2 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 3


RECENT VERSE.* OF the fifteen volumes on our list, we are inclined to give the highest place to Mr. A. G. Butler's Hodge and the Land. Not all of it, perhaps, can rank as poetry. Much is mere rhyming philosophy, where Hodge gives his views on current affairs in the manner of the Biglow Papers. But the philosophy is so sound, the mode of presentation so direct and vigorous, that we should prefer it to a great deal of professed poetry. Some of the pieces were written fifteen years ago, but the land question and the peasant are always with us, and they might have been written yesterday. Hodge in Mr. Butler's reading takes a reasonable view of the problem of rural England. He wants the commons kept intact, he wants a holding of his own, he wants to have the redressing of his own grievances. He is just beginning to feel his power :-

" It's our turn now. 'Tis well for you to tork o' men as brothers : We'll do it too as well as you, when we'm atop of others. But now I do as I'm done by, an' thorns is more than flowers: [loves men-Wal, a little bit, and out o' bizness 'ours."

But, after all, his demands are modest, and on second thoughts he is not, as we have said, unreasonable. He does not grudge squire and parson their rights if he is given something on account of his own:-

" So if the Church is for us, we'll all on us go for the Church: I ain't a goin' for nothin' to leave the ould thing i' the lurch. An' when it comes to votin', if Jim he cries instead,

Down yr the Church and parson !' my golly, I'll punch 'is

There is grimness and tragedy in these verses, but there is humour too, and we heartily commend them to any one who wants a vivid and unthea.trical portrait of the rural mind. We said that all did not claim to be poetry, but the two closing pieces, " Finis " and "A Parson's Musings on Evolution," show, if it needed showing, that Mr. Butler has remarkable powers in a very different sphere from rustic philosophy.

Two of the three plays before us are by American ladies, and both in their way are highly accomplished performances. Miss Mary Johnston's Goddess of Reason is such a poetical drama as her romances would lead us to expect. It is very graceful, historically most conscientious, and, moreover, it has real dramatic moments. The story is of a young Breton noble who is in love with a village girl, Yvette. Yvette becomes the Goddess of Reason to the revolutionaries of Nantes, and in a moment of pique betrays her lover. She repents at his trial, denounces the tribunal, and the two perish together in the Loire in one of Carrier's noyades. The verse is very dainty and musical, though Miss Johnston takes strange liberties with metre, and the final tragedy is finely conceived and executed. Our one criticism would be that her talent is a little too delicate to reproduce the rude horrors of the Revolution. In the scenes at the Chateau of Alorbec and in the convent garden her Muse walks more assuredly than among the sansculottes. The same criticism, only in a greater degree, applies to Mrs. Drummond's Coming of Philibcrt. It is a story of a King who brings to Court from the wilds his younger brother. Philibert has been brought up by a saint, and the worldliness of the Court leaves him untouched. Jealousy follows, then a plot of murder which miscarries, and in a last moment of nobleness the dying King hails his

• (1) Hodge and the Land. By A. G. Butler. Oxford: B. H. Blackwell. [1s. net.]-(2) The Goddess of Reason. By Mary Johnston. London : A. Constable and Co. [7s. 6d. net.] -(3) The Coming of Philibert. By Sara King Wiley. London: Macmillan and Co. [5s. net.]-(4) The Triumph of 3fammon. By John Davidson. London : E. Grant Richards. [5s.]-(5) The Romance of King Arthur. By Francis Coutts. London John Lane. [Ss. net.] Avilion, and other Poems. By Zachary Edwards. London: Chapman and Hall. [5s. net.]-(7) Orpheus. By Arthur Dillon. London: Elkin Mathews. [2s. 65. net.]-(8) Said the Rose, and other Lyrics. By George Henry Miles. London Longmans and Co. I_3s. 6d. net]-(9) Poems. By George C. Cope. London: Elkin Mathews. [4e. 6d. net]-(10) The Angel of the Hours, and other Poem. By Edward Henry Blakeney. Same publisher. [6s. net.]-(11) Bush Ballads. By Guy Eden. London : Sisley's. [3s. 65. net.] -(12) Short Poems. By Gascoigne Mackie. Oxford: B. H. Black-welL net.1-113) Songs of Bade. By Maurice Browne. Norwich : The Samurai Tress. [28. net.]-(14) The Dream of the King's Cup-bearer. By Annagh. Dublin: Diaurtsel and Co. [1s. net.]-(15) The Last Blackbird, and other Lines. By Ralph Hodgson. London : George Allen, [3s. 65. het.]

brother as successor. Accomplished is again the epithet for the work, which, however, soars so far from reality that it becomes rather a moral allegory than a human play. Mr.

John Davidson's Triumph of Mammon is also an allegory, though moral is scarcely the word for it. We do not profess to be able to divine always what the author means. His general thesis is clear-

" That Christendom's the matter with the world."

He preaches in its place a kind of mystic materialism. Mammon is

"Greater than all the gods,

The first of men to be self-conscious."

