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Title: The Little Review, May 1915 (Vol. 2, No. 3)

Author: Various

Editor: Margaret C. Anderson

Release date: August 18, 2021 [eBook #66083]

Language: English

Credits: Jens Sadowski and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at This book was produced from images made available by the Modernist Journal Project, Brown and Tulsa Universities.


The Little Review

Literature Drama Music Art


MAY, 1915

Poems Mitchell Dawson
What We Are Fighting For Margaret C. Anderson
Echo (from the German of Fritz Schnack).  
America’s Ignition Will Levington Comfort
Solitude George Soule
Remy de Gourmont Richard Aldington
Who Wants Blue Silk Roses? Sade Iverson
“Mother Jones” and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn M. C. A.
The Poetry Bookshop Amy Lowell
America, 1915 John Gould Fletcher
Poems Maxwell Bodenheim
Some Imagist Poets George Lane
Editorials and Announcements  
The Sermon in the Depths Ben Hecht
“The Spoon River Anthology” Carl Sandburg
Poetry and the Panama-Pacific Eunice Tietjens
The Mob-God The Scavenger
The Theatre  
Book Discussion  
The Reader Critic  

Published Monthly

Entered as second-class matter at Postoffice, Chicago

The Little Review

Vol. II

MAY, 1915

No. 3

Copyright, 1915, by Margaret C. Anderson


Mitchell Dawson


You were the flame of a Pompeian lamp,

Wavering in the sea-wind,


And ever to the gale of me you danced,

Flickering out of reach....

I will return to Sorrento,

To the wine-room under the cliff.

Santa Maria del Carmine

Here by the church door

A shriveled bat

Has folded his wings

And dreams of dead crepuscular delights,

Bat loves, bat orgies,

Tarantistic flittings through the dark.

O fragrant beggar blinking in the sun,

I will drop three soldi in your hat.


O keen of scent,

You who have found me in my slough,

Not your beak, but your green eyes

Have torn to the center of me.

Ah, but I shall not slake them with a tremor.


In the asylum at Termaggio

Reside a dozen poets—

So many colored balloons bobbing against a black ceiling;

Will none of them be caught

By the arm of a strong wind,

Down and outward through the open window?

We cannot remove the roof at Termaggio,

In the sun our balloons would burst....

Perhaps we had better close the window.

Under the Cypresses

Under the cypresses

No nightingales will sing this spring;

For I have strewn the ground

With the shards of broken illusions,

And I will build of them a citadel of austerity

With towers whence I can search the sky

For a rainbow that is stronger than painted china.

Dear nightingales,

There are still the saccharine gardens of Verona,

Where the moon-moth waves his fragile wings.

What We Are Fighting For

Margaret C. Anderson

I have been much criticised for an article on Gabrilowitsch in the last issue. I have been told rather violently that I didn’t know what I was talking about; that to say Gabrilowitsch had stood still artistically or that the music critics were deaf because they didn’t like Scriabin’s Prometheus was simply to brand The Little Review again as the kind of magazine which delights in any sort of snap-shot judgment that may sound startling or “new.” But the fact of the matter is this: if The Little Review is ready to stand behind any of its judgments (and it is very ready), I can think of nothing that has appeared which I will so eagerly and convincingly defend as that article on Gabrilowitsch or my remark that Prometheus was extraordinarily beautiful. I can “prove” the first in at least three ways, and I have some one in mind (a Russian) who will write a poem on his reactions to Prometheus that will make you all wish you had imaginations too.

But this is not important. It merely leads me to an announcement of a series of articles—a sort of campaign—that we have been planning for the last two months. If we are to prove that we have a real “function” it will be this of depreciating values that have ceased to be important and appreciating new ones that have emerged—or, as I should say, values that are about to become unimportant and those that are about to emerge. In view of such a function I am quite willing to agree with my critics that the Gabrilowitsch article wasn’t worth anything: it merely stated things that are already quite well known, and a magazine that means to announce transvaluations before the approximate ten-year period during which even the uninspired come to accept them has no business to concern itself with mere restatements. Of course the most frequent criticism brought against The Little Review is that it goes to artistic and emotional and intellectual lengths no well-balanced person wants to go. I only wish this were true: I mean, we haven’t gone any real lengths—and that is just what’s the matter with us. We have made statements that seemed fearfully radical and new to a lot of people who don’t know what’s going on in the world; and I’m afraid we have listened to these people and tried to “convert” them. We have wanted to convince everybody—particularly those who seemed to need it most. And there is nothing more fatal: because what everybody thinks doesn’t matter; what a few think matters tremendously. I was brought up with a shock the other day, at an editors’ “meeting,” when Lucien Cary said that though The Little Review had one of the requisites of the ideal magazine,—youth,—it had the wrong kind of youth: the kind that has not yet caught up instead of the kind that has gone ahead. After trying to face that squarely for five awful minutes I was forced to decide that he was right. I mean in this way: I know the quality of our youth is all right, just as I know that people who write true things and live false ones are all wrong; but the wisdom of it is quite another matter. And one of our big mistakes has been a hope that preaching will help.

There’s nothing pompous in saying that the thoughts of only a few people matter. This has always been so and always will be. Every new valuation has come about just that way—championed by a group and then endorsed by a majority long after it has ceased to matter much. But for a magazine that means to count—well, I can’t decide whether our predicament of having got into a sort of Billy Sunday slump is humorous or very sad. Hereafter we shall pretend that there are no impossibilists in our audience.

But the announcement: In each of the future issues of The Little Review, beginning with June if possible, we shall have a special article attacking current fallacies in the arts or in life—getting down to the foundations. Each one will be written by a person who knows thoroughly what he is talking about, and each will be “true and memorable,” to use Will Comfort’s good phrase. For instance, suppose we begin with the modern theatre. It will be interesting to find why Clayton Hamilton calls a play as false, as distorted, as unwholesome and demoralizing as The Shadow a great drama, and why Percy Hammond, who is looked upon even by some of the discerning as a critic worthy to be trusted in the work of spreading ideas, should have nothing but superlatives for the same outrage. (To do him justice, Mr. Hammond did modify his praise with a single naive sentence: “I could find some flaws in The Shadow”; and then, to put his other foot in, “but the playing glossed them over until they were forgivable”—which is precisely the crime and tragedy of such productions). This type of intellectual blundering is apparent everywhere among the critics of literature, of music, of art, of the drama, and among the strangest of all human creatures—the historians (“men who reserve their judgments for a hundred years”) and the philosophers (men whose judgments are good for everything except to live by). If you happen to be equipped with knowledge of the intricate hypocrisies of the music schools, or the way the newspapers treat a competent art critic, or the methods of a manager in making a good play a bad one, or how dissatisfied the railway employees really are or ought to be—send us an article on the subject. The conditions of acceptance are these: You must know English prose; you must write it as though you are talking instead of writing; you must say quite frankly and in detail the things you would not be allowed to say in the prostituted, subsidized, or uninteresting magazines; and you must be true. This begins our warfare.


(Translated from the German of Fritz Schnack by William Saphier)

Into the forest your voice flew

Clear and light as a bird from its nest.

From your mouth the sound departed

Swinging gaily into the black forest.

It flew

Through dusky deep solitude

Mysterious quiet, pale night,

Gravely-bent tree tops, fairy-tale flowers.

It danced past

Queer animals and strange things,

It touched them with quick moves

And they were frightened by the gay bird.

Green looks stared through the night

And angry phosphor glints pierced the foliage

Where owls were moving their beaks deceitfully.

Here your gay bird was frightened

And fearfully returned

Beaten by the envy of the black branches.

Shuddering it fell into the blue day

Tired, lame-winged, dead.

America’s Ignition

Will Levington Comfort

... The quickened pulse of America did not appear with the outbreak of war. It came with the winter cold, like all revival spirit—a strange and fervent heat, breaking down the old, vitalizing the new everywhere. No one doubts now—no one who can tear his eyes from the ground even for a little—doubts now that the new social order is upon us.

America, in opening her breasts to the agony of Europe, in her giving of solids and sympathy, has stumbled upon the ancient and perfect formula for receiving the greater good. In forgetting herself a little, her own human spirit has been ignited.

If someone announced that there lived in the Quattor Islands a man who knew the exact way to bring into the world, not only the spirit, but the action of brotherhood and fatherland, there would be some call for maps and steamship passages. If the Quattor Islands were not already on the maps, they would presently appear, but not before the earliest pilgrims had set out. And if someone should add that all expression of the arts so far in the world is wumbled and imperfect compared to that which is about to be, if a certain formula is followed; and that this man in the Quattor group has the formula—many more would start on the quest, or send their most trusted secretaries.

And yet the truth and the way is all here, and has been uttered again and again by every voice that has lifted itself above the common din.

The wise men carried gifts. You would expect to give something for the secret. You might expect to be called upon to sell all you have and give to the poor. You would not be surprised even if the magnetic Islander said:

“It is not your frankincense and myrrh that I want, though I thank you. That which I have is for you. I am more anxious for you to know and live it, than you can be to have and hold it. But the mystery is that it will not come to abide with you, while you are passionate for possession. The passion to give to others must be established within you before you can adequately receive—”

You are beginning to see how ancient is the gospel. It is old, older than that. It belongs to the foundations. Personally and nationally, the law works the same way. That which is true, is true in all its parts. There is an adjustment by which that which is good for the whole is good for the part; that which is good for the nation is good for the man; but each, whole and part, nation and man, must have for the first thought not self-good but the general good. One nation, so established in this conviction that its actions are automatically founded upon the welfare of the world, could bring about the true fatherland in a generation; and one human heart so established begins to touch from the first moment the profound significances of life.

Personally and nationally, this plain but tremendous concept is beginning to manifest itself here in America. I do not write as a patriot. It is not my country that is of interest, but humankind. America’s political interests, her trade, all her localizations as a separate and bounded people, are inimical to the new enthusiasm. The new social order cannot concern itself as a country apart. American predatory instincts, her self-worship, her attempt at neutrality while supplying explosives for the European slaughter arenas, her deepening confinement in matter during the past fifty years, have prepared her for the outright demoralization of war, just as surely as Europe is meeting today the red harvest from such instincts and activities. For action invariably follows the thought.

Yet the hearts of men in America are changing. I do not write as a religionist, but as one very much of the world. For the hearts of men do change, and it is only through such changes that the material stagnation of a people can be relieved without deluges of blood.

The high hope is upon us. In being apart from war, America has been enabled to see. One must always remove himself from the ruck to see its movement. In the past six months, within these western shores, the voices of true inspiration have been heard. From a literary standpoint alone, this is the most significant fact since Emerson, Whitman, and Thoreau, took pen in hand forgetting themselves a little while each day. There is a peculiar strength upon American production of all kinds, as a result of this very act of getting out from under European influence.

England and France and Germany are merely national voices now. The voice of the partisan is but a weak treble against the basic rumble of war. War is a confession, as suicide is a confession, as every act of blood and rage is a confession, of the triumph of the animal in the human mind.... If you have received letters from friends in England or Germany or France since the war; friends whom formerly you admired for their culture and acumen, you have been struck by the dullness and misery of the communications, the uncentered points of view, the incapacity of human vision in the midst of the heaviness and blackness of life there; if, indeed, you have read the recent newspapers and periodicals of these countries, you will require no further proof of the fact—that a nation at war is an obscene nation, its consciousness all driven down into the physical, its voice tonally imperfect from hate and fear, its eyes open to red illusion and not to truth.

Even in America the voice of the nationalist is a part of the old and the unclean. The new social order does not recognize the rights and desires of any isolated people. Humankind is basically one in meaning, in aim and in destiny. The difference of one nation from another in relation to the sun’s rays, in character, country, environment, race, color and structure of mind—these are primal values, the very values that will sum up into the essential grandeur of the whole. Personally and nationally there are no duplicates in the social scheme. The instruments of this magnificent orchestra are of infinite diversity, but the harmony is one.

The spiritual source of all human achievement is already a harmonic whole. That globe is complete. It is our business as men to make a pattern of it in matter—to make the dream come true in flesh, each man and each nation bringing his labor, which can only be bent into a fitting arc, by the loss of the love of self.

It requires but a little vision to observe Nature at work upon this concept in a thousand ways. She always seeks to preserve her balances. If a certain plant, or bird, insect, beast, man or nation, rises by intrinsic force and predation to dangerous increase, a destroying parasite is invariably fostered within its shadow. In good time these two growths turn to rend each other, a mutual cleansing. The Prussian war-office is a counter-growth to British imperialism. That which survives will be humbler and wiser.

I saw in a doctor’s office in Canada the picture of an English bull-dog standing large against the background of a British flag, and beneath was this line:

“What we have, we’ll hold.”

I found that the picture had a national acceptance in the British colonies and at Home. Yet a child stopping to think would have seen breakers ahead for a nation so lost in material things, as thus to challenge the Fates.... There is a fairy-tale of a man building a great boat for the air. It looked to win, and in the effrontery of achievement, he set forth to conquer God. Just then a hornet stung him....

All this to suggest that the new dimension of life must come from America, if it comes at all; and from this vantage-point, the reality is mightily appearing—in the new poetry, in the new novels, in music, painting, and the crafts. The generation just coming into its own, contains the builders whose work is to follow the destroyers of war. They are not self-servers. They do not believe in intellect. Their genius is intuitionally driven, not intellectually. Just as steam has reached its final limitation as a force, and is being superseded by electricity, the limitations of which have not been sensed so far even by the most audacious, so the intellect as a producing medium, has had its period—a period of style-worship, vanities of speech and action, of self-service, or parading, of surface show and short-sightedness, without parallel in the world.

For the intellect is a product of sunlight, its energy supplied by human blood which dies. The new dimension comes from the fountain-head of energy, and its first realization is the unity of all nature. The intellect is as old as your body is; the giant that is awakening from sleep in the breasts of the rising generation is immortal.

The thing that was called genius in the last generation met a destructive force in the material world, almost as deadly and vindictive as that encountered by Copernicus. The voices of the few heralds were scarcely heard, but there is a battle-line of genius in the new generation, timed for the great service years following the chaos of war. They will bring in the liberation of religion from mammon; they will bring in the religion of work, the equality of women, not on a mere suffrage matter alone, but in spirit and truth; they will bring in their children un-accursed.


George Soule

I was fretted with husks of men;

I cried out to be alone,

To be free,

To run in the wind.

Solitude was to me as the dream of a country well to a fevered man.

I ran away to be alone.

And there were the stars, and the sea, and the sun coming up out of the sea.

And I went mad with the wind’s song.

Then I chanted my ardor to the air—

But it came back clanging about my ears:

The stars were too near,

I was compressed between horizons;

I choked in the wind and the sun!

In my wrath I strode back to men

And smote the husks asunder.

From them came forth

The whole of me that I had lacked.

For the first time I was alone,

Alone with all of myself,

In splendid peace.

