PS 324.L91

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Mass.. Set up and electrotyped. J. . By the MACMILLAN COMPANY. Norwood. Gushing Co. U.Copyright. S. —Berwick & Smith Co. Published October.A. X917.S. 1917.

" in the solid over- We are no more colonies of this or that other land. It is this realization of ourselves that has drawn us into an understanding sjmipathy with our conceived of before. the equinoctial storm which bounds a period. It is It has overwhelmed us like a tidal wave. i The so-called "new movement" in American poetry is [evidence of the rise of a native school. has produced a more poignant sense of nationality than has recently been the case in this country of enormous spaces and heterogeneous popof ulation. The a time when most people were bewailing the growth of . different from aU other peoples whatsoever. And let us make no mistake such real truth is that at a result cannot be reached through a devotion to the teachings of materialism. for beginning a So I make no apology book of poetical essays with a reference to the war. allies hardly to be .PREFACE It is impossible for any one writing to-day not to be affected by the war. In fact. gether of the whole country which the The welding towar has brought about. but ourselves. the mobilizing of our whole population into a single. printing Hyphens are submerged the word "America. strenuous endeavour. the war and the subject of this volume are not so far apart as might at first appear.

It is my intention. and although a work of art great only because of its aesthetic importance. is the only thing which matters. hich urged a 3 man to the poetry. •y on in the literature of other coun- But not quite in the same way. sincerity and by the its . Conservatives are always with us. they . Tinsel can be made Hke gold it is only wear which rubs the plating. a new path. Each cotmits approaches an evolutionary step from own racial tigle. To a certain extent. soil But lat beauty could not exist without the its raws rt sustenance. beauty a work of art.i Preface beneath the surface. fortunately for mankind. the travail of this idealism began. the seething of battle flung itself over the laterialism. lost we look back a centiuy or so. This is why fate. Slowly. But. . Long before the shadow of orld. already. together. pain- lUy. Posterity cares nothing for the views to write . first if one leads and then tiother. is Literature rooted to life. the change which marks American oetry has been going ies also. hidden away in the dreams and esires of unknown men. to le conservatives. ley have been opposing change ever since the days of le cave-men. love the world forward into it is loment of writing. ery sestheticism is still its conditioned by its it. combat the opinions of advanced not step. here. new idealism was in process. it took on a shape. and it is from which it a fact that those works of time alone can deterto look extraordioflE which are superficial or jneretriciousdo certainly per- h remarkably dne a man's arily soon. and they move but all alternately. At the America who has taken the last.rength of its roots.

And as poetry is the expression of the its heart of man. What sets the poets of to-day apart is from those of the an entire difference of outlook. a new intensity. vii Already the more open minded . it reflects this change to smallest It has been my endeavour in these essays to follow this movement as a whole. so. Ideas believed to be fimdamental have disappeared and given Victorian era place to others. so particle. is not a mere Already the reasons for difference begin to stand out clearly. man being a part of nature. man and nature are recognized as a part of a whole. in the . as it is more slowly modifying the writers . and also in the work of the particular poets who compose it. and all falling into a place in a yast4)lan^the key to which is natural science. I have tried evolution. see friv- that the change going on in the arts olous interest in experiment. now something wbate of our social fabric. and so absolute has this symbol become to them that they have no need to dwell constantly upon its symbolic meaning. and different given much What but in a appear to be pure nature poems are of course way from most for nature is not nature poems of the older separate from man. realize We who watch something of the grandeur of conception toward this evolution is working.Preface agitate in vain. For this reason. but all have been affected by it it has modified poetry. the is symbol has taken on prominence. They see in the universe a huge sjnmbol. In some modem American poets this attitude is more conscious than in others. which The modem poets are less concerned with dogma and more with truth.

their work can itself. in such a volume as this. E. Ezra Pound and Mr. why he has been forced out of one order into another how his ideas have gradually taken form in his mind. physical as well as mental. this form in his work. But life. of course. Lindsay does not seem to very readily into find any of these groups. of Mr. Eunice Tietjens. as such. find no place however excellent it may be in How shall one write a book of literary criticism ? What weight shall one lay on biography \ i . James Oppenheim. of Mr. I wish I had space to consider all the men and women whose work has aided to make this movement vigorous and important. but the main tendencies of which they are a part have to . William Rose Ben^t and Mrs. and in what way he expresses I have pointed out his ancestry. its aesthetic value is. in the final simaming up. it is with regret that I pass by the work of Mr. to those poets of his As who still cUng to an older order. foremost. the only value of a work of art. that the criticism of art should be first. where pushed him forward. As I have already said. But that must be left to future literary historians. Spingam. Still. been considered under other names. but I think a closer attention will the him to be rather popularizing the second stage of movement than heading a completely new tendency own. J. and all the time.viii Preface show what has led each of these men to adopt the habit of mind which now characterizes him. Mr. and others as well. Vachel Lindsay. Louis Untermeyer and Mr. first It is true that at fall a glance Mr. what on assthetics ? I quite agree with that brilliant disciple of Signor Benedetto Croce. . aesthetic. and have noted where atavism has held him back.

Masters' volumes. Houghton. Henry Holt and Company for poems reprinted from Mr." "North of Boston. "Chicago Poems". To The MacmiUian jCompany Mr. had not the memory of many conversations come to my aid. ix and to the lover of poetry which conditioned the poems also has its charm. Frost's books. That it has enabled me to round out the brief biographies submitted to me by the poets themselves. . Therefore I have considered these poets as men and the life artists." and "Merliri. The facts of a man's hfe tell very little. Sandburg's volume. I am also indebted to the courtesy of various publishers for permission to reprint the poems which for appear in the extracts from text. therefore."'s "Sea . who have helped me with all the information they had to give and with outlines of the events of their lives. kindness." and from Mr. I am weU aware. It is my good fortune to know all these poets. are chiefly due to the poets themselves. but I have tried not to StUl it is let friendship interfere with opinion. has a right to its criticism." and "Mountain Interval." "Songs and Satires. D. My thanks. to Messrs. "A Boy's Will. The photographs here reproduced I owe to their possible that personal intercourse to a closer understanding of aims . Mifflin and Company for the quotations from "H." "The Man Against the Sky. Robinson's volumes." and "The Great Valley" to Messrs. may have led and motives than I realize. "The Spoon River Anthology. unless one also knows the man and a couple of pages of dates and occupations alone would certainly not have enabled me to write as I have done." and from Mr. "Captain Craig.Preface too.

" from Mr. to The New Republic Company for Mr. Robinson's the Night. that certain nuances can only be apprehended by a person living under the same conditions. Also. a movement has started which has taken form in various little booklets." and ese poems. are not so modest. that they and America. 191 7. Fletcher's "Irradiations Sand and Spray" and "Goblins and Pagodas". de- lights in analyzing the art of the time." and Mr. in England . recently. — "The Children of the Night." "John Evereldown. It is impossible for final.X Preface Garden. This must be my excuse for attempting a study of living authors. France. I should also add that certain parts of these essays have appeared in Poetry Journal. Other cotintries. however." "Doctor of BiUiards. Hitherto. Charles Scribner's Sons for the poems. are poets. Fletcher's "Clipper-Ships." and that the nucleus of the volume was a course of lectures de- Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in January. particularly." "Richard Cory." and "How Annandale Went Out. monographs of this and that novelist for For. American students have felt this so strongly that practically no serious consideration of contemporary work has been attempted." and to The Four Seas Company for the same author's JapanIQingenhagen." "The and "The Poetry Review." livered at the "The New RepubHc." and "Cliff "The Children of "The Master." from the same author's "The Town Down the River". In fact. to Messrs. the judgment of any one critic to be no contemporary criticism can make any such pretence. The French realize that a contemporary can often reveal facets in an author's work which may be hidden from posterity.

LOWELL. and this is strange. for poetay^ far more thgjLfigtion. . AMY Brookline. the advance guard of life^ It for this reason that their recognition comes so slowly.Preface the most part. Poets are always the advance guard is of literature. 1917. xi Poetry has not been touched upon . reveals tfeesotjLotJhunianity. July I.


CONTENTS PAGE •^Edwin Arlington Robinson 3 Robert Frost 79 Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg . 235 .." AND John Gould Fletcher . 139 The Imagists : "H. ...D.


A. D." John Gould Fletcher 201 233 281 . Robinson .' Frontispiece PACING PAGE Robert Frost 77 ^37 Edgar Lee Masters Carl Sandburg "H.LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS E.




EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON When generally people speak of the "New is Poetry. of evoluThe beginnings of a change are almost imthe final stages. to-day. freer form s. being so radical that everyone remarks them. and with such astonishment that the cry of "freak." is almost sure to be raised by ignorant readers. All changes are a matter of slow growth. mis- leading in the extreme. A great artistic movement race. of no particular value unless they are the necessary and adequate clothing to some particular manner of thought. as in races." they written in the is mean that poetry which newer. But such a distinction all. are a part of but the body and thenewforms is more imporit. so the various 3 . tant than the clothing and existed before real tion. There is a^New Poetry " its attire. perceptible. is as inevitable a thing as the growth of a But. on the other hand. individ- uals possess differing characteristics. for." "charlatan. after forms are merely forms.

" In this book. is six poets of I whom speak. revolt against. This is indeed the melting pot. and fusing exotic modes of thought with their Anglo-Saxon inheritance. they create what critics call a "movement. and that particular tinge the immediate oast . affect the surrounding company as well as the in- gredients in the crucible. and yet. alien. and its fumes . I have attempted no catalogue of present-day American poets. peoples. phrases and sentimentality irdeavouring I we shall see tKem en- I to express themselves. There are excellent poets whose work I am not going to touch upon. necessary to glance back for moment to earlier conditions. of particular tinge is a strand. and the new race which America is producing we shall see them stepiping boldly from realism to far flights of imagination. all But one peculiar to is the strands. each an exemplar. I shall only consider those few poets who seem most markedly to represent a tendency. and think the most typical exemplar. We shall see these poets revolting against sfilted . We shall see them ceding more and inore to uiie infiuence of other. .4 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry whose work represents a revolt may differ most widely one from another. A poetic moveartists ment may be compared Of the ^ to a braid of I shall woven strands. in varying still more widely from artists of other epochs. To a understand the change which it is is going on in American poetry.

let us say. for technique usurped the place of emotion. Lowell. in the America of to-day. Bryant.Edwin Arlington Robinson If 5 we examine the state of American poetry from. But these two. mere words. all and words. and Holmes. 1830 until the Civil War. Swinburne and . The robustness of "Byron gave place to the sugared sentimentality of Tennyson the moral strength of Wordsworth made . It is true that two great geniuses flung themselves up out of this mass of cultivated endeavour. Byron on the other. Longfellow. for no literature is richer in geniuses than is the English. still \ C I I a literary province of the Mother Country. in the sense that America was of Whittier. in their work. But that is no exception to the Anglo-Saxon rule. But worse was exalted out of to follow. we shall be struck with one thing. and have more followers. Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman. if not strikingly great poetry. were the main springs of American poetry. were too far ahead of their times to have much effect upon their contemporaries. They are better understood. way for the frozen didacticism of Matthew Arnold. marked the epoch Emerson. They were Engliish provincial poets. Wordsworth on the one hand. homogeneity of That is. mean. They are all of good I English stock. But from the Civil War until almost the present less day. Good poetry. geniuses. with the racial our poets. the literary sponsors of American verse were much worthy of disciples. were due proportion.

it was given ! . and freshness only gained by following raised some other line.6 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Rossetti are not good masters to follow. cannot hear indefinitely without satiety. but they hardly expected to have more attention accorded it than an ornamental scroll would have received. how lacking in the copies of charm. Readers found more sustenance in Browning. Art 'ends l( is like politics. editors accepted to round out short pages. No we how beautiful a piece of music it may be. as the pages to greater English poets dead of our magazines of twenty years ago will abundantly prove. by a phonograph soon becomes Our poets were largely phonographs and gone. said the wiseacres. no matter with what skill they themselves wrought. innocuous had no resemblance language of the hymn-books — — to the temper of still modern American life. Only Shake- those of our poets who kept solidly to the spearean tradition achieved any measure of success. Faultless. Any theory carried too far is in sterility. matter Keats have become. alas. English America was not a country for poets. and the same piece rendered unbearable. threadbare idea moral sentiments expressed in the weak. dition. flowing verses. But Keats was the last great exponent of that traand we all know how thin. and. fine about a worn-out. but not with any idea of it answering a demand. and bewailed the fact that he was dead. Publishers its printed poetry.

and out of that tendency the forms of art have been evolved.Edwin Arlington Robinson over. the more profound the emotions. fabric — . 7 and materialism could never produce art. This was tantamount to saying that art was an artificial thing./ Now here was a great country practically dumb. the constant warring and overcoming social of nature. express himself. is the desire of a man to record the in. virile race. whereas making steel harrows was a natural thing. and of that country some fifty years earlier. That would be absurd. that to is a ridiculous point of view. true art. with no its tongue to vent race express emotion. to materialism. How should such a to itself by the sentiments appropriate a highly civilized country no bigger than New York State. reactions of his personality to the world he lives Great emotion always tends to beconie rhythmic. the fluid state of the all made a different speech neceswere really to express the thoughts sary. /Art. to boot? I would not be construed into saying that the larger the country. Of course. Here was a capable of subduing a vast continent in an incredibly short time. /Art becomes artificial only when the forms take precedence over the emotion. terial I only mean that the ma- conditions under which Americans lived — the great unoccupied spaces. if they that were in them.

the dwellers in large little to eradicate. Moloch and his sacrifices of human victims is no more revolting. Indeed. . in spite of much infant mortality. the I have mentioned. has resolved itself which saps vitality and brings on the convulsions of despair. Yet. were able to modify the Puritan sentiment. to cast out what of poison remained in it. my simile of a drug Is no idle comparison. / It was itself a revolt against a licence that had become unbearable.8 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry There was one other element in the constitution of the American pefJpIeTquite as important as these That element was. and women were burned for witches. But no student of history can fail to be struck with the vigour and healthy-mindedness of a race which can live under such an incubus and retain its sanity. the people as a whole lived and throve under this threatening horror.^ joyless religion. and is. and many of the weaker members of a community going insane. ^or Puritanism. cities. soul-searching. with the vitality of a race born to endure. was always a drastic. when nervous little children were tortured with exhortations to declare their faith senile old and escape the clutches of the devil. ingrained Puritanism which time and place do so Of course./ /rxintamsm. There is no more horrible page to the student than that of into a virulent poison the early times in New England. at this late day. worked upon from their earliest childhood by modern conditions.

had becomg'an anachronism to New England at large. modified. An individual brought up in one of the small towns scattered over the country was therefore obliged to reproduce suddenly in himself the evolution of three hundred years. he suffered the pangs of . is very Here. a dreadful despair which free will not of The age him he. Puritanism held sway quite out It persisted long after it of time. but its prolonged effect has been to produce anaemia and atrophy. like fruits set in the sun. but powerful. They were by nothing more violent than sympathy with its main trend only . the result different. In so far as he was advanced mentally beyond his fellows. and where these do not follow j/where the strength of the in- dividual keeps him fighting for the cause of indi. They were not at war with their times. In the case of smaller places. Living in a highly educated community.Edwin Arlington Robinson 9 For Puritanism undoubtedly did much to strengthen the fibre of the early settlers. but with them the paternal tradition was diluted in time. the substance itself had mellowed and sweetened. viduality against the composite thought of a race. and only so far as it. they modified with it./ Bryant and Longfellow was let singularly from these negative. or their fellow citizens. their surroundings. the result is an innate cynicism. Didactic and moral these poets undoubtedly were. results of the Puritanic poison. too.

His father. where his son was bom on December 22. result of What large cities like lived into. The leases pt-^frM^nr] rriol^rir^Vi^ly tJnjTprl with cyn iIrpsnl^ iq n'aiji / Self-analysis has sapped joy. Head Tide is a picturesque little village on the Sheepscott River. thrust violently upon. the clever youths of smaller Boston towns were /We must never forget that all inherited prejudice and training pulls one way. comes of good Anglo-Saxon stock. Robinson. to is throw off more than one individual a superstition. and the impossibility of constructing an ethical system in accordance both with desire and with tradition has I . Time has moved slowly at Head Tide. one cannot comprehend the difficult and beautiful poetry of Edwin Arlington Robinson. and the effort to do so sacrifice. was a grain merchant in the village of Head Tide. Maine. i^ . not made without Unless one understand this fact. There is still the village inn . Mr. as his name implies. 1869. and customs have moved as slowly. twisted the mental vision out of It takes the lifetime of all true proportion. And his evolution carried with it the farther torture of consciousness.10 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry growth and misunderstanding. active mind pulls another. Sudden change can never accomplish the a long. Edward Robinson. slow process. some miles east of the Kennebec. in these unfortunate the probing.

A fine Tudor mansion of grey stone with rounded bow windows. when his parents moved to the more con- town of Gardiner. only in material fact. possessed a squire for over two hundred years. ii where the whole countryside gathers on occasions. where the wood is still brought to be sawed. Standing on the broad. so far as In exchanging Head Tide left son family merely — custom is concerned. cannot take away from it its air of dominating dignity. the Robinan old-world village for an old-world town.Edwin Arlington Robinson with a ball-room on the top floor. for Gardiner. the little town nestles proudly beside that strange anomaly in an American city the Manor House. as they did one hundred years ago. and even the railroad tracks which modern commercialism has inconsiderately laid along the nearer bank. it stands on a little hill above the river." as that in any hamlet in England. Edwin Robinson was only two or siderable three years old. however. not only in appearance that Gardiner house It is a house not but in genealogical. his father having become a director of the local bank. for there have been Gardiners of Gardiner ever since the first . blue Kennebec. For Gardiner has. It is harks back to English tradition. And this gentleman's house is as truly the "Great House. There is still the old watermill by the river. I know of no place in America so English in atmosphere as Gardiner.

a momentary cloud hung over the fortunes of the "Great House. What growing the boy thought of this old stone mansion. it stood as a paretic m onumen t of"tiie folly of attempting to ggaft the old order of things upon the n ew. standing magnificent. a phoenix from the ashes. The house was vacant for months at a time. The owner was doing all that thrift and skill could do to repair the mistakes of his ancestors. the house and grounds have descended.12 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry • fox-hunting squire transferred himself and his dogs to the New World. Still the owner clung to his ancestral like hall. too. to raise it. we do not know. some of their land. as he has done. but in order to accomplish this he was engaged in business in Boston. and but little else. Robi nson's chil dhood. its present. side repairs ball. much of it was out of ity of a repair. have not been allowed to languish. lieu of the legal keeping up a sentimental entail in one our country has eschewed. the countryto the "Great House" for the annual floors still reflect the shine of and the polished wax candles. I have dwelt . little beside the town. At the time the Robinson family went to live in Gardiner. and the Gardiner family possessed their house. Every Christmas. But the raising was not yet. From eldest son to eldest son. still. Old customs. In Mr. outlying acres had been sold." The open-handed hospitalhundred years was showing its effect. and silent. whether he ever speculated upon its past.

into which he was born. contem- boy gazing with wide eyes at a strange. the questioning which finds no answerj The poem begins with the simplicity of statement : of an old ballad Isaac and Archibald were two old men. Whether it records an actual event." may very well be autobiographical.Edwin Arlington Robinson upon it 13 here as a symbol. "Captain Craig.aiid'^^e reactions of a Sunimer sun. the psychological signifil cance." one of his first and most Mr. A world which contains at once such realities as"apples and tireilegs^^Jlisuch vague incomprehagsibilijigs as. it it is remembered plative l ittle worth quoting here for the picture gives of the serious. Robinson has given us very few glimpses of number of his scenes seem to have Tilbury Town for a background. the brooding melancholy which will not baj shaken off. contradictory world. his childhood in his work. But one.oid.^age-. although a or is merely a composite photograph of certain childish occasions. the sharpi clear strokes of description. and his volume A "Captain Craig" sincere admirers. It is all here. /This is New England. dedicated "To the Memory of John Hays Gardiner. the French idiom puts it. "Isaac and Archibald. but New England seen through a temperament." published in the volume. . as . Gardiner Town" of so many is of his symbol of the world is the "Tilbury poems.

and he feared feel That Archibald — he could never Accordingly Quite sure of Archibald./ He seldom writes a whole poem in it this manner. The good Permitted old man me invited me — that — to go along with him is. Robinson shows a tenderness and humour rare in his work : somewhere at the end I of the first mile foimd that I was figuring to find . village. Those oats were cut. Robinson poets is one of the ' few modem who can manage the baldness of I ballad technique without dropping into triviality. But to the poem. for Mr.14 ' Tendencies in Modern American Poetry This is noteworthy. The fact that it is Archibald's farm. said Isaac well. And I. and the wayside flash of leaves. mind is failing. Archibald lives at a farm some distance from the and Isaac conceives the idea that Archibald's and that he probably is letting the farm run down. But soon the boy begins to find such fast walking and in this passage Mr. in no wise deflects Isaac from his purpose. It was high time . and none of Isaac's business. difficult. but to return uses with telling effect on occasion. with a small boy's adhesiveness To competent old age. got up and went. The two start for the all farm on foot of the land With the wannth and wonder Around us.

and the psychological theme. What The The The I "you cannot feel have seen so long. them. yes — but you have not the other things wiU deceive. and talked about the After a while. begins on the old man's conversation "My good young friend. singular idea of loneliness. Something about the scorching days we have In August without knowing it sometimes a dream. the main theme of the poem. for aught I could make Was cool to his hat-band. And they have shown is me now for seven years That Archibald changing. But they have long been mine. But Isaac said the day was like And praised the Lord. sight within that never You do not know — you have no right to know twilight warning of experience. however. by showing the failings of Archibald goes on to say slipping from : He how . Always one feels the pathetic attempt to bolster up himself. to prove himself very much alive.Edwin Arlington Robinson How Was But long those ancient legs of his would keep set for 15 The pace that he had hot. — These are not yours. The sun of him. but how Archibald is much farther on the downward path than he. You have the eyes — Oh. breeze. and I was ready to sweat blood Isaac. the boy persuades his com- panion to sit down for a little. So I said then With a dry gasp of affable despair." he said." life is them both.

and think me — old Isaac as you knew him then. Think of the place of Where we Think of are sitting now. . my boy." The poet sums up the old man's words The words come back Almost as Isaac must have uttered them. and coming always the end. Just as I was to-day. it all as he might have done along for a twinging Httle difference bites you hke a squirrel's teeth.16 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry ". But the boy is puzzled and can find nothing to say ." Then the " hints come which reveal what he is dread- ing for himself Look at me. And when That I the time shall come for you to see follow after him. try then must To think of me. Of something my throat that The adjective " dry " is excellently chosen. And there comes with in them a dry memory would not move. That comes. to bring me back again. When you when the best friend of your Ufe first know in him the slacking tells goes down. trivial act of every day. set out When you To with him in August once see old Archibald. — Now in Now Done But That in a common word that wotdd have passed lips Uncaught from any other some than his.

perhaps . Therefore I watched the ground And I was wondering what made the Lord Create a thing so nervous as an ant. well " said he "Archibald will be surprised. When For it Isaac. Archibald that it is time to cut He says nothing. and a big barn-roof beyond. They continue along house comes in sight Little the road until Archibald's and white and high on a smooth round with hackmatacks and apple-trees hill It stood. so I thought.Edwin Arlington Robinson 17 My mouth was full Of words. I think But there was not in me the willingness To speak them out. but the boy I understands was young. for he strode along Like something out of Homer — powerful awful on the wayside. Rather sorry to see tell it. with commendable unrest. first And one to the pump. for is he not here to his oats. Isaac stops and gazes for a long time at a newly- mown field. I. . I think. Ordained that we should take the road again — was yet three miles to Archibald's." But on all my childhood subtlety Was And lost Isaac. I could see. spite of my twelve years. — "Well. and they would have been comforting To Isaac. ! But there were a few things that And And Said this was one of them. however. Before it.

just under it. . From one alluringly.1 8 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry of That touch. which leads to a suggestion of cider. . Archibald comes to greet them with one hand on his back And the other clutching his huge-headed cane. Grateful and half sepulchral. this adventure privileged to hear epic. These are the doings of heroes. and brings in one of the most beautiful descriptive passages of the poem went. and they discuss the terrible heat. remaining proof of vigour in the other. with the god-like figures stalking through the boy's brain. To the boy. where we found of The barrels. and jealous of every their thoughts. them A bright pine spile stuck out And on the black flat stone. "out significance of the is Homer. the weird truth of the : poem. like eight potent sentinels. This throwing up of the commonplace actors of the real juxtaposing two scene into the clouds of legend old men fast drawing toward senility and each fearing to be the first to pass. Down we Out of the fiery stmshine to the gloom. giantfor a men. • Glimmered a late-spiUed proof that Archibald Had spoken from imfeigned experience. Close ranged along the wall. makes the irony." strikes the hidden poem. and to moment he is which are all the more wonderful him because he cannot understand them.

talk about the so. Then he drank And smacked his lips with a slow patronage And looked along the line of barrels there With a pride that may have been forgetfulness "I never twist a spigot nowadays. The shadow calls us and it frightens us — is failing Then gradually it comes out that Isaac . Isaac suggests that Archibald and the boy wait in the shade \yhile he little walk — goes to the fields.Edwin Arlington Robinson There was a fluted antique water-glass Close by. old. and in it. in fact. And then composedly pulled out the plug With such a practiced hand that scarce a drop Did even touch his fingers. "But thank God for orchards. or Whatever we have gained. And touched him with his thumb to make him jump. of the brown soft sort That feeds on darkness. I and raised the glass up to the light. or at rest. That we are lost. we are old men. thrown away." He said. 19 prisoned. Isaac turned him out. subject uppermost in his ' mind : Archibald And Or Isaac are old men. al- though he does not say boy sit in the orchard and the old story which drifts So Archibald and the man tells him a away into talk. Remember." The takes a cider-drinking over. boy. There was a cricket.

. The lonely twinkle in his little eyes. Or the way it made me feel to be with him. where the world Nov/ and then my fancy caught A flying glimpse of a good life beyond — Something of ships and sunlight. long as I live. you must have seen the strange Uncomfortable habit of the He'll take man ? them in I my nerves and tie a knot that Sometimes. and these ten years. and that's not Isaac. hill* Across the river and the sun-(icorchfid That ceased Ceased with in it.20 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry ". Troy falling. I know I lay and looked for a long time actr/v^ Down through the orchard and the road. street* and singling. I have fseen it conxe I These eight years." on his forehead. . The quaint thin crack in Archibald's old voice. You have seen — Young as you are. and know Now that it That Isaac cannot be for very long will be Isaac. a blue forest. : And ages coming forward Archibald And Isaac were good fellows in old clothes And Agamemnon was a friend of mine Ulyases coming home again to shoot . Yes. old my knees. . and Isaac his — here. and the ages coming back. man shook head regretfully And laid his knuckles three times Then the poem goes on in the boy's reminiscence Never shall I forget. know — And The I know what in it is : I get it here A little.

« . ai made anoth«r. Wn« beautifully ^lsed^ But reali^ breaks down the glory . homdy toudi gives it aU i So I lay dr«amiBg ot what thinfs I would. T%i« Trojans and th« walk ot J^cidio.Biwin Arl»M(l0H Robinson With bovra and (6«ith«i«d arrows s)\o\iId b«. I«aa« and Ardiibaldt th« burning bush. And all wai a» it I was yotuig A quaint. . smnewhat upset b«muse there is \«Mch he can h^Hmatdy find fault. Isaac returns. nothing its wi^ le^ktion by Ardliibald are d»fmingly giv«A . Cahn and kconigibt^ satisfied With apptes and roinai\ce and ignonnca. all w«nt well Isaa« Till Archibald btipn to said it tiret tUtr And was a master ^ tor «ai»trok». . This last vrard and Still hft must have tiie last vvord. And th« Skating smokt firam Ardiibald's day i^ andlMt Witiiin th« mi||^tin«ss ot tlt« T^^ite sun That smote th« land around us and wraui^t out A ftagraace from th« ti««s> Ag«in ^e gmndiose vision intf^nges on fact: Th« pT«m\t and til« {utur« and th« past.

^ this day. you cut those oats of yours set. and meanwhile made some Trojans. a bell rang from the door. Archibald. Then cards. with a sweet severity of peach-sktns That made me think half afraid and goose-flesh. And how the game went on while I made marks And crossed them out." said Archibald." said Archibald." A day or two before they were well set "They were weU enough. And he threw down That showed So they played on a deuce with a deep grin his yellow teeth till And Archibald said. of his nose — And I remarked the process Before the words came out. the boy dreams of angels. after Isaac. the two old men settle down to a game of and the boy keeps tally and dreams his dreams I So remember even to ." That night. and I said so : him that his white beard was too long And too straight down to be like things in Homer.22 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry "But. and as he approaches them . how they sounded. Archibald Was wounded when he found himself left out. Likewise I made Ulysses. "Supper. Just But he had no I told heroics. And a little after Flaxman. and made me happy. how they placed themselves." said Isaac." He "I'm added. — "Low. "Quite so. his old men in the guise of two old sitting with palpitating wings in a silver light.

. — but they would not do that. sketched in with sure." The poem ends with To I this stanza Isaac and Archibald have gone their way the silence of the loved and well-forgotten. "I've got you. The I may Mr. hot Summer day. and the game. low." /Does last line is typical of the poet really laugh? Assuredly not. mean a The sneer? life still. yl"he line is cryptic. 23 . And I have no regret for hght words now. with tinpatronizing triumph. laughter Less is the one emotion which he has not at command/ too solemn Does it not sneer. fearful. I Rather think sometimes they may have made old men. high. "And laugh at them because I knew them. and there was gladness everywhere. and I may have laughed at them But there's a laughing that has honor in it. because it really means just a question. jack. Robinson. They were I They were too old for that. . Their sport of me . . pitying. nervous strokes The world Was wide. cast into space to go knocking about among the stars^/ Notice the description of a bright. .Edwin Arlington Robinson . knew them. The poet does is he sees ajaout him and too sad. Isaac . a dry voice Cried thinly. And I may laugh at them because knew them. We walked together down the River Road .

but a little iark and chilly with mist. field There are many such passages throughout the poem.. \ /K And dismherited the Puritan cannot suddenly turn Pagan and bask [^contentedly under a blue sky. not redolent /of the unquestioning delight of boyhood. His self- iper is too unscientific to lead him to a minute imination. the effect is not hot and gay. — Under the scorching sun . "peace" is hardly the word.24 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry With all the warmth and wonder of the land Around us.. the warmth. Robinson ( is conscious of the chief cause his melancholy. There is evidence of a greater peace of mind work." the sun. I think extremely doubtful. with the test-tube of atavism for a lide. as we shall see. and it bears upon it a single word "Courage./ "new Paganism" which level of raises science to the emotional a religion. a smooth-cut Faint yellow in the distance. That Mr. it is rather that his recent poems are less mordant. but even there. the mist of questioning. But in spite of the "gladness. He has raised for himself a banner. 'where old faith has been swept away and no new confidence has restored the balance. is achieved with difficulty by one only lately freed from the shackles of a hampering superstition. and the wayside flash of leaves." But I am outstripping biography. and I must in his later .

and storing again. in 1891. } fitted for. in 1896. as such. playing his games. a small volume I had been privately printed. of his verses cannot speak of this volume. the one Already. this is the moment . Gardiner seemed a small horizon for one whose working material was to be life. Mr. and Mr. as him to leave in 1893. that done New York to study And." appeared in 1897. Robinson bravely shouldered Writing was the one thing he was thing he wanted to do. the family fortunes had waned. Robinson set out bravely into the world. "The Children of the Night. of the Night. it. The Puritan temper no stickler at obstacles. I have not been able to obtain a copy. over and over when they have taken shape to his more mature mind. and from there went on to Harvard College. Robinson entered the Gardiner High School. Meanwhile. He did not graduate. learning his lessons. although without resources. as containing his early work. and the world he entered York. and the young man found himself at the beginning of life his father's ill-health forced with very little to look to but his is own efforts. his destiny. up questions to be asked later. In due course.Edwin Arlington Robinson return to a thoughtful little 25 schoolboy in a Maine town. and Mr." therefore. but his first published book. take into was the City of New We may before the "The Children period. however. .

no longer a tonic. to quarrel Nor can we coax the Fates with us matter what we finds are. / The first poem in the book shows the breaking down of the old belief. Mr. . . and the endeavour to feed his life without it. The poet is is fighting his sorrow. His one long battle between individual bravery and iralyzing atavism. sapping the springs of |ce is life at their source. >^nical. but the So the sentiments he voices are manner of them is sure and 'strong. even picking it up at a time when the name was quite unknown. laurel. and that it masters him due to no lack of is personal virility.y The note is struck in this quatrain : We No cannot crown ourselves with everything.26 /It Tendencies in Modern American Poetry this is must be admitted that one of the most completely gloomy books in the whole range of poetry . or what we sing. Time a withered leaf in every But no poet's one. his weakness his inheritance. but a poison. that outworn exist- Puritan inheritance. There is no hint here of the artificial melancholy which has become so much the fashion among youthful aspirants to poetry. could have failed to have been struck by its sincerity and strength. Robinson himself is a strong man.

Than saU But if there be a soul on earth its So blinded with own misuse it Of man's revealed. . imbittered sea to drown. No rest but of a mortal sleep. And if there be no other chance To weigh their sorrow and their strife Than in the scales of circumstance. ere the sun go down Upon In life's the first day we embark. incessant worth.Edwin Arlington Robinson 27 THE CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT For those that never know the light. House and home Are shut from countless hearts that seek World-refuge that will never come. Seem the Children of the Night. And if there be no other life. The darkness is a sullen thing And they. No God but in a prophet's lie. No faith for "honest doubt" to keep. I But some are strong and some are weak. forever in the dark. that views No light but for a mortal eye. — 1 And there's the story. Or worn with anguish. lost in Fortune's winnowing. 'Twere better.

So let — us in ourselves revere Self The which is the Universe Let us. not the gray. cherish. is That So glorifies God's excellence . for a soul to trust. twilight of all time That charms the It is the promise of the day That makes the starry sky sublime . And if God be God. The common creed of common sense. that His will be done. He is Love And though the Dawn be still so dim. Put off the cloak that hides the scar Let us be Children of the Light. And tell the ages what we are . It shows us we have played enough With creeds that make a fiend of Him.28 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry If there be nothing. It is the faith within the fear ' That holds us to the Ufe we curse . He is just. It is the crimson. And if God be God. But chaos — God counts it for a soul gone mad. the Children of the Night. There one creed. and only one. good or bad.

that is the volume. Nor a lamp Why do you stare as Where are a dead man might ? you pointing away from the Ught ? are And where Where you going to-night. the is dom- be found in the objective sketches £ persona lit ies whi ch it contain o. valuable. be free ? And So while they call can a man right through the forest. 29 far less important than others in but as a psychological note. — calling But the women are Ever and ever they John Evereldown. q Mr. to-night. chiefly to inant chord. but sometimes (unlike Mr. John Evereldown?" "Right through the forest. The men are asleep.Edwin Arlington Robinson As a poem. where none can see. — are you going. — or awake. There's where I'm going. Masters in short pictures of men's lives. The unconscious cynicism I have spoken of is in them. are — Town. JOHN EVERELDOWN "Where axe you going to-night. however." . where none can see. John Evereldown ? that's nearer than Tilbury There's never the sign of a star in sight. may be. to Tilbury Town. Robinson preceded Mr. it is in- The true vigour of the book. to Tilbury Town. There's where I'm going. Where you going. call for me. Masters) something more. to-night.

God knows if I pray to be done with it all. in this poem. late. Mr. But God is no friend to John Evereldown. so late. Robinson's favourite turns. growing as does out of quaintness." — Again. So the clouds may come and the rain may fall. — That's why I'm going to Tilbiuy Town. Another vignette.30 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry "But why are you going so late./ It gives a grotesque quality to the work. Robinson has recourse to the ballad technique. — Why are you going. it and it certainly heightens the force of the criticism. so late. and wait Why do you And why chatter out there by the gate ? you going so going. The it repetition of the last 'word in the analysis is first line gives at once. and sharpens the edge of tragedy. John Evereldown ? Though the road be smooth and the path be straight There are two long leagues to Tilbury Town. And that's why I'm going to Tilbury Town. But I follow the women wherever they call. The simplicity of the ballad manner covering an acute psychological one of Mr. — Why are you " John Evereldown ? "I follow the women wherever they call." subtle. Come in by the are fire. is . more "Richard Cory. more ironical. The shadows may creep and the dead men crawl. old man.

— — So on we worked. In fine. So do we get . In reading Mr. Clean favoured. We people on the pavement looked at him He was a gentleman from sole to crown. and waited for the light. effect is It is never commonplace. he fluttered pulses when he "Good-morning. And he was rich. never even indeed art concealing admirable is his technique. And went without the meat. /He employs the most complete reticence. and cursed the bread And Richard Cory. Robinson.Edwin Arlington Robinson 31 RICHARD CORY Whenever Richard Cory went down town. and imperially And he was And he was But stiU always quietly arrayed. he permits himself no lapses from his straightforward speech to force a glittering effect." and he when he walked. Went home and put a bullet through his head./ But the unpoetic. always human when he glittered talked said. richer 'than a king. And admirably schooled in every grace we thought that he was everything To make us wish that we were in his place. one calm summer night. it is always necessary to note the almost unapproachable technique with which poems are wrought. slim. that not only art. yes.

" spiritually. Robinson has carefully / studied that primary condition of all poetry brevity : and his best effects are those gained wfth the utmost economy of means. these . I referred to the grotesque note are. rget drama. . poems and they are really so imMr. men crawl. ghostly reverberation In "John Evereldown " is this may come and the rain The shadows may creep and the dead may fall. from of coffin-worms about is "The Pity of Leaves. / A moment in ago. stopped. night. it. brings the bullet shot crashing across our ear-drums with the shock of an earthquake. and grotesque they often harsh. They thin leaves on the stones outside Skipped with a freezing whisper." is we In set "one calm summer a background for the tragedy which four words. but more subtly. The brown. simple. Weird — dour — a struck by a picture So the clouds line. these poems. That has the slimy horror This. so : also ghostly. he writes Trellises lie like bones in a ruin that once was a garden.32 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry the essence of poetry in these astringent poems. In one poem. They appear mensely difficult. and stayed there Now — just to and then let him know How dead they were.

" "something happened here before my memory began. me in to dine With him one day and after soup and meat. no one knows. and in his later work. is Even in this first book. It is hardly more than the reverse of the shield of pain. are these touches. as such. So slight. it gives place to a great.. seems as though the poet were conscious of. to inject it never them. Robinson's "unconscious It it is cynicism. there : the hint of the "something more " CLIFF KLINGENHAGEN Cliff ." what." dwells upon unconscious he never it.Edwin Arlington Robinson 33 In "Stafford's Cabin. never delights in nor wraps it comfortably about him. as it them is into the context. And Cliff all the other things there were to eat. Robinson's style. Such passages blow across his pages like mists from the grey valley of the I Styx. But We found it in the morning with And there were chains around it. by were. an iron bar behind. / because have spoken of Mr. pitying tenderness. He knows how -accident. filled took two glasses and one with wine . /This creating an atmosphere with a back-hand stroke one of the most personal Land peculiar traits of Mr. Klingenhagen had . yet so sharp.

he only looked at me And grinned. So must never forget that to him it is But one a symbol of a protest against brutal. a poet writing twenty years too soon. The stark sincerity and simplicity of this book must have had the effect of a galvanic shock upon the small compauiy of readers who stumbled upon it. without a sign For me to choose at all. and it was to be years yet before Mr. I have spent Long time a-wondering when I shall is. and It off. and Mr. callous city. be As happy as Cliff Klingenhagen "Success through failure. Robinson received his due. And though I know the fellow." true that he carries the doctrine almost too far." that is the motto on It is the other side of his banner of "Courage. he took the draught Of bitterness himself. Poetry is not a paying pursuit at any time. Meanwhile he struggled along in New York. And when I asked him what the deuce he meant By doing that. . lightly quaffed and said the other one was mine. far that it nearly lapses into Nirvana. But the times were not yet ripe for such poetry. Mr. unfeeling materialism. Then.34 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry And one with wormwood. History has a number of stories which tell of genius struggling against poverty recognition in and lack of the midst of a busy. Robinson did many things to keep the life going which was to make the poetry. and said it was a way of his.

and we who have the poems can measure the outcome. undoubtedly of the earlier date. to manner of presentation. as the is main content of the book. For he was writing all the time. I must deflect misunderstanding by hastening to add that of course no work of art can end. bearing the date 191 5. Although the book contained many sketches of we is feel that the interpretation of these characters very tinged by the author's personality. in examining the five years of silence had not been without Already." published in 1902.Edwin Arlington Robinson Robinson's early life is 35 the same twice-told tale. he abundantly succeeded. say nothing of its An author's personality determines even his choice of subject. The re-issue. interest world outside of the poet. that fruit. there is a surer touch and a deeper-probing excessive stfBjefcti^ity is psychology. It is quite evident. much be (or should be) purely objective. but there . but each volume of poems is an advance in this respect/ Here. with Additional Poems. "Captain Craig. this book. has on the "Revised Edition. /To the Mr. but though he seemed to fail. revised edition here. even in intentionally objective and dramatic pieces. Robinson never succeeds in completely omitting the writer from the thing written. again." but we shall deal with this title-page the legend. The of "The first Children of the Night " in the making way for an character. So five years passed before the next volume of poems was issued.

Robinson of the later books. and calm because he has stamped so long upon the fires within him that now. not extenuating. telling tales of old events. he . a solid body. Remy de Gourmont. It is so long ago. Robinson's case.36 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry is a great diflference between the reflections and shadows cast by a personaHty. . It is over for him these are only memories. This method applies peculiarly well to the Mr. There was really much to be said on the other side. reveals himself by every sentence he utters in conversation but he does more than reveal himself. a kindly monk fled from the world after a large In Mr. The French critic. sitting in his monastery. in his famous book of criticism. when his conversation revolves about the pronoun "I. for the most part. But he turns it all aside with a quiet smile. He that talks kindly." often epitomizes an author's whole work in a fancied scene. . disillusioned. self-centred experience. you understand. mellowed. "Le Livre des Masques. bringing is interesting. in front of a window. /Let us suppose a man. resigned. obscures everything else. obedient to control. but a little seared withal. up out of his past much some things that are terrifying. and that personality A man thrust. not judging. they burn quietly./ Such might be the picture these last books call up." it would seem that a and analytical boy is gradually giving place to a mature and kindly man of the world.

philosophical ramble. Town. if — have won. verbosity. by the charity of four young men. occupying eighty-four pages." which quoted a few moments ago. . it. to is the verge of the ridiculous. Robinson with the years is a tendency to long-windedness. the I title "Captain Craig" is poem. Captain Craig writes to him in this wise to understand. peddlar. drifted into Tilbury an old wanderer.Edwin Arlington Robinson The most important poem not. "Since last I wrote — and I fear the weeks have gone Too I long for me to leave my gratitude of Unuttered for its own acknowledgement Orpheus or Apollo. Without — and with you The fledged respect — of three quick-footed The frank regard like. friends. which." and one must admit that the talking is both involved and dull. namely. / There is an intermi-] nable amount of talking in " Captain Craig. in fact. without the magic the songs of Amphion. reveals a fault which the earlier volunie is conspicuously! fault "without. Captain Craig what you kept tion please. The poem is built upon that favourite theory of the poet's the success of failure. But here it is : pushed too far. The one which has grown upon Mr. "Captain Craig" is a dreary. beggar. who seem to find a solace in his conversa- which the specimens of it given make it difficult When one of the group goes upon a journey. in spite of the excellent manipulation of its blank verse. but "Isaac and Archibald. and (alas !) talking. and alive. to in 37 my mind.

more marvelous than man. Came first. Because in It suits my contented isolation at this time to be jocose. and having grabbed the morsel Ran flapping far away and out of sight. colorless. they are the Fates. of the wold. Foredoomed own insuflSciency To be assimilated.' I Said Sophocles ' and say after him all-inventive one. they are fowls. With Clotho and Lachesis hard But after her finally the three fared all alike. Faint with eternal color. The light birds and the creatures pictures. — Do not think.') Once they were on the air. Count Pretzel's Carmichael Had said they were not ordinary Birds At all. With a cryptic idiotic melancholy. They scattered back with a discord of short squawks And then came forward with a craftiness of That made me think Eden.38 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry (' Nothing is there . And the next day I persuaded them with com. prudent heads at me and made as if. Smooth. — and they are not of their . To look authoritative and sagacious I tossed But when a piece of apple to them. "At first they stood aloof and cocked their small. — But now they are not pictures. Atropos up. He traps and captures. it In a week they came and had from my fingers And looked up at me while I pinched their bills And made them sneeze. painted And in his nets the fishes of the sea. me .

the old yours. but his vague. is than there is any reason to suppose that Captain Craig meant is it Speaking to the : youths at his bedside. real wisdom which we acknowledge to be sound. but in "Captain Craig" Mr. however.. Above the That crucible for I do nought. God's universe is man says yours. but his content matic.. /His technique is . and they occupy thirty-one pages of the poem. but the same kind of conversation continues from his death-bed until the moment of his demise. The traveller returns to find Captain Craig dying. there are three. is here. The purport of all seems to be that the garrulous old man has a kinship with the spheres which is denied to more efficient folk. beautiful as always. line. neither convincing. Robinson's craft has played him false. levity Say nought. . dra- nor interesting. Or that I set the bauble and the bells ." ^/f'or certhose who are willing to and be amenable to its laws. windy utterances hardly this speech bear out this contention. but with an ancient is the forbear of all earnestness. truer One to be. true." There is not one letter. "Tl^e truth tainly the universe belongs to live in it . rather than to those who are content to withdraw themselves aside and merely speculate upon its genesis and meaning/' Other authors have painted derelicts who have gained wisdom through much contemplajtion.Edwin Arlington Robinson That I 39 am nailing reason to the cross.

