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It was, indeed, a small voice in "Orion and other Poems," published in 1880; it was lost to some degree in " In Divers Tones," where the poet wrote in mixed mood, poems serious following so close upon, or followed so closely by, poems light, trivial and unworthy that we feel as we peruse them now that the poet was "resting in an inn "—the inn of art, and had not fixed his eye on the end of the journey; but in " Songs of the Common Day," where he endeavours to
"What beauty clings
In common forms, and find the soul
the voice that we find strong and assured in "The Book of the Native" is speaking.
And now we are going to make yet broader claims for our poet. Every singer, to be worthy of consideration, must have spontaneity, must "harmonize his genius to the spirit of his times," and, most important of all, must have a message for mankind. Roberts, in our opinion, possesses these three essentials.
Stedman has said that, "In the case of the minor poets, excessive culture and wide acquaintance with methods and masterpieces often destroyed spontaneity." This was true to a very large extent of the previous work by Roberts, but in the "The Book of the Native" he has used simple ballad measures-used them with the freedom and naturalness of the early balladists, and in their use has shown an art conscience which is not obtrusive, but which never leaves him while he is serious, and only deserts him once or twice when in lighter vein— and, by the way, there should have been no lighter vein in this volume. has likewise harmonized his genius with the spirit of his times. He is at once broadly religious and accurately scientific. A few lines from "Origins," a poem, terse, packed with suggestive sentences, will serve as an illustration:
By the ancestral deed,
We work out blind desires.
Space will not permit us to dwell on this at greater length, and we must hasten to examine his message.
It is threefold.
The first is borrowed from Wordsworth's
a message eternally fresh and needful to be reiterated in each age. He has stated his point of view in "The Heal-All," a poem which is a palpable imitation Wordsworth's The Lesser Celandine," which we, craving the Wordsworthians' pardon, think a finer poem than the one that doubtless inspired it; finer because the writer has "the sense for form and style, the passion for just expression, the sure and firm touch of the true artist that are lacking in Wordsworth's sadly inartistic and gloomily thoughtful poem. The closing stanza gives a centre for the student of Roberts' work :
"Thy simple wisdom I would gain--
With kindly cheer, and faith in pain,
Along with this austere yet profound simplicity we have a yearning after the beautiful, an instinct for it, as strong as the instinct of a Keats. He, too, realizes that "Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty," but we find in his work that while he has taken this point of view of Keats, he has so combined it with Wordsworth's message,
"Of joy in widest commonalty spread,"
that he has really given us a message of his own :
instead of looking to his threshold for beauty he expected her from her height; he found her in the past; he saw her on a Grecian urn, in the glorious mythology of the Greeks, which gave us his Endymion and Hyperion. But Roberts has restated his message with a new meaning. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever," and that joy we find not in "wreathing some flowery band to bind us to the earth," not in conning the dreams of the ages, but in the threshold facts of every-day life, in "the joy of common things.' He does not ask,
"Where is it now, the glory and the dream?" The commonest facts of existence contains it for him.
We now come to what seems to us the poet's greatest contribution to literature. This, too, will at first sight seem to be partially borrowed from Wordsworth and Goethe. Wordsworth felt : "A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
"In ignorance we stand,
Goethe looked on the seen universe as "the living mantle" of the Unseen Artificer which had been woven in the whirring looms of time; but neither poet, it seems to us, brought man into vital, concrete contact-physical kinship with the universe about him. Roberts, we are of the opinion, has done this. He has taken a step in advance of his predecessors. There are, it is true, suggestions of the step he has taken in several of Emerson's poems, but the utterance given in Origins" is distinctly his own :
And question stars and earth
We scan the kindred skies,
While through the common grass
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man :
And rolls through all things."
We feel the sap go free
When spring comes to the tree;
This is mature work; these are important truths which give the poet who stands on them an assured position and undoubted longevity. It would be difficult to work out any of these veins; they have all three rich ore, and stretch from eternity to eternity; and the poet who works them is no longer a poet of promise, but a poet of real achievement.
