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The kings of thought and lords of chivalry
Mr. Ledoux's book is a reverent and thoughtful “biography and critical estimate” of the poet, with a complete bibliography. If, in our opinion, it overestimates his art, we at least get from it an admirable presentation of the point of view of his admirers. H. M.
THE OLD GODS
The Story of Eleusis—a Lyrical Drama, by Louis V. Ledoux. Macmillan Co. Yzdra, a Tragedy, by Louis V. Ledoux. Macmillan Co. These two plays may be regarded as experiments in an old fashion, one as quaintly outworn today as hoop-skirts or powdered wigs. They are eighteenth-century classic, the studied library work of a cultivated man of letters, who sollows literature with gentlemanly discretion, as an agreeable occupation for his leisure. And The Story of Eleusis has a certain charm: the old gods, the old myths, are handled with a delicate touch; we feel soft airs blowing perfumes from far away. The characters are figures in a pale frieze—they move as in a dream, behind a veil. If the poet can not aspire to the Greek magic, and if some of his choruses are too obviously of Swinburnian cadence, he yet attains a certain harmony of tone in a balanced composition, and fine lines, of studied and reverent simplicity, light the picture with notes of soft color. In Yzdra, published later, we find the style stiffening, as is natural with a manner so essentially artificial. Even that whalebone fashion has outgrown, one would think, such tinsel phrases as ay-forsooth, perchance 'tis he, as wise as fair, and such lines as
Some fate impendeth in the womb of time Or
- I cannot choose but love in spite of all. z Moreover, the theme is beyond its reach. Alexander the Great wears knee-breeches and a powdered wig, like the actors of the early Georges, and is never for a moment convincing, either as king, conquering soldier, or passionate lover.
Both Eleusis and Yzdra are period plays, the period being neither Persephone's nor Alexander's, but the later Addison's. One has more atmosphere than the other, but, like the period rooms of the modern rich, they don't quite get the flavor.
H. M. FOR CHILDREN
Songs of Childhood, by Walter de la Mare. Longmans
Green & Co., London and New York.
It is a delight to have a new edition of these lovely lyrics for children, first printed—most of them—fifteen years ago, and of late out of print. The author was a lyrist of sure instinct then as now, even though certain of his later poems have a rarer beauty. Already we have the delicate humor, the eerieness and wistfulness so characteristic of the man.
One wonders whether the faint light perfume of these poems would escape one's robust child-friends. Perhaps some of them would feel it; anyway this one on The Fly should appeal to them all:
How large unto the tiny fly
A rose-bud like a feather bed,
A dewdrop like a looking-glass,
The smallest grain of mustard-seed
A loaf of bread a lofty hill;
And specks of salt as bright to see
OTHER BOOKS OF VERSE
Werses, by Hilaire Belloc. With an Introduction by Joyce
Kilmer. Lawrence J. Gomme.
Mr. Kilmer says: “Hilaire Belloc is a poet. Also he is a Frenchman, an Englishman, an Oxford man, a Roman Catholic, a country gentleman, a soldier, a democrat, and a practical journalist. He is always all these things.”
But only very casually is Hilaire Belloc a poet, only now and then in this book. Always he is a personality, though; in his ballads and devotional poems and drinking songs there is a rich feel and flavor, whether they are quite poetry or not; sometimes they are frankly nonsense or slap-dash journalism. But the three poems of the Virgin—Our Lord and Our Lady, In a Boat and Courtesy—have a high beauty and simplicity, and The Leader is that rare treasure of the muse, a truly heroic ballad, and with a modern meaning. We quote the beginning and end:
Pilgrimage, by Eric Shepherd. Longmans, Green & Co. Because of its absolute sincerity one likes and respects this book even though not in accord with its religious doctrines or its doctrines of art. The emotion and the craftsmanship are so honest, so lucid and basically sound, one wonders what poetry Mr. Shepherd would have given us if he had come to see the world with equal sincerity through different glasses. There is a delicacy and perfection of form in these poems \ which suggests The Shropshire Lad, and the same blending of intimacy with reserve. H. H. City Dust, by Jane Burr. Frank Shay, New York.
The best poems in this book are those that have to do with people, but only the “Tilly” ones are really good. The foundling baby is a delightful enviable baby, but not quite sublimated into poetry. The Lunger on the Roof and the wife in The Old Debt sound as if the writer had not yet come into sharp enough realization of these people to make them live in poems. The tone of the book is journalistic, and one wishes Jane Burr had waited a little longer before going into print. H. H.
Dear Madam: A friend called my attention to the version of my Glory Trail appearing in your August issue, also to your editorial announcement that I was “unknown.” I mentally admitted the truth of the latter statement, but felt pained that my obscurity should be trumpeted about the country through the pages of your excellent magazine. Today, however, I saw your September issue and my wounds are healed. While I am in a good humor I will set an honest heel squarely upon the corns of my writhing egotism and confess that you are right in saying that the cowpunchers' version of the song is an improvement over the original.
During my years on the ranch in the border country I had no idea that more than one or two of my companions of the