" WeU. this quotation will serve show the poet's suggestive." "Aunt Imogen" is an interesting and tender it is the tragedy study of the unmarried woman . Charmus. Of the latter. "You'll beat 'em. Therefore. if — — you think it needs a note. "Five and one Make seven. you say? It can't be done. you see The thing is plain as plain can be And with four more for company.40 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry "Captain Craig. crying all the while. by a mUe !" And so he came in seventh. some sonnets. unhappily. of the maiden aunt. A friend in a fur overcoat Ran with him. "The Book of Annandale" is a less ac- curate sketch of second marriage. as I'm alive. He would have been eleventh. approached from the man's point of view and then from the woman's. contains other excellent poems beside "Isaac and Archibald. make up the book. ironically humor- ous touch A MIGHTY RUNNER (Nicharchus) The day when Charmus ran with In Arcady. five He came in seventh. . A few lyrics. and a number to of adaptations from the Greek. good Zoilus. so typical." as a volume. of New first England.

to be a good mouthpiece for otl idividual men not of his creating. jsses. Color heodore Roosevelt. This is no character study perhaps it v Call it a poem upon at one. the ] igue placed in the mouth speaks of the dying is Emper li ut the man who not in the least apoleon. with a is which absent in his earlier wor] : iree studies of public characters Lincoln. . "An Island. too wrapt up in ^rn reactions. became interested in his work." isty lyric of future This volume contains. these are not Napoleon's though t-p: . this part of Mr. with characteristic modesi leaks of himself as " the least efficient public serva ho ever drew his pay from the United Sta1 reasury Department. attempt an jt naginative theme. and it has some fine passage . the sai his third boc which saw the publication of rjie Town Down the River. / His Napole 3em bears the title." and is a moi on. Robinson's career. in igc him a position in the New York Custc Mr.ar relinquishing it in 1910. Naj and Theodore Roosevelt. beside the mistic note title poem slight c and change. Robinson." an estimate which we shot ceive with a grain of salt.Edwin Arlington Robinson During :ates. and. then President of the Unit Fered ouse. as he held the positi r five years. /The truth is that IV obinson is too Individual a man. Of these. the Lincc most successful.

on the same theme. he imbibed understanding with the air of his native town. not so fine as Mr. Robinson has exhaustive study of Napoleon . Say what wiU be the word when I am gone What learned little acrid archive men Will burrow to find me out and burrow again. Fletcher's The poem is fine. The poem on Mr. but strong. Mr. as any student of the last days at Saint Helena can readily testify. puling invalid is not the dying Napoleon. . and noble. is It may be objected that Napoleon Lincoln. reticent. But this querulous. Robinson had the body of a great tradition to help him. is called "The Revealer. — tradition as not made an in the case of Lincoln. flags that are soiled and furled. no exhaustive study was necessary. Possibly Mr.42 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry He tells me that great kings When they are put to bed. "Little acrid archive men" is magnificent irony." and sounds strangely in this Year of our In dealing with Lincoln. Roosevelt Lord. Or: look very small Flags that are vanished. 1917. as much a average not to the but the answer is simply American.

\ Edwin Arlingibn Robinson 43 THE MASTER (Lincoln) A flsdng word from here and there Had sown To be the "^ ) ^*~' name at which we sneered. even when he smiled. (V^ C^ He came when days were perilous And hearts of men were sore beguiled And having made his note of us. the gentlemen who jeered.. -^ Was ever master yet so mild . ^~ He pondered and was reconciled. '^^ : and then revered "v>^ A presence to be loved and feared. or deny C*That we. Of us and of our ridicule C be taught He knew Like that we must all Mj- little children in a school. He knew that undeceiving fate Would shame us whom he served unsought %^He knew that he must wince and wait Ar^ The jest of those for whom he fought ^^" He knew devoutly what he thought . — . ' . . '>— Not knowing what he knew so well.' But soon the name was reviled eversrwhere. Xf-^ We cannot hide it. -V" May be forgotten by and by. and so untamable ? ^ We doubted. A. " ' '' As he. n .

to whom we had when he applied Our shopman's test of age and worth. the grandeur. And what appears if we review The season when we It is railed and chaffed ? the face of one who knew That we were learning while we laughed. : As he was ancient at his birth The saddest among kings of earth. Laconic — and Olsmipian. and among The mysteries that are untold.44 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry We gave a glamour to But little of the task That he encountered and saw through. Again the venom that we Transfigured to the world reveals The vigilance to which we clung. hallowed. Shrewd. Are bounded by the world alone . Bowed with a galling crown. harassed. The face we see was never young Nor could it ever have been old. Was elemental died. and the fame The love. And little did we ever do. this man Met rancor with a cryptic mirth. For he. The face that in our vision feels flung. us did he ask.

our fond Wherewith we cumber the Unknown As with inept. and the flame 45 Of awful patience were his own With him they Past all are forever flown self -shadowings." Calverley's is a tavern. Robinson's sympathetic. This. And we Nor But shall come down pleasantly longer disagree to be subHme. of a billiard expert think sur- DOCTOR OF BILLIARDS Of all among the fallen from on high." and here again we have the short character vignettes/(vhich is/di One gave so much distinction to "The Children of the Night. For we were not as other men 'Twas ours to soar and his to see. of the most characteristfc sections of the book group of poems entitled "Calverley's.Edwin Arlington Robinson The calm. clear understanding. which pass them. But we are coming down again. shall we it is On what flourish in our perigee And have one Titan at a time. and the host and its principal frequenters are drawn with Mr. to regain We count you last and leave you Your bom dominion of a life made vain . There are I two other sketches. the smouldering. however. Icarian wings.

And for your smile we credit you the least But when your false. slight . on the spot — thought not. to mend I — A wreck. and this masterpiece of brevity and horror HOW ANNANDALE WENT OUT They called it Annandale — and and I was there To I flourish. . of Remembering the worst you know me. physician. you can. You wouldn't hang Do you see ? me ? I . knew the ruin as I knew the man if So put the two together. to find words. you say. unhallowed laugh occurs. yourself as I was. of Remained Annandale and was there.46 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry By three spheres of insidious ivory. — We call. and to attend friend. fair Liar. but you remain. Or quite so blasted with absurdity. I with hell between him and the end. Now view With a Like this . and the sight was not so I As one two that have seen elsewhere An apparatus not for me . We seem to think there may be something else. You click away the kingdom that is yours. You dwindle to the lesser tragedy Content. who are still master of the feast. Nothing aHve gone wrong could be so plain. And you click off your crown for cap and bells You smile. Watched him or . hypocrite. kind of engine.

/ In "Doctor of Billiards" he describes the billiard balls as "three spheres of insidious ivory. he mentions one of the characteristics of a gentleman as His index of adagios. poem with a cogent meaning.mibtle-S3aiibolism.Edwin Arlington Robinson There is 47 one curious mannerism in Mr. and one which -ballad quality of the absolute opposite of the is which he at times so fond. Robinson often manages to convey with fact of his ironic./' Doubtless it the method easily contains hidden germs of danger. however. The most extravagant case of this sort. may far." In "Miniver Cheevy. Robinson's is work. degenerate into But. in "How Annandale Went Out. /This mannerism consists in the obscuring of a thing under aiL. artificiality. to underlay the tragic. what he cynical. but /Mr. such a mannerism would be unbearable. it a. so . with loathing grace In another poem.egithet^^ more or less artificial and difficultr of comgr^lfinaon." where he speaks the hypodermic syringe as is/ of^ "a slightJoruLof^engine/j In less skilful hands. pleases." he refers to armour in this wise Miniver cursed the commonplace And eyed a khaki suit He missed the mediaeval Of iron clothing.

Robinson turned his attention to plays. Mr. But a play certainly should be dramatic above other things. "Van Zom" days of all is quite unlike any other may. The dialogue . and. always a dreary task to-i ecmtl'me lapses of enius. colloquial. but they fall much below the accomplishment of the poet's other work." appear"The Porcupine. and the second. The swift vigour of the author's character poems is . Fine though much of this book is. and employed as he employs it. they would merit praise for their iincerity 'fevel of and effort. it seems more a maintaining of a position than a definite advance. is it pleasant. rather than brilliant stays on the neither mounting nor sinking." In the interval." in 1915. the first of which. the play one of half tones. they coming from failures. his pen. as /To be sure. must be considered.48 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Mr. ing in 1914. leap forward was not to come until six years with "The Man Against the Sky. it is valuable. and dramatic "Van Zorn" is not. The play depends rather upon hints of a drama carried on in the actor's minds than upon anything the audience actually sees or hears. easy. and /alone is in these facile playwriting. Robinson has not allowed it to degenerate. same agreeable level. that a distinction. and/t is as lapses from his usual high achieveent that Mr. The later. It is "Van Zom. So far as it and the is action are concerned. Robinson's plays must be considered/ another man.

he is shadowy as a man and vague as an instrument. The uncanny element is not brought out with sufficient skill. and strangely enough." though the Flying the poet has chosen Dutchman rather than any other fateful character is it is hard to determine. The is not happy when he attempts light humour. and it is this suggestion o: will not be denied brooding Fate which gives the play its peculiar' atmosphere. who is at least of real flesh and blood. of this remarks is a pity that Mr. of this Fate. The most successful person in the play is the painter. realism has also fled. and why avenging sort of sword. and character are often laboured. Robinson of touch what theatrical impede the action of the play. thinned to mere stamp essence. It is diluted. He constantly referred to as "a Flying Dutchman.Edwin Arlington Robinson completely lacking. 49 Those brief. In fine. and the hero of Fate. Robinson relief. "-4t is Fatt who and shakes the lives of the characters into" plaCl . Van Zorn a very inconclusive personality. for neither plot nor characters bear the of life. Van Zorn is is chosen as the interpreter its He is at once its tool. Famham. One lies in reason for this vagueness of the actual actors the fact that behind all they do and say it is is the real drama. virile dramas a scattered throughout his books have lent no cutting edge to this long play." in the person of Otto Mink. . It felt obliged to add at managers call "comic Mr.

This he does by brib- ing the lady to leave her husband side forever. like the work unversed in the technique of the world and also of i The plot It is confused and the extraorof dinarily unlikely. now and their child will live together in complete happiness. "The Porcupine. is absent here. which dimmed the crudities of "Van Zorn" and lent it a suggestion of unseen "The Porcupine" reads the theatre. . upon even with the task him of reconciling his step-brother and his st ep-broth£fV¥(ife (the Porcupine)." has even less The slightly supernatural light to recommend it. fondly hoping that her departure will lead to a union of the injured husband benefactor's) sister. This gentleman has heard rumours to the effect that his step-brother is making love to a neighbour's wife. bereft of wife and mistress on the same day. years before. ing himself before who was jilted The credulous wanderer is congratulathis success. announces that she. when the latter informs him that her child is really his also. nothing daunted. when the values. with a clearer sense of an end to an impossible situation by poisoning herself. of a youth.50 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry The second play. and he has come and the countryand his (the by this same man home to set matters straight. concerns return a wanderer to his step-brother's house in apparent poverty and real affluence. The he. apparently oblivious to the condition of his step-brother. optimist. puts wife. possibilities.

so far beyond them is this volume. Whatever Mr. maturity. The straligest thing about it it is its imall. after merely an old work resurrected.^ 51 a bookish production. A little book of one hundred and forty-nine pages. . slim putting before us a personality of original thought. but is The play it lacks the starlTreality^iich brings those authors to success." we have seen Mr. In it the poet has achieved the result of four volumes of verse and two plays. and one asks whether is. and yet small as is the bulk of the work to make up the quota of the best years of a man's life. /One experiences a sensation akin to that of man who opens a jar of compressed air. and quietly and unobtrusively . In the twenty years which have elapsed since the publication of "The Children of the Night. the of Sky" is dynamic with experience and knowledge life. in reading the it. It would seem as though his previous-books were merely working up to this achievement. Robinson's entire production to consist of Each volume is and reticent. there can be no doubt of the high position he holds in American poetry when we examine "The Man Against the Sky. of original expression. and yet. Robinson's accomplishment in his preceding books. It is a profound wonder that so much can have been forced For "The Man Against into so small a space." p iihliphprl in 1916.Edwin Arlington Robinson . compounded of Reactions from Russian and German dramatists.

Robinson's work is that it seems to belong to none of these streams. Robinson deals with something which nature — not crude may fitly be called raw human human nature. these accessories would tent would be as but the con- modern in one age as another. although commingling. he has been tempted by no metrical experiments. because the essential quality of humanity does not change . / nature simple. the conversations. but human nature does not vary. men clothe their philosophy in different terms. direct. and as In them : Those last three words contain the gist of the matter. direct. the philosophies even may vary. were the poet writing in the fifteenth differ.52 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry force in making that personality a literature. lies Mr. modern . And yet no one reading these poems would feel justified in calling him not Skmodern. Robinson's gift to the "new poe"try" Simple. we which. and as it is. It is in keeping with his serious outlook upon life that he is content to forge his stem poems out of existing material. If present-day we take the poetic currents in evidence in shall find certain distinct streams America to-day. Mr. century. keep on the whole very "much to themselves. and/Mr. Robinson's modernity is unconcerned with forms./' are The scenes. ^The truth is that they are modern because they are universal. but human it is. Writing at a time when mellifluous verse . The strange thing about Mr.

sunsetting sky. Now burned a sudden hill. round.te.at beauty) is curiously named from the last em in the book. and bears with a serious argument against a materialistic it a sense its being followed which forbids by any finality it is ler poems. planation of the universe. by fiame-lit height made higher. the poet permits himself very few lyric outbursts. due one of the earliest returns to the [uence of the spoken phrase. Between me and? the sunset. have said that reticence is the keynote of Mr. . clear sincerity. and high. He was a him is much as do the Imagists. he made no compromise with popular pioneer of hard. The picture of the is man very silhouetted fine ainst a bright.Edwin Arlington Robinson s 53 the fashion. His poems are astringent. Yet. "The Man Against the Sky" (a symbolic title of . like a dome Against the glory of a world on fire. ibinson's work. With nothing on it for the flame to kill Save one who moved and was alone up there To loom As if before the chaos and the glare last he were the god going home Unto his last desire. . Bleak. dislikes inversions as i to [ As upward through her dream he Half clouded with a crimson fall fares Of roses thrown on marble is stairs 3ves that this astringency of design. Why it is the last is evident.

This work is as successful in its portrayal of a two characters. Robinson. in its stead. toward the peace which he is seeking. as "An Island" was unsuccessful. A plague on character. if it is not it This must be our man Shakespeare. this poem should ought to be. absolutely another man. The bitter- ne^ of change of a is passing . "Ben Jonson Entertains a Man from Stratford. glimmers_t]ie_ dim hope new order. And the two characters of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson in juxtaposition are sharply contrasted. / "The Man Against poem. . Here is or so interesting as the other long man speaking. most harmoniously. Robinson has travelled. No other poet in America to-day has this power of -4iigh_seriousoess in so marked a degree as Mr. but as a work of die Sky" is a remarkable art. I can recall no imaginative work on Shakespeare half so real and alive as this. who alone of us Will put an ass's head in Fairyland As he would add a All shilling to more shillings.54 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry These lines strike the tone of the whole poem High Seriousness. Robinson has flung off himself." At last Mr. silence is them for- ever the ! I verily believe that this Shakespeare to life. /^e have only to compare this poem with "The Children of the Night" to find how far Mr. in twenty years. it is hardly so original poem in the volume. the Baconians. not a projection of one or another portion of the poet's another ego.

" and here the change from the poet's early work is very evident. With firin address and foreign air. this 55 it poem. glint of iron in his eyes. surprise. finishes the poem on a crashing major chord. The volume opens with "Flammonde.Edwin Arlington Robinson It is so excellent. from God knows where. that one reads over and over again. The O Lord./which has banished the acrid denunciation of such poems as "John Evereldown" or "Richard Cory. technician. a gentle commisera- tion for the follies of the world. and makes the pathos of it much more pathetic because quite unsentimental. /There is a mellowness of soul. But these are only two poems in a remarkable book." FLAMMONDE The man Flammonde. With news of nations in his talk And something royal in his walk. The Unes run off as easily as conversation. With But never doubt. proving Mr. to poem is The words never show how well chosen they but the whole last line: " as vigorous as everyday talk. with growing interest each time. as it were. that House in Stratford ! keeps the note of vigour to the end. Robinson a rare stand out of the are. nor yet .

many a malcontent He soothed and found munificent . who. for most. Of what we owe to His cleansing heritage of taste Paraded neither want nor waste And what he needed for his fee To live. He never told us what he was. Or what mischance. half afraid for certain that To say he played. and held his head As one by kings accredited. Meanwhile he played surpassing well A part. and about his clothes. and stayed.56 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Appeared. Had banished him from better days To play the Prince of Castaways. or other cause. he borrowed graciously. In fine. Moreover. Would see the stranger taken on By friends not easy to be won. having striven In vain to get what he was given. Erect. one may as well forego Conviction as to yes or no Nor can I say just how intense Would then have been the difference To several. For that. He pictured all tradition hears fifty years. unplayable one pauses. with his alert repose About him.

the youth. young and old. and over nought for their friends. in her distress. There was a woman in our town On whom the fashion was to frown talk renewed the tinge scarlet fringe. nor was it long . But whUe our Of a long-faded The man Flammonde saw none of that. at And what he saw we wondered That none Could hide or find our — of us. The man Flammonde said what was wrong Should be made right . We could understand. littleness. They made life awkward And shortened their own dividends. A flowered future was unrolled. There were two citizens who fought For years and years. His credit strengthened when he bowed And women. The man Flammonde appraised And And told a few of us the truth thereby. were fond Of looking at the man Flammonde.Edwin Arlington Robinson His courtesy beguiled and foiled 57 -Suspicion that his years were soUed His mien distinguished any crowd. lift But none of us could a hand. There was a boy that all agreed Had Of shut within him the rare seed learning. for a httle gold.

Rarely at once since he knew best. and what was he not ? was of him we met . and to note the drift Of incommimicable ways That make us ponder while we praise ? Why was Somehow it that his charm revealed the surface of a shield ? it What was What was that we never caught ? he. But what of him — in every look and limb ? What small satanic sort of kink Was in his brain? What broken Withheld him from the destinies link That came so near to being his ? What was he. And had. nor yet Shall all he gave us quite atone and his alone Nor need we now. So much So firm for four them. . when we came to sift His meaning. each other in to dine. We cannot those From know how much we leam who never will return.58 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Before they were again in line. Nourish an ethical unrest will nature give The power to be Flammonde and live. And these I mention are but Of many out of many more. How much it We cannot ever know For what was his.

Edwin Arlington Robinson Until a flash of unforeseen 59 Remembrance on what has been. T hey-^eem to His instrument be absolutely is one and inevitable. Perhaps no poem which Mr. from time to time In Tilbury Town. In fact. There is no very haunting lilt in this rhyth m. though the song is limitedjjdthin the compass a few notes. Robinson has written" serves so well as this to illustrate certain qualities Here we have one of the s impje. It is all and quiet. a threeal- stringed lute. but with what~precision he plays upon it! There are no fault o of intonation. we look beyond Horizons for the man Flammonde. the charm of the j5rm is just here in the apparent ease with which this fitting of words and straight. lines falling into _an original pattern. It is also admirable. he allows himself no false accents nor over-long lines. : metre is accomplished. sev ere. of "Flammonde" reveals characteristics of style besides those of rhythm. ' direct stanza forms in which he delights. The poet never compromises with his metre. Nowhere by a else can we find better illustrated the poet's extraordinary powers of condensation made possible rarely imagina- . no advised and consc ious expertness of rhyme schemes. there are no tricks. no pleasu re in new uivetrtions: no uneven of the poet's style. We've each a darkening hill to climb falls And this is why.

Robinson's obscure. I have spolfen -several times of Mr. The most subtle of all : these instances in the poem is contained in the lines There was a woman in our town On whom the fashion was to frown talk renewed the tinge scarlet fringe. caustic etching extenuating understanding. And where maturity has lost . early The swift. sometimes posi- . Tend eraess of his is one of the finer qualities of Mr. this description tive use of epithet. of the man He pictured all tradition hears fifty years. Of what we owe to and again His courtesy beguiled and foiled Suspicion that his years were soiled. turity poems has mellowed into a gentle. the result poetry. is great Throughout this chapter. Youth condemns macondones. Robinson's later poetry. it has something of Flammonde's own forgiving tenderness. nothing of the vitality of youth. But while our Of a long-faded The man Flammonde saw none of that.6o Tendencies in Modern American Poetry For instance. "A long-faded scariet fringe" is not only imagina- tive.

6 idea. we get a sense of haunting mystery What was Jlis he. when we came to sift drift . is always a poet . natively and musically into — science colouring yet imagi— the poem take falling mystery. meaning and to note the Of incommunicable ways That makes us ponder while we praise ? The whole stanza. method of expressing an In "Captain Craig. Robinson completely. It is because that he has been able to give a new man and different voice to that eternal thing which is poetry. a this is so. Mr. Robinson never entirely shakes mannerism. with the result that instead of confusion. but he is also. fairly In fact. since he knew best. Nourish an ethical unrest. "*~llliT nieLliuii>4eg^nerated into a confusion so intense that the reader wearied in tracking the poet's meaning. . it may off very this be said to have ruined the poem. Mr. of which these lines are a part. and oj hia miv:. this passage Nor need we now." it is held in leash. but in "Flammonde.Edwin Arlington Robinson tively cryptic. intangible feeling of For a touch of modernity the conceptions of the day. is full of this strange.n tipie.

This "Fragin this There are many poems ment. But I must content myself with only one. FRAGMENT Faint white pillars that seem to fade As you look from here Of his are the first one sees house where it hides and dies in a shade trees. one of the most vivid. Would have "There are still some gods to please. "Stafford's Cabin" for suggestion. among other things. but of a man's life. said. and. That sun-dial scared him. descriptions to be found in his work. unfinished life. And houses are built without hands. Robinson's finest poems. Of beeches and oaks and hickory Now many And a man. You may Where the garden was if you come this way. the most beautiful. And he never got that from the books he read." There are the pillars and all gone gray. Here is much in little. is one of Mr. a house Hke that. see Briony's hair went white. and the Briony gold." said he. But he knew too much for the life he led. worse than he. his whole.62 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry volume which I should like to quote: "The Clinging Vine" for drama. we're told. given woods like these. shattered. Others are flourishing." not of a poem. he said to me "Sooner or later they strike. And who knows all knows ever3rthing That a patient ghost at last retrieves .

This is. sad." "Eros Turannos. of Still is the volume . distrusting it. 1917. as its name implies." "The Gift of God. For some reason." was published by The Macmillan Company in March. again and again portraying it as mere phantasmagoria in its place as the consoler of mankind he would put courage/ Courage and resignation. The most recent poem which Mr. . and the saving qualities of both.Edwin Arlington Robinson There's more to be 63 known of his harvesting When Time the thresher unbinds the sheaves And there's more to be heard than a wind that For Briony now Driving the first grieves in this ageless oak. instead of the brilliant psychologicaL_analysts applied te. . Robinson has written. "Merlin.hisLor^^ and legend_JKhich__niade "Ben Jonson Entertains a Man from Stratford" so memorable. / . of its withered leaves Over the stones where the fountain broke. But how insufficient this nourishment for life. we find in ." "Old King Cole. seems here have abandoned his peto the author Instead of a vivid. a re-telling of the Arthurian legend. /Joy the poet seems to fear." and many others. and what else are built the one cannot help a that this re-telling slight feeling of is disappointment so different neither so new nor as one might have expected. culiar and personal style. poems "Flammonde. modern reading of an old theme. is evidenced by the profound melancholy which pervades the whole book.

We pay for going back Is and all we get one more needless ounce of weary wisdom To bring away with us. can resist he is a vain. still in green. The lady Vivian will remember me. Time called him home. tricked Even when assurances " I conflicting emotions are supposed to tear him. not even he. me. they do not tear. Beside the fountain. And that was as it was for much is lost : . not of resolution. I shall see No more Shall be I fear the lady Vivian. might go back again To see her face once more. And I see I see her. Merlin is a broken man . Let her love What man no she may. King But again. in spite of the author's When we told her I should see the parted. And. ture. after an index man who may come none. no other love than mine of her memories. . but nothing in .' " This is the language of weakness. Between Broceliande and Camelot. If I come not. it is and unconvincing. Merlin is lifeless true. weak old man. having seen him. And say 'I knew him when his heart was young. but no great wizard. playing at a pastoral. To be sure. I shall not go back. Though I have lost him now.64 this Tendencies in Modern American Poetry book only a rather feeble and emasculated picout with charming lyrical figures. swept into Vivian's toils by a fascination which no man.

not only diluted. Mr. swift. Now the poet who would be a story-teller must concern himself with something length. But the fault is not in its which the poet has comp(^sed-his-^ory. and it becomes. get to its kernel. he must learn the^ manipulation of side. meandering tale of some thirteen hundred blank verse lines. String it out to a series of episodes. -J so brilliant a "Merlin" is "Captain Craig".Edwin Arlington Robinson 65 poem carries a much otherwise. the It is conviction that he was ever very a long. forgetting the necessity of doing something remarkable with it. beside psychology ." In reading it. plot. and adequate. absorb it as his own. and the poet's peculiar excellencies are often lacking. Robinson was hampered by the weight of tradiHe could not quite tion hanging about his subject. we feel Mr. Robinson's work reveals its less able When a tale is to is be told in a single scene. and. of make it remarkable because remoulded in the fires his own brain." nor so well-presented a tragedy as "The Clinging Vine. it is but not great work. but involved to the point where it loses that sharp stroke of drama which makes thi sure. not so long-winded or obscure as but neither is it character study as "Ben Jonson Entertains a Man that from Stratford. There is too much of . Robinson glory of his shorter pieces. creditable work. It is just in this matter of plot that Mr. ^It is good work. it is in the in manner beside poetry.

now . — they are only Mr. quite natural. now "Merlin" teases by a constant change of scene. for some now he essays a narrative poem. reason. "Merlin" opens with the return of the magician to Camelot. and. nor we They are charming. In Ben Jonson. . so ^is. on in all narrative writing. rare prints. and overhear a no feeling of anachronism." we pass a couple little of men in the street. What there nate place. who feels his throne rocking. and pictures. menaced as it is by the plotting of his natural son on the one hand. and falls into its proper.66 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry . is true always to the place cuid instinct nevertheless with life. novel. . sent for by King Arthur. subordiIn " Merlin. He has tried plays." we turn over the pages of a beautiful picture-book. They have nothing to do with us. He still remains the poet of the fleeting instant. one of the most difficult things to manage whether it be poem. the fusti an of the antiquary vision of the poet. or play. but remote. Yet. he seems never to have realized the different technique necessary for these more sustained efforts. the " time." which. is constantly desiring a larger canvas than his fugitive poems permit. is little is of their conversation there is there. a portfolio of old. too is little of the creative This just the opposite of "Ben Jonson. Robinson with them. we might be they here. forward. is knitting up the past with the present. or the age obtruded. now backward now action. reminiscence. Recollection.

and he breaks out: " Why tell a king A poor. For you are King. So none that are more famished than yourself Shall have what you if refuse. 67 by the intrigues of Lancelot Guinevere. and by the lax regard Of those you knew for fawning enemies. other friend slack. state And And you starve yourself. flouted. .Edwin Arlington Robinson the other. Merlin comes. and — Be not from hearsay or despair too eager To dash your meat with bitter seasoning. so be it. for I am still I A king who thought himself a little less Than God a king who built him palaces know — . and say more And if you bid me say no more. tells and Queen power is gone." This contains no help for Arthur. blasted. but his he has nothing to suggest. no vigour to impart. I could No say this to you. That He'll if foiled. miserable king — he lets rats eat his fingers off have no as fingers to fight battles with ? much as that. you starve the then by sundry looks and silences Of those you loved. Arthur. since you are a child of mine that's a kind of child — A foster-child. Made Than sadder with a crown. and sad-fronted man. You may But a learn soon that you are King no more. He the King what the King knows already " Now.

" But Merlin has very little to say. . however. Than for the King were memories tonight were dead forever. as he knew they must. ! which end the third section No tide that ever crashed on Lyonnesse Drove echoes inland that were loneUer For widowed ears among the fisher-foUc. of Modred he "Trust him not .68 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry On sand and mud. the poem harks back to Merlin's first coming." he tells the King. and hears them crumbling now. and fifty pages. indeed And the King goes to bed to toss with nightmares through the long night. persists to the end. You are the man who made me to be King — Therefore. and the feeling of unreality. There is no more beautiful passage in the poem than these lines urges. say anything. that Lancelot "will have you first. Then we come back to the present and Merlin's return. this long mood of recollecin these fifty pages. stays the movement so com- continues as reminiscence for pletely that it is never quite recovered. for I can say no more. "Let that be all. ten years before." Cold comfort. of dream. but this hardly touched upon . tion delays the action. is instead. Of old illusions that Merlin returns to Brittany and Vivian. Some of the best parts of the whole volume lie Still. And sees them tottering." and ends.

Edwin Arlington Robinson Ccin the 69 poem be said really to end? So little rounded is it. work "Merlin" This ception is A of art should round its pattern fails somehow/) to satisfy because the ends ravel away without any such is rounding. be other meetings. True. but as there seems no reason for such a is may have meant just a piece snipped off meaning. that it almost seems as though'it might have stopped before or after the last line without affecting the result. It is possible that the poet I doubt it. changes so constant as to make a never-ending progression. Let us take a few lines here and there . Merlin finally parts from Vivian. other partings. we should get only an unrelated square. but the scissors might have cut either to the right or to the left of the line they did take without pattern it much injuring the whole. Robin- son has written. /The poem a heavily brocaded tapestry. there are not beautiful parts in this long poem. is too large for any such clipping wherever was severed. and the result makes the feel it reader hope that he will never again necessary The whole account of Merlin's first" to curb it. because the complete conoutlined with insufficient firmness./ For the . But it is all misty and unreal — there may this. his lyricisffl free For once. Some passages are the finest of their kind that Mr. coming to Broceliande is charming. not to say that. he seems to have allowed 1 play.

upon a bench Of carven stone that might for centuries Have waited there in silence The birds were singing still . and sat down to Outside the keeper's house. I can recall few such images as "leaves flashed fragile odors tiiey and swung. a soft breeze Made intermittent whisperings around fate him waves Of love and Broke and danger. singing high to greet Gay all birds him along A broad led and sanded woodland avenue him on forever. leaves flashed and swung Before him in the sunlight . to receive him. and fragile faint Of many sweetly-stinging lightly as odors . .70 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Over the waves and into Brittany Went Were That Merlin. He pulled a cord that rang somewhere a bell rest. through open ways with And into shade again more deep than ever." in the earlier Merlin and his guide proceed Down shaded ways. hedgerows. it Until at last there was an end of And at the end there was a gate of iron. they touched him petals cherry-boughs Above him snowed white down upon him. Of many echoes. And under their slow falling Merlin smiled Contentedly. touched him. Wrought heavily and invidiously barred. so he thought." or "many sweetly-stinging broke lightiy as books. to Broceliande.

and Starred Merlin's the dark after it new abode with many a sconced candle. The description of is tiie magician's eyes as "dim with preparation " of emotion into fact which one of those sudden stampings make Mr. raining crystal music. And many a moving and this. when Merlin joins Vivian at supper . if I were safe Ganceming you Uke a shm cedar. But two then. poem is full This : of them. work so poetically. life As you are now. so actually. God knows in green. to say my was mine it. Made faery magic of it through green leafage. Till Merlin's eyes were dim with preparation For sight now of the lady Vivian. Were you to say to me that I should end Longevity for me were jeopardized. all Have you your green on always and over ? " There is another beautiful. I shall cite only The sun went down. Ij^ripal touch when Vivian leads Merlin to the house Along a dusky way between tall cones Of tight green cedars. Robinson's true. the others. same thing when Merlin says " If I We see the were young.Edwin Arlington Robinson But edged anon with rays of broken sunshine 71 In which a fountain.

in its advancing.72 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry The lady Vivian in a fragile sheath Of crimson. Might hold a smooth red her listening skin it. And twinkled if she moved. a poem which contains such beauties as lapses of construc- these tion must be forgiven whatever exhibits as a whole. And smiled as if to make herself believe Her joy was all a triumph . it It is just these portions still which prove Mr. alike So they sup." there are directions . Robinson to be the book. to the music of haU-heard. Responded with a creeping underneath ' And a creeping that was incident To darkness. Certainly. heard MerUn coming. made yet more distant By faint nostalgic hautboys blown from nowhere. is not so successful as "The Man Against the Sky. love. and mice. If entirety. dimmed and veiled ineffably By the flame-shaken gloom wherein she sat. yet her blood Confessed a tingUng of more wonderment Than all her five and twenty worldly years for this Of waiting triumph could remember And when she knew and felt the slower tread Of his unseen advance among the shadows To the small haven of uncertain light in it as That held her a torch-lit shoal fish. dream-weaving interludes Of distant flutes and viols.

Grail. but fool old. much the same as in the title poem of the earlier book." vaguely conceived. . saying nothing. more of question. The for man flung ruthlessly out of one age another. and the magician who has prophesied can only sigh and add ! suffers . We seem to have it here. From pre- "The Children occupation of a into Night" to these last pages of "Merlin. .'' The same note but less as in "The Man Against the Sky. . commenting upon what Merlin has told him ". Merlin is old. in the words of Dagonet. and seeking — seeking — The sure ground on which to stand. with more of tangibility. You say the torch Of woman and the meditate on light that Galahad found Are some day to illuminate the world ? I'll that. some and Woman and So he searches. hoping. Fiercer now. . of the and also." the preoccupation continues." So Merlin and the arose And.Edwin Arlington Robinson in 73 which he has distanced the achievement of that Probably the key-note of the story is volume. the fool. found a groping way Down through the gloom together. : " Not wholly dead. sadly enough. half-convinced.

and bit them The rock above them was an empty place Where neither seer nor fool should view again The stricken city. Mr. and why the failure in atmospheric sense which permits such names as "Flammonde" and "Bokardo " to connote New England types. That beat the two of them With icy wings. He aims at the starkness of absolute truth. Robinson is a painstaking poet. as in often Browning. He prunes every tendency to luxuriance from his style. of courage. Robinson's books to make a gay mood more gay. of hope and pain. /His poems do not invigorate they mellow and subduey But in our material day. a poet of many revisions. Colder blew the wind it Across the world. The is cryptic expression of much of his poetry can it hardly be considered other than a flaw. Certainly. The shadow and the burden And there was darkness over Camelot. the spirituality of Mr. no one will ever go to Mr. Again the sense of tragedy. and . uplifting. and on heavier lay of the night. Robinson has not to give. to fill himself with the zest and sparkle of life. These things Mr. It is idle to ask if the greatest poetry can be built upon such negative lines. is a question difficult to answer.74 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry The wind was like a flying animal incessantly as they went. Robinson's work is tonic and .

mag- . cabin'd and confined" it is to a remarkable degree. undeniably. This poetry is "cribbed. but nificently noble.Edwin Arlington Robinson 75 granted that what he sees be the truth. he usually attains it.






Robinson. throwing off the shackles of a superstition and an environment grown too narrow. /We saw" him becoming 79 . most concentrated form of literature it is the most emotionalized and powerful way in which thought can be presented. but concentrated psychically. In Mr. We saw the poet realizing his century and its changed point of view through a long process of self-analysis. /t'oetry is the . is and thought tration counts for one of the things in which concenmore than bulk. and it is an interesting commentary on the easy scorn with which many non-New Englanders regard New England. that two of the six poets of whom I have to speak in this book should be of the very bone £md sinew of New England. New and thought England small geographically. ^ highly sensitized and intellectual. product of the old plain-living and high-thinking generations.ROBERT FROST It is the fashion to-day to speak as though little in New England mattered very is the life of these United States of America. we saw a highly developed.

as every artist must Frost. . in Mr. / But it must never be forgotten that both these men are poets. Robinson is a passionate poet. but Mr. Frost. Mr." I would not be construed as meanland. /IVIr. Robinson speculates world. Mr.8o the Tendencies in Modern American Poetry first spokesman of the New Order in this country "the world through his following of truth in his observation of and of himself. Frost is anxious to trace accurately the markings burnt into the sensitive plate of his mind. for deficient is most carewould point out. Mr. Both poets every line he writes I fully considered. almost agonizes about the over some of its phases . process goes on the subconscious stratum of his brain. be. Frost is one poets writing in America to-day of the most intuitive." for Mr. "Mr. Again. Robinson. ing "devoid of passion. permits the world to make upon him what imprint it will. Robinson repre- sents Npw England. even though the passion be carefully restrained. the different manner in which these two men approach ^life and their own work. wonders about it. "intellectual.) . Robert Frost is New Eng- Robinson is one of the most intellectual Mr. ." is I do not intend the inference that Mr. Frost in thought. Robinson is concerned that his work tally with the thing observed \ Mr. "intuitive. So when I say. with Mr. with stance out of which the this work grows. Mr. plastic arid passive. are conscious of the actual work. and when i I say. Robinson is conscious of the subwhile. simply.

that a species of landlocked trout found in Scotland is caught nowhere else but in New Hampshire ponds. the ninth gen- . New England daily environment. and these are no mock bucolics. Frost' the New England of to-day in its entirety a remark which should perhaps be qualitypifies — by adding the words. however. Frost is more fied . Mr. Mr. I have heard. Frost exemplifies in the woven cord of modem poetry is poe±ic_xealism. Robinson's characteristics are a composite of the New England of three centuries.Robert Frost 8i New England is a thing remembered. trace here a kinship shared with his native for geologists tell us that the New Hampshire hills and the Scotch Highlands are cousin-german to each other. William Prescott Frost. The poet's father. particular. might hills. even.. New Hampshire. The strand which Mr. our only of New Northern mountains. with Mr. and race atavism is . Robinson is more universal Mr. England stock on his father's in His mother was bom Edinburgh. was born in Kingston. while Mr. I might also add that his is the only true bucolic poetry being written m America to-day. they are true pastorals of the — hill country in which he sper^sjii&. of lowland Scotch descent. A curious fancy. All compounded of is as he seems to be of the granite and gentians Frost side." "Mr. "in the country districts.life. compounded of childhood memories Frost.

Mr. thoroughly congenial. he was a coppercrat. William Frost became editor Their son. 1875. of school to run errands and make himself generally useful. Behis gentleman met Moody. and later salved his sympathies by naming his son "Robert Lee. and he has often told of his father's excitement and delight when the Democratic party won its first victory since the war. shortly afterwards emigrating to San Francisco where Mr. head. William Frost was an ardent DemoThroughout the Civil War." Mr. Frost. Belle New this England soil. was the San Francisco of those days. in a and there they were married. — and life there was picturesque and adventurous. wife. senior. and so strong were his feelings on the subject that at one time he entertained an idea of running away and joining the Confederate Army. The city was only community such just evolving as from the '"Frisco" of the gold fever. Robert Frost well remembers the first Cleveland election. He thought better of it. when his father was manager of the DemoThe boy was taken out cratic City Committee. rather filibustering. . considering his descent. when both were teaching town. Robert Frost. For some unexplained reason. was born in San Francisco on March 26. however. of a local newspaper. found the editorship of a small Pennsylvania democratic paper in a growing.82 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry eration of his family on coming a schoolmaster.

life. nor which seems to owe its inception to this time of the author's life. seems to possess that receptivity only in regard to one en- vironment. with no relations nearer than the disrunning in . going to ^school in a desultory fashion. however. Frost was dedicated from his cradle to be the poet of latter-day New England. "storing up impressions. This is a strange psychological fact. one would say that Mr. San Francisco for the first its scampering up and down and out of newspaper offices. William Frost died when his son was ten years old. Mr. there is no poem which has San Francisco as a background. in his published work. one would add. and the little boy and his mother found themselves alone." but this seems to have been just what Robert Frost did not Remembrances of those days he must have. /He. do. and of that alone. /We shall see the same phenomenon at work during his three years' sojourn in England. jostling against the somewhat rough and very determined men of the place and period. If one believed in supernatural intervention. With most poets. at a time when he would appear to have been at the very height of his powers.Robert Frost It is 83 not a little singular that these early years in San Francisco should have made so little impression upon the poet. It is true. Robert Frost lived in ten years of his hills. who has proved himself extraordinarily receptive to environment. that. 'but not the vivid ones which lead to expression.

and yet there is not a single mill throughout his poems. There are few moments in Mr. still it is only the New England types which stamp themselves into his consciousness. Yet. Frost's life in New England that do not have their bearing on his career as a poet. and the boy preferred to have her read aloud to him to reading himself.84 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Mrs. Lawrence was even then expanding into a fair-sized city. /In making him keenly alive: to .. position of overseer in one of the mills. it is the things native Living in a mill town in to the soil which count. but it was the farmhouses on its outskirts. and how excellently she has done it we shall soon see/ Mrs. begins Robert Frost's real life. which the inhabitants were becoming extraordinarily -mixed as to race..to^others/Nature tively well . He says that he never read a book through before he was fourteen. the impressions grow and multiply.certain impressions and quite degji. From this time. Massachusetts. was a great reader. again. that captivated his imagination. At one time. Frost's parents were dead. His favorite . the villages strewn along the winding roads. knew her business superla- she was moulding a poet to her purposes. while every wild flower picked in his rambles was photographed on his heart with the accuracy born of passion. where he held the tant East. he worked in a mill. Frost. the poet's mother. From thife time. but her husband's father offered a home to her and her child in Lawrence.

undoubtedly. whatever saw and ite it collated. still pushing up from and always attending the great academy of "Out of ing as little as possible. Robert Frost did not begin to fifteen. and never finished because he could not bear to it it [t is was ended. a proceedwhich. poetry until he was series of love affairs Then occurred His with the great masters Chris- ich every future poet must go through. to his taste. ) His inspiration does not come from books. like most healthy boys. in Mr. The boy was put to school in Lawrence. Sill. in spite of these coquettings the way. he found not at <.Robert Frost 85 this feel lume was "Tom Brown's School Days. least one But." The work of most poets contains at ect reference to their childhood. of farmhouse and country town. He loafed along as best he could. sses assiduously in )ors. but ide to grade perforce./Mr. Frost has never been a literary et. 5t love was Poe. and a of others. a Rossetti. hard to first tell at just what moment the artistic makes itself felt in a future author./ imaginative reconstruction of the past has ever rigued him. But. Is vorking when the i^npressions are being gathered ? pulse should say — yes. Then came Shakespeare. . Edward Rowland 3t Bryant. Still.'f^e derives his inspiration from direct itact with the world — the little world of hill d upland.

though once they are bowed : So low they never right themselves You may --'Like girls see their trunks arching in the woods Years afterwards. "Birches. besides being one of a poem. Mr. in his last Rather. They are dragged to the withered bracken ." which. Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen. ice a sunny winter morning As the breeze rises. be taken as referring certainly to this period of his a very part of his growth. They cUck upon themselves and turn many-colored As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. by the And they seem not to break for long. there appears to be no poem which can life. the whole bulk of his work would seem to be Still.^ stay. But swinging doesn't bend them down to Ice-storms do that. Frost's most beautiful seems to contain more than a hint of the Interval. shells Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust — load.86 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Frost's case. volume. trailing their leaves on the ground on hands and knees that throw their hair Before them over their heads to dry in the sun. Often you must have seen them Loaded with After a rain." is boy he was. But I was ^oing to say when Truth broke in . Hke to think some boy's been swinging thern. BIRCHES When I I see birches bend to left and right Across the hnes of straighter darker trees. "Mountain things.

bums and tickles with the is cobwebs Broken across and one eye weeping it From a twig's having lashed across open. once myself a swinger of birches. Summer or winter. And Ufe is too much Hke a pathless wood Where your face it. feet first. fltmg outward. when I'm weary of considerations. Then he So was I with a swish. And not one but hung limp. May And no fate wilfully misunderstand half grant me me away what I wish and snatch . and could play alone^^^ One by one he subdued his father's trees By riding them down over and over again Until he took the stiffness out of them. Whose only play was what he found himself. He always kept his poise To the top branches. Kicking his way down through of going the air to the ground.Robert Frost With all 87 her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm I free to (Now am be poetical?) I should prefer to have some boy bend them in to fetch the cows As he went out and — Some boy too far from town to learn baseball. climbing carefully With the same pains you use to fill a cup Up to the brim. He learned all there was To learn about not launching out too soon And so not carrying the tree away Clear to the ground. I'd like to get away from it earth awhile And then come back to and begin over. not one was left For him to conquer. and even above the brim. And It's so I dream back to be.

