Charles Harpur

Here you will find the Long Poem The Nevers of Poetry of poet Charles Harpur

The Nevers of Poetry

Never say aught in verse, or grave or gay, 
That you in prose would hesitate to say. 
Never in rhyme pretend to tears, unless 
True feeling sheds them in unfeigned distress; 
Or some dream-grief, with such a mournful strain 
As night winds make in pine tops, stirs your brain, 
To shake them, dew-like, o?er the flowers that bloom 
In the wild dark, round Joy?s imagined tomb; 
Or save when doubts that over Love may lower, 
Like summer clouds, break in a sunny shower 
Out of your gladdened eyes, to freshen all 
The bowers of memory with their grateful fall. 
Never too much affect that polished thing? 
Once belauded?known as point, or sting. 
The highest and the noblest growths of wit 
Are never, or but seldom, touched with it. 
For of the muse it is not truly born 
Unless the apex of some burst of scorn, 
Or irony, or hate all torture-torn! 
Not to increase the passion, but to make 
The wave, full surging, on its object break. 

Never, if you?d be readable at all, 
Aim overmuch at being ethical. 
Though she should be a teacher, still the Muse 
To be a mere schoolmistress should refuse. 
She should instruct us, but her methods never 
Be academic ones, however clever. 
Her morals, like great nature?s morals, aye 
Should work themselves out in an unforced way, 
And not so patly as to hint the while 
At cryptic ingenuities of style. 
Whate?er the theme, her ethic lights should shine 
Full forth, as from a central heat divine, 
Or heat inherent to the passion, wrought 
Into the chastened harmony of thought; 
And not be mere extraneous coals of fire 
Blown for the nonce into factitious ire. 

Though sone has oft some beauty most divine, 
Which well we feel, yet cannot well define? 
Some yearning excellence, intense and far, 
Coming and going like a clouded star? 
Some awful glory we but half descry, 
Like a strong sunset in a stormy sky? 
Yet ne?er be murky of set purpose, since 
You only thereby shall the more evince 
That even the Sublime?s but then made sure 
When, like a morning alp, it breaks from the obscure. 

Never heed whether a line strictly goes 
By learned rule, if, brook-like, it warble as it flows, 
Or if, in concord with the thought, it fills 
Fast forward, like a torrent fast flooding from the hills. 

Never say aught is ?fading like a star? 
Because receding in the past afar, 
Since stars do not fade, but shine on no less, 
Thought lost in light to our weaksightedness; 
And no true trope should ever rest on fancy, 
But claim a universal relevancy; 
Nor think a line is racy to the core, 
And bold, and bravely eloquent, the more 
It striving seems to tear itself asunder, 
Like this??Down there i? the deep heart o? the thunder,? 
But for which, surely (out of chaos), none 
Might feign to find a sanction, save in fun. 

Never think harshness the best foil to raise 
And relish sweetness; for love craggy lays. 
Yet never be you glib, when passion?s force 
Should ridge your style, as by a tempest hoarse 
The deep is roughened into waves that roar 
At heaven?upheaping, huddling, more and more, 
To burst at last in booming thunder on the shore. 

Never be such a pagan as to deem 
That truth or beauty must diviner seem 
For some abnormal set-off, hunched and rude, 
Prowling for evil in the neighbourhood, 
If such strange opposite breathe not the air 
Of nature?being found, not conjured there; 
And never to be graceless be you fain, 
Till to be graceful you have tried in vain. 

Never be cheated?never may you be!? 
Into the cramp belief that poesy 
Must of necessity in soul be one 
With the mere form of verse if it but deftly run; 
Or pour, as with a mill-wheel?s vigorous cheer, 
A rhyming clatter hard upon the ear. 

Never believe that verse a license knows 
For aught that would be balderdash in prose, 
Or that all reason may at any time 
Find a sufficient substitute in rhyme; 
Or that because with many words you re fraught, 
There must be under them some flood of thought. 

Never compel a simile that wont 
Take service without forcing; if it don t, 
As of itself, into your verses flow, 
But true to liberty?and let it go. 

Never reject a homely-sounding phrase, 
That your whole meaning easily conveys, 
For one made current by some courtly wit 
Which barely indicates a shade of it, 
Or which?for probably it so may fall? 
Does not express what you would mean at all. 

Never suppose that you in song are free 
To strain all praise, and make it flattery. 
To sing of the heroic is to raise 
One value by another?but to praise 
Mere clowns, in verse, or natures lean and cold, 
Is like to setting gravel stones in gold. 

Never exalt vagaries to a station 
But due to