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“Unadjusted impressions have their value…”

September 24, 2009

“As was said of Wessex Poems, of the subject-matter of this volume much is dramatic or impersonative even where not explicitly so. And that portion which may be regarded as individual comprises a series of feelings and fancies written down in widely differing moods and circumstances, and at various dates; it will probably be found, therefore, to possess little cohesion of thought or harmony of colouring. I do not greatly regret this. Unadjusted impressions have their value, and the road to a true philosophy of life seems to lie in humbly recording diverse readings of its phenomena as they are forced upon us by chance and change.”

–Thomas Hardy, in his preface to Poems of Past & Present

“With few exceptions, the Pieces in this volume originated in an impulse imparted by the fall of Richmond. They were composed without reference to collective arrangement, but being brought together in review, naturally fall into the order assumed. The events and incidents of the conflict–making up a whole, in varied amplitude, corresponding with the geographical area covered by the war–from these but a few themes have been taken, such as for any cause chanced to imprint themselves upon the mind. The aspects which the strife as a memory assumes are as manifold as are the moods of involuntary meditation–moods variable, and at times widely at variance. Yielding instinctively, one after another, to feelings not inspired from any one source exclusively, and unmindful, without purposing to be, of consistency, I seem, in most of these verses, to have but placed a harp in a window, and noted the contrasted airs which wayward wilds have played upon the strings.”

–Herman Melville, prefatory note, Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866).

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