that grasps them." In them lies the energy of a nation's life, and we comprehend that life only when we make clear to ourselves the thoughts which inspire it. It is thus true, in the deepest sense, that those who make the songs of a people make its history. In all true poets there are hints for a larger philosophy of life. But, in order to discover it, we must know the truths which dominate them, and break into music in their poems.
Whether it is always possible, and whether it is at any time fair to a poet to define the idea which inspires him, I shall not inquire at present. No doubt, the interpretation of a poet from first principles carries us beyond the limits of art; and by insisting on the unity of his work, more may be attributed to him, or demanded from him, than he properly owns. To make such a demand is to require that poetry should be philosophy as well, which, owing to its method of intuition, it can never be. Nevertheless, among English poets there is no one who lends himself so easily, or s