Remy De Gourmont

By Richard Aldington

The work of Remy de Gourmont is known and read in all parts of the civilized world. Yet he has not a large circulation and a purely commercial writer would probably be disgusted at his profits, but he has an influence, especially over the younger and more adventuresome spirits, which few writers today possess. One can—or rather one could in the days before the war—hardly pick up any French review without finding some reference to his ideas or some criticism of his work. In Russia he appears to have a more considerable reputation than anywhere else outside France. For, though one sees criticism and translations of him even in languages like Hungarian and Roumanian, it is in Russia alone that a word of praise from Remy de Gourmont seems to make a man’s reputation. The English are far slower in their international appreciations, and the Americans—quick though they are to seize on new men—do not seem to have taken up de Gourmont with much understanding. Mr. Ransome’s translation of Un Nuit au Luxembourg was not received with either appreciation or enthusiasm by English and American critics. And though a savant like Mr. Havelock Ellis quotes from M. de Gourmont’s work, and has, I believe, a great admiration for his personal intellectual qualities; though Mr. Sturge Moore, in his book on Flaubert and Blake, quotes M. de Gourmont among the great critics of France, it must be admitted that few English-speaking critics have yet done him justice. I question if the larger public has heard more of him than a vague rumour of his name.

It may be that he is thought too “high-brow.” I suppose every man who gives his life up to the task of expressing his ideas, his character, and his genius in a purely disinterested manner is liable to this criticism. But there is so great a fascination in his work, whether it be criticism or fiction, philosophic dialogue or prose poem, that whenever he gains a reader it is not for an hour but for life. In America especially he should find readers, for America, whatever artistic faults and drawbacks it may have, has not, as England has, a “ring” of reviewers who unanimously “queer” any book whose originality or genius is any menace to their own stick-in-the-mud critical methods.

The Symbolist movement in France is now almost ancient history. Unanimists, Futurists, Paroxysts, Fantasists, and all the other “ists” so abundantly produced by this century now face the “ists” of Germany on the battlefield. And while they are there fighting out by bodily force and not by words the intellectual destinies of Europe we may perhaps consider with free minds the Symbolist poets and authors who are now too old to take the field for their country and can only sit at home “waiting for news.”

Some of the “children of Mallarmé” are dead; others are forgotten; a few still remain. Maeterlinck, Vielé-Griffin, Jammes, and Remy de Gourmont occur first to one’s mind as the best living representatives of the great Symbolist school, and of these the subtlest, the most fascinating, the most modern is Remy de Gourmont. Along with M. Anatole France, though very different from him, Remy de Gourmont is an example of the tradition of European culture. Less derivative than M. France, or perhaps deriving from less familiar sources, with as great an irony and with a faith that seems more sceptical than scepticism itself, he has extracted from the literature of each country and century that part which helped him to develop and train his own character. He presents in one person the manifold and often conflicting opinions and ideas of modern culture. Reading his books one sees that there is a mystical sort of beauty even in science and under his pen mysticism itself appears almost as exact as a science.

I said just now that M. de Gourmont was an example of the tradition of European culture, and since Paris, we are mostly agreed, is the centre of European culture, and since Remy de Gourmont is a Parisian of Parisians, we may count him, I think, as one of the best examples of Latin or West European culture now living. I rather dwell upon this aspect of Remy de Gourmont as the man of supreme culture since that quality has so suddenly and so startlingly come into public discussion. It is extremely difficult to say precisely what culture is; and a definition of culture naturally varies with differences of race and temperaments. John Addington Symonds, in his interesting and illuminating essay on this subject, defines culture as “the raising of previously-educated faculties to their highest potencies by the conscious effort of their possessors.” And it might be added to this excellent definition that the feature of Latin or West European culture which most distinguishes it from the culture of other countries is a wideness of interest, a great general “cultivating” of all the faculties of the mind and character as opposed to the extreme development of one single faculty.

Remy de Gourmont is indeed so admirable an example of the type of culture I have briefly indicated that it is difficult to think of any form of intellectual activity which has not at one time or another received his attention. He has been a founder of reviews—among them the famous Mercure de France—and an editor of reviews. He has written prefaces for modern authors and for ancient authors—both poets and prose-writers. As a literary critic it is perhaps not too much to say that in his time and generation he ranks as Sainte-Beuve did in his. Under his name will be found five volumes of Promenades Littéraires, collections of essays dealing with the widest possible range of literary subjects—from Petronius to Guillaume de Machaut, from the Goliardi to the latest “roman passionnel.” His Livres des Masques are one of the most considerable acquisitions to the criticism of French literature during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In these two books will be found amazingly penetrating studies of men so diverse as the de Goncourt brothers and Maeterlinck, while American readers should be especially interested in his studies of the two Franco-American poets, Stuart Merrill and Francis Vielé-Griffin. As an admirer of Huysmans, M. Remy de Gourmont was naturally interested in the mystic, Christian Latin poets. And the fruit of several years’ study of these authors was that notable and unique book Le Latin Mystique. It is no exaggeration to say that hardly anyone else could have made these writers interesting to anyone but the specialist. One can almost imagine M. de Gourmont being challenged to produce a book which would appeal not only to savants but to the lover of general culture. This mystic Latin poetry had, until Huysmans’ day, been almost entirely neglected by students of beautiful things. But Remy de Gourmont, treating the subject as a poet in love with poetry—not as a pedant or a professor or a book-maker—has produced a work which is at once a criticism and an anthology of the literature produced during those thousand years which we ignorantly call the “Dark Ages.”

These investigations into an almost forgotten and strangely attractive literature were not without effect upon his purely creative work. This effect can be best seen in his Litanies, a series of curious and, verbally, extremely beautiful prose-poems, full of assonances, of internal rhymes, of strange symbols, of sonorous rhythms and of fantastic images. Again in his prose, in works like Le Pèlerin du Silence and D’un Pays Lointain; in his poetry—especially in Les Saints du Paradis—this influence is most marked.

In books like La Physique de l’Amour, Le Chemin de Velours, the series of Promenades Philosophiques and Epilogues, we have an entirely different kind of intellectual activity—lettered, it is true, but with that incisiveness and clarity of style and thought which mark French prose as the finest in the modern world. In these books problems of philosophy, of morals, of everyday conduct and national and international affairs, problems of music, of painting, of all the arts and sciences, are discussed with a brilliance and an originality not always palatable to the gloomier and duller elements of French society.

One must not ask for too clear a definition of M. de Gourmont’s philosophy. He is just sufficient of a mystic to enjoy being misunderstood, and of a nature so ironical that his most innocent-looking statements are traps for the unwary. He is an individualist—true to his type of culture. Perhaps if he were very closely questioned he would smile and say that he belonged to the “tradition des libres esprits.”

In addition to these many works, of so diverse a character that they might well be the result of the labours of several men rather than of one, he has written several novels, one or two of which at their appearance were the literary sensation of the hour; he has devoted much time to the study of aesthetic questions and has published two or three volumes on the subject; beyond all this he has produced a modern French rendering of Aucassin and Nicolette, a translation from the Spanish and a couple of original plays! And in his little flat on the rive gauche, not far from St. Sulpice, among his books, he still writes every day words of encouragement for anxious Paris, still finds time to observe and reflect and to let the rest of the world know what is happening in France.

Words Out of Waking

Helen Hoyt

In the warm, fragrant darkness

We lay,

Side by side,


And your voice

That had been silent

Came to me through the dark

Asking, Do you smell the lilacs?

You, half in sleep,

Speaking softly,—


Then it seemed to me,

A sudden moment,

As if we lay in our graves,

And you were speaking across

From your mound to mine:

In the springtime,

Speaking of lilacs,—

With muffled voice through the grass.

Who Wants Blue Silk Roses?

Sade Iverson

The battlefields are very far away:

No friend of mine fights on them—and no foe.

I have not sickened at the battle stench,

Nor seen the tragic trenches where men die.

I am a woman, walking quietly,

And fond of peace and place and fireside cheer,

Yet here, afar from strife, the grey Uhlans

Have battered down my door, let in the rain,

And put me out, purse-empty, on the street.

Strange, say you?

Chance of war! Samaritans,

I’m past all succor;—slain in my pocket-book.

My little shop for hats—chic hats, oddities—

Is shut as tight as Juliet Capulet’s tomb.

“Bad times” has stood me up against the wall:

“Bad times” in Uhlan gear, takes certain aim.

(And firing squads have always stone cold eyes.)

All winter long, I’ve peeped out on the street,

To watch my little customers go by

In conscious rectitude and home-made hats;

Home-made to noble ends!

Not that they’ve less

Than once they had. They’ve more—a bran new creed.

Economists approve: the fashion’s set.

“How fine and sensible the women are,”

You hear the men commenting on the train.

“My wife is trimming her own hats.” “And mine.”

“I like to see the women suit themselves

To present needs.” “And I. It’s fine, I say.

Some little good comes out of this sad war.”

(Ah, yes, but half a sausage and a roll,

Was all the food I’d had in twenty hours!)

Now that would seem a feast. The cupboard’s bare.

Well, here’s a chance to put my luck to test.

Who goes a-roving when the pot is full?

Say, comrades, comrades, let’s set out tonight,

And brew our mulligan behind the ties.

No more I’ll sit alone to play propriety;

I sell no more blue roses, hear me swear

But when the snows are gone, I’ll scent mayweed

Beside the fences, till some purple noon,

I find the passion flower, in panoply,

Awaiting me, and I shall stoop and pick.

But do not think I am without a friend!

I have my own familiar Imp for company—

The secret, mocking creature of my heart,

Which keeps me laughing when I’m set to cry,

And fleers the cautions I thought principles.

He’s captain now. We’ll see how he’ll provide,

For food and drink and thought, and company.

Let him advise what lens I’d best look through.

Nero, they say, chose green; fools like rose-red.

The Imp and I may stand for sun-bright truth,

And smoke our glasses if we prove too frail.

Come hunger, then, and want, or any shame.

If Chatterton dare starve, why should not we?

We’ll travel far—though without carfare, dears,

And with shoe-soles that let in pavement slush.

But now I shall find out if dry-shod feet

Discount the wet ones. Live down the superstitions,

So I say. Ducks think wet feet are best.

Come, come, my Imp. Let’s start. Our fat landlord

Has locked the door on us and taken the key.

(When you are passing by the little shop,

Remember one who wanted you for friend;

A victim of the war, without a faith,

But carrying a banner—a white field,

And no word written on it.

Yes, think of one,

Who lacks a watchword, and wears no disguise,

And arm in arm with impish laughter, seeks for Life.)

“Mother Jones” and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Margaret C. Anderson

Mother Jones and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn have been talking in Chicago and I went to hear them both, expecting to be captivated by the former and disappointed in the latter. But it turned out just the other way.

Mother Jones is all the things you have heard her to be—vigorous, almost sprightly in her eighty-two years, witty, shrewd, kindly, hopeful of great social changes, with snappy little blue eyes and a complexion like a girl of eighteen and a tongue like an automatic revolver. You feel you’d rather have her get after you with fire crackers, as she did to a man in some Western hotel when she wanted to drive him out of town (and succeeded), than to have her side against you in an argument. Right or wrong, she would make you appear to be hopelessly wrong; and certainly on any practical matter you would have a suspicion that she was right anyhow. She is consistent and convincing. But there is one thing none of the magazine articles has said about her: Mother Jones is a completely simple human being, in the least flattering sense of the word. She suffers because men are sent to jail and children are killed in strikes, and she spends every day of her life working toward the prevention of these things. But she lives on no more subtle plane of adjustments to a difficult universe. You can’t associate her with any sort of intense personal struggle. If temperament is the capacity to react, as I heard some one define it the other day, then Mother Jones is as untemperamental a person as I’ve ever seen. She acts; she doesn’t react at all. She has neither a complex nor an interesting mind; she has a well-informed one. She has read a lot—chiefly history and economics. She hasn’t read philosophy or psychology, I think. She hasn’t needed to: her knowledge of psychology is that sweeping and rather crude kind that comes with years of hard experience in which there has been little time for observation. If you asked her to sympathize with a man who had killed himself because he loved too greatly, I can rather hear her say that if men would keep busy they wouldn’t have time for such notions. Life to her is reduced to a matter of two antagonisms: the struggle between Capital and Labor. Other things, such as Art, for instance,—well, she makes you feel it’s a little impertinent to expect her to waste time like that; she is too busy trying to outwit the “damned sewer rats,” as she calls Burns’ detectives or other obstacles to peace and freedom. Mother Jones has a lot of effective phrases of that sort; I think she wants to see if she can make you blanch before she decides really to trust you; and then of course, as she says, “My boys wouldn’t understand me if I talked nice and ladylike all the time.” Underneath all this there is a charming old gentlewoman, full of delicate courtesies that win for her the splendid chivalry of the rough men she spends her life among.

The man who took me to see her made an unfortunate remark. He told her that I wanted to write an article about her, and asked if she wouldn’t tell me how she got started in her work. (I tried to stop him in time, but it was no use.) She gave me one scornful look and then flashed at him: “That’s a woman’s question. No man ever asks me such a fool thing, but women always do. How do I know how I got started? I was always a worker—that’s all.” Another of her simplifications is that there are two kinds of people—those who work and those who don’t. She seemed to put me with the latter, and it was my instinct from the first that she didn’t approve of me. She just treated me politely, and it was rather awful. She kept insisting that women know nothing about Labor—which is almost quite true—and of course she didn’t neglect to mention her aversion for the suffragists. But most of the time she told us stories, chuckling heartily whenever she could say anything particularly explosive. She described her recent trip to New York, and I remember her vivid account of a visit she made the Colony Club. She said all the women came tripping in on high heels, bent forward at an ominous angle that made her think of cats ready to spring on a mouse. “I’ve got no time for such idiots,” she finished. “And look at the crazy ones in this town, walking in a mayor’s parade and yelling like wildcats instead of staying at home where they might be reading and learning to educate their children.”

That night we went to hear her talk to an organization of painters and found her irresistible. But she did little except entertain them—particularly with stories in which she herself figured as the white-haired heroine, wading across streams in water up to her waist to outwit the police, or forcibly throwing a Burns detective out of her audience. The painters shrieked with joy at that, and it really was good to hear. She had suspected a certain man who had been going to her meetings, so one night she asked him to leave. He refused, but she insisted. He said, “I won’t go and I’d like to see anybody who can make me.” “Well,” she answered, “we’ll see about that”; and she stepped down from the platform, took him by the throat, held him so tightly “that his tongue stuck out,” and marched him out of the hall. He didn’t bother her any more. These things, told in her blunt, snappy way, are overwhelmingly funny—and stirring too. But what you like most about her is her sudden falling into seriousness, and the way she says, “Now, my boys, stick together. Solidarity is the only method by which we can beat the system.”

Mother Jones has no patience with anarchism: “Don’t talk to me about philosophies of an ideal society that will happen some time long after I’m in my grave. What I’m after is to do something for my class while I’m still alive. I believe in accomplishing things.” She has none of the anarchist’s hatred of government; she merely wants our present system humanized. And she has a lot of little prejudices about people and things: about Bill Haywood, for instance, who “divides Labor against itself,” as she says—and says untruly.

