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FROM A NOTE-BOOK*
WHEN I speak of Criticism, I speak not of the more or less deft use of
commentary or indication, but of a rare and fine art: the Marriage
of science that knows, of spirit that discerns.
The basis of criticism is imagination: its spiritual property is sympathy:
its intellectual distinction is balance.
Without imagination, there is neither the art that creates, nor the art
that discerns: without sympathy there is neither interpretation nor even
understanding: without balance, which is the exercise of the controlled im-
agination and ordered intellect, there is neither measure nor harmony, the
fundamental ideas of architecture, which is itself the fundamental art.
The truest literary criticism is that which sees that nowhere, at no time,
in any conceivable circumstance, is there any lapse of intellectual activity so
long as the nation animated thereby is not in its death-throes. Death is a
variation, a note of lower or higher insistence in the rhythmic sequence of
life. The psychic sense of rhythm is the fundamental factor in each and
Poetry is a glorious re-birth of prose. When a beautiful thought can be
uttered in worthy prose, best so. But when it moves the mind in music, and
shapes itself to a lyric rhythm, then it should find expression in poetry. The
truest poets are those who can most exquisitely capture, and concentrate in a
few words, this haunting rhythm. William Sharp.
*From the hitherto unpublished MSS. of William Sharp (Fiona
McLeod); contributed to Camera Work through the kindness of Mrs.