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~ moving leaveth him behind him; since the Holy Scripture, wherein there is no uncleanness, hath whole parts in it poetical, and that even our Saviour Christ vouchsafed to use the flowers of it; since all his kinds are not only in their united forms, but in their several dissections fully commendable; I think, and think I think rightly, the laurel crown appointed for triumphant captains doth worthily, of all other learnings, honor the poet's triumph.
Who among your brawling detractors dares brave this machine-gun challenge; or, if he considers a bayonet-thrust easier to parry, let him try riposting this shorter sentence of Sidney's: “It is not riming and versing that maketh a poet.” A. K.
Georgian Poetry, 1916-1917. The Poetry Bookshop, London. The third instalment of Georgian Poetry does not give us so many changes as its list of contents seems to indicate. True, Mr. Abercrombie is absent; but his calculated essays in brutality, his dramas of frigid violence, were already beginning to stale before the second issue was published. For the rest, there are a number of new names, most of them safe upholders of the Georgian tradition; with the exception of two or three, who have tried to discover a new note in the all-absorbing spectacle of England at war. Let us take the work as it stands. W. J. Turner, who is given pride of place, and whom many English critics are acclaiming as a great discovery, sets up the characteristic Georgian note at the outset in Romance:
When I was but thirteen or so
o Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
My father died, my brother too, They passed like fleeting dreams. I stood where Popocatapetl In the sunlight gleams. It is obvious that this sort of poetry can go on indefinitely until the supply of high-sounding geographical names runs out. And what excuse Mr. Turner can find for coupling in the same sentence a verb in the past tense with a verb in the present tense I do not know. Little things like grammar and syntax are perhaps negligible. Ecstasy is, as one would expect, an etiolated echo of Oscar Wilde. One gets a frieze of youths, a beach with shells on it, and such like; also a great display of “limbs,” meaning of course, legs. Thus Mr. Turner:
And the wind came and purified my limbs.
With Magic, the poet enters a conservatory—a true Georgian, to seek for magic in a hot-house. Nine labored stanzas of perfervid description end in these lines, which need no comment:
When silence creeps among the leaves -
We turn to The Hunter, after a vain struggle to discover who or what it is that “the echoing heart deceives,”
and are regaled with another imaginary journey through a
Sitting on a stone a shepherd,
Tennyson is said to have once rapped out that “any goose could hiss.” One might remind Mr. Turner of this remark, since we have here six sibilants in two lines of verse. As for the rest of the poem, it may be stated in a sentence. The sleepy shepherd hears a humming; it proves to be a German aeroplane, which drops a bomb on the aforesaid sleepy shepherd. Behold the dénouement:
Sitting on a stone no shepherd, Stone and shepherd sleeping, But across the hill and valley Grey sheep creeping, creeping. I have wasted so much space on Mr. Turner, because it seems to me that he is the absolute epitome of what these Georgians stand for—what they like and are not ashamed to like. Here we have bad rhymes, bad syntax, jingly metre, and subject-matter which is simply nothing but the apotheosis of picture post-card prettiness. The force of Georgianism could no further go. For myself I prefer, either as
music or as verse, Edward Lear's “The owl and the pussycat put to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat,” or “Far and few, far and few, are the isles where the jumblies live,” to all these Popocatapetls and Yucatans and other Georgian “magics.” Having got past Mr. Turner, it is with no shock of
surprise that we find Mr. Stephens, who is old enough to know better, writing thus, having been infected apparently with the selfsame creeping paralysis of brain:
I flit and twit
In the sun for a bit
When the light so bright is shining, O:
Or sit and fit
My plumes or knit
And so on through five or six pages of sweet simplicity degenerating into childishness.
Mr. Rosenberg, a newcomer who has done better work, contributes a single brief poem containing this unhappy mixture:
While the new lips my spirit would kiss
—three lines perhaps in their own way the worst ever written. By the time we arrive at Mr. Hodgson suspicion grows to weary certainty—we know what these Georgian poets are aiming at. But it is not poetry, unless you accept nothing as poetry but the artificially naive, the jejune, the banal, the vaporous, the jingling. If all the poems in the book are not in this manner, those which follow it yet represent the proclaimed and perferred type, the Georgian type in excelsis. Well, let us admit that it is an interesting type in itself, but let us not call it poetry: “fogged verse” will do, or “verse for tired minds,” or “sentimenticohysterialism.” Any exceptions? A few. Mr. J. C. Squire has in The Lily of Malud produced a poem. It has a subject and a certain impressiveness of effect. Mr. Monro caresses adroitly mihor themes. Mr. Davies does not abuse his space, or his adjectives. And there is a certain grim honesty about the war work of three young men—Robert Nichols, Robert Graves, and Siegfried Sassoon—which leads one perhaps to hope that after the war even the Georgians may show more tolerance for the modern world as it is, and less delight in affectations and redundancies. As for the rest of the volume, I, for one, frankly cannot see that any great harm would have been done had the printers mixed up the pages and given Mr. Freeman's poems, say, to Mr. Gibson or Mr. Gibson's to Mr. Freeman; or even Mr. de la Mare's to Mr. Masefield and vice versa, since neither of these two appears here with his most personal and distinctive work. The one thing certain about these Georgian poets is that they are true to type. There are no startling radicals, no intoxicating freaks, in this society; careful inbreeding has eliminated such a possibility. From W. J. Turner at the beginning, to Maurice Baring, who at the close trots out, into a modern