They all strike me as astonishingly modern: sometimes their psychology is so astute! I also appreciate the rhetorical caginess and the way those poems are embedded in a cultural context that makes them feel so public —in an extended sense having to do with civility, citizenship, and ultimately civilization—even though they are often ostensibly about the most private of matters. Do you have any overreaching themes you want readers to find in your poetry? Or would you like them to derive their own ideas? I believe once you finish writing a poem and send it out into the world, it no longer belongs to you apart from the millions of dollars it will make you in royalties.
Let me add this: H. When we read all of someone, we feel we have come to know not only a body of work, but also a body , a somebody , a self in whose life and by whose mind we are engaged in quite intimate ways. As I tell my students, some of my best friends are dead. They died long before I was born. Yes, several. Emily Dickinson, my choice of interviewees from your first question, hardly published during her life.
Writing was more important to her than publishing, and it shows in the astonishing volume and accomplishment of her work. The goal, I would say to those discouraged poets, is not publication; it never was. The goal is art. Thank you, Stephen, for joining us today! You can find Stephen on his website, www. His latest poetry collection, Bachelor Pad , is available on Amazon and the Barnes and Noble online store! The young and frighteningly brilliant Stephen Kampa has already given us a stunning second volume of poems. Here is a poet who looks into the existential abyss but sees love everywhere.
Love, lust, and loneliness tangle together, strengthening and warring with one another to form a complex and honest picture of desire in action. And in his love for and knowledge of music and movies, and in his bittersweet meditations on romantic love, Kampa may remind some readers of Woody Allen. Bachelor Pad impresses from cover to cover. Sammie has been passionate about writing all her life and is about to complete her first novel, Sapphire Lake, a project she has worked on for three years.
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Then laughter! And elfin voices called from the extinuished light : "Spokoinoi notchi! Good night f" Percy MacKaye was born in New York City, March 1 6, , and in this city he gained from the con stant companionship of his father much knowledge of the theatre. In he began his first efforts in poetical lines by writing a series of choral songs for his father's huge musical drama, "Columbus. Returning to New York in , Mr. MacKaye taught in a private school for boys for three years, and during this time E. Soth- ern became interested in his dramatic work and com missioned him to write "The Canterbury Pilgrims," first published in A year later Mr.
MacKaye joined the colony of writers and artists at Cornish, New Hampshire, where he makes his permanent home. Perhaps it was here that came the pastoral inspiration for "The Three Dance Motives" which concluded with "The Chase" : Through what vast wood, By what wild paths of beautiful surprise, Hast thou returned to us, Diana, Diana of Desire?
Coming to thy call What huntresses are these? What hallowed chase? What long, long cherished goal? Through man's wan mind By radiant paths of rhythmic liberty I am returned to you, Diviner, diviner of dreams! Those huntresses, they are my hallowed desires My unquenched selves with overflowing quivers. Joy is our chase and goal: Our bodies the tense crossbows, and our wild souls the shafts! MacKaye's "Rain Revery" bears testimony to this: In the lone of night by the pattering tree I sat alone with Poetry With Poetry, my old shy friend, And his tenuous shadow seemed to blend Beyond the lampshine on the sill With the mammoth shadow of the hill, And his breath fell soft in the pool-dark pane With the murmurous, murmuring muffled hoof Of the rain, the rain, The rain on the roof.
Imagined tower and dream-built shrine, Must they crumble in dark like this pale lampshine? Our dawn-flecked meadows lyric-shrill, Shall they lie as dumb as the gloom-drenched hill? Our song-voiced lovers! Shall none remain? The first of Mr. MacKaye's plays to be produced professionally was "Jeanne d'Arc," produced by E. Sothern and Miss Julia Marlowe, in Since that time ten other plays of his have been acted by such actors as Mr. Henry Miller, Mr. Dixey, and Prof. His play, "The Scarecrow," was acted during two seasons in England and America.
MacKaye is a pioneer in America, his "Gloucester Pageant" produced for Presi dent Taft in August , being the first large-scale pageant produced in this country. Since then his "Sanctuary," a Bird Masque in which Miss Eleanor Wilson acted the chief part, and his "Saint Louis," a Civic Masque in which 7, citizens of Saint Louis acted, in four performances, before half a million spectators, have attracted national attention. It is by virtue of Mr. MacKaye's "Lincoln Cen tenary Ode," one of his longer poems, that he is ac credited with having produced one of the most splen did tributes in our American literature to this great American.
