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This article is taken from PN Review 16, Volume 7 Number 2, November - December 1980.

E. M. Gombrich
When talking about his poetry in his gentle and self-deprecating way Ivor Richards used to say with a smile: 'It's all in the language'. It is a good fortune that he still had the opportunity of spelling out his ideas about that subject more fully in his Presidential Address of the English Association for 1978 entitled 'Prose versus Verse' which he concluded with his cycle of four sonnets 'Ars Poetica' (of which he said characteristically that he was taken aback at its audacity in assuming so ambitious a title). I found the theory here propounded about the poet's debt to the language so compelling that I decided to apply it also to the history of the visual arts and of music when I gave the Darwin Lecture at Cambridge in November 1979 entitled 'Aesthetics and the History of the Arts'. The cycle also appears as No. 121 in his New and Selected Poems (Manchester, 1978). To be consistent I should like here to express my gratitude to the English language for having inspired these beautiful thoughts and lines.

['Ars Poetica' first appeared in PNR 4, 1977]

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