We know at least that he swinger of birches. One could do worse than be a swinger of birches. Summer or winter. like to go by climbing a birch tree. Whatever the cause. the lady he afterwards married. how eagerly he offered his mind to the impress of such pictures. not an end. that much of was what he found himself. possibly. and Mr. climb black branches up a snow-white trunk tUl the tree could bear And Toward heaven. Robert Frost the left the Grammar School and entered the High School. by the description of the ice-covered birch-trees. and here for first time his studies began to appeal to him. Probably his teachers were more intelligent and advanced than those in the Grammar School." his play We was once himself "a know. he began to find out that study is only a means. no more. In due time.88 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Not I'd to return. also. and could play alone. farther the four years in the High School were successful and pleasant. One of his fellow pupils at the High School was Miss Eleanor Miriam White. And we know. Earth's the right place for love I don't know where it's likely to go better. That would be good both going and coming back. Miss White was a good scholar and a serious young woman. Frost . But dipped its top and set me down agaia. too.

while still magazines. however. In 1893. indeed it is practically at the bottom . did not agree with his state of mind. "ran away" would perhaps state the factmore accurately. seemed a munificent figure to the young man. and returned to his grandfather's house in Lawrence. consternation with which he was received. then he left. This he did by becoming. Far from graduating. that Mr. which. College. She had gone to Saint Lawrence side to spur University. Now. more resolved than the young poet. and the following Autumn he entered Dart- mouth College. . she followed the entire course and graduated. among other things. Frost only stayed at Dartmouth a few months. the position of bobbin boy is not an exalted one. taken And his first poem by "The Independent" to be accepted for the was very usual sum of fifteen dollars. the young his grandfather's disgust was so great that for a time he in left man to shift for himself. Frost began sending poems to It was in 1892. a pupil at the High School. bobbin boy a mill.Robert Frost 89 owes an immeasurable debt to the steadfast purpose of his wife. Miss White was no longer at his him on. He could not learn from his teachers he could get no mental pabulum from the prescribed courses. Mr. Robert. where. Frost graduated from the High School. however. It needs very little imagination to picture the Indeed. the inertia of the Grammar School overcame him again.

he moves along un- we conscious of the particular ground on which his feet are treading. such as the foolish one of social strata. pride in the profession to which is he has dedicated himself for instance. shall see so great that it dulls all other prides. sending them out once a year to "The Century. it it. and wrote poems in which his heart most emphatically was. For twenty years this persevering endeavour continued. Frost the sport. of winds of chance. A Rather that his Mr. to take such a position is cer- tainly unusual. for a College degree. to all intents and purposes. upon his chosen goal of poetry. Youth's Companion" was added to the list. and these. and for twenty years the poet remained. /Again and again throughout his career. yet whether him always forward." Atlantic." all "The "The four the chief publica- tions for poetry at that time. . unknown. Frost often says that most misleading statement." "Scribner's. Mr. . Gradually. But it offered.90 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry For a young man of eighteen. It almost seems as though he turned to the right or the left as the right or left. a High School graduate and an aspirant of the long grade of mill workers." or "Harper's. the poet pursued various avocations in which his heart was not. butter. the path leads wind blew. I had very nearly With his eyes firmly fixed said. meant bread and and he took is it he has no pride. and "The Independent." were the only papers to which he sought entrance for twenty years. For four years.

and uncles. Then followed another period of attempts. Again he gave way before the blowing wind of distaste. in 1900. and it was not until after her graduation that the marriage took place. in 1897. and. especially to study Latin. New Hampshire. get all that a university has to offer. made shoes. He was too old for college naturally set apart from his fellows curriculums. for one thing. He was trying to persuade Miss Eleanor White to abandon her college course and marry him.Robert Frost 91 vagrant While Mr. and grandfathers. He stayed at Harvard for two years. took pity on him. by the nature of things. Frost was living this outwardly rather life. Possibly it was her influence which led him to return again to the idea of an ordered course of study. He tramped. At any rate. and returned to Lawrence with his wife and child./ Finally his grandfather. in October. bought him a farm in Derry. almost in despair. as he supposed. he moved his little family to Cambridge and entered Harvard. 1895. . for another." and seemed to his family to be moving toward nothing at all. edited a weekly paper called "The Sentinel. taught school. /For they did not count the spasmodic appearances of his poems as anything. a married undergraduate is and cannot. after the usual manner of mothers. but it was uphill work. he was persisting in another cause as well as that of poetry. But the young lady was firm of purpose.

and doing the things here done. The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows. My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make." "Putting in the Seed. not in from the Derry period." described. certainly in substance. Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows. perhaps." and a number of others. are written by one who has been in the places "Mowing.92 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry in his published if A great many of the poems would seem as to date books actual writing. Is it likely that anyone who has not followed a scythe would realize that it "whispered. was no dream of the gift of idle hours. about the lack of sound — And It that was why it whispered and did not speak. ' And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground. Something. and scared a bright green snake." "After Applepicking." or would so vividly picture the bright green snake darting off through the stubble ? . This is not the work of a mere observer. but of a has lived what he writes about man who MOWING There was never a sound beside the wood but one. What was it it whispered ? I knew not well myself Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun. feeble-pointed spikes of flowers • Not without (Pale orchises). Such poems "Mending Wall.

No one has seen them made or heard them made. of hiding. To each the boulders that have fallen to each. The work I of himters after is another thing repair have come them and made left Where they have not one stone on stone. Oh. I tell him. We keep the wall between us as we go. My apple trees will never get across And eat the cones under his pines. . But at spring mending-time we find them there. swell under it. just another kind of out-door game.Robert Frost 93 Here is another poem which could not have been written without actual experience MENDING WALL Something there is that doesn't love a wall. I let my neighbour know beyond the hill please the yelping dogs. But they would have the rabbit out To The gaps I mean. rough with handling them. It comes to Uttle more the wall There where it is we do not need He is all pine and I am apple orchard. That sends the frozen-ground And spills the upper boulders in the sun And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. And some are loaves and some so nearly balls We have to use a spell to make them balance "Stay where you are until our backs are turned ! We wear our fingers One on a side. And on a day we meet to walk the line And set the wall between us once again.

I could That wants it down. it He moves Not of in darkness as seems to me. I see him there Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top In each hand." say "Elves" to him." Spring the mischief in me. I tell him." Do most laymen know that a wall should be built by two men working from either side at the same time ? Could anyone not a farmer say is all He pine and I am apple orchard. as these that/ pastorals. Something there is that doesn't love a wall. by such touches are great. tanged of the .94 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry He If I only says. is "Good fences make good I neighbours. of trees. and I'd rather it for He said himself. "Good fences make good neighbours. and wonder could put a notion in his head " Why do they make good neighbours? there are cows ? Isn't it Where But here there are no cows. Frost's artificial poems soil/ real not bucolics. woods only and the shade He will not go behind his father's sasdng. But it's not elves exactly. And he likes having thought of it so well He sa3ra again. like an old-stone savage armed. -. And to whom I was like to give offence. Before I buUt a wall I'd ask to know What I was walling in or walling out. My apple trees will never get across And It is eat the cones under his pines. racy with current speech. Mr.

£md not Kingston. twentyfive years old. is also in Rockingham County and not many miles to the North of Derry. in buying his grandson a farm in Derry. Mr. Frost was still a sort of For the time ne'er-do-weH in the eyes of the older generation. would have been retrogression indeed for anyone with a less special. Frost. . Here was a young man. The enterprising youths of these country districts had gone to make their fortunes oa the stretching meadows of Western plains. the Southeasternmost extremity of New Hampshire. William Frost was merely in a measure returning upon his own life. New Hampshire. Mr. But returns are dangerous things. laboriously starving on one of the stone-infested farms of Southern New Hampshire.destiny than Mr. was brightened by no publications. Rockingham County. except those yearly batches of poems sent to the magazines. of which some were accepted and many were not. father's birthplace. therefore. his so very far North of Lawrence. only a few hundred miles either way. whose horizon since he was ten had been bounded by Hanover on the North and Boston on the South. To start life in San Francisco and work back to a farm in Derry.Robert Frost I 95 shall consider them more at length when we come itself to the publication of the volumes of which they form a part. The whole farming industry of New England had been knocked on the head by the opening up of the Derry is in West.

/What he probably said to himself was that he wanted change and a new outlook what he really desired was peace. going on from there to the Normal School in Plymouth. and no . or rather only that detached outlook . but he was not digging a sustenance for his growDerry boasts that most New England ing family. A few hundred miles was to contain all his poetic world. to see somewhere else England — took possession of him. Mr. — We can very well believe that. still the few hundred held good. New Hampshire. the Pinkerand Mr. night to tear a living out of the thin / V Yet. Robert Frost was digging poetry with every shovelful. ton Academy . Perhaps his residence there widened the poet's horizon by another twenty or thirty miles. inhabitants. standing among the swelling foot-hills of the White Mountains. Frost was taken into it as a teacher. an academy. in 191 1. Plymouth is a small town of some fifteen hundred institution. however despairing the outlook seemed. this was the very^coneertenatiiSir-of circumstance and surrounding that the poet needed. felt all unconscious.96 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry this Here was ing till same young man working from mornsoil. but these few hundred miles were to be deepened indefinitely by the delving of his own spade. and a great desire to get away. Rest from those mental impressions which constantly crowded upon ^ him in his chosen environment. In this case. Frost the need of rest. outlook at all.

and in September." sprung off from the older periodical in revolt. just one month after Mr. although circumstances were moving toward it. technique and substance. Mr. Mr. and. 1912. There was "The Poetry Review. It is a significant fact that "Poetry. London was full of poets. Frost and his family set sail for England." appeared for the first time in October. 1912. . denounced both groups with a charming impartiality. and protests. and everywhere. . was talk of forms and directions. there. and opening its columns to. They made a lively buzzing which meant that the art was in a vigorous condition." Miss Monroe's "Magazine of Verse. what is better. Harold Munro had just started his Poetry BxDok Shop. who ." edited by Stephen Phillips. He left a country apparently deaf to his work. . Frost went away.Robert Frost 97 we get are in when we observe something with which we no way concerned. and hates of poets. if you happened to be a poet. a more radical group and lastly there was Ezra Pound and a little band of insurgents gathered about him. /The opportunity came by the sale of his farm in Derry. the beliefs. he came back to find — but I anticipate. England just before the war was an exceedingly stimulating place for poets. where readings by poets of their own work were held periodically and here. and devoted to the more conservative practitioners of the art there was " Poetry and Drama. The present interest in poetry had not yet started in America.

and To anyone it is less firmly set on his own artistic feet than Mr. cenacle. Frost. poetry. by twos. and talked. London. originality. the persons changed but the meetings went on. the situation was intoxicating. but characteristic of the his head nor his speech. by threes. and although there was a constant coming and going. "A Boy's Will. each poem has a sort of explanation under Into it." to paraphrase "The Ingoldsby Legends. doses. He talked and I and went home and did the same thing right over again only better. the thousand and one things which. book is much finer than his first. or man that he lost neither He changed no whit in appearance. "A Boy's Will" is a slender little volume of sixtythree pages. he can only spare a few days and nights of his life to talking about his art lest the thing itself should take unto itself wings and fly away from this clogging mist of discussion. ~ In the Table of Contents. "By ones. listened.98 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry if taken in small do so much to keep the poet's craft sound and The wise man does not spend his days in any sane. and parted. . poets met. no matter how alluring. This first. since his second am forced to believe. in 1913." was published by David Nutt." met again. The better poets knew this. For instance: My Own is The youth rather persuaded that he less will be more than himself for having forsworn the world.

Mowing He takes up tasks. A Dream Pang He is shown by a dream how really well it is with him. Frost's other volumes. but they will irve to I show how much more subjectiyie the book than Mr. The poet has not quite attained his own particular peech in most of these poems. This poem it articularly the last line. Wind and Window Flower Out of the winter things he fashions a story of modem love. life simply with the small 'hese are only a few of the titles. the ability to bring p a whole picture or emotion 1 in a simple is word not yet fully his. Sun-shaped and jewel-small. might have been Titten by some other poet than Robert Frost ROSE POGONIAS A saturated meadow.Robert Frost 99 Ghost House He is happy in society of his own choosing. A circle scarcely wider . but most charming.

100 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Than the trees around were tall Where winds were quite excluded. and with it a delightful lyric quality TO THE THAWING WIND Come with rain. loud Southwester Bring the singer. Obtain such grace of hours. is. That none should mow the grass flowers. There we bowed us in the burning. That tinged the atmosphere. has some of his later flavour. however. there While so confused with This next one. Yet every second spear Seemed tipped with wings of color. That Or in the general mowing That place might be forgot if not aU so favoured. And the air was stifling sweet of With the breath many flowers. We raised a simple prayer Before we left the spot. — A temple of the heat. As the sun's right worship To pick where none could miss them A thousand orchises For though the grass was scattered. bring the nester Give the buried flower a dream .

Robert Frost loi Make the settled snow-bank steam Find the brown beneath the white But what'er you do Bathe to-night. it my window. if they were all. make as the ices go glass flow. lovely things in it. The book has things. Melt it Melt the and leave the sticks Like a hermit's crucifix Burst into my narrow stall Swing the picture on the wall Run the rattling pages o'er Scatter poems on the floor Turn the poet out of door. Whose Whose leaves already are burnt with frost. Slow. characteristic For instance. slow For the grapes' sake.'A Boy's Will" was pleasantly received by the London papers. of a mower I looked for him behind an isle of trees I listened for his whetstone on the breeze. Yet the clean-cut vigour of his later work is absent/' '. " The Academy " said of it "We : . of an October morning Retard the sun with gentle mist Enchant the land with amethyst. And. clustered fruit must else be lost — For the grapes' sake along the wall.

the poet and his family were living suburban town of Beaconsfield in BuckHitherto. and went there to live in the early Winter of 1914. in the little Meanwhile. He took the lease of a small farm on tunately. Mr. disappearance of his Country where is life in England is not the isolated and lonely thing For one reason. and so reduce the household final ex- penses and put off the small capital. This farming venture was not a professional one. SomeMr." What was more remarkable was that the various warring groups of young poets were for once light agreed. way The book was. in Gloucestershire. near Leadbury. the outskirts of the village of Little Iddens. now. money for the farm had been the active support of the family. They all recognized or another. in without being in any sense great. the beauty of this poetry. Frost did not concern himself with raising produce for the market. an excellent start. he understood the business and it offered the only practical means of subsisting while he continued to write poetry. in one fact. Frost had been a farmer. novery far from London. and the poet could it is in America. the inghamshire. . he was content to raise enough to feed his family. unfor- was becoming exhausted. this fund thing had to be done.102 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry have read every line with that amazement and dewhich are too seldom evoked by books of modern verse.

Abercrombie's classicism. and there I had heard much talk of "North of Boston. It speaks volumes for the still Things had begun to change here as far as the magazines were concerned. is so well known to Americans. again from the press of David Nutt. in the Spring of 1914. had passed the Summer of 1914 in England. ~^ somnolent state of American publishers. neither did Mr. and with its subsequent issue by . poet of harsh drama and rough tragedy. grew his vegetables. and spending an evening I reading it with ever increasing delight. for his neighbours : Even at home he had two of the younger poets were Lascelles Abercrombie. I On my return home. the writer of sonorous blank verse. and wrote "North of Boston.Robert Frost 103 run up to town from time to time and enjoy his poetical talks without putting too great a strain upon either his time or his finances. his discussions." I well remember purchasing the little green volume at The Poetry Book Shop. I am happy to say that all that is differ- ent now. but the publishers remained skeptical. nor Mr. whose work But if Ezra Pound's preciosity had no effect upon Mr. but the suggestion met with no response.'/^ "North of Boston" appeared. He went his own way. suggested its publication to no less than two publishing houses.can volume should have been issued first in England. that such an intensely Ameri^. Gibson's stem brutality. Frost. and Wilfrid Wilson Gibson.

and may very well serve as motto to all little A poem ." A beautiful and accurate characterization. it is the The very nostalgia of his New England speech is New England.'' There is no whisper of English influence in this poetry. for." Mr. through the homely. a volume of those interesting stories of New Hampshire folk dwelling between the two poles of Mr. with stiles rounded and tufted trees. quiet words rises a faint pungency. There was Frost's reputation was suddenly made. A paper usually so hostile to American verse as "The Times" wrote " Poetry burns up out of it. long. motto to the volume. had that With the publication of "North of Boston. as when a faint : wind breathes upon smouldering embers. Messrs. the angular sharpness and white clapboarded houses against in italics serves as a hard blue sky.104 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry ' Henry Holt and Company I regret to say nothing to do. of Boston" is a "book of people. which I shall mention later. the very aroma of poesy floating thinly up into the air. "North stories . except in one particular hills. His eyes its may English country. but the lines etched upon his heart are the articulate outlines of rock of stone walls and hemlock. although the poet see the soft eschews dialect. Frost's "few hundred__miles." as Mr. It is Frost has said in his dedication. I hardly a dissenting voice as to its merits.

in spite of its author's sympathetic touch. vigorous climate of ? ruml communities. at All the to sadder. I (And wait to watch the water I sha'n't may) be gone long. It totters I sha'n't It's so young when she Ucks it with her tongue. He is holding no brief for or against the is state of things he portrays. perhaps. — You come little calf too. that love of place and people which marks all that this poet does :/ THE PASTURE I'm going out to clean the pasture spring I'll only stop to rake the leaves away clear. is — You come too. / be gone long. his to love and present. Yet. For here in a few words is an upland pasture with the farmer at work in it.Robert Frost 105 Mr. and -here is that tenderness. He because it is his. he too much a part of himself to exhibit writes of it it as an illustration of anything. ~ /What is these states which plants the seeds of degeneration Is the violence and ugliness of their religious belief . Frost's work. the into the vitals of our book reveals a disease which is eating New England life. is "North of Boston" a very sad book. I'm going out to fetch the That's standing by the mother. at least in its there in the hard. because the poet no pains make it it so.

Frost has reproduced both people and scenery with a vividness . and would be interesting to ask it with "North of Boston" as a text-book to go by. wegian ? Polish. Swedish. but strong and self-replenishing for a length of time beside which our New England maintains itself for generations. But Nor- what about Russian Winters. sprung from old living in New England stock. than are New Englanders. . after the reading of Other countries can rear a sturdy peasantry which heavy and slow. full-blooded the cities. and so better able to stand the loneliness of long Winters. that less the country people • of these nations are highly organized. leaving behind only feeble remainders of a once fine stock The question again Mr. yHave men all been drafted away to ? or the West. but not themselves rernote country places. the telephon'e a very modem and these countries have been producing a hardy peasantry for hundreds of years. We are often told that to decrease insanity true. a question for the psychiatrist to answer. civilization is as nothing. is After all. It is said invention. But this does not ex- plain the great numbers of people.I06 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry ? the cause of these twisted and tortured lives the sane. and this perhaps. Frost's demands an answer book." less well educated. the telephone has done in the much New and doubtless it is England Winters are long and isolating. Mr. farming districts. It is it who go insane.

Frost does not deal with the changed population." woman life is already insane once and drifting there again. Frost's is not the kindly New England of Whittier. ble one of Lowell it is a latter-day . morbid.I Robert Frost 107 hills. slowly sinking to insanity.. drench the lonely roads and spatter on the walls of farmhouses rotting in abandonment ern New and the modEngland town. is visited by drummers painted in all its ~4igliness. which is extraordinary. with the Canadians and Finns who are -taking up the deserted farms. after the death of the stern. much trouble to gather. almost feared. nor the humorous and sensi. New England. felt as things hard and unyielding. berry pasture lying in the sun . ilndraped by any sympathetic legend. "Home Burial" gives the morbidness of death in these remote places —a . His people are leftovers of the old stock. In " The Black Cottage. Heavy thunder-storms . narrow-minded it. where a civilization is decaying to. not exactly influences but regarded as in some sort Here are great stretches of blueand again. Here are the huge sinister. with narrow frame houses. pursued by phantoms. . Mr. give place to another and very different one. ' we have lived in the pathos of the abandoned house. woman who had we have a' In "A Servant to Servants. For Mr. Autumn orchards cracking with fruit which it is almost too nevertheless. alone. with the consciousness that her drab. monotonous bringing it upon her.

in "The Housekeeper. There is very much the same theme country as in the city. AFTER APPLE-PICKING My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree Toward heaven still. /It is all here — die book / is an epitome of a decaying New England. only child has died. . "After Apple-picking. Mr." is The charming over "After with something uncanny. and "The Fear" is a horrible revelation of those undercurrents which go on as much in the and with anxiety eating away whatever satisfaction the following of desire might have brought. Frost writes almost as a man under a spell." this sense of an unsought burden imposed. he must gather of the it .io8 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry life woman unable to take up her dusted again after her idyll. it is what he is is here to do. Apple-picking. entire book an undercurrent of his own lines I am overtired Of the great harvest Still I myself desired. only conscious of the necessity of There is throughout the stating what is in him. The whole is poem from which that quotation mystical with taken." shows that is while "The Generations of Men" which foolish pride in a useless race so strange a characteristic of these people. As though he were the mouthpiece of something beyond himself.

let fall. There were ten thousand thousand lift down. The I scent of apples : I am drowsing cannot rub the strangeness from my sight I got from looking through a pane of glass I skinmied this morning from the drinking trough And held It melted. myself desired. cellar sway as the And I keep hearing from the bin The rumbHng sound Of load on load of apples coming in. Upon my way to sleep before And I could tell What form my dreaming was Stem end and blossom end. Apples I didn't But I am done with apple-picking now. is Essence of winter sleep on the night. boughs bend. It keeps the pressure of I feel the ladder a ladder-round. Beside and there may be two or three pick upon some bough. and I let it fall and break. My instep arch not only keeps the ache. Magnified apples appear and disappear. . fruit to touch. But I was well it fell.Robert Frost 109 fill And there's a barrel that I didn't it. against the world of hoary grass. off. about to take. and not For all That struck the earth. For I have had too much : Of apple-picking I am overtired I Of the great harvest Cherish in hand. And every fleck of russet showing clear.

My instep arch not only keeps the It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round. is it one of the most beautifully clear that Mr. from "The Death of the Hired Man": . Truly the mysticism in "After Apple-picking" "burns up out of the poem. as in this." for. which give Mr. on the surface. Frost's work such a rare distinction. For instance: aftie. is about to take" ? an intuitive poet. whatever sleep Were he not Long Or Is it gone. as I describe its his coming on. Went of surely to the cider-apple heap no worth. indeed the whole of the description is Here." Sometimes they are purely beautiful. just some human sleep. it's like The woodchuck could say whether sleep. Frost has done. we have those touches so excellent. Such passages are scattered through all the poems in "North of Boston.no Tendencies in Modern American Poetry No As matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble. This poem shows his sense of intuition becoming almost conscious. see One can what will trouble it is. not true that he cannot tell "what form his dreaming Frost is I have said that Mr. The two-pointed is ladder sticking through the trees exceedingly clean and bright as a picture. too. This sleep of mine. siinple^jo-tru£„^o_original.

" I wonder why I never thought of making a story like that ? But. Clematis Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle. The moon.Robert Frost "I'll sit ill and see if that small sailing cloud . in reading them. Sometimes they are beautiful because of thei r abso -lute-fidelit5[_tofact. in spite of the numbers of stories on New Engprose. that. as in the lines about the ladder I have just quoted. No runner tracks in this year's snow looped near it. Or even last year's or the year's before. and she. They are so natural. so obvious. making a dim row." It hit the mo6n. cut and split And piled and measured. verse. In verse or in would be unusual. Will hit or miss the moon. or these from "The Woodpile": It was a cord of maple. they hold the reader's interest in spite of the extreme . yet the characters are so sharply drawn that life. Frost's genius shows itself not only in the but in the stories as such. And it was older sure than this year's cutting. four by four by eight. one says. Then there were three there. "North of Boston" is a book of stories in verse. — The wood was grey and the bark warping off it And the pile somewhat sunken. the theme is exceedingly before. And Mr. they ' land ^ nobody has thought of making such stories In some cases. the little silver cloud. slight. And not another like it could I see.

Times change." . A poor. in the always this fact of style which makes of art and keeps it alive. Frost possesses the gift of style. she permits the man watches the little cloud sailing toward the moon. Edward Garnett. Mr. "Silas is back. it is For. It begins full and the foreboding of a silent close. and give him something to do. however strange such an idea may be to the contemporary reader. Works of art live or die by the manner of their telling rather than by their content. as the English critic. She ran on tip-toe down the darkened passage To meet him in the doorway with the news And put him on his guard. this story of tenderness. of the Hired The story of "The Death Man" is very simple and very occasionally worked. Maxy sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table Waiting for Warren. as written by Mr. or is it that Mr.112 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry plot. and while her husband goes in to speak to him. she sits on the doorstep and house. half-crazed old labourer comes back to the farm where he has The farmer's wife to is in the come into the kitchen and rest. has pointed out ? final count. and what appears significant to one generathe glory of a work tion is insignificant to another. slight. is But. but beauty of expres- sion remains and is immortal. Then she goes out to meet her returning husband and beg him to be kind to the old man. Frost. vagueneSp of the Is it that. When she heard his step.

"Yes. She took the market things from Warren's arms And set them on the porch. She saw And spread her apron to it." she said. As if she played unheard the tenderness in the night. the wife persuading. of the woods. "he has come home to die You needn't be afrsiid he'll leave you this time. Of course he's nothing to any more Than was Out the hound that came a stranger to us worn out upon the trail. Taut with the dew from garden bed to eaves." he mocked gently." she said. Part of a At length.Robert Frost She pushed him outward with her through the door 113 And shut it after her. That wrought on him beside her "Warren." " I should have called it Something you somehow haven't to deserve." ." "Home. her lap. faUing moon was down it the west. "Be kind. She put out her hand Among the harp-like morning-glory strings. They trifle talk. hills. what It all depends else but home? on what you mean by home. the husband a unwilling. Home is the place where. us. Dragging the whole sky with Its light to the poured softly m. then drew him down To sit beside her on the wooden steps. when you have to go there. They have to take you in.

Where its black body cut into the sky. dominating. And broke it in his hand and tossed Thirteen "Silas has better claim on us you think little Than on Silas his brother ? miles his door. "The Mountain" is an eery bit of genre painting. "Warren. As the road winds would bring htm to has walked that far no doubt to-day. Slipped to her side. and brought it it back by. The mountain. "Dead. caught up her hand and waited. Near me it seemed I : I felt it like a wall Behind which was sheltered from a wind. her and she is left husband (Warren) goes into the house." Finally. That is all.114 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Warren leaned out and took a step or two. musing on the moon and the cloud until Warren returned — too soon. Picked up a little stick. is the poem : The mountain held the town as in a shadow I saw so much before I slept there once I noticed that I missed stars in the west. huge. somehow." she questioned. . Why didn't he go there ? His brother's A somebody — director in the bank. remote in its austerity." was all he answered. it is an adequate and profoundly moving story. rich. and yet. it seemed to her.

more fields." 'Twouldn't seem real to climb for climbing . ox-team. a river. The river at the time was fallen away. When I walked forth at dawn to see new things. what was above And look myself. the same when the cows Haven't come down to the bars at milking time ? Or with a shotgun for a stray black bear ? it. and driftwood stripped of bark. but you It doesn't . . and in the grass Ridges of sand. but never cared to see " . And made a widespread brawl on cobble-stones But the signs showed what it had done in spring Good grass-land gullied out." But "I never saw All his life he has lived at base. Then comes the countryman.Robert Frost 1 15 And yet between the town and it I found. and beyond. its Until the bushes along banks bristles Are inch-deep with the frosty spines and — its You know the kind. Were fields. driving an who has "heard tell" of a brook "on the top" which " . You've worked around the foot of all your life. tip- is ." it. . I crossed the river and swung round the mountain. is warm in winter. top. always cold in summer. stick. . What would With a big I do ? Go in my as overalls.I've always meant to go know how it is seem so much to climb a mountain . One It of the great sights going to see steam ih winter Hke an all ox's breath.

" and they are also the most terrible. England. thing. fear. — the nothing and whole terrible inertia which the has settled upon these people dwelling among The most remarkable stories in the book are '"Home Burial. She was starting down. and the the emptiness. unsettle the mother's The father has at least the healthiness of to sus- work amid the constantly changing seasons tain him.Ii6 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Then He drew Of the oxen toward him with light touches his slim goad on nose and their offside flank. only too common. HOME BURIAL He saw her from the bottom of the stairs Before she saw him." "A Servant to Servants. They are the ones which most reveal disease. Looking back over her shoulder at some ." and ^'The Fear. Gave them It is marching orders and was moving. the disease which starts with a sort of coma of the brain. because it is an amazing yet everything unyielding hills. the horror. "Home Burial" is a ghastly indictment of the small family. New mind. \as in the countryman of "The Mountain. but the mother has only her dull round of household tasks." and ends with complete insanity. alas ! throughout loneliness. The child dies.

" : Mounting until she cowered imder him. "Oh." What he saw was his child's grave. "Don't. slate There are three stones of Broad-shouldered little and one of marble. unbearable as the real It hurts the reader. is I He goes on : "The wonder I didn't see it it at once. him look. don't. sure that ." But the wife She let will not him he wouldn't see. "Oh. She turned and sank upon her And her face changed from terrified to dull." and again. slabs there in the sunlight On the I sidehill. But understand child's it is But the mound — not the stones." she cried. dear.Robert Frost She took a doubtful step and then undid it " 117 To raise herself and look : again. I never noticed from here before. We haven't to mind those. Blind creature and a while he didn't see. But at last he murmured. . He said to gain time "What is it you see." skirts at that. He is it spoke Advancing toward her "What for I you see From up there always — want to know. don't. to it must be wonted — that's the reason. it is as . don't. "I wUl find out now — you must tell tell me. That cry of the woman is terrible in its stark truth.

the way in which the passage is worked up to this devastating cry. Give it me my a little. satisfied You'd think his memory might be — . and shd downstairs And turned on him with such a daunting look. TeU me about Let it if it's something human. though. but everything he says chafes the rawness of her "Don't Don't carry it grief go. know rightly whether man can. chance. where's of here. it out. I'm not so much Unlike other folks as your standing there Apart would make I me out.ii8 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry cry would have been. tries to soothe her. He said twice over before he knew himself "Can't a man speak of his own child he's lost?" Then she bursts out ! "Not you I I don't Oh." He talks to her. I don't need it must get out must get any air. Afterwards : She withdrew shrinking from beneath his arm That rested on the banister. me into your grief. and it is not the mere repetition which gives it its tragic force. — don't to someone else this time. one wants to stop one's ears and shut than this. it is the context. you overdo What was it brought you up to think it the To take your mother-loss of a first child So inconsolably thing — in the face of love. do think. my hat ? I Oh. Printed words can go no farther She says only one word.

I'm not! You make me angry. she sees only the blurred vision of : the partially unbal- anced "You If can't because you don't know how. I thought. and stUl your spade kept lifting. A man can't speak of his own child that's dead. eyes. Leap up. I heard your rumbling voice I don't in the kitchen. And I crept down the stairs and up the stairs To look again. Then you came Out in. you that dug With your own hand I — how could you — his ? little grave saw you from that very window and there." ! But she has with lost all sense of values .nd so lightly And roll back down the mound beside the hole. I'll come down to you. you had any feeUngs. Making the gravel leap and leap in that. like that. Hke l9. Who is that man ? I didn't know you. You had stood the spade up against the wall Outside there in the entry." He has no idea how to cope with her unreason . what a woman And it's come to this.Robert Frost 119 "There you go sneering now ! "I'm not. God. But I went near to see with sit my own You could there with the stains on your shoes Of the fresh earth from your own baby's grave And talk about your everyday concerns. and know why. air. for I saw it.

! foUow and bring you back by countries." He holds himself in.' ! Think of it. "Where do you mean I'll to go ? First tell me that. You The won't go now.I20 "I Tendencies in shall Modern American Poetry I ever laughed. You're crying. you have said and you feel better. talk like that at such a time What had how long it takes a birch to rot To do with what was in the darkened parlour. church makes such a situation practically . She talks on and a torrent of words you were saying. Amy But he There's someone coming down the road !" stand — the disease. reason powerless She was opening the door wider. if I don't believe I'm cursed. is dealing with a force he does not underinsidious. force. " I can repeat the very words 'Three foggy mornings and one rainy day Will rot the best birch fence a man can build. God. it : Close the door. laugh the worst laugh I'm cursed. Gently he urges her it all "There. I will — upon a Catholic with their insistence consecrated ground in which to lay the dead." The woman does not on in spare him. give no chjmce state for horror like this. it heart's gone out of ! why keep up. In England. creeping force is of mental He cannot stop her.

and. "Home Burial" shows monotony and a mistaken attitude toward life bringing on insanity. thinks she sees something in the bushes as she and he are driving home one night "I saw She it They just as plain as a white plate. I'm sure!" " — it was a face?" "Joel. and up! right ." moral degeneration is leading to the same end. She takes the lantern and goes down the road. I can't go in. There she comes face to face with her first husband ." refusing to let Joel go with her. who has left her husband to live with another man. they are decayed and demoralized. behold. A woman. You must have seen it too. "Yes." said.Robert Frost impossible. I can't. and she has had her revenge. strong. God-fearing. even in New England. I'll have to look." Are you sure — "I didn't see it. In "The Fear. flaunted Nature. 121 Happily it is unusual. "as the light on the dashboard ran Along the bushes at the roadside — a man's face. but what a travesty of happiness our vaunted freedom has led us into The old pioneerscame here to be free. and leave a thing like that unsettled.

It touched. but her body rocked a little. very lonely place. it. kill her. "You don't see — I've a child here by the hand. You understand ? understand that we have to be careful. son?" "Then I should think you'd try to find Somewhere to walk — We're stopping for the "The highway as it happens fortnight down at Dean's." at this time of night "What's a child doing — ?" "Out walking." — "But if that's all — Joel — you realize — You You This ! won't think anjrthing. he or she? Either way." the voice said. Nature has taken her toll. Joel " She spoke as if she couldn't turn.122 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry She stood her ground against the noisy steps That came on." She looked and looked. it struck clattered and went out. Does he . Of at least Every child should have the memory one long-after-bedtime walk. What. or does she merely think that he do is going to so ? Which one is crazed. "You see. is a very. The swinging lantern lengthened to the groimd. "Oh.

and one of "A Servant to Servants. so long and narrow. It Ues five miles away through the mountain notch From the sink window where I wash the plates. I my feelings any more my voice or want to can lift it My hand It's when I have to) Did ever you Whether feel so ? I hope you never.Robert Frost 123 The most powerful the truest. . I see it's all gone wrong. left inside feel. And all our storms come up toward the house. it. or anything. There's nothing but a voice-like That seems to tell me how wasn't I I ought to And would feel if I You take the lake. but I don't know With a houseful I I can't express of hungry men to feed . I promised myself to get down some day And see the way you hved. Like a deep piece of some old rutming river both ends. pretty sheet of water. Drawing the slow waves whiter and whiter and It took whiter. look and look at a fair. for sure got so I don't even I know am glad." A farmer's talking to a camper : " I didn't make you know hovsj glad I was To have you come and camp here on our land. It seems to me lift Than I can raise (oh. wife is is of all these stories. repeat out loud I stand and make myself it The advantages Cut short Straight off at has." . guess you'd find. my mind off doughnuts and soda biscuit To step outdoors and take the water dazzle A sunny morning. sorry.

overworked madman kept in the And the barn was a miserably common women fact a generation ago. anjrway. These are stark terrible but they are not all so as the three we have been considering. stories. and again "It's rest I coming on her want — there. shouting obscene words "He'd night long pull his bars apart like bow and bow-string. Is set The worst me back catch a little more behind." Then. I need to he kept. There's work enough to do — there's alwajrs that that you can do But behind's behind. wearily.124 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry feels it She has been insane once. even in are not.'' She tells a dreadful story of her father's all brother kept in a cage in the barn-loft." is Alas. I'd rather you'd not go unless you must. And let them go and make them twang until His hands had worn them smooth as any ox-bow. with all its undercurrent of bearing on herself "Bless you. I shan't up in this world. if "Home Burial" unusual. of course you're keeping me from work. But the thing of it is. after the story is told. . New England. I have said it out — And washing From cooking meals for hungry dishes after them hired men — from doing mad Things over and over that just won't stay done.

/Doubtless the timid doctor. and the with collars. a laborious attempt at humour.Robert Frost 125 /I believe Mr. Mr. For this reason. So is the ugly town a place of shrieks and wandering lamps And cars that shook and rattle — and one hotel. provincial reporter. England turns of speech would lose much of their raciness without the peculiar pronunciation which accompanies them. all I could foF^em But I never lived my life with tendin' upon 'em and gettin' was 'em. Frost is a kindly and genial poet. the hotel tipsy. Mr. I find his people untrue to type in one important is The poem particular. but he is jiever either whimsical or quaint. Characters and situa- tions impress him. /In none of them do we find that is pun- gency of thought or expression which in the so ingrained New England temper." ./ It is probably for this reason that he uses New no dialect in these poems. Frost gives us no such as James Russell Lowell's We're curus critters : delicious bits of humour Now ain't jes' the it. minute That ever fits us easy while we're in or Alice Brown's: "I tried to do that was in need. speech does not. "A Hundred Collars" to be humorous dull. Frost intends . size eighteen. I find it nothing except a little clerk. even when I kind of achey trottin' up an' down stairs. are well drawn.

but he has no ear for their doxical. expressed For the New . as that they are all so largely mere fustian. para- is New England and yet Mr. for Irish can be written accept- ably without changing ordinary spelling. quaintly turned to half conceal. far away. What would was the J. . Synge's easier task. Mr. It speaks marvellously for the vividness of the poet's work in other ways that it is still personal and particular with this element of local speech left out. Vivid. on the other hand. adds many decades to his literary \^ an author and widens his appeal at the time of writing. M. he does not use- dialect. Burns's dialect poems. I would amend that dictiim by suggesting that it depends upon the author. are still much read and cherished. ~He feels the people. It is commonly said that life. Frost has ignored it absolutely. lander's comedy borders upon tragedy is Engand his from tragedy with a whimsicality which the tears are never talk. / As it is. Synge's plays be without the Irish idiom he employs? But in this matter. a solemn truth. it is true. half reveal._a sort of material which is apt to become moth-eaten with time. such peculiar tongue. constantly interesting. Scott's novels are very little read. and Yankee dialect cannot. Frost has succeeded admi- rably in portraying the New England that he sees. but that is less because so many of them are in dialect.126 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Speech like that is of the essence of New England. Picturesque words.

this. A front with just or a door between two windows. How deftly he draws a background. He We chanced in passing by that afternoon To catch it in a sort of mental picture Among tar-banded ancient cherry trees. Set well back from the road in rank lodged grass. "The Fear" begins with these only the picture. I taste in them sometimes the flavour of soot. The little cottage we are speaking of. gig they stood beside . of blueberries It : must be on charcoal they fatten their fruit. a touch of the hand. Take this picture persons. A tarnish that goes at And less than the tan with which pickers are tanned. shadows on a house all dark in every glossy window. both into the hearts of and into the qualities of scenes. A horse's hoofs pawed once the hollow floor. however. And The after all really they're ebony skinned blue's but a mist from the breath of the wind. much. and we get not but the accompanying noises lines. A lantern light from deeper in the bam Shone on a man and woman their lurching in the door And threw Near by. And the back of the Moved in a little. Fresh painted by the shower a velvet-black.Robert Frost 127 What not he does not portray sees is simply what he does see.

As there is no strange and explosive imaginative force playing over his subjects. But the method has It is halting its advantages. seen sion it. in his acQurat£_observation. direct. The poems verse. through his verse. His words are simple. such liberties would be unendurable. are written for the most part in blank a blank verse which does not hesitate to leave it feels like it. effect. He tells what he has seen exactly as he has He is never seduced into subtleties of expres- which would be painfully out of place. Frost has justified the liberties which he has taken with an ancient and dignified metre is evident from the fact that "it has hardly aroused a protes't. out a syllable or put one in/Vhenever To the classicist. and there is an elemental quality in all he does which would surely be lost if he chose to pursue niceties of For Mr. So scholarly a . manly. The secret of lies Mr. Frost's success in such passages as these. Frost has chosen his medium Lwith an unerring sense of fitness. straightforward. unyielding in substance. the latter. an inheritance from a race brought up on the English "Bible. not indicated. and broken in That Mr. even from the classicists.128- Tendencies in Modern American Poetry shift of the The creak and although it is wheels is quite plain. so there is no exotic music pulsing pexpression. and maimed like the life it portrays. It suggests the hardness and roughness of New England granite. coupled with a perfect simplicity of phrase.

" enough." because classicist it is I say "amusingly always amusing when a justify a l^s to shift his canons to include and beauty he cannot help feeling. Frost's ? Here are a few lines taken at random from "North of Boston": Mary' sa^ musing on the lamp-flame at the ^d ^: :. table. _ But soalso if is the blank verse many a master hard to scan." have made of Mr." on "on^" and on "at. for its very He says: "so extraordinarily close to normal^everyday speech is it that! anticipate some academic person may test its metre with a metronome. To make the this a passable iambic pentameter to "and" has be stamped into place. I Mr. scansion." Here is another ingly (shockingly to that elder taste. line. amusingly enough. and declare that the verse is often awkward in its liberties. but no one . Edward Garnett. I crossed the river and swung round the mountain. The reader will observe that the accent falls shock- I mean) on the second syllable of "Mary. the academic foot- rule be not applied with a nice comprehension of where to give and when to take. praises Mr. . Frost's and praises it. of No doubt.Robert Frost critic as 129 style. But what purists of would the this an earlier day have thought of blank verse ? What would the reviewer who re- viled Keats' s iambic pentameter in the ''Quarterly.

try it as iambs and listen to the result. obliged to hop along on a couple of anapests to say has to say by the end of the all is : Perhaps the worst of Call her Nausicaa. vanished for the time. I agree with Mr. view. Garnett that these lapses from strict blank verse vary the lines delight- and give a rich and tonic effect. the unafraid in which the feet are obviously trochees not iambs. 1914. In August. and on no body war have a more devastating effect In the belligerent countries than upon the poets. am not representing my own fully." but the second again line. But. in I pulling these lines to pieces. of people did the came the war. The first line can be made to scan by accenting the is "with" all it of "withdrew. all interest in verse other than war verse England was no longer the .130 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry really read it in that is would ever ble way . followed by two anapests. the ing with a feminine ending I crossed / the riv / er and swung / round the moun / tain. the only possi- way to read it to make the line tetrameter with line finish- two iambs. especially. What of these two lines She withdrew shrinking from beneath his arm That rested on the baniste^and slid downstairs.

so far as Robert Frost was concerned. He might be able to of his books. Frost. What did he do on returning to America ? Went promptly back to his hills with the quick certainty of a homing pigeon. as that subject. although we had heard much of each other. Henry Holt and Company. ran across this review at a book- as he was walking up town from the steamer after landing in New York. but he live on the proceeds had always been a farmer. Frost. in March. I had preceded Mr. a quasi-failure he left it. stall. whom at that time I had not met." asked me to write a paper. but not yet issued. Mr. He has since told me that it seemed to him when he saw it that America was holding out a friendly hand to welcome him home. Besides.Robert Frost 131 soothing and inspiring place for literary workers had been. and during that time I had spoken much of "North of Boston. He had come to it unknown. and to choose my own subject. of "The New Republic." When Mr. tion of "North of Boston" ran through several printings in rapid succession. By a pleasant coincidence. The American ediit was loyal and enthusiastic. . America's welcome was more than friendly. But no success could change Mr. England had done its work. I chose "North of Boston. Frost to this country by six months. with his feet well set upon the ladder that it . 1915." then in the press of Messrs. of fame. Croly.

