Five Plays by Lord Dunsany HTML version
The Gods of the Mountain
The Golden Doom
King Argimēnēs and the Unknown
The Glittering Gate
The Lost Silk Hat
Observation and imagination are the basic principles of all poetry. It is
impossible to conceive a poetical work from which one of them is
wholly absent. Observation without imagination makes for
obviousness; imagination without observation turns into nonsense.
What marks the world's greatest poetry is perhaps the presence in
almost equal proportion of both these principles. But as a rule we find
one of them predominating, and from this one-sided emphasis the
poetry of the period derives its character as realistic or idealistic.
The poetry of the middle nineteenth century made a fetish of
observation. It came as near excluding imagination as it could without
ceasing entirely to be poetry. That such exaggeration should sooner
or later result in a sharp reaction was natural. The change began
during the eighties and gathered full headway in the early nineties.
Imagination, so long scorned, came into its rights once more, and it is
rapidly becoming the dominant note in the literary production of our
The new movement has been called "neo-romantic" and
"symbolistic." Both these names apply, but neither of them exhausts
the contents or meaning of the movement which received its first
impetus from Ibsen and which later found its typical embodiment in
Maeterlinck. From this movement came much of the inspiration that
produced the poetical re-birth of Ireland out of which has sprung the
man whom I have now the pleasure of introducing to American
readers: a man with imagination as elfish as moonlight mist.