We cannot close without making special reference to several poems that are in parts as perfect as the worker in words could make them. "Up and Away in the Morning" has a swing and rush that it would be hard to excel :
Long is the heart's hope, long as the day
Till the world rolls over and ends the day
(Oh, up and away in the morning.)"
The " Laughing Sally" is a ballad that has touches which, in fire, in force, in the music of great guns and the booming of great seas, in pictorial fulness, rhythmic strength, and felicity of phrase, make it an excellent companion piece for Tennyson's "Revenge." Less in power, it is true, but of the same brood. It is full of such lines as:
"The hunt of the tireless hound."
"By the grimmest whim of chance."
Or this magnificent burst:
But in the whole volume, in all of his poetry, indeed, there is nothing finer than "An Epitaph for a Husbandman;" nay, we will go farther. We believe, and we believe after almost two years consideration-ever since it appeared in the "Cosmopolitan "-that it has several stanzas which make it a poem to be placed beside Wordsworth's "Daffodils" or "The Solitary Reaper." It is true that the two opening stanzas are marred by the anacoluthon, and that the closing stanza has lost something in rhythm in the line
"Tenderly now they throng."
But it has three stanzas, flawless in workmanship, tender and delicate in feeling :
Busy, and blithe, and bold,
He laboured for the morrow —
"His fields he had to leave,
His orchards cool and dim;
The clods he used to cleave
'But the green, growing things
Here the manner is distinctly the poet's own. It has the "lyrical cry," but it is individual. The closing stanza has a "natural magic," and the simple line "He laboured for the morrow
has a "moral profundity" that stamps this verse poetry of the highest kind. The line just quoted is a powerful repetition of a truth uttered by the poet eight years ago, when he wrote "The Sower:"
“Godlike, he makes provision for mankind."
"The Book of the Native," coming at a time when the world is in a mad rush for power and gold, is like a balmy spring day. Certainly there is in it little trace of the saeculum realisticum in which we live. The poet is steeped in the worship of Nature and Nature's God, and the humanistic interest he adds to Nature will refresh any sojourner in life who meets with his poems. So much of a nature poet is he, that in a poem entitled " Twilight on Sixth Avenue" he fails to become a part of the life about him, and his spirit wanders to where
THE NEW POET OF THE ENGLISH RACE.
HE publication of Rudyard Kipling's volume of poems, "The Seven Seas," marks the rise of a new star of the first magnitude above the poetical horiThose who have read his occasional verses in the magazines and the headpieces in his Indian stories, and compared them with his previous performance in "Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads," have awaited with expectant interest a new volume promising richer fulfilment. "The Seven Seas" places Mr. Kipling far in advance of all his younger contemporaries. No other poet of to-day has
written such vigorous, manly, melodious verse. It would be hard to find throughout the range of English poetry a greater mastery of lyrical forms. In many of the shorter poems, the apt epithet, the choice phrasing, and the rush of melody ennoble thought otherwise unworthy of poetical expression. The English public has been quick to recognize the extraordinary merit of his new book of poetry, is testified by its immense sale.. It cannot be doubted that when these poems are known they will be as widely circulated in the colonies as in England. For Rudyard Kipling is a poet of the English race. He is the poet of the "Four New Nations and the "Seven Seas." Here are some lines from a stirring song, 64 The Native Born":
Last toast-and your foot on the table !--
The note of many of these poems is patriotism-not merely the love of England Mr. Kipling is a native of Bombay-but that wider patriotism which embraces the nations of the world's greatest empire. One is startled by the exuberance of his enthusiasm as it pours itself out in the rich melody of song. The reading of these poems must stir in the most sluggish heart pride of empire and pride of race. If ever a party in this country had to fight for the maintenance of British connexion, they would find in this volume the most effective sort of campaign literature ready to hand. Take this lyric, "The Song of the Sons," from the group called "A Song of the English":
"Truly ye come of The Blood; slower to bless than to ban ;
Little use to lie down at the bidding of any
A health to the Native-born (stand up!)
