Page images

as this.

sipi,” and of the savage tribes that in- plied Science, " to seek Instruction with habited the vast Mississippi basin, loses a Spirit of Interest," should give their no whit of its interest as the learned days and nights to a study of Henneeditor of the Jesuit Relations points out pin. They will find no edition so good the precise measure of his departure from

B. P. the truth. As if in anticipation of an age of historical scholarship, note how “SULLENLY” was the adverb which charmingly the mendicant friar defends

Dr. Johnson chose to describe

The Poet himself against his future annotators: Gray as a the temper in which Gray

Naturalist. “I am not insensible of the Reflec

passed his days in his Camtions I shall meet with from such as bridge chambers. For once the Levianever dar'd to travel themselves, or than's judgment of men, usually so connever read the Histories of the Curious vincing, was at fault. The case against and Brave, who have given Relations of him has become clearer with time, and the strange Countries they have taken the issue of The Poet Gray as a Naturalupon them to see; I doubt not but that ist only serves to illustrate more vividsort of Cattle will account of this my Dis- ly the perversity of phrase. Mason had covery as being false and incredible. written at length of Gray's wholesome But what they say shall not trouble me concern with the out-of-door sciences, much: They themselves were never Mas and his protégé Bonstetten had written ters of the Courage and Valour which of his preoccupation with the Systema inspires Men to undertake the glorious Naturae: “After breakfast appear ShakeEnterprizes that gain 'em Reputation in speare and old Lineus [sic] struggling the World, being confin'd within narrow together as two ghosts would do for a Bounds, and wanting a Soul to atchieve damned soul. Sometimes the one gets any thing that can procure 'em a dis the better, sometimes the other.” But tinguishing and advantageous Character not until now has it been possible to among Men. It were better therefore know the extent and quality of the poet's for such to admire what they cannot com dealings with this same old “Lineus." prehend, and rest satisfy'd in a wise and Gray's copy of the Systema, passing profound Silence, than thus foolishly to through several hands, came at last to blame what they know nothing of.” Ruskin's, and after his death was given

No less delightful is his melancholy by his heir to Charles Eliot Norton. summary of the causes of his failure to Now we have a selection from Gray's propagate the gospel among the Indians notes therein and facsimiles of his draw. at Fort Frontenac :

ings, edited by Mr. Norton with his faThey were attentive and diligent in miliar fine carefulness, and published in coming to their Prayers, tho they had a form of much distinction and beauty. none of that openness of Spirit which In the three volumes of the Systema, is necessary to enter into the Verities of Gray, it seems, caused to be inserted Religion. They came to seek Instruction 1380 pages of interleaving, which he all with a Spirit of Interest, to have our but quite covered with Latin notes in Knives, Awls, and such like things.” his delicate, cursive script, and with easy Surely our contemporary apostles of the and spirited delineations of birds and New Education, which endeavors, alike insects. Along with the laborious learnin the innocent tasks of the kindergar- ing which we might expect, the notes ten and in the Graduate Schools of Ap- show a skill as a descriptive naturalist

1 The Poet Gray as a Naturalist. With Se- ings. By CHARLES Eliot NORTON. Boston: lections from his Notes on the Systema Naturae Charles E. Goodspeed. 1903. of Linnæus and Facsimiles of Some of his Draw

[ocr errors]

which could only come from the nice And it is, at least, amusing to trace speobservation of the types of nature, sub cific parallelisms between his poetry and Jove. The relation of these studies to his scientific annotation. To take a sinthe classic quality of Gray's poetic art, to gle instance: does not this description of his poetic taciturnity, would be a choice Felis catus serve to illustrate the mood theme for the expatiation of a casual of the elegist of Selima ? Domesticus critic who could keep his reader in ig- parum docilis, subdolus, adulatorius; norance of the awkward fact that they domino dorsum, latera, caput, affricare were chiefly the occupation of Gray's last amat. Junior mire lusibus deditus et years, when his brief poetic activity had jocis; adultus tranquillior ceased. It is, however, certainly not out so to more technical items. Indeed, to a of place to note how the firm hold of the careful critic nothing which makes clearsubstantial forms of things which marks er the mind of a poet is quite foreign to these notes comports with the reality of the appreciation of his art; and this little image, which for all his personifications book —so full of the reality of scholarship and allusiveness is the life of his poetry. is a true piece of Gray's mind. F. G.

