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have their root in the defiance, and consequent loss, of authority which attends all efforts to democratise society and art.
This failing is painfully evident in one of the finest and most impressive poems in either volume, the noble 'King Lear's Wife' of Mr Gordon Bottomley. Here, in a strongly-knit, vigorous, dramatic fragment, we are given a sort of prelude to Shakespeare's tragedy, and that a prelude which serves very reasonably to explain the inhuman treatment meted out to their father by Goneril and Regan at a later stage of his history. The Lear of this fragment is still a man in his prime, lusty and lustful, with a sickly dying wife who has long since ceased to satisfy his uxorious demands. Goneril is just emerging into womanhood-a huntress maid ; Cordelia is a prattling nursery child ; Regan hangs about the kitchen for scraps. Upon Goneril falls the horror of revelation, for, as her mother lies dying in the great bed, she sees her father toying in the shadow with her mother's maid, who is already destined by the doting Lear to be the moribund wife's successor, while all the time the wanton is carrying on an intrigue with a younger man in the King's retinue. The honour of the house is in Goneril's hand, and she stabs her father's paramour to death, returning with the blood upon her hands, to point the moral of a woman's intuition :
"I do not understand how men can govern,
So far the drama, though not without a certain pagan brutality, is four-square within the containing walls of poetry—a fine and living piece of literature. How, then, comes it that on the very last page Mr Bottomley should be willing to dissipate the final effect of a powerful scene
by introducing into the death-chamber two prattling beldames, who, coming to lay the dead woman out, croon over her body a squalid ballad about a louse, and plunge the episode into a conclusion of intolerable bathos ? It is in precisely the same spirit that Mr William Davies paints a richly picturesque portrait of an old seagoing salt, whose memory was packed with the rough stuff of romance, and then tears the picture to pieces in a colophon,
(“A damn bad sailor and a landshark too,
No good in port or out”-my granddad said.' The disillusionment of such a finish is complete; it is like a child destroying its sand-castle in a fit of petulance. And the motive is very much the same in both cases, for it has its origin in a freakish desire to shock.
Cleverness is, indeed, the pitfall of the New Poetry. There is no question about the ingenuity with which its varying moods are exploited, its elaborate symbolism evolved, and its sudden, disconcerting effects exploded upon the imagination. Swift, brilliant images break into the field of vision, scatter like rockets, and leave a trail of flying fire behind. But the general impression is momentary; there are moods and emotions, but no steady current of ideas behind them. Further, in their determination to surprise and even to puzzle at all costs, these young poets are continually forgetting that the first essence of poetry is beauty; and that, however much you may have observed the world around you, it is impossible to translate your observation into poetry, without the intervention of the spirit of beauty, controlling the vision, and reanimating the idea.
The temptations of cleverness may be insistent, but its risks are equally great: how great indeed will, perhaps, be best indicated by the example of the Catholic Anthology,' which apparently represents the very newest of all the new poetic movements of the day. This strange little volume bears upon its cover a geometrical device, suggesting that the material within holds the same relation to the art of poetry as the work of the Cubist school holds to the art of painting and design. The product of the volume is mainly American in origin, only one or two of the contributors being of indisputably
English birth. But it appears here under the auspices of a house associated with some of the best poetry of the younger generation, and is prefaced by a short lyric by Mr W. B. Yeats, in which that honoured representative of a very different school of inspiration makes bitter fun of scholars and critics, who
• Edit and annotate the lines
The reader will not have penetrated far beyond this warning notice before he finds himself in the very stronghold of literary rebellion, if not of anarchy. Mr Orrick Johns may be allowed to speak for his colleagues, as well as for himself:
• This is the song of youth,
And Mr Ezra Pound takes up the parable in turn, in the same wooden prose, cut into battens: 'Come, my songs, let us express our baser passions. Let us express our envy for the man with a steady job and
no worry about the future.
It is not for his audience to contradict the poet, who for
once may be allowed to pronounce his own literary epitaph. But this, it is to be noted, is the poetry 'that was to say nothing that might not be said 'actually in life-under emotion,' the sort of emotion that settles down into the banality of a premature decrepitude: 'I grow old. . I grow old I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me.'
Here, surely, is the reduction to absurdity of that school of literary license which, beginning with the declaration
'I knew my father well and he was a fool,' naturally proceeds to the convenient assumption that everything which seemed wise and true to the father must inevitably be false and foolish to the son. Yet if the fruits of emancipation are to be recognised in the unmetrical, incoherent banalities of these literary Cubists, the state of Poetry is indeed threatened with anarchy which will end in something worse even than ‘red ruin and the breaking up of laws.' From such a catastrophe the humour, commonsense, and artistic judgment of the best of the new Georgians' will assuredly save their generation; nevertheless, a hint of warning may not be altogether out of place. It was a classic custom in the family hall, when the feast was at its height, to display a drunken slave among the sons of the household, to the end that they, being ashamed at the ignominious folly of his gesticulations, might determine never to be tempted into such a pitiable condition themselves. The custom had its advantages; for the wisdom of the younger generation was found to be fostered more surely by a single example than by a world of homily and precept.
Art. 5.-GERMAN PENETRATION IN RUMANIA.
ONE of the most striking and instructive facts brought into prominence by the present conflict has been the unexpected success of German efforts towards peaceful penetration. Articles in previous numbers of this Review * have dealt with the results of that policy in Italy, Belgium and France; the following pages are an attempt to trace its course in Rumania. The task is not an easy
While in the west the phenomenon is almost exclusively economic in character, in the east, where the Germans found an open field for their activities, its aspect is much more complex and its form perhaps dominantly political and social. So far as the knowledge of the present writer goes, there is no special literature on the subject. Moreover, the powerful and thorough organisation of the system in Rumania, and the fact that it has the sympathy and support of an influential portion of the Rumanian population, bar access to its more intimate aspects. Finally, in the countries now at war with Germany the outbreak of the conflict necessarily revealed the methods and results of that policy, which is still working unchecked in neutral Rumania. For the same reason the writer has had to some extent to censor his own article.
Rumania offers points of special interest for such an investigation. Not only was she the first of the southeastern European countries to establish a German dynasty upon her throne, but she was also the first to be drawn into the sphere of influence of the Central Powers, as an early stage in their move to the East. Yet, nothing seemed more artificial than this association between peoples so widely different in character as
are the Germans and the Rumanians, especially if we also take into consideration the constant friction due to the sufferings of the Rumanians in Hungary. Since the political emancipation of the European Near East sprang from, and was fostered by, French and English liberal ideals, the success of the German efforts is the more remarkable. The practical spirit, energy, and perseverance of the
* Italy,' No. 444 ; 'Belgium,' No. 445 ; 'France,' No. 447.