Frost has a rare felicity in choosing One would tbis book. He it might has in take if it shield. about ~Say ? But.) have come to Mr." mild bits less homogeneous book There are in it narraof irony. but his touch grows surer and more personal with each volume. Now we val. Frost's latest book. tings./ He writes as he has written. during the sum- The next year was spent. like to write at great length all." There are three long narratives. "Mountain Inter- (Mr. excellent in kind. published in the Autumn of 1916. is "Mountain Interval" tives. deal in lecturing. lyrics.132 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry farming seemed the natural and sane order in which his life should run. so he bought a farm in Franconia. "In the Home . it New mer Hampshire." "An Encounter. did not yield and him a crest it with pine-trees. than "North of Boston." titles. of Frost has joined the teaching Amherst it College. staff And now that Mr. partly in writing. A jumble of jot- a pages from his portfolio . for career in one way another. The lyric quality of "A Boy's Will" is here/ but far more developed in expression in such poems as "Pea Brush. after is what is there new to Mr. but each quite unrelated to the others." and "The Telephone. a great little in and a very actual farming. we can see the future of the farm as an emblem as a rather than as a fact. Frost not an author of experiments and surprises. and moved into of 1915.

almost in separate stars." and "The Bonfire." 133 and "Snow. "Birches. On the whole. "Out." And they are interesting as being the only published work of which any foreign element has disturbed the restricted New Hampshire atmosphere. a horrible story of a boy losing his hand in a steam saw. and this poem : quoted some AN OLD MAN'S WINTER NIGHT All out of doors looked darkly in at him Through the thin frost. The war has registered itself slightly in two poems." only one. Yet the book contains two poems which are among I Mr. "Out. it must be admitted that in spite of much that is beautiful. it is not an advance. in That gathers on the pane empty rooms." which time ago. Out "The Gum Gatherer. Out " can be said to be up to Mr. the subjects have neither the depth. ." Of the three shorter narratives.Robert Frost Stretch. But this one." "The — — among the best things of its kind that he has done. Frost's in to the poet's already fine achievement." and "The Vanishing Red. of those in "North of Boston. Frost's best. it is But neither more than adequate. Frost's usual standard. is Hill Wife. this volume will add nothing Mr. will it detract lent. . nor the poignancy. it is excel- but except in the case of the short lyrics. "Range-finding." but although these are technically good specimens of the poet's manner.

concerned with he knew what. ^e consigned to the moon. common like beating But nothing so on a box. or it he can. his snow upon the His icicles along the wall to keep And Once slept. Hke the roar and crack of branches. with what . So late-arising. and sight. What kept him from remembering what it was That brought him to that creaking room was age. A quiet light. and sugges- and all painting surely eind reticently the tragedy of lonely old age. once again — and scared the outer night. It's a countryside. him In clomping there. One aged man — one man — can't if fill a house. things. thus he does of a winter night. line. A farm. As better than the sun in any case For such a charge. Nowhere teenth tion. A light he was to no one but himself Where now he sat. in spite of the false accent in the eigh- There sound. disturbed him and he shifted. And eased his heavy breathing. familiar. and then not even that. in Mr. he scared off . He stood with barrels roimd him — at a And having In clomping scared the cellar under it loss. Frost's work is is there a finer thing than that. The poem is superb . such as she was. Which has Of trees its sounds. to the broken moon roof. but stUl slept. The log that shifted with a jolt in the stove.134 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry What* kept his eyes from giving back the gaze Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.

but he some- poem abruptly with a smile." it may be one of two ends. still we cannot rank her with Shakespeare. only a per- In looking back over the three volumes which make up Mr. times ends a he perchance. Robinson represents realism ." /And sometimes we do not see the end. but this very" In some other poets we finish precludes growth. the .P But his canvas exceedingly small. in way said. is no end at all. Frost's work is undoubtedly more finished in its kind than the work of any other living American poet. but sometimes this subtlety ends in the blind alley of obscurity. feel potentialities. Mr. we ask ourselves. or./H. in Mr. Frost is gain- ing in subtlety. what place does he hold among his contemporaries ? I should say that he has gained a success in his chosen field which can be equalled by is- no other poet in our series. Frost we find achievement. that Mr. and no matter paints how wonderfully he upon by men he cannot attain to the position held with a wider range of vision?] As Jane it. Mr.e is is never cryptic. as though "You see the end. Robinson cryptic. [ Mr. there really petual continuation.Robert Frost it 135 says and what it does not say. as in "The Fear. so I won't read you the last page. nor can Theocritus ever be considered as great as Homer. this force is nevertheless held in check by an innate pessimism . with a much broader imaginatiorithan-Mrr-Frost. Austen is perfect in her way. Frost's poetical output at present.

by his force. the descripwhich makes the of imagination almost tion of the flying fishes. and with a charm which translates expression. He we wins first his gentle understanding. We have no such rare imaginative bursts from him as Mr. itself is into a beautiful simplicity of He by an eminently sympathetic poet. Mr. and will so rank to future generations. the very greatest men can be both cosmopolitan and great. his strong and unsentimental power of emotion are conquered later. is his imagination bounded by his life. for instance. Frost writes down being a true poet. he sees exactly it vividly what he sees. But. or Mistral Provengal. Masefield gives us time and again in "The Dauber". fire by but in the realism touched to final count. Synge Irish. art is rooted in the soil. and in spite of its great beauty. tion by his almost unapproachable technique. and . idealization. and moved to admiraStill./and it is perhaps not too much to say that he is the equal of these poets. Frost is as New England as Bums is Scotch. and only sides.136 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry real seem important and the visions Mr. it rejnains realism. he is confined within the limits of his experience (or at least what might have been his experience) and bent all one way like the wind-blown trees of New England hillAfter all. Frost is frivolous. . Mr.



Mr. Masters is the author of a number of books, but one has made his fame and it seems probable

that only one will outlive the destructive work of

But this one is so remarkable that it may very come to be considered among the great books of American literature. I refer, of course, to "The Spoon River Anthology." I think it is not too much

no book, in the memory of the present had such a general effect upon the reading community as has this. Every one who reads at all has read it. Its admirers are not confined to those who like poetry, people who have
to say that

generation, has


never cared for a poem before are enthusiastic over

"Spoon River," while professed poetry lovers stand, some aghast and some delighted, but all interested and amazed. Everf its enemies admit it to be extraordinary.
It has

been characterized as an American

"Com6die Humaine," but I think Dostoevsky in vers libre would be more accurate. Mr. Masters'


Tendencies in

Modern American Poetry

more akin to the Russian than is in some ways closer to the Swede, August Strindberg, than to any other modern writer. Of course, analogies of this kind must not be pushed too far. If Mr. Masters resembles Balzac
habit of thought
to the French.

In fact, Mr. Masters

in the fecundity

he shows in inventing characters

and lives to fit them, he is also like Strindberg in shewing only a narrow stratum of society. If he is like Balzac in confining his mise en scbne in a small
compass, he

again like Strindberg in being primarily

interested in one important phase of

— that of

Balzac was no poet, but he realized that

impelled by




in Strindberg, the

actions of the characters are
their sex impulses.

dependent upon

Mr. Masters

a poet , but he

too sees life through themedium of sex."" Ferhaps no author writing in America to-day shows more clearly the breaking down of an old traction, the effect on the Anglo-Saxon mind of much contact with the minds of other peoples. In Mr. Robinson and Mr. Frost, we saw the breaking down of tradition, but in both poets the traditional racial characteristics remained unaltered in Mr. Masters, tradition is not only breaking, but broken, and the racial type is quite altered.
/All racial changes begin by, a disappearance, a slow fading of the fundamental beliefs upon which

that particular civilization

was reared, but the results

Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg
of these beliefs


retain their hold

upon the people

brought up



The next

step finds the beliefs

much a

thing of the past that they have no power

mould character, and the result, for the moment, a sort of mental chaos, in which cynicism becomes a dominant attitude, in many cases ending in downis

right despair.


third stage



so complete that

is that in which the no longer requires to be

considered as such at



old tradition has

passed into the line of history, and departure from
it is

the rule not the exception.
beliefs, are living


have reared
of thought,


upon other planes

and that being

for the



they are

able to turn their attention

other things," for

first stage,


In the



a thing \remembered

and haunting in the third stage, it is re-discovered and intoxicating but in the second, it is crowded out by tljieif tress of travail', by the pangs of a birth which has riot yet occurred. / The truth is that America is in the making, and as poets are the articulate part of a community, we see this change very clearly in the work of the modern If this is a true \poetical "movement," as I poets.



to be,

it is

so bfecause of the basic changes

going on in the poets themselves, and to a lesser
degree in the large body of the people.



American nation
living in this


eventually be, none of us
of flux can possibly foretell.



Tendencies in Modern American Poetry
in the

But there appear
hints of a


of a few of our poet

new beauty, a

differing religious concepi



herald the slow approach of the thin

That third stage, that era of accomplish ment which will endure until another "movement' shakes the world again and mankind takes anothe
step on


eternal path.


have said that Mr. Robinson and Mr. Fros

represent various things in the

"new movement" like

Realism, Direct Speech, Simplicity, and the


represent also the


stage of the progressioi


Mr. Masters, who als stands for other things as well, embodies the seconi stage. / have put him and Mr. Sandburg togethe principally for that reason, although they hav
have been analyzing.
other points of contact besides this one. /We ma;
regard the work of these two poets as being the mos










the distinction betwee

"revolutionary" and "evolutionary."



into, revolution is violent!

and consciously opposing something

in order to brin

about something else. In my last chapter, I sha speak of two poets who may properly be said to b
entering upon the last stage
of- this "movement," an whose work may very well be called evolutionary. Of course, this dividing a movement into section has nothing to do with the merit of the individuE poets, but a consideration of it as a whole helps u

Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg


to understcind its reasons for being, and, through

work of the poets who make it. Edgar Lee Masters was bom at Garnet, Kansas, on August 23, 1869, where his father, who had

been admitted to the bar shortly before that date,

was practising


The Masters family is said

to have


to Massa-

chusetts from England in the seventeenth century,

one branch going to Nova Scotia and one to Virginia. The poet is descended from the Virginia branch, his

Hillary Masters,

being a

soldier in the Continental


during the Revolu-



from Wythe County, Virginia.

At what period the family, or a part of it, moved from Virginia to Tennessee is not recorded. But Davis Masters, a grandson of the Revolutionary soldier, was born in the latter state, where he married a certain Lucinda Young, the grand-daughter of another Revolutionary soldier from North Carolina.
These two migrated into Illinois during the 'twenties of the last century, and settled first in Morgan County, where their son, the poet's father, Hardin Wallace Masters, was born, and later in Menard County, living there to the advanced ages of ninety-

two and

ninety-six, respectively.

be seen that the poet comes of a sturdy p^""? ""^- A stock which has stedrlmd a giT moving ever Westward, to newer_cf«der. freer
It will



From Massachusetts

to Virginia,

from Vir-


Tendencies in Modern American Poetry

ginia to Tennessee, from Tennessee to Illinois.



centuries, the exodus continued.
fnllT, onft


^ver regjang,

never -itnj'inrnjnrrgflil

nnt afraid of hard


yet^^^uricais l y ono ttg^^uaaMe- to otrilec

ter¥G©te-inte any

deep enough to have



for long.

One can

see this race, developing

those rugged qualities needed to cope Avith a nature


harsh, powerful, perpetually re-

sisting conditions,

always dominating them, but not

quite enough to deaden the lure of
places just


new and farther beyond the horizon. On his mother's side, Mr. Masters also inherits the tradition of force. ;!For his mother is of the narrow,

stem, bigotedly religious folk



linger in


England, particularly in the rural districts/
people, with high moral qualities, as


have pointed on Mr. Robinson and Mr. Frost, out in my chapters but more strong than graceful, more firm than widely comprehending. Her father, the Reverend Deming S. Dexter, was a Methodist minister in the town of Marlborough, New Hampshire. He died in 1870. His wife, Jerusha, was a descendant of the long line of Putnams, whose name appears so often and so variously in the pages of New England history gloriously, in the case of General Israel Putnam, of the Battle of Bunker Hill with sinister import,


when we speak


Anne Putnam, who, with


and mother, was

chiefly responsible for the

outbreak of witchcraft at Salem.

Mr. Masters tells us that this old house is his earliest memory. or has visualized a later knowledge. and a of Illinois. hoping by so doing to remove him forever from politics and . I do not know. Mr. one after another. Davis Masters. is of sitting in his mother's lap in a fence corner and watching windrows of corn-stalks ablaze. Some two years after his parents' return to Illinois. and he was often taken to her in his grandmother's arms.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 145 Where Mr. Davis Masters bought a farm for his son. but whether he really remembers this. a true agricultural pioneer. He wished him to be a farmer. by his father. much clearer one. Dim recollections of it rise in his"" mind from a time when he can scarcely be supposed to remember at all. He. the poet says that he never saw either of his maternal grand-parents. footsteps. An aunt of his was ill for seven years. as they were lit. it is impossible to say. looked somewhat askance at his son's passion for the law. Hardin Masters met his wife. had found prosperity in the rich farm lands and he wanted his son to follow in his For a time he prevailed. At any rate. Another recollection. He has a vision of a sofa upon which a woman is lying. and when the poet was a year old his parents left Garnet and returned to the homestead in Illinois. himself. Mr. possibly she was one of that series of New England school-mistresses who gave their lives to educate the West.

we can see what temperof men they were! As~they moved Westward. and he and his family moved to Petersburg. ing in the garden. middle-class folk. His grandfather's farm was only spent six miles from the town. Hardin Masters was paternal elected State Attorney. Moore and the boy read them all with the omnivorous appetite of youth. Masters began to go to school." first came. regulation. . their small and things they did in this carefully hoarded stock of books was packed with the household goods for reading during the long Winter evenings when there was nothing else to do. There were many books in "The Dark Ages" Scott. in the countries They were not peasants they from which but God-fearing. among others. brought up on the English Bible and "Pilgrim's Progress. a place which he had christened "The Dark Ages. riding horses. Dickens.146 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry But natural bents are often too strong for Mr. Tennyson. ." this The pioneers of country were anything but uneducated people. The facile amusements and the cheap printing of the present day are responsible for many things . and he workin old chests of much time there. fishing. When we remember that one of the - new country was to foundXcolIege. and burrowing books stored away in the garret. the deterioration of literary taste. Here it was that Edgar Lee the law. This early reading does more to form a — — writer's style than anything else in the world.

and had illness. not been for periodic boy would probably have life. taste. /With his particular characteristics. Masters should have come.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 147 matter how individual he may become. he made long visits there every Spring. and delicacy. these particular things have never been a part of schooling. As it was. however. contact with " the best that has been thought and said in the No world" gives him a command of language that later study can never bestow. and been cut off entirely from farm . little indeed. He needed clarity. his father the boy experienced his moved first to Lewiston. Before long. Masters says that his grandfather spoke "with a patriarchal eloquence at once in clear. He was not there long enough to acquire more than a slight reading acquaintance with the German language. the boy was taken from the public schools and sent for a short time to a private German school. it is certain that the Teutonic was the last influence under which Mr. speech and in upon the Bible. and none of these are and charming. radical change of atmosphere." and that "both writing he had formed himself German So traits. Mr. Masters' seem and to recognize his lack of them. attacks of Lewiston was the little fifty it miles from his grandfather's farm. vigorous. that he does not Mr. / In fact." When he was eleven years old. and certainly not long enough to gain /the Teutonic virtues of method and thoroughness.

but to the young Western woman it seemed like the very Elixir of Life. ajid he had almost learnt the. It was a rather washed-out and faded intellectual atmosphere. and St. with the activities of that group of New England women of which Louisa May Alcott was one. At first it was a desultory reading. printing for a time. So ardent was she in the cause that she succeeded in imbuing her pupils with the same ardour. there came to Lewiston as assistant to the Principal of the High School a certain Mary Fisher. Masters was about fourteen years old. When Mr. printer's trade before he was fourteen. had come in contact. writing also for the local papers.148 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry so constantly renewed his acquaintance with fields and woods. who in later life wrote some books of local fame. Peoria. he found the mechanical art of printing attractive. now he began to read in earnest. he graduated from the High School and took up. Like so many boys. At seventeen. essays. but during that year she planted tiieJoye__aL-Iitera£uie definitely in the heart of Edgar Lee Masters. - and short stories . through a friend. This lady. writing poetry. and the kindly activities of farm life. Before that. he had been a careless student. but three years later he suddenly braced himself for effort and worked hard to finish his High School course. corresponding for Chicago. Louis papers. and turned her interests definitely to literature. She was-iml^Jn Lewiston a year.

And this is particularly true of our is igh Schools. would not On general principles he was right. as his father had ied to snatch him from the law and turn him into a . this glitters .«n is seldom the portal to literature. Hardin—Masters regarded these literary with anything but a sympathetic eye. but "is~^ithoxit_cohesieai— 'Mr. An embryonic ithor had better spend his days in selling buttons tivities This ». To a certain extent. 149 fruit. Masters. own liter- example. foryfournal." as he called it. newspaper work. was Lie_o f like a Christmas tree. No such prophetic vision was vouchFollowing his fed to the clever lawyer so sure of his prominence the ther's 3 little growing town. fruit. senior. He was trying to snatch this son from ure and make a lawyer of him. and Edgar Masters' mind at this ncture was a lamentable jumble of smatterings. y It is hardly necessary here to recapitulate the uism that our educational systems in America do )t educate. )t A smattering of many subjects education. the poet_of to-day. he wished to rule the destinies of son. whose mental processes must not be interred with. know that he was dealing with genius. an in writing down to popular taste. that abortive which wrecks so many 5ver youths. hung with His mind bits of tinsel is unrelated splotches. / How could r.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg rAhe reading was bearing ithered before it is ripe.

but the gods have won the ultimate game. difficult to follow It two vocations at the same requires a doubly rounded talent.150 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry farmer. So Edgar Lee Masters started to read Blackstone and other law books. was an officer in the Russian navy. Mr. and a profound habit of concentration. has pursued ever since. apparently without detriment to either. without. Doubtless. . But the Masters family is a race of individthey must be what the gods decide. Now concentration is one of the chief things whidl American educational systems do not inculcate. Masters' note-books of this period show that he was £ui enthusiastic reader. At nineteen. One could go on for . long multiplying these examples. Henry Fielding was an eminent lawyer and judge Chaucer was a county magistrate Shakespeare was a hack playwright and actor in a stock company one Russian composer. Rimsky-Korsakov. but the soil had not > . giving up his reading in other fields and his constant scribbling. Mr. H^din Masters'was partly successful. ualists . . it is always time. was an eminent physician. Other artists have followed two professions. and author of a monumental work on chemistry another. for they have simply turned his desires to their own ends. director of a hospital. he was now well embarked on the dual career of letters and law which he . he took up the study of Latin. however. Borodine. but did not abandon his law in fact. .

then another. although a slow and meandering one. and regain the second. and if the direction at times seemed It that was illusion. First tions. Few people are bom with so decided a bent that they must pursue it without excursions hither and yon. . It stone wall. jump over a was lost. was a steady progress. such counsel and such experience? His teachers were almost as crude as himself. young man's mind was stored with But the facts settled into no systematic they connoted only themselves and not their — the tilled in places in a general scheme. to leave that again farther on. which the seed was dropped. with no wise and mellow guidance to keep a chosen It is end constantiy before him. with the experience of men who have gone But where was Edgar Lee Masters to find before. men who had mastered their subjects and that was all. inevitable. First one study at- tracted him. but a legal advice which gave no consideration to his literary aspiraHis early life is a record of waridering. only to cut across coun - —try-baclcToTHe^rst. but each for its own sake. hard for a young man to learn by himself. not for its bearing was followed upon the whole. Legal advice and experience he could get. Other systems than our American one temper knowledge with counsel. then hewould retraoeJiis steps and go down anotiier. ! 151 order.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg been properly Facts facts. he would tollow one road.

from his and engendered a questioning. then circumstances impelled him to seek his fortune The chief of these was the terrible in Chicago. Homer. Mr." him to Knox College Here he took up Greek. to the bar. Had Mr._ my imagina- A To poet teeds on beauty as a plant feeds on air. continued his Latin. and lured him along a path of unrelieved monotony. at that date. and also dipped into philosophy and criticism. Virgil.152 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry When Mr. and was admitted For a year he practised with his father. to grasp the epic meaning. they unrest. and resumed the German abandoned so many years before. carping habit of mind. Goethe. Masters been an English lad. see the beauty. a French. the literary impulse asserteditselt too strongly to be denied. At the end of one year. But how much of anything can one Probably the libraries did more learn in a year? his father consented to send for a year. Masters returned to Lewiston. monotony I have mentioned. for the poet than the class-rooms. of our small Western cities requires maturity and a life . But in the West. for he read the Greek dramatists. "the pathos of the country depressed tionin3eSCfi^blv. resumed his law studies. a German. In his own words. made They themselves chiefly evident set the poet apart by a vague fellows. and Masters was twenty-one. " . all these studies would probably have had constructive results. They set his feet on the road to adventure.

. penetrating sensibility. mean time. here. —L. . for music. with which he believed himself surrounded. vigour. could find them nowhere about him. means much to a poet. brutality." my first passion was Bums and afterwards .Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg spent in sympathetic observation. But it was In the such a thing could be. is ^ coarseness. the bitterness. / j What is strange about this. is too. the materialism. Shelley. that is. he has said "It was ifiusic running through ray brain. here compelling but of the subtle is forces of artistic balance. h as left its lasting mark upon The ugliness. is that while it circumstances were forcing him one way. vividness . beauty of fonn and syllable. however. for joy. there scarcely a trace.believe that this struggle poet. and Background and here there was no background. burnt into his perforce. this constant warring th e of a spirit in pain. suitable to the moment. ^ere is strength. but they are almost smothered under other things. have been soul. he thirsted for colour. cynicism originality. so that now he gives them out There are hints of beauty in his poems. 153 / ^*The poet must«a^ himself provide the touchstone which will fuse the crude elements into a plastic and symbolic whole/ The author of " Spoon_^iver " has cdnnrfgl^lv ttiarTanvot her living "37ears yeftefoiFe don e this more man. was if in quite another that he would have progressed could. he Speaking of what turned his thoughts to : poetry. (^^ggestion.

rondels. Triolets. rhythmical prose the best instrument to his purpose. tick. tick. I am inclined to doubt if his poetry would have the same stark reality were the form more mellifluous and suave. One can hardly figure that a statuette of a backwoodsman cut in jade would have a happy effect. tick. was portraying a pioneer civilization. but a poetaster true criticism.154 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry it. I at that time. PETIT. He knew what for it. Tick. but it is also a sign of genius to know what form intrinsically fits the subject in hand. his it. Whitman. he needed. I only say "perhaps. by the score with the same old thought The snows and the roses of yesterday si& vanished . too. longed for it hungered and because he did not get In his verse. THE POET Seeds in a dry pod. Masters has expressed this idea in a somewhat exaggerated manner in his " Petit." is The exaggeration lies in . rondeaus. Mr. almost rough. like mites in a quarrel — — * Faint iambics that the full breeze wakens But the pine Ballades tree makes a symphony thereof. the fact that Petit it is not a poet. poetry will probably always be without Is this a fault ? hardly think so. villanelles. and he found a free." for in is the hands of genius foma plastic . nevertheless. Possibly this is the reason that so many poets who have attempted to write of the West in the old forms have failed. tick. tick. the Poet.

Courage. Seeds in a dry pod. meadows. psychic states. — — and oh what patterns rivers Woodlands. vUlanelles. and it was to be more than Meanwhile." Four hundred poems before one is twenty-three is certainly a goodly count. / The poet had not found himself. tick.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg And what is 155 love but a rose that fades ? Life all around me here in the village : Tragedy. comedy. Tick. While Homer and Whitman roared in the pines ? At the time Mr. or interpret the moods produced by music. looking to Theocritus. More poems came vision. to quote their author once more. streams and Blind to all of it all my life long. These were. I wrote many sonnets and many : vague things in the music of Swinburne. Triolets. heroism. constancy. rondeaus. what little iambics. did so. tick. The idea was negligiI was working under the influence of Poe. rondels. Sometimes as but mostly as sound. of . Masters went to Chicago he had already written about four hundred poems. to nie as sounds. Keats sometimes as to nature poems. ble. attempts to reproduce music. •faifure to be what he desired threw him into a sort of He jwagjn rohellinn hpranse h% spiritual despair. valor and truth. this twenty years before he. tick. " the products of moods. tick. tick. Shelley. but/ike all the products ^ immature fecundity they were abortive. failure All in the loom.

in 191 1. Masters back law with an increased . what was and writing is not well paid until one has already made a success at it. he selected some sixty poems out of his four hundred and published them through the firm of Way and Williams in Chicago. he wrote a blank verse play on Benedict Arnold. which added the gall of irony to an already failing at the embittered situation. to pursue his literary studies without He wanted to be ? a writer. to control his career. after live. and. there in writing He must all. to finish his college course. He was write. a lawyer. and their complete failure served to throw Mr. they did not deserve interest.156 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry had not been able interruption. In 1895. . Meanwhile. this time. The campaign of 1896 stirred him deeply the campaign of 1900 had a still greater effect. but. it. he could practise law and still He could pursue two careers. constantly chafing at the one which supported him. About . constantly one upon which his heart was set. and. in 1898. working with unsparing industry. Truth to on his tell. the law upheld him and he prospered at it. the poet married. He and could be a good lawyer he was a good lawyer for a time he put all his energies into that scale. he published a* volume of political essays. . Neither the poems nor the play attracted any attention. and shortly after entered the political cu-ena.

to order. a world of experiments and change. published dity. It is cruel to have to admit that these set-backs were Mr. the chaos about him." decided his him to try hand at prose drama. he gave to his environment. in verse. Certainly. respectively. hoping by their production to make enough money to settle down and devote himself entirely to literature. they first chastise. floated hither and hard ground of For want of a better resting place they stuck there and gradually the poet's head lifted above the waters. he had printed another play "Maximilian. his feet striking only the politics and law as a support. He had no t found himself. set himself to solidM. under pseudonyms in 1905. gradually he came to himself." which. love of literature was not dead. with his usual fecun- he promptly wrote eight prose plays. whom the gods love. But none of the eight succeeded in winning a hearing. Masters' fault as well as his misfortune. and 1912. drifted. and so standing. returned. Also. uncriticy temper of his mind. .iy. three little volumes of poems. merely In 1902. met with no better reception. and.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 157 But the overlaid. They were the result of the unrelated. 1910. a world of flux and recoil. A poet's method of ordering a thing is to throw a thither. having no better success than "Benedict Arnold. had not realized wherein lay his re al power. Seeing" a world before him in which no single thing had hardened to a certainty.

ramng. through early associations. Mr. strong light upon To fling it into relief. he nevertheless ardently desir es one. his writing was negligible. a poet bent upon revaluing the civiliza- which he finds himself. and to a certain extent the thoughts. has no stronger weapon than this glare of vivid words. he has bee n caught in th e sociotion in logical ot wave whicIThas been sweeping over the world Without any definite idea oFhow a late years.158 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry it. Masters continued to imitate the forms. While Mr. Masters is in too great a haste to see. so that. through his ters. Masters is a revolu tionary poet. sym ^ little town s. ished it may be attacked and altere^or cher- and protected. He has infinite . of the older poets. this Mr. is better state of things to be brought about. and if it sometimes has the opposite effect of ennobling them. he seemed unable But to express even a small part of what was in him. as the case may h&^K revolu- tionary poet. through his law practice. Masters' literary one long record of indomitable political And all the time. he sees things broadly. encoun- he was laying aside the material out of which work was to be fashioned. Mr. flatTy^hiif hp yps tViPim w'th extraord inary precisidnand clarity ity/ Constantly pluck. being seen. his real . life is ^ l l i y foi <4TPT?arrif^d 7monotonous lives of uglv con stantly persisting. His is not a vision to note nuances. misery can cramp souls as well as bodies. /But he sees them through a bitter mist.

of Chicago. a poet and a writer on art. 1912. Inis doubtful if poetical experimenters ever bring their experiments to the finest flowering. Verse. merely adapting them slightly to ease the thought they are to contain. but the ultimate beauty of aim lies in other hands. and Miss Monroe's undaunted enthusiasm promptly secured a list of guarantors. conceived the idea of starting a poetry magazine. Miss Monroe's object into being. and the whole new movement with which we are dealing in this . and a fund was raised to endow such a periodical for five years. Faith will move mountains. This fact is no aspersion on a poet's deed. and so "Poetry.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg a release was those poets in sight. unhampered by the damp blanket of obscurity. It was to be a forum in which youth could thrash out its ideas. btit very lished. genius. The first number was issued in October. a cultivated woman. to open the give a was to door to sincere experimenters. In 191 1. A Magazine of. hearing to young poets. The vers libre movement was then in its infancy a number of poets were experimenting with this form. little that they did had yet been pubestablished The older magazines always look askance upon anything new. Miss Harriet Monroe. 159 Mr." came From the ^rst. and succeed or fail according to its deserts. it Shakespeare belonged to this class. Masters belongs among who take their forms ready made. They their widen possibilities.

Substance he had never lacked. Poets are not sporadic outbursts. The . The same causes which produced the poets. fitting his substance to these short." In fact. possibly he took . they gave him the clue to just what he needed freedom from the too patterned effects of rhyme and metre. and Mr. but makes Miss Monroe's magazine all the more impor" Poetry" did not bring about the movement. go into this subject more at length in the next essay on the Imagists. brevity. Here I only wish to I shall point out that "Poetry" published many vers litre poems during the its existence. What suggested the idea of the anthology. they are the results of obscure causes. produced Miss Monroe and her magazine. it happened on a lucky wave of time. Such a form seemed absolutely made for his purpose.i6o Tendencies in Modern American Poetry for years beneath the surface its book was seething There it is before such periodicals took cognizance of being. I do from the "Greek Anthology" I shall show later how analogous much of "Spoon River" is to that famous volume. But it undoubtedly did bring the movement to recognition some years earlier than would otherwise have tant. was these poems which opened for him the way to "Spoon River. nothing unusual in such a state of things. and conciseness. it not know. been the case. that is all. sharp lines gave him a perfect infirst years of it Masters has often said that — strument.

Masters was hailed as the successor to Walt Whitman. vigorous note in them. as the author chooses. Now.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg i6i idea of epitaphs grew naturally out of the succinct brevity of the form. a few in each number. and is in this very brevity Mr. Masters has found his happiest expression. Mr. much in little. William Marion Reedy. For a whole year he published them. earlier pieces. The editor. in 1914. . Masters had been sending " Mirror. Of course. it may or may not be. entitled "The Spoon River Anthology. But the first poems in this form published by "Poetry" happened to be so. I fear he would have wrecked "Spoon River" at the start. Mr. Masters collected them in a volume." which was published by The Macmillan Company in The furore with which the book was April. Masters. 1915. and that was fortunate for Mr. Mr. Mr. received is unprecedented in the annals of American poetry. as the creator of a purely At the end of the year. Reedy's to many he sent a batch of these new attempts. a vers libre poem not necessarily short. at once detected the rugged. but none of them has attained the rounded strength of the shorter. It went into edition after edition in a few months. For work years. and with each number they attracted more and more attention. Had he attempted long poems in this medium in the beginning. He has written many long vers libre poems sinCe. Louis." St.

How many names Balzac invented. instead are Hannah Armstrong. When I add that there are two _hundred_and_fQiirteen of these people. completely local. pmnTteTumself no subterfuges with He throws no glamour over his creations. Archibald Higbie. and each speaking the truth.1 62 Tendencies in verse. The mere inventing of two hundred and fourteen names is a staggering feat. Zenas Witt. Oaks Tutt. or Scott. Masters' two hundred and fourteen were all col. They are uncompromisine in their hard. or Moliere. lected in one year. Bert Killion. Reuben Pantier. and the real cause of his death. George Trimble. but the work of these men extended over a lifetime Mr. It is said that Hanover. American all Fame had come after the years in which the poet had assiduously courted her. or Shakespeare. Albert Schirding. The realism ters quality of the book already stands revealed in these . Illinois. Or rather. What are these names? . Masfact. epitaphs in the cemetery of this town. no Bokardos. it is as if its dead denizens arose. cr ude. and a host of others. perforce. Faith Matheny. revealed his it own life exactly as had been. we can see what a colossal study of character the book is. Jennie M'Grew. names. served The poems ^re supposed to be the as its prototype. We hear of noFlammondes. Spoon River purports to be a small town in the Middle West. I have not an idea. Modern American Poetry at last. Mr.

view. or Theocritus without Sicily I ? dwelt upon this at some length when we were But dealing with the New England of Mr. therefore./ John M. Mr. Frost. as said before. . not dis- one. belongs to the "new movement". Masters is not only that they write about different parts of it is the country. at once. "Yee Bow. We in do not find German. but next to that. undiluted. Mr. some are of clearly origin. . tells an at least distinctly cosmopolitan is another. Mr. if German. "Russian Sonia. Frost and Mr. Frost records with quiet sympathy. true. Frost's work gives us the effect of a stage of the to the secohd. strong enough to have sustained him and what would Burns have been without Scotland. Frost is resigned. but without tang his imagination would not have been . in Mr. the difference between Mr. Synge combines it is two to a remarkable this local extent." tinctly national. French. smilingly thinking resistance futile Mrv Masters resists with every fibre of his being. Chinese names Here. the most satisfy- ing is the one which holds within it the pungency of the place. piquant realism of locality /The highest art isO flights undeniably that which comprises the farthest of imagination. Masters Mr. Mr." as obviously Chinese. we are confronted with the .Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 163 Some are Anglo-Saxon. Masters is mordant and denunciatory. the table of contents. Frost's books. Frost. first a profound divergence of points of I Mr.

Other authors have given us characters. We see the life from this or that angle. fine The teacher. and as the charac- ters multiply. None are forced back to give others prominence. fine without being at the same time foolish.) No idea of its breadth and variety can be gained from fragmentary quotafrom the tions. We have only a town and the people who inhabit it. and the fourth of the school-teacher who taught the son. But in most books we have a set of primary and the others are forced more or less into the background by the exigencies of the case. constant withdrawal Mr. (Always excepting the final poem. . but all together make the ters. other authors have given us cross-sections of a com- munity. Masters' of a constan t pushing forward.164 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry . it get entire. Emily Sparks. Here are four poems. Each poem is a character.__ '*SpoonRiver " is a volume which should be read first page to the last." there are no primary charac- no secondary characters. and should never have been included. which fits but slightly into the general scheme. is one of the few characters in the book. The Chinese laundry-man is as important to himself as the State's Attorney is to himself. we do not characters. "The Spooniad." a dreary effusion. Three are of a family. town. In "Spoon River. the whole town is gradually built up before us.

BENJAMIN PANTIER I know that he told that I snared his soul to death. office. Then Till I. the rhjdihm of Wordsworth's "Ode" till runs in your ears. Passing one by one out of Ufe. lay broken. solace and friend. And the only man with whom the law and morality Permit you to have the marital relation . children. his dog. mad world MRS. and have delicate tastes.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 165 BENJAMIN PANTIER Together in this grave lie Benjamin Pantier. snared my soul With a snare which bled me once strong of will. why should the spirit of mortal be proud?" And then. indifferent. she. suppose You are a woman well endowed. left me till I was alone With Nig for partner. to death. In the morning of Ufe knew aspiration and saw glory. who survives me. With a snare which bled him And all the men loved him. bed-fellow. Down the gray road. And And loathe the smell of whiskey and onions. constant companion. Living with Nig in a room back of a dingy Under my jaw-bone is is snuggled the bony nose of Nig — Our story lost in silence. I comrade in drink. And most of the women pitied But suppose you him. attorney at law. men and women. friends. are really a lady. And Nig. Go by. While he goes about from morning Repeating bits of that night common thing "Oh.

And the black-eyed cocotte took the tears for hers. In the days when you taught me in Spoon River. in a room in the Rue de was drinking wine with a black-eyed the tears cocotte. owe whatever I was in life To your hope that would not give me up. nor write me letters. Your love was not I all in vain.1 66 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry very Is the man that fills you with disgust Every time you think Every time you That's see of it — while you think of home it him ? why I drove him away from To live with his dog in a dingy room Back of his oflice. . known Rivoli. I pass the effect of my father and mother made me trouble The mUliner's daughter And out I went I in the world. And swam into my eyes. your prayers were not wasted. Emily Sparks. Nor pray me. Of wine and women and joy One I night. REUBEN PANTIER Well. me. To your love that saw me stUl as good. She thought they were amorous tears and smiled For thought of her conquest over But my soul was just because for three thousand miles away. let me tell you the story. Dear Emily Sparks. eternal silence of you spoke instead. "Where passed through every peril of life. And The you no more could love me.

know my boy aright. for whom I prayed and prayed In many a watchful hour at night. nothiag but Ught . Who made Did I them all my children. the old maid. That aU the clay of you. Mr. the virgin heart. from that hour. boy. your soul's sake. my boy — I In what far part of the world ? The boy I. boy. May yield to TiU the fire is the of you. loved the best of all in the school ? — the teacher. ! .Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg As well as the deceiving kisses I gave her. Do you remember the letter I wrote you Of the beautiful love of Christ ? it And whether you Work for ever took or not. My boy. Thinking of him as spirit aflame. Masters rnnstantlv shows up the ironv hypocnsj'^sjn- of . ever aspiring ? Oh. I 167 Somehow. Dear Emily Sparks had a new vision — EMILY SPARKS Where is my boy. wherever you are. Active. . Nothing but light Nowhere in the book is the wearing of one character upon another better described than in those four poems. fire aU the dross of you.

Mr. me who had already given much. To the village And think you I did not know ! — That the pipe-organ. entered the cage and began to beat Brutus And Leo and Gypsy. time. is all is implied SAM HOOKEY I ran away from home with the circus. only rarely does he perceive the force of suggestion. but ruined me.1 68 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry NICHOLAS BINDLE Were you not ashamed. ? Who broke the bank and for the first Worshipped time after his acquittal But there is another kind of irony. to the poor. When my estate was probated and everyone knew left ? How small a fortune I — You who hounded me in life. give to the churches. Little said . fellow citizens. more penetrating. The One I lion tamer. Having fallen in love with Mademoiselle Estralada. Hookey. To give. Whereupon Brutus sprang upon me. . give. having starved the lions For more than a day. which Played its I gave to the church. christening songs all when Deacon Rhodes. more subtle. Masters seldom attains to it." suggestion is beautifully handled. as a rule he But in "Sam is downright and static.

This same approach of Fate in a higher sphere. In them. sees life from the standpoint of the condensed to its The material which the novelist spreads out and amplifies is essence in these vignettes of a few lines. On entering these I 169 regions met a shadow who cursed me. said it And It served me right .Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg And killed me. and the inevitable approach ofTnexoraBIeTatel COONEY POTTER I inherited forty acres And. was Robespierre It is true. as has been said. to say Squire Higbee wrongs me That I died from smoking Red Eagle cigars. my wife. acres. acres. my daughters. . my two sons I and two daughters From dawn to dusk. Mr. appears in "George Gray" . my sons. Toiling. acquired A thousand I But not content. Masters gives us background. by working from my Father my wife. character. . denying myself. Masters novelist. Eating hot pie and gulping coffee During the scorching hours of harvest time Brought me here ere I had reached my sixtieth year. that Mr. a mental rather than a physical tragedy. Wishing to own two thousand bustled through the years with axe and plow.

A. And now I know that we must lift And catch the winds of destiny Wherever they drive the boat. has well. . In many a crusade to purge the people of sin Why do you let the milliner's daughter Dora. Who closed the saloons and stopped playing at cards. but dreaded the chances. To put meaning But Of life in one's life is may end in madness. The humour of juxtaposition is Mr. it must hp aHmittpH^ hnt g'tiU the quality is there. pictures not ray destination But my life. humour of a kind. if sardonically. And haled old Daisy Eraser before Justice Amett. If BLOOD my work was all you in the village think that a good one. but I I was afraid Ambition called to me. Mastgrs handled in this little sketch.170 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry GEORGE GRAY I have studied many times chiseled for The marble which was me — A boat with In truth it a furled sail at rest in a harbor. For love was offered me and Sorrow knocked at I shrank from its disillusionment my door. without meaning the torture restlessness and vague desire — It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid. a robust and rat her brutal kind. D. Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in the saU my Hfe.

— was of the water mill before Henry Wilking put of her finished in steam) The feeling that I was not worthy me. Then.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg And the worthless son of Benjamin Pantier. ran for County Superintendent of Schools. Blest as he was with the means of life And If wonderful children. Or one my . could have married a decent man. And I thus to win my children's admiration. leaving I raised Who flew away me A crow on the abandoned bough. my daughter received first prize in Paris "The Old Mill" For her (It picture. a brood of eagles at last. i^"" JONAS KEENE Schirding kiU himself Why did Albert Trying to be County Superintendent of Schools. bringing him honor Ere he was sixty ? even one of of my girls boys could have run a news-stand. Spending That fall my accumulations to win — and lost. with the ambition to prefix Honorable to my name. entitled. 171 Nightly make my grave their unholy pillow ? Here is another juxtaposition spread over two poems : ALBERT SCHIRDING Jonas Keene thought his lot a hard one failures. Because his children were aU But For I know of a fate more trying than that It is to be a failure while your children are successes.

172 I Tendencies in Modern American Poetry should not have walked in the rain into And jumped bed with clothes all wet. turning me on my throat. and years passed. The following studies are tragedy looking out through a horrible. Blue-eyed. being childless. grinning mask ELSA I WERTMAN strong. And And I cried for I cried and my secret began to show. — was cr3ring Gus Wertman. And all went well and the child was bom Later I married — They were so kind to me. rosy. would adopt it. my head. No ! wanted to say son ! That's my That's my son . And would make no And. Greene said she understood. was a peasant girl from Geimany. trouble for me. happy and And the first place I worked was at Thomas On a summer's day when she was away He stole into the kitchen and took me Right in his arms and kissed I Greene's. (He had given her a farm to be still. Refusing medical aid. But — at I political rallies when sitters-by thought I At the eloquence of Hamilton Greene That was not it.) So she hid in the house and sent out rumors. As if it were going to happen to her. Then neither of us what would become of me cried as Seemed to know what happened. One day Mrs.

To them I owe aU that I became. Bom in a shanty and beginning life As a water carrier to the section hands. Judge. with all his sociological tendencies. Of valiant and honorable blood both. Was In second to none in Spoon River my devotion to the Cause of Liberty ? While my contemporary.do. Masters. them I judgment. member of Congress. does not deify the working-man as Mr. There is much painful truth in this picture. Then becoming a section hand when he was grown. language my father will. who inherited riches and was to the manner bom. JOHN HANCOCK OTIS to democracy.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 173 HAMILTON GREENE I was the only child of Frances Harris of Virginia of And Thomas Greene Kentucky. Anthony Findlay. All honor to For what service was to the people Mr. Vivacity. . fancy. fellow citizens. He sees life uTtotrroiinded a compass for that. leader From my mother I inherited From in the State. As Are you not prepared to admit That I. Sandburg and many other sociological poets . logic. and the last two lines may well become a proverb .

lows crime. D. untamed. Masters is more preoccupied with sex than any other English or American author has ever been<_ and in a different way. sex for Jhe see life through the most part cruel. sex is treated as a burgeonlife. Lawrence. a bitter I enemy of democracy.174 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Afterwards foreman of the gang. Grinding the faces of labor. perverted. many them are the terrible. Mr. Living in Chicago. ing of the mental and physical it he throws over the transparent and glittering cloak of joy. to you. and most of them of an extreme violence and sordidness^ _ Some are crimes of ambition. say to you. I likened him to Strindberg Both at the beginning of this chapter advisedly. but in his work of there is a certain rapture. is also greatly preoccupied with sex. if life tales. until he rose To the superintendency of the railroad. tragic. H. Crirne fol- why everyone does not commit suicide. Was And And And a veritable slave driver. But the pages of Mr. meaningless crimes which monotojay breeds. medium of and sex. in our little So brutal that one wonWestern cities is as bad as this. Mr. The English poet and novelist. republic. Masters and August Strindberg. jmost of them are crimes of sex. Spoon River. . These are strange ders. of the Beware man who rises to power From one suspender.

Spoon River" blot one long chronicle of rapes. yAlso. and erotically then rejected by a excellent sane world and relegated to the nefarious collections the minded. which distorts an otherwise remarkable picture. . colourless. over-insistence ! commit Life this blunder. The treatment and we have the poet of is of sex is one of the most insidious .sjons. work. work of so much a step the other.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg read sexual like 175 extracts is from the Newgate Calendar. . the professed realist^ are apt to forget that ^ a perception of beauty. an aspiration after fineness and nobleness. and the is a nine days wonder. lifeless . coarse and J' Everything that life is revolting is in the here. But raw life is not must be fused and transmuted. Masters' an obliquity of vision. to become art. if it had not been for these glimpses of the poetry of To make all such aspirations end in existence. How many books of a past age are neglected because of this upon se'x The plays of Congreve would be as well known as those of Sheridan were It is slow suicide for an author to it not for this. are also real. it art . self-killed from despair. liaisons. a morbidness of mind./ Mankind would have perished long ago. It It is is the great and perverupon Mr. is the material of art. disillusion and death is to have a twisted point of idealism. seductions. dangers in the career of an artist of the Victorian period a step one way.

one momentous in its effect. and one teeming with lite. his is a crowded canvas. Perhaps our entrance into the Great War may prove just the experience the poet needs. Mr. Undoubtedly this element added to the immediate "Spoon River. Tendencies in Modern American Poetry It cannot be denied even by Mr. Indeed. Masters had had the good fortune to be bom in a great period. notoriety of He raises local politics to the realm of a world force. the period of the Civil War. . with and courage. if its sensuality were not counteracted by other and great qualities. Within certain limits. or the Napoleonic Era. his vitality all his jnost convinced admirers that. Masters' all. and Mr. or Europe at the present time.176 view. The squabbles in the County Court House take on an epic fire. with wealth of experience and is vividness of presentation. Masters would in no sense rank as the poet he does. "Spoon River" might be called an epic of everyday life. One feels that if Mr. This would certainly be the case were America nearer to the firing line. let us say. Masters has an f^x^ ^ traordinary range of vision. It seems as though no living man would be more keenly sensitive to the shock and change which the war must inevitably bring upon But it will be for later critics to record his us. he would have known how to give it due significance. his point of view often tolured^-and needlessly sensual and cruel. Granted the limits." But the book would not be worth commenting upon.

