12 MARCH 1921, Page 21


POEMS : 1914-1919.*

Or the collected poems in this volume, most have seen light before in book form. Free measures suit Mr. Maurice Baring best. It is in sonnets that the prose-writer peeps out. Perhaps in all the poems we are conscious that his allegiance is divided, and even in the beautiful " In Memoriam " to Lord Lucas we come across passages which give one the impression that they are either a series of alternative versions or have come straight out of Roget's Thesaurus.

" No one shall take your place.

No other face Can fill that empty frame.

There is no answer when we call your name. We cannot hear your step upon the stair. We turn to speak and find a vacant chair. Something is broken which we cannot mend."

But the poem can soar :-

" And after days of watching, days of lead,

There came the certain news that you were dead You had died fighting, fighting against odds, Such as in war the gods &thereat dared when all the world was young ; Such fighting as blind Homer never sung, Nor Hector nor Achilles never knew ; High in the empty blue.

High, high, above the clouds, against the setting sun, The fight was fought, and your great task was done."

That second " never " is somehow rather attractive, and the whole passage has a fine upward sweep. The poem altogether is very artificial, in the Elizabethan sense, and well tied together. The use of repetition to fulfil the function of regular metre is most successful :- " I brushed the dream away, and quite forgot The nightmare's ugly blot.

So was the dream forgot. The dream came true."

This poem and the charming vera de socitie, " Elegy on the Death of Juliet's Owl," were the present writer's favourites in the last volume which Mr. Baring published, and they remain the most delightful.