On the whole she is just what you would have expected—except that she’s more amusing. There is absolutely nothing of the artist in her. She is imaginative in the large way a child is; in fact Mother Jones is a child in the sense a grown-up can’t be without losing a lot.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, “the girl agitator,” has an even more consistent point of view than Mother Jones, and she has the advantage of being without prejudices. Her face has more subtlety, more interest for the analyst, than Mother Jones’s obvious compressed mouth and quick eyes; but it has little of that stamp of multiple reactions which make Emma Goldman’s face such a fascinating “subject.” There is a touch of Irish poetry in it—something wistful and something stern.

Miss Flynn gave three talks—on Birth Control, on Violence in Relation to the Labor Movement, and on Solidarity: Labor’s Road to Freedom—but I could only hear the last one, which everyone said was the least interesting of the three. There was only a handful of workers there, and she was so informing that the place ought to have been crowded with all the good people who think the I. W. W. is an organization of unintelligent outcasts whose only competence lies in throwing hammers into printing presses, etc., etc. Miss Flynn is more articulate than any I. W. W. I have heard, and she is freer from the stock phrases that give so many of the very earnest young workers in the movement something of pathos. I like these I. W. W. people a lot. They are not only offering an efficient program of labor; they are getting close to a workable philosophy of life. They are even capable of a virtue no working-class organization is supposed to be overburdened with: hardness of thought. As Miss Flynn said: “Don’t pamper yourselves. It’s not a sacrifice to fight for your own freedom!” Of course this group has its camp followers who do it no end of damage; but then the Socialists have their “practical” fanatics who are so awfully practical they always look at the trees instead of the forest, and the Anarchists have their soulful members who yearn for martyrdom and blubber about the duty of suffering for a cause. The best of the Industrial Workers are neither visionless nor sentimental. They have no interest in being martyrs; they are workers. Miss Flynn is of the best of these.

The Poetry Bookshop

(35 Devonshire Street, London)

Amy Lowell

I well remember the first time I went to the Poetry Bookshop. It was in July, 1913. I had read of it in a stray number of The Poetry Review that had drifted my way. The idea attracted me at once, and I determined to have a look at it during the summer. There was something alluringly crazy about anyone’s starting a bookshop for the sale of poetry alone. Poetry is at once my trade and my religion. All decent poets worship their art and slave at it, and I am no exception to the rule. But I have my “afternoons out” with their temptations, and the greatest of these is a bookshop. Here was the combination: a poetry bookshop. I turned to it as inevitably as a magnet to the pole.

It was after a visit to one of those large and flourishing establishments where every sort of book is sold that you do not want to read; where rows and rows of the classics you wish you could read again for the first time flaunt from the shelves in gaudy leather bindings, and a whole counter labours to support the newest and dullest novels, and another is covered with monographs which instruct you minutely as to how to grow fruit-trees, catch salmon, handle golf clubs, or bicycle through the home counties. It was in one of these “emporiums,” after the usual “We can get it for you, Madam,” that I broke into open revolt and started off to The Poetry Bookshop.

I knew it was somewhere near the British Museum. “Off Theobald’s Road,” I told the taxi driver, and settled down to looking out of the window, for London, whether on foot or driving, is a never-ending interest to me. Theobald’s Road is one of those large, busy thoroughfares, which cut across London in all directions, and off it, to the left in my case, we turned into a quiet, rather run-down little street, Devonshire Street. A swinging sign about half-way down it attracted me. It was shaped like a shield and blue, if I remember rightly, and on it were painted three torches. All this was determined as the taxi approached. That must be my place, I thought, and it was.

We drew up at the door of a shop—unmistakably a shop, because it had a big shopwindow. It did not need the name, “The Poetry Bookshop” in excellently designed, big, black letters over the window, to tell me that I had arrived.

I did not go in at once. I like to take my temptations gradually, nibbling at them bit by bit and tasting, before gulping them down as full-fledged crimes. I nibbled at that window. It was broad and high, and the books were displayed in it in the singularly fascinating manner which American booksellers jeer at and call “English window dressing.” All these books were poetry, or about poetry; that is, of course, all the ones that were not plays. There were long strips of ballads hanging down, like 18th century broadsides, each one topped by a crude woodcut in glaring reds, and blues, and yellows. The nibbling was so delightful that I collected quite a crowd of street urchins about me, wondering what the lady was looking so long into the window for, before I had done.

Then I went in, but even the window had not prepared me for the shop inside. It was a room rather than a shop, for there was a smart fire burning in the grate, and there were chairs, and settles, and a big table covered with the latest publications. The walls were lined with shelves, and under the window was a little ledge entirely filled with reviews from all over the world. The familiar cover of Poetry made me feel quite at home, but the eclecticism of the proprietor was at once evidenced by the presence of The Poetry Journal and Poet Lore, periodicals of whose existence I should not have expected him to be aware. There was also The Poetry Review, from which I knew he had severed himself, so it was obvious that the proprietor cared very much to be fair.

I turned to the shelves, and my surprise was even greater. There were a lot of shelves, all round the room and even over the chimney-breast. Every volume of poetry recently published was there. That I had expected, but what I had not expected was that all the classics were there too. Not bound into mausoleums, “handsome editions in handsome bindings, which no gentleman’s library should be without,” but readable volumes, for the reader who wants to read.

There was not a bit of glass in the shop, all was open and touchable. Of course I touched, and opened, and browsed. There were French books, too, and Italian. It goes without saying that the book I wanted was there. I know I bought it, and others, and came out laden and happy.

I did not meet Mr. Monro on this first visit, and I do not now remember exactly when I did meet him. My sojourns in the shop were many, and at this distance have become confused. But I did meet him sometime, and found an earnest, quiet gentleman, the very opposite from the crank. But even at the first visit I had felt the bookshop to be not “crazy” at all, but an answer to a very real need.

It has been my experience that people who really do things (in contradistinction to talking about them) are very straightforward, sensible persons, without sentimentalism in the pursuit of their ideal. Mr. Monro was exactly this. He was spending his energy to give poetry the dignity and charm of presentation it had lost at the hands of the commercial booksellers; he was encouraging poets and allowing their books a chance; but he did not talk ideals, nor dress like a combination of a fool and a wild animal. He was too busy to pose, he was just “on the job.” And what “on the job” meant and means is best told by giving the history of his enterprise.

For some years Mr. Monro had lived abroad, in Switzerland and Italy. But the nostalgia of home took possession of him, and he returned to England. Shortly after his arrival The Poetry Society asked him to edit a magazine for them, and he consented, and The Poetry Review began in January, 1912. Mr. Monro not only edited the Review, but paid for it. Now the Poetry Society, like all such bodies, is conservative, and Mr. Monro is sown with the seeds of radicalism. So differences of policy began, and at the end of a year, Mr. Monro seceded from The Poetry Review and founded another review, Poetry and Drama, to be published quarterly.

But I am anticipating. While editing The Poetry Review Mr. Monro conceived the idea of having a bookshop, which should be at once the office of the review and its various publications, and a shop. An old house in Devonshire Street was leased and everything “en train,” when Mr. Monro found that the inevitable breach with The Poetry Society on matters of policy was imminent. He announced in The Poetry Review the foundation of a new magazine, a quarterly, and relinquished The Poetry Review into other hands after having founded it and edited it for twelve months.

On January 8th, 1913, The Poetry Bookshop opened its doors to the public, and the public, always caught by novelty, flocked in. Professor Henry Newbolt gave the opening address. The first publication of the Bookshop, Georgian Poets, an anthology of the work of Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, W. H. Davies, Walter de la Mare, James Elroy Flecker, Wilfred Wilson Gibson, D. H. Lawrence, John Masefield, James Stephens, Harold Monro himself, and others, had already appeared. This book has been extraordinarily successful, and, in two years, has gone through ten editions.

Of course the book helped the bookshop, and the bookshop helped the book. So delighted were the amusement hunters with the idea, that there was some danger of the venture being swamped in the tide of fashion. But Mr. Monro was too genuinely in earnest to be elated by his success, or depressed when it calmed down to a normal interest. The bookshop pegged away at its work and in March, 1913, the first number of Poetry and Drama appeared. This little quarterly is indispensable to anyone wishing to keep abreast with what is being done in poetry abroad. The articles on French poetry by F. S. Flint alone are worth the cost of subscription. But Poetry and Drama also publishes original poetry, critical reviews, and English, French, Italian, and American chronicles. It is an interesting paper, and if I easily see how it could be bettered, that only means that I am an enthusiastic reader. Was anyone ever sincerely devoted to a paper without feeling that with a grain of his advice it could still be improved?

Yet I have a sneaking feeling that Mr. Monro runs his paper better than I should, better than any of us would. It requires a singularly unselfish and dispassionate devotion to run a paper and have it favor all schools, and criticise all cliques, equally. Nobody is quite pleased by that method, but the public gets what it pays for, and I, for one, admire a man with this quality of justice in him. Poetry and Drama ran until December of this year, when it was suspended during the continuance of the war, and the lack of it is so noticeable that it shows very well what a position it had already achieved.

The Poetry Bookshop publishes as well as sells. Georgian Poetry was followed by Anthologie des Imagistes, Poems by John Alford, Anthology of Futurist Poetry, and various small ventures such as The Rhyme Sheet (the broadsides I have spoken of before), and a number of little chap books called Flying Fame Publications, of which one I have seen, Eve by Ralph Hodgson, is enchanting.

Many though Mr. Monro’s activities were, the house was too big for them. So Mr. Monro fitted up some of the attic rooms as bedrooms, and there his clientele of poets hailing from the country find a welcome and inexpensive lodgings. Other rooms are used as reading rooms, for readings are held every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 P. M. Sometimes the poets read their own poems, sometimes other people read them. Verhaeren and Marinetti have read there and many other poets, well-known and still unknown. Mr. Monro invites those he desires, and as he runs his readings as he runs his shop there is great and stimulating variety. The difficulty with this sort of thing is the hangers-on, the horde of the sentimental of both sexes who fasten upon an artistic endeavor and seriously hurt it. It is inevitable that some of these parasites should drift into the readings, as I noticed on one occasion that I was there. But time will weed them out, for such people can never bear to realize that art is as hardworking as, say, stonecutting.

Since the war The Poetry Bookshop has been printing chap books, published at sixpence. Among them are Maurice Hewlett’s Singsongs of the War, Antwerp by Ford Maddox Hueffer, The King’s Highway by Henry Newbolt, The Old Ships by James Elroy Flecker; and for unmartial relief, Spring Morning by Frances Cornford, Songs by Edward Shanks, The Contemplative Quarry by Anna Wickham, and Children of Love by Harold Monro.

Mr. Monro is so stern in his idealism that, although a poet of originality and feeling, he willingly minimizes his own production for the sake of advancing poetry “en masse.” That is remarkable, and his enterprise deserves all the success which the poets and the general public can give it.

America, 1915

John Gould Fletcher

From the sea coast, from the bleak ravines of the hills that lift their escarpments towards the sky that pours down pitiless threads of sunlight, whirls over chill, clinging tentacles of rain, smashes hard buffets of huge wind, sifts fine, quivering drifts of snow, thrashes with thunder and with hail, uncurls its great sodden, flapping curtains before the gale—from the marshlands, from the banks of slow rivers, from the still brown plateaus, from the midst of steaming valleys, from the wide bays ringed with peaks, a thousand cities reek into the sky. Through a million vents the smell of cookery overflows. It rises upward day and night in strange, tragic black rows of columns that glow and make the stars quiver and dance and darken the sunlight.

Green rivers of corn, golden seas of wheat, white lakes of cotton meet and fuse and inter-cross. Cattle string across in frightened procession: multitudes on multitudes of horses, black, dun, grey, gallop away after them, jarring the earth with their hoofs, beating up dust in heavy, fluffy masses. Far away the sun lies still over broad patches of silence, sparsely green, where an eagle hovers, or an antelope starts up, or a sly, half-starving coyote is seen. The sun looks into yellow castles wedged in the cliff that were old when the first explorers saw them, and on white bulging palaces tinselled with marble and gold. The sun sees engines that rattle and cough, black derricks that wave their arms in arcs aloft, crazy log cabins that topple into the marsh. On every side are symbols of man’s desire, made with his hands, hurried, glorious, sordid, tragic, clashing, insane; the sun looks and does not understand but pours over them its heat and cold, and rain and light, and lightning, always the same.

Immense machines are clamoring, rattling, battling, wheeling, screaming, heaving, weaving. The wheels bound and groan and roar and waver and snap—and go on as before. Between the cities, over plain and hill, reel double paths of shining steel, where screaming locomotives pass like black shuttles leaving great trails of smoke amid the wheat, the cattle, the corn, the cotton, the sordid, hideous factory shafts, the fleet masses of plunging and galloping stallions. Their forces are never spent or tired, for, nervously above them, earth is laced and wired with crackling, chattering, singing, whispering electricity. They fly from city to city, and the sky is scribbled above them with childish grey gigantic scrawls, amid which the sun wabbles and crawls. And over all shoot backward and forward words that walk in air, and perhaps not long will the upper spaces be still, but soon be filled with racing lines of strong black bird-machines bearing men on their backs. Purring autos squawk and squeal, and spray and flutter, pale flashes through the rack. Red, and black and yellow, the earth takes on its coat of colors, from the struggle of a hundred million hands. It is a palimpsest which no one reads or understands, which none has time to heed, a loom-frame woven over with interspersed and tangled threads of which the meaning is lost, from which the pattern hangs in shreds.

Amid all this, men struggle, surge, call out, fall choking, toil with backs bent over the earth in black arcs. Crowds of them clatter, scramble, bustle, push, and drift away. They creep, black, greasy masses, out of the earth like ants; they swing out on great frozen blocks of steel or marble; they saunter in some forgotten place; they yawn with the weariness of little towns. Men, brown, black, yellow, pallid with fatigue, ruddy with gluttony, blotched with disease, swarm and waver back and forth, east, west, south, north. Crackling twigs of dripping forests mark their feet. Red wet furrowed plains receive their pains. Grey, hungry factory towns bellow out through steam-filled lungs for them each morning. Prison gates grate slowly, hospital beds spread stateliness, insane asylums gibber through their windows. They hustle and shovel, piling heaps of hovels, and now and then, as if in mockery, some coppery tower that seems as if it would split its sky with its majesty. They are in a great shallow sea, crinkling uneasily as if some giant’s body were wallowing beneath. Some single impulse creaks through them, pouring out its breath through the chimneys, scattering itself over the fields, closing itself in behind the doors. It is one great, vague, inchoate organism, scarcely feeling its pulse as yet, rolling in the belly of the world, waiting its hour of birth. Earth is heaped about it; still it eats the earth away, red covering after red covering, day on day. Now it half timidly peeps out, now withdraws itself again. And ever the sky pours on it heat and rain, and wind, and light, and lightning, and hail, shaping it, making it less frail, more fit to wake and take its place in the world.