" and


At a time when the flattering proposals Mr. Carman's attempted compellation of a publisher, who

- for a suitable sum of the shade of Sappho in the rewriting in hand — “ has faith in poetry,” bring of her hundred lost odes is an instructive before an inattentive public too many experiment, colored by a very pleasing meagre volumes of unripe and bewil- poetic quality. Handicapped as it is dered verse, it is cheering to find four by Mr. Roberts's emotional Introduction books containing the artistic expression singularly lacking in “ the high, imperiof sincere imaginative moods. The ous verbal economy ” which it celebrates, latest volumes of Mr. Carman and Mrs. and notwithstanding the copious sameWatson, whatever we may think of the ness of the work itself, it contains scarceworth of the thoughts informing them, ly a line which read by itself will not have that measure of virtue at least; Mr. trouble and delight the imagination with Taylor's first book shares it, and has a

a vague sense of very marked poetic idiosyncrasy beside; while Mr. Woodberry's collected Poems

Old, unhappy, far-off things," is almost unique among recent books of and quicken it with the poignancy of verse in giving evidence of all three of

[ocr errors]

“the first sob of the south wind the aptitudes of the “true poet” in har Sighing at the latch with spring." monious accord, - temperament, skilled Yet a haunting sense of poetic imperfecmastery of the ancient resources of the tion will stay with the reader. This is poetic art, and a poet's mind."

particularly noticeable in the different

1 Sappho. One Hundred Lyrics. By Bliss CARMAN. With an Introduction by CHARLES G. D. Roberts. Boston: L. C. Page & Co. 1904.

After Sunset. By ROSAMUND MARRIOTTWatson. New York and London: John Lane. 1904.

The Overture. By JOSEPH RUSSELL TAYLOR. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1903.

Poems. By GEORGE EDWARD WOODBERRY. New York: The Macmillan Co. 1903.

lustre of the tags from Wordsworth and aptly suggest the burden of her song. from Mr. Carman which we have just Her gift of intimating a lyric mood in quoted. Mr. Carman's half-quantitative, the German fashion, with the sparing unrhymed versification, with its subtle use of “poetic” imagery and diction, as suggestion of Sapphic metre, is a technical well as her tone of casual, unrevising triumph, the atmosphere and mood suffer spontaneity will appear from these fine no lapse, and the phrase is always suave memorial verses : and limpid; but its very suavity and The wind blows sweet through the valley, limpidity are allied to the source of its A strong wind, pleasant and free; defect. Sings Mr. Carman,

It blows with a rumour of travel

To the moorland up from the sea.
And there as darkness gathers
In the rose-scented garden

The miles and the desolate distance,
The god who prospers music

It shatters them all at will,
Shall give me skill to play.

While we wait here for a message
And thou shalt hear, all startled,

From a voice forever still.
A flute blown in the twilight
With the soft pleading magic

O wind from the great new countries,
The greenwood heard of old.

What know you of pain or loss ?

We are weeping for him in England This sweetness of phrase and tune is

Who died 'neath the Southern Cross. everywhere in the book, but it goes along with a kind of facile profusion which is Herrick in Ohio would have been an never drawn together in a single great apt sub-title for the little book of an unline, compact, pregnant, and immortal commonly attractive individuality which like the one of Wordsworth’s we have Mr. Taylor has happily called The Overapplied as a touchstone, and like all of ture. Mr. Taylor has little of the limSappho’s. Furthermore, there is a letting pidity of Mr. Carman, and less of the down of tone, a coolness of passion, that simplicity of Mrs. Watson. His work estops the verse from dateless perfection. is exuberant with imagery and sound For a time the magic of the fute (and drawn from American woods and fields, with all its useful tone-color and conno- conveyed in a prodigious number of tation, the word occurs in nearly every lyric words drawn from the vast storepoem) makes us oblivious of the real house of the poets. But this opulence mood of what we are reading. Grad- is more promising than penury ; it is so ually we are aware: it is not Love, not often controlled by an imaginative heat, Sapphic love, not even Theocritean love; and so invariably modulated in unusual it is l'amour.

