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The jump to “The Venture" by Jean Kenyon Mackenzie is made with some relief, for there is a rippling lyrical note about her work that is unforced and charming in itself. “The Venture" is a book of distinct limitations, an unimportant offering, but it is both musical and pleasing. One likes Miss Mackenzie for what she is the much misused words “minor poet” fit her – and because she pretends to offer no more than a series of personal moods and observations. When she writes:
She was the little wind that falls Before the falling of the rain; She was the one and early star We lose and see and lose again.
She was the pang of the caress That is too brief for our delight; She was the torch another bore And passed us in the night,
we are satisfied because we have expected no more. It is such spontaneous and unlabored poetry as this that creeps into anthologies and achieves an endurance that is not the good fortune of more ambitious labors.
Three more women remain to be considered before the two men who have published books of verse are ventured upon. There is no similarity between these three women. Margaret Tod Ritter, in “Mirrors", shows a precise touch, a melodic sense, and an adequate grasp of the sonnet form. She makes her mistake in writing pseudo-Irish poems about leprecauns, may, and witchcraft. For all the writer knows, Miss Ritter may be Irish, but that does not change the bogus quality of her attempts at Celtic expression. When she is at her best and simplest, however, she catches an authentic atmosphere and is well worth reading. Take “Sonata Appassionata”, for instance:
Thou art my silver lyre, my lute of jade,
sweep Of minor chords. Beloved, close thine
eyes That I may find what semi-tones of sleep Weigh down the moth-white lids. Thou
art the rise Appassionata of a golden reed Singing the songs of Pan, thou art the fall Of drum and organ throbbing out the need Of human love. Beloved, thou art all The melody of life. Thou art the string I shall have broken when I cease to sing. In spite of all the irritating “thou arts" in this sonnet, in spite of its certain echoing of a thousand and one vanished bards, there is something pleasing about it.
Dorothy Dow is of a different school. “Will-o'-the-Wisp" is almost solely concerned with what for want of a better phrase we may call “sophisticated love poetry". It doesn't bite very hard. Lacking both depth and impressiveness, its sole appeal is implicit in a certain passionate earnestness of expression and a fair lyrical quality. Here are the usual stanzas about love vanishing overnight. The titles are an index to the book. “For a Man”, "For Another Man", "The Crillon, 1924”, “The Rose Grows Old”, “Lost Lady", "Cabaret", "End of the Play", "Harlot", "Between Last Night and This”, “End of Loveliness", “O, Let Death", "How Do I Love You”, and so on to the last line where Beauty returns, as usual, on unreluctant feet, this is the measure of Miss Dow's book.
“The Wandering Eros" by Martha Dickinson Bianchi is another book that does not bite. It is archaic for the most part, repetitious in thought, and lacking in any fine elements of inspiration. The author is scholarly and evidently fully aware of the technical demands of verse, but she is far from
being touched by the fire that stirred carelessly. This is regrettable, for he that near relative of hers, Emily seems to show a well defined lyric urge Dickinson.
and sensitivity to the world about him. And so we come to the two men who There is decidedly hope for him. But have been waiting patiently all this he mustn't mix up Lord Byron's Childe while. Frederick Niven is indubitably Harold and Browning's Childe Roland. mature and "A Lover of the Land" is, They were not related. on the whole, a charming book. Its only fault is the usual fault
Dionysus in Doubt. By Edwin Arlington saic inspiration. “The Dark Tower"
Robinson. Macmillan Company. by Albert Brush suffers from the New Poems. By John Drinkwater. Hough
ton Mifflin Company. wrong young man's coming to the
The Venture. By Jean Kenyon Mackentower. According to the last line on
zie. Houghton Mifflin Company. page 30 “... brave Childe Harold to Mirrors. By Margaret Tod Ritter. Mac
millan Company. the dark tower came." This puts Will-o'-the-Wisp. By Dorothy Dow. Childe Roland's nose out of joint with Boni and Liveright. a vengeance, for that Dark Tower was The Wandering Eros. By Martha Dickin
son Bianchi. Houghton Mifflin Comhis own particular tower, as any reader
pany. of Browning will bear witness. Now A Lover of the Land. By Frederick Niven.