That a more balanced and homogeneous life is even now in process of formation. What he sees fit is that old shibboleths no longer hold. and its delectable warmth. as I said before. done. it has ceased to be a sure protection from the cold. that personality being at variance with results in is official life a painful chafing. One might illustrate by supposing a boy to ceive the gift of a jacket. his . His attitude of mind of the pain. that thought in America is in advance of custom. while other poets are already concerned with the ideas of to-morrow. forces are at is the attitude of to-day. fortable re- At first it is wholly comand easy and a joy to its possessor. in that moment. but without any definite idea of what such change Anglo-Saxon is to bring about. and racial population. 177 Writing at the beginning already we can only note what he has his misfortune that is. of this period. that an exclusive civilization does not our multi- That our institutions and our social fabric frequently jar upon our sensibilities. But before long the stuf? shows signs of wear. What he does not see that while he and his school are chiefly conscious work beneath the surface which are already bearing the fruit of a new order. apparent pause. And. his part has been that of questioner a — revolutionary.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg reactions to this upheaval. and it is he has lived at a moment of pause. he takes pleasure in its neat cut. that when the meanings of change are hidden. a man who urges his world on to change.

and as he goes about his business. but the tragedy of circumstance nobly faced.178 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry growth has made it somewhat too small. of joy denied and yet abundantly received DOC HILL I went up and down the streets Here and there by day and night. One. however. " Emily Sparks. This is real tragedy. Once he has divested himself of it. he is free again. Through all hours of the night caring for the poor who were sick. not the tragedy of sordid giving way to inclination. he is constantly aware of it because of a continual cramping. BtrrrTwouId be untair to its author not to remark the occasional bursts of tenderness throughout the book. who supply the imagination. It is the poets. and so gradually bring about a new condition. it always has been the poets. the tragedy of success out pf failure. he gives little or no thought to the cast-off garment lying in a corner. "Spoon River^' undoub tedly errs on the side of a too great preoccupation with crime and disease. We cling to the old jackets because we have not imagination enough to conceive that there may be new ones. It catches him when he stretches out his arm. Do you know why? ." I have already quoted. But there is another which is to me the most beautiful and most tragic poem in the volume. it constricts his chest when he tries to button it.

. Technically. And hear them murmur But oh. the marshal. When Logan. And yet I was going peacefully home. halted me. The poems are in vers libre. a little drunk. the poems in "Spoon River" show Mr. liiilljjrj_iJ" iiilly~tiT them a certain elementaiyseric SometimesjhgyidittSji^er)'^ s lightly-from the rhythms of prose. Mastr r"' rhjrthmi tirr 'liimiltn. Here are some lines taken at random They would have Ijmched me Had I not been secretly hurried away To the jail at Peoria. of my funeral." which is hardly worth considering from any point of view. my son went to the dogs. tiiiil not very subtle. Hiding herself. their love and sorrow. suffice it here to repeat the often repeated characterization of based upon cadence. Carrying my jug. always excepting "The Spooniad.lL it as "a verse-form Mr.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 179 My wife hated me. a form which I shall consider more carefully in the next chapter. And I turned to the people and poured out it Sweet was to see the crowds about the lawns on the day my love to them. : my soul trembled new life scarcely able To hold to the railing of the When I saw Em Stanton behind the oak tree and her grief At the grave. Masters' work at its best. but they do differ. dear God.

" Mr. on the contrary. Frost points his realism with many lyric bursts. not the antagonist of realism. the marshal. by comparing these two versions. is no lyrist. Robinson for his idea of these short sketches of men's lives. When It was held up by Logan. Masters. Lyricism contrary. Masters' lines have. Robinson's poetry. Masters' equipment. excellent Is what rhythm Mr. / Neither the lyricism of sound lior vision are a part of Mr.l8o Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Now suppose these lines had been written They would have lynched me. Masters had not read a line of Mr. If I had not been hurried off before anyone knew And And lodged at once in the Peoria yet I was going jail. Nor do we find many passages which. As a matter of fact. in a few words. can be seen. Masters was indebted to Mr. I know it to be true that. which in his best passages mounts to a certain grandeur. it is strange to find how seldom he even attempts such effects. home quite peacefully With my jug. it the enforcer and brightener of Mr. show us the beauty of nature. is On the it. I possibly a httle bit drunk. Mr. Considering his early love for the music of English verse. at the time he wrote "Spoon River. I mentioned in the chapter on Edwin Arlington Robinson that it had been stated that Mr./ What he excels in is direct and forceful statement. It is only the most superficial .

the Court House. Spoon is River.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg observer i8i who could ever have supposed one to be derived from the other. It is a symbol of certain states but we do not see it. ears. It is not only that Mr. His people are interesting to him Llieir because of reactions — thought-processes. on the other hand. — so Spoon River eyes. Masters . elementary and crude. hands. The Tilbury Town of Mr. the poet has set down on His people are fiat planes. except where his dramatis persona chiefly impinges personality. Indeed. the shops. Masters reveals the characthrough their is. We can see the cemetery. but it is usually the doing which paper. he splits emotions splits - and su b- them. hair. feel it. the railroad station. the it environ- ment upon ter of is frequently misty. Robinson^n3ly7:ps thp psyrhnlngy nf hia rhararters to the minutest fra ction. Just as a person parts — a whole to us although made up nose. The whole scheme upon which the two poets work is utterly different. the outcome of what they think. or as psychic to environment. actions. Robinson and Mr. is a whole. although constructed out of the life-histories of two hundred and fourteen of its citizens. What they do of course. almost with our physical eyes. carved on broad. grapfn'ralij^_a_pffirp. etc. Mr. We fact. Mr. Robinson's books belongs more to the realm of mental phenomena than to actual of mind. the various churches. indubitably and geoit — Wc of know cvou better than is we doTtsinhabitants.

hard. man tor- wanders to the other. that prototype in some of the poems in the "Greek Anthology. man is a part. Mas- irony . unyielding substance. recalls ters' in my honour much of Mr. Another. by Meleager. an absolutely it is different technique. but of To one. of a huge. ideas. too. or a voice from the tomb If can best be found traveller. I Even when dead Worthy 1 am children of lamentations. have left children's And have enjoyed one Three children have I wife Of equal age with myself. held in my lap many times. differ. usually a tured part.1 82 Tendencies in different Modern American Poetry employ a method of approach. It. Nor have I had occasion to lament The illness or death of one of them. Mr. listen as you pass by Blame not my monument. Masters has a prototype. fact the vague essence through which the soul of . is that fundamentally their life. But they have poured out their libation And met no harm And have sent me on my way To the land of the blessed To sleep sweet sleep. the unalterable actuality of the world he inhabits. not only of art. is an epitaph." This one by Carphylides is in the very spirit of some of the "Spoon River" poems.

heaped one upon another. humanity varies very It is just this — . taken each one for itself. While Orion and the stars were Have done me a hurt And I. And night and the billows.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 183 A gale blowing from the East. this verse was at last absolutely of America. It has been insisted over and over again. revealing themselves to us with all their foibles and weaknesses. . invisible. we have a true Indeed. have sUpt out of life While passing through the Lybian Sea And tost about in the deep. It is never the individual characters . and their occasional grandeur. last line is extraordinarily like That ages.If. over-bitterness. with beating hearts and throbbing brains. oversensuality. since the publication of "Spoon River. Masters." that here was the great American poet. _ But the tombstone here tells a lie. little throughout the which makes "Spoon River" so remarkable ij:s humanity These are not artificial personages. these two hundred men and women. ' 'Z-' picture. /hey are real flesh and blood. that not since Whitman had anything . whd are false to type it is only in the aggregate that too great preponderance of the balance is lost by a one sort of person. have become food for the fishes. Rough and calamity-bringing. KaUaischros. this monument of mid-Western American life errs on the side of over-sordidness. Mr.

Masters when. The poets of the New Movement are all intensely . to his birthright because he published "Empedocles on Etna" ? How foolish this point of'view is when ^ so stated. One would suppose that the myths of Ancient Greece were (if any things are) does.-Masters is American b e^a"gp he is of the J ones. no matter what subjects stimulate his imagination. — may Was very pertinently be asked here. The importance of "Spoon River" can hardly be overstated. Masters' work is thoroughly local. /Nationality is it permeates all a man says and it. is not to deny the same quality to work of quite a different kind. Truth to tell. because Mr./ He cannot escape proof against the subtle transforming of national temper. that arch-Englishman. Was Shakefalse speare less English because he wrote "Hamlet"? Matthew Arnold. is so sublfle a thing that apparent at a glance. Was Poe less American than Whitman ? is a question which . he does not. but not because he deals exclusively with American subjects. as we shall see Hawthorne.184 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry so national appeared in print. Mr. as our clear blue skies. and its dominant Americanism is without doubt a prime factor in that importance but. we consider his later books. in a moment. and yet look of how they change in the hands is a thoroughly American poet. Mr. and__blood rinrl Bp irit nf Am^rfraT His . N o. — tbou^vtJs-Ameriraa^^Jiis reac tions are-as-national .

he becomes blatant. So this Lincoln. Henri de R6gnier.) It is therefore to Lincoln that our poets turn as an embodiment of the highest form of the typical American. . their But people differ in way of it. show how a poet in the third In Mr. feeling for Washington at all. When Mr. stage deals with him. new movement shall dealt with Lincoln in the next chapter. followers of an English tradition. as I have already pointed what the older generation were. out of passion. We this have seen how a poet I in the first stages of .Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg national out. Robinson's poem. Masters intensely moved. and are proud of being her sons. it comes on a swirl Americanism of his is a very obvious thing. Washington and Lincoln are the two great symBu^to deal adequately with bols of American life. is a Frenchman. and he has done it in prose. They love their country. it is Some men never speak of others a constant influence shout is to the house-tops. showing although it affection. which few of our poets yet (The only man I know who has given this possess. It is a sort of leit-motif appearing again and again. The symbol of this Americanfsm is the figure of He keeps nothing to himself. Washington needs a historical senseya knowledge of the eighteenth century. he . the fine flower and culmination of our life as a separate nation. and preferably on the trumpets. 185 they are not.

slightly conventionalized. typifies a national aspiration. he is raised almost to the rank of pure symbol. who died before they could be married. but Ann Rutledge. with of me the forgiveness of millions toward millions." a very beautiful touch. It is the epitaph of the girl whom Lincoln loved. Masters' characters. -Hs^£ and a little remote and cold witha^ in Mr. who. Wedded Bloom to him. separation. am Ann Rutledge who sleep beneath these weeds.^art symbol. nor flung by a powerful imagination There is into the realm of legend. Lincoln is a man first of all. part man. But through for ever. not through union. it is always as a man. although only a collateral one. He is conceived as boldly. From the dust of my bosom . Fletcher's poem. ANN RUTLEDGE Out The Out of me unworthy and unknown charity for all. but a man . neither conventionalized by tradition. and although venerated and loved with unchanging ardour. as any other of Mr. as surely. in his actual life. one little touch of Lincoln in "Spoon River. with as elusive and pervading as a brooding god Mr.1 86 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry „. Masters." vibrations of deathless music "With malice toward none. life Beloved in of Abraham Lincoln. And I the beneficent face of a nation Shining with justice and truth. O Republic.

snows which pass over tawny hills. That one stanza verse at that. new volume of poems." It 187 "The Spoon "Songs and in this River Anthology.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg Just one year after the publication of Masters' pen. for it seems inconceivable that the author of the "Spoon River" poems could afterwards perpetrate such a banality as the following stark." appeared another book from Mr. vigorous WHEN UNDER THE When The swallow ICY EAVES under the icy eaves heralds the sun. has been hinted that many of the poems volume are reprinted from those earlier books which have slipt into oblivion. . young lambs at swallows who herald the sun. a Satires. And the strength of the thin snows pass In the mists o'er the tawny hill — The spirit of life awakes In the fresh flags by the lakes. grieving for their lost mates. an epitome of the magazine and not very good magazine all Here are the old clicMs : doves play. is verse of the 'eighties. And the blustering winds are still. even the spirit of It would life awaking by a lake bordered with flags. winds that bluster. And the dove for its lost mate grieves And the young lambs play and run When the sea is a plane of grass. One would prefer to hope so.

however. lyric.1 88 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry be difficult for one stanza to be a more complete it is illus- tration of the old poetical jargon than that. but as a serious and beautiful It gives us more than an ters' insight into the reasons for Mr. . however. like It reads a parody. from the "Ballad of Launcelot and Sir Launcelot Elaine": Then uprose brave And there did mount his steed. Mas- early failures. There are a number of weak lyrics scattered through the book." in which the treatment does nothing to add freshness to the themes. Masters It can do other than deplore. would be unfair to the volume. And hastened to a pleasant town That stood in knightly need. which no admirer of Mr. And there are narrative poems on such hackneyed subjects as "Helen of Troy" and "Launcelot and Elaine. yet not intended as a parody. Or this other. to give the impression that all the poems are as bad as this. This stanza from "Helen of Troy" will illustrate what I mean We would behold fresh Where summer never skies dies And amaranths spring Lands where the halcyon hours Nest over scented bowers On folded wing.

" "'So We Grew To- gether. old pictures. off she tore jewels.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 189 There are ghastly attempts at an old English dicWe have "trees of spicery. And all her sunny hair lay free celandine. in "St. quite beautiful. Francis and Lady Clare" tunes. : Candles of wax she lit before floor A pier glass standing from the Up to the ceiling." yMr." That Mr. Masters is seldom original when he writes in regular forms/ It seems as though some obscure tion in this poem. Her arms were white as ivory. As marigold or What makes poems like the book such a jumble is that these ancient ditties are interspersed with perfectly modern "The Cocked Hat. old Sometimes the result is a parody of the verse of the past sometimes it is only a copy." "morn's underne. then With eager hands her The silken vesture which she wore." . what is strange is that he should have considered them worth resurrecting after he had written "Spoon River." and the underworld studies: "Arabel. instinct of relation set his mind echoing with . For instance. were it only his own.'" "All Life in a Life. old words." and "Jim and Arabel's Sister. Masters should have written these poems among his early four hundred is not strange. Her little breasts so round to see Were budded like the peony." "spake with a dreary steven.

make known how swift the river's current. THE LOOP From State street bridge a snow-white glimpse of sea river walled in Beyond the by red buildings. They are in a few words. in these modern poems. either in vigour or analysis. . no unforgettable picture imposed upon the mind these poem enumerates long catalogues of objects. nor relation. sufficed. Out of the north sky blows a cutting wind. But there is no quick flash of vision here.' he takes nine pages where in "Spoon River" one would have length. "torrent. and him much and won him nothing. poem is marred by such false rhymes as "current" and lists. colour. "The Loop" is a descriptive sketch of the heart of Chicago. They have neither form. O'ertopped by masts that take the sunset's gildings. he does not to stop. and none poems gains anything. one after the other. "Arabel" is six pages in of "The Cocked Hat" seven. the not presented poetically. Masters has deserted the brevity of the his doing so has lost "Spoon River" pieces. Roped Great to the wharf floes till spring shall set them free. Instead.190 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry But. not even musically (as the older verse counted music) for the . by the change. In '"So When he allows himself a free hand. Mr." They are just as dreary as an advertisement from a department store. know when We Grew is Together. pictorially.

stacks 191 and engines in a torrent Whirls downward. devices. trucks creak. The poem is seven pages long . And near at hand are restaurants and bars. That is only the first section. it is the place of storing. is We near the market place of trade's A rooster crows. and leather bags. eyeglasses. Blue smoke from out a roasting room pouring. cartels. pull teeth. pool rooms. by the eddying breezes thinned. telescopes. sacks Twine. and crabs and clams. Or those who manicure or fashion Or sell dresses. us putters. Down in And straining at a rope. men are bawling. A tug is whistling. boxes. crack. hills towers of granite where the city crowds.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg Smoke from the Enskyed are Tobacco. Beer tunnels. the As with a man-made shrills. Whips geese cackle. tennis balls or brassies. fish Oysters and lobsters. And drawing out and loading up and hauling Fruit. fit Make shoes. the loop the blue-gray air enshrouds. copper's whistle Above the din a There is a smell of coffee and of spices. Fixed to a dredge with derricks. cyclops' cape. sign boards advertising soap. transcontinental trains. vegetables and fowls and steaks and hams. scoops and cranes. or the eye with glasses. coal. fifty cents Hotels with rooms at a day. places where cigars And cigarettes their window signs display Mixed in with letterings of printed tags. Wigs. ladies' tresses.

And the sound of the surf below me Was the sound of silver-poplar leaves In a wind that makes no pause. Masters does not seem able to think his own thoughts in conventional verse. I hurried . . ~5 Masters' free verse On the other handj/Mr. for some strange reason. run merrily back into the old moulds. . singularly devoid of poems are the lyricism of either sound or vision. and. down the steep ravine. lyrics are couched in regular metres. Mr. for only a poet : could write such a passage as this I stole through echoless ways. And black and deep purples far away. Masters assuming a new rSle. And a bat flew up at my feet from the And crossed the moon./ So indeed. that certain " In much so. his very ideas.192 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry There is one poem in the book which shows Mr. And all was still. Till I stood breathless brush by the tent . Not only his expressions. And the whippoorwiUs were singing. or rather an old r61e "In Michigan" has a lyric qualin a new manner. I Where no twigs broke and where heard My heart beat Uke a watch under a pillow. To my left was the lighthouse. Most of his ity very unusual to the poet's work. critics-hav-e declared him to be a neveKst ratherthan a poet. this verdict to be bii't Michigan " proves partially true.

lost quality of the landscape excellently well. And And this is always new. too. "In beauty. is on the hiU From where we could see Old Mission Amid blues and blacks. And the eternal quahty of rapture And mystery and vision flowed through If us. is Nothing new.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg And heard your whispered And felt your kiss. save this. Lovers lay at mid-night welcome. 193 On roofs of Memphis and Athens And looked at tropical stars As large as golden beetles. "The Loop" is without poetical images. With the bahn Sweeping over We looked at one great star Through a flap of your many-colored tent. across scores of miles Waving like watered silk under the moon o of the Bay. . there in your tent of the mid-night breeze us. and at " Michigan" shows that the^oet is really sensitive to t imes po ssesses the_pgwgrjto_catch thatteauty in a phrase a quiet land A lotus place of farms and meadows gives the sleepy. Beautiful.

of Temporary. the time. Masters has followed up the success of ''Spoon River" has undoubtedly been his undoing. "Songs and Satires. these poems of a locality.194 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry He speaks of the "misty eyelids" of "drowsy lamps. a fact. The book is a sort of extended "Spoon River. and not to his advantage a star that shows like a match which lights To a blue intenseness amid the glow of a hearth challenges a comparison. It is of course that flat stretch of continent between the Alleghany Mountains and monly call a paraphrase for what we comthe Middle West. a sudden depth of water. The haste with which Mr." "The Great Valley. but for Eight months after the publication his third book. The horizon of place and character is are again . In other words." of a land-spit running out into the lake until it Or waste away in seemed to dive under. is The Great Valley the Rockies. echoes of the older poets haunt him." The place is no more a little provincial town. But even in this free-verse lyric." of a moon sinking "like a red bomb. let us hope. " made its appearance. but Chicago and the country adjacent. which proves Browning's blue spurt of a lighted match to be infinitely finer.

" "The Furies. the absolute. River" never been written. and of this par- kind of taste Mr. or 7 have grouped about a central theme. Unfortunately. C.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 195 wider than "Spoon River. Mr. an integral part of beauty. Had "Spoon . it is still surpassed by the earlier volume." the poems are longer and more detailed but." the stretching out of his stories has not worked to the poet's advantage. Masters ticular really arranged the book at all. we call this co-ordination — taste. /These poems represent the nostalgia of beauty. He is th e poet of the the real. in art. is Co-ordination He cannot break his bonds. he still longs for that atmosphere of poesy which we have seen as the unappeased desire of his adolescence. Masters has not a particle. The classic poems are thrown pell-mell among the others so carelessly that one wonders if Mr. "The Great Valley" would have been a remarkable book. It eludes him still. "Spoon River" is homogeneity of essays the volume was a whole. as in the long poems in "Songs and Satires. Masters' taste again fails him in "The Great Valley." What have such classical subjects as "Marsyas. One of the most ." to do with the shouting Americanism of the rest of a/volume called book?/ The truth is that in the back of the poet's heart. "Songs and Satires" a jumble. One was of the its most interesting traits of ." "Apollo at Pherse. itself as closely related within as a novel.

You are slender like a broom a twist Weaving up and down the room. A laughing scullery daughter As you slop the dish water. As you You're a greasy Uttle dovey. a sort of As though a funeral march were This kitchen lyric to be played on the glockenspiel. So abstracted and so O Slip Shoe Lizzie . O Slip Shoe Lovey. O Slip Shoe Lizzie rattle As you with the pans. SLIP SHOE LOVEY You're the cook's understudy A gentle idiot body. thinkin'. clean the milk cans. So bewildered and so busy As you scrape the dirty kettles. never hopin' With your wet mouth open. With your dirt hair in And your Never left eye in a mist. but whether the sort of There is tinkling sneer.196 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry is unpleasant of the author's modern sex-tragedies printed immediately after "Apollo at Pherae. is excellent in technique. thing of the is worthy of a man who could produce some "Spoon River" poems is another question. dizzy. There's a clatter of old metals." one new note in the volume.

is But there another matter sink As you dream above the With the butcher-boy You're in love pitter-patter. beating batter. So forgetful and so sloven. And the kitchen in a smear When the bread is yet to bake. all this clatter One forgives you Washing dishes. I think. For he means to make you his. You're an easy thing to flatter . he has got you he hasn't got you yet. And he'll If get you. You're an angel idiot lovey. And your open mouth is wet To a little boyish chatter. And your spattered skirt a-saggin'. And your apron strings a-draggin'. Shp Shoe Liz.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 197 So mussy. With your shoe strings on the floor. little hussie. With the china that you break. And the market things are here — O Slip Shoe Lovey I You are hurrying and scurrying From the sink to the oven. You are bustling and hustling From the pantry to the door.

Like a mop. And lights up hidden things behind the door. You sit in a little office there in Springfield. Masters' talent. Space forbids me to give the whole poem. turn from a poem like that. . and Abraham Lincoln. three famous men. and the reader will remember what I said of Mr. but I will quote two passages about Lincoln. clever though thon. year Alfred Charles Darwin. You have fathomed much. O O It is Slip Slip Shoe Lovey Shoe Lovey a relief to it is. like a broom.198 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry With your hank of hair a-twist. And in dark comers. And your left eye in a mist — O Slip Shoe Lovey So hurried and so flurried And You just a little worried lean about the room. Feet on the desk and brood." and a very authentic side of Mr. Masters' treatment of Lincoln a few pages back. The sun-light of your mind quivers about The darkness every thinking soul must know. . : This is the year. you watch and weigh. Maisters compares the careers of all of whom were bom in the same Tennyson. What are you thinking? You're forty-one around you spears are whacking The wind-miUs of the day. to the fine and serious "Autoch- Here Mr.

or called you Anj^hing but Mr.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg Weighed life 199 and men. and careful speech. and are not known — Great sphered brains gone into dust again. or Abraham. firm in plasmic And That ready for a task. Strong nerved. O if what a sphered brain. and never used The Hello Bill of salutation to you — . With that dramatic Into the hall with rails which you had And called you Honest Abe. fire. as you were a referee Like Honest Kelly. and Which wakes the country But then at Cooper may lift Congress by good fortune. fresh blooded. Their light under a bushel all their days And You still in i860 all the Brahmins Have fear to give you power. Unlettered in the A denizen of a squalid western town. school house. when in truth no man Had With ever been your intimate. Lincoln. is there be one the question that makes brooding thought For you know well men come into the world And find no task. and die. and wearing badges face on With your them and the poor catch words if Of Honest Abe. are a backwoodsman. strength and self-possession. never Abe. ever slapped you brisk familiarity. of Dowered with a knack Its devotees to argument alone. sense which is Then they came American split. a country lawyer diflScult art of states. Union tall intuitive eyes Had measured Your your frame.

From the street comers of Spoon River. Mr. "IVIuch passes him by." he exhorts his to ing change. V O Republic. In actual years. is the chief poet of our middle Already. in "Come. on the horizon. body. Sandburg. energetic. solid. therefore fit to be Great democrat as well Yes. country to step forward boldly into the new time. with the truth of heart. clearing his way by stern force of will. Masters stands up rugged. and mind. but they represent . Already it vanishes. but too far Here we will leave his him. Masters himself feels this. But what he does give back is resonant with the overtones of personality. Masters era. "Spoon River" will always stand in her libraries. Republic. even as it is being written down. with the God-speed of own words sounding sees it glimmering for still He him quite to focus. in the work of a man so closely allied him as Mr. they are not so far apart.200 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry O great patrician. there are notes in our national life too high or too low for him to catch. a work of genius and a record of what was. we see evidence of a comMr. To is turn from Edgar Lee Masters to Carl Sandburg like crossing the line of a generation. /He cannot always give back those he does catch. Whatever America is to become. Mr. in our ears It is time to lift yourself.



letters. and enduring the long dark Winters and their swirling snows with quiet equanimity. snatching a beautiful joy through the short Summers. our ." belongs to the new America which I have called multi-racial. Sandburg is of Swedish stock. give them this peasantry. They are dumb for the most part. if no longer to colour Mr. ilk who are inheritance. people.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg the two sides of the barrier of change. ATow. but who can watch the procession of the seasons fearlessly. but give them speech. He springs from the strong immigrant class which comes yearly in boat-loads to our shores. although intellectually and poetically in the second stage of our "movement. ously. insidi- upon the whole body of the people. Sweden has produced. population is is how strong a crazy quilt of racial samples. The stock which has given to the world Gustaf FrSding and Selma LagerlOf One has only to turn the pages of "G5sta Berling" to see what manner of peasantry . and what . America will be a nation some day. Some day. One has only to read their folk-tales to discover the poetry inherent in these who can neither read nor write. we shall have a national character. Sand- burg. /But that Anglo-Saxon ground-work which firmly together to its holds them its all shape. 201 Mr. It is he and his moving us away from our Anglo-Saxon It is he and his ilk who bring us tiie if points of view which are working so surely.

but an imaginative conception ." hope. Sandburg possesses a powerful imagination. which plays over and about his realistic themes and constantly ennobles them. Sandburg. is at war with himsdlf. Mr. ' definite theories of reconstruction. with which we have to do. no less than Mr. his sub-conscious it mind at work upon also from the aesthetic side. can never rise entirely world on the wings of a certain volume. It is the force of this imagination which drags him on toward the third stage of our movement. and on a lyric quality under his touch. this And is if he is chiefly conscious of reconstruction from the financial side. Carl Sandburg. are built upon false premises." because he never quite reaches strikes. /-His Swedish ancestors have given him mysticism and poetry. all take it. This is no mere bald pres- entation of a city. It is not only that yellow primroses are more than primroses to him and slaughter-houses. "Chicago Poems. / The will first poem I in his show what mean.202 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry In the particular instance do they not become? poet. /He can never get above his free of the actual. they become the American Mr. Masters. and factories. I say "drags him on. railroad trains. his American experiences have sown his heart thickly with a strange combination of Many of his theories dissatisfaction and idealism. and with the customs of the eco)\nomic world. but he has theories..

-and I give them back the sneer and say to them: Come and show me proud to be alive another city with lifted head singing so and coarse and strong and cunning. here a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities Fierce as a dog -with tongue lapping for action. brawling. husky. City of the Big Shoulders They tell me you are wicked and I believe them. for I have seen your painted boys. perhaps that was inherent in the theme — at the angle from which the poet chooses it to take at any rate. toil of piling Flinging magnetic curses amid the is job on job. Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler Stormy. And having answered so at this I turn once more to those who sneer my city. Bareheaded. : And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger. 203 and if the grandeur is spattered with coarseness. . Shoveling. Stacker of Wheat. cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness. it is true have seen the gunman and go free to kill again. CHICAGO Hog Butcher for the World. Tool Maker. women under the gas lamps luring the farm And they I tell me you are crooked kill and I answer : Yes.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg of real grandeur.

that is. laughing with white Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man lost laughs. Laughing Laughing the stormy. or August Samdburg. proud to be Stacker of Wheat. Laughing even as an ignorant a battle. construction hand on one of roads. husky. Planning) Building. rebuilding. Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation. sweating. August Johnson. he adopted this simple method of avoiding such accidents in the future. Tool Maker. He had been to . and under his ribs the heart of the people. to this country in search of work. breaking. was an uneducated man. fighter laughs who has never is Bragging and laughing that under his wrist the pulse. Under the smoke. because there were so He changed many his name other August Johnsons in the gang with which he worked that confusion occurred. and after the loss of one pay roll. dust teeth. all over his mouth. half- Hog Butcher. He came and became a the great Western railto Sandburg. Carl Sandburg's father was a Swedish immigrant whose real name was August Johnson. Uneducated as our school curriculums count education. naked.204 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Wrecking. brawling laughter of Youth.

. to be followed kiln. greatly enriched his work. for Illinois is East if we halve the continent. when he was thirteen he left to take a job on a milk wagon. The poet was learning modem life through its constructive sources. This avocation was abandoned for the more exalted one of porter in a barber shop.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg school for only three months in his life. His son's career proves how arbitrary are our tests of reading and writing to determine mental aptitude. but left it When to wash dishes in Denver and Omaha. but not . 205 his wife had been to school for only two. when append- ing his name to contracts or other legal documents." in the good old way. which in turn gave way to that of scene-shifter in a for long theatre. at Galesburg. In due time he was sent to school. Nothing could have been better. He was obliged to make "his mark. The results of education vigour — were surely present bom — character and left intellectual in this illiterate rail- road worker. Illinois. Here he worked for a time at his father's old trade of railroad construction. a legacy to his son. by working a truck at a brick and making balls in a pottery. a sort appropriate to a big indushotels in again to pitch wheat in Kansas. trial democracy. bursting out of doors These were the poet's wanderjdhre. The pictures which all these trades have left in his mind have he was seventeen. and these he has Carl Sandburg was in 1878. Carl Sandburg went West.

and with possible fighting to challenge enlisted in his heroism. to his imagination as a means of in distant countries. ringing the college bell. . Sixth it first company. This was probably a fortunate thing for his career. His eager mind had been scantily fed hitherto. the officers cuid men for cadetship at company voted him a candidate West Point. cUid closed the door of the army definitely upon him. The war appeared adventure islands. the poet was mustered out. working his way through by tutoring. Here was a chance. his On but his ambition was not. and acting as janitor his return to Galesburg. to set foot on the Island of Porto Rico. At the close of his of his military first college year. It is signifi- young man went examination . sea. of Galesburg. cant that he got ninety-nine per cent in the physical in his studies. So to West Point the for his examinations. first with one hundred dollars in his pocket for the time in his life. poeticcil money was spent. as hap- pened. Illinois Volunteers — the He Company C. in his native town dollars. So he went back to Lombard College. he passed every thing but arithmetic. Sandburg put himself back to school. places of mountains. which was a miserable failure. The school was Lombard College. Carl Sand- At the outbreak of the Spanish burg was learning the painter's trade in Galesburg.2o6 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry War. At the end of the war. With his hundred Mr.

too. and to the young poet it meant the burgeoning of life moral. must always concern itself with material advance. is a revolutionary he must push the world to where he is convinced it ought to be. . A number of men who have made some mark in the larger world were active There was a considerable amount of intellectual fermentation constantly going on. working with his hands. economic. aesthetic. determined to do his part in bringing about the millennium. little Galesburg was an enterprising and ambitious town since in those days.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg of the 207 gymnasium. For Carl Sandburg. the revolutionary one. He was a thinking man. As the outcome . born with a passionate love of humanity. the second stage of a movement. His literary life began to assert itself. also." and the young man obtained the position of correspondent. When Carl Sandburg left college. He became the editor of the College monthly. It is perhaps inevitable that a young man of sensitive nature. As I pointed out. with a brain charged with ideas and emotions. and seeing life only from the standpoint of the unskilled wage-earner. "The Cannibal " its college . and editor and chief writer of an annual. . he was no longer an unskilled labourer. Galesburg boasted a local " Daily Mail. civilization only a vast injustice. at the beginning of this chapter. It gave him a banner under which to fight it released his own powers and girded him for action. should find in our whole economic in its affairs.

Sandburg was ready with a thousand cogent reasons. /But ignorance ever foremost in the suggesting of panaceas. It was the newspaper. . that flamboyant medium for the dissemination of half-baked ideas. salesman. crinkling ing breeze. college with a great. and personal charm. Sandburg roamed the West as a newspaper man. he worked as a district organizer for the Wisconsin. But his He left studies focussed his wandering sympathies.2o8 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry of certain ideas. full of ardour. of course. for immediate pur- ppsesf^t vof fact ' is the alteration of those abuses in the realm which chiefly concerns the propagandists. over the long-suffering United States should page. burning resolve to better social conditions. We Social-Democratic party of can imagine the young man. Sandburg felt very much as he does now about matters sociological and economic. its float the banner of a huge front bold-faced headlines in the morn- So Mr. before he went to Lombard College./ Surely. but still. Mr. During 1907 and 1908. spirited young man is to j^cope I with the economic paracloxes of high finance could hardly be imagined. It must be admitted that any one less fitted than this generous. persuasion. The next step in his career was the obvious one for a man of his tastes and training. speaking at . It is probable that Mr. and advertisement writer. Masters' greater experience hesitated to suggest./ Where Mr. and gradually his sociological yearnings took on a more practical turn.

seeming rather to be rules and thoughts for the author's own guidance. in the evenings. They reveal a sweet and gentle nature. but decide for myself what . called "Consolations. right thing. writing pamphlets and leaflets to advance the cause. some ten years ago.Edgar Lee Masters street corners arid Carl Sandburg 209 and factory gates. Strange things blow in through my window on the wings of the night-wind and I don't worry about my destiny. a peculiar little satis- faction hunts out the comers of my heart. Galesburg. and." is. but often I don't I I I know just what 'Hike.right thing am making know would I like to mistakes and expect to make more. with its come short tains what Yet as the years oceans and moun- pass on and I see the very world itself and plains as something unfinished. This. In "Egoism." which was issued by the Asgard Press. and also a bold and strong one. if not new. Illinois. but of a youth which harbours the seed of power I want the respect of intelligent I love art men but I I will choose for is myself the intelligent. Sunsets and evening shadows find me regretful at tasks undone. It will help us to understand what manner of man Mr. but sleep and the dawn and the air of the morning touch me with freshening hopes. such as might have been taken from a note-book." is the arrogance of youth. or about 1907. Sandburg is to glance for a moment at a little pamphlet entitled "Incidentals. They make no didactic claim. Every day of have bungled and blundered and have done. at any rate indicative I want to do the is. This is a series of jottings.

MDut under the wide dome. you through tangled tree like The rattle of a distant wagon subdued laughter. fate kicks us and we finally land and we find we have been kicked upstairs !/ look and pathetic If fallacies such as the following: the platitudes of politics as they the working people knew know fall the intricacies of base-ball. air. tops. Careless winds blow in your face and your eye Stars look at is keen for things homely and beautiful near by. if anywhere. shall am an individual. heart be first to inform me when I have done good is Already. in the great out-door world of wild breezes light and sunshine and sky. is and breathe. I God but I define and describe God myself. To get out into the day- and fill your lungs with pure to stop and watch a spear wonder to get of grass swaying in the wind. in 'Whimsicalities" i : Sometimes when around. night odors and silences. is beauty but only worship my own The soul shall teU me what for beauty. the kingdom of heaven would like a through the sky and settle impalpably on the earth vast air-ship. / ' There is excellent good sense. you get your think. is close to the source of power. feel. You get a new hold on your own par- ticular problems and the ghosts of despair are put out of business. lyricism struggling for expression OUT OF DOORS Freedom is found. amid size. and live.-12 IG Tendencies in Modern American Poetry I adore I art. pleasure of my own work. too. . to give a smile daily at the and mystery of shifting light apd changing shadow.

art in the pulsations of our brains hearts." is 211 : a fine idealism O Thou trolley car great Spirit of Truth ! whose filaments pervade and interfuse all things. buzz on the From Thy hands came the blue-bottle flies window pane and by Thy hands took shape and the moon. and all places. in the " Prayer for Everyday. Mr. in all times and eversrwhere. and worlds that throb and glow in measureless space. to most of his followers an end. Grant that they look on each other as comrades. star. ready for laughter and love and work and good-wiU and belief. followed by a great rejoicing mob of "the people. He sees. like simlight faces. Give them faith and simplicity in their dealings with each other. He has not grasped the fact that the world needs his \ . The hot-house rose belongs is to Thee and the back-yard cabbage that sun. For the simple and common things around us. to run happily along it It is his desire to get there. Sandburg has caught a fleeting glimpse of a road beyond the stopping-place of materialism. also Thine. Across and through the whole scheme of things as they is Thy plan and law we are thankful. we see that quite hit upon the path. Amen. Thou art neither of the East Thou art here nor West nor North nor South. but cannot Already. desires of our Thou are." but he can find no clearer line of approach than through the brambles of economic reform. is He does not understand that what to him is merely a means. and dew and rain and voices and < To Thee belong the children of men.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg but. in this leaflet. all at work. Thou whose energy vibrates in passing and far-swung planet.

" I am an idealist. were at one time mere longings. his vision of beauty. civilizations. it needs is on material He a poet of a who constantly flings away the guiding star new order to grub a lump of coal. We are going the same way. This is /know where I 'm going. I ' ' Yet. motive impulse He is has said No man more startling in action than a dreamer. Sandburg believes wholeheartedly in joy.212 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry lyricism. a joyous utterance. All man. but it is vague.^It is just this belief in joy in the midst of a joyless world that makes the paradox of Mr. to believe in the : Sandburg professes of ideas. far his concrete suggestions more than fact. in"I don't |bhoate. Through the centuries. Sandburg's writings. and forever active recuperative powers is To the restlessness of the "seers of visions" due the world's advance. but I'm on my way. He believes in it. and Mr. And yet Mr." Again the fallacy of ardent youthf ' ' . again and again. Sandburg has a vision. the dramatic manoeuverings of dreamers have held the world's eye and shaped creations of its changing statues." he exclaims. poems or political movements. Mr. and he confuses himself with all mankind. but not quite enough to confide in its complete saving power. having dreams and deep no form outside the brains that conceived them. be they machines. "What I ask for myself I want you to have on the same terms. We are made of the same stuff. he deserts the seer's mountain peak for the demagogue's soap-box. ideas.

travel. pictures. a soul. The people who are without these things are asking for them. He has art. It Man does not live by bread imperiously asks to be fed. He has yet to discover how different they are. Is that really the great inarticulate cry of the masses ? In face of facts. Mr.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg It is 213 only experience that teaches of ing stuffs mankind is made. let us feed our souls the cry. This soul wants beauty. But farther on is this postulate alone. Patient as the stars and unwearied as the earth. Books. For sweet sounds and forms of beauty and things that caress the eye and thrill the touch. and the discovery when made may well be a He admits The great shattering one. Always and forever the cry has been for more and more and more. than did William Morris's in an earlier generation. they know what they want. Those who have them in degree are asking for more. more people are enjoying these things than ever before. ! comes the cry Let us feed our souls is ! For Christ's sake. The Roman patrician and the feudal baron were lacking thousands of advantages to be had to-day for peimies and dimes. music. Sandburg's desires no more mirror those of the great body of the people. it asks and demands. body of people is better off to-day than it ever was." is a truer statement. one may be permitted to . how many vary"What is one man's meat is another man's poison. harmony. Up from the huts and hovels and sordid bedraggled shanties for more.

and in action the action prompted by these dreams party. — . later joining the staff of the "Milwaukee Journal" as Labour Editor. cally. constantly. which exist by providing the public with what it wants. hardly seem cognizant of such needs. allied to no and passionately believing^in the dreams of his own imagination. A split with result of his the Parliamentary Socialists was the promoting a street car strike. We may agree with Mr.214 Tendencies in . is of brightly coloured glass. After various occupations in various places. Sandburg to batter down a jail with balls unfitted. energeti- undauntedly. he became Secretary Mayor Seidel of Milwaukee. Modern American Poetry doubt it and the worst side of the teaching of modem sociology would seem to be its insistence upon maCertainly. Since which time he has been a free lance. He may well alter points of view by focussing them upon his spheres of iridescent light. but not by shooting these same spheres from a cannon. our terial rather than spiritual welfare. and yet feel sure that this better order can best be arrived at through the saving medium of ideas. stands more chance of moulding opinion than he who dims it is that beauty by turning it to uses for which like a man striving Mr. The man who makes beauty. We need not follow him minutely through the many changes of job of this period of his to life. Sandburg in the belief in a better order. newspapers.

he became a member of the staff of "The Day Book. which had been printed in " LaFolIette's Weekly." a courageous little sheet published in Chicago. City Efficiency. and of a book- learning which has no earlier tradition than the present possesses. 1914. During this time. pathetically honest. It is the result of circumstance." Later." which that magazine has in its gift. All this is fine. the natural poetry of the man was gaining strength and expression. Sandburg went on the staflF of "The World. on the strength of some articles on Accident Prevention. But it is inevitable. and. Whatever one may think of the advisability of . But what has as it to do with poetry ? Nothing." In January. however. Mr.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 215 During the newspaper lockout and strike of 1912. at the end of the year. and so preserve its freedom from commercial control. It is much the result of Fate as that a man should be as born in Iceland or Timbuctoo. which has for its ideal the high resolve to live without the aid of advertisements. His poem. is a man's nationality after he has once been born. and Municipal Accounting. high-minded. was awarded the Helen Haire Levinson prize of two hundred dollars for " the best poem written by a citizen of the United States during the year. he became its associate editor. "Chicago. upon that paper going into the hands of a receiver." was printed by "Poetry" early in 1914.

all study of the lives of wild animals and fishes for. his collected poems were issued by Messrs. If were as simple as that only one's morality could be measured by one's If only life . pale blue. all cru^elty is man-made." and "Others. a rare and beautiful combination which we simile under whatsoever Seldom does such virility go with such tenderness. The reader feels a certain wistfulness coming over him as he looks at so much itself against a cruel natPerhaps science was not one of the subjects in Mr. we describe itj there js^-imj-uat prejudice. find in this volume. he has but to sweep away the man who made it. through the rents. there is anger. but the soul of the poet is wholesome and sane. and. Sandburg continued to contribute poems to various periodicals for the next two years. under the rather forbidding title of "Chicago Poems. to notwithstanding." The impression which one gets on reading this book is of a heavy steel-gray sky rent open here and ' so confidently labelled " the best. and behold. Mr. shining pools of It is clear." "The Masses." there. it is gone. strength and hope pitting ural law. principally to "Poetry.2i6 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry prizes^ however one may balk at any one poem being no one could fail to see on reading ""Ci?^':ago" that here was a poet with a vigorous personality and an original technique. There is no bitterness here such as we find in "Spoon River". Henry Holt and Company. Sandburg's course at Lombard College. 191 6. him." and in April.

eating millionaire No one will deny that the brutal. Sandburg cannot help feeling that virtue resides^ith^the peo- who earn their daily bread with their hands rather than with those who do so with their brains. those least important if we measure by scientific laws. Perhaps is. he is of the but just to say that Mr. in a well-cut coat — he shun him street corner elect..Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg pocket-book evil thing. the poet the great value of studies of these types. I point this out. ! 217 is A man . Doubtless. but to mark how invariably a preoccupation tends to blur all a man's eyes to the fundamental principle of human existence. evolution. but prejudice is a firmly-rooted ple thing. of certain sorts of brain-work. Mr. this is true. unimaginative dinneris probably one of the lowest forms . workers get more than they need. and try as he will. a great desire for jus- tice is visible throughout the book . in which those least far on the evolutionary road. Sandburg tries to be fair to his millionaires (all his well-to-do men are millionaires). Sandburg considers that the brain-. and the handworkers less. in fact.) But this form of values. not with any desire to belittle. which is advance. leads to nor of any of the higher kinds of brain- workers. that scientists. Mr. — take him a man in rags begging an on a It is to your heart. sympathy. (For it is not true of poets. led to doctrinie a strange reversion of is Through pity and a re-valuation of human types. come in for the most attention.

