Pater and Kant have been deuteragonist and protagonist of this essay. It is fitting that they should have the last word:
the function of the aesthetic critic is to distinguish, to analyse, and separate from its adjuncts, the virtue by which a picture, a landscape, a fair personality in life or in a book, produces this special impression of beauty or pleasure, to indicate what the source of that impression is, and under what conditions it is experienced. (Pater (1980) pp. xx–xxi)
It [poetry] invigorates the mind by letting it feel its faculty–free, spontaneous, and independent of determination by nature … (Kant (1952) 191–2 §53)
The free experience of beauty, in poetry as in other things, may, or may not, be good for us (and thus, in Kant's phrase, a symbol of morality), but, crucially, it is a good in itself. It may even be one of those few and precious experiences that makes us most fully human.