Boni and Liveright. this error is symbolic of Mr. Brush's
The Dark Tower. By Albert Brush. little book: he is hasty, writing too Egmont H. Arens.
DUSK IN THE LOW COUNTRY
By DuBose Heyward
LEAGUE of broomgrass, rose, and mauve, and umber,
Gashed by a road into the setting sun;
Land of wide beauty, and eternal waiting,
IN BRIEF REVIEW
HE little volume "Henry Cabot Fortunes" and the “History of TamLodge” (Houghton Mifflin) by
Yet that Americans are Bishop William Lawrence is a model fundamentally humane, benevolent of what such an appreciative biograph- and self sacrificing is the contention of ical sketch should be. It is just that: Gustavus Myers in “The History of an unpretentious tribute by a lifelong American Idealism" (Boni, Liveright). friend, a personal evaluation of its The author's method is a simple one: subject as man, as scholar and histo- he painstakingly brings to bear numerrian, and as statesman. But Bishop ous examples of American altruism, and Lawrence is not uncritical: nor is he quite as painstakingly omits the no ever fulsome.
He has nowhere over- less numerous examples of that which done it, and he has managed to present could hardly be mistaken for altruism. in brief outline an extraordinarily Quite in keeping with the tone of comprehensive study, with adequate the book is the statement of Calvin background, so that the book has Coolidge, quoted on the jacket: “The solid value as a bit of contemporary chief ideal of the American people is history. Yet the chief thing that idealism." Mr. Myers himself is fully emerges is a strikingly clear, vivid as original and perspicacious: he demportrait of the man: a portrait that onstrates that idealism is an ideal with gives the reader a feeling that this is a us, but not that it is something atremarkable likeness. Senator Lodge's tained. place in the history of the past fifty years is, of course, a matter for the In "Mere Mortals" (Doran), the incritical appraisal of the future histo- evitable sequel to “Post Mortem” of rian; pending that, one may naturally startling memory, Dr. C. MacLaurin expect a complete, critical biography of Sydney has done his bit in the But this brilliant personal sketch will contemporary psychophysical sweepnot be superseded: it is entitled to a stakes, and with a degree of fascination. place of its own, both as a footnote to His not to repeat the popular interpretahistory and as a piece of literature. tion of great men that slowly broadens
down from grandmother to grandIn view of the flaring commercialism mother. His to take a keen profesof our times, the materialism that sional look at the hero of yesteryear threatens to smother the arts, the and tell us what ailed him that he has political corruption and the economic grown so great. If it appears that the class rule that brings rigid objections character of King Henry the Saint was to child labor amendments and min- largely the result of too many spankimum wage laws, it is somewhatings in his infancy, that Dr. Johnson surprising to be told that America is a was frightened all his life at Queen "nation of idealists". It is particu- Anne, that Luther's religious views larly surprising when this announce- grew from an earache — well, that ment comes from one who has written
is what appears.
The Tudors, Ivan the "History of the Great American the Terrible, Frederick the Great, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Spinoza photographs, maps, routes, and sugare only a few of the subjects of Dr. gestions for travel; yet it possesses, in MacLaurin's scrutiny. The difficulty full measure, what so many so called of completely explaining such persons travel books possess not at all - charm. as these on purely medical grounds is To read “Along the Pyrenees" is to similar to that involved in squaring the promise oneself a glimpse of this circle or inventing perpetual motion. region during the next trip abroad. At least our author has steered fairly
Carcassonne, Perpignan, Mont Perdu, clear of the temptation to belittle end Pau! products because of lowly origins — a Cauterets, Ax-les-Thermes, Lourdes,
Roncevaux! weakness that mars the work of some of the diagnosticians in his field. The There is poetry in the sound of the intention stated in “Post Mortem" names, says the author; they march, "to throw such light upon them (great they sing, they trip out with rhythr persons) as is possible as regards their And so does the reader sing as he physical condition; and to consider how marches along through Mr. Wilstach's far their actions were influenced by melodious pages. Now and then, even their health”, has been fulfilled, if we the most sedate will find himself take into account the unavoidable tripping rhythmically to the accomlimitations of the method. There can paniment of lutes and the songs of be no irrefragable proofs in the circum- forgotten troubadours, and at no time stances. Some of the links, as it were, will the journey be a wearisome one. are missing. Dr. MacLaurin himself reminds us that there can be no real Are prejudice and legal disability all diagnosis without seeing the patient. that prevent women from equaling the He has not seen the patients, but he has achievements of men, asks Dr. Paul seen their pictures, and is able to Bousfield in “Sex and Civilization" exclaim over a painting of Queen (Dutton). In answer he contends not Elizabeth, “That is not the portrait of only that women's physical disabilities a loose woman!” Here is good reading. are exaggerated, but that their temper
