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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Poetry and Painting
By Johann Jakob Bodmer (1698–1783)
 
From ‘Holbein’

A TRUE poet will try to paint pictures on the imagination, which at a man’s birth is devoid of impressions, I hold that the imagination is a vast plain, capable of comprehending all that nature may bring forth, besides innumerable illusions, fancies, and poetic figures. A writer’s pen is his brush, and words are his colors, which he must blend, heighten, or tone down, so that each object may assume a natural living form. The best poet will so paint his pictures that his readers will see the originals reflected as in a mirror. If his imagination be vivid, words grow eloquent, he feels all that he sees: he is impelled onward like a madman, and he must follow whither his madness leads. This frenzy need not be inspired by any real object, but it must kindle his imagination to arouse a real emotion. A new conception delights the fancy. The newest is the most marvelous. To this must be given a semblance of probability, and to probability a touch of the marvelous. The poet must portray to the imagination the struggles of passion and the emotions of the human heart. His diction must be splendid and emphatic. Casting aside all earthly love, he must depict the love that springs from the soul, the love felt by him whose thoughts soar towards heaven, where God is the source of eternal beauty. The most artistic ode is that in which art is concealed, and in which the poet, unfettered, is driven by his own ardor.  1
 
 
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