THE STEALING OF THE MARE
THE saying that history repeats itself is one of those provisional theories or approximate generalisations which are useful as stepping-stones towards progress. The object of history indeed, if history be regarded as more than the endless amassing of isolated grains of fact, is to find the pattern in human affairs; for that pattern, if we could find it, is the meaning of the world, or if we prefer to put it so, the manifestation of the thought of God. And the essence of pattern, as we have seen already when we were considering the question of the definition of poetry, is repeat. But that this repeating pattern may become art in the full sense, something else is required. The repeat must be so planned and varied as to become more than a mere repeat; it must become the organic element of a whole which is not an aggregate but an organic unity. In art, as in all vital processes, nothing repeats itself absolutely; even if when abstracted and taken by itself it appears to do so, the mere fact that it has occurred before makes its recurrence something new and different, because bearing a different relation to the whole integrated past out of which it rises, and the whole potential future of which it is both the germ and the soil. But it is seldom that the recurrence bears even superficially the aspect of a mere repetition; the difference, even at first sight, is generally as obvious as the likeness:
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Publication information: Book title: Lectures on Poetry. Contributors: J. W. Mackail - Author. Publisher: Longmans Green and Co.. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1911. Page number: 123.
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