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The Egoist, 4 (Dec 1917) 172-73

Poems, by Alan Seeger. With an introduction by William Archer. London: Constable, 1917. Pp. xlvi+ 174. 2

Seeger’s poems are not unworthy of the attention they have attracted. The book has not much to offer to the small public which wants nothing twice over, but it has a good deal to give to the public which will take what it likes in any amount. Seeger was serious about his work and spent pains over it. The work is well done, and so much out of date as to be almost a positive quantity. It is high-flown, heavily decorated and solemn, but the solemnity is thoroughgoing, not a mere literary formality. Alan Seeger, as one who knew him can attest, lived his whole life on this plane, with impeccable poetic dignity; everything about him was in keeping. Hence, if his vision seems theatrical, it is sincere. His “Paris” is the Paris of Puccini and Charpentier. 3 And painters with big, serious eyes go rapt in dreams, fantastic shapes In corduroys and Spanish capes and locks uncut and flowing ties. [48] He lived in Paris: a New Englander, he managed to see Paris in this way.

Seeger is certainly not Georgian, hardly even Victorian; he goes back to the early Keats; and what is still more extraordinary, to the Coleridge of the “Ode to France,” with a touch of the eighteenth century, the odes of Collins and Gray. 4 It is a strange and pleasant literary sensation. There is a power whose inspiration fills Nature’s fair fabric, sun- and star-inwrought . . . 5 Covent Garden, and Others, by Guy Rawlence. London: T. Fisher Unwin, [1917]. Pp. 40. 6

I do not think that Mr. Rawlence has quite recognized all the difficulties of vers libre. One is annoyed with him for not having rewritten the small book before printing it; but one’s annoyance is a testimony that something might be expected of him; that he might be better than nine out of ten contemporaries. His verse is often monotonous; he escapes from stiffness such as

. . . wondrous alchemy . . . . . . The heedless years have fled. . . 7

into gaucherie

But of course the contrast isn’t rare . . . 8

or a vague tailing-off How often have I wondered–times and times. 9 He has used the word realizethree times. 10 But the poems are by no means insipid; they are intelligent; Covent Gardenneeds some merciless surgery, but the material is there.

Earth of Cualann, by Joseph Campbell. With twenty-one designs by the author. Dublin: Maunsel, 1917. Pp. [viii] + 62. 11

Mr. Campbell is one of the half-dozen or so of writers who are responsible for there being any contemporary poetry. He has established his own style of vers libre. There is not in this volume great range, but there is a fine finish. The stuff is Irish, with a peculiar bitter flavour, a dourness, of Mr. Campbell’s own. He uses Gaelic names with effect, but none of the poems is simply a whoop from the peat-bog. Sometimes there is an abstract phrase as good as Whitman’s good ones. “Antiphon” is very successful; the “Raven’s Rock” has imagination. . . .

Who is the boy on horseback? No stranger to this glen. Through snowdrifts they hunted me, As the lame wolf is hunted. . . . Who is the proud, bearded man? Shorn by a woman of kingship, Thus far have I led you, But set no mark to your journey. [60-61]

It is the best of recent books of verse.

The Tenth Muse, by Edward Thomas. London: Martin Secker [1917]. Pp. i-viii + 142. 12

The influence of women upon English poets does not seem a very promising subject, but the late Edward Thomas in this little book did it with taste and without exaggeration. Thomas knew English poetry very well; he was distinctly a “literary” man; a man with a taste for...

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