It concludes : Leave, then, that customed grief Which honorably mourns its martyred dead, And newly hail instead The birth of him, our hardy shepherd chief, Who by green paths of old democracy Leads still his tribes to uplands of glad peace. As long as out of blood and passion blind Springs the pure justice of the reasoning mind, And justice, bending, scorns not to obey Pity, that once in a poor manger lay, As long as, thrall'd by time's imperious will, Brother hath bitter need of brother, still His presence shall not cease To lift the ages toward his human excellence, And races yet to be Shall in a rude hut do him reverence And solemnize a simple man's nativity.
MacKaye in the preface to his "Collected Poems and Plays" says: "In accepting the invitation of the publishers to col lect a portion of my published work within the com pass of two volumes, poems and plays, the occasion seems fitting for me to comment on some phases of it as related to the reading public.
I will give myself till I am forty to do its 'prentice work : then perhaps I may be ready to tackle the real job that vision which lies there alluring, waiting to be realized. For this reason, in submitting to the reader's interest the works here collected, I should like to introduce them anew rather as the by-gleanings of a journey but just set forth upon, than in any sense the product of a goal attained.
MacKaye the honorary degree of M. MacKaye will prove to be a play, based on the life of our first President, soon to be presented and pub lished. Here is exemplified the most significant achievement of Mr. MacKaye the full and complete merging of poet and playwright, a merging against which there has too long been unnecessary distinction. It brought forward the name of Edgar Lee Masters as a poet of note and bore witness to the able judgment of that dis cerning critic William Marion Reedy, who first pub lished Masters in his own Reedy 's Mirror.
It has been whispered among those who claim to know that Mas ters wrote his Spoon River poems as a joke, a satire on the people of a small town of his youth, at the sugges tion of Reedy. But the critics found it good and straightway declared Masters a new light in our Amer ican poetry. Rittenhouse in The Bookman, "is, in short, the most penetrating and merciless psychologist of the present day and surely the bravest. He withholds nothing. Witness such a poem as "Samuel Butler et Al," where one indicts his mother for a life of recreance to the finer duties of motherhood, while he pictures with pitiless exactness the whole panorama of her life.
This might be in excusable, were it not true. We have all seen this woman and observed every detail that Mr. Masters depicts. Indeed, this book is full of first-hand studies, of minute observation. One marvels continually at the relent less analysis which probes deeper and deeper, seeking for the hidden springs of action. Only the trained mind, the legal mind, could pursue such clues and ar rive at such unappealable decisions.
Heredity has an irresistible fascination for Mr. Masters, and it ap pears and reappears in his latest work. In "Excluded Middle" its effect upon a whole family is shown, in the light of that ever-baffling preoccupation of Mr. Masters cross-currents of sex, and parental inharmony. In deed, if we have both a penetrating and a luminous thinker in modern American poetry, it is Edgar Lee Masters, and one says this with full recognition of the fact that it is not always pleasant to follow him in his penetrations.
Here the good and the bad regardless of earthly pose are held up before the mirror of Truth with all their virtues and vices exposed in her fair white light. Here "Cassius Hueffer" says of him self: They have chiseled on my stone the words: "His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him That nature might stand up and say to all the world, This was a man. Masters' tragic poem of slander and gossip is the story of "Mrs.
Williams" : I was the milliner Talked about, lied about, Mother of Dora, Whose strange disappearance Was charged to her rearing. My eye quick to beauty Saw much beside ribbons And buckles and feathers And leghorns and felts, To set off sweet faces, And dark hair and gold.
One thing I will tell you And one I will ask : The stealers of husbands Wear powder and trinkets, And fashionable hats. Wives, wear them yourselves. Hats may make divorces They also prevent them. Grim realism conies in the story of the heretic, "Wendell P. Bloyd" : They first charged me with disorderly conduct, There being no statute on blasphemy. Later they locked me up as insane Where I was beaten to death by a Catholic guard.