amental disabilities, though at present “He knows not France who knows
France who knows genuine, are entirely artificial, the not the Pyrenees.” The same might product of environmental influences also be said of Spain, which claims a from earliest childhood. This he demgenerous portion of this land of adven- onstrates as follows: Psychic energy ture that has tempted brigands and is of one kind in male and female. A gipsies and wandering soldiers of normal human being, moreover, applies fortune since the days of Roland. In this energy to various sexual aims in more recent times, it has been the the same order in which they have retreat of Charlemagne, Hannibal, and occurred in biological evolution: first summer voyagers not content with the to autosexuality, then to homosexuality, Strand and the Rue de la Paix. One and finally to heterosexuality; and of these was Paul Wilstach, who came whatever energy is not absorbed by back with a book half written and erotic activities is set free for applicahas subsequently put on the fin- tion to other purposes (sublimation). ishing touches. "Along the Pyrenees" The difference, then, between male (Bobbs-Merrill) is nothing if not and female is only this: The male is thorough. It abounds with facts, allowed to complete the development, 80 that such erotic energy as he em- written with the scalding passion and ploys is concentrated on the normal irony of a mind which knows and loves act of sex, is therefore small in quan- English literature and cannot make tity, and leaves a great deal of psychic room for the present, cannot adjust energy to be transformed for other its imagination to anything but the purposes; on the other hand, the past and its vivid security. training of the female prevents her from completing the development and W. L. George again undertakes to causes her to retain a large proportion display his extraordinary knowledge of the infantile forms of sexuality and and understanding of that most inof activities more properly subordinate comprehensible creature, woman, in to the normal act of sex, all of which "The Story of Woman" (Harper). absorb most of her energy and leave Mr. George not only sets forth his little for other purposes. "Assuming
Assuming views on the trend of modern woman, that every individual has a certain but he delves into her history of forty amount of energy or capacity for work, thousand years ago. He is very brave the efficiency of the woman, who is in to tackle such a subject in two hundred reality of equal capacity with the man, and fifty seven pages. Beginning with is considerably reduced by what we an account of the Neolithic Age, he may term 'the continual leakage of discusses the days of the patriarchs, energy'.” Woman will therefore be life during the height of Roman set free, not by enactment, but by an and Grecian culture, the influence of education which recognizes the equality Christianity, the Renaissance, the of the sexes.
seventeenth century, the Victorian
era, early rebels, and concludes with a There is one book this season which promise for the future. The book will be the choice possession of all gives one a smattering of information college professors. Its name is "Some which reference proves is not always Aspects of Modern Poetry” (Stokes). accurate. To mention only two failIts author is Alfred Noyes. One ings: Mr. George wishes to tell not a opens the cover expecting to see Sand- story, but the story of woman, yet he burg, Masters, Robinson, and Marianne discusses only one racial group of Moore, but one finds instead a large women from each period. Also, in group of eminent Victorians all of his consideration of the position of whom are defended with exquisite woman he fails to attach importance kindness against the chaotic minds of to the economic condition of each today who sneer at Tennyson, who particular period, which naturally had dismiss Alice Meynell as a Catholic direct bearing upon her status. “The saint, who often say that Henley and Story of Woman" is obviously written Dobson not worth discussing. to sell. It provides intellectual pap For Alice Meynell Mr. Noyes has for American consumption. made a cap of pearls. For Tennyson he has shaped a golden crown set with The age of liberalism, believed here, emeralds and garnets. For Henley remains still in the grey offing. On a and Dobson, six and eight pages each. tiny island off the coast of Spain exShakespeare is there, and following iled Miguel de Unamuno wrote mildly him is Longfellow with trembling Machiavellian essays, while Alfonso beard. These essays
finely breathed more easily. Exile can re