POETS AND POETRY.
VALOUR AND VISION.*
J1TDGING from examples before us, WO conclude that the SUCCESS.% of an antholegy depends upon two factors, not, as one would have supposed, merely upon the excellence of the poems it contains. This is of course the principal factor. But there is no doubt that "a good plot," a good central idea, is also most important. It makes the anthology a readable whole, not a mere book of reference. It is here that Sir Robert Bridges's Spirit of Man was so successful, and it is in this particular that Miss Trotter's book excels that of many of her fellow-com- pilers. It is not so much that she has always chosen the right poems as that she has arranged them in the right order. The central idea of the book is to illustrate year by year during the war the phases and emotions through which the nation weed, and it is because this idea is so successfully worked out that we condone her somewhat striking omissions.
In 1914 we have such poems as Mr. Kipling's "For all we have and are," Mr. Dudley Clark's "Come, tumble up, Lord Nelson," and Mr. Herbert Asquith's "The Volunteer," which, though it does not now, like the two others, strike a dissonant note, is still decidedly of its epoch. Mr. Masefield was almost alone in his prevision. His "August, 1914," with its beautiful elegiac note (why, we wonder, has Miss Trotter not included it?), and Elroy Fleoker's "The Dying Patriot," are two of the few instances of poems that might have been written in. 1916 or 1918. It is interesting to speculate in how far our blindness was an advantage ; could we
e Valour and Vision: Poems of the War, 1914-1918. Arranged and Bduardi by Jacqueline T. Trotter. London: Longmane. i4e. 6d. net.1
have played our parts if in 1014 we had known what was before us'? Most of the 1914 poems are strangely bad. The spirit of 1915 is perfectly expressed by Julian Grenfoll's "lute Battle"
and Rupert Brooke's "The Soldier." They are still glorying In the fight, but there isa note of misgiving and of sadness, almost a feeling of gratitude for an honourable escape. Sorley, who in 1915 already saw the "millions of the motrthless dead,'" was
before his time ; but Wilfrid Gibson's "The Question," with its cunning grotesqueness, its insistence on the trivial, exactly expresses the year. 1916 finds a voice in Mr. Squire's "The March" :—
" And down the waiting road, rank after rank there strode, In mute and measured march, a hundred thousand dead."
Thesame author's oddly affecting poem, "To a Bulldog," and the last verse of Mr. Edward Shanks's "Meditation in June, 1917," speak the deep despair, the intolerable sadness, of that most terrible year. In expressing 1918 Miss Trotter has not been quite so successful. Mr. Robert Nichols's "To Those at Home," which explicitly tries to express the emotions aroused by the March retreat, is not very successful, nor is Lord Dunsany's "A Dirge of Victory."
Miss Trotter has allowed us also to trace to a certain extent the progress of individual writers. The change in Mr. Robert Nichols's work is the most interesting as well as the most obvious. We might take the following extracts from " Falfilment " as a specimen of his war poetry, though it has not quite the realism nor the metric eccentricities of " The Attack" :—
"Was there love once? I have forgotten her. Was there grief ones ? grief yet is mine.
Other loves I have, men rough, but men who stir More grief, more joy than love of thee and thine.
And any moment may descend het death
To shatter limbs ! pulp, tear, blast Beloved soldiers who love rough life and breath Not less for dying faithful to the last.
0 the fading eyes, the grimed face turned bony, Oped mouth gushing, fallen heed, Lessening pressure of a hand shrunk, clammed, and stony ! 0 sudden spasm, release of the dead !
Was there love once ? I have forgotten her. Was there grief once grief yet is mine.
0 loved, living, dying, heroic soldier, All, all, my joy, my grief, nay love, are thine!"
We print on another page an example—not a particularly good example—of his present manner which, though it is in this case
shown in an extreme, and therefore an interesting, form, is really better exemplified in his longer poem "Night Rapture" or in the exquisite " A Sprig of Lime." It is curious to see the turning of a young writer from the very modernist iptdant manner to write a poem like "Laments Beach," with its reminiscences in mood and phrase of " Locksley Hall." If the reader is tempted from the examples we have given to wish that Mr. Nichols had not turned his back on the Imagists, we should advise him to re-read "A Sprig of Lime," a poem in the firat rank of what we might call the combined pictorial and redeotive