My offense was this: I said God lied to Adam, and destined him To lead the life of a fool, Ignorant that there is evil in the world as well as good. And when Adam outwitted God by eating the apple And saw through the lie, God drove him out of Eden to keep him from taking The fruit of immortal life. For Christ's sake, you sensible people, Here's what God Himself says about it in the book of Genesis: "And the Lord God said, Behold the man Is become as one of us" a little envy, you see , ''To know good and evil" The all-is-good lie exposed : "And now lest he put forth his hand and take Also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever : Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden.
One of the most admirable pieces of writing in this volume, however, is found in Masters' lines to a sweet heart of Abraham Lincoln whom he calls "Anne Rut- ledge" : Out of me unworthy and unknown The vibrations of deathless music; "With malice toward none, with charity for all. I am Anne Rutledge who sleep beneath these weeds, Beloved in life of Abraham Lincoln, Wedded to him, not through union, But through separation.
Bloom forever, O Republic, From the dust of my bosom! In "Toward the Gulf" Masters demonstrates the precepts of Whitman. It is evidenced in the under lying spirit of these poems rather than in the actual form of expression chosen. Masters has established his right to our best con sideration as a poet of high merit, but there are times when some of his lines run parallel with a rather ordi nary and not particularly interesting prose form of verse.
Certainly there is little poetry in lines like these : "Miranda married a rich man And spent his money so fast that he failed. In middle life he started over again, And became tangled in a law suit ; Because of these things he killed himself. To bend and kiss you lying there. A Raphael in the flesh! Resist I cannot, though to break your sleep Is thoughtless of me you are kissed And roused from slumber dreamless, deep You rub away the slumber's mist, You scold and almost weep. It is too bad to wake you so, Just for a kiss.
But when awake You sing and dance, nor seem to know You slept a sleep too deep to break From which I roused you long ago For nothing but my passion's sake What though your heart should ache!
It was while engaged in the practice of law that Edgar Lee Masters first began to write verse. He received his education in a high school and Knox College, Illi nois, after which he studied law in his father's office. He was married to Miss Helen M. Jenkins of Chicago in This poet and troubadour has tramped from his home in Springfield, Illinois, over the prairies and through Kansas wheat fields, over the mountains of Colorado and those vast plains and into cities of tow ered brick and stone that make up our country, sing ing his own songs, and "preaching the gospel of beauty. Lindsay is poet through and through.
An edi torial in Collier's Weekly says : "Mr. Lindsay doesn't need to write verse to be a poet. His prose is poetry poetry straight from the soil of America that is, and of a nobler America that is to be. And high she held her beauteous head. Her step was like a rustling leaf : Her heart a nest, untouched of grief. She dreamed of sons like Powhatan, And through her blood the lightning ran. Love-cries with the birds she sung, Birdlike In the grape-vine swung.
The Forest, arching low and wide Gloried in its Indian bride. Rolfe, that dim adventurer, Had not come a courtkr. John Rolfe is not our ancestor. We rise from out the soul of her Held in native wonderland While the sun's rays kissed her hand, In the springtime, In Virginia, Our mother, Pocahontas. There are none of our American poets of today whose work epitomizes more strongly Americanism than that of Vachel Lindsay.
To witness, "Niagara. But only twenty miles away A deathless glory is at play : Niagara, Niagara. Within the town of Buffalo Are stores with garnets, sapphires, pearls, Rubies, emeralds aglow, Opal chains in Buffalo, Cherished symbols of success. They value not your rainbow dress : Niagara, Niagara. What marching men of Buffalo Flood the streets in rash crusade? Fools-to-free-the-world, they go, Primeval hearts from Buffalo. Lindsay believes in the poetry of the spoken word and that its beauty and charm lies in the spoken lines, in beauty of conception.
He has carried out his idea in so many of those poems where one must hear the spoken word to get the proper effect. Come sit and share my throne with me. They are matching pennies and shooting craps, They are playing poker and taking naps. And old Legree is fat and fine: He eats the fire, he drinks the wine Blood and burning turpentine Down, down with the Devil; Down, down with the Devil ; Down, down with the Devil.
In sharp contrast to poems of this nature is "The Chinese Nightingale," which Mr. This is a piece of writing gorgeous as the most bril liant of Chinese tapestries which the poet might have followed : There were golden lilies by the bay and river, And silver lilies and tiger-lilies, And tinkling wind-bells in the gardens of the town By the black-lacquer gate Where walked in state The kind king Chang And his sweet-heart mate.
