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Robert Frost

            The artist Francisco Goya once said, "Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels." Our daydreaming is important to make any sort of real progress, as only those who dare to imagine "what if" without respect for so-called impossibilities can generate any true advances for the human race. The danger, however, comes when we are so consumed by these fantasies that we lose sight of the pure and simple joys to be found in everyday living. In both Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Hall of Fantasy" and Robert Frost's poem "Birches," we are guided through a fantastic description of a world where the actual must merge with the imaginative, where our dreams are a sort of therapy for the concerns of daily life.
             When Hawthorne transports himself and the reader into this "hall of fantasy," we are given a walking tour through this dwelling Hawthorne himself has created, and at one point arrive at the illustrious fountain of imagination. While the imaginative world, like this fountain, is such an enchanting spectacle to dabble in, its "intoxicating qualities" render it meaningless and unsatisfactory when we fail to keep contact with reality. Our imagination is meant to be a source of inspiration in our actual world, to give us something to aspire to in the tangible world. Hawthorne goes on to list several artistic masterpieces and inventions to serve as examples of the magnificence of things that can occur when we play in the imaginative world but live within the actualities of each day. As he explains, "I could enumerate many more of these Utopian inventions; but, after all, a more imaginative collection is to be found in the Patent Office in Washington. The finest and most brilliant things humanity has created are those that were given birth in the earthly world by individuals who first conceived of their splendor in a dream.

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