and effective rhythms, that it augurs still

better work to be done. There is no Mrs. Watson's writing in verse has other poet now writing who adventures the poetic effectiveness that inheres in irregular swallow flights of dactyls and the simple and musical expression of anapæsts so successfully as Mr. Taylor; moods of real tenderness and regret. witness these enraptured lines : — Her pieces rarely convey the effect of

Hark, how the bobolinks ripple and bubble ! bookishness so common in the plaintive Out of the orchard what rapture of robins ! music of fellow poets not for nothing And look, the brown thrush up and facing the called minor. Her chief literary inspiration is clearly from the German lyric With a shaken, jubilant splendor and storm of Muse; but the likeness is one of affinity And more than the heart can bear ! rather than of imitation. This connection is most obvious in her naming of We like Mr. Taylor better in his dealpoems, where such titles as Abschied, ings with bird songs and the Ohio “Einst O Wunder," or Zigeunerlied countryside than we always do in his



celebrations of more social sentiments. volume which makes so rich promise as He is rather too much disposed toward the North Shore Watch.” But two cliundue detail and unction in his enumer macterics of Mr. Woodberry's life have ation of a girl's charms, too prone to passed since then ; " a life," as he says, dally over some one of them, like the in his preface, “ never so fortunate as to ankle, not particularly expressive of permit more than momentary and incicharacter. Some of the Elizabethans dental cultivation of that art which is the and Herrick contrived to produce fine chief grace of the intellectual life ; ” yet poetry in spite of a similar predilection. the promise has been made good. The But nowadays it is haply a dangerous collected edition will be welcomed by thing to attempt to poetize the passion many readers to whom the North Shore of love unidealized either by the mood Watch and Wild Eden are not so much of romantic devotion, or by that fore

books of admirable verse to be respectboding of motherhood which has en fully neglected, as a constant and intinobled most English poetry in this kind. mate possession. Though it is too fine Mr. Taylor has the advantage that his and sincere a product ever to be the idol dalliance is out of doors, and the keen of a cult, there are qualities in Mr. air and sunlight which fill his lines keep Woodberry's poetry which make it, in the sentiment just above l'amour. As is a certain loose sense, esoteric. For all often the case with young poets, whose

its human wistfulness it is not quite postore of allusion and observation is an etry for the man in the street, nor is it embarrassment, Mr. Taylor is seen at his poetry for the lean and slippered pantabest in set verse forms. This sonnet loon; it is peculiarly the poetry of young might to advantage have known more of men, of young men of generous mind, no file and hammer, but nevertheless it re strangers to the old paths of the Muses presents the quality of his best achieve- and soaring philosophies, yet quick with ment, and conveys his characteristic mood the sense of present beauty, and earnest and poetic creed :

with the thought of present obligation. Not only through old legend's royal guise,

It will, perhaps, not be amiss to take ocNor in the quest that sought the fleece, the grail,

casion of the appearance of this collected The sudden god looks forth to turn men pale edition to consider the quality and signiWith wonder looking out of beauty's eyes. ficance of Mr. Woodberry's work. At times a light of great enchantment lies

It is impossible to open the volume On my plain fields; in woods as through a veil Gleams the unknown romance ; and the lost tale anywhere, at random, without at once Informs familiar rivers with surprise.

observing as its prime characteristics a Once, when upon the utmost hills the sun purity of line, a sweetness of melody, a An hour unmoving hung, and, all song dead, fineness of sentiment, not to be found Grew lovelier, sterner, deepening into red, Harrow of stars, shaping the arrow blade

present in such perfect and unbroken I saw the wild geese go. Summer was done.