With his flag-born dragon And his crown of pearl. The poem ends Life is a loom, weaving illusion. I remember, I remember There were ghostly veils and laces.
There were ghostly bowery places. With lovers' ardent faces Bending to one another, Speaking each his part. They infinitely echo In the red cave of my heart. They spoke, I think, of perils past.
They spoke, I think, of peace at last. One thing I remember: "Spring came on forever, Spring came on forever," Said the Chinese nightingale. Another side of Mr. Lindsay's poetry is given by Miss Rittenhouse, writing in The Bookman : "At the Chicago Little Theatre, about a year ago, Vachel Lindsay, always the innovator, staged one of his most picturesque experiments a dance accompani ment to several of his poems, which he chanted in lieu of music. The dancer was Miss Eleanor Dougherty, who had first improvised an interpretation of Mr. Lindsay's poems when they were both guests at the home of Mrs.
William Vaughn Moody. Lindsay describes it at some length in his latest volume, 'The Chinese Nightingale,' but mod estly speaks of it as an attempt to render Toem Games,' whereas it is much more than this, so much more, indeed, that it holds the possibility of becoming a distinct and beautiful art. Several of the lighter fantasies, such as The King of the Yellow Butterflies,' the 'Potato Dance,' and 'Aladdin and the Jinn,' were given with charming effect, while 'King Solomon' offered an op portunity for more dramatic presentation.
As rhyth mic speech would naturally outrun its accompaniment in the dance or pantomime, Mr. Lindsay uses repeti tion wherever it is needed, and these repetitions are immensely effective, enforcing the beauty of the lines while giving the dancer leisure for their interpreta tion. To be sure Vachel Lindsay's work is remark able for its rhythms, and therefore lends itself par ticularly well to chanting, but any poetry that possesses beauty of tone and picturesqueness is susceptible of dance interpretation.
The field is unlimited and, as Mr. Lindsay suggests, could be admirably applied to classic poetry. Why should we not see the school of Mrs. If these interesting orders of the Knights of the Road were as lacking in geniality as the typical reformer, they would lose their jobs. And yet fishers of men, for that is what all reformers are, try to fish without bait, at the same time making much loud and offensive noise.
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Then they are amazed at the callous indifference of humanity to 'great moral issues! He was born in Springfield, Illinois, on November 10, , and for three years was a stu dent at Hiram College in Ohio, followed by a course in art which extended for five years in Chicago and New York. Between and Vachel Lindsay was the creator of strange pictures, a lecturer on various topics, and a writer of unique "bulletins. As a medium of exchange he carried simply his poems, printed on single sheets, which he exchanged for lodging and food.
It was in the summer of that he walked from Illinois into New Mexico. In a letter to the author of this book, Mr. Lindsay says, "But bear in mind that my tramp-days were mixed with the rest. I walked in the South in the spring of , in the East in the spring of and the West in the spring of There is a very defi nite progress of ideas in the accounts of these three regions. Please remember 'The Handy Guide for Beggars' begins the story.
People get so very wide of the mark I am perhaps getting finicky on this matter of chronology. With a silk umbrella and the handle of a broom, Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, Boom. Then I had religion, then I had a vision, I could not turn from their revel in derision. A negro fairyland swung into view, A minstrel river Where dreams come true. The ebony palace soared on high Through the blossoming trees to the evening sky.
The inland porches and casements shone With gold and ivory and ekphant-bone. Just then from the doorway, as fat as shoats, Came the cake-walk princes in their long red coats, Canes with a brilliant lacquer shine, And tall silk hats that were red as wine. And they pranced with their butterfly partners there, Coal-black maidens with pearls in their hair, Knee-skirts trimmed with the jessamine sweet, And bells on their ankles and little black feet. This popular essayist, certainly one of the most widely read in this country, was born in Germantown, Pa. He was graduated from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in , and in was awarded his Bachelor of Arts degree at Princeton University.
Ellen Reid of Baltimore became his wife on December 13, , Van Dyke having been ordained in the Presbyterian min istry in He was professor of English literature at Princeton until his appointment by President Wilson as minister to the Netherlands and Luxembourg, which honor he resigned after having filled the post with distinction for several years. Van Dyke's "Blue Flower," "Ruling Passion" and "Fisherman's Luck" have become famous for their value as essays, but "The Builders and Other Poems" contains some of the most significant verses which have resulted from his poetical endeavors.