But we can surely say that to be curative the disease must be treated unsentimentally and truly. For this. one honours him above his fellows. which is Mr. Sandburg. whether it acts as a curative. But there is another type. To true. ideal-following. and I knew he had a peace and a happiness up his sleeve somewhere. Whether constant preoccupation with disease is a healthy form of literature. Mr. so he fair. deny his existence. the high-minded. or other democratic poets. And the way he lighted a three-for-a-nickel stogie and cocked it at an angle regardless of the manners of our best people. but they throw the weight of their sympathy and their art into the scale against him. who needs scarcely to be considered. sober-living man.2i8 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry of animals on our earth. For this. argument. . is He rather spoils the it. and the spirit of beauty which pervades his work. and with well-balanced values FELLOW CITIZENS I drank musty aire ale at the Illinois Athletic Club with the million- manufacturer of Green River butter one night And his face had the shining light of an old-time Quaker. usually left out of Not that Sandburg has aimed at doing this. Then I heard Jim Kirch make a speech to the Advertising Asso- ciation on the trade resources of South America. has striven hard to do it. is open to question. he spoke of a beautiful daughter. illustrate: "Fellow Citizens" is a fine poem.

" the values are woefully out of line . Jim Kirch. in "Dynamiter. for six dollars. And he had a guitar of mahogany with a walnut bottom he offered for seven dollars and a half it. is the only Chicago citizen I was jealous of that He played a dance they play in some parts of Italy when the harvest of grapes is over and the wine presses are ready for work. if I wanted it. though he till never mentioned the price I asked him. And another just Uke only smaller. was a man with his jaw bad toothache. wrapped for a all near Hull House. Anyway he day. And he had it over the butter millionaire. But. In the mayor's office the mayor himself told all me he was happy though eat all it is a hard job to satisfy is the office-seekers and the dinners he asked to eat. I thought he had a real soul and knew a light in his eyes of lot about God.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg I 219 knew he had a clutch on a real happiness even though some of the living double of the reporters on his newspaper say he is Jack London's Sea Wolf. There was one who has conquered sorrow in so far as sorrow is conquerable or worth conquering. as though the music and the make of an instrument count for a million times more than the price in money. them from them. but plays them after he makes He is a maker of accordions and guitars and not only makes start to finish. Down in Gilpin Place. And he stated the price in a sorry way. and the it mayor when came to happiness.

men. because of . of churches or schools would open their Over the steak and onions not a word was said of his deep days and nights as a dynamiter. it is true. into ions. his laugh rang Hke the of joy gray birds filled with a glory ramming their winged flight through a rain storm. call of Yes. And he laughed and It told stories of his wife class. His name was in many newspapers as an enemy of the nation and few keepers doors to him. and children and the cause of labor and the working was laughter of an unshakable man knowing life to be a rich and red-blooded thing. Sandburg severely handles killing again brought about by a difference of opinions. is That a man loves children. Now war . a lover of laughter everywhere — lover of red hearts and red blood the world over. the killing in a Mr. a good and beautiful thing. He does not justify his dynamiter. because of a difference in opin- may fairly be stated as faulty vision on the part of the poet. who possibly also love their atoms. reckless life. leaving out what he does not wish to see. Only I always remember him as a lover of all free.220 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry DYNAMITER I sat with a dynamiter at supper in a German saloon eating steak and onions. particularly his own. but he looks at him obliquely. But to use that fact as a dazzling screen to obscure the horror of his trade of blo wing other T!Rrrdreh. a lover of children.

But again.Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg 221 his sympathy with the opinions the man represents. "Chicago Poems" is one of the most original books which this age has produced. But these are poems. Sandburg. they are Written. Mr." "Fish Crier.R RomaQgJl_ I have dwelt so long on^the propagandist side of Mr. If to justify their form to the any one will take the trouble to read the ." "Onion Days." ' ' ' ' What justification can so honest a poet find for sneering at a father's grief over his dead child and "perfumed sorrow"? Is not grief stark whether it come to rich or poor ? The reformers hurt their cause by showing such a lack of knowledge of human nature. Mr. and a host of other poems. It is just this fact which is so interesting. in a piece en- good or bad. some in vers litre.. and it is as poetry that the work must be judged. are "A Teamster's Farewell. Sandburg wins our sympathy in "Child calling it and terrible in all its forms. of_tb. because real and pitiful. But the prop^:^aggd^. full of personality." Mamie. some in a cross between the fail two. is his own. Far better. Sandburg's book." explains that his style.„seizes him again in "The Right to Grief. yPropaganda is the pitfall of poetSy/So excellently endowed a poet as Mr. Sandburg should beware. because he challenges us with it upon many pages. they seldom ear. in some a rhythmical prose. Whether the poems are in regular Engtitled "Style. lish or in the slang of the streets.

And round the creep of the wave line. it poem. for instance NOCTURNE IN A DESERTED BRICKYARD Stuff of the moon Rims on the lapping sand Out to the longest shadows. "Fog": / FOG The fog comes cat feet. with its lovely last line. Under the curving willows. That whispers along as It is stealthily as the fog itse pieces.222 first Tendencies in Modern American Poetry aloud. observant of beauty. Then take tl beautiful little ^sketch. one of the best of the nature is many others scattered through the book. Fluxions of yellow and dusk on the waters Make a wide dreaming pansy of an old pond in the nig . but there a For IVl ai Sandburg press it. a true poet. On little It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on." which I quoted abo\ he will find how^strangely and musical beats out its heavy cadences. "Chicago. qaick with new trains of thought^ in which to e This.

Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg
Often, in his short lyrics,




Mr. Sandburg

approaching the Imagist technique

Night from a railroad car window

a great, dark, soft thing
of light.

Broken across with slashed

have said several times that he is the link leading over from the second stage into the third. The poem I have just given will prove how absolutely this is so, and, in the next chapter, the gap will be found to have been bridged by just these poems. He has a curiously wide-flying imagination. In "Hydrangeas," the suggestion is so subtle that we Yet is feel the poet's meaning rather than see it. this not a war-poem hidden under a figure: true, tragic, stem ?

I tell

you the white hydrangeas turn rust and go soon.
line of

Already mid September a

brown runs over them.


sunset after another tracks the faces, the petals.

Waiting, they look over the fence for what

way they go.

That poem


not in the section of the book called
It is as well.

"War Poems."


this war, but of any war,


it is

not of



poet of to-day has touched the present war


Tendencies in

Modern American Poetry
poetically, than

more convincingly, more

Mr. Sand-




terriBle thing


am singing to you ju 't as a man with a dead child speaks '.-Tard as a man in handcuffs,


fdd where he cannot move

Under the sun


sixteen million men,


osen for shining teeth,

cih.irp eyes,



Aj i a running

young warm blood

in their wrists.

And a red juice runs on the green 'da red juice soais the dark soil. An i the sixteen million are killing









never forget them day or night
beat on



pound on

my head for memory of them my heart and I cry back to them,

"^o their

homes and women, dreams and games.



in the night

and smell the trenches,


hear the low

stir of sleepers in lines

for alwa}^,

.teen million sleepers

and pickets

in the dark

^oome of them long sleepers for always,



them tumbling to



^d in the drag of the world's heartbreak,

Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg
Eating and drinking, toiling
Sixteen million men.




on a long job

of killing.

In a flash, the poet sets this war apart from former


does not say


he raises a picture, a
in that slight, short

dream dream

of fancy,


it is all


Restless' in the old sarcophagus

And murmured

to a watchguard


goes there?"

" Twenty-one million men.
Soldiers, armies, guns.

Twenty-one million
Afoot, horseback.

In the


Under the


And Napoleon

turned to his sleep


my world answering

It is

some dreamer who knows not

The world I marched in From Calais to Moscow."

And he



In the old sarcophagus

While the aeroplanes


their motors

Between Napoleon's mausoleum


the cool night stars.


Tendencies in Modern American Poetry
notice in these


poems an

entirely different

technique from that employed by Mr. Robinson and

Mr. Frost. Their content, modern their form was

their points of view, were


In Mr.


work, a


style of presentation



ance, but the very matter of form seemed to exact
certain sacrifices.

The "Spoon River"

pieces were

mostly bald presentation of
ters essayed the lyrical,

When Mr. Masfelt

he usually


to return to metrical verse.


stuHent considering

might very well be led into supposing that the new forms were essentially nonlyrical. But here, in the work of Mr. Sandburg, we find such a hypothesis to be untenable. These poems which I have quoted show the new forms to be as proper a medium for Ijaical emotion as is

Mr. Masters'

metrical verse.

I shall

only note this here,

for, in

the matter of form, Mr. Sandburg has been sur-

passed by the poets in the third stage of the



In the next chapter,

I shall

consider at

length this vexed and interesting question.
All the poets of the

New Movement seem haunted
It is

by the

visions of history.

commonly supposed

that they cut themselves off from the past.

it; they are more concerned with analogies between past and present than is often the case in


History, to them,

document, but both a

a legendary touchstone.

is no dry and mouldy and palpitating reality and I have spoken of the treat-

Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg


ment of Lincoln by Mr. Robinson, Mr. Masters, and Mr. Fletcher. A moment ago, in "Statistics," we found Mr. Sandburg occupying himself with Napoleon. In that poem. Napoleon was fact, legend, and symbol he was many things, but never a dead fragment of a dead world. In "Cool Tombs," Mr. Sandburg again has recourse to history. It is by this

analogy with the past that he lights the present.

The poem

is in

Mr. Sandburgls-moat personal idiom.
to bring

Serious, beautifiiLlines alternating with.,the slang of

the day, and


about a grave and moving

When Abraham
Lincoln was shoveled into the tombs, he forgot

the copperheads and the assassin


in the dust, in the cool


Ulysses Grant lost


thought of con

men and Wall


cash and collateral turned ashes


in the dust, in the cool

Pocahontas' body, lovely as a poplar, sweet as a red




or a




did she wonder ? does she

remember ? ...

in the dust, in the cool

tombs ?

Take any

streetful of people

buying clothes and

groceries, cheer-

ing a hero or throwing confetti

and blowing
. .

tin horns






the lovers are losers





any get more

than the lovers ...

in the dust


in the cool tombs.


Tendencies in Modern American Poetry
least of

Not the

Mr. Sandburg's attributes


irony, a sad, pitying irony




on a limited

express, one of the crack trains of the


Hurtling across the prairie into blue haze and dark
aU-steel coaches holdiag a
(All the coaches shall




thousand people.

be scrap and rust and


men and

I ask

laughing in the diners and sleepers shall pass to



in the

smoker where he


going and he answers


That poem seems




short of magnificent.

take "Buttons," from the section,



I have been watching the war
in front of the

map slammed up

for advertising



— red and yellow buttons — blue and black buttons — are shoved back and forth across the map.
stmny with
yells a joke to

A laughing young man,
Climbs a ladder,


in the crowd,

And then fixes a yellow button one inch west And follows the yellow button with a black button one inch west. (Ten thousand men and boys twist on their bodies in a red soak
along a river edge.

Gasping of wounds, calling for water, some rattling death
their throats.)


Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg

inch on


would guess what


cost to

move two buttons one

the war


here in front of the newspaper office where the





laughing to us

All these

war poems, are very
it is




unfortunate slip throughout the

one which Mr. Sandburg shares with Mr. Masters and with many other modem American writers. It is an occasional slip in grammar. The constant use of will " for " shall, and of
' '
' '


would is a torment to the instructed ear and the common American blunder of employing " around " quite apart from its true meaning of


" for " should,"

"surrounding," confusing




— about,


thither, etc.


a constant annoyance

both these authors.

Of course, language must change words must be added as life grows more complex and inventions



to impoverish a language



shades of meaning to become confused,



picturesque quality of American slang

shows us to be an imaginative people
proves that

but, on the

oEKef hand, this blurring of fine shades of expression

we have some

distance to go before
It is


cah'Be considered a literary people.
inevitable, although to


be regretted, that current

speech should exhibit an occasional incorrectness, but


strange that an author should permit faults
to appear in his printed work.




only answer

— he does not notice them.


most conscious of changing conditions should be swept along on the waves of thought so fast that they have neither time in a state of flux. Perhaps nothing better illustrates the stages of a movement than this fact of language and it is per. those poets nor inclination to concern themselves with correctness of expression. Of course. is Chicago Poems" first divided into sections of which is perhaps "Handfuls" the least impressive. but seldom does a things. stage of the We find few first such mistakes in the work of those poets in the modern movement.230 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry of course. who have enough along the road of evolution to have again achieved a culture. but it is a matter which time and cultivation will eradicate. in a is. purged and whole. It is emerges. at once cosmopolitan and indubitably their own. it may be objected that this is largely a matter of education. unfortunate. inherit the traditions of an older practice or in the work of the progressed far poets of the third stage. The last line . young country such as America nationality must its effort go through the stage of lack of education in only later that " it to cast aside the leading strings of tutelage. fectly understandable that at is a time when life. who . It will book contain so few unsuccessful have been observed throughout these poems how the poet's imagination constantly colours and brightens the subject he has In hand. art. but.

and will shut the rabble and all vagabonds and hungry men and all wandering children looksteel points will ng for a place to play. ric He is to him has a hard time . to thirteenth. Sandburg comes by through right of hiere is ^ ritance. Art.quality of Mr. humanity. r. Sandburgs. go nothing ng through the bars and over the . it is any man who falls on them. off a masterpiece./ problems of posterity will be other than those that so much of :h claim our attention..has not the . nature.Masters' work. A touch of the Scandinavian mysticism :h Mr.but the lyrist in outlook to eve the epic. Sandburg's work cons itself with Entirely ephemeral phenomena.xcept Death and the Rain and To-morrow. made of iron bars with steel points that can stab the life out of fence.broad poet./ idged from the standard of pure art..Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg his little piece is 231 I a good illustration of what Id point out A FENCE the stone house on the lake front is finished and the work- men are beginning the palings are fence. will eternal. it is a Mr. something of Hans Christian Andersen in poem. /But the the minimum wage although probably different ter as little to the twenty-second century as for id 3ns.

cannot fail to its place to students of this period as a necessary an endless chain. heard above the brawling of the market~ final verdict It is dangerous to give a art.232 Tendencies in itself Modern American Poetry make place. . porary All that one can is that. it safely say of on contemMr. it and whatever posterity may it about link in taken merely as poetry. feel Sandburg's work contains touches of great and hold original beauty.





I shall confine myself to those six poets whose work has appeared in the successive volumes of the annual anthology. Lawrence. "Some Imagist Poets. in short. three being American. three English. shall what are the tenets of the Imagist School." THE IMAGISTS: AND JOHN GOULD FLETCHER now to deal with the We are work of the small I group of poets known as Imagists. to be an Imagist. leaves me no opportunity to 235 . the Imagist group. F. The English members I group are Richard Aldington." These poets are of the Imagist exactly divided in nationality. it is proper to state that they only represent a fraction of Of course. any one who writes poetry from the same point of view might be said to write Imagistic verse. dis- regret that this book. Flint. and D.H.D. H. in speaking of the Imagists as a group. and to S. explain just Later. being confined American poets. but before beginning on the work of the two poets whose names stand at the head of this chapter. but.

in the "Yale Review. because tall. We have adopted the same method in regard to distin- guishing persons. spoke of Robert Frost and Edgar Lee Masters as Imagists. and in unconscious proof of his ignorance. In this chapter.the six Jjnagist." a name. D." John Gould Fletcher.moverneiits-bave' been so Only a short time ago. I shall consider only the work of "H. but this is . suppose_. the poems of "H. I." Professor John Erskine confessed that he had no clear idea of what was Imagist verse and what was not. little understood as Imagism. be right or they may be wrong. is merely a convenient method of designating it when we wish to speak of it. We say John Smith and James Brown. The three American Imagists are the lady who writes under the pseudonym of " H.236 cuss Tendencies in Modern American Poetry the work of these Englishmen. However poets is individual the work of. it is simpler than to say blue eyes." and Mr.few-Jiterary . and myself. Imagist verse written in conformity with certain tenetsvgluntarily adopted by the poets as being those by which they consider the best poetry to be produced. D. straight nose — or is : six feet the reverse of verse which is these attributes. D." and John Gould Fletcher. To call it and give a certain kind of writing "a school. They may their belief. Fletcher are enough in themselves to show the tendencies and aims of the group. therefore.. (and any one who has read their anthology cannot fail to have observed it).

hurling themselves against the barshness and mateI . Other writers. and the originality and honesty to afiirm that beauty in whatever manner is native ."H. it But we can safely claim to be a "renaissance. perchance. have shown Edwin Arlington^ Robinson and Robert Frost as the pioneers of this renaissance I have shown Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg plunging forward in quest of change and freedom. Other poets these the movement is yet come and. more comprehensive movement." and John Gould Imagism. not changing." a re-birth of the spirit of truth and beauty^ IFlmeans a re-discovery of beauty in ourjnodEmjworld. We. no convenient designation. perfect where men have given the tools. rialism of existing conditions.to the poet. /Now. < sometimes raucously. will inherit in plenitude and calm that Then our native flowers for which they have fought.D. . then. in its infancy. touting their beliefs. they see life and the universe from a It is different standpoint. These poets not only express themselves differently. springing up with which this whole book natuin all it within a larger. New Movement has had to do. who are of rally have not the proper perspective to see its historic significance. This movement has as yet received it. forgetting the stormy times in which this movement had its birth. I am to show a condition. but changed. not over will . the is Fletcher 237 a particular school. but always honestly and with abounding courage.

is the perpetually recurring history of literature. advisedly. An me add. literary criticism. as poets.238 will Tendencies in Modern American Poetry to be again conven- bloom into a great garden. nor Dante like Shakespeare. have chosen the Imagists as representing_the_thKd stage of the present movement. either improve or injure it. and this must not be confused with the absurd outpourings of those gadflies of the arts who imitate the manners of others without an inkling of persons their souls. and of the world. in did not write like Dante. for only in them do I see that complete alteration of point of I view necessary to let this third stage. to is often do not wish be construed as stating that poets in the third stage are better. one may assign a poet his place . even misunderstood. necesscirily. due solely to the beliefs gious. nor with those nefarious to keep of a who endeavour by means themselves be- fore the public more or less clever charlatanism. but do not. and artistic — inherent — moral. alteration. Great poetry has been written beliefs / at every stage of the world's history. I the written word. Honest difference of opinion leads honestly different work. to tionalized a pleasance of This stone statues and mathematical parterres awaiting a new change which shall displace it. The spoken word. /'iFundamental change art. reli- in the characters of to these poets. but Homer So. nor Shakespeare like Edgar Allan Poe. than those in the other two.

In poetry a new cadence means a new 3." and John Gould in Fletcher 239 a general movement without any attempt to appraise his individual merit by so doing. It To allow absolute freedom in the choice of subject. In the preface to the anthology. art to write badly of aeroplanes not good is it and Automobiles.D. create new rhjrthms — as the expression pi_ new — and not to copy old rhjrthms. [ ' Poets. Before taking up the work of "H." there "Some Imagist down brief list of tenets to which is set a it the poets contributing to mutually agreed. I to a creed. use the language of coiimion speech. nor necessarily bad art to write well about the We . 2.D. is idea. and for what those poets who style themselves "Imagists" stand." and John Gould Fletcher in detail. I do not I mean that they pledged themselves as mean that they all found themselves rules. nor the merely decorative word. for a moment. I think it would be well to consider. but I will first them down To 1. not the nearly-exact. To moods moods. by set and explain them in order in detail. We believe that thejndividuality of a poet may often be better expressed in free-verse than in conventional forms. which merely echo old We do not insist upon "free-verse" as the only method of writing poetry. We fight for it as for a principle of liberty. in accord upon these simple propose to take up these rules presently. what Imagism is. one one."H. past. but to emElcy always the exact_woid.

as is commonly supposed. . We ties. for have observed that their very suc- cinctness has often occasioned misunderstanding. are not a school of painters. but we believe that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generali- however magnificent and sonorous. that the Imagist poets repre. To^ produce jpoetry that is afid-xlear. (hence the name: "Imagist"). is nothing of new under the sun. who seems hard to us to shirk the real difficulties of his art. 4. There birth. but we wish to point out that there is nothing so uninspiring nor so old-fashioned as an aeroplane of the year 191 1. Finally. This short creed was preceded by the following paragraph These principles are not new. they have tude. •Now let us examine these tenets and see just what I they mean. It is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet. -never blurred nor indefinite. It is not primarily on account of their forms. most of us believe that conc^itration is of tiie very essence of poetry. 5." means a re-birth not a new and this the Imagists were well aware. To present an iiBage. "renaissance. even the word. 6. sent a changed point of view it is because of their reactions toward the world in which they live. fallen into desueall They are the essentials of all great poetry.240 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry believe passionately ia the artistic value of modem life. indeed of great literature.

however. take such a passage as this: To ope my eyes Upon the Ethiope splendour Of the spangled night. it is something in common use." In other words. but so worn by use_as to convey no very distinct impression to the reader. until very recently. Imagists and others. how do you you it I do. we only need to remember Matthew Arnold's famous parody on this evil practice in his essay. not the nearly-exact." and John Gould Fletcher 241 The first one is : "To use the language of common speech. As an example of the ol3^ poetic jargon. Excellent the first time. "ClichS" for instance. thank. It will at once be admitted that this is hardly the . are agreed." are clicMs. and not peculiar to the author. Old. One of is I the tenets in which all the poets of the present movement. nor the merely decorative word. is '^as a. but to employ always the exact word." and "mountainous seas."H. Very well." The language of common speech means a diction which carefully excludes inversions.D. persisted in our poetry. But. faded_expressimis like " battlemented clouds. and the clichSs of the old poetic jargon. this abhorrence of the inversion. As to inversions. a French word and means "stamped. coin. "On Translating Homer" Yourself.

In short. but that they so appear in the bright moonIt is the eocact Jight. and defeats its own object." on the other ." all these are colours and therefore do not exactly describe any wind. It is not exa£t in any sense.242 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry language of common speech. high moon. One example of this kind which was brought to my attention some time ago was "a mauve wind. I word is to describe the effect. It the exact word which conveys the writer's Critics conceive a thing impression to the reader. much in vogue among the would-be- modern poets. For instance. To the poet. he might say Great heaps of shiny glass Pricked out of the stubble By a full. it must be exact original and natural to the poet him- not culled from older books of verse. but they do describe certain windy effects. to be so and so and no other way. it connotes nothing. the thing is as. This does not mean that the stones are really of glass. the exactness determined by the content The habit of choosing a word as unlike the object as possible. but self. it appears in relation to the whole. Common speech does not exclude imaginative language nor metaphor. "Mauve wind. "Black wind." "pale wind." "white wind. The means word has been much misunderstood." That is just nonsense. is silly.

In poetry a new cadence means a new idea. is Fletcher 243 merely a straining after novelty." Again." In fact. means that the idea subtle it clothes itself naturally in appropriate novelty of rhythm. The Imagist poets "do not insist upon free-verse as the only method of writing poetry. misunderstandings have arisen.. but adequate. modern habits of mind." — — This. of course. "How can the choice of subject be absolutely un- restricted?" —-horrified To make critics is have asked. So much for the first Imagist tenet. unguided by common-sense or a feeling for fitness."H.-expression in vers libre and "polyphonic prose" than in metrical verse.." Not. idea. The second "To create new rhythms as the expression of new moods and not to copy old rhythms which merely echo old moods. This brings us to the third tenet: "To allow absolute freedom in the choice of subject.D. also true that It is "a new cadence means a new critics. The only reply to such a question that one had supposed one were speaking to people of common-sense and intelligence." and John Gould hand. quite the contrary. seem to find more satisfactory. as has been stated by hostile that the it cadence engenders the idea. . over this passage. refers to the modem It is practice of true that 1 writing largely in the free forms. the jXQup are somewhat divided in their practice here. modern subjects. this passage intelligible to . Very slight an and may be.

" ) "we are not a school of were intended to offset any such idea. Why this should have come about. "Imagism" mply means to quote from the second anthology. it we believe that poetry should render particulars : le ' . Number four says "To present an image (hence name Imagist ') We are not a school of painters." Of course. I know.rson might consider good taste another might ly others. anything which excites the creative faculty is the individual poet. Some Imagist Poets. however an.erary. This paragraph has caused a great deal of confuIt has been construed_to jjieaa that Imagist is )etry chiefly concerned with the presentation of ctures. actual. Now he . agnificent and not deal in vague and sonorous. con- dering that the words. it le linlc I the reverse of is it. 1916" "a clear presentation lan to the thing presented. new. kind of subject matter." refers more to the manner of presentation not It is a kind of techa choice of subject. all that the passage intends itself imply that this group restricts to no irticular .4 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry would be necessary to add "within bounds of good taste. :actly. The truth is that "Imagism.|." Imagist. linters." generalities. Old. [ually permissible. ique rather than — — whatever the author wishes to convey. or about a cluster of chimney-stacks en out of the window. if they are Imagists and poets they write about icient Greece. what one .

White power of spray." is . of in but here is another from which the exactness of the image augmented by powerful imaginative connotations Crobked. bring before his reader the constantly shifting and changing lights over a landscape. The steamers. That "Tide is an exact image Storms. drunken tide. mind of a person under strong emotion.c /For instance. . poem must shift and change to present this ytmagism is prgsentati^auaiat-xepxesaita. lava-burst of breakers. of spray behind them. let us compare these .D. Fletcher's called "The Calm": At noon I shall see waves flashing." and John Gould Fletcher 245 may wish to convey a case the mood of indecision. Tide of gales." high-sounding. two stanzas in a poem of Mr. Imagists do not speak of the sea as the "rolling wave" or the "vasty deep. Black ships plunge upon you from sea to sea away. crawling tide with long wet fingers Clutching at the gritty beach in the roar and spurt of spray. or the varying attitudes of then his clearly. artificial generalities which convey no exact impression instead."H." tion. in which poem should be indecisive he may wish to . stately. Kick up white puffs The boiUng wake Merges in the blue-black mirror of the sea.

by any means.." It is hard and clear. itself. which is : "To produce poe- try which nite. work is But poetical jig-saw summarily condemned. effect of a too constant metaphorical. works of art are ruined by a too great discursiveness /louremain concentrated on the subject. are two cardinal rules in the writing of poetry. I might borrow a metaphor from another art and call it "faithfulness to the architectural line. That is why. Imagists fear the blurred change of picture in the same it is ' ' poem. that "concentra- of the very essence of poetry. indeed. . How many as old as art it and yet so often lost sight of that can hardly be too often affirmed. The tion is last rule is very simple. and to know when to stop. never blurred nor indefimust be kept in mind that this does not refer to subject but to the rendering of subject." Orna- ment may be employed. alis though so much Imagist poetry similes are sparingly used. . individualistic Jreedom of idea clearness and vividness: of presentation and concentration.246 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry This vivid " presentation of whatever the author wishes to convey " is closely allied to the next tenet of the Imagist manifesto.. . / We . . j^ so long as it follows the structural bases of the poem. A rule. see therefore that these canons boil down into something like the following succinct state- 3 ments j/Simplicity and directness of speech subtlety and beauty of rhythms. / Not new principles.

The picture as given see is is quite clear and vivid . Robinson is most nearly allied to the Imagists in the use of suggestion .. in To clean it. the real poem lies beyond. isi puggestion which was not the imply-c_ — ing of something rather than the stating of it. From which he hauled forth buckets of bricks and dirt. Fletcher's ple of Imagist suggestion is an excellent exam- THE WELL The well is not used now Its waters axe tainted." One characteristic of Imaeist verse mentioned in ing it this preface. imply- perhaps under a metaphor. But the picture we not the poem. and his treatment of almost Imagistic." which quoted in the suggestion again there is is the poem." and John Gould Fletcher 247 as the writers of the preface admit."H. it burg's "Limited. This poem of Mr. Mr. I but the technique In Mr. perhaps in an even Xess obvious way. is pnly suggested. . he employs is quite unlike theirs.D. Of the poets we have been considering in these essays. but "fallen into desuetude. I remember there was once a man went down cold and deep. He fotind it very With a queer niche one of its sides. Sandlast chapter.

" It is possible to determine the work of different painters by their brush strokes. the reader will I have be incapable of making the blunder of that critic. Masters in the Imagist group. and then only for purposes of authenticity. but such knowledge is for the expert alone. the individual ways of using words. shall serve us here. Frost and Mr. I could go minutely into the work of these poets and show how each differs from the other the varying modes of expression. and finished. the changing progression of the phrases. before I then. lose sight of the fact that all these but we must not . would find such hair-splitting dissection totally incompre- hensible. The layman who had no way of telling the work of Titian from that of Watteau by any other method than that of brush strokes. As Matthew Arnold said of the grand style. I have shown certain aspects of the Imagist idiom. and those who could not tell it at a glance. such mechanical labour can never give the touchstone to style. one must feel it. trust that. the subtle originality of rhythms — — but any one who could intelligently follow such an analysis would have no difficulty in determining Imagist work per se.248 It Tendencies in Modern American Poetry must not be forgotten that however many rules and tenets we may analyze. would make a ' ' poor connoisseur. That must lie in a sense which is beyond reason. recent who placed Mr. A few broad lines.

Mrs. Doolittle comes from that fine. prose. then. undeviating people. Fletcher 249 and fade somewhat into each Much of this idiom is applicable to the other poets whom we have been considering. Doolittle. I The of whom wish to speak is "H. other. a name which hints of a German ancestry. Professor Doolittle has been twice married. Let me insist once more that Jmagism is only one section of a larger ijipyg- i . Doolittle married her husband before he was . Probably Mrs. as well some . principally verji-Mbre and "polyphonic take them up later." I shall for the idiom. It consists . merely of the inititals of the lady in question is. is a pseudobut a very simple and natural one. Now we first must return to the poets themselves. of it is peculiar to the Imagists.D."H."'s is name was Hilda Doolittle. So much.. that For "H. at present.ment to which the six poets of these essays all ^. As to the form s." as I have already said. — before she was married.belong. But it is principally in their manner of dealing with the idiom that we shall find the difference to lie." nym "H.D. for tor of the the daughter of Direc- many years Flower Astronomical Observatory of the His University of Pennsylvania. known for more than two hundred years as the Pennsylvania Dutch." and John Gould barriers are cirbitrary.D. and she Professor Charles L.D. second wife was Miss Helen Eugenia Wolle.

made this poetic renaissance. and excellently grounded. Here little girl went to the public school in the vil- lage. The slow recovery of its own object. A good student she must have been. Before she was old enough to go to school. this new . however. and. when she in be prepared for college at the Friends' Central School. Professor Doolittle accepted the position of Director of the Flower Observatory. the Gor- don School. We can imagine the next few years. stayed at left to West Philadelphia. and the family the moved to a suburb of Philadelphia. the loneliness of surrounding. way all. since she reads Greek and Latin aseasily as most people do French but eagerness often defeats . The was not yet. 1886. as her health had completely broken down. Each of our demons of indifference and to freedom in his or her six poets has fought the fought through despair. each apparently alone and they have unconsciously. give up her college course in her health . the trial flights of literature . . being sent later to a private school. in so doing. although we know very little about them. She entered Bryn Mawr College in the Autumn of 1904. Pennsylvania. and Hilda Doolittle was born in Bethlehem. from which all the poets of this interest in poetry generation have suffered. and Hilda Doolittle was obliged to sophomore year. together. Hilda Doolittle the Gordon School until 1902.250 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry called to the University. on September ID.

As I pointed out in speaking of Robert Frost. too." and John Gould movement." maturity . faun-like.D. and she soon bepoets. She wrote stories." has a strange."H. It is hard to conceive of these 's little tales. on what. she was indubitably a poet. . bitterly suppressing a desire for beauty which nothing about her "H . and Hilda Doolittle . But. reticent girl plodding up and down satisfied. as was natural. dryad-like quality. supplied her with the stimulus of literary companionship. She had known Ezra Pound years before. when he was still living in Philadelphia.D. In 191 1. in view of hard the exquisite work of "H. at the time. she found in Italy and France solace for that desire for beauty which had been it London. it is to figure the shy. many had at last found her true niche in the world of art. Not that Hilda Doolittle wrote poetry in those days she had not yet found out her possibilities in that line.D. some of which appeared in a Presbyterian paper in . and mostly stories for children. was intended to be merely a Summer trip. the straight Philadelphia streets. Miss Doolittle went abroad. of Fletcher 251 which I have been speaking. she seenis always alT though jiisfstartled from a brake of fern and if this is so now that she has written it SnBTjustiHed her longings. what must have been when was all beyond the dim horizon of the future and she herself alone believed. London at that time was a very El Dorado for young torturing her for so years. Philadelphia.

252 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry came a member of that small band of insurgent poets of which he was one. at once perceived her remarkable talent. and. not of external events/ One of the little band of poets with whom " H. Her poems were printed in the January.D. that I shall abandon my usual custom in mentioning it." . and as I shall speak of her in future) is so homogeneous. except for a slight widening and deepening as she proceeds.D. he persuaded her to appear under the banner of the new school." (as she prefers to be called. set I shall first all down of."'s life is that of^^ true artist. and ^/^hat she wrote was as perfect as a clear intaglio^^ Mr.." he accepted some of her poems. 1913. Acting as the London agent for " Poetry. and reserve consideration of her work until after they are dis- posed ~ "H." over the pseudonym "H. Instead of interlarding criticism with biography." The work of "H. number of "Poetry. She began to write. with that rare instinct for good work which is undeniably his. It is one of internal mental and emotional experiences. using them as an example of a kind of writing in which he and others were becoming interested. Pound. and shows so little change.D.D. It only needed the spark of sympathy and competition to start the smouldering poetry in Miss Doolittle to bright flame." followed by the word "Imagist. the few facts of her life.

has told of the long dis- cussions between these two . most of them three. Richard Aldington firmly insisting that the Hellenic outlook was more needed to-day than ever. 1914. The so-called dead languages are very living to most of them. The work of both "H. Aldington was fascinated by Greek culture the flawless purity of Greek models was a perpetual source of delight to him. The book was brought out by Messrs. some two. 1913. sculptor. of New York.D. Albert and Charles Boni. Mr. Like "H. it is . Aldington did." in April. In this age of pedantic learning. and modern languages they all know well. During the Winter of 1913. or no learning at strange to find two young people reading Greek "for fun. Aldington was excellently represented all. Brzeska wishing to cut away all bonds with the past. The Imagists seem to have a natural flair for languages. It comes as easily to them as slang comes to some people. D."H." and Richard Aldington were married on October 18.D.D. the well-known Imagist." Mr." But this was just what "H." ^nd Mr." and John Gould Fletcher 253 now was Richard Aldington. Mr. some one. Pound.. Gaudier Brzeska. and they were printed together in a little volume entitled: "Des Imagistes.D. "H. There is nothing bookish about this. Pound collected number of poems illustrating the Imagist point of a view. in his life of the young Vorticist identified herself ." and Mr.

a departure from accepted standards. they chose. the point of view was In this collection.254 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry But the publishers were young men. viewed. the Imagists have had an exceedingly hard struggle. D. and everyone had a right to veto whatever should be no question of precedence for . to add to the confusion. Pound withdrew from the group and . alphabetically according to their names. after much discussion. yche great preoccupation of all the group was how to make people understand what they were trying to do. repreface. but very ignorantly. . It reviewers and appeal intelligently to the reading was decided. It found only a handful of admirers. It speaks well for the poets' devotion . but any poem could be excluded by one veto. Lawrence. H. they had not much money to spend on advertisements. and continue doing so until people at least understood our kind of Mr. When I returned to London in the Summer of -1914. only just starting. It was agreed that the authors should be arranged poetry. the volume had no explanatory It was much.. so that there and our desire democracy went to even greater lengths: each author was permitted to make his own selection of his own poems. and. Truly. John Gould Fletcher and Mr. that we should again appear together. and other contributors were excluded for various reasons.joined the Vorticists. but we were joined by Mr. x How get past prejudiced editors and public.

of the school its spreading out. series in small unpreten- pamphlets. and Company to whose cordial sympathy the group owes much. "The So beautiful were these . she and her husband. or rather Mifflin for three separate anthologies to be issued at yearly intervals. its amplification. Fletcher 255 when I say that no one was permitted to grumble when I his pet contribution was vetoed . The first appeared in the Spring of 191 5."H. In the name of my confreres. respectively. These three little books are the germ." soon found a publisher in Messrs. members of the group. During the Winter of 1913 and 1914. 1914. with the collaboration of one or two other poets." was called." and John Gould to the cause. Houghton.D. and the next two in 19 16 and 191 7. Aldington was associate editor). must be sought in the published work of the individual . There will be no more volumes of "Some Imagist Poets. The Poets' Translation Series. when add that no suspicion of professional jealousy has ever come between them. There D. I signed a contract with them for three years. and I brought with me the manuscript of I "Some Imagist Poets. published a number of translations from the Greek tious and Latin poets." The collection has done its work." 's life. smd for their confidence in one another's integrity. the nucleus. and under the auspices of "The Egoist" (a London weekly of which Mr. is very little more to record about "H. I returned to America in September.

" has taken his position on the It is staff of "The Egoist. critics likened / On to appearance of these short." "H."'s "Choruses from Iphigeneia in Aulis. Writing in a highly and most carefully wrought vers libre. do we find a prose suggestion. These poems are fragile as shells.D. ." that the well-known scholar. particularly "H. "H. Aldington's joining the army." would have been a more exact definition. Hers are not. as some of her husband's are. of .D. and a new series was planned. and as transparent."'s work. wrote an article in praise of them in the London "Times.D. concen- trated poems. Never. almost without an equal." The series was successful from every point of view.256 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry translations. was a poor simile "exquisite cameos and intaglios."'s poems achieve a beauty of cadence which has been surpassed by no other vers Indeed. Since his departure for "somewhere in France. Her poems are kept to a key the key of haunted woodland.D." now time the first to consider "H. many "smart" them carved cherry-stones. something too inconsiderable to be taken But since when has bulk been the touchstone of art ? . in her verse. Professor Mackail. and dismissed them as seriously. her subtly changing rhythms are libriste. the piquant paradoxes of romance springing out of plain fact. but had to be abjmdoned on Mr. but their modelling is " Cherry-stones " as carefully done as that of a statue of Parian marble.

the yellow was not more than I." and John Gould nymph-bearing sea. . and. Not that these poems. she flings Here is upon the spears of her own reactions. again and again. Greek names. we hear voices They remind me of a story I once read by a French author. are copies of the Greek. I seem to hear in "H."'s work echoes of a beauty long departed. it resembles nothing To exquisite suffering. in which an ancient shell preserved within it a few moments of a siren's song. herself bravely Yet. stilL the poems have no real Hellenic prototype. as has been so often asOften employing serted. we hear pipe strains lost in the mists of forests. she makes her picture. builded of remembered 1 things. golden-banded.D. calling through the wash of waves. Her extreme sensitiveness turns appreciation to finished. but itself. D. when this poet."H. or things read of this.D. With with that. delight so poignant it can scarcely be borne. Fletcher 257 Reading them. and delighted in. Rather is it that "H. beauty is a thing so sharp as to be painful." dwells in a world of her own longings. a poem which shows her shrinking from beauty of nature this piercing appreciation of the ORCHARD I saw the it fell first pear as — swarm fleet the honey-seeking.

1 bring you an offering — do you. I bring offering. grapes. red-purple. This next one again gives the ache of weariness . spare us from loveliness these fallen hazel-nuts. alone unbeautiful. their berries dripping with wine. stripped late of their green sheaths. spare us the beauty of fruit-trees. The honey-seeking paused not. son of the god. rough-hewn god of the orchard. the air thundered their song. and I alone was prostrate.258 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry (spare us from loveliness) and I f eU prostrate crjdng: you have flayed us with your blossoms. and shrunken you as figs and quinces untouched. pomegranates already broken.

wax-Ulies. protected from the frost. no taste of bark. gasp for breath. Have you pears seen fruit under cover that wanted light — wadded in cloth. I same slope on the other side." and John Gould Fletcher 259 which comes when one has been stretching the cords of wonder for a long time SHELTERED GARDEN I I have had enough. aromatic. or find the precipitate. astringent — only border on border of scented pinks. smothered in straw? . clove-pinks. melons. every road. of coarse weeds. Every way ends. every foot-path leads at last to the hill-crest — then you retrace your steps."H. almost ripe. O for some sharp swish is of a branch — there no scent of resin in this place. have had enough — border-pinks. sweet-cress.D. herbs.

leaves scatter these pink-stalks. want wind to break. For this beauty. shrivelled by the frost. spiced heads. chokes out I life. great pine branches. . Or the melon let it — bleach yellow in the winter light.26o Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Why not let the pears cling to the empty branch ? All your coaxing will only a bitter let fruit — make them cling. even tart to the taste it is — — better to taste of frost the exquisite frost — than of wadding and of dead grass. hurled from some far wood right across the melon-patch. ripen of themselves. test their nipped. beauty without strength. limbs broken trail off. to fall own worth. at last but fair with a russet coat. snap fling off their them about with dead — spread the paths with twigs.

."H. torn. of mellowness and charm. a new beauty terrible in some wind-tortured place. and She desires . imagination and the very hair- — . happy indeed who can express himself moods. and ease the strain of one by his ability to experience another. no less than every person. twisted but showing the fight was to blot out this garden to forget.D. The poet is.D." and John Gould break pear and quince Fletcher 261 — valiant. Masters rebelling against his.\ tations are hard things to submit to. of repose. leave half -trees. / We have watched That poet in divers is Mr. ILimi. In both^ these poems. suffering from a too minute and impressing_observation observation and its correlative.D. and yet every poet. like Robert Frost."'s cadences are always . must bow to them." not that of wind-tortured places. to find a in new beauty some terrible wind-tortured place. But the "new beauty" which "H. strokes of her ordered art force a cry for rest disorder. notice the beautiful curves of the cadences. is to make is Hers is an art of balance. "H.

the central must have. but with rhythm. said that "vers libre In the chapter on Mr.D. I am only pointing out a peculiarity in the rhythms of these two poets. librisies permit themselves occasional Some lines vers which but might be timed by the old scansion. but this perfect swing . or running. "H." Poets. of these two methods is the best.262 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry is there a hint of a metrical and that of her husband. Aldington never within it do. the whole poem must be as rounded and recurring as the It it circular swing of a balanced it pendulum. yet never line. cadence in poetry quite another. its own law of cadence has would not be "free" if it had. Ituis-thesense of perfect balance of flow andjhjrthm. even its jerks must foUow movement." and Mr. no absolute rules. Her practice. absolutely to abandon the rhythms of very marked. Not only must the syllables so fall as to increase and continue the movecan be fast or slow." there I an explanation of cadence which will quote is Now cadence in music one thing. To illustrate : Sup- pose a person were given the task of walking. Mr. was a verse-form based upon cadence. since we are not dealing with tone. round . is Aldington. In the preface to is "Some Imagist 1916. also fall if only such lines Free verse within the circle of their cadence. metre when writing cadenced verse. ment." I Masters. may even jerk. just what I mean by "cadenced verse. I do not say which Perhaps calling it I cannot do better than pause here and explain just what is vers libre.

Fletcher it in. him. The flowers same shape is as the toad. nor need the times allowed to negotiate be always the same. Each strophe a in fact. and and linger in all sorts of ways. neither are they the but the balance preserved. or harder."H. therefore . only so that he were just one minute in traversing the first and just one minute in traversing the second. the quantity. to the poem. it is Of course. There is room here for an infinite num- ber of variations. move- ment upon movement completes itself. or the line. the half-circle time. circles can be added to circles. are not the size. Another illustration which may be employed is that of a Japanese is wood-carving. 263 minutes circle with two minutes given to do if Two which he would just consume quietly. which may is be the whole poem. is The imit of vers litre not the foot. humour seized him. . he was required to complete each half -circle in exactly a minute. Or he might making and run. where a toad in one comer 'balanced by a same spray of blown flowers in the opposite upper one. No other restrictions were placed upon He might dawdle in the beginning. is may be only a part. and run madly to reach mark on skip. The a fact. he walked round the But in order to make the task easier for him. the circle alwaj^s be the it same size. provided each movement and ramifies naturally into the next. and then complete his task by walking steadily round the second half to goal. and for extra haste by pauses. Also. as the case may be. and vary either lap of the circle as the these movements on half -circle. the meaning of the Greek word "strophe" simply that part of the poem which was recited while the chorus was making a turn round the altar set up in the centre of the theatre. simile of the circle is more than need not a simile." and John Gould a large circle. or complete circle. The unit is the strophe.D. up for slow going by fast. the number of Syllables. leap.

fir. sea — Whirl your pointed pines. Hurl your green over Cover us with your pools of It will quickly : be seen that this poem is made up of five cadences "Whirl up. us." is a third. The words must be hurried or delayed in reading to fill out the swing. and. in the fourth last the two syllables are in the nature of a feminine ending. Splash your great pines On our rocks. some of three." is another."'s: poem of "H. in that they are really an unaccented or suppressed part of_^the line." . "Cover us with your pools of fir. OREAD Whirl up. first time unit of the fifth . an irregular measurement within the main Some of the cadences are made up of two line." a fourth and the fifth.264 Tendencies in illustrate Modern American Poetry with this little Let us D. that is all. "Hurl your green over us. sea "is one cadence "Whirl your pointed pines. Now these cadences are in made up^)f-^time-iHiits_ I which are no sense syllabic. The time units are also cadences. mean that the number of syllables to each unit is immaterial. such units. "Splash — your great pines on our rocks.

