Puslapio vaizdai



THE origin of a dispute is one of the most mysterious things in human experience, and I can no more tell how the argument arose than I can tell what the final agreement was. Psyche's dog brought it to an end, of that I am sure. His circling antics up the road drew our attention, and we started on the run to find out what had happened to the poor creature. We arrived to find him writhing in the throes of a fit. Every other thought vanished but the thought of what to do to help the poor fellow. Hardly before the firstaid thought of water had come to the surface of our action, the little fellow staggered to his feet, and dashed down the road like an arrow.

"A running fit," exclaimed Psyche. "He'll drop dead in the woods, poor fellow."

The dog had now vanished from sight in the woods about half a mile up the road. Jason and I were for following him, but both Psyche and Cassandra agreed it would be useless. It was Cassandra who brought us back to our argument by illustrating the dog's condition.

"There's a bit of humor in that dog's situation," she explained. "It's based on a tragic note, which gives it a touch of the true comic

spirit. It's a satire on our treatment of the animal; for, after days of chained confinement, the reaction of his first freedom in the sun is to lose his wits; and the wit of the situation is, that he goes flying down the road in search of the senses he has lost."

We had started back, a little uneasy about the dog's whereabouts and condition; and reaching our pine, settled to our task of discussing the week's poets.

"You define four aspects of humor, then," Jason summed up Cassandra's remarks. “Humor, comedy, satire, and wit," he enumerated. "Each having a special point of view, but really from the same root-consciousness."

"Are they not rather four expressions of the comic spirit?" I suggested. "After all, our moods are pretty sharply defined into the tragic and comic. There is scarcely any blend of the two producing a neutral mood. The comic is the higher, and more difficult to attain. It appeals more widely and deeply to humanity, because it gathers up the essences of tragic experience, and shows the temporariness of grief."

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"And have you noticed how one phase if we accept your four aspects of the comic spirit becomes a lost art every now and then? asked Psyche. "Yet I wonder if a really fine satiric poem would appeal to our modern civilization. Mr. Frankau, who has lately given us a war poem in A Song of the Guns,' wrote a couple of satiric narratives a few years ago, which fell rather

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flat over here. Not quite so flat as these Kiplingese war verses in A Song of the Suns' deserve to fall, but winning nowhere near the attention they deserved as a satire on modern English and American life. Can the full-toned raillery of Byron's English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,' or 'Don Juan,' or 'A Vision of Judgment,' ever return to English verse on either side of the ocean?"

"It is apparent," said Jason, "that the attempt, at least, has been made over here. Don't you think 'The Fledgling Bard and the Poetry Society' an attempt of earnest dimensions? See what the subject offers. And Mr. Margetson, very much after the manner of the eighteenth century English satirists, takes the liberty of pasturing his muse in a variety of fields. His poem is, I admit, a kind of anomaly. He has the satirist's power to manipulate rhymes, which is half the conquest of thought in such a poem. He takes an aspiring poet who believes, if he can but reach and be received into the sacred organization of the Poetry Society of America, his name and fame will be won. It is a little vague from just what direction he starts on his pilgrimage, but there is no vagueness about the divers experiences and questions that interest him on the way. He tells us, at the beginning, that,

"I'm out to find the new, the modern school,

Where Science trains the fledgling hard to fly,
Where critics teach the ignorant, the fool,

To write the stuff the editors would buy:
It matters not e'en tho it be a lie,—

Just so it aims to smash tradition's crown

And build up one instead decked with a new


"A thought is haunting me by night and day,
And in some safe archive I seek to lay it;
I have some startling thing I wish to say,
And they can put me wise just how to say it.
Without their aid, I, like the ass, must bray it,
Without due knowledge of its mood and tense,
And so 'tis sure to fail the bard to recompense.

"Will some kind one direct me to that college Where every budding genius now is headed, The only source to gain poetic knowledge, Where all the sacred truths lay deep imbedded, Where nothing but the genuine goods are shredded,

The factory where shape new feet and meters That make poetic symbols sound like carpet beaters.'

"This young bard," I commented, "is quite mistaken if he expects to find the Poetry Society a 'factory where they shape new feet and meters,' making poetic symbols sound like carpet beaters.' The organization as a whole is quite opposed to new forms. Masters and Frost, Amy Lowell and Alfred Kreymborg are anathema to its faith in the sacred traditions of English verse. The prize poem, The Child in Me,' is the standard

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it has set up. He should go to Brookline, or out to Chicago or St. Louis to feel the new impulse. New York has it only to the extent with which these other places give it to her. Why, Gramercy Park is more provincial than Heath Street, with its stone walls and shade trees."

"I am more interested in what this young bard thinks of modern society," Psyche informed us. "He has a great deal to say about Billy Sunday, the Negro problem, the Democratic and Republican campaigns, Christian Science, baseball, prizefighting, and the war. It seems he is obsessed with some of these subjects."

"I am afraid we can't go through all his ramifications on those topics," I said, "but I do want to quote this rather delicious exposition on the various religious sects. It is a kind of interlude in the poem:

"Or win or lose come my kind muse,
*And tune for me a merry ditty;
Sing it true, come won't you, do?
And yet it seem a sin and pitty.


Christian Science hurls defiance,
At the Doctor and disease,

Holy Jumpers quaff their bumpers
And hug and kiss just as they please.

"Universalist, wash foot Baptists,
Wesleyans and Moravianites,
Play their antics like old frantics,
And assert religious rights.

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