He taught, so far as we know, nothing but what the common mind might easily accept; nothing to miss the mark of the intelligence of dull Li or Ching toiling in the rice-field; nor yet too paltry for the notice of the Hwangti on the Dragon Throne. Laotse had come in the spirit of Plenydd the Light-bringer; in the spirit of Alawn, to raise up presently sweet profusions of song.
Then came, with Wordsworth and Keats and Shelley, the Age of Alawn, lasting on until today; when the music of intonation brought with it romance and mystery and Natural Magic with its rich glow and wizard insight. And you will remember how English Poetry, on the uptrend of a major cycle, is a reaching from the material towards the spiritual, a growth toward that.
But Plenydd God of Light and Vision thought: "Though my treasure has gone with the Old Philosopher, and I cannot endow this man with it, I will make him Such a One as can be seen by all men; I will throw my light on him, that he may be an example through the age of ages." And Alawn God of Music thought: "Though my lute has gone with Laotse, I will confer boons on this one also.
Ritual has its place: hymns and chantings, so they be the right ones, performed rightly, have their decided magical value; we can understand that in its inception and first purity, this Brahmana literature may have been a growth or birth, under the aegis of Alawn of the Harmonies, of the magic of chanted song.
But fortunately that position had to be quitted toute de suite; for the Indian theory is much nearer the English than the Greek; much liker Shakespeare's than Aeschylus's. Sakoontal is romantic; it came in a Third or Alawn Period; of all Englishmen, Keats might most easily have written it; if Endymion were a play, Endymion would be the likest thing to it in English.
We appear to find in Sanskrit literature, I speak in a very general sense, also such great main epochs or cycles. Then a reign of Gwron, in the Age of the heroic Epics. Then a reign of Alawn, in the Age of the Drama. But the direction is all opposite.