BY THE 1840's it was the spirit within the breast that guided, with all its mysteries, silences, hints, and hesitations, the course of poetic construction. Its powers of discernment being delicate, it dealt with an increasingly minute world, and found spirit everywhere, in flower as well as field, in child as well as man. It encouraged scrupulous observation and detailed narration because significance was omnipresent. As more and more natural objects received more and more human feeling, and sponsored more, the object came to imply the feeling, the thoughts too deep for tears. In the earlier century, readers had rejected the literal connections which Wordsworth made as too minute and personal; now they could accept even Coleridge's "strong underimport."
Therefore, the fullness of poetic statement lessened. "Ballads" and "Songs" came back into titles. In form, lines shortened and varied, adding odd short syllables, hesitating over dactyls and anapests, leaving a breath where a word might have been. Statements left off in mid-air, did not always draw conclusions, or by their downright literal intensity indicated that even more was being said. The major vocabulary gave up nature and power for light, night, and spirit. Adjectives declined. Adjectival poets like Lowell, Tupper, Hemans, Wordsworth wrote the more accustomed poetry of the day, but not the most exciting; their epitheting seemed reactionary. Emerson, Clough, and the Brownings were new, and their likeness to Landor indicates a new sort of reserve. For the twentieth century such reserve may not be enough; there may still be too much cosmos in the poetry, and too much obvious feeling. But at least the feeling was being drawn inward, the cosmos shaded and implied. The pervasion of light, and passive verbs, distinguish the vocabulary of the majority, and familial affections the minority. In form and pro-