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POETRY AND PROSE. 3
sure though every whit as unmeaning as the nonsense verses of the schoolboy."
Besides this fundamental distinction between poetry and prose, which is all we are concerned with in dealing with versification, it seems desirable to trace briefly the lines that separate them still further. Without attempting the hazardous task of formulating a definition of poetry, we may say that, in its widest sense, poetry is creation or invention of ideal beauty.* Macaulay says of it: " By poetry we mean the art of employing words in such a manner as to produce illusion on the imagination—the art of doing by words what the painter does by means of colours."
Poetry is one of the Fine Arts; it is indeed the queen of the Nine Sisters of the fabled family of the Muses; her children are the myriad forms of the beautiful in sentiment and emotion which are scattered through the world's literature. It is the result " of a divinely bestowed faculty operating upon the infinite resources of nature, creating new forms of the beautiful by combinations of existing materials, through the aid of the imagination."
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven ;
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
* The Greek word for it is derived from the verb to make, as the French equivalent is from to find; and in Lowland Scotch the poet is itill a maker.