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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.
G. R. Lomer, ed. The Student’s Course in Literature.

Early Twentieth-Century Poetry

By Dorothy Brewster (1883–1979)

I. English and American

“PUBLISHING a book of verse,” a newspaper wit said recently, “is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and listening for the echo.” Contributory to the revival implied are a half-dozen poetry magazines, several national poetry societies, one trader of rhymes for bread, the poet on reading tours, and that advertisement by which the voice of the writer is heard in the Grand Central Palace and the department store. One expects, then, a complexity of interests.

The accent of twentieth-century poetry, in contrast to that of the æsthetes and erotics of the eighteen-nineties, is humanitarian. This outlook on affairs had been gathering itself through the work of established poets who were in 1900 still contributing. With Kipling’s, and Riley’s, attention to the common man, the new century inherited democracy from Edwin Markham and Richard Burton, and reform in the interests of Gilder. Early to speak in these interests was the 1901 volume of William Vaughn Moody. ‘Gloucester Moors’ serves at the start to show what alliance with beauty the humanitarians have made to save their purpose. In ‘The Singing Man’ Miss Peabody pleads for “the day of some more equal portion.” The ‘Indignation Ode’ of Lascelles Abercrombie, the work of James Stephens, and the indictments of Gilbert Chesterton witness the English protest. Of these the speculative and lucent thinker is Lascelles Abercrombie, who sees the goal of evolution in a rapture which will know itself without the contrast of pain. James Stephens, in ‘A Prelude and a Song,’ voices a not dissimilar faith in human destiny, and the onward-looking Christianity of Alfred Noyes is harmonious.

But neither the “soft evangel of equality” nor infant science’s toy, the Race, are reason, E. A. Robinson says, for launching other souls toward a manifest end of ashes if we have truly no faith in spiritual whisperings. Harold Monro, on the other hand, affirms, after quests for a really satisfactory God, the divine in realities. So, though there is devotional poetry, the world is to the significant poets a very fair place—the rose that is “heaven to smell” in ‘The Mystery’ of Ralph Hodgson who hymns, in his ‘Song of Honour,’ the coming of the spiritual through the material. Both worlds edge the vision of Miss Macaulay. And Miss Branch, increasing Blake’s eyesight through mathematics and science, sees infinity in a grain of sand or Uriel in a pot washer.

Walter de la Mare, who may be intangibly a mystic, is a vegetarian fed on honey dew. Therefore his verse is haunted. More familiar spirits peep into the lyrics of Fannie Stearns Davis. But though she perceives the colors given to very few of us to see, she warns us that the original of her satyr bairn was a flat-heeled Old Maid. De la Mare and Miss Macaulay both depict the creatures with a loving fidelity. Indeed, this sympathy is the nature poet’s contribution to the humanitarian movement, and ascends to Ridgely Torrence’s impassioned ‘Threnody on the Hunting Season.’ But there is landscape poetry, too—in Olive Dargan’s work, or the ‘Grantchester’ of Rupert Brooke. More bucolic, and humorous, are Miss Macaulay’s ‘St. Mark’s Day’ and Mrs. Wood’s ‘Marlborough Fair.’ ‘Stillwater Pastorals’ are the poetry of a farmer. And we boast a stray Elizabethan and a tramp cavalier in Miss Reese and W. H. Davies. For the sea, too, go to Davies, or to Masefield and Flecker. Bliss Carman’s latest volume shows him still the nature poet. But there is one to question all other claims to that title, for Madison Cawein wrote nature poetry quite unadulterated.

This, we hear, is the age of the child. Certainly, the singing of childhood continues over from the past decade. The best-known poets do it, and of their work De la Mare’s songs are not second in charm.

