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expressing, to the extreme degree, the tribal impulse of patriotism? The warrior woman is an authentic type; examples of her may be found today much nearer home than Serbia, where she has been quite recently conspicuous in battle beside her brothers. Can our poets no longer recognize and appreciate this type, that they should violate the old biblical tradition and try to add two great Amazons to the long list of amorous heroines?
In the same way Mr. Hagedorn lays violent and sacrilegious hands on Clytemnestra. To the Greek poets, who created her out of more or less historic legend, she was a starkly simple example of the amorous woman who stops at nothing, even the murder of a king, to rid herself and her lover of an avenging intruder. These poets enshrined her figure indestructibly in that form; and any modern effort, even the ablest, to reshape her is as futile as would be the chisel of Rodin on the great portal of the cathedral of Chartres. Rodin, however, would know enough, and feel enough, not to attempt it.
There are modern women who might set forth effectively Mr. Hagedorn's idea, which is a good enough idea in its way. Only none of these has yet acquired a glamour which makes the world instinctively take the poet's word for her beauty and royalty, instinctively believe him when he tells us of “her enigmatic eyes,” “the vast black night of her eyes,” or of her
The poet who chooses a figure long enshrined gives himself Mr. Hagedorn's Clytemnestra
the advantage of the tradition even while he violates the tradition, and saves himself the trouble of complete creation. Mr. Hagedorn's diction is fairly modern, in spite of two or three “deems”—modern enough to admit the word “daddy” on little Electra's lips. But the dialogue, of which most of the poem is composed, is undramatic; it misses the quality of speech. The Heart of Youth is a picturesque me tiaeval play with which the boys of the Hill School dedicated their out-door theatre last year. It is unpretentious, simple and sweet, and should be effective when played by boys or girls, or both. It ends with a fine moment, when the crowd, seeking and singing, “surge forth with torches into the night.” H. M.
A DECADE OF GIBSON
Battle and Other Poems, by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson. Macmillan Co. This book enables one to compare Mr. Gibson's present with his past, for the war poems are new while the six brief plays, which fill more than half the volume, were first printed in 1906. Even at that time the poet had chosen his theme—the life of the poor in rural England, and had stript his blank verse down to the barest simplicity. Though the little plays— br, rather, dramatic episodes—are perhaps over-deliberate und their technique is yet not quite free, one feels in them spiritual intuition and a depth of yearning sympathy with the harsh struggles, and keen joys and sorrows, of simple folk who live close to the niggardly fruitful earth and to animals. Ruth, coming home through the bitter snow to bear the child of a vagabond lover, bends lovingly over a weak little new-born lamb:
Ah, what a night to come into the world !
And Esther Shield, just wedded, undaunted by her motherin-law's story of her own tragic marriage and prophecy of woe, turns in triumph to her ardent young mate, saying:
I shall bide.
But still more interesting are the Battle lyrics—surer in technique, more mature in the handling of character. In fact, with the single exception of the Brooke sonnets, they are the truest and most poignant war poems we have had thus far from any English poet; expressing “the vast unreason of war” through the stark irony and savage simplicity of the common soldier's or refugee's reaction. Readers of PoETRY will remember many of these withering songs, which, like a flame, light up the sudden and perishing emotion. Here is one they missed, called Salvage:
So suddenly her life
A Decade of Gibson
Naked she stood, and gazed
The effect of this group of poems, like that of the finest American poem of this war, Miss Driscoll's Metal Checks, is to put out of date forever the romance, the glory, of battle —that ancient glamour which has been celebrated in song since Homer, and which Rupert Brooke, like a modern troubadour, set to the music of an ancient harp as he marched to his death. The poet who truly represents this age sings another tune. He expresses that bitter brooding in the depths of every heroic modern heart, the feeling that “in war,” as the London Times reviewer says, “there are no longer men, there is no longer man; there are only sports of chance, pullers of triggers, bewildered fulfillers of instructions, cynical acceptors of destiny.”
The book includes also, in the section Friends, the group of fine sonnets which we recently printed, and a few memorial and personal poems. Among the latter is this one, called Marriage:
Going my way of old,
I dreamt not life could hold
I dreamt not that love's way
Day after happy day,
Trees, by Harold Monro. Poetry Bookshop, London.
Trees—the title makes me think of John Muir of happy memory, and his wonderful love of trees. It passed the love of brothers, it was a proud rapture of understanding, a mystic spiritual communion, like the intimacy of a mediaeval saint with archangels. Trees were his archangels, ranged in shining ranks about the throne of God; and mercifully gathering at their feet the races of men, and interceding for them with the Most High. From the little quivering aspen, tender as a fawn, to the sequoia gigantea, noble as a mountain, he knew them to their deepest secrets, and loved them in his deepest heart.
Well, Mr. Monro loves trees too, in his odd and ingenious way. He says:
Tree-life is like a corridor between
Indeed, he almost “makes of their love an immorality.”
Grip hard, become a root; so drive
Thus he forces himself into tree-life. Then—
The trees throw up their singing leaves, and climb