When tulips bloom in Union Square, And timid breaths of vernal air Go wandering down the dusty town, Like children lost in Vanity Fair; When every long, unlovely row Of westward houses stands aglow, And kads the eyes toward sunset skies Beyond the hills where green trees grow; Then weary seems the street parade, And weary books, and weary trade : I'm only wishing to go a-fishing; For this the month of May was made. I guess the pussy-willows now Are creeping out on every bough Along the brook; and robins look For early worms behind the plough.
The thistle-birds have changed their dun, For yellow coats, to match the sun And in the same array of flame The Dandelion Show's begun.
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I think the meadow-lark's clear sound Leaks upward slowly from the ground, While on the wing, the bluebirds ring Their wedding-bells to woods around. The flirting chewink calls his dear Behind the bush; and very near, Where water flows, where green grass grows, Song-sparrows gently sing, "Good cheer. How much I'm wishing to go a-fishing In days so sweet with music's balm! Who made him dead to rapture and despair, A thing that grieves not and that never hopes, Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw? Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow? Whose breath blew out the light within this brain? Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave To have dominion over sea and land; To trace the stars and search the heavens for power; To feel the passion of Eternity? Is this the Dream He dreamed who shaped the suns And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf There is no shape more terrible than this More tongued with censure of the world's blind greed More filled with signs and portents for the soul More fraught with danger to the universe. O masters, lords and rulers in all lands, How will the Future reckon with this Man? How answer his brute question in that hour When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world? How will it be with kingdoms and with kings With those who shaped him to the thing he is When this dumb Terror shall reply to God After the silence of the centuries?
This poem was hailed as "the battle-cry of the next thousand years. She took the tried clay of the common road Clay warm yet with the ancient heat of Earth, Dashed through it all a strain of prophecy ; Tempered the heap with thrill of human tears ; Then mixed a laughter with the serious stuff. Into the shape she breathed a flame to light That tender, tragic, ever-changing face. Here was a man to hold against the world, A man to match the mountains and the sea.
The color of the ground was in him, the red earth; The smack and tang of elemental things : The rectitude and patience of the cliff; The good-will of the rain that loves all leaves; The friendly welcome of the wayside well ; The courage of the bird that dares the sea ; The gladness of the wind that shakes the corn ; The mercy of the snow that hides all scars; The secrecy of streams that make their way Beneath the mountain to the rifted rock; The undelaying justice of the light That gives as freely to the shrinking flower As to the great oak flaring to the wind OUR POETS OF TODAY 71 So came the Captain with the thinking heart ; And when the judgment thunder split the house, Wrenching the rafters from their ancient rest, He held the ridgepole up, and spiked again The rafters of the Home.
He held his place Held the long purpose like a growing tree Held on through blame and faltered not at praise. And when he fell in whirlwind, he went down As when a lordly cedar, green with boughs, Goes down with a great shout uoon the hills, And leaves a lonesome place against the sky. Markham has never been a prolific writer as poets of today go, but his verse has attained a dis tinction and fineness that some of our younger writers might do well to pattern from.
It was in March, , that Mr. Markham published "The Shoes of Happiness," so called from the longest poem it contained a long wait from the date of his prior volume of poems for those who love and have followed so closely his career. California extended an unusual honor to Mr. Mark- ham, when the evening of April 3Oth was set aside as Markham Evening, and the poet was asked to read from his poems. At this time "Virgila" from "The Shoes of Happiness," which had been set to music by Edith Haines-Kuester, the well-known American com poser, was sung for the first time.
If you had but stayed when the old sweet wonder Was a precious pain in my pulsing side! Ah, why did you hurry our lives asunder You, born to be my bride? What sent it upon me my soul importunes- All the grief of the world in a little span, All the tears and fears, all the fates and fortunes That the heart holds for man? Is this, then, the pain that the first gods kneaded Into all the joy that the strange world brings? Did the tears fall into the heap unheeded, These tears in mortal things? He went to California in , where he worked as a farmer, then as a blacksmith, and herded cattle and sheep during his boyhood days.
