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soldier's elegy, all the old properties and paraphernalia— Lucifer, King Arthur, words like “nursling” and “crysolite"—from the first page to the last we move in a world of unrealities, of abstractions, of exhausted platitudes. For those who prefer monotony to energy, who breathe best in the pumped-out space under a bell-glass, I can recommend no better book than the third Georgian Poetry. John Gould Fletcher
MORE ANTHOLOGIES, CHIEFLY TOPOGRAPHICAL
The Chicago Anthology: A Collection of Verse from the Work of Chicago Poets. Selected and arranged by Charles G. Blanden and Minna Mathison. Roadside Press. Sunflowers: A Book of Kansas Poems. Selected by Willard Wattles. A. C. McClurg & Co. The Book of New York Verse, edited by Hamilton Fish Armstrong. G. P. Putnam's Sons. The Chicago Anthology is as inclusive as a city directory; in fact, it constitutes a poetic directory of Chicago, with one or two rather important exceptions (who may not have been at home when the census-taker called), the most notable exception being Edgar Lee Masters. The book covers a period of twenty-five years or more, and about one hundred and twenty-five poets are represented, many of them no longer living, and many of them no longer living in Chicago—for instance, Mr. Brand Whitlock. It is difficult to say what constitutes a Chicago poet; if a brief residence in the city makes Yone Noguchi one, why not Vachel Lindsay, who studied two or three years at the Art Institute and who visits us often ?
The percentage of ore in the volume is not high; and this is a pity, since we gain from it nothing of that larger mood which has given Chicago its present distinction as a poetic centre. This could only have been given through the representation at greater length of the major Chicago poets and the omission of all the minors (among whom I should have been happy to be one, since the editors chose, without consultation, positively the worst poem I ever wrote, and one which I should only too willingly have abandoned on a less public doorstep). Unfortunately the major poets, when in at all, have been represented by their least significant poems.
Mr. Llewellyn Jones, in his introduction, explains—or, it would almost seem, apologizes for—the conservative principle of selection, drawing rather too sharply the distinction between “modernist” and conservative poetry. Poetry is poetry, and there is less difference than one imagines between what is called conservative and what is called radical poetry—when it is good. Radical poetry of today is the conservative poetry of tomorrow. The real distinction to be made is between, not the poets, but the critics; and here one must distinguish not only between conservative and radical, but between genuine conservatism and oldfogeyism.
The question is not as to whether the editors of this book have printed the old and ignored the “new”; they have omitted too much that is vital, too much of what has given Chicago its present reputation for creative vitality, which is after all the only excuse for a book of this sort.
Mr. Jones develops a novel theory, an almost Freudian theory, of how Chicago inspires some of her non-realistic, idealistic poets—through antithesis. If one writes about lilies and roses, it is in order to forget the stockyards. But every or any poet has a right to his ivory tower; he does not have to prove his right to it—we do not deny it to him. All we ask is that the tower be ivory—not celluloid. On the other hand a man is not a “modern” simply because he writes about the external details of his environment; nor must a man, to be a Chicago poet, write about Chicago. The omission from this book, however, of Carl Sandburg's Chicago, intrinsically powerful as it is, gives us a clue to the inhibitions of the editors.
The topographical scheme for an anthology, unless the area covered be fairly wide and possessed of an ancient culture, is not entirely satisfactory. Kansas, for instance, does not “stack up” very well against Massachusetts. Illinois would fare better, though it is only in the present generation that the Middle West may be said to have become vocal. Perhaps in another generation or two, the Far West—not the coast line but the intervening plains, plateaus and mountains—will have found a voice to carry beyond the Mississippi; something more indigenous, that is, than the expression of the transplanted easterner. The best known Kansas poet is, of course, Walt Mason, whose precedence as the innovator of polyphonic prose has not had the full recognition it deserves. Kansas also claims Harry Kemp and William Allen White; and even John G. Whittier and Vachel Lindsay are in this collection because they have paid poetic tribue to Kansas. A. C. H. The bulky New York volume seems to contain every poem ever written on a New York subject, from Walt Whitman's Manhattan to Ezra Rand's N. Y., and from H. C. Bunner's The Ball, 1789, to Franklin P. Adams' The Flat-hunter's Way. Our great American metropolis is not unstoried and unsung. H. M.
Christ in the Poetry of Today: an Anthology. Edited by Martha Foote Crow. The Woman's Press. One who opens this book with misgiving, expecting something in the nature of a tract suitable for Sunday schools, will be agreeably surprised and disappointed. The editor is to be commended for her courage in including poems more radical than one would have expected in a book of this kind, among these Edgar Lee Masters' The Apology of Demetrius, Ezra Pound's The Goodly Fere, and other poems in which Christ is represented less as a figure-head than as a human being. This is the modern spirit which, as Mrs. Crow says in her introduction, was not so much in evidence twenty or thirty years ago; but, dating from about 1910, the poems dealing with Christ are “often of a
new kind never seen in books of poetry before.” Among the good contributions, besides the above, are poems by Lizette Woodworth Reese, Agnes Lee, Carl Sandburg, Harriet Monroe, Barbara Peattie Erskine, Badger Clarke, Florence Kiper Frank and William Vaughn Moody. The book would be improved by a table of contents. Authors and titles are indexed separately, but this is not very practical for general use. A. C. H.
Editors of PoETRY: Perhaps if we had been able to express ourselves a little more clearly, we should not have offended the editors of PoETRY so deeply, or gotten ourselves stigmatized as “parlor pessimists.” The author of Traps for the Unwary had no intention of condemning the little theatres and little magazines, which, by providing a medium of publicity and experimentation, have done so much, as H. M. truly said, to stimulate the artistic imagination of the younger writers. And no agency in this work has been more valuable than PoETRY. In appealing for more careful and better oriented criticism, he did the new poetry and the little magazines the honor of assuming that they had arrived. He took them for granted, in the belief that they could now be discussed openly without fear of destroying them by a rude touch.