Richard Le Gallienne, having abandoned his former manner, is happily capable, whether for a music of conscious art such as ‘A Caravan from China Comes,’ or the direct feeling of ‘An Invitation.’ John Davidson, in the midst of humanitarian “testaments,” kept to the end an unimpaired lyrical gift. Mrs. Woods and Alice Meynell were some time ago established in anthologies. Edith Thomas has described herself—she is one of the true Bacchanals. “Hardy Annuals” is Louis Untermeyer’s term for Wheelock, Miss Garrison, Zoe Akins, and Towne. In her ‘Little Gray Songs,’ Grace Norton’s work is at its best. Joyce Kilmer is a lyrist of individuality. And in all changing moods, Sara Teasdale is the poet of love. Miss Peabody’s work is less personal and more aërial, with the ease of song. But for singing, as we knew already, we look to Miss Reese. Miss Widdemer is a new poet with a range of theme and metrical skill. And approaching our world now from their legend and romance, come the poignant and infallibly wrought lyrics of the Irishers. Only once or twice, as in ‘The Mystic’ of Cale Young Rice, or ‘End and Beginning,’ Miss Burr’s invocation to Baldur the spirit of light and freedom, does this decade inherit from the last anything of Miss Guiney’s clangor.

William Watson’s ‘Sonnets to Miranda’ invest the heroine of them with a baronial character. John O’Hara, Mahlon Fisher, Corinne Robinson, and Arthur Ficke are making effective and finished sonnets. For quiet perfection of craftsmanship, Thomas Jones has for some time held attention. John Masefield and Olive Dargan use the Shakespearian form. The long fusing, or confusing, of the types is complete in the work of writers who do not hesitate to finish a Shakespearian sonnet with an Italian sestet, or to use one Shakespearian quatrain in an Italian octave. (Well, too many think a Shakespearian sonnet has an octave!) This freedom triumphs for the moment by virtue of Rupert Brooke’s fame. An example like ‘The Hill,’ praised by sonnetteers as impeccable as Professor Woodberry, acquits the license of caprice.

For the very short poem, the later work of Father Tabb, a distinguished lapidary, belongs here. Robert Loveman’s was a pretty accomplishment with the eight-line poem. And Ridgely Torrence has treated the quatrain (in sequence) with a neat whimsicality. Brian Hooker is the inventor of a seven-line form, ‘The Turn,’ in which the idea turns upon the recurrence of the refrain at the end with a different sense. ‘The Cinquain,’ an unrhymed five-line poem containing a dynamic mood or thought, is the invention of Adelaide Crapsey. She has written bits of requiem which are unforgettable. Hodgson, with sometimes Emily Dickinson’s cadence, makes a mystic of the small poem. Many of the latest poets tend to briefest expression; for instance, the ‘Hellenica’ of O’Brien, Aldington’s ‘Images’ and certain of Kreymborg’s “mushrooms.” But these belong to the school of free forms.

The notable poem of the Shakespeare year is a dramatic monologue, ‘Ben Jonson Entertains a Man from Stratford,’ by E. A. Robinson, a psychologist whose studies have the deftness and delight of familiar verse. His ‘Lincoln’ and that of Edwin Markham remain from the centenary. Two memorial poems, Towne’s ‘The Quiet Singer,’ on Francis Thompson, and MacKaye’s ‘Uriel,’ on Moody, have distinction. Moody’s ‘Ode in Time of Hesitation’ is idealistic patriotism of permanent value. Among his odes, George Sterling has one on the centenary of Robert Browning which has been much praised. Bridges, in his later work, several times uses the ode. Elsa Barker’s ‘The Frozen Grail’ and ‘Breshkovskaya’ are memorable tributes to discovery and patriotism. As an occasional poet, Percy MacKaye takes high place.

Romance flows as a source. Of course, Greek legend has an influence. But in the pictorial work of Clinton Scollard, Oriental influence is most potent. A poet who has partaken much of both is James Elroy Flecker. Perhaps a larger factor has been Celtic. And it is significant that Yeats in his later poetry has turned to contemporary things.

The narrative forms have come again into being. Besides the patriotic and romantic ballads of Scollard, Robinson’s ‘Captain Craig’ contains unusual ballad and narrative. There is a unique combination of actuality and poetry in ‘The Horse Thief’ of William Rose Benét, an indigenous account of a cowboy Bellerophon. Neihardt’s ‘Hugh Glass,’ an epic tale of the Northwest, has won favorable comparison with both Noyes and Masefield. Arthur Guiterman’s mock ballad of a department store, ‘The Quest of the Riband,’ outdoes the Hursts and Ferbers. In the ‘Drake’ of Alfred Noyes, blank verse narrative attains the heroic, and his ‘Tales of the Mermaid Tavern’ illustrate again his preference for the past of England. Masefield began his fame as a realist, with ‘The Everlasting Mercy.’ And in a poem out of brutal material, he uses Chaucer’s stanza, which ought to make ‘The Widow in the Bye Street’ read like a bad dream. He employs rime royal again in the less characteristic ‘Daffodil Fields’ and in his unsurpassed sea story, ‘Dauber,’ where it contributes no little to the effect of striving ideality.