Upon entering San Jose Normal School he specialized in ancient and modern languages, following this work in two western institutions of learning. He was mar ried to Miss Anna Catherine Murphy in Dixon, Kentucky, was the birthplace of this poet whose many lyrics have appeared in publications throughout the country. But nothing is further from the truth. I ac cepted school as a necessary evil of life but also as a place to meet and conspire with other children to suck the orange of existence dry of 'fun.
And poetry, except the poetry of life, which made me shudder or thrill with delight and passion, I knew only from class recitation or from the Biblical influence which was so salutarily thrown about me. So before I knew it I was through with them and suddenly aware that I knew nothing about the Universe, or the direction I must take in it. Then to add to my perplexities, actual and philosophical, ambition began its game in me.
To Har vard therefore I went not, like Saul, to find my fath er's asses, but to discover just how much of a long- ears I was myself. And like Saul I found a kingdom. For not only did my deeper reading of poetry begin there but as I was taking my degrees in Philosophy I not only found mental freedom philosophically and religiously, but laid the basis for whatever poetic vision of life as a whole I had. So to Poetry, after a year's teaching, I was wedded. And though the two of us have undergone all the suffering and obloquy inci dental to the poetic life in America where the struggle for great poetic achievement is, I believe, more diffi cult than in any other country, neither has sought the divorce court.
With her I have seen much of the strangeness and beauty of the world, for we have travelled much, and all who know her know what a companion she is. Well, perhaps I should say first that I was fortunate in escaping academic guidance, for all that I know of that art was instinctive or learned out of school. So if I must accept a tag, I suppose it must be that of liberalism by which I mean a readiness to take poetry of any real kind from whatever source it comes for any one creed can pro duce all too little of it. But the truth is that I think those distinctions, like the distinctions between real ists, romanticists and classicists are wearisome and dangerous for the writer to get too conscious of.
A poet must take his poetry from all of life if he wishes to write all his life or any long portion of it. Self- consciousness and creed make for exhaustion. As a consequence my earliest efforts in a now extinct volume, 'From Dusk to Dusk' were often of the crude free verse sort I condemn to-day. But I soon learned that even free verse rhythms, in order to be truly poetic, must not be out of harmony with the immemorially practised principles of verse music.
I struggled to get the right dramatic material with a background that would be poetically inspiring; to do the fundamental thinking necessary to construct a modern logical play; and to write lines in the natural un-Elizabethan syntax which modernity and sincerity demand; yet to make sure they had the true poetic quality.
To do this success fully is, I think, the finest achievement possible to a poet. What is its influence? What its future? My answer is that I think the achievement of this poetry, against very great odds, has been splendid. Has a change come? America is not yet a poet's paradise, and will never be except for the poet from abroad, who so easily finds exploitation here. But since the early years of the century the public has gradually become more interested in this primal art, the public libraries have had increasing demands for verse; and finally, since some very fine poets have arisen in America as well as abroad, an interest has culminated which has made it possible for the most freakish of freak verse writers to get in the limelight and how they have danced!
In I expressed the belief, in a preface to 'Collected Plays and Poems,' that the future spirit of America and of American art would be internationalistic or broadly human. To that belief I still hold. They have but sought the most poetic soil their genius was capable of tilling, and have tilled it with whatever national characteristics they possessed. So I believe the American poets of the future will seek whatever in America or in the world is poetically sig nificant; for between provinciality and universality there can be but one choice.
The American of the future who does not shed his provinciality and write for mankind, may attain success but not immortality. Only the provincial which has been of universal im portance to the culture of mankind like the Hebraic or the Greek can abide; and America, I fear, has no such provinciality. Came up like a phantom silently And dropped her shroud on the red night sea, Then walked, a spectral mystery, Unwaking?
You know this? Rice's most recent work, shows in its contents some war reflections none of which surpass the lines in "Waste" : I flung a wild rose into the sea, I know not why. For swinging there on a rathe rose-tree, By the scented bay and barberry, Its petals gave all their sweet to me, As I passed by. And yet I flung it into the tide, And went my way. I climbed the gray rocks, far and wide, And many a cove of peace I tried, With none of them all to be satisfied, The whole long day.
For I had wasted a beautiful thing, Which might have won Each passing heart to pause and sing, On the sea-path there, of its blossoming, And who wastes beauty shall feel want's sting, As I had done. There are also in this volume many poems sugges tive of various nationalities such as the opening stanza of "Danse MacAbre": I heard a great rattle of bones in the night, And saw the dead rise from the earth a sight! They flung shrouds off and got in a ring, And knuckle to knuckle I saw them spring. Their hair blew off, and skull to skull They gabbled and danced, interminable.
