POETRY.--Songs and Verses. By H. C timberland Bentley. (Chapman and
Hall.)—Most of Mr. Bentley's verse deals with sport, especially with hunting. It is but moderately success- ful, with a happy and sonorous line, or even stanza, here and there, but never a piece that is good right through. Mr. Bentley's ideas about metre seem somewhat vague. A stanzl, for instance, that begins with "There is the old fox-covert, larches, and oak and fir," has for its fifth line, " Silence l—such tension if pro- longed." One line is dactylic, we suppose, with thirteen syllables, and the other iambic with eight. This is " Pindaric " indeed, to use a term common when people did not know that Pindar was the most rigid of metrists. In the same stanza, " Leicestershire " (an awkward word, it must be conceded) is made to rhyme with "air."—Verses, by Dora Sigorson (Elliot Stock). Miss Sigerson's- verse wants finish, but it has force. It is strange that she should use so odd a similitude as,- " 1, like a moth to a candle,
Am chained by a glaucs from your eye ; "
or that of,—
" That florae insatiable thirst With which man and beast are alike accurst ;"
or indulge in such an extravaganza as,-
" How the moon's frightened taco looking down seemed to shun what she sougLt, Bid so pale in cloud fingers to weep in a passion of rain " but she can write some effective verse. "The Old Vivien " (from which the last quotation comes) might have been made a really fine poem. "The Changeling" is striking also.—My Book of Songs and Sonnets. By Maude Egerton King. (Percival and Co.) —Miss King sometimes reaches a quite unusual level of excel- lence. It' she could only keep up to her best, her rank among the Di minorum gentium would be high,—and that is no small thing to say in these days when so much really good verse is written. Here is a sketch from the Downs, so true, so evidently inspired by the genius loci, that it goes straight to the reader's heart:— " Blue butterflies, my old delight, Still seem for ins, in flickering flight
About the hare-bells, hare-bells wined,— The hill-snail tiny and brown and white Still finds the pasture to his mind,
Atd trembling spenr-grass throws a kind Of bloomy pallor o'er the greensward., And ever a little random wind
Wakes whispers in the tailed ling, And bids the browsing bumble cling The closer for his scabious nodding, And sets the thistledown scampering.
The womb° is climbed, and from the crown I see the sheltered red-roofed town,
My brain Is :clear es air and sunlight, My heart is light as the thistledown.
0 peace and soft simplicity Of grassy hills I with infer a tree, Save one old thorn long wrought and minion
By shoreward winds from a fierce salt sea, And here, highup in hills and bare, A happy valley, ay nothing there
Save thymy troont and sloping sheep-track And grass and silence and golden air !
And ever if the wind be still A single sheep-bell comes to till The snnwarmed lull,—at happy leisn re The sheep and shepherd Come up the hill."
—The House of Omri : Part IL, The Sons of Ahab. By Stanley Weall. (Elliot Stock.)—This "dramatic poem," as the author describes it, has much that is poetical in it, but little that is dramatic. Mr. Weall has, without doubt, caught the secret of good blank verse. Here is a passage from a speech by Jezebel when the King of Judah comes to visit Jehoram :-
" The gods have done their part : if thou do thine
This trivial embassy shall mark a day Kept in earth's calendar with feast and flower
For over, if I err not: towns which yet
Are sleeping silent in the nnquarried stone Shall on their gateways and their bastions grave
In golden characters the words we spake,
And where we sti od, as if on holy ground, Kings miliegotten shall do sacrifice.
Nor scorn the purpose which thy sire maintained,
Famine, and querulous discord of the tribes And war, and pestilence accounting nought
So might he patch as far as fortune willed
That robe whose royalty the Shilohite tore, And make two kingdom, in free friendship one' Howueit over the dark seers of Jah, Moving with spells among the common kind, Opposed him, and the heart of Judah's King Was troubled, for ho feared: whose sceptre now
Borne by the-blood of Sidon will not blench."
These are excellent verses, but as for drama, we see little but narrative put into dialogue.—In Columba, by John Huntley Skrine (Blackwood and Sons), there is more drama and not a little poetical power. That Columba could be put upon the stage with success we should not venture to affirm, but for a chamber-play it is certainly effective. The central figure, the most human of all saints, is nobly conceived, and the subordinate personages are skilfully grouped. The soliloquies of the saint are, perhaps, overlong ; but the conception of the soul-struggle which they describe is fine, and always well, sometimes admirably expressed. Here is a passage in which Columba questions with himself whether he shall return to Ireland, to play the part of peacemaker, which seems to call him:—
" How said the island saint of silence ? Trust
Man's nature, 'tie God's oracle.' He said it. Shall I not trust this prophet in my breast, This craving heart whieh craves because it can, And bid it set my task P What work is here For me I My very work ; my fingers fret To have the handling of it. Here to reign Their unnamed, viewless, spiritual king, Centring in one deft hand is hundred clues, Seeing a goal they see not, steering to it These blind and restive champions, unaware.