But over there, beyond the seas, where for years the war flags have been stacked and furled, comes the crack of a pistol followed by faint cheers. And now a smeary gloom appears; it seems to swell from out the earth; it bulges in greenish folds above the horizon, and in its depths are flashes from far-off guns. Suddenly from the heart of the cloud, which the cowed world watches, holding its breath, come thick insensate hammer-blows that split the core of earth asunder—the iron cannon unleashed for the dance of death. Deeper and deeper the noise unrolls in a vast salute to the new world from the old. It rises higher and higher, covering the sea with its tumult, and filling the sky with gouts and spatters of crimson fire. North, south, east, west, all the craters are emptying out their vitals on earth’s breast. But the immensity of the troubled continent stirs not, nor gives to the world the life that is restlessly heaving beneath it.

The centuries sit with hands on their knees, wearing on weary foreheads their iron-crowned destinies. The sun glares, the rain spatters, the thunder tramples his drums, the wind, rushing, hums its scorn; but the being—the thing that will master all the ages—still hesitates to be born. The great derricks, black and frozen, lift their arms in mid air; the locomotives hoot and mutter in despair; the shuttles clatter and clamor and hammer at the woof day and night. The black flight of priceless instants reels and rebounds and shivers and crawls, while without the uproar of the cannon calls like black seas battering the earth, grinding, sweeping, flickering, pounding, pounding, pounding, in the increasing throes of birth. But still the thing will not arrive. Still it refuses at the very gates of life. America—America—blood-stained and torn with choked, convulsive sighs, perhaps too late thou shalt arise, perhaps in vain shalt seek to rule the earth!


Maxwell Bodenheim


The wordless dream of the fire;

The white clock dropping gray minutes from its placid lips;

The breathing of women, like the birth of little winds;

The muttering of the man in the next room, painting a landscape;

I threw them together with a jerk of my soul-wrist,

And had silence—a swaying sound

Made of the death of the others.

A Head

Her head was a morning in April.

Loose, livid mist arose from cold ground

And revealed two tired shepherds with lanterns,

Standing above the wrinkled red blankets they had lain on...

Then came the morning light—her smile.

The Operation

With eyes of radium, and beard the color of wet sand,

The doctor unlocked his instrument case as carelessly

As a child opens an old box of blocks,

And almost silently whistled something out of “Aida.”

And the nurses—bits of sky with thick clouds—

Chattered about patients and hummed frayed songs.

But when the still body on the little cart came,

The lips of the doctor became stiff and trim

(Bows of ribbon turning to circles of stone)

And the nurses were no longer women:

Were sexless, with tapering fingers and metal eyes...

The doctor made the incision and checked the blood:

And I thought of a miner, half-reverently, half-wearily cutting soft earth,

Picking out lumps of dead silver...

But the picture changed when the doctor sewed up the wound,

And I saw a middle-aged woman gravely mending a limp rag...

The little cart disappeared,

And the doctor locked his instrument case as carelessly

As a child closes an old box of blocks:

And the nurses were once more bits of sky with thick clouds.

Some Imagist Poets

George Lane

Some months ago, in these pages, Mr. Witter Bynner pointed out that “Imagism” was derived from a Japanese poetical form, the name of which Mr. Bynner regretted that he had forgotten. This name is “Hokku,” and undoubtedly the Japanese Hokku poetry was the model upon which much of the work in the first Imagist Anthology was formed, notably the contributions of Mr. Ezra Pound. There was Greek influence, too, in that first collection. But the whole volume showed a remarkable desire towards perfection and clarity of utterance, and a delicate perception of beauty.

There were few poetry lovers who did not taste its fine, astringent flavour, but its qualities were at once its faults. It was beautiful work, but too tenuous ever to become a great art, said the objectors. It was incapable of embracing many of the elements of life and poetry. The Imagists must remain side-tracked, and therefore, clever though they were, they could not be of real importance.

But it seems that Imagism was more virile, more capable of growth, than was supposed. The jejune maledictions and assertions of their chief spokesman, Mr. Pound, have done so much to make the group ridiculous that it is with a feeling of surprise that we find this volume a great advance upon its predecessor.

Here is the work of six poets, four of whom were represented in the first anthology. In an interesting preface they state their poetical theories, which are much the same as those printed so often in Poetry. But here the tenets are soberly and sensibly presented, and the whole preface is dignified and worthy of consideration. Clearly the Imagists are growing up.

It is hardly necessary to rehearse here the Imagist creed. It has been discussed, with more or less hostility, in many reviews. But certainly, in reading this preface, the hostility suddenly vanishes, and the reviewer finds himself wondering if perhaps, after all, this movement is not one of most unusual significance.

Briefly, these poets call themselves Imagists because their object is to present an “image”; they believe “that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous”; they desire “to use the language of common speech,” and “to employ always the exact word, not the nearly exact, nor the merely decorative word.” They wish “to produce poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite”; and, finally, they are convinced that “concentration is of the very essence of poetry.”

Brave words, excellent aims and hard enough of attainment. Again, these poets agree to allow absolute freedom of subject, and, with a little dig at some of their contemporaries, they say, “It is not good art to write badly about aeroplanes and automobiles; nor is it necessarily bad art to write well about the past. We believe passionately in the artistic value of modern life, but we wish to point out that there is nothing so uninspiring nor so old-fashioned as an aeroplane of the year 1911.”

That is a wholesome point of view, but indeed the Imagists have hardly erred on the side of too great a preoccupation with modern life. In fact this volume is noteworthy as showing a more personal, a less literary, outlook on life.

The first Imagist Anthology contained the work of ten poets. Some were represented by a number of poems, some by only one. In this new volume only four of those poets are represented. But what is remarkable is that they are not all the one poem authors. On the contrary, Richard Aldington and H. D. had more poems in the first anthology than anyone else in the volume, yet here are Richard Aldington and H. D. subscribing to an arrangement which gives each poet approximately the same amount of space. “Also,” says the preface, “to avoid any appearance of precedence, they (the poets included) have been put in alphabetical order.” So art is to come before self-advertisement. Happy omen! With such ideals the group should go far. Six young poets with so much talent, devotion, and singleness of purpose, is a phenomenon to be noticed.

Perhaps this is the key to the “differences of taste and judgment” which have divorced these poets from the others of the first anthology. They go on to say that “growing tendencies are forcing them along different paths.” We can only guess at the tendencies, as the poems in this book show them, and it is not our business to probe farther into a schism which is touched upon so lightly and quietly in this admirable preface.

The six poets of this little anthology are: Richard Aldington, H. D., John Gould Fletcher, F. S. Flint, D. H. Lawrence, and Amy Lowell. It is quite easy to see why “mutual artistic sympathy” binds these young people together. But how extraordinarily individual they are, just the same! From the exquisite, gem-like poems of H. D., to the organ music of Amy Lowell in The Bombardment, with the graceful, tender, often humorous work of Richard Aldington and the tragic earnestness of D. H. Lawrence, set off by the rich imagination of John Gould Fletcher, and the poetic realism, touched with a charming intimateness, of F. S. Flint.

Richard Aldington’s contributions begin with Childhood, a study of a lonely little boy in a horribly dull English town. It is full of wistfulness, for the little boy is very real, and the detail is admirably managed. The little boy is shut up in the ugly town, like a chrysalis in a matchbox:

I hate that town; ...

There were always clouds, smoke, rain

In that dingy little valley.

It rained; it always rained.

I think I never saw the sun until I was nine—

And then it was too late;

Everything’s too late after the first seven years.

That is very vivid. So, too, is the description of the contents of the large tin box in the attic. But Mr. Aldington never allows the descriptions to usurp the poem; he keeps them properly subordinated to his theme, the loneliness of the child.

Fine as this poem is, it seems more experimental than Mr. Aldington’s shorter work. Long poems require a different technique from short poems, and perhaps Mr. Aldington has not yet become quite master of it. It is in the short poems that he is so eminently successful.

The Poplar is an almost perfect poem of its kind. A complete “image,” and with that fine, poetic imagination which is the hall-mark of Mr. Aldington’s best work. What could be more beautiful than this:

I know that the white wind loves you,

Is always kissing you and turning up

The white lining of your green petticoat.

The sky darts through you like blue rain,

And the grey rain drips on your flanks

And loves you.

And I have seen the moon

Slip his silver penny into your pocket

As you straightened your hair;

And the white mist curling and hesitating

Like a bashful lover about your knees.

The Poplar is, on the whole, the best poem of Mr. Aldington’s in the book, but The Faun Sees Snow for the First Time runs it close. And here we have that divine gift of poetical humor which is another of Mr. Aldington’s rare qualities. Space alone prevents me from quoting it. But if I put these two first, where shall I put Round-Pond, with its sun “shining upon the water like a scattering of gold crocus-petals”?

Mr. Aldington has advanced in his art. In spite of the Faun and Lemures, he has sloughed off much of the Greek mannerism which marred his work in the first anthology. The training which his Greek studies have given him, is here put to excellent and individual use. One looks for much from him in the future.

H. D.’s poems are undoubtedly the most perfect in the book. There is nothing broad, nothing varied about her attempts, but what she tries for she succeeds in doing, absolutely. But in her work, too, we find a grateful change going on. The stage properties are no longer exclusively Greek. In fact, only one poem of her seven has anything obviously Greek about it. There is nothing specifically inartistic in this transplanting of the imagery of another place and time into one’s work. But when an English poet fills every poem full of Greek names and Greek devices, the result is intense weariness on the part of the reader. The poems may be beautiful, but this foreign flavour gives them a sort of chilling quality. One cannot help feeling that the poet is straining after a poetical effect, and that stands in the way of a complete sympathy between poet and reader.

H. D. is too much of an artist not to have realized this, and in these new poems (with the exception I have mentioned), there is no hint of direct preoccupation with the Greek in title or text. Yet the poems are so completely Greek that they might be translations from some newly-discovered papyrus. And still, in reading them, one feels that the sincerity of the artist is not to be questioned. Here is no striving after effect, but a complete saturation of a personality in a past mode. If one believed in reincarnations, one could say, and be certain, that H. D. was the reincarnation of some dead Greek singer. The Greek habit sits upon her as easily as a dress, loosened by constant wear. It is undubitably hers. To adopt another speech would be an unpardonable artificiality. Realizing this, and not making the mistake that so many reviewers have done in considering her a copyist, we must admit that H. D.’s poems attain a perfection which is not to be found in the work of any other modern poet. This garland of sea flowers is a masterpiece of pure beauty. I have only space to quote one of these poems, but it shall be quoted entire.

Sea Iris

Weed, moss-weed

root tangled in sand,

sea iris, brittle flower,

one petal like a shell

is broken,

and you print a shadow

like a thin twig.

Fortunate one,

scented and stinging,

rigid myrrh-bud,


sweet and salt—you are wind

in our nostrils.


Do the murex-fishers

drench you as they pass?

Do your roots drag up colour

from the sand?

Have they slipped gold under you;

rivets of gold?

Band of iris-flowers

above the waves,

you are painted blue,

painted like a fresh prow

stained among the salt weeds.

H. D. has her limitations, as I said before. They are the most obvious thing about her, except her perfection. But it is so ridiculous to cavil at them, as it would be to deny the loveliness of one of the sea flowers she writes about, because it is not a forest of lofty trees.

To pass from H. D. to Mr. John Gould Fletcher is something in the nature of a shock. It is a good deal like plunging into the ocean from a warm, sunny cliff. One’s ears, and nose, and mouth, are filled with rushing water. One feels in the grasp of an overwhelming power, and one struggles to the surface, breathless, half-drowned, but wholly invigorated.

To drop the figure, these two poems of Mr. Fletcher’s are so full of potentialities, so large in suggestion, that one hardly knows what to say about them. Does The Blue Symphony mean life? I confess I do not know. Is it merely a series of pictures? No, there is a vague undercurrent to the poem which makes that impossible. It is the sort of poem which a mystic might ponder over indefinitely and find new meanings every hour. And yet it is all done with the precision and clearness of the Imagist theory.

It is impossible to give any idea of the poem as a whole by quoting bits of it. But little pieces, even divorced from their context, have that succinct epigrammatic quality which is the stamp of genius. Here are three lines:

I have heard and have seen

All the news that has been:

Autumn’s gold and Spring’s green!

It is evident in this poem that Mr. Fletcher has been much influenced by the Japanese.

And now the lowest pine-branch

Is drawn across the disk of the sun.

is absolutely Japanese. But strangely enough it is a technique got from a study of Japanese painting rather than from Japanese poetry.

Mr. Fletcher’s versatility is shown by turning from The Blue Symphony, to his other poem, London Excursion. Here the note of mysticism of The Blue Symphony is entirely abandoned, and there is no hint of Japanese influence. If London Excursion follows any lead, it is the lead of the new schools of poetry and painting in France. But I will not insult Mr. Fletcher by suggesting that he is, in any way, a disciple of Marinetti and the Futurists. It is nearer the truth to say that he has realized the vividness of some of their methods, and modified them to his own use.

London Excursion is one of the most interesting poems in this volume. It is a poem of a man going into London in the morning by ’bus, spending the day walking about the streets and going into shops, and coming home at night by train. It sounds simple, but it is really the most amazing expression of light, color, and unrelated impressions that one can conceive. This is his impression of a street from his ’bus-top:

Black shapes bending,

Taxicabs crush in the crowd.

The tops are each a shining square

Shuttles that steadily press through wooly fabric

Drooping blossom,

Gas-standards over

Spray out jingling tumult

Of white-hot rays.

Monotonous domes of bowler-hats

Vibrate in the heat.

Silently, easily we sway through braying traffic,

Down the crowded street.

The tumult crouches over us,

Or suddenly drifts to one side.

Mr. Flint’s work is always delightful. He has a winning way of taking his reader into his confidence. This, and his love of nature, which he paints with real affection, gains our sympathy at once. It must be admitted that none of Mr. Flint’s seven poems quite equal two of his in the first anthology, London My Beautiful and The Swan. One feels in these two poems a groping quality, as though the poet were not quite satisfied with them himself. As though the first élan with which he adopted the vers libre medium were passing away, and he were beginning to realize that the form has its limitations.

If there is any truth in this, it is evident, however, that Mr. Flint has not yet made up his mind to try anything else. It would be almost a pity if he did, for few vers librists understand the manipulation of cadence as he does. Perhaps the following is the one of these poems which has most of his characteristic charm:


Frail beauty,

green, gold and incandescent whiteness,

narcissi, daffodils,

you have brought me Spring and longing,


in your irradiance.

Therefore, I sit here

among the people,


and my heart aches

with all the hawthorn blossom,

the bees humming,

the light wind upon the poplars,

and your warmth and your love

and your eyes ...

they smile and know me.

Malady strikes a stronger note than anything of Mr. Flint’s that I have read before. It is excellent psychology, and steadily, astringently done.

It is this constant change and growth which makes the progress of this little group so interesting to watch. Mr. Flint’s work in the first anthology seemed quite successful and finished. He had done what he had done excellently, and he would go on doing it to the end of the chapter. But here we see Mr. Flint, dissatisfied with mere success, daring a wider horizon. From the point of view of adequacy of technique, his poems suffer, as is natural; but the technique is sure to follow the widened thought, before long. Malady and the poem called Fragment show the direction in which Mr. Flint is moving. His next work will be interesting to see.