To the poetry of the war Masefield and Percy MacKaye are in two senses first contributors. Of answers to ‘The Hymn of Hate’ that of the virulent “X” is ominous, and Miss Cone’s the most spirited. Alan Seeger expresses the proud heroism of one who takes part in a fatalistic drama. Flecker’s ‘Burial in England’ and ‘God Save the King’ render the patriotic service he might not. But Rupert Brooke is the poet who interprets the sacrifice. Then there is the Tommy’s viewpoint, as in Lance-Corporal Lee’s ballads. But much of the war poetry is peace poetry. Harvey Watts gives in a soliloquy by Cæsar Borgia a study of the statecraft which led to the war, and Colcord writes of the underlying social wrongs. Miss Peabody puts into the mouths of wolves and vultures her canorous lament for human nature, ‘Men Have Wings at Last.’

And now Vachel Lindsay, in his better-known poems a traditional rhymer, has startled the times with his ‘Calliope Yell.’ He is the prophet of what he calls the Higher Vaudeville, a style of verse which exaggerates musical effect. He is unique in his taking over of democratic entertainment. But others are essaying musical effect. O’Brien uses the rhythms of the Gregorian plain chant in several odes. Amy Lowell and Alice Corbin have imitated violin music, and Amy Lowell has done one elaborate string quartette piece.

The Imagists, on the other hand, emphasize pictorial effect, rendering particulars exactly. Freedom in choice of subject, belief in the æsthetic value of life, and a principle of liberty in expression, suggest the variety of their writing. Amy Lowell is here both prophet and virtuoso. Vorticism is the extreme of the Imagist method; for instance, you go out to look at the ocean; your mood determines whether you see it as “cruel, crawling foam,” or “the cradle of the deep.” But whichever image your mood commands you express without more ado in a kind of equation. An example of this is a Japanese poem, “The footsteps of the cat upon the snow: plum blossoms.” In contrast, futurism in art leads to impressionism. The leading radical in verse is Ezra Pound. Kreymborg is the most successful poet of the school.

That the advertisements characterize the ‘Spoon River Anthology’ as a novel in verse is significant. And Robert Frost’s ‘North of Boston’ is reviewed by comparison with the work of the New England story writers. For these poets really depict in verse realism the life of their sections. Thomas Hardy, with an expression as individual as either, continues in verse the methods of his fiction.

Writing of this type is contributory to the revolutionary movement, which has been helped on by the humanitarians, and has found more direct contribution from such poems as Gibson’s on contemporary industrial life, and the challenge of Davies, Lindsay, Miss Widdemer, and Miss Mitchell to the “lying, dying code.” Of this idealism, Witter Bynner’s heroine, Celia, is the incarnation. But the leaders of the social revolutionists are Louis Untermeyer and James Oppenheim; and they are, with Edward Carpenter and Lincoln Colcord, inheritors from Whitman’s verse and democracy. Until nations, Colcord urges, are willing to vote the millions for social reform which they do for war, war will go on; for brotherhood has not come.

The Humanitarians. Lascelles Abercrombie: Interludes and Poems, 1908; Emblems of Love, 1912. Dana Burnet, see below. Richard Burton: Lyrics of Brotherhood, 1899; Message and Melody, 1903. Gilbert Chesterton (below). Helen Gray Cone: Soldiers of the Light, 1911. John Davidson: The Testament of a Vivisector, 1901, to The Testament of John Davidson, 1908. John Erskine: The Shadowed Hour, 1917. Irene Macleod (below). Edwin Markham: The Shoes of Happiness, and Other Poems. Ruth Comfort Mitchell: The Night Court and Other Poems, 1916 (cir.). William Vaughn Moody: Poems, 1901. Alfred Noyes: The Wine Press, 1913; Collected Poems. Josephine Preston Peabody: The Singing Man, 1911; Harvest Moon, 1916. James Stephens: Insurrections, 1909; The Hill of Vision, 1912; Songs from the Clay, 1915. George Woodberry: The Flight, and Other Poems, 1914. See also under The Social Revolution.

