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SCIENCE AND THE POETS "TT is interesting to note to what extent the
lead- -- ing literary men. of our time have been influenced by
science, or have availed themselves of its results. A great many of
them not at all, it would seem. Among our own writers, Bryant,
Irving, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Whittier, show little or no trace of
the influence of science. The later English poets, Arnold,
Swinburne, Eossetti, do not appear to have profited by science.
There is no science in Eossetti, unless it be a kind of dark,
forbidden science, or science in league with sorcery. Eossetti's
muse seems to have been drugged with an opiate that worked
inversely and made it morbidly wakeful instead of somnolent. The
air of his " House of Life" is close, and smells not merely of
midnight oil, but of things much more noxious and suspicious.
Byron, Shelley, Keats, Landor seem to have owed little or nothing
directly to science; Coleridge and Wordsworth probably more, though
with them the debt was inconsiderable. Wordsworth's great ode shows
no trace of scientific knowledge. Yet Wordsworth was certainly an
interested observer ofthe scientific progress of his age, and was
the first to indicate the conditions under which the poet could
avail himself of the results of physical science. "The Poet," he
says, "writes under one restriction only, namely, that of the
necessity of giving immediate pleasure to a human Being possessed
of that information which may be expected from him, not as a
lawyer, a physician, a mariner, an astronomer, or a natural
philosopher, but as a Man." "The knowledge both of the Poet and the
Man of Science," he again says, "is pleasure: but the knowledge of
the one cleaves to us as a necessary part of our existence, our
natural and unalienable inheritance; the other, as a persona...
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