harmony in the work of any other among The winged longing left me half afraid. contemporary poets. These lines from

the little Platonic drama of Agathon are Writing in the Atlantic fourteen years not a purple patch; they represent the ago Mr. Thomas Bailey Aldrich, then color and texture of the woof of the editor of the magazine, said at the close poem : of an extended review of Mr. Woodberry's first volume of verse :

Love comes in youth, and in the wakeful heart viewer whose diversions in this sort are

Delight begins, soft as Aurora's breath not many counts it a fortunate month, · As stir of birds in branches of the dawn,

Fretting the silver waves, and dimly sweet indeed a fortunate year when he can say, So soft, so sweet, thy touches round my beart. • Here is a new poet,' and commend a O, fable, fable on!

6. The re

[ocr errors]

Here, in little, are many of the qualities as it was by Milton on the banks of Cam, of Mr. Woodberry's work; its musical or by Arnold on Thamesside. But here, sweetness, its fineness, its concern with as everywhere else in the volume, there maidenhood, and maiden youth. But to is one striking fact to be noted which see these traits in their intensity we shall will help us to apprehend the quality of have to turn to some of the lyrics, where the poetry still more intimately. The natin a true lyrical mood is poetized, with ural background is uncommonly real and firm lyrical structure, and with the cano vivid, but we do not enter upon it by the rous quality that invites to reading aloud. aid of many details of observation, as in Take, for example, these stanzas: the case of Mr. Taylor's verse, or through O, strange to me and wondrous,

very much concrete imagery. Mr. WoodThe storm passed by,

berry's affair is not so much with the With sound of voices thundrous

types of Nature, as with her moods and Swept from the sky;

symbolical processes, with the turn of But stranger, love, thy fashion, 0, tell me why

tides and seasons, and with the temperArt thou, dark storm of passion,

ament of the weather. It is Nature So slow to die?

recollected in tranquillity — and Plato

nized. As roll the billowy ridges

Here we have foreshadowed the trait When the great gale has blown o'er; As the long winter dirges

of Mr. Woodberry's poetry that gives it From frozen branches pour;

its power with youth, and justifies our As the whole sea's harsh December attribution to him of the poet's mind. Pounds on the pine-hung shore;

His work has the tonical coherence that So will love's deep remember,

springs from a single view of the world, So will deep love deplore.

clearly conceived, and firmly and conIn the deepening music of the vowels, sistently maintained. It is easy for the in subtle and haunting repetends, in per- whimsicalist who has never found fect fusion of syntax in cadence, as well has lost himself to smile at “idealas in the imaginative rightness of the ism;" it is easy for the Lockist to conunderlying similitude, this is as perfect fute it; yet it is the indispensable stuff in its way as — why should we hesitate of poetry which is life. Mr. Woodberry - the songs of Tennyson.


is a Puritan by inheritance, a Platonist There are in these lines qualities, other by temperament, and a cosmopolitan stuthan those of formal perfection, which dent of letters by training. Out of these will lead us inward. The view of na strands he has woven and presented elseture in them is of a piece with that found where in prose an idealistic programme in every poem. There is almost no piece which is pretty much that of Sidney without its setting of landscape, — Italy, and Shelley ripened for the times. Held the Cyclop's shore, the sea, the prairie; by an immature mind of any age, such

- but most often it is the keen, sweet a faith is often far from convincing, but New England countryside and seashore. when it is put forth with mature enthuThis is the real natural background of siasm, and informed with the results of Mr. Woodberry's mind, and it is so sound historical and literary scholarship, sharply realized that all of his work has it gains an evidential import that will a peculiarly racy and indigenous tang. not be gainsaid. This is the vital prinIn that noble elegy the North Shore ciple in Mr. Woodberry's poetry, and it Watch, for all its freightage of idealistic will appear more clearly from almost monism, the mood of the old lament for any stanza of the poetry itself than from Bion is as perfectly reproduced amid the many paragraphs of expository tedious“brine and bloom” of the Beverly shore These stanzas, torn from an ode


« PreviousContinue »