/ How nearly identical these time units are. In January. is shown by the following table. I made some experiments in reading vers litre aloud into a sound-photographing machine. but Of course. no one in reading the poem would have such measurements in mind." as recorded on the film and afterwards measured by Dr.D. They were recorded by a scientific instrument while the poem was being read in a perfectly simple and natural manner. M. William sity. Patterson of Columbia Univer- The results of the reading of "Oread. roughly estimated) 13 — 22 — 15 — 24 — — 13 — 19 — 13 — 15 — It will here 13- time length of unit be seen that the greatest variation of is ii/io. as Dr. 191 7. Patterson. . The measurements are of the intervals between the chief accents. While." and John Gould Whirl up / sea Fletcher 265 —/ Whirl / your pointed pines / Splash / your great pines / on our rocks / Hurl / your green over us / Cover us / with your pools / of fir. are here given. they are interesting for purposes of analysis. or that between a 13/10 second and a 24/10. through the courtesy of Dr. "The Oread:" 13 (intervals between chief accents given in tenths of a second. the interval 13/10 appears five times in this short poem. Patterson pointed out."H.

Fortunate one. rather an observation by the imagination than by the physical eye. observation here poems scattered through this garden are Also. Constable and Company. No matter how changing and is {subtle. scented and stinging." issued by Messrs. "Sea a charming name for a book. and the sea flower extremely beautiful." has published only one book as yet "Sea Garden. SEA IRIS Weed. during the Garden" is Autumn of 1916. "H. What careful I have spoken.266 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry of vers Ubre are not all so simple as I The cadences this. brittle flower. I will give a few of these flower poems. root tangled in sand. But for that very reason selected this to (illustrate upon. they show the changed is point of view of which . moss-weed. and you print a shadow like a thin twig.D. although the imaginative impulse never jars upon our sense of truth. and yet. London. sea-iris. . one petal is like a shell broken. it is upon this principle that all vers Ubre constructed.

D. Myrtle-bark is flecked from you. .^H. painted like a fresh prow stained among the salt weeds." and John Gould Fletcher rigid mjrrrh-bud. sweet and salt in — you are wind our nostrils. 267 camphor-flower. SEA LILY Reed. slashed and torn but doubly rich — such great heads as yours drift upon temple-steps. but you are shattered in the wind. you are painted blue. Do Do the murex-fishers drench you as they pass ? your roots drag up colour from the sand ? Have they slipt gold under you Rivets of gold ? Band of iris-flowers above the waves.

aye — though it hiss to cover you with froth.D. stream-violets."'s flower poems. single. crispness and accuracy of vision of the poet. I think consists largely in the. sharp consonsint sounds in the verse . again. sweet. like fliat on a bright stone. poem. Of all "H. — wood-violets. you are Hfted up. . Gods. of unsentimentally strong and incisive by a satisfying but astringent cadence.268 Tendencies in scales are Modern American Poetry dashed from your stem. furrows it with hard edge. Yet though the whole wind slash at your bark. kept bined with clear. the following is It is a part of to my mind probably the finest. It is difficult to analyze the delicate art of these it flower-pieces. sand cuts your petal. violets from a wet marsh. coman original imaginative insight." "Sea These violets are the a longer offering brought to the gods SEA GODS ( But we bring great masses violets.

We bring the hyaciath-violets. Fletcher 269 Violets in clumps from hills." and John Gould .D. ful and note the word "violets. Take the first and the beauti- — . bare. the picture. fine though that stanza. word " violets. The masses of violets are heaped one until the sheer upon another music of the poem almost obscures is. Yellow violets' gold. among We bring deep-purple bird-foot violets. sweet. cliff. burnt with a rare tint violets — hke red ash tufts of grass." qualifying words set to it But we bring great masses violets." is a daring and dangerous this repetition that it is but the poet has so managed a beauty not a torment. river-violets. sweet. moss. blue violets. chill to the touch — and violets whiter than the in-rush surf. of your own white The repetition of the thing."H. tufts with earth at the roots. single. violets tugged from rocks.

stream^^iolets.270 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry wood-violets. Almost all the effects in Keats's poem are got by the use of similes and metaphors Sweetpeas on tiptoe for a flight. For pure loveliness of adjective. clifE. have just quoted.D." for instance. and in manner in which she uses her flowers. ." — vocabulary. repetitions where the a great artist effect is enhanced by them. river-violets. violets from a wet marsh. clumps of woodbine taking the soft wind Upon their summer thrones. or an ill-furnished is "H. The clouds were pure and white as flocks new-shorn. the very "H. with Keats 's "I Stood Tiptoe upon a Little Hill. but never a repetition where most poets would be forced to repeat from a paucity of imaginative images. Bloomy grapes laughing from green attire. we have hints of that changed technique of which Compare the violet poem I I have been speaking. moss.D. line of the listen to the last second stanza blue violets.." is peculiarly a^poet of flowers.

sweet.D. of your own white one simile here.D." the poems succeed rather by their lyricism rather Jiian broad. Even in those All her effects are delicate She is also essentially a lyric poems which aim at a sort of narrative suggestion like "The Helmsman."H. clear. .D." is not a poet nor of poet." "The Cliff Temple." and John Gould Fletcher 271 Now take these lines from "H." and "Sea Gods. We bring the hyacinth-violets." "The Shrine. of gre^t breadth of mood many moods. bare. THE HELMSMAN be swift — us. we have always known you wanted We fled inland with our flocks." "Pursuit. than by anything else. but it is employed more as a statement than as a simile." We bring deep-purple bird-foot violets. That whole pasis There sage illustrates most excellently what Imagists mean '^ by verse that is hard and "H. chill to the touch — and violets whiter than the in-rush surf.

we tore our feet in half btuied rocks and knotted roots and acorn-cups. We forgot — we worshipped. we sought further thickets. tree and the slope between and tree — and the slender path strung field to field and wood and hill to wood to hill forest after it- and the . and wood and wood-bank enchanted us — and the feel of the clefts in the bark. We worshipped inland — we stepped past wood-flowers. we forgot yovir tang. we parted green from green. we broke hyssop and bramble.tangles. We wandered from pine-hiUs through oak and scrub-oak. we brushed wood-grass. we dipped our ankles through leaf-mould and earth. we caught flower and new bramble-fruit in our hair we laughed : as each branch whipped back.272 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry cut off from the wind and the salt track of the marsh.

Such passages as our flocks. We fled inland with we pastured them cut off in hollows. from the wind salt track of the and the marsh." any one who has seen a wide swath of rank marsh grass cutting into arable land will instantly appreciate. parted green from green" sees is a beautiful line."H. How apt and perfect is that expression. one and .D. — hesitates — drops — — hesitates — crawls back — O be swift — But now. We were enchanted with the tufts of coarse grass in the shorter grass the fields. tree-bark. sweat of a torn branch were sweet to the taste. "We grasses." and John Gould Fletcher 273 We forgot — for a moment tree-resin. the lyric touch in that poem which de- lights the reader. The reader the variously tinted leaves and and almost the shapes of them. our boat climbs climbs we have always known you wanted Yes. — we loved all this. it is us. "the salt track of the marsh.

and her descriptions of it are no less accurate and vivid as to be noted the sea shares " where rollers shot with blue cut under deeper blue. The H. and this is so rare with "H. Yet.D. can be given more subtly in vers libre than in any other form.274 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry another. cut with the weight of wind — But you you shudder when then hft.D. — you sink as the tide . she says i — you are unsheltered. and wood and wood-bank enchanted us. and last stanza is The notice how the lines creep and waver. with the blast sinks." 's interest Avith flowers. we dipped our ankles through leaf-mould and earth. until O be swift — toward land on the crest of a sudden breaker. growing thicker and darker to the lushness and dimness of We sought the further thickets. Of a cliff. swelled it strikes." starts the boat darting more carefully when it does occur. which movement. Read it aloud. in this last stanza. an example of that elusive thing. IjTicism gives place to drama.

of a shore : Wind rushes over the dunes. ."'s work deals which are constant and unaffected entirely with those things eternal. coarse. and flowers. likened her at the beginning of this essay. have always been the same in one poem.D. To be the prophet of a renewStrange paradox ing art. salt-crusted grass "H. and sea.D." where she deserts nature for man and his activities. J" The everyday world startles her as though she really were the dryad to which I that beauty. She seems quite Cliffs. and sound thunder when thunder sounds." and John Gould you shrill Fletcher 275 under hail." has no such insight. It is not to her look for a revaluation of the terms of Other poets are possessed of a vision which can perceive a new beauty in the modern world we shall see Mr.D.D. But "H. we must There are people who find this poetry cold. "Cities. In ."H. ! still are that "H. and to spend one's life longing for a vanished It is only in the things which were and C loveliness. Fletcher doing this. and the answers. by the world about her."/finds beauty. it is in a pathetic endeavour to believe in the beauty and use of a modernity in which she feels she has no part.

but the expression chastens similes. rock-cedar and sand plants and tamarind. was easy enough to alter them with a touch. feeling is there. is a warm. covers no feeling. how shall I call you back? Cedar and white ash. clearness. and all of my sea-magic is for naught. Nothing could point out more aptly what I mean than this poem CIRCE It was easy enough to bend it them to my wish. one sense for in it is something of the coolness of this marble.276 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry it is."'s poetry flesh of a woman bathing in a fountain sight. But it is a mistake to suppose that this coolness. but within beating heart. let Let me mix my me liken "H. something of the clarity of fresh water. It was easy enough — a thought called them . The it. red cedar and white cedar and black cedar from the inmost fragrance upon fragrance forest.D. but you adrift on the great sea. — to the cool cool to the cool to the touch.

cut the sand in a clear ring and shut me from the earth. and the sea-stars with the swirl of the sand. a god-like beast.D. ."H." and John Gould Fletcher 277 from the sharp edges of the earth they prayed for a touch. they cried for the sight of they entreated till my face. me self. — men to It is easy enough to call from the edges of the earth. and cover the sea-sound with their throats. and the sea-roar with and bellowing and their own barks snarls. and the rock-tamarinds and the wind resonance but not your voice. then a black leopard follows close — black panther and red and a great hound. in pity I turned each to his own Panther and panther. It is easy to summon them my feet with a thought it is — beautiful to see the tall panther sleek deer-hounds and the circle in the dark.

far away. wielding power lightly. She has overlaid it with and plates of wrought and beaten gold. almost with ease. a simple. but in the final count. /To appreciate this poetry needs a certain knowl! edge. it is just the desire of a woman. mistress of trajisforming spells.D. How sad that is ! The loneliness of it ! An en- chantress." if is indubitably a poet for poets. Cold indeed Cold as the words of cut meirble upon a tombstone recording the anguish of a soul. is "H. But I would give up rock-fringes of coral and the inmost chamber of and my island palace my own gifts and magic and the whole region of my power for your glance. human woman.D. for the man she loves. when she is constantly "H.278 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry It is easy enough to make cedar and white ash fumes into palaces and to cover the sea-caves with ivory and onyx." has set poem very plates still. poet of submissive words./ It doubtful the great mass of poetry lovers will . but of what use longing for one this is it who is not there.

and that perhaps-monotonous to those who are not concerned with its excellence. neither digs deeply nor spreads . It also bears with it the seeds of of something bordering on preciosity.D. her own." not only can any poet learn much from "H. still it is only ais a blush of colour that we perceive it in her work.D. The secret is "H. to a marked degree. "H."'s method. The but in widely."H. but^she is a rarel y perfect poet. over-care.D. faults of such poetry are not in its treatment. It is true that she employs is the same technique throughout her work. The is tricks of her manner occasion- ally recall the Greek.D. ^Deeply affected by classic literature.^ Here a fresh sprung out of a new . Fletcher 279 work of such a delicate perfec- but it is no less important for that. personal. it has no scope. it This is a narrow art. but her thoughts are perfectly flower. They show no slightest of those influences which until recently ruled trace American art. the poems themselves reveal new meanings as they become more familiar. Her poems are native. Not that it is superficial it is quite the reverse." 's peculiar possession. But merely that "there are more things in Heaven and Earth" than such poetry takes cognizance of." is not a great. But this is a lustre known to no one else. and only the lustre of its polish saves it. its very texture. Few books better repay study than "Sea Garden. poet." and John Gould ever fully appreciate tion. There is a certain thinness in the original conception.

all melted and absorbed in the blood of a young and growing race. also her greatest virtues but. Fletcher goes out from himself from the entire world before him. Mr. a traditional mode there is no staining it for ulteperfect singleness of her . rior ends. because they are . unartipaganism of a new world. and the aim has resulted in releasing all her forces to concentrate them upon the simple There is no clipping her pattern to fact of beauty. D. Neither in point art. Both poets have a compelling need for beauty. of view. completely sincere. It is completely personal. she has achieved a rare„and finelywrought beauty. but where "H. nor in technique." retires within herself and finds it in her own soul. at times. "H. it and wrests Mr. does this art resemble any preceding English in that it is yet it is cosmopolitan a fusion of much knowledge." to that Where she holds her work of John Gould in the check of a faultless taste. undoubtedly. Fletcher gives his full range and so obtains a grandeur akin to that of mountains and winds.D. . Meticulous. Nothing could better illustrate the wide latitude Fletcher. She takes her good where she finds it. Here is the frank.28o graft ficial Tendencies in Modern American Poetry upon an old stock. in the narrow compass which she works." in 's faults are obvious enough.D. within the bounds of Imagism than to turn from the work of "H.



"H.D." and John Gould
"H.D."' s colours are





Angelico's; Mr. FletcEer's are turgid, and imposed

one upon another, like Turner's. Turner is not a bad prototype for Mr. Fletcher, each takes the everyday world and colours it to iridesc6nt romance. I can easily imagine Mr. Fletcher having painted "Rain, Steam and Speed," for instance. John Gould Fletcher was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on January 3, 1886. His father was of Scotch-Irish stock, the son of a pioneer who went to Arkansas from Tennessee in the early part of

the nineteenth century.
days, the family

From pre-Revolutionary
the great the poet's


lived in Tennessee, but

grandfather was caught in

romantic Western exodus, and his

was born

in a log cabin in the then scarcely

settled country of Arkansas.


that time. Little

a few dozen, houses, senior, had/snly a backwoods education, but it seerns to have sufficed. Again and again, in the history
of our country,

Rock was only a settlement of amd Mr. John Gould Fletcher,



are struck with the extraordinary,

results of this apparently insufficient schooling./


the outbreak of the Civil War, this gentleman volunteered in the Confederate

Army, serving

until 1863.

He was promoted captain after the Battle of Chickamauga, and after being mentioned in despatches for bravery, was woimded at the Battle of Murfreesboro,
in January, 1862.


Tendencies in Modern American Poetry

should be noticed that


the poets

whom we
this is

have studied


of sturdy forbears,


and movement. The energy which led their ancestors to war with physical conditions has enabled them to war with mental. After the war, Mr. Fletcher, senior, kept a small general shop in Little Rock, of which he made such a success that he was able to save enough money In this business, he also to become a cotton buyer. prospered, and with the proceeds took a pleasure A trip to Europe meant trip to Europe in 1873. more in those days than it does now, and it speaks much for Mr. Fletcher's desire for culture that he should have chosen to spend his hardly earned money
particularly the case of those of the second
third stages of the
in this in


Returning to Little Rock, he married,
This lady was the
in 1839,


Adolphine Krause.

daughter of a Danish father and a German mother.



had come



and became

a naturalized citizen

her mother, a Hanoverian
to this country in 1835.



had emigrated

the tracing of racial

traits, it is interesting to

note a

certain strain of sentiment in

John Gould








German and Danish


can also see a

love of the fantastic, a sort of allegorical, elfin qual-

which links him to these Northern, Teutonic



boy was four years

old, the family.

"H.D." and John Gould



consisting of his father, his mother, his two sisters,


himself, moved into a large square white house one of those high mansions, with pillared front, so common in the South. It had been built by one of


first settlers



Rock, and was

old, as

Arkansas counts old, when the Fletcher family bought it. It already had memories, not theirs, to be speculated about. Layers of wall-paper upon the walls, four and five deep, lent a suggestion of romance This house is the background of to its faded rooms. the poet's childhood. Mr. Fletcher is fortunate in having one place which he has always looked upon as

"home." /Americans lose much in depth of characand mellowness of mind by their nomadic habit of life. A person whose childhood has been a series of rapid arrivals and departures from hired lodgings never gains the peculiar tenderness that comes from

roots long nourished in one



The profound

impression which this house

upon the poet is shown in his "Ghosts of an Old Reading this series of short poems, one sees the house, one feels it, and one knows very well
the imaginative child


lived in




the house

The house that
I write of, faces the north


sun ever seeks

Its six

Tendencies in Modern American Poetry
white columns,
great windows of
its face.

The nine

It fronts foursquare the winds.

Under the penthouse

of the veranda roof,

The upper northern rooms Gloom outwards mournfully.
Staring Ionic capitals

Peer in them
Owl-like faces.


winter nights

The wind,

round the comer,

Shoots upwards

The windows

rattle as


some one were


them wishing

to get



upon the wind.

Doors lead to nowhere

burrow between the


Closets in every

room hang open,


are stared into


uncivil ancient trees.

In the middle of the upper hallway



a great circular hole

Going up to the





"H.D." and John Gould
All over the house there




a sense of


Of minutes dragging slowly


story of broken effort and desire.

Some worn-out






in his nursery, teased,


by a

desire for something

beyond what even

his fancy could reach

In the tired face of the mirror

If I


a blue curtain reflected.


the reflection,

Peer a Uttle beyond, I would see

A boy crying
Because his
sister is

in another


And he

has no one to play with
building blocks,


listlessly scattering



Because no one
is stiff



him the palace

of Fairy



the curtain



This poem


the very nostalgia of remembered

the old toy cabinet,
I stand

and turn over dusty things


— card games — hoops and



Tendencies in Modern American Poetry



helmets, swords.

In the far comer

A doll's tea-set

in a box.

are you, golden child.


gave tea to your

and me ?

The golden


Further than



From you have
She hves

passed those foolish years.

— she

— she



the old toy cabinet,

I idly stand

and awkwardly

Finger the lock of the tea-set box.

What matter
it is

— why should
after all


look inside.

Leave old things to the ghosts of old

My stupid brain refuses thought,

am maddened

with a desire to weep.

Those three poems are so
ity, that, after
little boy,

vivid, so full of personal-

reading them, one knows the wistful

avid of impressions,
in the

who read The Ancient



of the Ionic columns.


Fletcher tells us that he did not understand the poem, but we can imagine how greatly its weird images and uncanny music must have affected him.

Mrs. Fletcher was musical, with

artistic interests,

and she loved to buy books.

So the

boy had


and John Gould



plenty to feed upon, particularly as he was encour-

aged to read by presents of books. He says that he was very fond of "Tom Sawyer," and that the scenes
in the graveyard "sent shivers

up and down


spine and gave me an unquenchable taste for the uncanny and weird." We shall see the truth of this when we come to consider his work. He was taught to read and write by his mother, learning the former out of "Webster's Blue Back
Spelling Book," of which he has keen recollections.


he was about seven or eight, teachers were engaged for him, and he says that he began the studies of Latin £ind German when he was only eight years old. Certainly, Mr. Fletcher must have been a very precocious little boy, for he distinctly remembers "revelling" in Schiller and Uhland at
this period.

When he was eleven years old,
to school for the first time,

in 1897,

he was sent

and here he

in love

with Longfellow, Scott, and Tennyson.
time, too, he began to write verses.



In 1899, Mr. Fletcher entered the High School, graduating in 1902. Some time in 1900 or 1901, he

was given a set of Poe, and the effect of such reading upon the sensitive boy can be imagined. He was even then enough of a serious artist to read, not only the poems and stories, but the essays, and it was






own words, he


Poe's theories wholesale."

man whose body is strong enough to bear the strain of an unusually fecund creative Academy.288 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry In 1902. and from being a puny boy. we see Who was it who if. compulsory gymnastic training. there is There is no better no better method of gaining vicarious experience. In Mr. Here. Mr. under a system of to prepare for Harvard." we substitute "habit of thought. it requires much train- . upon a course of Gautier and Baudelaire. Mr. when we come to consider his Japanese poems. than the study of languages. once more proving that true science and true art are never far apart. he was seat to Phillips Academy. Words are stubborn things. with each new language learnt one acquires a new brain? This is certainly true for "brain. he gained in vigour and physical strength. the great said that Fletcher. and he was soon embarked French. as in the other Imagists. Andover. value of lingual studies. (I is peculiarly sensitive to the nuances show how sensitive in a moment. developed into a faculty. Fletcher of tongues." training for the mind.) The French language was just what he needed to give his work that severe grounding in technique shall without which no poet can ever be sure of mastery. Entering Harvard in 1903. he became interested in chemistry. Fletcher started for the first time to learn At Phillips His knowledge of Latin made the reading of French easy to him.

But the poet was too original. The West fascinated him. Fletcher's attention to In the French. Fletcher." needed the Realizing stimulus of a more mellow surrounding. 1908.D. No nation has achieved so perfect a control words as has the French. Perhaps his mind was too new a field for such impressions to allow of . died in 1906. To this end. But Boston suited his needs at that time as little as did Harvard. too restive under m«ital control. Fletcher sailed for Europe in August." and John Gould ing to Fletcher 289 make them modem of docile to one's purpose. but for "I'homme sensuel moyen. with a sure instinct for what his life had lacked hitherto. this. writing. the Summer of to the West. to be happy learning in a prescribed curriculum. Mr. Again and again he returns to it. he had wished him to have a Harvard degree. to California ciate that college courses are not designed for the education of geniuses. He was too young to appre1905.D. He went straight to Venice. like "H. young man took a trip and the Yosemite Valley. He had not sympathized in his son's literary aspirations. senior. but had wanted him to study law or go into a bank. It was a happy thought which turned Mr."H. Inheriting a small competence from his left college and moved into upon devoting himself wholly to he promptly intent Boston.. most notably in his Arizona poems. He. Mr." father.

. in great thirsty gulps. which greatly intrigued his imagination. green Thames rolled slowly along. and outside. quiet hard-wood floor. and then London. By October. perhaps more fortunately for him. and puffing river craft. When I first met him. which. were all published in the same year. scenery. I can recall no poem of his which has Venice Leaving Venice in for a background. with trees. with its constantly shifting pictures of lighters. as he insists they are. in the shape of five little books of poems. the There we sat in the large. he passed the Winter Rome. and overflowing bookcases. 1909. Shelley. and from the presses barges. through the habitat for a poet. Mr. 1913. Fletcher lived in Adelphi Terrace until the Spring of 19 14. great writing-table. then. drinking in history. and working hard. steeunboats. and it was during this time that he sowed his literary wild oats. and ing. in November. when he moved to Sydenham. he was living in Adelphi Terrace. 1909. I remember thinking that its it was an ideal room. close to the Crystal Palace. with careless indifference to ridicule. he was definitely settled in London. and first reading as usual. past and stdyed in to He moved present. It is from this moment that his real career as a poet begins. colour.290 their Tendencies in Modern American Poetry becoming immediately transferable to poetry. a place full of literary associations. However that may be. Brown- Rome until May.

" and John Gould of four different firms. I rouge. vibrements divins des mers Paix des pS. to render the sounds of vowels in colour. that was jejune. followed the baud's poem. A. it was something of an imitation. bleu. Golfe d'ombre . rire des ISvres belles la colore Dans ou les ivresses p6nitentes U. I think Mr." issued by Messrs. Arthur Rimbaud. Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes. Constable and Company. Lance des I. rois blancs. in which he French poet. sang crach^. Let us compare the two : VOYELLES A noir. with the exception of one. Still.tis virides. achieves. E. paix des rides Que I'alchimie imprime aux grands fronts studieux .D. cycles. U vert. E blanc."H. of course. sem^s d'animaux. noir corset velu des mouches 6clatantes Qui bombillent autour des puanteurs cruelles. Fletcher 291 These little volumes are out of print. glaciers fiers. they nevertheless work With much contained some An attempt. to my mind. a more satisfactory result than Rimvery interesting things. voyelles. "The Book of Nature. frissons d'ombelles pourpres. Fletcher is hardly fair to his early in his consideration of these books. candeur des vapeurs et des tentes.

' ' I ." one. observe how he has most part.292 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry O. arbitrarily. while instantly throws a weight on O. Silences traverses des Mondes et des Anges : — O I'Om^ga. which golfe d'ombre is quite outof place in the A. A sound ' ' in the whole clause devoted unless ' ' we include the questionable "noir". begins better with "candeur" and "vapeurs" and "tentes. for the phonetic effect to relate his colours his and images single to vowels. section. and these words may mitigate such if singularly unlike vowel sounds as those of "pour- pres" and "sang crachd. They bear only the most Although the open sound of A. rayon It is strange violet de Ses Yeux. worked them out with very of little — Now. has ' ' ' rire ' and ' ' ivresses ' to hold it in place. how tortured and exaggerated Rim- baud's images seem. by a slight stretching. for blue. With the exception "^clatantes" and "puanteurs. may be made. distant relation to the letters." but out of key in the next line where no E sound appears. other colour analogies. supreme clairon plein de strideurs ^tranges. tion of with the possible excep- O. except in the unimportant second falls entirely syllable of ' ' ombelles." we have not a to A. to connote black when it is the French "noir" which there is no such approximation in the is used. which one has enough imagina- tion to keep the red of the lips is and the wine before the more difficult as "ivresses p6ni- . E.

is green. We and if we are willing to grant it. loses its original pronunciation entirely. being a compound.D. A. in the pletely suppresses "Silences traverses. is which have no one has a shrewd suspicion that "p6ni tentes" simply used because have been told that U."H." but these words entirely upset the excellent sound weight of the rest of the line." and John Gould tentes" Fletcher 293 may refer to intoxications connection with wine. and comover "Anges" "Mondes" takes precedence "strideurs and. except "animaux. flaming caravans of day advancing with stately art Through pale. of the rhyme. O red." line is The last distinctly good until we get to "Ses Yeux. it Clairon such a strong word that 6tranges. As it is. ." in which the U. ashy deserts of grey to the shadowy dark of the heart. I blue. E green. O." easily dominates same way. the lines which detail that fact would be well enough in any poem which had no phonetic end in view. Fletcher's presentation of the same subject THE VOWELS (To Leon Bakst) A light and shade. ' ' is the ' most successful is of these vowel analogies. In fact. in it. one cannot help smiling a little at a technique which was unable to think of a single word with a single U. U purple and yellow. All over my soul and song your lambent variations are spread. This is Mr.

crimson clarion horn that echoes on in the bold Old omnipotence of power These are the miracles . buzzing about a hot rose Upas-flower bursting. Beryl-set sistra of Isis ashiver with infinite sotmd Bells with amethyst tongues. amaranth sable black. orange surface of bronze. hyacinthine. A black and white. Athena violet-crowned. topaz spotted brocade. peace on the sea-green Ethiopian timbrels that tinkle melodiously I. purple. torrid bassoons and Butterflies. silver bells. ruby. rosy glow of gold I and make them day and night O red. lotus-glory Ols^mpian. thunder. I blue. and restless chameleons tremulous in the breeze. maroon 0. E green. bumblebees. pomp of the Orient. E. Iris of night. U purple and yellow. . suave caresses of Cavemed abysms leys track of silence. lagoon Muted tunes Sorrow and of the autumn. Chryselephantine image. O. E and I. Barbaric clangor of cataracts. flutes that murmur without repose. simset. sea. Intensity of sky and of distant sea dimly seen. glory of God that One O. Peace on the leaves. Tears that drip on the wires. iEohan melody U. furnaces. colour and odour and shade.294 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry sails. semi-green. stm is Ebony and onyx corollas opening to the O. assaults of infuriate gales of black Dappled vibrations and white that the bacchanal val- Candid and waxlike jasmine. parakeets of emerald shrieking perverse in the Iridescent trees.

the ends join to make a complete conception. and as such the poet leaves them. Undoubtedly. crimson clarion horn that echoes on in the bold Old omnipotence of power or else to accord so perfectly that they enhance the effect rather than detract from flutes that it U. In lies the piquant charm of such unexpected relations the whole reason for such a suggestion in a work of art. Those vowel sounds which are unlike the particular letter in question are so managed as either to remain subordinate : 0."H-D. Fletcher's poem came from Arthur Rimbaud's. Fletcher is a more original poet than Arthur Rimbaud. unless the colours can be made to spring naturally from words containing these vowels. The poem is a properly rounded whole. Mr. the initial suggestion of Mr. torrid bassoons and murmur without repose. and has a finer ear. The vowels have a use in themselves as building material. yBut poets have ever been a light-fingered gentry in . He justifies his colours at the very outset in Flaming caxavans of day advancing with stately art and holds it admirably throughout." and John Gould It is Fletcher 295 a purely arbitrary thing to give vowels colour values.

Fletcher is is curiously He constantly progressing. Fletcher paid his first visit to Paris. it used to be said that Mr. invariably awards the spoils various poets to the victor. for the phase just left and has scant sympathy behind. When I first went to London. took place in London to which Mr. in spite of to who seems never is have affected his work in the slightest degree Whitman. Mr. not an art exhibition. and through reading a poem of Verhaeren's made the acquaintance of the great body of contemporary French literature. Whitman. and the one poet strange that. But literature was not the only art which claimed the poet's attention. The fault lay. Fletcher made a point of reading a new French book every day. Fletcher did not go. Certainly he has done an unusual amount in that field. cmd also in painting. The riences. His knowledge of both music and painting is extraordi- . Mr. Not a concert of any importance. years in London were full of mental expe- In 1909. He was much interested in music. to and Time. He plunged into it with his usual ardour. he it is made a close study of Walt this. not in writing them. with a complete indifference moral considerations.296 "^ Tendencies in Modern American Poetry this respect. as of a is natural in the work young man. In 1910. unselective always. but in publishing them./ It is possible to trace the influence of in all these early volumes.

The result was his volume. One also. except for a few published in "Poetry" and in the London "Egoist. This knowl- edge freed him. as the knowledge of vers lihre freed Mr. and not a single London firm could be it. Still." all written in May. to I Fletcher read me these poems in Lon- was very much struck by them. "Sand and . Spray." some extracts of which ginning of this chapter.D. Fletcher was undaunted. don. enough for ^ one man. and continued writing to please himself done at this time was his sea among other things symphony. it would not be what artistic connotations. he felt that poetry too must break the old bonds. 1913- new But publishers were wary." and John Gould nary in Fletcher 297 a layman." Mr. I quoted at the be- When Mr. however. found to undertake All through that Winter the poems remained in manuscript. Masters. this poetry was too for them. "Irradiations. But he is is too wise to dabble art is in the production of either. They seemed to open a door which had always remained closed. true that his poetry its j it is. He determined to write as he felt. He realized painting were employing a new idiom . Fletcher says that ist it was the Post-Impressionthat both music and Exhibition of 191 2 that finally demolished his conservatism."H. I felt that the publication of the book was a me . with no regard to old rules or canons. without musical and' Mr.

1915. with a capital letter at the beginning of each line." had no difficulty in finding a publisher. sets poetry upon the rhythm certain of the line when spoken. and for the first time in recent it. and the volume was published under the title. ever it — — be produced. Fletcher's "Blue Mr. He accepted the book at once. Symphony" and "London I Excursion." which contained Mr. Mifflin and Company. the poet argued in favour of vers libre. and when the returned to America in brought the manuscript with me. Ferris Greenslet. made an attempt to analyze is He says The basis of English poetry it. rhythm." in April. This rh3rthm syllables. years. obtained by min- and unstressed Stress may be produced and often is produced by what is by accent. the breath required to pronounce certain Howsyllables being more than is required on certain others. together with the manuscript of "Some Imagist of 1914. it is precisely this insistence upon cadence.298 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry I prime necessity. can be made the same in every This was the aim of Alexander Pope. is or. "Irradiations — Sand and Spray. It may known as quantity. which it apart from jprose. instantly saw the value of these poems. line of the Now this rhythm poem. My . a man of much literary acumen and with a rare sympathy for good work in all manners. and not — be said at the outset —a way of or printing. an insistence upon end-rhjrmes. I Autumn Poets. Houghton. In a very interesting preface. as some would prefer to call gling stressed cadence. of the firm of Messrs. for instance.

— what return. variation. In the case of the modern imitator of Kipling or Masefield. reversal of rdles. into an inevitable and real secret of the greatest /The EngUsh poets lies '-^ not in their views on life. we can have a perfectly even unaltered movement throughout if we desire to be monotonous. rhythms which are adequate and forms which are expressive of his own unique personality."H. and therefore every poet must seek anew for himself. creating accelerando and rallentando Or we can and follow a group of rapid lines with a group of slow opes./ self-sufficing Each era of man has its unique and range of expression and experience. We can have a rapid group of slow heavy — what is called a line — succeeded by a effects. and In short. or vice versa. subordinate themes." and John Gould objection to this musical. repetition. is I maintain that poetry is capable of as many gradations in cadence as music syllables in time. only those obliged to hold. the good poem fixes a a free range of emotions. whereby they were enabled to put forth their views in perfect form. which every sane man is — which were. in music is called development. or a single slow. naturally.D. — but profound in their knowledge of their craft. gives the effect of monotonous rag-time. The good poem is that in which all these effects are properly its used to convey the underl3nng emotions of which welds all author. gave the effect of a perfectly balanced pattern like a minuet or fugue. Finally. it offer full it In neither case does scope for emotional development. and that these emotions into a work of art by the use of dominant motif. one . Or we can gradually tempo. proportionate treatment. . like the swift scurrying of the wave and the sullen dragging increase or decrease our of itself away. free emotion. or artistic whole. out of the language medium at his disposal. Fletcher artificial 299 and unit method is that it is both In the case of the eighteenth century men.

so to speak. it will flap away in front of you and scurry over the sky above you. Mr. but Mr. and many : me. They are as refreshing as an October wind. like But as for me.300 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry This was at once an explanation and a challenge. Mr. This it . For the book itself. Does he name things directly? Seldom. Fletcher can. I can show you. Fletcher's poems are moods. Fletcher has a fertility and vigour which is wholly remarkable. was taken as both. but describe you cannot. Well. How does he do it? I do not know. expressed terms of nature. and as elusive. plus a highly I admit that that confuses rather than explains. we can read it quietly and perceive its excellent logic and sensible exegesis. you can experience the wind. it is very difficult to classify these poems. Possibly that their best analysis in the Mr. I say that for I can conceive of such a thing. It will slap you and push you. Go out on a windy Autumn morning and try to describe the wind. even to describe them. Fletcher's poems have an organic quality which defies explanation. the quintessence of it. fanciful point of view. Does he do so by analogy ? A little. Here is imagination only. I can conceive of an unimaginative person saying that they can make neither head nor tail of these It poems. they must stand of inspiring is interpretations moods. You can feel all this. That is it. but I cannot define. but now that the opposition has largely died away.

are exact description. the lazy rain Dripping from the eaves. shining umbrella-tops The next "clanging" and "clatterstraightforward poetry ing " are good words for the wind.D. of course. The winds come clanging and clattering From long white highroads whipping in ribbons up summits They strew upon the city gusty wafts of apple-blossom. VII Flickering of incessant rain On flashing pavements of umbrellas : Sudden scurry Bending. a wild imaginasee those line is And how well it ! makes us round. But the is " bending. The first three lines. and we smell the earthiness which all Spring rain has. "Description" really not the right word. Could anything be better? We see the rain. of course effect of it is an expressing of the a rainy day upon him."H. And the nistUng of innumerable translucent leaves. . we feel it. Uneven tinkling. But what about it — coming "whipping in ribbons up summits"? ." and John Gould is Fletcher is 301 a description of rain. recurved blossoms of the storm. recurved blossoms of the storm " tive flight. with the flickering rain on the pavements and the scurrying umbrellas.


Tendencies in Modern American Poetry

it is

certainly not descriptive, unless

we assume

that the city


upon a

series of hill-tops.

another imaginative leap, and an absolutely
got in a

original one, for the effect

new way.
lines, for

The same



true of the next

obviously no apple-blossoms are really blown into
the city from the distant orchards, but in this


the poet has got the earthy smell into his wind.




lines are

a marvel of exact description,

with only the adjective "lazy" to unite them to the imaginative treatment of the middle of the poem.

show Mr. Fletcher's make no mistake, this is more than technique it is a manner of seeing and feeling. I chose the rain poem because it was

have said enough,

I think, to

unusual technique.




a simple one to use for This


but there are

others which have a greater imaginative intensity.

a day of whirling cloud-shadows:

Over the roof-tops race the shadows
of clouds

Like horses the shadows of clouds charge down the

Whirlpools of purple and gold,

Winds from the mountains

of cinnebar,

Lacquered mandarin moments, palanquins swaying and


the vermiUon pavilions, against the jade balustrades.

Glint of the gUttering wings of dragon-flies in the light

"H.D." and John Gould
Silver filaments, golden flakes settling




Rippling, quivering flutters, repulse and surrender,

The sun broidered upon the rain, The rain rustling with the sun.
Over the roof -tops race the shadows
of clouds

Like horses the shadows of clouds charge down the

What a movement that has
anapestic metre,


We get all

the effect

of horses galloping without the usual recourse to

appears every

^t is now and

true that anapestic
then, but so

rhythm come upon and

again deserted, that

its effect is

psychological rather

than actual.

There, also, are the imaginative leaps

mandarin moments,




for instance.

What have mandarins and
rest of the



do with the

poem ?




seeking the relations of fact; but the Oriental connotations of these words throw a splendour and
brilliance into his clouds

which no other words could



broidered upon the rain.

The sun


rain rustling with the sun

might serve as an epitome of the poet's work.
lyric truth in its highest form.

It is

Mr. Fletcher's observation


very minute and


Tendencies in Modern American Poetry



the more remarkable

when we



often he

must have

to let reality print itself






subdue his imagination upon him with the force a sea-fog creeping up a

In the grey skirts of the fog seamews

skirl desolately,


flick like bits of

paper propelled by a wind a departing ship

About the flabby
Of the

sails of

Crawling slowly down th e low reaches

The poet must have watched
fiutterings of gulls

the inconsequential

about a boat very carefully to

think of that simile of blown bits of paper.

have quoted, there is a great variaNo one is more absolute master v of the rhythms of vers liSre than is Mr. Fletcher. So much is this true, indeed, that an Englishman has

In the poems

tion of rhythms.


written a paper upon this side of his work alone.

The following is a most beautiful translation into a scene of that vague feeling of unrest which French
eighteenth century physicians called " la maladie

de I'aprfes-midi"


spattering of the rain

upon pale


Of afternoon

like the passing of a



the roses shuddering 'gainst the wet green stalks

Of the streaming

— the passing of the wind

"H.D." and John Gould
the pale lower terraces of





Is like the crinkling of the

wet grey robes

Of the hours that come to turn over the Of the day and spUl


rainy dream.

Vague movement over the puddled


gold pennons

— a pomp of solemn gardens
veil of spring

Half hidden under the Hquid

Far trumpets


a vague rout of faded roses

Burst 'gainst the wet green silence of distant forests

A clash



— then the swift swaying footsteps

Of the wind that undulates along the languid
Pools of rajn

— the vacant terraces
of today.




Toward the sunset beyond the broken doors


slow, languorous


of that





of futile melancholy.

It is all

in the choice of words, and the reader will note that Mr. Fletcher pays as much attention to his verbs

as to his adjectives.


use of "spattering," in


first line,

gives at the very start the note of

desolation, heightened by the adjective "pale."


matter of verbs the wet, grey robes "crinkle," "burst," the wind "undulates," and trumpets the this last is again strengthened by an adjective, when
the poet speaks of "languid" terraces.
still lines,

There are


the wet green sHence of distant forests.



marvel of dignified gloom X


Tendencies in Modern American Poetry



solemn gardens

Half hidden under the liquid veil of Spring.

Slow, stately, the


holds to the end.

This next poem

picture and


in one,

so closely connected that they seem to melt together.

Notice the rising and falling of the verse, like the thrown-up water column, to relapse, dropping, like

at the end.

The fountain blows


breathless spray

From me


you and back to me.

tossed, curdled,

Crashing, quivering
I hurl kisses like

blows upon your


The dance


a bee drunken with sunlight

Irradiant ecstasies, white



Sigh and relapse.


fotmtaia tosses paUid spray
silent sky.

Far in the sorrowful,

tempted to quote a great many of these poems, but it is hardly necessary, the ones I have










original imagination

two more sides of this which must not be passed by. sheer fancy, but one so apt as to strike the
there are

reader as inevitable:

'H.D." and John Gould Fletcher


The The The The

trees, like great jade elephants,

Chained, stamp and shake 'neath the gadflies of the breeze
trees lunge

and plunge, unruly elephants

clouds are their crimson howdah-canopies.
sunlight glints like the golden robe of a Shah.


were tossed on the wrinkled backs of those


That is one of the most completely successful
that Mr. Fletcher has done.


It is extraordinarily

and imaginative.




shaking, lunging and plunging, but always "chained,"

a beautiful truism.

Here, too,

Fletcher's unique touches

— the rhymes, "lunge and


one of Mr.

plunge," coming in with startling effect in the middle

an un-rhymed poem. But perhaps the best touch the "wrinkled" backs of the trees, in the last
Another fancy,
less joyous,



serious, is the


O, seeded grass, you army of


Crawling up the long slope with quivering, quick blades of

You who storm



graves, tiny green

tentacles of

Interlace yourselves tightly over

my heart,

And do not


me go
here forever and watch with one eye



pilgrimaging ants in your dull, savage jungles.


Tendencies in Modern American Poetry
I see the stiff lines of

The while with the other
in mid-air, a

the slope


surprisingly arrested,

And above
The long

them, wavering, dancing, bodiless, colourless, unreal,

thin lazy fingers of the heat.


cannot be doubted by any one reading that that here we have a new idiom, a new manner

of seeing, a

new method

of interpretation.



thoughts and attitudes are irrevocably departed. There is no ancient animus here to cause bitterness and regret. Mr. Fletcher is conscious of no necessity to be other than he is. This is strong, nervous

work, untiring in

its crea.tive vision.


its tech-

nical effects, there are so




only ask

the reader to notice carefully the last two


Mr. Fletcher


a virtuoso of sound



passages from the poems just read will prove what

Amid the
vermilion pavilions, against the jade balustrades

clouds are their crimson howdah-canopies.



exceedingly fond of internal rhymes, and in
effects are

hands these

more than "un bijou d'un

sou," as Verlaine called rhyme.

very strange, as in regular metrical verse It is as if the his rhymes are often far from happy. knowledge that he had to rhyme took away the Where it is not imperative, it is often most faculty.

people My lungs breathed air My mouth swallowed food and drink My hands seized things. XXVIII I remember. houses. . meet with death. and it is a side which is growing upon him as though more and more overtones were deepening a beautiful. bothering at all could have kept my brain from poem About my next . I will quote one more poem from this book."H. streets. A more human interest. but directly. for it shows a new preoccupation on the part of the poet. On If I that day I know trite I would have been sufBciently happy. But his sound are frequently got without the aid of rhyme. there was a day I During which did not write a line of verse Nor did Nor did Yet I I speak a word to any woman.D. for A clash of cymbals — then the swift swaying footsteps Of the wind. my feet touched earth." and John Gould cunningly instance Fletcher 309 effects accomplished. Or spumed it at my desire. individual note. clouds. all that day I was fully occupied My eyes saw trees. It is not expressed in the terms of an imagined landscape.

advantages. series. In April. Fletcher has eminently the faults of his qualities.3IO Tendencies in Modern American Poetry About the tedious necessities of sex And about All the the day on which I would at last meet death. we shall constantly observe this tendency. Fletcher returned to this country in December. and one of his marked traits is the uncritical. when he returned to England and was married on July 5. it when not yet received the recognition it deserves. except for trips to the Summer West. The result is a volume in which the plums are scattered and lost in packing. to Florence Emily Arbuthnot." This of book contains the "Ghosts of an Old House" . these. unselective habit of mind I have already mentioned. good and bad together. he settled in New Boston. After short York and Little Rock. and remained there. MifHin and Company published "Goblins and Pagodas. Messrs. until May. 1916. 1916. driven sojourns in home by the war. poems in the volume are not so good as Mr. Such a fecundity of creation naturally leads to the production of much that is below the level of his best. The method has for. certain disadvantages are peculiarly comes to publication. He has a curious desire to write in his As we examine but its work. Mr. he wishes to include all of any given series. I think it is largely for this reason that his work has unfortunate in his case. 1916. Houghton. 1914.

should expatiate on the red binding. my poverty at not being able to buy a better edition. One interesting passage will condense lies it A book on my desk. and neither of writing about it is essentially my own : way. I should complain."H. the bad type." the longing for poems in sequence leads to a plethora of one sort of thing. In a long and for us intri- cate preface. Now. however. not having realized Neither of these ways. the ink perhaps. and a of eleven symphonies. If I were a realist poet. I should state at length how that reaction subject-matter had affected me.D. and strive to write of them in . and numbs the reader's interest by an over-sameness of effect. of stain on page sixteen. have had this book with me for several write a years." and John Gould which I Fletcher 311 series have already given extracts. were a poet following in the main the Victorian tradition. In this volume. Mr. for and conclude with a gibe at the author the sufferings of the poor. I should write about the book's external appearance. suppose I were to how would I treat the subject ? If I poem on this book. My own way would be as follows — connected I should select out of my life the important events with my ownership of this book. what the reader would obtain from this sort of poem would be my sentimental I towards certain ideas and tendencies in the work of another. I It has a red binding and is badly printed on cheap paper. Fletcher explained his method. of writing about this book possesses any novelty. even more than in "Irradiations. My poem would be essentially a criticism of the subject-matter of the book. In short. I should write my poem altogether about the contents of this book and its author.

maps out his series of In this preface. should linlf up my personality of the and the personality other. This "Green Ssmiphony" a riot of . I and make each a part and In this way should strive to evoke a soul out of this struc- piece of inanimate matter. a something characteristic tural inherent in this iaorganic form which is friendly to me and responds to my mood. I mean a description which takes trees. people." Mr." the unrelated method. life. Fletcher had experimented with this method. merely as they appear to the eye or ear. itself but taken each by they for the most part fol- low it. in the life of an artist. all the many parts a landscape. Already. in "London fuller Excursion. Women and Ghosts. or both. and we need not pause upon it. both as regards subject-matter and I In other words. By of the unrelated method. This is what I have called. and each built upon a dominant colour. it finds much is expression. houses. terms of the volume appearance. As linked to the programme of the artist's book. each one in itself. in fact. it is not new.312 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry itself. he symphonies as the stages This idea here . these poems seem rather forced into the design than written in accordance with The symphonies themselves are the arresting thing. also. and with no hint of the "pathetic fallacy" intruding itself. of the book. Spring In these sjmiphonies. in the preface to my own "Men. these colour symphonies cease to be unrelated.

