uneven is he. If we read our favorite poems or passages only, he will seem uniformly great.
And even as regards ‘The Excursion’ we should remember how few long poems will bear consecutive reading.
For my part I know of but one,— the Odyssey.
None of our great poets can be called popular in any exact sense of the word, for the highest poetry deals with thoughts and emotions which inhabit, like rarest sea-mosses, the doubtful limits of that shore between our abiding divine and our fluctuating human nature, rooted in the one, but living in the other, seldom laid bare, and otherwise visible only at exceptional moments of entire calm and clearness.
Of no other poet except Shakespeare
have so many phrases become household words as of Wordsworth
has made current more epigrams of worldly wisdom, to Wordsworth
belongs the nobler praise of having defined for us, and given us for a daily possession, those faint and vague suggestions of other-worldliness of whose gentle ministry with our baser nature the hurry and bustle of life scarcely ever allowed us to be conscious.
He has won for himself a secure immortality by a depth of intuition which makes only the best minds at their best hours worthy, or indeed capable, of his companionship, and by a homely sincerity of human sympathy which reaches the humblest heart.
Our language owes him gratitude for the habitual purity and abstinence of his style, and we who speak it, for having emboldened us to take delight in simple things, and to trust ourselves to our own instincts.
And he hath his reward.
It needs not to bid
Renowned Chaucer lie a thought more nigh
To rare Beaumond, and learned Beaumond lie
A little nearer Spenser;
for there is no fear of crowding in that little society with whom he is now enrolled as fifth in the succession of the great English Poets.