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school, rules that taught us to count syllables on our fingers. It was Lanier who substituted the musical notation. Anyone who reads The Science of English Verse must get from it a better understanding of versification, and take more pleasure in it."
She went on to speak of the interesting and instructive way in which Lanier treats rhythm, showing it to be a cosmical or fundamental principle, according to which all regular successions of sounds in nature seem to resolve themselves into groups.
poet, and maintained that he cared even less for the external aspects of nature than did Shelley or Keats. To him it was what Goethe calls, "the living garment of God." Shelley desired things to be especially beautiful or grand, like the Alps at sunrise, but Lanier found satisfying beauty in great and typical things. He was inspired by nature in any typical form. It did not require an unusually beautiful sunrise or sunset to inspire his enthusiasm and reverence. He was more like Wordsworth. He had local touches, but he did not depend on them to create an interest. His Song of the Chattahoochee might have been the song of any stream.
My report of this conversation is very inadequate. I cannot give half "What critics have called poetic the points or any of the brilliancy and license,'" I still use her words, "Lanier glow of the speaker; but her words proves to be in many cases correct left me fully satisfied that she had verse, which can be scanned by the found in Sidney Lanier an inexhaustapplication of his musical notation. ible source of literary pleasure and This is true of several of Shakespeare's instruction. sonnets and of the verses of Shelley, Coleridge, Swinburne, and Tennyson. Pope, the great example of the stilted in poetry, never loses a syllable. He would have thought it a lame foot' that lacked one. He is the most formal of what might be called 'The School of Formal Poets.' Lanier holds that to do a thing instinctively and unconsciously, without understanding the principles of it, is to lose it. Froebel taught this. To understand the principle on which work is based, is to free the worker, whether teacher or poet, and leave him room to know that his work is artistic and scientific." One little thing she had never seen noticed by his critics or admirers, she said, is a certain original structure of verse which is just as distinctly a formal structure as that of the sonnet. She had found no other poem like it. It had thirteen lines and the rhythm changed twice. It is instanced in A Song of the Future. She held Lanier's passion for nature to be different from that of any other
And in this she is far from standing alone. Lanier is recognized by English critics as our Wordsworth, and our Keats, and is constantly growing more dear to American hearts. I will not compare him with Longfellow, because that poet was an interesting story-teller, and the story is what appeals to popular taste. Longfellow will ever remain the more popular poet, because he was master of the graphic art. Yet Lanier had the deeper poetic instinct. I will not compare Lanier with Lowell, because that poet was master of ethics, where Lanier was tenderly religious and benignant. A western paper has called him the poet of the benign." His verse is—
She called my attention to the interesting point made by Lanier, when he shows the function of the "rest" in poetry. For he shows that there is a "rest in poetry as in music, and that it has the same office.
"Pure with the sense of the passing of saints through the wood,'
while Lowell's is a battering ram of moral purpose. Here again Lanier is the poet and Lowell the preacher. Lowell, like Longfellow and Whittier, excelled in the image-making faculty and will always be more attractive to
THE GENIUS OF SIDNEY LANIER.
the popular eye. Lanier's verse will nizing their artists to English periodbe felt by the contemplative rather icals? Some of our critics are still than seen by the student of poetic slow to acknowledge Lanier's genius, pictures. He is like Bryant in his which we should cherish as a sacred gift. quality of feeling. But he is more a The Spectator was one of the earliest, part of the nature he interprets than is if not the first, to assign to Lanier Bryant; his verse is nature's own self- his rightful place among the artists of
As he sang of corn, so America; indeed, it places him first,
"As poets should,
Thou hast built up thy hardihood
Drawn in select proportions fair
Why is it, dear friend," writes another to me, "that our people so often leave the delightful task of recog
Lanier comes to one's life with great power. We need his spirit to pervade the thought of our country, for I know no other teaching, unless it is that of Browning, so fitted to lift up our fellow men and to hasten
"The far-off divine event
To which the whole creation moves.'
