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    Chapter 22

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    Chapter 22
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    The Huxley, Tyndall, Carolus Duran, Bastien-Lepage coven asserted
    that an artist or a poet must paint or write in the style of his
    own day, and this with 'The Fairy Queen,' and 'Lyrical Ballads,'
    and Blake's early poems in its ears, and plain to the eyes, in
    book or gallery, those great masterpieces of later Egypt, founded
    upon that work of the Ancient Kingdom already further in time from
    later Egypt than later Egypt is from us. I knew that I could
    choose my style where I pleased, that no man can deny to the human
    mind any power, that power once achieved; and yet I did not wish
    to recover the first simplicity. If I must be but a shepherd
    building his hut among the ruins of some fallen city, I might take
    porphyry or shaped marble, if it lay ready to my hand, instead of
    the baked clay of the first builders. If Chaucer's personages had
    disengaged themselves from Chaucer's crowd, forgotten their common
    goal and shrine, and after sundry magnifications become, each in
    his turn, the centre of some Elizabethan play, and a few years
    later split into their elements, and so given birth to romantic
    poetry, I need not reverse the cinematograph. I could take those
    separated elements, all that abstract love and melancholy, and
    give them a symbolical or mythological coherence. Not Chaucer's
    rough-tongued riders, but some procession of the Gods! a
    pilgrimage no more but perhaps a shrine! Might I not, with health
    and good luck to aid me, create some new 'Prometheus Unbound,'
    Patrick or Columbcille, Oisin or Fion, in Prometheus's stead, and,
    instead of Caucasus, Croagh-Patrick or Ben Bulben? Have not all
    races had their first unity from a polytheism that marries them to
    rock and hill? We had in Ireland imaginative stories, which the
    uneducated classes knew and even sang, and might we not make those
    stories current among the educated classes, re-discovering for the
    work's sake what I have called 'the applied arts of literature,'
    the association of literature, that is, with music, speech and
    dance; and at last, it might be, so deepen the political passion
    of the nation that all, artist and poet, craftsman and day
    labourer would accept a common design? Perhaps even these images,
    once created and associated with river and mountain, might move of
    themselves, and with some powerful even turbulent life, like those
    painted horses that trampled the rice fields of Japan.
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