Poets of Mysticism and Spiritual Problems. Anna Hempstead Branch: Rose of the Wind, and Other Poems, 1910; The Shoes That Danced, 1905. Ralph Hodgson: The Song of Honour, etc. (in Georgian Poetry, 1913–15). Benjamin Low: The House That Was, 1915 (cir.). Irene McLeod: Songs to Save a Soul. Harold Monro: Before Dawn, 1911; Children of Love, 1914. Rose Macaulay: The Two Blind Countries, 1914. E. A. Robinson: The Man against the Sky, 1916. Cale Young Rice: Far Quests; Many Gods. Evelyn Underhill: Immanence; Theophanies. Devotional Poetry. Alice Brown: The Road to Castaly. Gilbert Chesterton: Poems, 1915. John Oxenham: All’s Well; The King’s Highway.

Nature Poets. Bliss Carman: April Airs, 1916. Madison Cawein: Selected Poems, 1911. Grace Hazard Conkling (below). Olive Tilford Dargan: The Path Flower. W. H. Davies: Nature Poems, 1908, etc., in Collected Poems. Fannie Stearns Davis: Myself and I, 1913. Walter de la Mare: The Listeners, 1912, 1916; Peacock Pie, 1913, 1916. Norman Gale: Collected Poems, 1914 (cir.). John Russel Hayes: Molly Pryce (below). Ralph Hodgson: The Bull (Georgian Poets). Francis Ledwidge: Songs of the Fields, 1915. Rose Macaulay (above). Lizette Woodworth Reese: A Wayside Lute, 1909. Clinton Scollard: The Lyric Bough, 1904. Paul Shivell: Stillwater Pastorals. Ridgely Torrence (in The Little Book of Modern Verse). Margaret L. Woods: Collected Poems, 1914.

Singers of Childhood. Walter de la Mare: Songs of Childhood, 1902. Josephine Preston Peabody: The Book of the Little Past. James Whitcomb Riley: The Book of Joyous Children, 1902; Morning, 1907. Althea Randolph: A Shower of Verses. Clinton Scollard: A Boy’s Book of Rhyme, 1906. R. A. Sanborn, in Horizons.