0 I could salve these ranoonre, awe to peace Neil of the North, Neil of the South, could stay The blood-rain of our fields, let princes die On the down pillow, shriven. Hal why, so. Thus I unsin my sin, pay back to Erin For each life slain a thousand Can there be A fate so apt, and God not mean it P Ali I Too confident Columba, is the fate Se apt then, or so sure ? Iret you would rule The princes, or the princes you ? I fear Earth's children on the vantage field of earth Are stronger than the Saints. The wings that range High heaven, but stoop to rescue, dare not perch,
Lost they bo limed. Why, my. own Fergus, best
And sanest of the stormy brotherhood, Seeks to the monk but for a holier charm To smooth the worldly way. A peril here To count with I Ou my narrow sea-lapped rock, That least of kingdoms where my hold of earth Is dwind'ed to a pin-point, earth I touch Light as a footless ghost nor mingle with it.
lint on the broad and unfenced, equal plain,
In the hot breath and jostle of the herd, Will the soul guard her clearneas
Old Gamut: a Lyric Play. By Thomas Newbiggin. (T. Fisher Unwin.)—Mr. Newbiggin having told his story, one of the curious tales of the " (Testa Romanorum," in ordinary verse, has put it in a dramatic form. "It necessarily partakes," he says in his preface, "to some extent of the pantomimic in character." The verse is of this kind, but even less amusing. Where the Sr lyric " part comes in we cannot think. Lyric poetry expresses "the individual emotion of the poet."—Border Lands. By Robert Mildred Bingley. (IL Frowde.)—The dates which Mr. Bingley, to anticipate any charge of plagiarism, occasionally gives show us that this volume is the collection of many years. It is strange that one who seems to have read plenty of good poetry should think these mediocre verses worth publishing. For instance, after thirty-one years of verse-making (the poem from which we quote is dated 1800, and we see elsewhere the date of 1869), Mr. Bingley is content to let this pass :- "Lo ! two big tears were rolling down A face that seemed to sorrow grown; A merry face it must have boon, Though now no merriment was seen."
How does a face " grow to sorrow "P—Musa Consolatrise. By Charles Sayle. (D. Nutt.)—There is nothing very noticeable about these poems. In fact, the most striking peculiarity is the amount of paper over which the verses, somewhat less than five hundred in number, are spread. To one kind of sentiment, how- ever, we must take decided objection. It is seen in a poem entitled" A Coat of Arms," and is a serious offence against good taste, if not against good morals.—We have also received, Agnes ; the Bower of Souls, and other Poems, by Robert Calow (Remington), and Rhyming Legends of Ind, by H. Kirkwood G-racey, B.A. (Thacker and Spink, Calcutta ; Thacker, London).—Poems Here at Home. By James Whitcomb Riley. (Longmans.)—Mr. Hiley's muse is capable of more things than one. Whatever she is, she is never commonplace. When she is homely—and she can be homely without any offence against good taste—she is sensible and humorous ; when she is refined, she can give us either sentiment or humour, as the theme may demand. And always there is a newness and freshness about her utterances which are a vastly pleasant change after the monotony—mostly, it is true, a blameless, but always a tiresome monotony—of most minor verse. Mr. Hiley's most characteristic utterances we leave, as it is difficult to give any notion of them by extract. These racy pieces in local idiom do not lend themselves to extract. We must leave our readers to find out thbir charms for themselves. Hero is a specimen of his most serious mnod : — " TUE DEAD Wire
Always I see her in a saintly guise Of :died raiment, white as her own brow When first I kissed the teardrops to the eyes
Mat rmi a forever now,
Those gent'e eyes! They seem the same to me, As, looking through the warm dews of mine own, I see them gazing downward patiently Whine, lost and all alone In the great emptiness of night, I bow And sob aloud for one returning touch Of the dear hands that, Heaven having now, I need eo much—so much I"
—Valete Tennyson, and other Memorial _Poems. By H. D. Rawnsley. (J. MacLehose and Sons, Glasgow.)—This is a book of "dirges." We might almost say that every celebrity that has passed away of late years has his memorial verses among the hundred and twenty poems which make up the contents of this volume. It could not but be that this uniformity of character makes it difficult for the reader to do full justice to the merit of the work. We appreciate an obituary poem when it suits the occasion, when it expresses, in appropriate language, the emotion of the hour. To pass in rapid succession from one to another, to realise a number of varying personalities, seine of them little known, or wholly unknown, to us, makes a great demand upon the attention. Tennyson is the theme of more than twenty of the poems, some of them, it should be said, written in his lifetime, and so varying in some degree the theme. One of these we give, as a good specimen of Mr. Rawneley's verse :- " F.1111MVIFORD.
