power of transmuting, but which, whenever the inspiration failed or was factitious, remained obstinately leaden.
The normal condition of many poets would seem to approach that temperature to which Wordsworth
's mind could be raised only by the white heat of profoundly inward passion.
And in proportion to the intensity needful to make his nature thoroughly aglow is the very high quality of his best verses.
They seem rather the productions of nature than of man, and have the lastingness of such, delighting our age with the same startle of newness and beauty that pleased our youth.
Is it his thought?
It has the shifting inward lustre of diamond.
Is it his feeling?
It is as delicate as the impressions of fossil ferns.
He seems to have caught and fixed forever in immutable grace the most evanescent and intangible of our intuitions, the very ripple-marks on the remotest shores of being.
But this intensity of mood which insures high quality is by its very nature incapable of prolongation, and Wordsworth
, in endeavoring it, falls more below himself, and is, more even than many poets his inferiors in imaginative quality, a poet of passages.
Indeed, one cannot help having the feeling sometimes that the poem is there for the sake of these passages, rather than that these are the natural jets and elations of a mind energized by the rapidity of its own motion.
In other words, the happy couplet or gracious image seems not to spring from the inspiration of the poem conceived as a whole,