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of becoming too formal, holding not only the characters of the story, but the poet herself, in too tight a mesh. In the Figurines in Old Saxe this may be sufficient for her purpose—a close eighteenth-century mesh, with gesticuated lovers moving back and forth to a delicately shadowed fate. Yet that purpose is not quite enough to give a living soul to the work of her hand. In Pickthorn Manor and The Cremona Wiolin one can scarcely observe the clever psychology, analyzing women's involuntary infidelities, because of a certain overneatness in the design; and it is a great relief when the heroine of Patterns cuts the mesh with the sword of tragedy, and lifts the poem to a higher plane with her poignant cry, “What are patterns for l’’ Patterns is, indeed, not only the most effective of the Figurines in decorative quality, but the most human and convincing as well. And one cannot leave this group without a word of praise for the old-Venice atmosphere, like tarnished gold, in The City of Falling Leaves. Similarly the War Pictures—such pieces in polyphonic prose as Bombardment and Lead Soldiers—are too consciously designed; one cannot forget the pattern, and it has not enough spontaneity and violence for the subject. It is only when the pattern exactly fits the theme that we get such an admirable dramatic suite as Malmaison—if one may borrow a musical term for this kind of choric movement, or such an adorable grotesque as Red Slippers. These are both in polyphonic prose, a pattern which hardly lacks intricacy, but which in these cases does not obtrude itself.
A Decorative Colorist
The book ends with a group of grotesques, a mood in which Miss Lowell delights as deeply as any Chinese woodcarver. They range from the delicate attitudinizing of The Dinner-party to the fiercely jerky gesticulation of the Stravinsky imitations. The art in these is very deliberate, no doubt, but that is the way with the grotesque, always a deliberate, mocking exaggeration.
It is a relief to find a poet who is always an artist. Miss Lowell may have too much art at times, but that is much rarer than too little. H. M.
Singing Fires of Erin, by Eleanor Rogers Cox. John Lane Co. Songs of the Fields, by Francis Ledwidge. Duffield & Co. Into a mold of conventional verse Miss Cox has turned moments from ancient stories of Ireland. Her lines are trimmed with a sprinkling of Celtic images, and a handful of immortal names—Deirdre, Aengus, Cuchulain, Emer and others. But the statement that Miss Cox follows in the footsteps of Yeats is misleading. Distinctly she bears no relation to him, not even the doubtful one of imitator. Francis Ledwidge, on the other hand, in Songs of the Fields, is truer to his heritage of Irish poetry. A sense of beautiful language and a deep sense of fields and woods and waters meet in his poems. Lord Dunsany, who introduces him, explains that he found him, where he has long looked for a poet, among the Irish peasants. The only pity is that
Mr. Ledwidge has not looked much for himself there, but instead has too often sought expression in borrowed language. Especially his poems of Irish heroes draw from the magic of Yeats. Yet, in a sense to justify them, they have beauty of their own too:
The gray sea-fogs above them are unfurled
And later in the same poem, The Death of Laeg:
Sleep lays his heavy thumbs upon my eyes,
For the rest this poet, who for a living was in turn farm laborer, miner and scavenger on the roads, seems to have been seduced by the bright idiom of Keats, and of the Elizabethans perhaps. Though he wears this garment of another day with a poet's instinct, it cannot help giving too much of his verse that unessential air of costumed quaintness. Possibly he himself would find it hard to say just why he has used words and phrases like 'tis, 'neath, 'thwart, dost, nought, the while, I thought to.
Mr. Ledwidge is now lance corporal in an Irish regiment of the Mediterranean force, in the face of which fact criticism seems cold. One hopes, however, for other poems from him, more native, more intrinsic in character, that the inherent music of his verse may gain edge and savor. Already verses here and there make a sudden image, the way these lines do from A Twilight in March:
A gipsy lit a fire, and made a sound
And then three syllables of melody
Sometimes his words have the amber quality of honey, and with all their indirectness seem to distil, almost as in a Greek idyl, the sweetness of the eartl :
And I will meet her on the hills of South,
My wild one, the sweet beautiful uncouth,
And now and then one comes on lines with no lack of directness, like these from two different poems:
Where I shall rest when my last song is over
Mr. William Stanley Braithwaite has delivered once more his annual pronunciamento in the Boston Transcript. We note with due humility his statement that “the influence of PoETRY has waned.”
If PoETRY's influence has “waned,” we may still rejoice that it seems to retain full power over Mr. Braithwaite himself: for in his list of the year’s “poems of distinction” he mentions sixty-five from PoETRY, against thirty-five from Others, and thirty-three from the Century, the two maga
zines next in favor; also a PoETRY poem, Night for Adventures, by Victor Starbuck, is one of the four spread out for special honor on the valuable Transcript page. Moreover, this is the first time the Boston dictator, in these annual reviews, has even mentioned PoETRY or its influence. We should be duly grateful that he has finally discovered us, though—alas!—with polite deprecation, as “the organ of Ezra Pound's radicalism,” and with the longdelayed admission, not yet intended as a compliment, that “the point of departure from conservatism”—he should have included his own conservatism—“may be dated from the establishment of PoETRY, A MAGAZINE OF VERSE.” Mr. Braithwaite's tardy and reluctant recognition of our “influence” is perfectly comprehensible. PoETRY has from the first taken exception to his autocratic tone and criticized his somewhat provincial opinions. Opinions are always individual, of course; but when they are solemnly enunciated with the aid of lists (starred and unstarred for greater or less “distinction”) in a newspaper of long-established literary reputation like the Transcript, they assume an authority quite out of proportion to their value, and therefore demand scrutiny. Last year Mr. Braithwaite was almost a convert to “radicalism.” This year his mind is at sea, wondering whether it should venture further out into the unknown, but on the whole steering shorewards, reverting to type. He decides that although “the influence of the innovators has been felt,” so that “strength, independence and more daring execution have resulted from contact with the new forces,” yet now,