The Lyric Writers. Zoe Akins: Interpretations, 1914. William Rose Benét: The Falconer of God, 1914. Amelia Josephine Burr: Life and Living, 1916. Alice Brown: The Road to Castaly. Florence Earle Coates: Collected Poems. Grace Hazard Conkling: Afternoons of April, 1915. Josephine Dodge Daskam: Poems. John Davidson: Holiday and Other Poems, 1906; Fleet Street and …, 1909. Fannie Stearns Davis: Crack o’ Dawn, 1915. John Drinkwater: Love and Earth, 1912. Theodosia Garrison: The Joy o’ Life. Louise Imogen Guiney: Happy Ending, 1909. Joyce Kilmer: Trees, and Other Poems, 1914. F. L. Knowles: Love Triumphant, 1904. Richard Le Gallienne: New Poems, 1910; The Lonely Dancer, and Other Poems, 1914. Alice Meynell: Collected Poems, 1913. Harold Monro (above). Grace Fallow Norton: Little Gray Songs from St. Joseph’s, 1912. Josephine Preston Peabody: The Singing Leaves, 1908. John Presland: Songs of Changing Skies, 1913. Lizette Woodworth Reese: A Wayside Lute, 1909. Charles G. D. Roberts: The Book of the Rose, 1903. Cale Young Rice: Far Quests, 1912. Charles Hanson Towne: Youth, and Other Poems, 1911; Today and Tomorrow, 1916. Sara Teasdale: Rivers to the Sea, 1915. Edith Thomas: The Dancers, and Other Lyrics, 1903; The Guest at the Gate, 1909. John Hall Wheelock: The Beloved Adventure. Margaret Widdemer: The Factories, and Other Lyrics, 1915. Florence Wilkinson: A Far Country, 1906. George Sylvester Viereck: The Candle and the Flame. Margaret Woods (above). The Irish Poets. James Cousins: Straight and Crooked, 1915. Joseph Campbell: The Mountainy Singer, 1909; Irishry, 1913. Padraic Colum: Wild Earth, 1907. Agnes Hanrahan: Aroun’ the Boreens, 1914 (cir.). Susan L. Mitchell: The Living Chalice, 1913. Shaemas O’Sheel: The Light Feet of Goats, 1915 (cir.). Seumas O’Sullivan: Poems, 1912. W. B. Yeats: The Green Helmet, 1910; Responsibilities, 1915. Ella Young: Poems, 1906. Poems of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood, 1916. The Sonnet. Rupert Brooke: Collected Poems, 1916. Olive Tilford Dargan: The Cycle’s Rim, 1916. Arthur D. Ficke: Sonnets of a Portrait Painter, 1914. Brian Hooker (below). J. M. O’Hara: Manhattan, 1916 (cir.). Mahlon Leonard Fisher (see Braithwaite Anthologies). Thomas S. Jones: The Rose Jar, 1st ed. 1906; 5th, 1915; The Voice in the Silence, 1911, 1915. Percy MacKaye: War Sonnets in The Present Hour, 1914. John Masefield: Sonnets, 1916; and in Good Friday, 1916. Corinne Roosevelt Robinson: One Woman to Another. William Watson: New Poems, 1909. G. E. Woodberry: Ideal Passion, 1917. Intaglio Poems. Adelaide Crapsey: Poems, 1915. Ralph Hodgson (see Georgian Poetry). Brian Hooker: Poems, 1915. Robert Loveman: The Gates of Silence, 1903; Songs from a Georgia Garden, 1904. J. B. Tabb: Later Lyrics, 1902. Ridgely Torrence: The House of a Thousand Lights, 1900. For Aldington, O’Brien, and Kreymborg see New Poetry. Memorial and Occasional Poetry, the Ode. Elsa Barker: The Frozen Grail, and Other Poems. Robert Bridges: Poetical Works, 1913. Percy MacKaye: Uriel, and Other Poems; The Present Hour, 1914. W. V. Moody (above). Henry van Dyke: The Grand Canyon, and Other Poems, 1914 (cir.). E. A. Robinson: The Town down the River, 1910; The Man against the Sky, 1916. George Sterling: Beyond the Breakers, 1914 (cir.). Charles Hanson Towne: The Quiet Singer, and Other Poems, 1914 (cir.). Margaret Wood (above). See The Little Book of Modern Verse.

The Romanticists. Greek Legend. Hermann Hagedorn: The Great Maze, 1916. Louis V. Ledoux: The Shadow of Ætna, 1914 (cir.). W. H. Percy: Sappho in Leukas, 1915 (cir.). Stephen Phillips: New Poems, 1907. Sara Teasdale: Helen of Troy, and Other Poems, 1911. Oriental. William Rose Benét: Merchants from Cathay, 1913. J. E. Flecker: Poems, 1916. Cale Young Rice: At the World’s Heart, 1914. Clinton Scollard: Poems (Selected), 1914. European. Eva Gore Booth: The Agate Lamp, 1912. James Cousins: The Quest, 1906. Brian Hooker: Poems, 1914. Cale Young Rice: Far Quests, 1912. E. H. Robinson, Merlin, 1917. Thomas Walsh: The Pilgrim King … Poems of Spain, 1915 (cir.). William Butler Yeats: In the Seven Woods, 1903; Poems, 1899–1905, 1906. See also under Narrative.

Ballad and Narrative. Conrad Aiken: Earth Triumphant, 1914. William Rose Benét: The Great White Wall, a Narrative of Tartary and Cathay, 1916; see also Braithwaite Anthology for 1917. Eva Gore Booth: The Triumph of Maeve, 1905. Amelia Josephine Burr: Poems, 1914 (cir.). James Cousins: Etain, the Beloved, 1912. Arthur Guiterman: The Laughing Muse, 1915. J. R. Hayes: Molly Pryce, a Quaker Idyll, 1915 (cir.). John Masefield: The Everlasting Mercy, 1911; The Widow in the Bye Street, 1912; The Story of a Round House (including Dauber), 1912; The Daffodil Fields, 1913. Alice Milligan: Hero Lays, 1908. J. G. Neihardt: Song of Hugh Glass, 1915. Alfred Noyes: Drake, 1906, 1909; Mermaid Tavern, 1913; Collected Poems. E. A. Robinson in Captain Craig, 1915. Clinton Scollard: Ballads of Valor and Victory, 1904; Ballads Patriotic and Romantic, 1916. C. W. Stork: Sea and Bay, 1916.