Mr. D. H. Lawrence is the best known of the poets in this book, although a newcomer to the anthology. No modern writer is more vigorous than he, and none is more entirely, almost brutally sincere. In Mr. Lawrence’s novels this brutality is sometimes excessively evident, but always one feels that the author inflicts pain upon himself as well as his readers; that he says what he sees and is concerned not to shirk and be a coward for his own comfort.

In his poetry, Mr. Lawrence seems to be more lenient with himself. It is as though he allowed the moralist in him a day out. Not that he ever ceases to be a moralist, really. But he permits himself to lay a slight covering over the stark nakedness of disagreeable facts. This covering is poetry, and very beautiful and original poetry it is.


The sky was apple-green

The sky was green wine held up in the sun,

The moon was a golden petal between.

She opened her eyes, and green

They show, clear like flowers undone,

For the first time, now for the first time seen.

Mr. Lawrence has solved the problem of vers libre for himself, by writing in a rhymed metre which usually defies all scansion, but which gives a queer, and most satisfactory effect, of elasticity and strength. For this reason, and for its novelty, Mr. Lawrence’s manner is very interesting, but his matter is still more so. Read The Mowers, a common tragedy, but put so newly and strikingly that it comes upon one with all its original force.

Fireflies in the Corn and A Woman to Her Dead Husband are new in subject as well as in presentation, and they have a bald reality about them which I have never met in any other poem. But never once does Mr. Lawrence make the mistake of being only a realist; he never ceases to be a poet. In Fireflies in the Corn there are these lines:

And those bright fireflies wafting in between

And over the swaying cornstalks, just above

And all their dark-feathered helmets, like little green

Stars, come low and wandering here for love

Of this dark earth.

The Ballad of Another Ophelia is probably his best poem. In it we see his peculiar style at its very best.

Mr. Lawrence is the singer of truth, the lover of humanity. His inclusion into the Imagist group shows that the school is broad and real enough not to desire to shut itself up in the cupboard of precocity, as in the beginning there was some fear of its doing.

Where Mr. Lawrence gives us the broadest view of Imagism from an English standpoint that this newer, more vital group has offered us, Miss Lowell does the same service for the American side. The qualities that make her work noteworthy are first, a virtuoso command of language that fits itself to the most diverse themes, and second, a sort of fantastic, curious irony that is essentially American. This irony is perhaps at its finest in The Traveling Bear and The Letter, but these are too long to quote. I choose instead Bullion, which may be taken for a very modern type of love poem, in which love itself becomes a burden:

My thoughts

Chink against my ribs

And roll about like silver hail-stones.

I should like to spill them out,

And pour them, all shining,

Over you.

But my heart is shut upon them

And holds them straitly.

Come, You! and open my heart;

That my thoughts torment me no longer,

But glitter in your hair.

Miss Lowell always looks at things from an angle. Her mind reflects the unusual aspect and that most vividly. As she says of herself:

When night drifts along the streets of the city,

And sifts down between the uneven roofs,

My mind begins to peek and peer.

It plays at ball in old, blue Chinese gardens,

And shakes wrought dice-cups in Pagan temples,

Amid the broken flutings of white pillars.

It dances with purple and yellow crocuses in its hair,

And its feet shine as they flutter over drenched grasses.

How light and laughing my mind is,

When all the good folk have put out their bed-room candles,

And the city is still!

Miss Lowell has the ability which is rare among present-day poets of recognizing that beauty does not belong to an epoch or a period, but is always the same, under whatever strange form it may present itself.

Doubtless her most remarkable poem is that called The Bombardment. Whether the technique adopted here by Miss Lowell is destined to work a revolution in verse-writing remains for the future to settle. But here, at least, it perfectly justifies itself. No one should permit, however, a question of technique to obscure the deep tragedy, the splendid humanity, of this poem. War has only one beauty: that of its terrible destructiveness of all beauty. The Bombardment is the best statement of this aspect of war I know. It must be read in its entirety, and so I will not attempt piecemeal quotation of this most fitting conclusion to the volume.

This book is so provocative of thought, the poets in it are so suggestive, each one by him—or herself, that each really requires a separate review. But I have said enough to show what an important volume this little book is. We are told that it is to be an annual, and certainly we shall watch its succeeding appearances with great interest.

It is certainly best to separate an artist so far from his work as not to take him as seriously as his work.—Nietzsche.

Editorials and Announcements

The Murder of a Poet

It is reported that Rupert Brooke died of sun-stroke last month in the Dardanelles. There is nothing to be said in the face of such monster horrors.... And it is also reported that Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson has burned up his production of Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra, not being able to bear the strain of acting in a play written by his unpatriotic countryman who protested against such horrors.

Emma Goldman’s Lectures in May

At a recent meeting of the Chicago Woman’s Club, when all the editors of Chicago magazines explained the virtues of their respective journals, Lucien Cary said, politely but in effect, that The Little Review was no good. “The only striking thing it has done (beside coming out at all) is to discover Emma Goldman, a nice woman with views less radical than Emerson’s and certainly far less well expressed.” I quote this because it is so exhilarating to catch Mr. Cary in a half-truth—the kind of thing that makes for the confused thinking he is so valiantly in arms against. If The Little Review had been alive about twenty-five years ago I hope we would have had the sense to discover that a great woman was beginning to work in this country. As it is, we could only try to point out how difficult and how fine has been Emma Goldman’s living of the things Emerson thought it would be good to live. It was not for the people who know their Emerson that we tried it, but for those who have forgotten him, like Mr. Cary.... Since we failed so miserably we shall have to try again. But in the meantime you may hear Emma Goldman herself and discover just how she is helping to make Emerson’s essays livable. She is to lecture for a week in Chicago, in the most delightful lecture room in the city—the Assembly Room in the Fine Arts Building. Her subjects are as follows, at 8:15 in the evening:

Sunday, May 9:
“Friedrich Nietzsche, the Intellectual Storm Centre of the European War.”

Monday, May 10:
“Is Man a Varietist or Monogamist”?

Tuesday, May 11:
“Jealousy” (Its Cause and Possible Cure).

Wednesday, May 12:
“Social Revolution vs. Social Reform.”

Thursday, May 13:
“Feminism” (A Critique of the Modern Woman’s Movements).

Saturday, May 15:
“The Intermediate Sex” (A Study of Homosexuality).

Sunday, May 16:
“The Limitation of Offspring” (A Discussion of How and Why Small Families Are Desirable).


One of the most stirring things that has come to this office lately is a small journal with the word “Dionysion” on its cover. It is the first volume of a magazine for the furtherance of Isadora Duncan’s work in America, and the committee that has helped make this rather amazing thing possible includes such names as John W. Alexander, Percy MacKaye, Theodore Dreiser, Will Levington Comfort, Max Eastman, Robert Henri, Edith Wynne Mathison, Julia Culp, Witter Bynner, John Drew, Walter Damrosch, and many others. On the first page is Whitman, then Nietzsche on Dionysian Art, and then Robert Henri with a little article on the new education in which he says: “I was tremendously impressed one day in Isadora Duncan’s studio, by the look in the faces of the children. As they passed by me in the dance I saw great dignity, balance, ease. I was impressed, too, throughout the entire time by the fact that they seemed absolutely secure in their happiness. They appeared to know unconsciously that they would receive a full measure of praise and that in no case would there be blame or punishment. In each little upturned face was a rare look of freedom—the look of people on a higher plane of self-consciousness, an aloofness from the common thought. I saw in their expression the impress of the measures of great music.” And he goes on that “to inspire courage in children, to stimulate them with the work of those who have the courage to create, to make of them frank facers of the emotional problems of life, to start them on the way toward a great constructive life, we must take care not to impose our wisdom and our ignorance on them, but to give them the benefit of the best we have through a frank response to their natural interrogation.” Isadora Duncan’s idea is that “the expression of the modern school of ballet wherein each action is an end, and no movement, pose, or rhythm is successive or can be made to evolve succeeding action, is an expression of degeneration, of living death. All the movements of our modern ballet school are sterile movements because they are unnatural; their purpose is to create the delusion that the law of gravitation does not exist for them.” I know a man from Russia who came to this country knowing only two words of English: “Isadora Duncan.” He had seen Miss Duncan dance once in St. Petersburg and from that moment he looked forward to America as the country of “highest intelligences in the freest bodies.” We may sometime become worthy of this remarkable woman. Dionysion ought to help....

Isaac Loeb Peretz

Last month, under the strain of relief work for the Jewish families driven from the war zone, there died in Warsaw a great poet, Isaac Loeb Peretz, almost unknown to the English reader, if we do not count one volume of his Tales, issued by the Jewish Publication Society. His poetry, written in Hebrew and in Yiddish, may be compared to that of Heine in its gracefulness, but it bears in addition the melancholy of Polish skies. His sketches in prose and his dramas are too subtle in their profound symbolism to be appreciated by the Jewish masses, who nevertheless, worship him as one of the few great artists who had not gone over to till strange fields, richer and more remunerative. The Jewish stage in America flourishes on Gordin’s melodramas and on cheap farces; the theatrical managers are too business-like to produce such a high play as Peretz’s Golden Chain.

The St. Patrick’s Affair

Emma Goldman sent me this letter about the two Italian boys, Abarno and Carbone, who have been found guilty of trying to blow up St. Patrick’s Cathedral: “Our efforts for the Italian victims were in vain. They were found guilty, although every bit of evidence brought out how the provocateur induced, urged the act, bought the material, made the bombs, and placed them in the cathedral. But the judge said that an officer has the right to do all this since he does it not out of criminal intent but ‘out of duty.’ Imagine what sort of sentence the boys will get from this cruel machine! I was in court all day until ten that night. I was near a collapse, so terribly had the day impressed me. At midnight they telephoned to tell me of the verdict. The horror of it all to me is the material which Polgnani chose—two typical proletarian slaves, one a boot black, the other a cobbler, both underdeveloped from malnutrition, irresponsible in their youthful inexperience, like two frightened deer driven at bay. To hear the lawyers refer to them as ‘fools,’ ‘degenerates,’ ‘ignoramuses,’ without a sign of protest on their part, almost drove me crazy. I had to restrain myself from pulling them to their feet to cry out against the cruelty and humiliation of it all. Life is terrible....”

More Censorship

A book called Fewer and Better Babies: The Limitation of Offspring by the Prevention of Conception, by William J. Robinson, has just been published by the Critic and Guide Company of New York. In looking through it I came upon several mysterious blank pages, and then found a foot-note explanation to the effect that the chapters on preventives had been completely eliminated by the censorship: “Not only are we not permitted to mention the safe and harmless methods,” says the poor author; “we cannot even discuss the unsafe and injurious methods.” But it probably won’t be long before Mr. Comstock is suppressed....

The Sermon in the Depths

(Phosphorescent Gleams of Spiritual Putrefactions)

Ben Hecht

Since reading the recent translation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s book which is called The House of the Dead[1] I have suffered from a distressing ambition. I would like to go to Russia and there commit some naive atrocity and be sent to a Siberian prison for at least ten years. I have an unpatriotic prejudice and a lack of illusion concerning American criminals or I would commit my atrocity on American soil. They, American criminals, are as a rule a petty lot given to sentimental regrets and griefs and reforms and periodicals. There is nothing which reflects the smugness of a people so much as the manner and temperament of its vice. And the temperament of American vice is more distinctly and monotonously bourgeois than any of its virtues. The American citizen even when about to be hanged is unable to rise above the commonplace reactions “imagined” for his predicament by such authors as belong to the Indiana Society.

I have hunted the American criminal with the police, been present at his confession, watched him at his trial, sat with him in his death cell and listened to him recite psalms and sermonize as the nervous sheriff adjusted the noose around his neck. He is an artificial and uninteresting disappointment. It would be as extreme a punishment to spend ten years in his society behind the bars as to live in a State Street Studio Building or join the Y. M. C. A. for a similar period.

But the “prison that stood at the edge of the fortress grounds close to the fortress wall” and the primitive, debauched children who inhabited it! The swaggering monstrosities that swilled on vodka and wept at the stars. The bestial grotesques who delighted in the murder of infants for the sake of the warm blood that bathed their hands. The filthy saints and nonchalant parricides. The Herculean villains, the irritable gargoyles innocently steeped in insatiable perversion and dripping with infamy. The arrogant, sadistic artists of torture, human as children, with their pitifully crippled souls; praying before the prison ikons, stealing their comrade’s clothes and washing his feet; hating and loving with the simplicity of Pagan gods and the ramified cunning of continental diplomats. The nerveless flagellants, the heartbreaking humorists, the fierce, fanciful executioners. There’s a company for you! A purifying company in the very dregs of its depravities.

They stand alone in literature. Only Christ could have written of them as well as Dostoevsky. Was Dostoevsky dreaming of a new religion when he filled the pages with his human crucifixions? Probably not. But his artistry and his painstaking, searching minute psychology have illumined The House of the Dead so that for him who is not afraid it is as holy and human a source of inspiration as the loving sacrifices of the Nazarene Thaumaturgist.

And yet it is a simple book. There are very few writings so direct and simple, so easy to read and to understand. The terrifying lusts and passions and distorted rages make the mind quiver, but they never mystify. The harrowing morbidities pierce the intelligence like hot lances, but they never blunt or deprave the moral senses. The fierce pathos so exquisitely written, the blood-soaked restraints, the consumptive dying in his iron fetters too weak to support the weight of the little cross on his chest, the wild, inhuman humanness—they sizzle away the nerve cuticles and burn the emotions with a strange fire.

It is the peculiar paradox of reaction. I visited once a Home for Crippled Children and came away happier and cleaner. There the little misshapen bodies and the unconscious holiness of their suffering suddenly revealed to me things I had scoffingly overlooked in the popular words of accepted divines. And it is the same way with the company that writhes through the pages of Dostoevsky’s book. A more material illustration of this paradox is the very rhapsodics I have indulged in to convey what I have read. There are no rhapsodies in the book. There is no “dramatic action” at all in the book. It is the most inactive book I ever have read, barring not certain memoirs and diaries. Nothing happens in the book, yet from its start a demoralized pageant marches thunderingly across the pages, and somehow, by a psychological process it would take Dostoevsky again to reveal, lifts the spirit to heights as lofty as its itinerary is low. As for the style of its writing, there are no secrets in the art for the great Russian. And here he chooses the grim, gripping reiteration, the tragic calm and human poesy of simple words to build up his staggering effects.

What will Americans think of the book providing it becomes popular?—and it may. (The idolatrous regard born in this country for Russian art instances the possibilities of American hysteria directed in the proper channels.) The great majority of them, however—particularly those with whom I have mentioned my horror of spending ten years—will feel it incumbent upon them to be outraged, none more so than the criminal fraternity. It is perhaps stretching a point to say that even so were the highly and lowly estimable backbones of an earlier period of less comparative moribund piety outraged by the Sermon on the Mount. But there is a promising likelihood that their ectypes will never read the volume and will thus be saved or lost or whatever you will. And those who see the light from this Sermon in the Depths can effect an exclusiveness which will merit them the flattering curses and derisions of their fellow men for many sweet years to come.

