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POETRY: A Magazine of Verse
This is the play that Mr. Tagore read before a company
of people in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to their complete
"I suppose," said one lady, at least courageous in voicing
her impression, "I suppose that by the King of the dark
chamber you mean the spirit of evil. And I suppose, that
in your eastern, oriental way, you mean that we should not
struggle against it, but give in to it, be reconciled ; but that,"
drawing herself up proudly, "that is not our western way,
Mr. Tagore — we fight!" It was the poet himself who re-
peated the story. A.C.H.
Borderlands and Thoroughfares, by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson.
This poet has hewn his art out of shale and slate — stub-
born materials which show harsh clefts and ridges, which
scorn to be smooth and fine. He seems to be still learning —
in fact, he has scarcely more than begun his work. But
already the observer, standing not too near, may see that
the figure he is hammering into shape has large lines, massive-
ness, structure — a lonely monumental dignity.
Mr. Gibson has deliberately studied the poor — British
peasants and laborers, tramps and vagabonds. One does
not feel in his poems that pre-natal intimacy, which exists
between Mr. Robert Frost and his New England farmer
neighbors; but one does feel knowledge, insight, and sure
imaginative sympathy. Sometimes he slips up in his phrasing
— do English "hinds" say ere, for example? — and no doubt
the hinds themselves could find graver faults. But behind
the realism of his scenic effects — the truth to character and
environment as he sees them — is a realization of that limit-
less background of mystery which widens all human lives.
His hinds and tramps feel airs from Arcady and salt mists
from a polar sea. His London burglar must have a "night
in the heather," and let his imagination rove over the wilds.
His "old hind" in The Queen's Crags was a poet once,
when in his youth he loved a circus-rider.
I see her tripping now into the ring,
With flashing eyes and teeth,
Clean-limbed, and mettlesome as the coal-black
Coal-black from mane to fetlocks,
That pawed and champed to greet her. . . .
And the forty lines which follow send us racing round the
ring with her, and give us the young man's exaltation even
through the old man's memory.
In short, Mr. Gibson is working out an interpretation
of life. It is sculpturesque rather than pictorial, and the
light upon it is not sunshine but the veiled gray monotone
of an English November. The figure which begins to
emerge is larger than life and not exact in realism, but
it is nobly descriptive. It gives us the profounder instincts
and higher imaginings of people deeply rooted in reality,
people whom harsh life strips bare of luxury and pretence.
Besides the three dialogues in this book, we have nearly
thirty brief poems. Through all of them one feels the
POETRY: A Magazine of Verse
wind blowing, and most of them carry a suggestion of the
eeriness of common things, as in The Lodging House:
And when at last I stand outside
My garret door, I hardly dare
To open it,
Lest, when I fling it wide,
With candle lit
And reading in my only chair,
I find myself already there.
A minor but most welcome detail is this poet's love of
animals. Certain horses -and dogs live in these pages, es-
pecially that noble-minded bitch, Mabel —
Stubborn, wild and white,
Snuffing the wet air of the windy night.
And the last poem pictures
— the sun-enkindled fire
Of gorse upon the moor-top.
Indeed, we are out-of-doors in wild places throughout
this volume. H. M.
Sword Blades and Poppy Seed, by Amy Lowell. Macmillan.
Miss Lowell's title-poem — or rather, her initial poem
which interprets the book's title — is a kind of apologia, a
presentation of her ideals as an artist. Poetry, she insists,
must either pierce or soothe the heart of man, and her
manner of telling the illustrative dream-tale of a poet's visit
to the Dealer in Words presents the utmost vigor — not to
say rigor — of her style. We have stripped and trenchant
metaphors, as in these lines:
All day my thoughts had lain as dead,
Unborn and bursting in my head. . . .
My table seemed a graveyard, full
Of coffins waiting burial.