Poets of the War. Rupert Brooke: Poems, 1914. Dana Burnet: Poems. J. E. Flecker: Poems. L. Colcord: Vision of War. Helen Gray Cone: A Chant of Love for England, and Other Poems. Joseph Lee: Ballads of Battle. Rudyard Kipling in Sea Warfare. John Masefield in Philip the King. Percy MacKaye: The Present Hour. James Oppenheim: War and Laughter. Josephine Preston Peabody: Harvest Moon. Clinton Scollard: The Veiled Shadow. Alan Seeger: Poems, 1916. Edith Thomas: The White Messenger. Harvey Watts: The Faith of Princes. George Sylvester Viereck: Armageddon. “X”: War Poems. (See Poems of the Great War).

The New Poetry. Musical Effect. Vachel Lindsay: General William Booth Enters into Heaven, 1913, 1916; The Congo, 1915. Edward J. O’Brien: White Fountains, 1917. Amy Lowell: Men, Women, and Ghosts. The Imagists. Richard Aldington: Images, 1915. J. G. Fletcher: Irradiations, 1914. F. S. Flint: The Net of Stars, 1909; Cadences, 1915. D. H. Lawrence: Love Poems, 1913; Amores, 1916. Amy Lowell: Swordblades and Poppyseed, 1914; Men, Women, and Ghosts, 1916. Impressionism. Ford Maddox Hueffer: Collected Poems, 1914. Horace Holley: Creations. The Verse Radicals. Alfred Kreymborg: Mushrooms, 1916. Ezra Pound: Personæ, 1909; Exultations, 1912; Poems, 1915; Lustra, 1916. Carl Sandburg: Chicago Poems, 1916. Fiction Realists. Robert Frost: North of Boston, 1914, 1915; Mountain Interval, 1916. Thomas Hardy: Time’s Laughing Stocks, 1909; Satires of Circumstance, 1914. Amy Lowell: Men, Women, and Ghosts, 1916. Edgar Lee Masters: Spoon River Anthology, 1915; Songs and Satires, 1916. The Social Revolution. Poets of Industrial Life. Berton Braley: Songs of the Workaday World. W. W. Gibson: Daily Bread, 1910, 1916; Fires, 1912, 1916. Patrick MacGill: Songs of the Dead End. Edward McKenna: The Likes o’ Me. Margaret Widdemer: The Factories. Charles Erskine Wood: The Poet in the Desert, 1915. The Revolutionists. Witter Bynner: The New World. Edward Carpenter: Toward Democracy. Lincoln Colcord: Vision of War. James Oppenheim: Songs for the New Age, 1914. Louis Untermeyer: Challenge, 1914; These Times, 1916. Clement Wood: Glad of Earth.

Satire. Rupert Brooke: Heaven, etc., in Poems, 1916. Gilbert Chesterton: Poems, 1915 (cir.). Thomas Hardy: Time’s Laughing Stocks, 1909; Satires of Circumstance, 1914. Edgar Lee Masters: Songs and Satires, etc. (above). Susan L. Mitchell: Aids to the Immortality of Certain Persons in Ireland, 1913. L. V. Rule: When John Bull Comes A-Courtin’, 1903. W. B. Yeats: Responsibilities, etc. (above).

Anthologies. Georgian Poetry, 1911–12; Georgian Poetry, 1913–15. A. P. Graves: The Book of Irish Poetry, 1915 (cir.). J. W. Garvin: Canadian Poets and Poetry, 1916. Jessie B. Rittenhouse: The Little Book of Modern Verse, 1913; The Little Book of American Verse, 1915. The Lyric Year, 1913 (cir.). Des Imagistes, an Anthology, 1914. Some Imagist Poets, an Anthology, 1915. Some Imagist Poets, 1917. W. S. Braithwaite: An Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1914; For 1915; For 1916. Others, An Anthology of the New Verse, 1916 (The radicals). Harriett Monroe and Alice Corbin Henderson: The New Poetry, an Anthology, 1917. J. W. Cunliffe: Poems of the Great War, 1916. Sara Teasdale: The Answering Voice (1917).

