In the world into which Spenser carries us there is neither time nor space, or rather it is outside of and independent of them both, and so is purely ideal, or, more truly, imaginary; yet it is full of form, color, and all earthly luxury, and so far, if not real, yet apprehensible by the senses. There are no men and women in it, yet it throngs with airy and immortal shapes that have the likeness of men and women, and hint at some kind of foregone reality. Now this place, somewhere between mind and matter, between soul and sense, between the actual and the possible, is precisely the region which Spenser assigns (if I have rightly divined him) to the poetic susceptibility of impression,
And, more to lull him in his slumber soft,
A trickling stream from high rock tumbling down
And ever drizzling rain upon the loft,
Mixt with the murmuring wind much like the soun
Of swarming bees did cast him in a swoon.
No other noise, nor peoples' troublous cries,
As still are wont to annoy the walled town,
Might there be heard: but careless quiet lies
Wrapt in eternal silence far from enemies.B. I. c. i. 41.
To reign in the air from the earth to highest sky.Underneath every one of the senses lies the soul and spirit of it, dormant till they are magnetized by some powerful emotion. Then whatever is imperishable in us recognizes for an instant and claims kindred with something outside and distinct from it, yet in some inconceivable way a part of it, that flashes back on it an ideal beauty which impoverishes all other companionship. This exaltation with which love sometimes subtilizes the nerves of coarsest men so that they feel and see, not the thing as it seems to others, but the beauty of it, the joy