Though in all the other arts—painting, sculpture and music—the principles of creation and criticism have reached an intelligible definition, yet, in literature in general, and particularly in poetry and the novel, although some individual instances have reached a high attainment, we moderns as a whole grope blindly in our fog. The novel can dimly be seen assuming form in the work of Turgenev, D’Annunzio of the middle years and the supreme Henry James. But where in the criticism of modern poetry, or even in the work of our more conscious poets, can we discern any inkling of an ideal of poetic form, or any recognition of aesthetic distinctions. The general confusion arises from a failure to comprehend the essential form of the poem. The following axioms are suggested as necessary dogmas:
Form is determined by the emotion which requires expression. Corollary; Form is not an unchanging mould into which any emotion can be poured.
The poem is an artistic whole demanding strict unity,
The criterion of the poem is the quality of the vision expressed, granted that the expression is adequate.
Corollary: Rhyme, metre, cadence, alliteration, are various decorative devices to be used as the vision demands, and are not formal quantities preordained.