D." and John Gould Fletcher 313 GREEN SYMPHONY I The glittering leaves of the rhododendrons air Balance and vibrate in the cool While in the sky above them White clouds chase each other. In the tower of the winds. Like scampering rabbits."H. The mating 'Mid their birds dart and swoop to the turf mad trillings Glints the gay sun behind the trees. . Thin fluttering streamers Of breeze lash through the swajring boughs. All the bells are set adrift Jingling For the dawn. With long cascades of laughter. Palely expectant The earth receives the slanting rain. Flashes of stmhght sweep the lawn They fling in passing Patterns of shadow. Down there are deep blue lakes Orange blossom droops in the water. Golden and green.

Are shaken Uke blue-green blades of Flickering. Cavorting in the shadow.314 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry I am am a glittering raindrop close Hugged I by the cool rhododendron. To fling in people's faces. Like cloudy emeralds. turf. cracking. A restless green rout of stars. falUng Splintering in a million fragments. Wallowing on the daisy-powdered Clutching at the sunlight. Like baroque pearls. The wind runs laughing up the slope Stripping off handfuls of wet green leaves. Of the spring. And the wind. With whirling movement They swing their boughs . n The trees splash the sky with their fingers. The clouds and In the tumult trees clash together Whirling and swirling. a daisy starring The exquisite curves of the close-cropped turf. The glittering leaves of the rhododendron grass.

Solemn arches In the afternoons.D. Lifts to the sky Serrated ranks of green on green. The whole vast horizon In terrace beyond terrace. Spotted with white blossom-spray. Darting their long green flickering fronds up at the sky. The trees are like a sea Tossing Trembling. Wallowing. . They sprawl about the river to look into Up the hill they come Gesticulating challenge it They cower together In dark valleys They yearn out over the fields." and John Gould About their stems Fletcher 315 Planes on planes of light and shadow Pass among them. They caress the roofs with their fingers. Opening fanlike to fall. Roaring."H. Pinnacle above pinnacle. The trees are roofs : Hollow caverns of cool blue shadow.

I hear it distantly. Enclosed in dark fronds. swim leisurely in deep blue seas of I hug the smooth bark of stately red pillars And with cones carefully scattered . The crash of a perpetual sea. Uneasily shaking their dark green manes. weave together distant branches till they enclose mighty circles. air. Ill Far let the voices of the mad wild birds be caUing me. grass. I will abide in this forest of pines. watch silver spears slanting downwards From the pale river-pools of "Sky. sway to the movement of hooded summits. The trees lash the sky with their leaves. When' the wind blows Battling through the forest. When I the rain falls.3i6 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Enamelled domes Tumble upon the Crashing in ruin Quiet at last. When I I I the sun shines.

Long" ago has the Stars moon whelmed this uncompleted temple." and John Gould I Fletcher 317 maxk the progression of dark dial-shadows Flung diagonally downwards through the afternoon. These trees are not like trees They are innumerable feathery pagoda-umbrellas. Embroidered with brown patterns of needles and cones. And the things that she whispered to me in the darkness. and clash behind Flamboyant creneUations boles. Teetering on red-lacquered stems. flicker While the conflagrations of the sunset me. Far let the timid feet of dawn fly to : catch me I will abide in this forest of pines For I have unveiled naked beauty."H. .D. swim like gold flsh far above the black arches. This turf It is is not like turf a smooth dry carpet of velvet. StiEBy ungracious to the wind. In the evening I listen to the winds' lisping. Are buried deep in my heart. of glory amid the charred ebony In the night the fiery nightingales Shall clash and trill through the silence Like the voices of mermaids crying From the sea.

the poet occasionally loses himself in vagueness. These symphonies are not all of equal excellence." " Poppies of the Red Year (A Symphony in Scarlet) . his words run into a bright mist." and the "Green Symphony " I quoted above." "Solitude in the City (Sjonphony in Black and Gold). But the reader its who will has followed the analysis of the shorter poems. the title seems to have been given merely to indicate a certain musical. In the Each has interesting paissages. Mannerism rides him at times to the detriment of . altars sun- we remarked a new. and quite personal idiom in "The Green Symphony" carries that idiom still another step away from tradition. rhapsodic treatment. new and original.3i8 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Now let the black tops of the pine-trees break like a spent wave. If we had no other poems at hand to prove that If "Irradiations. certainly successful are but those most "Blue Sjonphony. less contained of these poems. and cloud over the cU-ticulateness of his thought." these poets of the third stage are doing something quite fice. Throughout these poems. no attempt is made to follow regular symphonic form. have no difficulty in tracking effects in detail. Against the grey sky These are tombs and memorials and temples and kindled for me. that one alone would suf- It is too long to analyze.

Mr. 1916 ." and John Gould his work. but the four Fletcher 319 poems I have named are singularly free from this fault. D.D. Contrast that bright little picture with : this grotesque from "Ghosts from an Old House" AN OAK Hoar mistletoe in clumps Hangs To Of the twisted boughs this lonely tree. I The anthology. Fletcher is so rich in original conceptions and treatments that I can only indicate his work by outlines."H. have not space to pursue the course of these symphonies at greater length. R." burgeoning of that charm which the West has for him — and a little vignette of skaters THE SKATERS To A. Black swallows swooping or gliding In a flurry of entangled loops and curves The skaters skim over the frozen river. Is like the brushing together of thin wing-tips of silver. . And the grinding click of their skates as they impinge upon the surface. "Some Imagist contained a group of Arizona poems — they are the Poets.

When I at night I have the nightmare. And up and down go measuring A clayey grave for me ? The poet's German and Danish " ancestry is interis estingly in evidence in that little piece. was buried For the roots had enclosed a But when I I dug beneath them. I many mUes of cloth. whimsical and weird. wonder do you hop still of nights Out to that hill-cemetery." We of feel a background of it is folk-lore. This Teutonic and Scandinavian mysticism persists long. always see the eyes of ants of gold. and fused with the allegorical seriousness Hans Christian Andersen. full of strange suggestion THE YARDSTICK Yardstick that measured out so Yardstick that covered me. could only find great black ants That attacked my hands. Swarming from a mouldering box Or with this other. of gnomes and pixies.320 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Beneath its roots I often thought treasure circle. Here the goblin quality of Hoffmann's Die Serapionsbriider. as we noted .

assonance. but usually holds no particular one for long. or may it be only for distantly related. and he has achieved extraordinary effects with in giving not .D. character so often. and^ return. Fletcher's work would be com- plete without a consideration of his "polyphonic prose.voiced and the means Polyphonic all the called because makes use of it form is so in that ' ' — : — "voices" of poetry. as it has. metre. But it is an even more remarkable atavism in Mr. viz. as so much depends solely upon the poet's taste. even prose rhythm at times." and John Gould in reference Fletcher 321 to Mr. enduring. many people have It is printed found it difficult to understand this. It is an exceedingly difficult form to write. with every ' ' maimer ior^conyeiiience as it changes its wave of emotion. or may appear rhyme. The rhymes may come at the ends of the cadences. It is an excellent medium dramatic portrayal. for stories in scenes. through nearly a hundred years of changed environment. being printed as pro_ se. Fletcher has written some remarkable poems in ' ' polyphonic prose. Fletcher. employs every form of rhythm." "Polyphonic prosfLJ' is not a prosejbrm. in facE The word "polyphonic" is its keynote. many. Sandburg. alliteration. as of gre at vividne ss^fjresentation. although. It in close juxtaposition to each other. permits Mr. vers lipre. No study of Mr."H. ' ' He uses it principally in it those pieces which are a sort of epic of place.

as its name implies. Fletcher brings in snatches of well-known chanties sung by the sailors of all sailing ships the world over. lifting them swiftly and scattering the glistening spray-drops from her jibsails with laughter. she emerges from the surges that keep runnin g away before day on the low Pacific shore. instead of allowing as is by one concrete example. another entitled "The Old South. particularly Louisiana. and buries her bows the smother. but a whole historical epoch. Her spars are . sunk by converted cruiser Eitel Friedrkh. 1915) Beautiful as a tiered cloud. the old and usual way. she heels and lunges. With the roar of the wind blowing in half a gale after.322 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry only an atmosphere. Southern States. Throughout the poem. comes in from time to time is merely symbolic. Mr. A series of poems on American subjects is done in this One is of the Mississippi River. skysails set and shrouds twanging. and soon merges into the whole. P. a sort of condensation of the feeling aroused by our way. Perhaps the best one which he has done era." is. is a third wound about the catafalque of Jefferson Davis preserved in a museum in New Orleans. but dating from the period in question: particular ship which The CLIPPER-SHIPS (In Memoriam — Ship W. is this of the clipper-ship of It illustrates his method synthesizing a it whole period to be implied in a single poem. Frye.

blow : a dandy clipper. full her upper trucks enkindled by the sun into shafts of rosy flame. boys. the anchor is up and the sails they are set. and a handful of dust and a thirst to years make you weep are all we get for being two away to sea. a Yankee ship comes down she's a crack ship. with brown. down the river: blow.D. spinning the' Worn-out yams they is told a year ago. her lower stunsail are bent aside. and the water roaring into her scuppers. She is a proud white albatross skimming across the ocean. mahogany faces. my bully boys. Chips miles picking oakum port. Ten thousand away lies their last In the rigging climbs a hairy screams at the masthead. round Cape : Stiff and up to Boston. some smoke. from moonsails to watersails. Topgallant stunsail has carried away! Ease the spanker! The anchor is rusted on the deck. monkey. nine hundred miles from land she's a down- Easter from Massachusetts. beautiful as a tiered cloud. Oh. near the boats. wide-brimmed straw hats. and a green parakeet In the dead cakn of a boihng noonher spread of shining canvas from heel day near the Une she lifts to truck. like bowstrings ready to loose. and she's bound to the Rio Grande Where are the men who put to sea in her on her first voyage ? . and it's 'way Rio . pace up and down. the decks slope and the stays creak as she lurches sending her jib awash at every thrust. Some are coiling rope. their washing in the stays so she can get more way on sails She ghosts along before an imperceptible breeze."H. blow: her masts and yards they : shine like silver blow. but she stUl staggers out under a press of sail. Men the have hung her. her royals are half splitting. from jib o' jib to ringtail. ." and John Gould Fletcher 323 booms is cracking. ninety days hauling at the ropes into it. Oh. hanging limp in the crosstrees and clashing against the masts. Men in short duck trousers.

gawkily. sheath knives. the filthy sweepings of the stews. be good grub and easy work they hand. men walk cargo. the away and letting the waste of it run down among are these dead-beats bribed to go? How Only Ann Street runners know. Dutchmen. tiU they are While he if at them how he wiU haze them but it will they try soldiering. are let out of their and flogged and fed. and pistols. swilling it the gutters. Some have piled their bones in California off some died frozen Horn in snow-storms. Boston girls are pulling at : and it's 'way. Dagos. pulling out heavers. Meanwhile she hums with the tumult of loading. her decks snow-white with sailless constant scrubbing. prickers. and on her decks loaf and stumble a luckless crowd. nmamag- ing through the men's dunnage. Before them aU the "old off his man" dead if calls for is bucket of telling salt shore face. Still she glistens beautifully. they have spent a year's wages. his officers are below. bay which sleeps aU day where the wild deer skip away when she fires her eighteen-pounder. some of them already wrecks water to wash . rum bottles. crimp-captured greenhorns. Every day from when the dawn it up red amid the hills to the hour drops dead to westward.324 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry among the hides. On each grizzled. they loaf up on the after- deck. San Francisco wUl not be built for a dozen years to come. Rio. the ropes: only three months of trouble yet time for us to go flies Beautiful as a tiered cloud she out seaward. In a week. never been bom. even. empty San Francisco ? No. the sound reverberating about the hills. some slipped down between two greybacks when the yards were joggled sudthe denly. half- . reef and steer and heave the lead. as she sweeps into some empty. niggers. so sick they wish they had a it. balancing on their heads the burden of the Now the anchor is up and the sails they are set. Souwegians. irons flares The mutineers. in a day.

The Black BaUer Lightning. a threat of treachery. for coming up on deck of canvas. the ship rides up the From with aloft stars. So hang. seared gilding. hold her trip. that never furled her topsails for ten years. Oh." The Great Republic. and colors flying. boys. parallels. 325 a smirk of cowed face appears something between a sheepish of fear. is slowly dying. The Dreadnought disappeared in a hurricane's smother of foam. now in her first and last port. The Sovereign of the Seas. a mournful swells echo rises and "Oh. and the third was tossed still groaning But the mate — Bucko his — into the water. The desolate barrens of Staten Land. Two of them fell into the sea. She is a charred hulk. and the dogged resignation Douglas is a brute. Only last night the captain stuck his cigar butt into one poor swabber's face for not minding the compass.D " and John Gould Fletcher grin. and gave Jim Baines a taste of ratline hash with dirty hands. through the blue stillness of a tropic night. Meanwhile under a grand spread one hundred feet from side to side. and blistered sides. the eagle at her bows. crammed with thunder brewing on the horizon. her main truck overlooking the highest steeple of the town. dollars' man was bom. slides pertly The ever Alert no more through the bergs of the Horn. where no bones. is the name very same who booted three men off the masthead when they were shortening sail in the teeth of a Cape Horn snorter. hang. that took eighty thousand worth of cargo around the world in one quick was hurled and ripped to pieces on some uncharted reef or other. launched before thirty thousand people. was sheared clean amidships by the bows of an iron steamer . my name is hanging Johnny. my name is Away-i-oh hanging Johnny."H. with toppling masts.

Swimming yet stiff. 0. she's gone. fare you well. cries: Before she fades into the weather quarter. she Ufts cloud on cloud of crowded stainless She creeps abeam. will CaJifomia hear the Pilgrim's parting cheer. George's flag could not race than a thunderbolt that fell one day on her deck and turned her to a cloud of flame — everything burned away but her fame little No more privateer. are you the Flying Dutchman. she skips. Rio my pretty young girl. easy yet dry. proud as she was of beating every ship that carried the Stars and Stripes or the St. lively sail. by a Sometimes the lookout on a great steamer wallowing and threshing through the heavy seas by night. sees far ofi on his lee quarter something like a lofty swinging Ught. a ghostly clipper-ship emerges Beautifid as a from the surges that keep running away before day on the low Pacific shore. like a duck. tiered cloud. she chases. steering like a fish. that you Hoarsely comes back this answer is : go two knots to our one?" from the Bully sail: "Challenge our name: America our nation: Waterman our master we can beat Creation. The Antelope was caught off the Grande Ladrone in the northeast monsoon. within hail. scuttled The crew took to an open boat when their ship was So they die out." "And its 'way Rio 'Way — hay — hay." . the lookout "Holy jiggers. For we're bound to the Rio Grande. she outpaces like a mettlesome racer the lumbering teakettle that keeps her com- pany. Her upper works are kindled by the sun into shafts of rosy flame. The slaver Bald Eagle cut an unlucky piled career short when she parted with her anchor and up on the Paracels where the pirate junks are waiting for every ship that swells out over the horizon.326 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry as she left her last port. The Flying faster Cloud. year after year.

Fletcher. The wind of the north has twisted and gnarled its branches ring Yet in the heat of midsummer days. and Mr. this Sometimes this sense of historical significance. thing that is ! Full of movement. This is the poem: LINCOLN Like a gaunt. huge. rough. Mr." If times to Mr. he will remember that to the veiled spoke of Mr. poignant feeling for the romance of a time.D."H. Masters. vig- The true epic of the fast-vanishing sailing ship." and John Gould Fletcher 327 What a splendid orous. lively. Untended and uncared grow. labouring. And it shall protect them all. I have referred several "Lincoln. Hold everyone safe there. when thunderclouds the horizon. finds an even higher expression. Fletcher's treatment as raising Lincoln awe of a national legend. so bright as to be almost dazzling. and rises into pure symbolism. Robinson. scraggly pine Which lifts its head above the mournful sandhills through duU years of bitter for. silence. recall Fletcher's the reader will what I said in regard to the treatment of Lincoln by I three such different poets as Mr. A nation of men shall rest beneath its shade. Ungainly. watching aloof in silence . starts to And patiently.

piercing. . but humble. to endure to the end through For the axe is laid at the roots of the trees. and all that bring not forth good fruit Shall be cut down on the day to come and cast into the fire. nor enter A darkness through which strong roots stretched downwards into the earth Towards old things Towards the herdman-kings who walked the earth and spoke with God. knotted fibrous roots. There was a darkness in darkness. prying. Only to serve and pass service on. it These roots swept. this man. Towards the wanderers who sought and found their goal at last for they knew not what Towards the men who waited. an immense and hollow Of which we may not speak. nor share with him. Not proud. only waited patiently when seemed lost all Many bitter winters Down of defeat to the granite of patience seeking. And drew from The the living rock and the living waters about red sap to carry upwards to the sun.328 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry Until at last one Shall strike it in mad stray bolt from the zenith an instant down to earth.

of a loved one. the snow on whose grave One. And in the hearts of men. a deep and anxious still silence And. firm-syllabled voice cuts through the endless silence Like labouring oxen that drag a plow through the chaos of rude clay-fields " I went forward as the also light goes forward in early spring. only of a child. Tombs that were quiet One. One. The midwinter sun dips and descends. Listen long to their unstirred hps. Those hollow and weary eyes take on a gleam of Slowly a patient. light. was mine. Have you forgot your graves ? Go. whose brief light went out in the darkness. but it is long falling. From your hostages to Learn there is no life without death. No victory but to him who has given all." IV The clamour battle of cannon dies down. But there were many things which I left behind." and John Gould Fletcher 329 III There is a silence abroad in the land to-day. the furnace-mouth of the is silent. its the earth takes on afresh bright colotu'S. those bronze lips slowly open. because we are at last.'^H. silence.D. no dawn without sunsetting. . of a mother. question them in anguish.

like a god. and the bright pink arbutus From the east. Over the uproar of Over the million crossing. O flag. Strew over him flowers Blue forget-me-nots from the north. stripes — stripes red for the pain that he bore Enfold forever. rent. he whom we mocked and obeyed descended. He has rest. But from the heart Rayed. Rises one white tomb alone. Beam Wrap over it it. perplexing. for you — it round. stars. intricate threads of life wavering and In the midst of problems we ensnaring. And beside Bitter for it there lay also one lonely snow-white magnolia. dim. of the healing remembrance which has passed. . With the nails that pierced. the nations shall bow to your law. the cross that he bore and the circlet. but repaired through your anguish Long as you keep him there safe. know not. to his whom we scorned and mistrusted. violet. of the land take the passion-flower. and from the west rich orange blossom.330 But he Tendencies in Modern American Poetry not. tangling. cities. soiled.

" and John Gould I Fletcher 331 think that is the finest poem on Lincoln which has It been written. his dramas are epics of time. a recollection and a He is the symbol of our possibilities. man and an aspiration. that this weak spot in very manner of presthe entation precludes the more intimate note of drama. and it is Lincoln stands before us. Hitherto. the reason for our courage. always in connection with some event. the anguished desire for guidance. the poem moves along. Fletcher's in later work shows a growing interest humanity. once a goal. Mr. But I see say. It has the emotional seriousness of was written in the Winter of 1916. however. that . He is delving deeper into life. ing It is. aver that this Some critics will the Imagistic method. prayer. I should it is mere coincidence which has caused the Imagist poets to be markedly lyrists. no reason why that should be so. not of people. with serene steadfastness. He tells no stories . but in these later poems are moments of real understanding and poignancy. before the United States had entered the war."H. develop- more knowledge and more tenderness. and the great darkness of the opening lines yields gradually to the lyric close. he has seldom attempted the expression of human emotions. at instinct with the anxiety of waiting. like the hope of resurrection. scene or some historical He seems little interested in persons for their own is sake. Gravely. like a funeral march.D. rather.

But they seldom touch on hunian is relations. is their contribution to . but he." nor Mr. Masters' work epic. incisive dramas. granted this. what seeds they . and . interesting to note. also. that the other four poets of this volume are mainly narrative and dramatic poets. It will The in its infancy. and so it is an epic compounded of short. sider it as a limitation in the It is wiser to con- work to of these two poets. These Imagist poets achieve niuch they pomt the way to more. be a long time before its possibilities are exhausted. others are at liberty to plant will. Where they have laboured make a clear- ing. I have called Mr. In the work of the Imagists. their approach to their art. we find romantic lyricism.D. dramatic poet. yet to the artist they hold more the other poets stage is still than do third we have been considering. But. lyric the truest sort of however. I have shown Mr. Fletcher have been speaking in either narrative or dramatic pieces. is Of course. There a certain aloofness about both of gifts them. poetry. is. that they are both deficient in portraying human feeling.332 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry It is quite true that neither " H. I cannot find it to reflect can approach the other poets of whom we upon the method as a whole. It in no sense an adverse poetry is For most people. and this. Sandburg as a lyrist partly obscured by a propagandist. is often intensely dramatic. to say that a poet is a lyric and not a criticism.

"H. To this poet." and John Gould the time. But certain it is. Fletcher as being peculiarly sensitive to the nuances of tongues. Fletcher reads Spanish. Fletcher. affirm it. It may well be so. but he deduces it from his observation also. not only in books. the race-soul can be read. I spoke of Mr. but that occasionally epic.D. their lyricism is so seldom a record of the reactions of one personaUty to be affirmed. The real point to be noted of both his work and that of "H. but in the running brooks as well.D. and that is primarily the road along which the movement would seem to be travelling. the key by which we enter the race-soul. do not know whether he is familiar with Mexican or South American literature. in his Arizona poems. He lan- a veritable mirror of the atmosphere of peoples. upon another. that. He de- duces a race-consciousness from his reading. Nature needed it will and they be for other poets once more to knit in man into nature a changed relation. periods. No man can construct a personality from a landscape better than can Mr. and it is places. Some time is ago." is not that they are lyrists. in no sense either narrative or as we have seen. Language is more than guage . Fletcher. while dramatic. Fletcher 333 And is it is necessary to remember that Mr. I I do not know if Mr. for an omnivorous reader. we have the whole spirit of he is Colonial Spain .

Those two blue-white ones overhead. The smell of a dead horse Mingles with the smell of tamales fr3ang. I could reach you. And we And I could live again those lazy burning hours Forgetting the tap of my fan and my sharp words. And a girl in a black lace shawl Sits in a rickety chair by the square of an unglazed window. Women puff Men slouch cigarettes in black doorways. clear that it all (You are so very I seems as I could reach you) would give you to Madonna's image. And And sees the explosion of the stars Softly posed on a velvet sky. filth Feebly glimmering on gutters choked with and dogs mangy backs Half -naked children are running about. to herself : she if is humming — if "Stars. So that Juan would come back to me. sullenly Into the shadows Behind a hedge of cactus. haK-sputtering." . On the grey-plastered altar behind the paper flowers.334 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry MEXICAN QUARTER By an alley lined And street-lamps Scratching their with tumble-down shacks askew. Crickets are crjring. To hang in my ears And those two orange ones yonder. would only keep four of you. To fasten on my shoe buckles.

D:' and John Could Fletcher 335 A little further along the street A man sits stringing a brown guitar. poem that tamales are never And. wild land. if youth is for a day. as a matter is of fact. is And he. the Spain of a debased and deserted colony ? Here is another of these Arizona poems." I have heard is. RAIN IN THE DESERT The huge Is red-buttressed far-off mesa over yonder is merely a temple where the sleepy sun burning Its altar-fires of pinyon and of toyon for the day. spite of this But unimportant trifle. The smoke of his cigarette curls round his head. so. past civilization engulfed in a new. Fate All things pass away is forever. Fletcher is often in inexcusably careless about such details."H. the old ! turned to hate. and now we have the atmosphere of an old. . but other words at your "Think not that window is I wait New Fate Life love ! is better. too. not the soul of Spain in that poem. Mr. humming. it objected in connection with this fried. Love again you may Before the stars are blown out of the sky And Are the crickets die Babylon and Samarkand mud walls in a waste of sand. that of course.

sparked with fires." shortly to be issued by The Four Seas Company. and yet the whole stillness of the be- hot and arid with the smell of scorched earth. the prayer-sticks closely On every mummied face there glows a smile. a pre-historic Now let us turn to Mr. Notice the contrast between the ginning and the clatter. And now the showers like Surround the mesa Shaking their a troop of silver dancers rattles. uncoiling. The sun is rolling slowly Beneath the sluggish folds of the sky-serpents. extinguishing the last red wisp of light. recollection of silent and imperishable. Whirling. lie Their pottery whistles feathered beside them. stamping. Suggestion is is beautifully The is desert scarcely managed in that poem.336 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry The old priests sleep. white-shrouded. Above the smell of scorching oozing pinyon. an end of but under which there remains always. roaring. the civilization. "Japanese Prints. Fletcher's latest volume. Coiling. The acrid smell of rain. mentioned. chanting. The old dead priests is Feel in the thin dried earth that heaped about them. In the preface to this . movement of the end. blue-black. Boston.

" and John Gould Fletcher 337 book. we mouldering temple enclosure. 7. Fletcher analyzes the Japanese tanka and hokku forms.And the sound of a frog leaping / Into the This means nothing to the Western mind. an emotion deduced from that. allegory. the sage himself in meditation. First. Fletcher's preface Let us take an example. Mr. poets are becoming more and more indebted value of this to the Japanese for a realization of the To quote a moment from Mr. and then analyzes that chief quality of all Japanese verse psychological sug- — gestion.D. three meanings. The most famous hokku that Basho wrote. 7. might be literally translated thus An water. and the sound of a frog's leap ing vanity — slipping into the silence of eternity. syllables."H. The modern effect. — passit is The poem has Second. 5. 7- The hokku is a truncated tanka in which the last . the ancient piece of water. it is a statement of Third. old pond /. But to the Japanese it means aU the beauty of such a life of retirement If and contemplation as Basho to supply the detail practised. a sort of spiritual in his seventeen And all this Basho has given us It is perhaps hardly necessary to state here that Japanese prosody is based upon alternate lines of The tanka is a poem of five and seven syllables. and sketches lightly the history of Japanese prosody. we permit our minds see the Basho deHberately omitted. thirty-one syllables arranged as follows : 5. it is fact.

7. Fletcher says "Good hokkus cannot be written in English. make it possible more than one meaning by a single word. Fletcher explains the hokku to suggestion manner : . and by these ble of to convey double meemings a poem of seventeen syllables can be made to contain many more." he adds: "As for the poems themselves. Fletcher but still is right in saying that these poems are not written absolutely in the Japanese idiom. the peculiar adaptability of in this It Mr. they are not Japanese at all. mind. and once again prove the poet's sensitiveness . they have a distinct perfume of Japan about them. This leads to a sort of serious punning. but a spirit." Mr. must always be understood that there is an implied conhemistich. Mr. tinuation to every Japanese hokku. but all illustrate something of the charm I have found in Speaking of the volume itself. The thing we have to follow is not a form. being capa- more than one construction. should be said also that Japanese words. therefore. 5. existent in the writer's Understanding very well the method by which the Japanese obtained realizes that these effects. he nevertheless It a purely syllabic form is not well adapted to a highly accented language such as English. The concluding is whereby the hokku becomes the tanka. Japanese poetry and art. but never uttered. of seventeen syllables 5.338 Tendencies in lines are Modern American Poetry . two suppressed : it consists.

Another.D. has of charm Japan : THE YOUNG DAIMYO When he first came out to meet me." and John Gould to atmosphere. lanterns. The green and violet peacocks Through the golden dusk Showered upon them from the vine-hung Stately. the most beautiful in the volume. Beneath the fluttering jangling streamers They walk Violet and gold."H. nostalgically. if not specifically Japanese. Not the least interesting quality of that poem is its . to an occidental mind. full of Oriental splendour YOSHIWARA FESTIVAL The green and violet peacocks With golden tails Parade. He had just been girt with the two swords And I found he was far more interested in hilts the glitter of their And did not even compare my kiss to a cherry-blossom. certainly the Fletcher 339 This. Parade. is.

Deceived by the jade petals Of the Emperor's jewel-trees. moving "parading. is Sometimes the poet's conception than Japanese more Chinese AN OIRAN AND HER KAMUSO Gilded hummingbirds are whizzing Through the palace garden.340 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry slowly. Fletcher loses sight of this matter of feeling. contrast which gives the hokku piquancy. the these clearest image. clarity to gain It is the The poem must be the full effect of of the most limpid its the underlying suggestion. but elusively both. That is almost distinctly Chinese. when Mr. poems sometimes fail is exactly in Mr." with the Oirans whom it portrays. "Yoshiwara dis- Festival" was neither the one nor the other. The difference is not hard to feel once one has learnt to understand the the subtle psychology of the two nations. Fletcher writes: LOVERS EMBRACING Force and 3rielding is meet together An attack half repulsed . the fact that only the most simple language. is Where in keeping with the hokku form. So. itself stately rhythm. to divergencies of their literary practice. tinguish.

and the suggestion never becomes statement. Mr. That poem it is Mr. future. hard and bitter the weight it imposes upon the brains and hearts of men. and. the is most successful poem in the book MOODS A poet's moods Fluttering butterflies in the rain." and John Gould Fletcher 341 Shafts of broken sunlight dissolving Convolutions of torpid cloud. Fletcher has needed just this violent concussion between imagination and fact. Imagist Poets.D. an earnest of the And we may leave it as and broadening the evidence of the deepening It is of his art." 1917 . rising even upon the wings of despair. war seems now. Fletcher's most personal idiom. Fletcher's contributions to "Some light. he but sacrifices is the in peculiar Japanese atmosphere. Chief among Mr. lyrics. crushing as the . a nimbus. it is in such poems as these that we feel the renewing power of art. That is brief and sharp Mr." which included three excellent "Blackberry Harvest. but floats. not in the least in the idiom of Japan." interesting I "Moon- and "Dawn. Fletcher and Japan."H. From this point of view. at once lines. have already quoted. over the short." was the "Lincoln" war poem. It is clear." and one "Armies.

more distinction we see the beginning of that spoken. the changes he rings are too heavy. they represent. In him. for the of discerning eye. which is in no way altered by their position in one or the other stages of the advance. I thought. no living poet has vision or of style." we do not speak idly. he a real teacher. new I have so often To the poet. Throughout the pages of eAmong them. order of which is But. selective instinct. and sometimes this faculty runs away with him. It is largely for this reason that he is not yet esteemed as he should be. His books would gain by being pruned but. all -the-teends in evi- . Nature has given him much. as I said in the beginning. he confuses too many colours. indicating new directions. Some of his symphonies. may well become a great Mr." are heaped too full of words. and it is difficult for him to put himself to school. indeed. some of the poems in "Irradiations. he lacks the . have tried to point out that. opening up untrodden ways of this book.342 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry it. with it. in speaking of a "new movement. that there is a new spirit permeating the work of American poets. Without dinarily original he would always have been an extraorand suggestive poet. It is hard for him to curb his exuberance. he one. Each of the poets of whom I have been speaking represents a tendency. His enormous fecundity is responsible for this. Fletcher is a virtuoso of words. too many sounds.

well on the road to attainment. But. expressed in terms quite other than those of Heine. always changing. is nevertheless a permanent possession of the human race. Professor in his Dowden. together they constitute a marching order. They are the proof of the re-creative energy of the poetic impulse."H. influence the future. realistic . of realism which was to meet and turn the tide but Heine's ideal of art.D." and John Gould dence in modern verse. different as each from the others. it is Fletcher 343 Which is of them will most impossible now to say." this would seem to be the goal toward which the New Movement in Modern American Poetry is aiming. at once realistic and romantic. "At once and romantic. so anticipating the movement . "Essays — Modem and in an article on Heinrich Heine art. which." says: "He swam with the current of romantic and he headed round and swam more vigorously against the current. and already in 1917 we see this ideal. is still unattained." This was written in 1910. from the old into the new. Elizabethan.




New York. Charles Scribner's Sons. The Macmillan Company. New York. London. River. Charles Scribner's Sons. The Macmillan Company. The Porcupine. 191 5. 347 . Night. 1914. David Nutt and Company. Charles Scribner's Sons. 1902. 1915. New York. Merlin. 1913. New York. 1916. The Macmillan Company. Henry Holt and Company. New York. The Town Down the York. New York. Mountain Interval. David Nutt and Company. New New York. 1897. Van Zorn. 1914. 1910. The Macmillan Company. reprint. The Macmillan Company. New York. New Captain Craig. Henry Holt and Company. London. 1915. ROBERT FROST A Bov's Will. Henry Holt and Company. The Man Against the Sky. New York. North of Boston. 1917. 1916. 1915. with new poems.BIBLIOGRAPHY EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON The Children of the York.

The Hammersmark Publishing Company. Some Imagist Poets. The Great Valley. Boston and Constable and Company. New York. Badger. 1915. Some Imagist Poets. The Macmillan Company. 1916. London. London . Chicago. 1915. The Spoon River Anthology. Way and Williams. 1917 Mifflin Company. 1916.D. Albert and Charles Boni.) Richard G. Boston. New York. and Hough- ton Mifflin Company. London. The New Star Chamber aito Other Essays.348 Tendencies in Modern American Poetry EDGAR LEE MASTERS A Book of Verses. Some Imagist Poets. Maximilian. . : The Blood of the Prophets. Chicago." Sea Garden. 1916 Boston .) The Hammersmark Publishing Company. 1916. The Macmillan Company. New York. 1917. Songs and Satires. 1904. . New York. Boston. Boston. Chicago. In collaboration Des Imagistes. 1914. and Constable and Company. and Constable and Company. Henry Holt and Company. (A play inverse. 1916. 1916. 1905. London. (Under 'pseudon3rm Dexter Wallace. New York. . 1898. The Macmillan Company. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1902. CARL SANDBURG CHICAGO' Poems. Constable and Company. "H. Houghton Houghton Mifflin Company.

Boston and Constable and Company. 19 17. Boston. 1915. 1917 . 1913. Albert and Charles Boni. 1916. Houghton Mifflin Company. London. and Constable and Company. Grant Richards. 1913. Fool's Gold. Erskine McDonald. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1913. Some Imagist Poets. Goblins and Pagodas. and Constable and Company. London. 1916. 1913- London.Bibliography 349 JOHN GOULD FLETCHER Fire and Wine. London. 1915. London. Boston. 1913. Pnntea m tbe united btates ot Amenca. Max Goschen. London. 1915 and Constable and Company. . Boston. 1914. New York. . Boston. Ltd. In collaboration Des Imagistes. Max The Dominant City. Goschen. London. Constable and Company. Irradiations : Sand and Spray. London. The Book of Nature. . Some Imagist Poets. Houghton Mifflin Company. London. Some Imagist Poets. 1916 Houghton MifiBin Company. Visions of the Evening. Houghton Mifflin Company..


.T HE a following pages contain advertisements of few of the new Macmillan novels.


FLINT. who fails to appreciate the power of these writers as set forth through the comment. and most valuable contt'ibution to modNew York Tribune.' so full of charm are . One must be limited. It is written by one who has a thorough knowledge of the subject and who is herself an American poet of distinction. and Paul Fort.. The translations make up an important part of the book. I think." — La France. and the insight all necessary to make a notable book of criticism. by one of the foremost living American poets. Albert Samain. and the appended prose translations North American Review. indeed.50 . its penetrative interpretations and it not too bold to say that her introductions to and interpretations of French poets will live as long as interest in these poets themselves lives. the penetration. . a masterly volume. Amy Lowell's . A thoughtful." of work. work that should be widely read in America. S. dealing with Emile Ver- Remy de Gourmont. ought to be labelled like Pater's studies . $2. and together with the French originals constitute a representative anthology of the poetry of the period. A brilliant series of biographical and critical' essays haeren. Francis Jammes. in The Little Review. It is the first book in English containing a careful and minute study of the famous writers of one of the greatest epochs of French poetry. Her book is is a living and lasting piece of criticism . .." Sun.t "Une tr6s interessante 6tude. in her book. " — New York A very admirable piece excellent book. Henri de Regnier." that — can conceive of no greater pleasure than that of a lover of poetry who modern French poetry for the first time it must be like falling into El Dorado. London. the most valuable work on contemporary French literature I have seen for a long time. — ' French Poets Appreciations.Six French Poets STUDIES IN CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE By amy LOWELL New revised edition illustrated. ' em " ' criticism and appreciation." — Tke London Bookman. William Lyon Phelps. This is. the discriminating extracts. formerly French critic of Poetry and Drama. The Athen(Bur. Yale University." F. It is a. the S3mipathy. Miss Lowell has done a real service to literature.." — THE MACMILLAN COMPANY Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York ." comprehensive. . says: " Professor of English Literature. " I reads in Miss Lowell's book about : — ".. "An " —Emile Cammaerts in — London. She has the knowledge.

$i. . who have the root of the matter St. .' is a brilliant. Beautiful . Miss Lowell strives to get into words the of the painter's palette and the «nusician's score. She belongs to the few who. them. And in her latest work we find proof that she has lived according to her confession and her dedication with a singleness of purpose seldom encountered in our fluid time. . . cloth. in every generation. and Ghosts . ' is a book greatly and strenuously imag. ". Women. feel that poetry is a high calling. . . izmo. In the poem which gave its name to a previous volume. Miss Lowell is a great romantic. Men. the varying music wrung from them (from the ponderous banging of the hammers at the building of the Bellerophon to their light tapping as they pick off the letters of Napoleon's victories on the arch of the Place du Carrousell). innocent of echo and imitation.2j Leather. They are few. — ". with the uniqueness that comes of effects personal genius. Not since Elizabeth Barrett's Vision of Poets has there been such a confession of faith in the mission of poetry. quently lonely. and Ghosts all is a volume that contains beautiful poetry for in readers Louis. ' imagism. but they lead. and Ghosts By amy LOWELL New Third Edition. aesthetic achievement in a combination of story.6o ". Women. and symbolism. .' Miss Lowell uttered her Credo with rare sincerity and passion. such a stern compulsion of dedication laid upon the poet.Men." — Eeedy's Mirror. $i." ined. ' ' " ' Men. . . It is indi- vidual. . and the And life withal." period the Chicago Evening Post. the skill with which it is divided into different moods and motifs is something more than a tour de force. THE MACMILLAN COMPANY PublisherB 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York . . . The way the different hammers are characterized and given voice. poetry as authentic as any we know. she succeed ' ? I should say she does. Does first poem in this book. and they are freNew York Times Book Review. ' Patterns. ' Sword Blades and Poppy Seed. ' ' — . . izmo. and who press undeviatingly toward the mark. — 'The Hammers' is a really thrilling piece of work. Women. the emphasis vrith which they reveal a whole Louis Untermeyek in these are the things one sees rarely.

sweet.$i." Edward Garnett in The Atlantic Monthly. and Ghosts when the book is put to the test of a third reading. and Ghosts.' the with which the book opens. poem left them pure. praise which holds good the term for Men. aesthetic decade. $i. ." . cloth." The series of rural dramas in irregular. . " superb vignette of the eternal tragedy of the woman left at home. . Her choice of subjects and her way Brilliant is of approach show a culture truly cosmopolitan.6o ". Women.Men. to look straight at the reveal the mystery of to show that there is commonplace and to a mystery. all — The New Age. Pasture. — ".' a work of sheer power as well as .. ' ' — — THE MACMILLAN COMPANY Publishers 64^66 Fifth Avenue New York . .'' Women. . has done the world imperishable service . Miss Lowell has the power that ought to be the it. She ing for " . she has cleaned out our old bottles and new wine. chief aim of all poets..' Amy Lowell supplies those very factors of fresh. 'Figurines in Old Saxe. " The most original of the young American writers of to-day. and Ghosts By amy LOWELL Third Edition. " ' In Men.. Then . London. and welcoma ' Patterns. sensuous imagery and emotional zest of which we note the comparative absence in American poetry of the previous Miss Lowell has undoubtedly reenforced her agile. . entitled 'The Overgrown Gazette." — Pall Mall London. instinct by a craftsman's care. Women.' are gems of their kind.." San Francisco Argonaut. New York. New York. unrhymed verse. of beauty. of the Napoleonic regime and that are startling in their . is — The Independent. i2mo.2^ Leather. . i2tno. and that without the poet's aid the less favoured among us can see nothing but surfaces and the obvious. — The Nation. there are eight poems intended to illustrate some phases clairvoyance.

Lowell has a remarkable of " Such poems as flawless in ' A Lady. "For quaint pictorial exactitude and bizarrerie of color these poems remind one of Flemish masters and Dutch tulip gardens again. volume. Rochester. " Poetry. they are fine and fantastic. ' Read 'The Captured Goddess.' sympathies.. The Boston Herald." Richard Le Gallienne. Her decorative imagery is intensely dramatic.'" are well- nigh their beauty — perfect Harriet Monroe. . Chicago Dial. . In unrhymed cadence Miss Lowell's cadences are sometimes extremely delicate.' " Arthur Davison Ficke. as in The Captured Goddess. full A wealth of subtleties and wrought..Sword Blades and Poppy Seed By amy LOWELL Third edition. gift . Leather.' ' Music. many poems are) and brilliantly worked The things of splendor she has hardly outdo in their kind. all curiously flooded with the moonlight of dreams. and her dramatic pictures are in themselves vivid and fantastic decorations. Miss — what one might call the dramaticdecorative. ' ' — THE MACMILLAN COMPANY Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York . New York Times Book Review. .2.60 OPimONS OF LEADING REVIEWERS " Against the multitudinous array of daily verse our times produce this volume I utters itself with a range and brilliancy wholly remarklibre able.' a piece of mastercraft in this kind. Her most notable quality appears in the opening passage of the The sharply etched tones and contours of this picture are characteristic of the author's work. gorgeously of the Music and ' The Precinct. cannot see that Miss Lowell's use of unrhymed vers ' has been surpassed in English. like Venetian glass and they are . doth.' 'images.' ' White and Green. $1." — Josephine made she Preston Peabody. $1. will of macabre eifects (as out.

Boston. however. . A sonnet entitled ' Dreams ' is peculiarly full of sympathy THE MACMILLAN COMPANY Fuhliahers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New Tork . . . Baltimore.25 Leather. they would sing well to the accompaniment of the strings. and justify it by the result.' ' Sonnets. " It to say which of these are the most successful. . Toronto. a . " The verses are grouped under the captions ' Lyrical Poems. needs no to make apparent its distincsort of personal flavour. "The Lyrics are true to the old definition. Canada. Mass. . A quite delightful little collection of verses.' and all ' Verses for Children. cloth.A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass By amy LOWELL Third edition. . reveal Miss Lowell's powers of observation from the view-point of a lover of nature." — The Sun. $1. Conn. Hartford. Moreover.' is difficult . . . — " Verses that show delicate appreciation of the beautiful. and feeling." juvenile — mind is plainly indicated Boston Sunday Globe." — Toronto Globe. "That she knows the workings of the by her verses written Mass. Miss Lowell the sister of President Lowell of Harvard. from such distinguished influence Such verse as this is delightful. and a deep knowledge of humanity. reflection tion. Md. " The sonnets are especially appealing and touch the heart strings so tenderly that there comes immediate response in the same spirit. . by a variety of subjects and based on some of the est ideals. " Miss Lowell has given expression in exquisite form to many beautiful lofti- thoughts. . Boston. $1. Miss Lowell writes with a gentle philosophy . and imaginative quality. Indeed. has a Her art." — and nationality. . . The child poems Boston Evening Transcript. " for their reading. inspired. loyalty to the fundamentals of life are particularly graceful.60 PRESS NOTICES " These is poems arouse interest. We should like to hear ' Hora Stellatrix rendered by an artist." Hartford Courani.





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