His wail is the world's wail For youth that never dies; And I have listened to it Till the tears are in my eyes, is in interesting contrast to "Katenka's Lover," a Rus sian inspired theme. Little Katenka took twelve weeds And wove them into a wreath for her hair; Buttercup, rattray and marguerite, Parsley, clover and nettle were there. Deep dreams! Little Katenka, in a bride-tire Of peace little Katenka! Conrad Aiken "Every sensitive, imaginative, beauty-loving youth lives for a period a dream-life whose great preoccupa tions are love and death, dreamed in a dim borderland between the dusk and dawn of the ideal and the real.
It is a delightful land, but one of unsure footing. Be fore the explorer is aware, he steps from sensuousness to the quicksand of sensuality, from a normal eroti cism to the quag of neurosis. Conrad Aiken is the poet of this region and of the passionate shadows that popu late it. But it is good that we have these poets just as we go through those stages of first love, first drink and all the other "firsts" encountered from the adolescent to the more mature stage.
It was in "Earth Triumphant" that Mr. While his more recent book, "Nocturne of Remem bered Spring" fails to establish this promise, there is rare youth in these lines : Mist goes up from the river to dim the stars,. And flare of horns, and clang of cymbals, and drums ; And strew the glimmering floor with petals of roses And remember, while rich music yawns and closes, With a luxury of pain, how silence comes.
It has been said that Mr. Aiken is a psychological poet, and this psychological quality is particularly demonstrated in these lines : In the evening, as the lamps are lighted, Sitting alone in his strange world, He meditates ; and through his musing hears The tired footfalls of the dying day Monotonously ebb and ebb away Into the smouldering west; And hears the dark world slowly come to rest. The music weaves about him, gold and silver ; The music chatters, the music sings, The music sinks and dies.
Who dies, who lives? What leaves remain forever? Who knows the secret of the immortal springs? Who laughs, who kills, who cries? We hold them all, they walk our dreams forever, Nothing perishes in that haunted air, Nothing but is immortal there. And we ourselves, dying with all our worlds, Will only pass the ghostly portal Into another's dream; and so live on Through dream to dream, immortal. Conrad Aiken was born in Savannah, Ga.
He lives in Boston. Aside from Mr. Service, it is probable that they would present a showing of figures that would be proof positive of just how financially successful poetry writ ing can be when the popular note is struck. Service has been called "The American Kipling" perhaps by the virtue that he is quoted almost as often as his older English contemporary across the sea. For here came the inspiration which resulted in such famous lines as these first two stanzas from "The Spell of the Yukon" : I wanted the gold, and I sought it ; I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy I fought it ; I hurled my youth into a grave. There's the land. Have you seen it? It's the cussedest land that I know, From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it To the deep, deathlike valley below. Some say God was tired when He made it; Some say it's a fine land to shun ; Maybe; but there's some as would trade it For no land on earth and I'm one. In his "Ballads of a Cheechako" he again is spokes man for the prosecutor and presents his song of the gold hunt in those vigorous lines of "The Trail of '98," which begin: Gold!
We leapt from our benches. We sprang from our stools. We wheeled in the furrow, fired with the faith of fools. Fearless, un found, unfitted, far from the night and cold, Heard we the clarion summons, followed the master-lure Gold! Men from the sands of the Sunland ; men from the woods of the West ; Men from the farms and the cities, into the Northland we pressed. Graybeards and striplings and women, good men and bad men and bold, Leaving our homes and our loved ones, crying exultantly "Gold! Within Service there was a desire that could not be quelled to express the various scenes and adventures through which he was living and so he gave us his poems of real men, "red blood men" they have been called, men who talk in a vigorous tongue, men whose primal instincts and passions spur them to labour, to dream, to achieve, to bow down before defeat in fact, human men.
These are the men of "The Spell of the Yukon. Stories of the bravery of his exploits cannot be given here, but he has faced the shell-stormed road with his loads of wounded, he has lived the things he writes, and just as he has analyzed the Yukon man, so has he inter preted the struggles of the soldier of to-day.