The Life and Works of Friedrich Schiller

By Calvin Thomas | Go to book overview

versify the whimsy. Of course his verse is self-revelation, without which poetry cannot be; but it is the revelation of a soul dwelling habitually in the upper altitudes of thought and emotion, and always assuming that fellow-mortals who care for poetry at all will be capable of a serious joy in the things of the mind.

One may say that his art as a poet consists not so much in the direct expression of feeling in sensuous and passionate language, as in the transfiguration of thought by means of impassioned imagery. In his poems as elsewhere he is a good deal of a rhetorician, but he is never insincere. His verse came from the heart, only it was the expression of character and convictions rather than of moods and fancies. It seems intended to edify rather than to portray; to impress rather than to delight. Some of it, too, is occupied with ideal sentiments so abstract and sublimated as to possess but languid interest for normally constituted lovers of poetry. For a while, at least, after his return to poetry, he may fairly be said to have cared a little too much for the white radiance of eternity, and not quite enough for the colored reflection beneath the dome.1

This last observation has in view more particularly the poems he wrote in the year 1795, while still 'hugging the shore of philosophy'. Take for example 'The Veiled Image at Sais', which tells in rather prosaic pentameters of an ardent young truth-seeker who is escorted by an Egyptian hierophant to a veiled

____________________
1
"The One remains, the many change and pass,
Heaven's light forever shines, earth's shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-colored glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity."

--Shelley's "Adonais".

-309-

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