Poetry: A Magazine of Verse
Harriet Monroe ~ Editor
It is a little isle amid bleak seas—
An isolate realm of garden, circled round
By importunity of stress and sound,
Devoid of empery to master these.
At most, the memory of its streams and bees,
Borne to the toiling mariner outward-bound,
Recalls his soul to that delightful ground;
But serves no beacon toward his destinies.
It is a refuge from the stormy days,
Breathing the peace of a remoter world
Where beauty, like the musing dusk of even,
Enfolds the spirit in its silver haze;
While far away, with glittering banners furled,
The west lights fade, and stars come out in heaven.
It is a sea-gate, trembling with the blast
Of powers that from the infinite sea-plain roll,
A whelming tide. Upon the waiting soul
As on a fronting rock, thunders the vast
Groundswell; its spray bursts heavenward, and drives past
In fume and sound articulate of the whole
Of ocean's heart, else voiceless; on the shoal
Silent; upon the headland clear at last.
From darkened sea-coasts without stars or sun,
Like trumpet-voices in a holy war,
Utter the heralds tidings of the deep.
And where men slumber, weary and undone,
Visions shall come, incredible hopes from far,—
And with high passion shatter the bonds of sleep.
Arthur Davison Ficke
As It Was
Once upon a time, when man was new in the woods of the world, when his feet were scarred with jungle thorns and his hands were red with the blood of beasts, a great king rose who gathered his neighbors together, and subdued the wandering tribes. Strange cunning was his, for he ground the stones to an edge together, and bound them with thongs to sticks; and he taught his people to pry apart the forest, and beat back the ravenous beasts. And he bade them honeycomb the mountainside with caves, to dwell therein with their women. And the most beautiful women the king took for his own, that his wisdom might not perish from the earth. And he led the young men to war and conquered all the warring tribes from the mountains to the sea. And when fire smote a great tree out of heaven, and raged through the forest till the third sun, he seized a burning brand and lit an altar to his god. And there, beside the ever-burning fire, he sat and made laws and did justice. And his people loved and feared him.
On the Reading of Poetry
In the brilliant pages of his essay on Jean François Millet, Romain Rolland says that Millet, as a boy, used to read the Bucolics and the Georgics "with enchantment" and was "seized by emotion—when he came to the line, 'It is the hour when the great shadows seek the plain.'
Et jam summa procul villarum culmina fumant
Majoresque cadunt altis de montibus umbrae?"
To the lover and student of poetry, this incident has an especial charm and significance. There is something fine in the quick sympathy of an artist in one kind, for beauty expressed by the master of another medium. The glimpse M. Rolland gives us of one of the most passionate art-students the world has ever known, implies with fresh grace a truth Anglo-Saxons are always forgetting—that poetry is one of the great humanities, that poetry is one of the great arts of expression.
Many of our customs conspire to cause, almost to force, this forgetting. Thousands of us have been educated to a dark and often permanent ignorance of classic poetry, by being taught in childhood to regard it as written for the purpose of illustrating Hadley's Latin, or Goodwin's Greek grammar, and composed to follow the rules of versification at the end of the book. It seems indeed one of fate's strangest ironies that the efforts of these distinguished grammarians to unveil immortal masterpieces are commonly used in schools and colleges to enshroud, not to say swaddle up, the images of the gods "forever young," and turn them into mummies. In our own country, far from perceiving in Vergil's quiet music the magnificent gesture of nature that thrilled his Norman reader.