Introductory Note

Introductory Note

By the Rev. Wm. H. Draper, M.A.,
Rector of Adel

In times of intellectual stress and change, when the progress of knowledge and criticism compels every thoughtful reader to see old truths from new points of view, there are some people to whom the point of view of Poetry seems to afford a prospect not otherwise obtainable, and therefore that it is worth taking up, at least tentatively, in spite of the difficulty of making the foothold secure.

The reason for so considering the point of view of Poetry is that it stands clear of the dust of controversy. Those who look from it know that they cannot see detail, cannot make out exact definitions, but can see form, the outline of which is softened by distance; and mass, the colour of which is enriched and toned by intervening space and air.

What is the relative value of this point of view, on the subject here treated, cannot yet be finally determined. But no vindication is needed of the wisdom of the idea that it is worth trying. To employ it is like the action of stepping a little further from a picture when our present position seems to show something too hard or disproportioned in the outlines or too strong in the light. One might even say more than this and affirm that the use of poetry is the use of a different light, namely, that of imagination; demanding rare skill in its gradations, but, when handled according to knowledge, promising new perceptions.

The writer of this little volume, part of a more extended work which aims at giving some new perceptions over the field covered by the Evangelists’ records, has adopted the medium of verse as the best way of explaining at once what her aim is. She is deeply aware of what may be said against such an attempt. She knows that the mere use of verse at all is taken by some as a kind of challenge. But when so taken it is, so far as she is concerned, mistaken. Verse is here chosen because it is the accepted instrument of poetry, and what is here said in verse is said from that Art’s point of view. But her chief object has been not to make a poem but to illuminate a theme which is itself to her more than poetry and includes it because it is the Truth of all truths and the Life of all lives.

When familiarity with the letter of Scripture has thrown a kind of veil over the eyes, when critical and theological controversies have raised a dry dust round the Figures and scenes pourtrayed,—in such a time comes the opportunity for poetry to describe what it sees in freshness of spiritual perception and in gazing back on the Past without controversy and from a heart at peace.

Whether the hand which holds the pen may sometimes tremble or no, and whether or not the skill of the artist be at times imperfect, yet, if the spirit of the art is there, it will awake in others those same new perceptions, a consciousness of which first moved the writer to take up the pen and then to go on with so great an endeavour, in which to fail is easy and to succeed is hard.

W. H. D.

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