Criticism. Jessie B. Rittenhouse: The Younger American Poets, 1904. Mary C. Sturgeon: Studies of Contemporary Poets, 1916. See the Prefaces to the Monroe and Braithwaite Anthologies; Contemporary Poetry, by Prof. John Erskine, Warner’s Library of the World’s Best Literature; and the special articles in the LIBRARY on Bridges, Carpenter, Cawein, Chesterton, Gibson, Hardy’s Poetry, the Irish Renaissance, Masefield, Moody, Noyes, Riley, van Dyke, Watson, Woodberry, Yeats.

II. German, French, Italian, etc.

The title has a fine comprehensiveness. It has also a justification in a guide intended for the English reader; for comparatively little poetry of the non-English-speaking countries is accessible in English translations.

German. In Germany, the modern lyric, we are informed, closely interprets the temper of the poet and his contemporaries; lyric poetry is very widely read among the people. The German temper, says Kuno Francke, is essentially lyric: nothing appeals more to the German than “the expression of a bold, unrestrained, intense, whole-souled personality.” The Naturalistic Movement—best expressed in the drama—is reflected in the poetry of the last decade of the nineteenth century, a poetry full of social compassion, of protest and revolt, more or less propagandist in spirit. Detlev von Liliencron is credited with freeing poetry from this “passion of the propagandist.” His themes are “love, and the sights and sounds of his native moorlands, and the battles that made men and saved the fatherland.” A “matchless vision of the concrete” is the chief note of his style. A few of his poems may be read in the translations noted below. With Liliencron, Professor Lewisohn groups Gustav Falke, Carl Busse, and Otto Bierbaum, all “unafraid of the details of the actual, shaping them not according to a traditional convention of poetic mood and purpose, but interpreting them with an immediate passion that is no less beautiful and … uplifting for its loyalty to the truth of the outer and inner life.”

To Nietzsche’s influence may be traced the “reassertion of the eternal separateness and uniqueness of the individual and his struggle for liberation from the weight and uniformity of life.” Richard Dehmel’s poetry represents such a struggle for liberation. The poets who follow the cult of pure beauty are Rainer Maria Rilke, Stefan George, and Hugo von Hofmannsthal—all three counted at times among the symbolists. Hermann Hesse should also be mentioned, if only because, in the midst of war and of much militant and patriotic verse, he has written an invocation to Peace, of which a few stanzas are translated in Romain Rolland’s ‘Above the Battle.’

The reader is referred to articles in the LIBRARY on Dehmel, Hofmannsthal, and Liliencron. ‘A Harvest of German Verse,’ selected and translated by Margarete Münsterberg (1916), contains in Books IV and V poems of Liliencron, Falke, Dehmel, Bierbaum, George, Rilke, Hesse, and others. ‘The Spirit of Modern German Literature,’ by Ludwig Lewisohn, has several chapters of analysis and appreciation of the poets, and a few translations. In ‘Poet Lore,’ the New Year’s, Spring, and Autumn numbers of 1915, and the Spring number, 1916, are translations of poems by Dehmel, Rilke, Liliencron, and Holz.

Russian. For Russian poetry, see the article in the LIBRARY on Russian Lyrics. See also Wiener’s ‘Anthology of Russian Literature,’ volume II; ‘Russian Songs and Lyrics’ (translations from Pushkin, Lermontov, Nadson, Fet, etc., by John Pollen, 1917); ‘The Epic of Russia’ (Isabel Hapgood, editor, 1916). Current numbers of ‘The Russian Review’ (published by the Russian Review Pub. Co., New York) should be watched for translations. The December, 1916, number contains an article on the poet and prose writer, Ivan Bunin, and a translation of four of his poems.

Italian. For the Italian poet, Pascoli, see the LIBRARY. See also Carducci’s ‘Rime Nuove,’ translated by Laura F. Gilbert, 1916. ‘Poet Lore,’ New Year’s number 1916, has a translation of D’Annunzio’s poem ‘On a Figure of France Crucified.’

