Puslapio vaizdai

We are the Dead. Short day ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

The positive aims of the school of modern realists are expounded by that curious creature, Mr. Ezra Pound, in his Introduction to The The Poems of Lionel Johnson1. Mr. Pound has very evidently been reading Wordsworth, although it is possible that possible that the apparent plagiarism is accidental and that it is another case of great minds thinking alike. 'Our aim,' Mr. Pound dictates, 'is natural speech, the language as spoken. We desire the words of poetry to follow the natural order. We would write nothing that we might not say actually in life-under emotion.' And more to this effect. The same ingenious young gentleman explains for our further impressment that he has 'degrees of antipathy and even contempt for Milton, and Victorianism and the softness of the nineties'. As if the opinion of Mr. Ezra Pound mattered to the extent of twopence to any one except himself! The result of an attempted adherence to this theory has led certain of the rasher of the modernists to a deliberate neglect or an open defiance of form and structure and metrical tradition. Nor is their good taste invariably irreproachable. Thus, Mr. Gordon Bottomley concludes a powerful scene in King Lear's Wife with a squalid ballad about a louse:

The louse made off unhappy and wet,

Ahum, ahum, ahee.

He's looking for us, the little pet,

So haste for her chin's to do up yet.

And let us begone with what we can get.

Her ring for thee, her gown for Bet,
Her pocket turned out for me.

Elkin Mathews.

But already, this modernist realism is no longer a new thing. The impulse of mere-cleverness is already exhausted and the more solid elements of the poetry of the movement are beginning to emerge and restraint has succeeded the inevitable radicalism of the beginning. The poets are commencing to acquire perspective once more and to distinguish the wood from the trees. They no longer insist on sacrificing ideals for mere vagaries of individual expression; they are remembering anew that the first essence of poetry is beauty and that the just treatment of a realistic theme in poetry is impossible without the transfiguring and ennobling spirit of beauty. They are realizing that rubbish of this nature from the pen of Mr. Ezra Pound is not poetry, even although it might well have been said 'actually in life under emotion':

I grow old, I grow old,

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind, do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaid singing each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

Perhaps the protest against the mannerisms of the modernists comes most shrilly from those old-fashioned persons who were brought up on and who learned to love and reverence the beauty and perfection of the great Victorians. But surely the highest poetry must, in addition to spirituality, have form and beauty and music.

(To be continued).

J. A. ROY.



Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. Edward Sapir. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co. 1921. Pp. vii. 258.

This little volume, by similarity of title and of subject, invites comparison with two works of much larger size recently published by philologists of world-wide fame: Language, by Professor Jespersen of Copenhagen, and Le Langage, by M. J. Vendryes of Paris. Dr. Sapir's name was unknown to me until I saw it on the title page of his book, but it is probably not unfamiliar to the readers of The Queen's Quarterly, as I learn from a statement issued by his publishers that he is a Canadian and that he is the chief of the Anthropological section of the Geological Survey of Canada. Whether he has previously written anything on the science of language I have not been able to discover, but it is evident that he is no mere amateur in this department of study; and his views will be found worthy of careful consideration even by those who have studied the two more elaborate works previously mentioned. Where he touches on points of Indo-European comparative grammar, of general phonetics, or of the history · of English, his statements appear to be almost invariably accurate. His work, however, is concerned with principles rather than with details, and he has drawn his illustrations from a very wide field. He has the advantage, which probably no previous writer on general linguistics has possessed, of being practically familiar with some of the American Indian languages, and he appears to have carefully studied the distinctive features of several other languages of this group. He has also made himself acquainted with the structure of many of the tongues of the Old World, including not only the Semitic and Bantu families, but also Chinese and Tibetan. Although Dr. Sapir's views are not at all revolutionary (I should hardly say that they are even heterodox), he is evidently a thinker of unusual originality and power, and he has often been able to throw new light on principles which, though

they may have been formally accepted, have seldom been apprehended in their full significance.

The book is professedly intended not only for students of philology, but also for the general public. The author has accordingly endeavoured to avoid using any technical terms of linguistic science that are not familiar to people of ordinary education. In his preface he says that the volume 'does not contain a single diacritic.' Now the avoidance of diacritics, in a popular book, is no doubt excellent as a general rule; but Dr. Sapir surely goes too far when he declines to mark vowel quantity even when it happens to be important for the purpose of his argument. I suspect that there are very few readers who would not find greater simplicity in an exposition which uses the symbols ā, ē, ī, ō, u, than in one which leaves the vowels unmarked, with a statement in parenthesis or footnote indicating that in certain instances they are long and in certain others short. It may further be remarked that the use of diacritics, even when carried somewhat to excess, is not nearly so repellent to the unlearned reader as the quasi-mathematical symbols which are freely used in this book. When, for instance, Dr. Sapir symbolizes the seven possible types of word-structure respectively as A, A+(0), A+(b), (A)+(b), A+B, A÷b, and A+ (0)+(0)+(0), or when he gives the analytical formula of a certain American Indian word as (F)+(E)+C+d+A+B+(g)+(h)+(i)+(0), his notation may no doubt be very interesting and helpful to those students who are intelligent and painstaking enough to follow his explanations; but the majority of readers, when they catch sight of this formidable array of symbols, will hastily turn the page. Apart from this, there are not a few passages in the volume which, notwithstanding their studiedly untechnical wording, are likely to be found hopelessly difficult by readers who have not some degree of philological training, or, at any rate, considerable acquired aptitude for abstract thinking. This is not said in any disparagement of the book, which, though as a whole it can be appreciated only by the philological expert, contains a great deal that will be attractive and helpful to the merest beginner.

No special philological knowledge, at any rate, is neces

sary to the understanding of Dr. Sapir's vigorous enforcement of the truth-highly important, though often neglected or obscured that speech is not (as walking, for instance, is) an instinctive function of the normal organism, but a product of social needs. As the author points out, every normal human being is predestined from birth sooner or later to learn to walk (provided, of course, that he grows up to a healthy maturity); the teaching and example of others, which in the actual conditions of human existence are never absent, here merely accelerate the operation of a native instinct. But apart from the influence of other human beings the individual 'will never learn to talk, that is, to communicate ideas according to the traditional system of a particular society.' As thus stated, the argument has some appearance of begging the question, but it is essentially sound. Some of the objections usually brought against the purely social genesis of language are briefly but effectively disposed of. There are such things as instinctive emissions of vocal sound, naturally more or less correlated with particular kinds of emotion; but these are not even rudimentary language; they are merely raw material which the acquired faculty of speech may use. When we say that man possesses 'organs of speech', we are using a term which is convenient and even indispensable. But the analogy which it suggests with the 'organ' of a biological function, such as sight or locomotion, is fallacious. The native functions of the vocal organs are the same in man as they are in dumb animals; but social man utilizes these functions for his acquired art of speaking, just as he may utilize the powers of his fingers for the purpose of writing. So, again, the 'speechcentres' which physiologists claim to have discovered in the brain are not really concerned with speech, but only with certain organic activities which are turned to account in speaking. If it be true that acquired aptitudes and tendencies are to any extent transmissible to offspring, Dr. Sapir's doctrine will require some modification; but as a basis for the study of language as it actually exists I believe it it to be sufficiently accurate.

The author will be prepared to encounter decisive incredulity when he asserts that people who believe they are

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