Thus the specific beauties of a poem may easily be lost to an unimaginative mind, as all the values of English poetry might so easily be lost to a world where men, intent upon their own active business, should come at last to employ “business English” as their sole linguistic medium, a medium more completely foreign to the language of Shelley or of Shakespeare than theirs to that of Catullus or of Homer. The beauties of poetry would still be those identical beauties, but these beauties would simply not occur to readers of the poets, were there any readers left, as upon the syllables and lines before them. And if these beauties remain what they are in essence, that is of little interest to a world in which they are effectively prevented from occurring. For they can not appear upon the face of experience even when men concern themselves to look upon the lines that could alone evoke them, unless men’s minds already hold the sensuous elements they would summon, and are capable of the imaginative response though which they must be recreated. If linguistic lore and stores of manuscripts and printed books may plausibly be said to preserve poetry itself, its beauties, even of sensuous imagery, can not so be kept in human experience. For their occurrence, minds are needed stored with the images that contemplation has engraved upon them, endowed with all the powers of imagination for reviving them as the poetry specifies, and as we shall further see, with all the possibilities of feeling and emotion that their beauties must also externalize, if they are to occur in their full intended character.
—D. W. Prall, Aesthetic Judgment (Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1929)