All bound to sing o' the little things we care
All bound to fight for the little things we care about,
Flesh of the flesh that I bred, bone of the bone that I bare;
Stark as your sons shall be; stern as your fathers were.
Deeper than speech our love, stronger than life our tether;
With the weight of a six-fold blow!
By the might of our cable-tow ( take hands!)
All round the world (and a little loop to pull
All round the world (and a little strap to buckle it),
A health to the Native-born !"
Those that have stayed at thy knees, Mother, go call them in ;
We that were bred overseas wait and would speak with our kin.
Not in the dark do we fight, haggle and flout and gibe;
Selling our love for a price; loaning our hearts for a bribe.
Gifts have we only to-day--Love without promise or fee.
Then follow the songs of the cities of the empire, among which are Halifax, Quebec, Montreal and Victoria; and then, "England's Answer: "
Hear, for thy children speak from the uppermost parts of the sea!"
But we do not fall on the neck nor kiss when
Sons, I have borne many sons, but my dugs
Wards of the Outer March; Lords of the
Ay, talk to your grey Mother that bore you on her knees!
That ye may talk together, brother to brother's face
Thus for the good of your peoples; thus for the Pride of the Race.
Also, we will make promise. So long as The
But Rudyard Kipling has wider claims to patriotic songs. He is the new poet of the "McAndrew's Hymn," he says:
of steam, the romance of the the sea-pieces in his volume. his sea-symphony.
I shall know that your good is mine; ye shall feel that my strength is yours;
In the day of Armageddon, at the last great fight of all,
That Our House shall stand together, and the pillars do not fall."
eminence than that of a singer of sea. In that marvelous monologue,
"Lord, send a man like Robbie Burns to sing the song o' Steam." He is himself the new Robbie Burns. Those who think that, with the advent sea has fled, will be rudely undeceived by reading To the poet every part of the machinery joins in
"Fra skylight left to furnace-bars, backed, bolted, braced an' stayed,
No other poet has sung of the sea in notes so varied. The "Song of the Dead" is a mighty sea dirge, full of majestic dignity; while for the note of pathos, what could be tenderer than this:
"The Liner she's a lady, an' she never looks nor 'eeds
The Man-o'-war's 'er 'usband, an' 'e gives 'er all she needs;
Plyin' up an' down, Jenny, 'angin' round the yard,
All the way by Fratton tram down to Portsmouth ard;
Plyin' up an down, Jenny, waitin' in the cold!"
For an example of the stirring narrative style in sea poetry, "The Rhyme of the Three Sealers" is unsurpassed for vigour of language and movement. "The Last Chantey" is in still another tone; it might be called the Deep Sea Chantey. As to its subject-matter, it is enough to say that, beside it, Byron's "Vision of Judgment" is stale and flat.
A long article might be written on Mr. Kipling's range and choice of metrical forms. No one else is at present writing in such varied and tuneful metres. The " Song of the Banjo" makes us wonder how even an undoubted genius can manipulate the English language so as to produce such perfect accord in sound and sense. Doubtless, it is very largely this tunefulness in metre that commends these poems to the popular ear, and the question must arise as to their fitness as a vehicle for lofty thought. But that is a matter for criticism, and our object here is not to enter into a close analysis of the relations between matter and form, but only to endeavour to secure a wider reading for these poems among our own people. It may be said, however, that the book is greater in promise than in achievement, and it is impossible to yield higher praise than that, for Mr. Kipling is already enrolled in the great line of English poets. High water mark in this volume is reached in the beautiful and dignified lines, "To the True Ro-mance," and it is in this poem that we find the promise for the future. As Mr. Kipling leaves his youth behind him he will correct faults of taste in his poetry,.