Progress, Imagination, Romanticism, Feeling, Piety, Truth, Utilitarianism
In the extract, Channing's main thesis is that 'In an intellectual nature, framed for progress and for higher modes of being, there must be creative energies, powers of original and ever growing thought; and poetry is the form in which these energies are chiefly manifested' (188). Although poetry finds its elements in the world of experience, it 'imparts to material objects life, and sentiment, and emotion, and invests the mind with the powers and splendours of the outward creation' (188–89). Poetry obeys laws higher than those of mere logic, namely, 'the laws of the immortal intellect'. It is one of the 'great instruments' of the 'refinement and exaltation' of society, and its fictions 'are often the vehicles of the sublimest verities'. (189) Poetry is needed 'to counteract the tendency of physical science, which being now sought, not as formerly for intellectual gratification, but for multiplying bodily comforts, requires a new development of imagination, taste, and poetry, to preserve men from sinking into an earthly, material, epicurean life'.
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