This is the Poet's home, from oast to west A silver amulet, the Solent shines To guard him, where he sees in stately lines The white winced vessels pass, for toil or rest. No ruder sound has his flue ear distrust Than rippling ilex, and the sigh of pines When south winds sweep with clamour up the chines, And waves leap high on milk-white Watcomb's breast.
But if at all lie leave his song's retreat, The cypress bowers, the labyrinthine maze, To climb the hushed, companionable Down, And seaward at the Beacon's height to gaze, He hears the ocean like his great heart boat, And to its rhythmic cadence times his own."
Of the strictly memorial poems, the following is perhaps as good as any :— "ColevensioN.
A sinner turned to God and right, A spirit quickened and made whole, A change come over heart and soul, A character transfigured quite "
How lamentably weak that " quite" is ! Dr. Cullen tells us a, story in verse, and does it fairly well. This, "The Harvest Birds," is the most pleasing thing in the volume.—Common Room Carols, etc. By "M. T. P." (Alders and Co., Oxford.)—This is a repub- lication of verses which have appeared in various magazines and newspapers. They are fairly good ; indeed, the humorous verse of the day is, in our judgment, better than the humorous prose ; but they are not as good as some that we have seen, as those that have appeared over the initials of " Q " and " A. G." for instance. Much the same may be said of another volume which we have received from the same publishers,—In College Groves. By H. A. Morrah. On the whole, however, we prefer Mr. Morrah's verse. There seems to be more facility and force in it. The poems from which the volume takes its title are serious, and have merit of another kind.—Perseus and the Hesperides. By Bryan Charles Waller. (Bell and Sons.)—The author tells us in a jesting prologue how he was set to do this task and how he accomplished it in six months and a day. We find on reckoning up the verses that it is more than half the length of the .Eneid. Now Virgil was at work on the Enid for eight years at least, possibly far more, and was so little satisfied with what he had done, that on his death-bed, as the story goes, he desired that it might be burnt. Mr. Waller's work is not actually bad; but it is distinctly monotonous, even tiresome. Ho has written in blank verse, and apparently thinks that because it does not require any search for rhymes, blank verse is easy (where there are any rhymed passages, these are somewhat better than the rest). The reader shall judge of Mr. Wal'er's quality :—
" MATTHEW ARNOLD.
In Laleham Churchyard, April, 1888.
Gone, without word, or touch, or hint of pain,
Where the great ViBi0013 of hie earthly chase— Sweet light and truth, and soul-appealing grecs —
Stand full embodied. Surely not in vain Our eeneration felt his high disdain
For all that narrowed good to time and race ; For all that wept in sordid commonplace,
Or held life cramped in fashion's thoughtless Olean.
Child of the Thames and Rothe, o'er his rest The poplar grieves, the river Rohs and cries, And souls that still unsatisfied must long To know the highest and to think the best, Sigh, in accord, the human undersong Of lose, about the grave whore Arnold lies."
—Poems and Idylls. By the Rev. John Cullen, D.D. (S. W. Partridge.)—Dr. Cullen has various good causes at heart, and does his best to commend them to us. But why, we are con- strained to ask, in verse ? Take this " quatrain," for instance. It ought to be pointed fresh, with something new, or at the least, seeming new, in it :—
"And as she spoke. Cosset words, she smiled and sighed And Hades rose from off his ebon throne, Aud when I looked again I saw biro not, Only Persephond, to whom I cried, ' Tell me, 0 Queen, hath aught offended him ? '
Whereat she smiled and answered, 'Nay, not so :
For whon his mood is mild and placable He comes and goes as softly as a cloud: Aud seldom have I seen him mild as now. For since his servants told him yesterday
That thou west journeying hitherwarde, his ire
Huth slept, nor loath he punished any one, Except indeed those same Erinnues, At whose Into sentence, dreadful though it be, I grieve not, but rejoice exceedingly : For of the mans dark and evil things In this our doleful kingdom of the Night, These Furies are the foulest and the worst, And oft-times prompt my lord t3 deeds of ill : Nor is there anything in all the world That loves them or will pity their mishap,— I would thou louldst abide a day or two,
If only to prolong their punishment;
Which truly I am curious to behold,
So, if it please thee, we will visit them
Upon our journey to Elysium, And see the torturers tortured in their turn.' " —Lyrics, by J. A. Goodchild (Horace Cox), is a volume of
verses that have been already published. Mr. Goodchild is the author of " Somnia Medici," and will so be favourably known to some of our readers.—Swallow Flights, by Louise Chandler Moulton (Macmillan), is also, with the exception of ten poems, a reprint. Miss Moulton's verse is always graceful. —Ripples and Breakers, by G. Linnaeus Banks (Griffith, Ferran, and Co.), is "a new and cheaper edition."—We have also a new edition of Carmina Mariana, an English Anthology in Verse in Honour or in Relation to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Burns and Oates).---Ballads of Bairnhood, selected and edited by Robert Ford (Alex. Gardner), is a selection of poems chosen from nearly a hundred poets on the inexhaustible theme of childhood.