« IndietroContinua »
Responsibilities and Other Poems, by W. B. Yeats. Macmillan Co. Mr. Yeats' new volume contains the poems which have previously appeared in the Cuala editions of Responsibilities and The Green Helmet. Many of the short poems have appeared in PoETRY and I have already written reviews of separate parts of the new volume. There is therefore little need of more than an announcement of the new and more convenient edition. What strikes one on going through the larger book is the simple fact that Mr. Yeats has not “gone off”. He is the only poet of his decade who has not gradually faded into mediocrity, who has not resigned himself to gradually weaker echoes of an earlier outburst. The new poems, now that their bulk is equal to that of the two earlier volumes of poems, hold their own; they establish their own tonality. I do not mean that every poem is a masterpiece, or that every poem is important, or that every poem would start a new reputation for an author not yet known. But the collection as a whole is worthy of the collections that preceded it. There is a new robustness; there is the tooth of satire which is, in Mr. Yeats' case, too good a tooth to keep hidden. The Coat, the wild wolfdog that will not praise his fleas, The Scholars, are all the sort of poem that we would gladly read more of. There
Mr. Yeats' New Book
are a lot of fools to be killed and Mr. Yeats is an excellent slaughter-master, when he will but turn from ladies with excessive chevelure appearing in pearl-pale nuances. We have all been bewitched with the “glamour”, and the glamour is still there in The Wind Among the Reeds for those who still want it. But the light in The Magi and The Peacock is a no less valuable light, and born of a no less powerful magic. The ragged hat in Biscay Bay is a sign of the poet's relationship to his brother Jack Yeats, and a far cry from the bridles of Findrinny. But, despite such occasional bits of realism, the tone of the new book is romantic. Mr. Yeats is a romanticist, symbolist, occultist, for better or worse, now and for always. That does not matter. What does matter is that he is the only one left who has sufficient intensity of temperament to turn these modes into art. Reveries Over Childhood and Youth, appearing in a uniform Macmillan edition, is written in a clearer and harder prose than most of Mr. Yeats' earlier prose books. One might announce it here as an extended annotation or appendix to some of his earlier poems. E. P.
OTHER BOOKS OF VERSE
A Marriage Cycle, by Alice Freeman Palmer. Houghton
strongly executive woman, whom so many thousands loved
and honored, prove to have been indeed a poet?
I need not have feared. And her husband, the editor, need not have apologized for the “incompleteness and raggedness” of some of these poems. It is true that certain ones show, by their uncertain technique, that she was starting timidly in a new adventure. Even these, however, have simplicity and sincerity, qualities which rise to perfect art in a few lyrics. Indeed, it is astonishing that a woman of such intensively literary training should have cast off all literary impedimenta in writing her poems.
The deepest beauty of a rich and noble nature—and, incidentally, the deepest beauty of marriage—are revealed in this Cycle, especially in poems like The Dress, Summer Rain, Myself, The Last Anniversary, and this fine lyric, Parting:
Dear love, it was so hard to say
You turned to go, yet going turned to stay,
Till suddenly at last you went away.
Then all at last I found my love unsaid,
London, One November, by Helen Mackay. Duffie & Co.
Most of these poems are in free verse. Yet there is form in Miss Mackay's freedom. A House is full of feeling and must make its appeal wherever it is read. The death of the
son of this house in the war has just been told in London.
House, great house, how can you stay quiet like that,
Other Books of Verse
Years, lives, stones, iron, rust, bones, mould and mildew of the centuries, call to this poet, and she voices their souls. Roads 'Calling is very lyrical and haunting. It has been said of a prose work by this author that it has the grace of Maeterlinck's delicate reveries, and this is true of many of her poems. Wind and Shadows, with its lure of the mystical, hidden, might have been written by Maeterlinck himself. Train is full of Maeterlinckian lines; take, for instance, these:
Terrible that the minutes go.
God, make the train starts
A carper might call Miss Mackay's poems reminiscent, for she takes frankly what past languages and literatures have offered to her, as our modern composers have not hesitated to take, for all their originality, the message of the ages. She knows her Bible, and often flavors her stanzas with a turn from the Litany. And we hear the Song of Solomon singing through her lines. If her reminiscence is excusable, it is because she has something to say. The following brief quotation is a fair example of her clear thought:
White moon of trees and towers,
Collected Poems, by Condé Benoist Pallen. P. J. Kenedy and Sons, New York. Collected Poems always has a large sound; but in this case the book does not reach up to its title. The first pages are devoted to The New Rubaiyat, written after the mellow pattern of Omar himself. Here the author's object appears to be to tell the lusty-lunged singer of the vine that neither his song nor his lesson is new and that his argument is false. A Fable for Lydia, The Death of Sir Launcelot, and other long poems follow, with here and there a short lyric. There are two dramas, Aglaé, and The Feast of Thalarchus. All these titles give an idea of the author's range—the same lofty themes that have been treated from time immemorial. We come upon tritenesses, such as "earth's sweet acclaim.” For those of a religious turn of mind this book will be of interest; to others it will be dull. Two sonnets, The Babe, are full of charm, however, and Mr. Pallen has two sonnets on the sonnet, hardly approaching Rossetti's A sonnet is a moment's monument, perhaps, but with good thought and poetical lines. A. F.
The Child and Other Verses, by Mary Louisa Anderson. Knickerbocker Press, New York. The Child, which gives this book its title, reminds me of the sort of poetry I used to write some ten or more years ago, and of the Christ-child poems that were written by many others some ten or more years ago. Have we advanced beyond or have we receded from those years, that this type