But the genius from which it came - the swift faculty of perception, the lofty imagination, the idealizing spirit enamoured of reality - was the secret source of all Emerson's greatness as a speaker and as a writer.
He is the idealizing poet of the hopes and aspirations and of the purer and happier life of which the age seemed to contain the promise.
The idealizing poetry of passion, which found a genuine voice in Catullus and the elegiac poets, could not prolong itself through the exhausting licence of successive generations.
No poet has surpassed him in the power of vitally reproducing the pleasure and pain of the passing hour, not recalled by idealizing reflection as in Horace, nor overlaid with mythological ornament as in Propertius, but in all the keenness of immediate impression.
The substantially Pauline character of the epistle, for all practical purposes, is to be granted upon either hypothesis, for the author or the editor strove not unsuccessfully, upon the whole, to reproduce the Pauline spirit and traditions The older notion that the personal data in Titus, or in the rest of the pastorals, were invented to lend verisimilitude to the writing must be given up. They are too circumstantial and artless to be the work of a writer idealizing or creating a situation.
Although the whole conception of the work implies that confusion of the provinces of poetry and history which was perpetuated by later writers, and especially by Lucan and Silius Italicus, yet it was a true instinct of genius to discern in the idea of the national destiny the only possible motive of a Roman epic. The execution of the poem (to judge from the fragments, amounting to about six hundred lines), although rough, unequal and often prosaic, seems to have combined the realistic fidelity and freshness of feeling of a contemporary chronicle with the vivifying and idealizing power of genius.
His greatest work, which made the Romans regard him as the father of their literature, was his epic poem, in eighteen books, the Annales, in which the record of the whole career of Rome was unrolled with idealizing enthusiasm and realistic detail.
One great work had still to be done in prose - a retrospect of the past history of the state from an idealizing and romanticizing point of view.
The life of pleasure which he had lived in his youth comes back to him, not as it was in its actual distractions and disappointments, but in the idealizing light of meditative retrospect.
In the Eclogues and Georgics Virgil is the idealizing poet of the old simple and hardy life of Italy, as the imagination could conceive of it in an altered world.