The translation is by Constance Garnett and is excellently done. Mrs. Garnett, more than any linguist, has in her work conveyed the atmosphere and idiom and temperament of the Russian into English. She is responsible for the remarkable translations of Turgeniev which have carried his art unchanged into another tongue, as well as for the Dostoevsky novels. For the benefit of readers who will be puzzled by her footnote on page 11, the “Green Street” which she is unable to define is the avenue formed between two ranks of prison soldiers through which the condemned convict is wheeled and beaten. The soldiers stand armed with fresh, green sticks which flash brightly in the sun as they swish down on the naked back—hence the jocular name.

[1] The Macmillan Company, New York.

Notes For a Review of “The Spoon River Anthology”

Carl Sandburg

The Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters. (The Macmillan Company, New York)

I saw Masters write this book. He wrote it in snatched moments between fighting injunctions against a waitresses’ union striving for the right to picket and gain one day’s rest a week, battling from court to court for compensation to a railroad engineer rendered a loathsome cripple by the defective machinery of a locomotive, having his life amid affairs as intense as those he writes of.

At The Book and Play Club one night Masters tried to tell how he came to write the Anthology. Of course, he couldn’t tell. There are no writers of great books able to tell the how and why of a dominating spirit that seizes them and wrenches the flashing pages from them. But there are a few forces known that play a part. And among these Masters said he wanted emphasis placed on Poetry, voices calling “Unhand me,” verses and lines from all manner and schools of writers welcomed in Harriet Monroe’s magazine.

Once in a while a man comes along who writes a book that has his own heart-beats in it. The people whose faces look out from the pages of the book are the people of life itself, each trait of them as plain or as mysterious as in the old home valley where the writer came from. Such a writer and book are realized here.

Masters’ home town is Lewiston, Illinois, on the banks of the Spoon River. There actually is such a river where Masters waded bare-foot as a boy, and where the dead and the living folk of his book have fished or swam, or thrown pebbles and watched the widening circles. It is not far, less than a few hours’ drive, from where Abraham Lincoln was raised. People who knew Lincoln are living there today.

Well, some two hundred and twenty portraits in free verse have been etched by Masters from this valley. They are Illinois people. Also they are the people of anywhere and everywhere in so-called civilization.

Aner Clute is the immortal girl of the streets. Chase Henry is the town drunkard of all time. The railroad lawyer, the corrupt judge, the prohibitionist, the various adulterers and adulteresses, the Sunday School superintendent, the mothers and fathers who lived for sacrifice in gratitude, joy,—all these people look out from this book with haunting eyes, and there are baffled mouths and brows calm in the facing of their destinies.

When a few of the pieces in this book reached Ezra Pound, the judgment he passed upon them was that they are real and great poetry from the hand of a new and a genuine American poet. It was Alice Corbin Henderson who was the first American critic to seize upon some of these poems as they were running in The St. Louis Mirror, and put them forward in Poetry as striking, indigenous, out of the soil of America as a home-land. William Marion Reedy, editor of The St. Louis Mirror, is accredited by Masters for the keen enthusiasm with which he helped him carry along the work of writing.

In the year 1914 Masters not only handled all of his regular law practice, heavy and grilling. Besides, he wrote The Spoon River Anthology. There were times when he was clean fagged with the day’s work. But a spell was on him to throw into written form a picture gallery, a series of short movies of individuals he had seen back home. Each page in the anthology is a locked-up portrait now freed.

The stress of this bore down on Masters. Just before the proof sheets for his book came to his hands, he went down with fever and pneumonia and a complex of physical ills. It was the first time in his life he was willing to admit he was “sick abed.”

There is vitality, drops of heart blood, poured into Lee Masters’ book. He has other books in him as vivid and poignant. Let us hope luck holds him by the hand and takes him along where he can write out these other ones.

Poetry and the Panama-Pacific

Eunice Tietjens

Has poetry, as an art, any meaning whatever for the American people, or has all the recent ink which has been spilled in proclaiming a renascence of American poetry gone only to water the roots of the publishing business? These are questions which will be forced upon the mind of every admirer of the lyric muse in contemplating the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. For in spite of the millions of money and the acres of ground at the disposal of the American sections there is nowhere, except in the commercial exhibits of the publishers, any recognition of the existence of contemporary poetry.

When taxed with the fact that the art is unrepresented the heads of the departments point deprecatingly to the fact that as a decorative feature of certain architectural archways poetical quotations are used. There is a quotation from Confucius, one from the Kalidasa, several from Edmund Spencer, and one (O Triumph of Modernity!) from Walt Whitman. As no commercial exhibit is accepted which was in existence at the time of the St. Louis Exposition this answer is doubly enlightening.

All the other arts are here. Architecture, music, sculpture, mural and easel painting, drawing, prints and etching, landscape gardening, together with the so-called “Liberal Arts” are adequately represented. But not poetry. A perusal of the “P’s” of the official list in an attempt to discover it is significant. “Poultry” is there with a large exhibit, so is “Plumbago,” “Plumbers’ Implements,” “Pomology” and “Ponies.” Excellent exhibits all, but hardly lyrical.

It may be urged, of course, that other arts, such as the arts of the theatre, acting and stagecraft, and the literary art of prose writing, are also omitted. But although exhibitions of these things would be eminently desirable they present great practical difficulties. And these arts have, after all, a commercial side which is more or less adequately suggested. But with poetry the case is different. The mere fact that commercially poetry is, like Perlmutter’s automobile, a liability and not an asset, ought in our practical age to prove that it is a “fine art!” And the practical difficulty of providing a set of bookshelves and a competent jury to pass on admissions need hardly stagger the directors of so colossal an undertaking. Add to this daily, or even bi-weekly, readings of contemporary poetry and the result would be a representation in proportion to the attention paid the other arts.

It would be useless to urge that this Exposition is a private, or even a local enterprise. It cannot stand as such. It represents in the face of the warring world the development of our country, culturally as well as commercially. And the fact that one of the oldest and most reverenced of the arts is totally unrepresented must inevitably redound to the discredit of the executive officers, and through them of the people at large.

For the root of this cavalier treatment of poetry is, after all, in the American people. As a nation, in spite of our complacency in the present world crisis, we are still in the stage of culture in which we believe that man can live by bread alone. And we can scarcely hope for more adequate recognition of the art until those of us to whom poetry is a living fact, and not an academic perception, have battled at greater length and with greater self-sacrifice in the eternal struggle through commercialism to beauty.

The Mob-God

The seats creak expectantly. The white whirr of the movie machine takes on a special significance. In the murky gloom of the theater you can watch row on row of backs becoming suddenly enthusiastic, necks growing suddenly alive, heads rising to a fresh angle. Turning around you can see the stupid masks falling, vacant eyes lighting up, lips parting and waiting the smile, mouths opening waiting to laugh. A miracle is transpiring. A sodden mass inclined toward protoplasmic atavism, a smear of dead nerves, dead skin, fiberless flesh is beginning to quiver with an emotion. Laughter is about to be born. The lights dance on the screen in front. Letters appear in two short words and a gasp sweeps from mouth to mouth.

The name of a Mob-God flashes before the eyes. Suddenly the screen in front vanishes. In its place appears a road stretching away to the sky and lined with trees. The sky is clear. The scene is cool and healthy. The leaves of the trees flutter familiarly. The road smiles like an old friend. And far in the distance a speck appears and moves slowly and jerkily. Wide open mouths and freshened eyes watch the speck grow larger. It takes the form of a man, a little man with a thin cane. At last his baggy trousers and his slovenly shoes are visible. His thick curly hair under the battered derby becomes clear. He walks along carelessly, quietly, with an infinite philosophy. He walks with an indescribable step, kicking up one of his feet, shuffling along.

Laughter is born. The vapid faces respond magically to His presence. Pure, childish delight sounds. The faces are bathed in a human light. A noisy, wholesome din fills the theater. And the little man comes down the road with his calm and solemn face, his sad eyes, his impossible mustache, his ridiculous trousers, and his nervous, spasmodic gait amid the roars and wild elation of idiots, prostitutes, crass, common churls, and empty souls converted suddenly into a natural and mutual simplicity. The stuffy, maddening “bathoes” that clings to the mob like a stink is dispelled, wiped out of the air. Laughter, laughter, shrieks and peals, chuckles and smiles, the broad permeating warmth of the simplest, deepest joy is everywhere.

Charlie Chaplin is before them, Charles Chaplin with the wit of a vulgar buffoon and the soul of a world artist. He walks, he stumbles, he dances, he falls. His inimitable gyrations release torrents of mirth clean as spring freshets. He is cruel. He is absurd; unmanly; tawdry; cheap; artificial. And yet behind his crudities, his obscenities, his inartistic and outrageous contortions, his “divinity” shines. He is the Mob-God. He is a child and a clown. He is a gutter snipe and an artist. He is the incarnation of the latent, imperfect, and childlike genius that lies buried under the fiberless flesh of his worshippers. They have created Him in their image. He is the Mob on two legs. They love him and laugh.

“Fruits to Om.”

“Glory to Zeus.”

“Mercy, Jesus.”

“Praised be Allah.”

“Hats off to Charlie Chaplin.”

The Scavanger.”

The Theatre


(The Chicago Little Theatre)

I don’t want to write about Rosmersholm or about Ibsen now. I want to write about Mme. Borgny Hammer, who is great in the manner of the great Norwegians.

There is a lot of talk about the Russian soul just at present. I wish the Norwegian soul might come in for its share of analysis and appreciation. It is interesting not because of its dark shudderings but because of its intense light and its clearness. It is like the sun; it is like wild flowers—not the delicate but the hardy ones.

Mme. Hammer is this sort of person. She is an actress because she must act or die. She is so intense that the air about her is always “charged”; and she is so natural and simple that you know right away she must be great. There wasn’t a particle of difference between her presence on the stage as the Ibsen heroine and her manner when she meets you on Michigan Avenue and stops to say that Ibsen is so wonderful it’s impossible to cut a line of his dialogue. In both situations she is the genius. Mrs. Fiske’s Rebecca West was a stunningly-worked-out idea; Mme. Hammer’s was just—Rebecca West. Mrs. Fiske had a theory of the character and presented it in a series of subtle and powerful designs. But what did this wonderful woman do? She didn’t act Rebecca West at all: she just gave you the impression that she is Rebecca every day of her life. She made Rosmersholm a natural scene in the life of some modern family, instead of making it a “study”—an effect in a rather strained psychology.

I wish I could describe Mme. Hammer’s stage conversations—especially the parts where she listens. She is so busy feeling Rebecca West that she has no time to waste in managing her eyes and voice and hands. They take care of themselves just as they would in her own library. When our best actresses “listen” they keep their eyes on the person who is talking with the kind of look that says: “I know it would be bad art now to look at the audience out of the tail of my eye. I must pay close attention to what this actor is saying to me.” Mme. Hammer looks at Rosmer with the same expression she would wear if he were about to say things she hadn’t heard him rehearse every day for six weeks. If she should break out with some dialogue of her own it couldn’t sound any more spontaneous than her reading of the lines Ibsen gave to Rebecca. I know Rebecca’s lines, and yet I forgot them and decided she must be making things up as she went along. What richness of simplicity, and what a sturdy beauty!

I have never seen an actress who cares less about herself than Mme. Hammer and cares so deeply for the character she is presenting. The expressions of her face are marvelous.... She said to me once that she disagreed with critics who thought Hedda Gabler had nothing to give. “She had so much, so very much to give,” she said passionately. No wonder she thinks so: she is a big woman who herself has an infinity of things to give.

M. C. A.

The Trojan Women

Of the production of The Trojan Women of Euripides by The Little Theatre Company, at the Blackstone Theatre, Sunday, April 11th, one might waste many, many words and much good space. One might make merry over the quaint little mannikins trying their hardest to look like Spartan soldiers. Or again, a whole column might be devoted to the insipid posturings of the saintly-pretty lady who played Helen. Much sarcasm might be expended on the flops done, in the approved French-tragedy style, by the lady who played Andromache. A whole thesis might be written by an enterprising student at some correspondence school on the use of the Vaudeville Spotlight in Classic Greek Tragedy. And Hamlet’s advice to the players might be quoted with some profit to a few of the company: pointed emphasis at the “do not mouth your words” part of the advice, to the lady who speaks the speech beginning:

Lo, yonder ships: I ne’er set foot on one,

But tales and pictures tell, when over them

Breaketh a storm not all too strong to stem,

Each man strives hard, the tiller gripped, the mast

Manned, the hull baled, to face it, till at last

Too strong breaks the o’erwhelming sea: lo, then

They cease, and yield them up as broken men

To fate and the wild waters.

And last of all one might say unkind things about the blending of the voices in the chorus.

All the above points, however, I know are very debatable. There are two that cannot be debated. Two that outbalance by far all the other defects of the production.

If all the cast had voices like corncrakes, and used them after the manner of country-town amateurs, the production would still be worth seeing for the thrilling pictures of colour and line presented by individuals and the ensemble. And rising, soaring away above all the petty little defects is the wonderful, majestical verse of Euripides. What could be more beautiful than the lyric:

Even as the sound of a song

Left by the way, but long

Remembered, a tune of tears

Falling where no man hears,

In the old house as rain,

For things loved of yore:

But the dead hath lost his pain

And weeps no more.

It is greatly to be regretted that it has been thought fit to cut that lyric, Cassandra’s Hymn to Hymen, and many of the other beautiful parts of the play.

The whole thing might have been better in a hundred ways—then again it might have been worse in ten hundred ways. Let us be glad that we had an opportunity of seeing the wonderful thing, even though the Carnegie Peace Foundation is backing it up.




Busoni—prophet. Where Bauer is a priest, Hofmann a wonder-child, Bachaus a poet, Ganz an efficient, Paderewski a magician, and Samaroff a failure—Busoni is a prophet. His voice arrests the senses, throws a silence over them. At first, the world is obscured; later the last trace of it is gone. The song of the prophet vibrates through new spaces. Listening ones follow without restraint, so great is the magnetic pull of it; they follow, enchanted, through new spaces to new and miraculous realms of life, where music is more real than ivory or pine.

With one paragraph’s deference to the clay-members, let them be informed that Ferruccio Busoni is a composer and concert-pianist, almost fifty years old, who began his study and piano-practice at a most tender age, and who is now considered to be something of an artist—that is, when he isn’t off pursuing some new notion about quarter-tones, or his one hundred and thirteen new scales for the pianoforte. He has these aberrations. But then, musicians are crazy anyway. At a recent concert with the Chicago Symphony Mr. Busoni played one concerto by Saint-Saëns and another one which he himself composed. Incidentally, Mr. Busoni’s composition was based on North America. It is the least bit regrettable that we are so busy and hurried that Mr. Busoni could introduce us, through a work of art, to the country we hurry over. He played these works on an inferior piano and did several questionable things in his playing, such as let his wrist sag, etc. His personal friends insist that he hates to play the piano. Let the clay-members join the blessed minority in silent thanksgiving that he has hated it hard enough to have scornfully brushed aside the limitations of wood and wire, that his hatred is greater than a world of near-love.

