"Man is a poetical animal," declares William Hazlitt at the outset of his seminal essay, "On Poetry in General". Hazlitt, a revered and prolific essayist and painter in the high Romantic style, believed poetry to be both an imitation of nature and "all that is worth remembering in life". As performed by Jim Roberts in a lilting New England accent, "On Poetry in General" is one of the most acclaimed and enduring pieces of literary thought ever written. It is to poetry what Aristotle’s Poetics is to drama.
"On Poetry in General" is a paean to poetry’s humility and to its universal employment by all mankind. Filled with startling analogies and lovely bursts of rhetoric, this brief essay is a prime example of prose poetry itself.