What he would have been as a poet, if, instead of visiting Europe in early life and drinking in the spirit of the middle ages under the shadows of cathedral towers, he had, like Whittier, grown old amid American scenery and life, we can only guess from his earlier poems, which are as naturalistic, fresh and unmystical as could be desired; but certain it is that, from his long familiarity with the medieval view of nature, and its semi-pagan offspring, the romantic view, he was brought, for the greater part of his life, to look upon the world of men and things either as the middle scene of a miracle play, with a heaven of rewarding happiness above and a purgatory of purifying pain below, or else as a garment concealing, while it revealed, spiritual forms of unfathomed mystery.
At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable.
"Pray tell me anything new that has happened to a man anywhere on this globe"--and he reads it over his coffee and rolls, that a man has had his eyes gouged out this morning on the Wachito River; never dreaming the while that he lives in the dark unfathomed mammoth cave of this world, and has but the rudiment of an eye himself.
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