internal mental world, firstly, of personal experience, and, secondly, of general human experience, which survives in the unconscious mind of every individual, and especially of every poet; and next the outer world, firstly, of the present, of which news is heard in talk or other communication, and secondly, of the past, known mainly from books.
Without theorizing, some of Vergil's mental history can be clearly seen. He began life in a happy home, which he loved all the more because of the threats against it from the outside world. He had to reconcile the home and the threats, and conquer what he could of the threatening world to annex to the world of home. This he did by finding reinforcements in the outer world itself, some in the present and some in the past; in the present he found good as well as evil, powerful friends to help him, and to be worshipped as heroes; and in the past he found feelings like his own, and lines already drawn, which could discipline and classify and organize, and so justify, his own feelings; including both feelings belonging to his own present which his own experience aroused, and also feelings that were more instinctive, and tendencies such as we all inherit from a past, in which the experience has been wider than our own.
Vergil was introverted and shy, and retreated from self-assertion. Probably like Shakespeare in this, he was clearly dominated by love
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Publication information: Book title: Roman Vergil. Contributors: W. F. Jackson Knight - Author. Publisher: Faber and Faber. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1944. Page number: 111.
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