Cosmos and Man's Mind-A Quality of Living Literature- Stag-Fright-Salmon-Fright-The Judge's View-Experience Teaches - Off to the Fishing-A Jovial Millionaire- "Wanderin' i' the Mind" - How Fishing Differs from all Other Sports - A First Salmon - In Trouble on the Dee-The Vividness of Memory.
A poet, as the themes came in the progress of the year, wrote an ode to Spring, an ode to Summer, an ode to Autumn, and an ode to Winter. His friend declared the cycle very fine indeed; but might he put a question ? Graciously the minstrel bowed permission. "Well," said the prosaist, "I find that in each poem you proclaim the season you are writing about to be the best of all the year. This you do in good set terms. In Spring you flout the languors of Summer; in Summer you shudder at the crudity of Spring; in Autumn you sing of a lush ripeness, the lack of which left Summer immature; and Winter has a dignified serenity that neither Summer nor Autumn, and not the Spring, can equal. Now, that is perplexing. Surely each of the seasons cannot be the best? Besides, in your praise of each to the detriment of the others, you have denounced them all. What are we to make of that ?" To myself, awe-stricken witness of the colloquy, this speech seemed dangerously inconsiderate; and I expected an answer in wrath, perchance in violence. The poet's hazel eyes flashed fire; but the emotion was not anger. It was ecstatic understanding. "You mean, How do I reconcile the odes ? " he cried. " I don't do it at all! Not jesting, but speaking in deep seriousness, I say that I, with the seasons, am like that great man Lord L- with the ladies.
He always said he never was in love but once, and that was with the last one. So it is with myself. Each of these odes is the perfection of sincerity. Each is a faultless expression of feeling at the moment of utterance. They are all true! WThat matter if the truth be variable? There is no real conflict or incongruity. There is no discord. There are only those differences which constitute harmony. If my odes seem to be in conflict among themselves, that is because you hear them in a single hour. Nature herself would be a turmoil if all the seasons were simultaneous. Nature, in her orderly variableness, is latent poetry. Poetry, the articulation of Nature, is chaotic to the logician because logic is the science of the dense. Poetry has no appeal for the level-headed. To the levelheaded there is no statement, however profoundly true, that is not demonstrably absurd. That is what logic does. It applies itself to elemental things, which are never all of them present at any given moment, and becomes grotesquely arrogant in its unconscious incompetence. Truth of any value is never captured by the level-headed. That is a lesson which Poetry is constantly striving, though in vain, to teach. Take this subject of the odes. Is it the case, or is it not, that each season is the best ? I say it is the case." " As presented by Nature, perhaps it is," said the critic; " one certainly would not have summer in December or winter in June." " As presented by Nature ? Of course !" answered the poet. " How otherwise could we deal with it?" "Art?" the critic suggested. "Ha! Your canons of Art, then, are but the limitations of the practical mind-defects of the mind in relation to reality, which is infinite? The Scot, with his logic, is as far astray as the Irishman, who has none!" "I cannot but observe," said the critic, "that you use logic to destroy logic." "Reason, not logic," said the poet,-" reason to destroy logic." "You split a hair?" "What then? It may be a very important act. The distinction may be vital. It is the small distinctions that are most easily overlooked. But what has size to do with the fundamental truth of things ? Nature, the universe, the infinite, has no quality of size. Otherwise I should point out to you that the whole solar system is in the universe less than as a group of boroughs in this island. You take an untruth for granted when you speak of hair-splitting as if the phrase proved something. Nature has no relevant traffic in sizes. Size is no more than a convenient delusion of the practical human mind. It fits in usefully with the logic of those who, dealing with temporalities, such as architecture and politics, need to be empirically exact; but it has nothing to do with Nature. Reason has; but reason is not logic. Logic the most precise may be misleading; but reason, never. Reason is the sensitised imagination in conscious contact with external nature, receiving impressions and pondering them. Art is the reproduction of these impressions in symbols- colours and forms, words and sounds. Logic ! Art, being a mirage of Nature, Nature reflected in the wondering human mind, has none of it. Reason ? That is the beginning and the end of Art! Why ? Because Nature, while never logical, is always, and supremely rational."