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Two elements must be conjoined in any veritable work of art, — first, something to say, and second, an ability to say it by means of some articulate method of expression.
The first element is original and incommunicable; it exists or it does not exist; and nothing can be done to stimulate or stay it. It is, indeed, an aspect of that "wisdom" of which Walt Whitman has so eloquently said, —
"Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it, to
another not having it; Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof,
is its own proof; . . . Something there is in the float of the sight of
things that provokes it out of the Soul."
Wisdom is the fruit of character; and character can­not be taught. It must grow endogenously like a tree, with roots long nourished in the soil of observa­tion and experience. The character of any man at any moment is nothing more nor less than a remem­bered record of all that he has ever been. To have something to say, it is necessary to have lived, and to be able to remember.
But the second essential element of art — an ability to say things — can and must be learned,

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III