Excerpt from Poetry and National Character: The Leslie Stephen Lecture Delivered at Cambridge on 13 May 1915
There are times, wrote Leslie Stephen, when we feel that we would rather have the actual sounds, the downright utterance of an agonised human being than the far away echo of passion set up in the artistic We tire of the skilfully prepared sentiment, the pretty fancies, the unreal imaginations, and long for the harsh, crude substantial fact, the actual utterance of men struggling in the dire grasp of unmitigated realities. Such a desire would be satisfied to-day, for we stand in the grasp of these realities; and perhaps nothing is, perhaps nothing should be further from our thoughts than matters of literature and art, the pretty fancies, the unreal imaginations. Our forward youth, as in Marvell's Ode, have at their country's call forsaken the Muses.
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