"Lanier is eminently the prophet of the laboring people, and with all the intensity of an artist's soul he suffers in their denials and longs for a higher destiny for the poor.
"And oh, if men might sometimes see
How piteous-false the poor decree
If business is battle, name it so;
"Then, with the prophetic eye of genius, he looks away across the dark wastes of their lives and catches the first faint gleams of their morning.
"I dare avouch my faith is bright
That God doth right and God hath might,
"Such is the teaching of The Symphony. Its exposition of the trade problem of our country reminds one of the picture in Pilgrim's Progress of the man with the muck-rake. In this poem Lanier shows how all that is beautiful in life is in danger of being sacrificed to the commercial spirit of the people. Still there is no bitterness touching the Law that governs all things, but, with a faith in the final triumph of good which we rarely find except in Browning's philosophy, he teaches that love will at last solve all the problems of life and bring all its discords into harmony."
One of the finest acknowledgments of Lanier's mission I find in a letter from a Chicago student. "Lanier has always seemed to me to be in a way the successor to Wordsworth and Shelley as the interpreter of nature in
terms of spirit. The last words of Plotinus are said to have been, 'I am striving to bring the God which is within, into harmony with the God which is in the universe.' It is what modern philosophy is still trying to do; and the best poets of our day have given expression to the feelings of this unity of all life which I think is the most valuable thing in the literature of this century. Philosophy is trying to explain or find a formula for what Wordsworth found to be a fact of experience. All great art is the prophetic or ideal reconciler, and I think these three poets are the reconcilers in this particular direction. Lanier is valuable in a unique way. His reputation, like that of Shelley and Wordsworth, will be slowly won. People in general like a romantic and sentimental or pathetic description or a stirring moral affirmation; but thousands of readers never have had the problem of nature and spirit presented to them, so that much, and really the best, of Lanier, has been so far a blank to them." I am always pleased when I find among students the recognition of the genius which
"Holds, with keen, yet loving eyes, Art's realm from Cleverness apart."
With all his seriousness Lanier has an irresistible vein of fun, and the author of The Boy's King Arthur, The Boy's Mabinogion, and The Boy's Percy, has said not a little in his poems to reach boys, even at their chuckling age. Barnacles, for instance, is a child's poem, although serious and with a bit of metaphysical philosophy in it.
Mrs. Lanier's appearance on the platform as an interpreter of her husband's poems has been one of the literary events of the past two years. Colleges, universities, schools, clubs, and private parlors throw open their doors to receive at first hand the feeling of his spirit, and meet the poet in his own atmosphere. In appearance, manner, and voice," says a dis
F THE friendship between Sidney Lanier and Mr. George Westfeldt a few words could relate the outward facts, and the feeling is in tone with the environment of life's closing scenes: almost too sacred for any formal statement from a surviving hand.
One might easily be incredulous of such knitting of soul to soul upon such slender intercourse as befell in Mr. Lanier's drawing towards Mr. Westfeldt. I place it thus, because I am not sure that the maturer, calmer man, with life so honorably and endearingly fulfilled, did perceive immediately what he was to the eager and passion
encircling mountains, several miles south of Asheville. They were on their homeward way from a drive to a neighboring county and they rested for the night at our hotel, and so found us.
This large recognitionsuch as perhaps only poets make-held the fine spiritual friendship that came too late for much outward manifestation.
war led them to a prolonged residence
"Love alone can do "
Mr. Westfeldt was a Swedish gentleman who came to America when a mere lad and entered commercial affairs in Mobile, residing later in New Orleans, New York, and different European cities. It was his lofty record, during a long life involved in successful business interests, continually to have fulfilled Lanier's aspiration: to have
"How piteous-false the poor decree
"To follow Time's dying melodies through And never to lose the old in the new, And ever to solve the discords true."
Mary Day Lanier.
TIME AND LIFE.
RELENTLESS time sweeps on; it cannot stay.
Silas McChesney Piper.