Scandinavian. See Björnson’s ‘Poems and Songs,’ translated from Norwegian in the original metres by A. H. Palmer (1915); and Gustav Fröding’s ‘Selected Poems,’ translated from the Swedish by C. W. Stork (1916).

French. Many of the twentieth-century French poets were Symbolistes in the nineties. Before the Symbolistes were the Parnassians, whose poetry was a protest against the fantasticality, the turgid manner, of the later Romantics. This poetry was beautiful, but remote from the complexities of modern life. The Symbolistes broke away from the Parnassians and attempted to widen the scope of French poetry. ‘Le Mercure de France’ (founded in 1889) became in 1895 the official organ of their school. Remy de Gourmont, one of the leaders of the movement, thus defined Symbolisme: “individualism in literature, liberty of art, abandonment of existing forms, a tending toward what is new, strange, and even bizarre; it also may mean idealism, disdain of the social anecdote, anti-naturalism, a tendency to take only the characteristic detail out of life, to pay attention only to the act by which a man distinguishes himself from another man, and to desire only to realize results, essentials; finally, for poets, Symbolisme seems associated with vers libre.” One of the greatest of the Symboliste poets is Henri de Régnier, whose greatest contribution, according to Miss Lowell, is his vers libre. The Symboliste movement is over. Of the younger men, Henri de Régnier says: “We dreamed; they want to live, and to say they have lived, directly, simply, intimately, lyrically. They do not want to express man in his symbols, they want to express him in his thoughts, in his sensations, in his sentiments.” Perhaps the distinction is not yet crystal clear. Miss Lowell makes it a little clearer: “What is this modern spirit which distinguishes Francis Jammes and Paul Fort from the men of the Symboliste group? If I were obliged to define it in a word, I should say that it was ‘exteriority’ versus ‘interiority.’” The new poets do not weep so much, are not so disillusioned, so fond of examining their mental processes under a microscope. They are interested in the world apart from themselves. The making of pictures is part of the modern manner; another is “a certain zest in seeing things and recording them; the modern poet dares to be happy and say so.” There is Francis Jammes, the poet of “contentment, of observation, of simplicity … of hills, and fields, and barns.” Paul Fort, who prints his poems as prose, is full of the joy of life. In his ‘Poèmes de France,’ with its reveries of the noncombatant patriot during the Great War, he has written ‘Le Chant des Anglais,’ based on ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.’ Théodore Botrel, whose ‘Songs of Brittainy’ is described as folk poetry of the purest quality, is the officially appointed Poet Laureate of the armies of France; he goes about among the soldiers, heartening them by reciting and singing his poetry.

Verhaeren, the great Belgian poet, who died while the end of his country’s martyrdom was not yet in sight, was not a symbolist, though the strain of mysticism in him was pronounced. This mysticism finally became modified into a “great humanitarian realization.” He has made poetry realize the modern world—“has shown the grandeur of everyday life.”

The reader is referred to the articles in the LIBRARY on Déroulède, Huysmans, Richepin, and Verhaeren, and Poetry of the Early Twentieth Century. See also Amy Lowell’s ‘Six French Poets’ (1915), containing criticism and bibliographies, and over a hundred pages of translations from the poems of Verhaeren, Samain, de Gourmont, de Régnier, Jammes, Fort. Other books of information are Arthur Symons’s ‘Symbolist Movement in Literature,’ Jethro Bithell’s ‘Contemporary Belgian Poetry,’ and ‘Contemporary Belgian Literature,’ and Edmund Gosse’s ‘French Profiles.’


Botrel, Théodore: Songs of Brittainy (tr. by E. S. Dickerman, 1915).

Cammaerts, Émile: Belgian Poems—Chants and Patriotiques et autres Poèmes (tr. by Tita B. Cammaerts, 1915).

Claudel, Paul: The East I Know (tr. by Teresa Frances and William Rose Benét, 1914); The Tidings Brought to Mary (tr. by Louise Morgan Sill, 1916).

Maeterlinck, Maurice: Poems (tr. by Bernard Miall, 1915).

Samain, Albert: Visions (Poet Lore, Spring No., 1915).

Verhaeren, Emile: Love Songs (tr. by F. S. Flint, 1915); The Dawn; The Cloister (both verse dramas); Poems (tr. by Alma Strettel, 1899, 1915); Afternoon (1917).