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shore of Ithaca. How intolerable even these might have been would be

apparent if an inferior poet were to treat the subject. As it is,

the absurdity is veiled by the poetic charm with which the poet

invests it.

The diction should be elaborated in the pauses of the action,

where there is no expression of character or thought. For, conversely,

character and thought are merely obscured by a diction that is




With respect to critical difficulties and their solutions, the

number and nature of the sources from which they may be drawn may be

thus exhibited.

The poet being an imitator, like a painter or any other artist, must

of necessity imitate one of three objects- things as they were or are,

things as they are said or thought to be, or things as they ought to

be. The vehicle of expression is language- either current terms or, it

may be, rare words or metaphors. There are also many modifications

of language, which we concede to the poets. Add to this, that the

standard of correctness is not the same in poetry and politics, any

more than in poetry and any other art. Within the art of poetry itself

there are two kinds of faults- those which touch its essence, and

those which are accidental. If a poet has chosen to imitate something,

[but has imitated it incorrectly] through want of capacity, the

error is inherent in the poetry. But if the failure is due to a

wrong choice- if he has represented a horse as throwing out both his

off legs at once, or introduced technical inaccuracies in medicine,

for example, or in any other art- the error is not essential to the

poetry. These are the points of view from which we should consider and

answer the objections raised by the critics.

First as to matters which concern the poet's own art. If he

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