The Faith of a Liberal: Selected Essays by Morris R. Cohen

By Morris R. Cohen | Go to book overview

is par excellence the poet of civilized life, courtliness, and polished manners. He has a real contempt for the ways of uncultivated country folk and cares not for the wild and rugged in nature any more than for the untamed desires of the human heart. Like other city-bred men he has an eye only for the peaceful in nature. The turbulence of wind, rain, and snow, the evanescent play of clouds, the surge of the sea, and the massive grandeur of woods and mountains do not solicit him as much as the formal gardening of flowers and the steady play of light. He is not even intrigued by the white marble hills of Carrara.

Though Dante's poetry will thus for ages continue to be among humanity's most cherished possessions, his negative and other-worldly morality will continue to make the Divine Comedy more alien to the modern spirit than the more distant but more human world of Homer. The peace and order which we demand of modern morality and ultimately of modern poetry--the two cannot be forever sharply separated--are the peace and order that nourish an ever-growing harmonious human life on this earth, which, despite its limited possibilities, supplies the material for the heart's desire.


25
HEINE

IT WAS NOT to be expected that any of our newspapers should notice that, in the midst of the war, a new edition of Heine was completed in Germany. Yet to those who care for discriminate judgment this was an event of greater significance than

____________________
Published, under the pen-name Philonous, as a review of Heine "Sämtliche Werke", in The New Republic, Vol. 20, p. 15 ( November 26, 1919).

-241-

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