His self-consciousness makes him superior, not only to all moral laws, but to all the laws of art. He talks a tedious philosophy in a curious jargon made up of Carlylese and a casual collection of scientific terms. He discourses also in wild images, which, as one of the other characters says truly, may be "feverish maladies of speech." The author adds a self-confident epilogue, in the style of Mr. Bernard Shaw, which explains, not very clearly, "the greatness and

the beauty and the extreme sanctity of a purely material world." We cannot but regret this and the other recent per- formances of Mr. Davidson. One who ten years ago wrote lyrics of fine quality now preaches philosophy in unreadable plays. We are not in the least concerned with the merits or demerits of that philosophy ; our complaint is that it is bad poetry. Having in him something of the true poet, he cannot avoid straying into poetry now and again, but in the main we might be reading a metrical version of a publication of the minor freethinking Press. In the middle Victorian era there flourished a class of writers, like Dobell and the author of Feet us, whom their enemies called Spasmodic. This epithet applies only too accurately to Mr. Davidson's recent work.

Next come three volumes of narrative poetry, of which much the best is Mr. Francis Coats's Romance of King Arthur. It is in four parts, the two middle, which tell the stories of Merlin and Launcelot, being cast in dramatic form. Mr. Coutts is a grave writer whose verse moves always with dignity, and now and then by dint of simplicity and sincerity rises to a considerable measure of poetry. Humour is not always his strong point, as when he makes Merlin discuss the philosophy of currency in the style of the Cobden Club:-

" Only the mint can give the metal value."

The last poem, "The Death of Launcelot," is a very fine piece of work in the Tennysonian tradition. The lines-

" Between red scrolls of sundown darkly set And wrapt with many waters "- might have been written by the late Laureate. But there is much, too, of Mr. Coutts's own, and his high seriousness rises easily to the tragic height. Avilion is a curious book by a

former Mayor of Lyme Regis. Mr. Zachary Edwards is master of a fluent, musical narrative style, which blossoms now

and then into real felicities of speech. The first poem is too like a history of English literature, but the second, which tells the ever-wonderful story of Palomides, is, in spite of its vast length, a notable performance, and the Latin "Carmen Inaugurale " at the end of the book has some good lines. Mr. Arthur Dillon's Orpheus is a charming version ot the classical tale. It has imagination, skill in phrasing, and, much delicacy of music.

The three volumes of lyrical verse which follow are alike in being imitative of other men's work. Said the Rose is a col- lection of the chief lyrics of George Henry Miles, the American poet, with an introduction by Professor Ohurton Collins, in which Mr. Miles receives higher praise than the book warrants. He writes like a cultivated man well read in good literature, but most of the pieces might be academic exercises in different manners. The first poem, "Said the Rose," for example, is the work of a superior Haynes Bayly; "Raphael Sanzio " is a most ingenious copy of Browning mannerisms. All of the work is accomplished, but none, save perhaps "Beatrice," shows any trace of original talent. Mr. George Cope's Poems are always musical; but when we can follow his meaning it is commonplace. When we cannot-which is often -we find ourselves lost in a maze of rather agreeable verbiage. Mr. E. H. Blakeney is a victim of the same unpromising mysticism. In his charmingly printed little book there is evidence of a graceful talent, which by juggling with immense abstractions is apt to miss any true lyrical effect.

The other books on our list are remarkable among modern "Oh that his hand would g.uide me Where there is none to mock, That I might creep Into some cave

And weep—with none to chide me— Where only the white flock

Of the waste deep Wave upon wave

Might leap and play beside me; Oh that his hand would hide me As the shadow of a great rock That I might sleep."

Mr. Maurice Browne's Songs of Exile show also the gift of delicate music, as in "Summer in England" and "The Swallow's Song." But we like best "On Senekal," a noble hymn at sunrise to the Himalayas, which would alone commend this slim book to lovers of poetry. The Dream. of the King's Cup-bearer is a curious vision in irregular verse, which begins by confusing and ends by impressing the reader. " Annagh " has little gift of style, but be has imagination and a certain spaciousness of phrase. Last, and for pure poetry the best, comes Mr. Ralph Hodgson's The Last Blackbird. It is a little difficult to define the writer's quality. An intense passion for Nature, a minute knowledge of all natural things, and a certain grim humour are all in his equipment. He has also a capacity for strong imaginative flights, as in "St.

Athelstan" and "The Missel Thrush." His humour, for those who have eyes to see it, will be found in his "Elegy," "The Vanity of Human Ambition," and the charming soliloquy "My Books." But the finest poem is clearly "The Last Blackbird," which is too long to quote and too subtle to stimmarise. Mr. Hodgson has so much worth saying and so genuine a gift of style that his work deserves to command serious attention.

minor poetry for the fact that the writers have all of them something to say, and that in their different ways they manage to say it. To take the least distinguished of the five first, in Mr. Guy Eden's Bush Ballads we are never in doubt about his having a tale to tell. Often he tells it in the most banal fashion; but through these rhymes about horses and up- country camps and the Australian landscape there is always the impression of a man who feels and sees things as they are, and now and again—in a line or a phrase—this sense of reality leaps into poetry. Mr. Gascoigne Mackie in his Short Poems has some delicate songs with a certain subtlety in both thought and expression. "Why Ha.st Thou Whispered" is an instance; so, too, is "Autumn in Norway," and t1;t1 little poem :--