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Crooked Line

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Y ou ruay remember when you were much bothered in your mind by the question - What ig it tbat makes a writer y Here is a man with a certain degree of culture ; with a certain experience ; and he is a writer. Here is another man with much the same, or a higher degree of culture, and with much the same, or a more interesting experience, and he could not be a writer, even if he wanted to be ; as perhaps he does, the more's the pity. - Please observe that I am not talking about mere writers - not even mere writers of books ; but writers of literature : Shakspbare, Charles Lamb, Emerson, Thackeray, Chaucer.Dante, Rob't. Browning, Carlyle, George Eliot, Tennyson, Landor, típenser, Hawthorne, and the rest. What makes these men builders with words, in such fashion as to identify them forever with wordbuilding- so indeed, that their building lasts ; and this looked upon as a proper and becoming occupation and lame for them ? It is easy to teil what makes a man a journalist. - Some creatures are born with a passion for printer's ink. They tend naturally to a newspaper office, sottytie, gather locáis, or write leaders, according to their capacity. They may go as far as magazine writing, and so flnally glide into the making of books. It does not follow that they become makers of literature. Soinewhere is drawn a line between mere writing and genuiue literature - a line none the less real, because it runs very crookedly, or because sometimes our eyes are so dazzled that we cannot see it. You may remember also, the time when you discovered what it was that made a man a writer - in the higher seuse. It was at that epoch in your life when the blindfaiths ofyouth gave way, - not without distress ; not without, perhaps, a time of dark, perplexed wandering, - to be succeeded by the open-eyed faithsof maturity. Then, when the scalos feil from your own eyes, and you apprehended some things, at least, freshly - then you knew that the true sayer was the true seer. Itis true - all that the poets have said about it. The knack makos a man a stringer of words, with more or less of thought. The insight, added to the knack, makes him something more. The seer and the sayer are one Not that the book of truth is opened to him who has the gift of tongues. Bird-song, smell of salt sea, glint of dew-drop and star, wracked nerve, sin - these spoll plain words to myriads who read well, but not aloud. There was a time when we found all this out for ourselves. But when we got a little farther, we made another discovery, that among those who use words there are genuine seers who are not genuine writers. Let us, in order to narrow the outlook and mako the objects more sharp and distiuct, limit our thoughts to poetry. Then - among the poets, there are genuine seers whose lack of art withdraws their work from the realm of genuine literature. And, on the other hand, there are genuine poets who have little of the seer. They hold their place, strangely enough, just by the charm of their words : ttoe lilt - the dreamy, winning, delicious musió, color, honev-sweetness of


Old News
Michigan Argus