On his recent appearance here, at the very start, Busoni passed above the norm of virtuosity in piano-manipulation, and the tonal explorations began. It was quite bewildering. The mob thought it was fine. The authorities had to admit that it was good. Young ladies considered it divine. Professional musicians—always self-appointed and astute critics—were prevented from indulging in their customary snap-judgments while the artist played, and were held, opinionless, to the music. The listeners who possessed not only sensitive ears but also receptive minds and fluent imaginations were swung clear of earth, were lifted into a region where no dead wall separated them from the strong voice of the prophet. He was saying tremendous things. He forced upon smaller minds the rush, the splendor, the glittering plunge of tones, such as they had never dreamed of before. He gave them the dream. And this was what the yet smaller and the very smallest minds, down between the dead walls, admired, but sanctioned grudgingly, as brilliant style. There were noisy hands and exclamations, as at a cock-fight. But the blessed minority heard and recognized the piano-playing of today, tomorrow, and the future. The instrument had at last shaken off the curse of apartment houses, and had come into its own.

Wilhelm Bachaus sings the fancies of a dreamy young poet; Paderewski thrills his audience whether he smiles or sulks at the keyboard; Bauer intones the affirmation of a lovely faith in tonal beauty; Godowsky presents necklaces of perfectly carven gems to the subtly responsive ones; these men and a few others justify their own uses of the pianoforte. They are strongly individual, and are not to be balanced, one against another. Ferruccio Busoni, however, would cast a shadow if he traveled earthward from his altitudes. He is solitary and unique. Others work up through human difficulties in order to perfect their means of expressing tonal ideals. Busoni takes their goal as a fresh starting-point, and tonal ideals become a further means, to voice the surge of strength which he essentially is, to express the resistless, flashing drive of the universe. His flying clusters of notes are the tail of a comet, of some swift participator in cosmic rhythms. The swirl of his music-fire is a glorious something for which the pianoforte must providentially have been created—a genuine offering to the vigilant keepers of Beauty.

Herman Schuchert.

Two Chicago Pianists

I have not heard all the young Chicago musicians play, but of those I have heard there are two who stand out as musicians and pianists instead of merely good players of the piano. They are Carol Robinson and James Whittaker.

Miss Robinson is an Illinois girl who came to Chicago to be Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler’s “artist pupil” (or something like that) and chief assistant. A year ago she was playing the piano efficiently; this year she is using that as a starting-point and proving that she has a real right to the instrument. She has a technical foundation that cannot fail her; it is already equal to practically all the tests she may need to put it to, and she uses it as surely and unconsciously as one uses his feet to walk with. Her playing at present has the clearness and innocence of a brook; if she can get something of the sea into her feeling she will be big. The music Carol Robinson gives is not so far the expression of some incredible longing to make the piano serve as an outlet. It is natural and beautiful—and absolutely untroubled. It is articulate and yet it has not acquired a meaning. It is without a hint of intensity. Carol Robinson has the most interesting part of the struggle before her—the part for which her genius for hard work is merely a preparation: what does she want to say through the piano?

James Whittaker’s music is very personal, very sensitive, very charming, and very marked by good taste. It is by far the most musical playing I have heard in Chicago. Mr. Whittaker went to Berlin to study and then to Paris, where he finished and became an ardent exponent of the French school. His technical equipment is not the perfect tool that Carol Robinson’s is; by which I don’t mean that it is at all inadequate, but somehow you feel that he is always conscious of the demands he puts upon it and that it sometimes leaves him unsatisfied. His theory is that most of the methods taught outside the French Conservatoire are “short cuts”; but his work suggests that he succeeds in spite of his theory. For he does succeed in the one great essential: in making music. His relation to the piano is a dedication, and his music is vibrant with feeling. His tone production is a pressure with a fine nervousness in it, and he has the real “pearl” quality in his scales. His Chopin is perhaps, as he himself says, a little “scientific.” His César Franck just misses being deep enough. He is at his best in quite modern French music, or in a thing like Grieg’s Cradle Song which he plays very, very beautifully. Brahms he doesn’t want to play, I imagine; but the breadth that Brahms requires and gives is the very quality that would make what James Whittaker has to say (and is saying very charmingly) a bigger and deeper thing.

M. C. A.

With Kreisler

Four weeks in the Trenches, by Fritz Kreisler. [Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.]

I had a big day with Ruby Davis, our Chicago little violinist, out in the country, roaming, climbing, racing, conversing, but not talking. Talk we left behind us, in the city drawing-rooms. Between pranks and escapades we found rest in sitting side by side and reading Kreisler’s war impressions. I knew that Ruby worshipped Fritz, but his reflections on the book of the violinist have shown me that in addition to admiration he possesses critical perception. We delighted in the pages written with spontaneous beauty, without pose, without the banal superstructure of sentimental colors, but revealing a tense, vibrating, virile artistic heart, reservedly sensitive to bloody horrors as well as to imperceptible impressions of human emotions concealed beneath the dehumanizing military uniform. Ruby called my attention to the fact that only such an artist as Kreisler could have had a broad non-professional outlook on men and things, an artist of unusual versatility, of a wide education, of rich experiences in various fields of life. Yet, he added, only the keen, delicate ear of a musician could have perceived the symphonic sounds on the battle-field and in the trenches, as, for instance, in this passage:

My ear, accustomed to differentiate sounds of all kinds, had some time ago, while we were still advancing, noted a remarkable discrepancy in the peculiar whine produced by the different shells in their rapid flight through the air as they passed over our heads, some sounding shrill, with a rising tendency, and the other rather dull, with a falling cadence. A short observation revealed the fact that the passing of a dull sounding shell was invariably preceded by a flash from one of our own cannon in the rear on the hill, which conclusively proved it to be an Austrian shell. It must be understood that as we were advancing between the positions of the Austrian and Russian artillery, both kinds of shells were passing over our heads. As we advanced the difference between shrill and dull shell grew less and less perceptible, until I could hardly tell them apart. Upon nearing the hill the difference increased again more and more until on the hill itself it was very marked. After our trench was finished I crawled to the top of the hill until I could make out the flash of the Russian guns on the opposite heights and by timing flash and actual passing of the shell, found to my astonishment that now the Russian missiles had become dull, while on the other hand, the shrill sound was invariably heralded by a flash from one of our guns, now far in the rear. What had happened was this: Every shell describes in its course a parabolic line, with the first half of the curve being ascending and the second one descending. Apparently in the first half of its curve, that is, its course while ascending, the shell produced a dull whine accompanied by a falling cadence, which changes to a rising shrill as soon as the acme has been reached and the curve points downward again. The acme for both kinds of shells naturally was exactly the half distance between the Austrian and Russian artillery and this was the point where I had noticed that the difference was the least marked. A few days later, in talking over my observation with an artillery officer, I was told the fact was known that the shells sounded different going up than when going down, but this knowledge was not used for practical purposes. When I told him that I could actually determine by the sound the exact place where a shell coming from the opposing batteries was reaching its acme, he thought that this would be of great value in a case where the position of the opposing batteries was hidden and thus could be located. He apparently spoke to his commander about me, for a few days later I was sent on a reconnoitering tour, with the object of marking on the map the exact spot where I thought the hostile shells were reaching their acme, and it was later on reported to me that I had succeeded in giving to our batteries the almost exact range of the Russian guns. I have gone into the matter at some length, because it is the only instance where my musical ear was of value during my service.

Ruby kept on explaining Kreisler while we were making our way through picturesque ravines. Then we stormed a steep bluff that made a difficult climb, and I had to pull and push my gentle co-adventurer. “Be brave, little Kreisler!” He turned to me with serious eyes, and proceeded to point out the greatness of his god, who throughout the book does not even once show any national narrowness or hatred for the enemy, who speaks with equal sympathy of the Russians and of the Austrians, who relates his terrible experiences in the swampy trenches in such a calm, modest tone, making your heart bleed with sorrow for the hardships and suffering of the belligerents. What a terrible calamity it would have been had the Cossack slashed Kreisler’s hand instead of his leg! Ruby smiled with joy reading the last page in which the violinist regrets that he had been pronounced “invalid and physically unfit for armed duty” and had “to discard his well-beloved uniform for the nondescript garb of the civilian.” Ruby does not share his big brother’s regret.


Book Discussion

Quasi-Rationalistic Moralizing

Criticisms of Life, by Horace Bridges. [Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.]

Some time ago, at a meeting of the Book and Play Club, Mr. Bridges complained against The Little Review wherein a certain book was criticised and labeled “naive and dull as the sermon of an Ethical Society preacher.” “Ladies and gentlemen, I am naive and dull!” protested Mr. Bridges. The reviewer of that unfortunate book, who happened to be present, expressed his surprise at the complainer’s unmodest assumption that those epithets were meant for him, as if he had monopolized the characteristic features of all ethical preachers. Now that Mr. Bridges’ book is out, the reviewer wishes to make amends and apologize; verily, the distinguished preacher was justified in claiming the honorary titles.

The author analyzes his problems through the prism of empirico-pragmatic rationalism, if such a combination is thinkable. Whether it be Chesterton’s theological views, or Ellen Key’s marriage theory, or Maeterlinck’s mysticism, or Sir Lodge’s ideas on immortality—the author applies to them the same apparatus for testing their validity and truth: Are they provable? Are they workable? Are they in harmony with Mr. Bridges’s ethical standard? A few citations will illustrate the critic’s method and sense of humor.

He takes Gilbert Chesterton very seriously, and indignantly reproves him for such typically Chestertonian offences as misquoting his opponents, as paradoxical buffooneries, “unpardonable tricks” and “inexcusable mistakes”; he offers him a few lessons in theology, explains to him in an earnest tone the meaning of miracles, the Fall of Man, and finally comes to the astounding discovery that the readers “will see in Mr. Chesterton’s amateur apologetics nothing but a psychological curiosity, to be read, like his novels, for amusement, in some slight degree perhaps for edification, but not at all for instruction.” Horribile dictu!

Mr. Bridges’s heaviest cannon are directed against Ellen Key. He totally destroys her and Shaw’s opposition to marriage with one humorous stroke, arguing that if that institution were really bad it would either have destroyed humanity, or the revolted conscience of mankind would have “risen and annihilated the abominable thing.” This optimistic argument needs as little comment as the author’s logical conclusion that “free love” is equivalent to prostitution and that free divorce is synonymous with adultery, or as these pearls:

I am decidedly of opinion that in a more enlightened age divorce will be as completely obsolete as duelling is to-day in England.

I am opposed to divorce on this ground (incompatibility of temper) for two reasons: first, because if people’s tempers are really so incompatible as to make their lifelong companionship intolerable, they can, and therefore ought to, know this in time to prevent their union. And, secondly, because such incompatibility as can remain entirely concealed before marriage cannot possibly be so great but that it may be overcome and harmonized after marriage by means of proper self-discipline and true grasp of the idea of duty.

No soldier would be pardoned for deserting from the army on the ground that he found his temper hopelessly incompatible with that of his comrades and his officers. No party to a business contract would be absolved from observing its terms upon any such consideration.

The right to renounce marriage because of unhappiness would logically involve the right to commit suicide for the same reason.... Who are we that we should repudiate the universe because it will not devote itself to securing our petty pleasures and happinesses?... Marriage, like every other great social ordinance, is instituted not primarily to secure our happiness, but to enable us to discharge our duty, in the matter of the perpetuation and spiritual development of the human species.

I am confident that the reader will appreciate the reviewer’s gallantry in not taking issue with the quoted statements: it would be too easy a task to exercise one’s humor over such threadbare niceties. My only apology for devoting so much space to Mr. Bridges’s book is the fact that Mr. Bridges is one of the moulders of public opinion in Chicago, hence ... I shall owe one more apology for my unrestrainable desire to quote the closing lines of the author’s sermon on the War:

May she (this country) preserve her unity, and that nobly disinterested foreign policy manifested, to the admiration of all Europe (indeed!!) in Cuba and Mexico: so that, when the vials of apocalyptic wrath beyond the seas are spent, she may enter to motion peace—the welcome arbitress of Europe’s dissensions, the trusted daughter, first of England, but in lesser degree of all the nations now at strife, called in to cover their shame and to mediate the purgation of their sins.

Hm—but I promised to refrain from comments.


Sophomoric Maeterlinck

Poems, by Maurice Maeterlinck. [Dodd, Mead and Company, New York.]

The publisher of Maeterlinck’s Poems states apologetically that there has been a demand for a complete edition of the Belgian’s works, hence his justification in publishing a translation of the poems that originally appeared twenty years ago. The service rendered thereby to the author is of doubtful value: great writers are inclined to forget their youthful follies; as far as the English reading public is concerned the little book may be of some interest as a pale suggestion of an early stage in the development of Maeterlinck’s talent. I say a pale suggestion, for with all the conscientious labor of the translator the poems Anglicised have lost their chief, if not sole value—their Verlainean musicalness. If as a verslibrist Maeterlinck was obviously influenced by Whitman, his rhymed verses bear the unmistakable stamp of the poet who preached: “De la musique avant toute chose.... De la musique encore et toujours!” Back in the eighties Maeterlinck belonged to the Belgian group of Symbolists, who, like Elskamp, Rodenbach, van Lerberghe, Verhaeren, reflected the French school which began with Baudelaire and culminated through Rimbaud and Verlaine in Mallarmé. Yet, unlike his great friend, Verhaeren, the Mystic of Silence directed his genius into a different channel and abandoned verse as a medium of expression. In the collected poems, the Serres Chaudes and the Chansons, despite the mentioned influences, we discover the Maeterlinckian key-note—the languor of the oppressed soul, helplessly inactive in “a hot-house whose doors are closed forever.” We are dazzled frequently with such beautiful lines as “O blue monotony of my heart!”; “Green as the sea temptations creep”; “the purple snakes of dream”; “O nights within my humid soul”; “My hands, the lilies of my soul, Mine eyes, the heavens of my heart.” A friend confessed to me that these similes reminded him of Bodenheim; to be sure, this compliment should be laid at the door of the translator.


The Great American Novel.

The Harbor, by Ernest Poole. [The Macmillan Company, New York.]

In America today, other things being equal, that novelist first achieves success who writes—let us say—of the social fabric, rather than of the eternal verities. Thus, in the case of two undoubtedly great artists, John Galsworthy and Joseph Conrad, the former had to wait but half the latter’s time before he came to enjoy real popularity.

And so it is not difficult to understand the noteworthy and deserved success of The Harbor—a book so good that one would be inclined to wonder if it could become popular. Mr. Poole writes with charm and a passionate earnestness of the growth through young manhood of his hero. He knows the New York water-front well and it furnishes an original and interesting background. The boy goes through college, to Europe for a happy year or two and returns to become a successful magazine writer—a worshipper at the shrine of “big” men. Gradually his social conscience is awakened and his entire life is transformed—his allegiance is transferred from the presidents of the corporations who own the steamers to the striking stokers and their fellows. On the whole the picture is impressively convincing and Mr. Poole has caught in his pages much of the most glowing thought of idealistic youth.

