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152 CELTIC POETRY.
all the art of truth and verity. As I have said elsewhere1: —
" To have done this clearly and completely, so that the past lives again and is felt by the instinct of nature to be true and real, free from confusion and extravagance, the imperfections of utterance in a people just learning to express themselves, the alien and antique methods of thought, through the inevitably imperfect knowledge of a language half faded and changed, while preserving not only the terms of expression but the characteristics of thought and feeling, seems a no less difficult task than to trace and interpret the worn letters and half-effaced inscriptions on the Ogham stones, and could only have been done by the genius of the great poet vivifying the labor of the profound scholar. Finally, the impress of the past as it is visible to the present, the effect of the gray cairn and grassy burial mound, and almost the last fading of the tokens of the aboriginal race into the bosom of nature, and the perception of its spirit amid the light and bustle of the day,
The loneliness and awe secure of the forgotten dead, is the task of the modern poet speaking in his own time and to his own gen-, eration of the past."
1 Introduction to popular edition of Lays of the Western Gael, Dublin, 1888.