He enrolled in Harvard University as a sophomore inwhere he was praised for his prose work, winning the Bowdoin Prize for his essays two years in a row—the first Harvard student to ever do so. After graduating inVery became a Greek tutor at Harvard and continued to study at the Divinity School. Very, through Emerson, became involved with the Transcendentalists, and his increasing fixation on mysticism and spirituality began to attract notice among his peers. The following day Very was sent to the McLean Asylum in Charlestown, where he would be kept for one month.
THE poets of the present day who would raise the epic song cry out, like Archimedes of old, "give us a place to stand on and we will move the world. Glancing for a moment at the progress of epic poetry, we shall see that the obscurity of fabulous times could be adapted to the earliest development only of the heroic character.
There is an obvious incongruity in making times so far remote the theatre on which to represent the heroism of a civilized age; and it adds still more to the difficulty, that, although the darkness of fable still invests them, reason will no longer perceive the beings which the infant credulity of man once saw there.
To minds in this state there was a remoteness in an event which had taken place one or two centuries before, of which we cannot conceive, and which rendered the time that Homer had chosen for his subject, though not materially differing in character, sufficiently remote for his purpose.
If to these advantages possessed by Homer we add those which belonged to him from the religion of his times and from tradition, whose voice is to the poet more friendly than the plain written records of history, we must confess that the spot on which he built up his scenes of heroic wonder was peculiarly favorable.
The advance, which the human mind had made towards civilization, prevented Virgil from making a like impression on his own age. To awaken admiration, he too was obliged to break from the bonds of the present, and soar beyond the bounds of history, before he could throw his spell of power over the mind.
Why had he less influence? Because he could not, like Homer, carry Essays and poems by jones very the past the spirit of his times. Lucan, while his characters exhibit the true heroic spirit of his age, fails of giving to them their due influence, from the want of some region of fiction beyond the dominion of history in which to place them.
He cannot break from the present without violating every law of probability. To escape this thraldom and reach a point from which the heroic character of their age might be seen dilated to its full height, modern poets have fled beyond the bounds of time and woke the echoes of eternity.
It was only from this point that the Christian world could be moved; it is only in that region without bounds, that the heroism of immortality can be shown in visible action. Milton and Dante chose this spot, on which with almost creative power they might show to mankind worlds of their own, "won from the void and formless Infinite," and from which their own heroic spirits might be reflected back upon their own times in all their gigantic proportions.
In considering this question, we shall endeavor to show what reasons there are for not expecting another great epic poem, drawn from the principles of epic poetry and the human mind, and that these present an insuperable barrier to the choice of a subject, which shall exhibit the present development of the heroic character in action.
In doing this I shall exhibit, by an analysis of the Iliad, the true model of an epic poem, its origin and peculiarities, and in what manner those peculiarities have been changed, and, at last, lost by succeeding poets, according to the development of the heroic character in their several eras.
I shall thus be led to show that the taking away of the peculiarities of epic interest, and the final emerging of that interest in the dramatic, is the natural result of the influences to which the human mind in its progress is subjected; and that that influence, while it precludes all former subjects from representing the present development of the heroic character, throws, at the same time, an insuperable barrier in the way of any subject.
In a philosophical analysis of such a poem as the Iliad or Odyssey, made with reference to its epic peculiarities, there is great danger of misconceiving the history and character of early heroic poetry, thus giving to the poet a plan which he never formed, or a moral which he never conceived.
The simplest conception of the origin and plan of the Iliad must, we think, prove the most correct. It originated, doubtless, in that desire, which every great poet must especially feel, of revealing to his age forms of nobler beauty and heroism than dwell in the minds of those around him.
His enthusiasm would doubtless prompt him to the execution of detached parts before he had completed his general plan, and the various incidents, which constitute so much of the charm and interest of his poem as they suggested themselves to his mind, would also direct him to the great point round which they all revolved.
Thus the single combats of Menelaus and Paris, the funeral games of Patroclus, and the restitution and burial of the body of Hector are generally complete in themselves, yet having an obvious connexion as still telling the same great tale of Troy.
Though all are possessed of valor and courage, yet they are so distinguished from one another by certain peculiarities of disposition and manners, that to distinguish them it is hardly necessary to hear their names.
Achilles is brave, and Hector is brave, so are Ajax, Menelaus, and Diomede; but the bravery of Hector is not of the same kind with that of Ajax, and no one will mistake the battle-shout of the son of Atreus for the war-cry of Tydides.
It cast around his whole subject a sublimity which it could not otherwise have had, giving occasion to noble description, and tending to excite that admiration which is the leading aim of the epic. This it was which imparted an heroic greatness to war which cannot now be seen in it.
That far-reaching idea of time, which seems to expand our thoughts with limitless existence, gives to our mental struggles a greatness they could not have before had.
We each of us feel within our own bosoms a great, an immortal foe, which, if we have subdued, we may meet with calmness every other, knowing that earth contains no greater; but which, if we have not, it will continually appear in those petty contests with others by which we do but show our own cowardice.
The Greeks, on the contrary, lived only for their country, and drew everything within the sphere of their national views; their highest exemplification of morality was patriotism. Such critics would blame the poet for praising the physical strength of his heroes, in short for representing his gods such as they were believed to be, and painting his warriors such as they were.
When we look back upon the pages of their history, we cannot contemplate the greatness there exhibited, without a feeling of sorrow that they had not lived under influences as favorable as our own, without a sense of unworthiness at not having exhibited characters corresponding with the high privileges we enjoy.
We respect that grandeur of mind in the heroes of Homer which led them to sacrifice a mere earthly existence for the praise of all coming ages.
They have not been disappointed. Worlds to them unknown have read of their deeds, and generations yet unborn shall honor them. We reverence not in Hector and Achilles the mere display of physical power, we reverence not the manners of their times which but too often call forth our horror and disgust; but we do reverence and honor those motives which even in the infancy of the human mind served to raise it above the dominion of sense, and taught it to grasp at a life beyond the narrow limits of its earthly vision.
This state of things gave to the Iliad and Odyssey that intense epic interest, which we fail to find in later heroic poems. As the mind advances, a stronger sympathy with the inner man of the heart is more and more felt, and becomes more and more the characteristic of literature.
In the expanded mind and cultivated affections, a new interest is awakened, dramatic poetry succeeds the epic, thus satisfying the want produced by the farther development of our nature.essays and poems: by. jones very. boston: charles c. little and james brown mdcccxxxix.
page [ii] page [iii] to edward tyrrel channing, boylston professor in harvard university this volume is inscribed, as a token of gratitude, by the author. Essays and poems [Jones Very] on rutadeltambor.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This book was digitized and reprinted from the collections of the University of California Libraries.
It was produced from digital images created through the libraries’ mass digitization rutadeltambor.coms: 7. Essays and Poems / By Jones Very. has 1 rating and 0 reviews.
This volume is produced from digital images created through the University of Michigan Univ 3/5(1). Essays and Poems by Jones Very starting at $ Essays and Poems has 7 available editions to buy at Alibris. URL: rutadeltambor.com Contents. View entire text. Jones thus grew up shy and reserved, and on the outskirts of village life.
Essays and Poems by Jones Very, containing the essays Shakespeare and Hamlet, as well as sixty-odd poems, was published in September , one year after God had set up shop in the body of a man.