Friday, 5 June 2015

Coleridge on Shakspeare and Milton


May 12, 1830:
Shakspeare is the Spinoistic deity - an omniscient creativeness. Milton is the deity of prescience; he stands ab extra, and drives a fiery chariot and four, making the horses feel the iron curb which holds them in. Shakspeare’s poetry is characterless; that is, it does not reflect the individual Shakspeare; but John Milton himself is in every line of the Paradise Lost. Shakspeare’s rhymed verses are excessively condensed, - epigrams with the point everywhere; but in his blank dramatic verse he is diffused, with a linked sweetness long drawn out. No one can understand Shakspeare’s superiority fully until he has ascertained, by comparison. all that which he possessed in common with several other great dramatists of his age, and has then calculated the surplus which is entirely Shakspeare’s own. His rhythm is so perfect, that you may be almost sure that you do not understand the real force of a line, if it dows not run well as you read it. The necessary mental pause after every hemstich or imperfect line is always equal to the time that would have been taken in readin the complete verse.
(ftom Table Talk)

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