Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

Sir Oracle

“with the elimination of a great deal that sounded false, and which was very much in evidence a year ago, American poetry looks good to progress with fewer distractions.” Et cetera, in a valiant effort to face gracefully in both directions. A mind so unsure of its ground necessarily moves freakishly. Thus we remain untroubled by Mr. Braithwaite's fibellous assertion that “Mr. Sandburg, a much-heralded PoETRY production, was a failure”; or by his inference of failure, in the case of Ezra Pound, from the statement that “the collected poems of Pound have so little interested the American public that they find it difficult to discover an American publisher; and the magazine Others, largely supported by his disciples, has ceased publication.” Mr. Sandburg (who, by the way, was the Lord’s “production,” not PoETRY's)—Mr. Sandburg, stimulated by heavy sales and by the good opinion of critics like Francis Hackett, Louis Untermeyer, George Sterling, Floyd Dell, and many others of quality, can easily get along without Mr. Braithwaite's. As for Mr. Pound, we doubt if he is seeking “to discover an American publisher,” or if immediate public response is the ultimate criterion of a poet's fame. But both these gentlemen are muscular, intellectually as well as physically, and abundantly able to take care of themselves. The thrust at Others is less valiant. No one can fail to regret the cessation of that brave little magazine, which was founded without a cent of capital, and carried on for twelve or more experimental and adventurous months through the devotion and personal sacrifice of its editor. It may be a surprise to both editor and contributors to learn that they are “disciples of Ezra Pound,” though no doubt many of them are his admirers. In conclusion, we may be permitted to inquire why Mr. Braithwaite is reprinting, in his forthcoming anthology of the year's magazine verse, eight poems copyrighted by this magazine, without so much as asking permission of its editor, or, in at least one case, of the poet. H. M.

THE SEVEN ARTS

The Seven Arts is the ambitious title of the new magazine, published in New York, of which James Oppenheim is the editor, Waldo Frank the associate editor, with an advisory board including Kahlil Gibran, Louis Untermeyer, Van Wyck Brooks, Robert Frost, Edna Kenton, David Mannes and Robert Edmund Jones. The ideal magazine is perhaps only another Utopian dream, but none of the many now before us does just what The Seven Arts proposes to do—to furnish a vehicle of expression for the artist in any or all of the seven arts, and particularly for “that portion of his work which is done through a joyous necessity of the artist himself.” This is a fine project. We will not say that it deserves to succeed, for desert is based not upon propaganda but upon accomplishment, and nothing is so barren as a slogan unfulfilled. But we shall watch the outcome with anxiety and hope.

At first sight one fears that there may be more breadth than depth to the magazine, that the ground to be covered may preclude the possibility of printing contributions of any

The Seven Arts

length. This would be a pity, as the fragmentariness of many of our periodicals makes one's mind feel like a scrap-bag, full of diverse remnants of information, with hardly so much unity as a patch-work quilt. This is but a fear, however. The outstanding contribution to the first number is perhaps Romain Rolland's America and The Arts, although I confess that Allen Upward's fable, The Saints of San Atoll, gives me most pleasure. The Frenchman's message seems to me very largely rhetoric. I don’t know what M. Rolland means when he says that we are “free of traditions,” that we are by this very lack of tradition “isolated from the vast load of thought, of sentiment, of secular obsession, under which the old world groans.” If it is possible, as he says, that “the intellectual fixed ideas, the dogmas of politics and art, that grip Europe, are unknown to us,” is it not possible that we have our own fixed ideas, our own dogmas and obsessions? And are we not just discovering that we may not “go forward, unhampered, to our future while Europe sacrifices hers to quarrels and rancors and ambitions that should be dead?”—that our freedom depends upon Europe's and Europe's upon ours? And I wish the editors of The Seven Arts would explain what they mean when they say that “we have no traditions.” We have living traditions, summed up in certain representative Americans—statesmen or artists. We have many traditions, in the air, so to speak, waiting for artists to synthesize them. The artist creates “a school of style”; he does not necessarily follow one. To say that we have no traditions is to say that we have had no artists, no writers, no poets, no statesmen. It is perhaps due to the very nature of our democracy that our genius has been so largely individual and initiative. Our writers have not run in schools, it may be; but to say that we have no traditions is to deny all that makes the American spirit, which is certainly distinct enough to have a name and to be traditional. It is to deny Lincoln, Lee, Washington, Jefferson, Hawthorne, Poe, Whitman and many others; it is to deny ourselves—the air we breathe and the ground we walk on. “Do not copy foreign models,” says M. Rolland, an injunction also repeated recently by Theodore Roosevelt, who is suddenly alive to the need of nationalism in art as well as in politics; although in his Sorbonne lectures on good citizenship six or seven years ago he made no mention of the artist's share in statehood. It is surprising how much the discussion of respective cultures incident upon the war has done to awaken interest in the arts and artists—though not enough to form any national commissions or create any endowment funds, or take the tariff off books. “Be careless of form,” too, says M. Rolland; but is not mastery of form the road to freedom, and what form of art is foreign once it is assimilated 2 The surest road to art is through an international understanding of art. Of course M. Rolland means that we should not slavishly copy foreign models; but we should not so use any model. Particularly we should not wait, as I pointed out several years ago, to copy our own models after they have been assimilated by France or England or Germany and so returned to us. Indeed what we chiefly need, I think, is to recognize our

The Seven Arts

own individuality, our own traditions. Perhaps we do not lack the tradition so much as the power of recognition. No one yet, I believe, has pointed out a certain kinship between Hawthorne's realism and that of the Russian novelists who are now so much admired. And Hawthorne flourished in the despised Victorian era. A. C. H.

THE NEW DIAL

We hope that The Dial under its new management may prove not only a “journal of opinion,” but a pathfinder. It is the function of an organ of criticism to create opinion, as well as to record it; to project itself into the future as well as to explore the past. If it does not do this, it is of no more value than a card index, useful enough in its way, but not very stimulating. The trouble with The Dial under the old management was that it seemed to live too much in the past. It was authoritative on established subjects—the only good poet was a dead one. We are very sure that this will not be the editorial conception of the new Dial.

We hope that, in the heat of controversy, we may not have seemed to belittle the achievement of the founder of The Dial, the late Francis Fisher Browne, who for many years devoted his fine abilities to the promotion of the higher culture in America. If we have criticized the paper's attitude, it was The Dial which commenced the quarrel. We herewith bury the hatchet, and extend our hearty good wishes to the present publisher, Mr. Martyn Johnson.

« IndietroContinua »