His work is so very good that criticism may appear ungracious—still, if one may be allowed: some of the young men at college speak Mr. Poole’s thoughts and not their own. College men do not think as Mr. Poole would have you believe they do—at least not until a year or two after they have graduated. And isn’t Eleanore, the hero’s wife, just a little too perfect—even for the role she has to play? How well an amiable weakness would become her! Finally, The Harbor has the commonest fault of almost all first novels that have for their subject the social fabric: there is too much thought (or too little action)—the author wants to give his opinion on all the things he has ever seriously thought about.

When Mr. Poole has tempered his fine seriousness with just a little more of the creative artist’s austerity he will produce a greater novel than The Harbor, and one that will fulfill the splendid promise of this first book.

Alfred A. Knopf.

The $10,000 Play

Children of Earth: A Play of New England, by Alice Brown. [The Macmillan Company, New York.]

Frankly, I do not like the spectacle of a collection of New Englanders, well past middle age, splashing about in a puddle of sex. And that is what Children of Earth is. Of course sex is interesting—most of the time; New Englanders are interesting sometimes (especially when as skilfully drawn as Miss Brown draws them); but the combination is rather too much.

In the first place what happens to these people of Miss Brown’s play never seems of any real importance—it isn’t simply that they are unsympathetic. Nor need one believe for a moment in the old idea that in true tragedy the great must suffer. But at least either the great or the typical must, and I cannot feel that these children of earth are either. The play is well enough done; it may be compounded of fact; but I doubt if it exhibits that finer thing by far—truth. How much better work might Winthrop Ames’ money have purchased.

Alfred A. Knopf.

American Thought, by Woodbridge Riley. [Henry Holt and Company, New York.]

A historical analysis of American philosophical theories, from Puritanism to New Realism, through the stages of Idealism, Deism, Materialism, Realism, Transcendentalism, Evolutionism, and Pragmatism. The work lacks the strict impartiality of a text-book, which it evidently intends to be. The author reveals a tendency to prove that American thought has developed independently of European influences; this appears to be true to a certain extent in regard to Pragmatism, as the philosophy of practicality.

The Poetry of A. E.

Collected Poems, by A. E. [The Macmillan Company, New York.]

A friend of mine once expressed pained surprise on hearing that A. E. was among the poets I delighted to read. Having just heard me dissent from occultism, he could not understand how one who did not believe in theosophy, esoteric Buddhism, or any of the many modern forms of Mumbo-jumboism could possibly take delight in a poet who, according to him, was a theosophist, or revere poems which had first appeared in a theosophical journal.

Poetry, however, is not a record of one’s beliefs; it is a record of one’s experiences; and while the existence of God may be asserted and just as easily disproved, in the medium of rhyming language, there is no question of poetry involved. But it is equally true that when a poet describes a spiritual experience, though he may draw his images from Neo-Platonic philosophy, Christian tradition or even the animatism of the primitive poets, there is no question of theological belief implied.

When, therefore, we open Mr. Russell’s book at random, as I actually did when this volume reached me, and come across the following lines, we must be blind to a wide-spread experience of mankind if we cannot see that it expresses poetic truth as well as poetic beauty:


The winds, the stars, and the skies, though wrought

By the heavenly King, yet know it not;

And the man who moves in the twilight dim

Feels not the love that encircles him,

Though in heart, on bosom, and eyelids press

Lips of an infinite tenderness,

He turns away through the dark to roam

Nor heeds the fire in his hearth and home.

But Mr. Russell’s mysticism—and mysticism, being an attitude rather than an intellectual belief, is something that is legitimately expressible in poetry, and is moreover something that Mr. Russell constantly and beautifully expresses—is no mere world-flight. Even the Beatific Vision he would only accept on terms becoming a man whose life is implicated in humanity. Hence, under the title of Love we find him singing:

Ere I lose myself in the vastness and drowse myself with the peace,

While I gaze on the light and beauty afar from the dim homes of men,

May I still feel the heart-pang and pity, love-ties that I would not release;

May the voices of sorrow appealing call me back to their succor again.

Ere I storm with the tempest of power the thrones and dominions of old,

Ere the ancient enchantment allure me to roam through the star-misty skies,

I would go forth as one who has reaped well what harvest the earth may unfold;

May my heart be o’erbrimmed with compassion; on my brow be the crown of the wise.

I would go as the dove from the ark, sent forth with wishes and prayers,

To return with the paradise blossoms that bloom in the Eden of light:

When the deep star-chant of the seraphs I hear in the mystical airs,

May I capture one tone of their joy for the sad ones discrowned in the night.

Not alone, not alone would I go to my rest in the heart of the love:

Were I tranced in the innermost beauty, the flame of its tenderest breath,

I would still hear the cry of the fallen recalling me back from above,

To go down to the side of the people who weep in the shadow of death.

One of Mr. Russell’s poems suggests in its very first line a lyric from Shelley’s Hellas, and the two poems form an interesting contrast between the temperaments of the poet of sentimental Platonism and this later singer who adds to Shelley’s lyric vision a firmer stationing on the substance of earth. While Shelley began on a high note of joy that

The world’s great age begins anew,

The golden years return, ...

but ends on the note of disenchantment:

O, cease! must hate and death return?

Cease! must men kill and die?

Cease! Drain not to its dregs the urn

Of bitter prophecy.

The world is weary of the past;

Oh, might it die or rest at last!

—while Shelley thus descends, Mr. Russell in The Twilight of Earth begins more or less where Shelley left off with:

The wonder of the world is o’er,

The magic from the sea is gone;

There is no unimagined shore,

No islet yet to venture on.

The Sacred Hazel’s blooms are shed,

The Nuts of Knowledge harvested.

Oh, what is worth this lore of age

If time shall never bring us back

Our battle with the gods to wage,

Reeling along the starry track.

The battle rapture here goes by

In warring upon things that die.

Let be the tale of him whose love

Was sighed between white Deidre’s breasts;

It will not lift the heart above

The sodden clay on which it rests.

Love once had power the gods to bring

All rapt on its wild wandering.

But while

The Paradise of memories

Grows fainter day by day ...

there is no need to cease from life or from aspiration on that account:

The power is ours to make or mar

Our fate as on the earliest morn,

The Darkness and the Radiance are

Creatures within the spirit born.

Yet, bathed in gloom too long, we might

Forget how we imagined light.

Not yet are fixed the prison bars;

The hidden light the spirit owns

If blown to flame would dim the stars

And they who rule them from their thrones:

And the proud sceptred spirits thence

Would bow to pay us reverence.

Oh, while the glory sinks within

Let us not wait on earth behind,

But follow where it flies, and win

The glow again, and we may find

Beyond the Gateways of the Day

Dominion and ancestral sway.

While in few or none of these poems is mystic thought absent it is never present at the expense of poetry, and many of the poems find in nature both their occasion and their material. A. E.’s vision is preeminently for the evanescent aspect of things, especially for the colors of the changes that come over earth and firmament. The poem beginning

When the breath of twilight blows to flame the misty skies,

All its vaporous sapphire, violet glow and silver gleam,

With their magic flood me through the gateway of the eyes;

I am one with the twilight’s dream.

is typical of his response to the vision of the outer world.

The same sturdy sense of actual values that leads Mr. Russell to write prose works on co-operation and nationality, seeing in these matters no less than in religious ecstasy the ground for the free life of man, is evident in the poem On Behalf of Some Irishmen not Followers of Tradition. But lest sturdy commonsense be thought a grotesque piece of praise for a poem, let me add that it is a commonsense illuminated by the purest idealism. How close to earth this idealism moves is shown in the little sketch In Connemara describing the peasant girl:

With eyes all untroubled she laughs as she passes,

Bending beneath the creel with the seaweed brown ...

and enmeshing her in the nature mysticism of her race and country.

William Morris somewhere speaks of the cultured man as one who is in sympathy with past and present and future—a contrast indeed to much latter-day doctrine—and one is reminded of the phrase by this poet who with such lyrical skill not only embodies all three for us, but knits them together in that unity which alone can bestow on man the values of life which are timeless.

Llewellyn Jones.

The Reader Critic

A Chicago Reader:

I don’t like what The Little Review or any one else I have read says about Sanine. Too analytic, too professional.... Whatever all the worthies say about the book being dangerous, it will not affect any soul a jot if he is not already afflicted.

What I can say is very inferior critically—only a hurried resume of images after I had finished:

A garden like a dull green cloud descended to earth, twilight skies with supple moving figures, gardens kaleidoscopic, hills covered with woods, odors of leaves and grasses, a dark abandoned slimy wolf cavern of counterfeiters, dew-laden grass, shadows, dusk, whispers, eyes in the gloom, skies pale green with faint silver stars and dark birds, night fluttering bats, gardens filled with the melody of nightingales, a little dying frog, lush river banks with wet reeds bending, mysterious wood nymph smiles, mystic rays of sunlight illuminating frail flowers, crimson morning-starred heavens, woods and streams with lithe shining bodies of humans transformed into nymphs and satyrs—a storm that almost breathes of the one in the Pastoral Symphony and Sanine in a flash of lightning is revealed apostrophizing it.

It hurts and one shrinks into one’s skeleton to think that perhaps a setting is obviously made in order to be to the spirit of voluptuous indulgence. But that feeling goes, because it is the objective thing after all—the colors and odors and atmosphere remain.

Three Women

F. Guy Davis, Chicago:

There is one kind of worker active in the life of today whose work is not often regarded in the light of art. There is a good reason for this in the fact that the work they are attempting is so vast and vague in character that many people do not even know it is being undertaken. They cannot understand effort on such a scale that the final completed work, if it is ever to be completed, will be nothing less than a new social order, a new conception of social values, actualizing itself in the shape of finer cities and grander and braver citizens on a world scale.

There are various groups of men and women in this work of reconstruction, some compactly organized, others not, some more militant in their attitude and some less so, but all tending in the same direction toward a better, freer, and fuller social life. This movement is confused and uncertain as far as a definite structural goal is concerned because of the contradictory and sometimes seemingly antagonistic elements that go to make it up. Some of the groups have specific architectural plans which they defend with the artist’s passion against all other plans, or against no plan; but the movement as a whole is pragmatic and makes its plans as it goes along, and whatever may be the outcome the aim is at a better world, a world of beauty and goodness in the deepest meaning of those terms.

If the modern feminists understood great women, which they do not often do, they would contend that there is a great significance in the fact that three women stand out prominently in this movement and in a measure at least are representative of three groups which more or less dominate the whole. Listing them according to age,—for on any other basis comparisons are difficult, each being effective in her own sphere,—Mother Jones, Emma Goldman, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn are social artists, working in different directions, yet in the same direction, now seeming to exclude each other entirely, and now, no doubt, sustaining each other in spirit across the separating gaps in the common purpose, just as old age, middle age, and youth do sometimes in life, or just as three mountains may have separate and distinct characters and yet be a part of the same range.

Old Mother Jones is a “character.” In her eighty-two years she has seen life’s storm, has lived its hope, fear, love, and hate, and has mastered it. She will die happy with the knowledge that she did her part in the fight for better things, which she may not see but which she believes are coming.

Emma Goldman is at the height of her creative effort, breaking down the stone walls of prejudice and superstition, freeing minds from the grip of the past, preparing the soil for new harvests of life and beauty. She sees mankind on the rack in the agony of a herculean struggle. Giant social forces jostle each other in their efforts for recognition in her consciousness. Her attitude toward the revolutionary movement reminds one of the picture of the Earth in Meredith’s poem Earth and Man—“Her fingers dint the breast which is his well of strength, his home of rest.” She senses the stirring of new life in the race’s womb and she fears a bit, for she sees clearly the possibilities of a tragic miscarriage or a premature birth.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn is the young Diana of the labor movement. Strong, full of hope, past the fear which accompanies all beginnings, facing the future with the courage and confidence of a youth fully launched on its career and enjoying the sense of growing understanding and power.

The redeemers of life are those in whose natures this spirit of the creator lives, whether it expresses itself in the labor movement or in the studio; and there is a significance in the fact that all three of these leaders come from one class, the workers. The interest in the movement is not by any means confined to the laboring classes, so-called, but the real dynamic power back of the movement, the steam which drives it on, does come from this class; and it is more than a coincidence that these three women should all belong to it, for the vital power, the staying quality which is the condition of real leadership, seems to have been nearly cornered by the laboring elements.

Mother Jones has broad organizational affiliations. The great massive groups which go to make up the American Federation of Labor are with her, generally speaking, and lend her moral support and financial aid. Her own age and the splendid organization of her mentality are in keeping with the corresponding qualities in the A. F. of L.

Emma Goldman stands alone as far as organizations are concerned, like so many great artists in other fields, always an isolated figure of heroic beauty, always the creator, lifting the world in spite of itself.

Miss Flynn is a part of the Industrial Workers of the World, that body of roughneck rebels which carries such promising seeds in its revolutionary young heart. Her youth and promise symbolize the possibilities of the I. W. W.

But to return to the idea of the social artist. What splendid compensations there must be in their work! To feel that they are part of an historic movement for a new world of beauty and harmony, such as the utopians have dreamed of through all history from Plato to Bellamy and Howells, a work which accelerates its speed and power as it draws more and more to its ranks the idealists of all countries and all classes. Is it not better for them that they know they will probably not see its completion, that it may take centuries? They will never be disillusioned as long as they hold to the inner faith. “To travel hopefully is better than to arrive”—and here surely is a journey, the end of which will not be reached tomorrow. As to the ultimate outcome, why doubt it? The race has millions of years ahead of it.

On the personal side each one of the three has her own unique charm. Mother Jones is a mother indeed. Her attitude toward “her boys” is more than motherly; it is grand-motherly. The sweetness and childishness of age, however, a sort of a sunset glow of real warmth and virility radiates from her. She enjoys the privileges of age, and they are many to those who know how to accept them gracefully as she does. Miss Flynn enjoys the privileges of youth, which she likewise accepts with a poise and an ease all her own. Emma Goldman has neither the privileges of youth nor those of age. She is at that point in her development when in the nature of life she must meet the challenge of the outer world alone, when “the soul is on the waters and must sink or swim of its own strength.” And yet, no doubt because of this very fact, she craves companionship with a passion that sometimes has a quality of blue flame. Middle age has few privileges and many responsibilities. Life is fair, however, to the normal individual. It pays in advance to youth and afterward as well to age, but it demands service of those who are in their prime.

To understand these personalities and others of their kind is to understand much of life, possibly as much as the individual consciousness in its present form can ever understand. To know of their struggles is to feel that one knows history in the making. It is not necessary to endorse, but to fail to catch the spirit of their work is to be unprepared for the possible changes which seem to be more or less imminent in the social and industrial U. S. A. as in the world at large.



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May, 1915

This Number will be entirely devoted—apart from the Editorial—to the works of the young Anglo-American group of poets, known as “The Imagists,” and will contain:

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Transcriber’s Notes

Advertisements were collected at the end of the text.

The table of contents on the title page was adjusted in order to reflect correctly the headings in this issue of The Little Review.

The original spelling was mostly preserved. A few obvious typographical errors were silently corrected. All other changes are shown here (before/after):