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ARTHUR J. STRINGER.
Lie the Hills of grey Remembrance and the Valleys of Regret."
Mr. Stringer's education began at the London Collegiate Institute. Even there one finds a few straws to show which way the wind blew, for there he was the guiding spirit of a shortlived but unique school magazine. On graduating from the Collegiate Institute he entered Toronto University, and from that time his literary career may be said to date. One fine day he invaded the editorial sanctum of The Week, wherein the jovial Mr. Thomas Moberley presided, and soon after his first poem went out to Canadian readers. It was that irregular but remarkably beautiful little lyric on "Indian Summer." He became a
frequent contributor to The Week, and also printed a few poems in the CANADIAN MAGAZINE. From his busy pen, oo, appeared a number of prose studies in the Varsity.
Shortly after leaving Toronto University he published his first volume of poems, entitled "Watchers of Twilight." It consisted of one, long, over-ambitious, transcendental work in blank verse, full of all those failings which Coleridge has said should be in every young man of promise, and also a number of lyrics. His second volume was published a year later and was called" Pauline and Other Poems." Both books, I believe, are now out of print. In the meantime the young writer had journeyed over to England to take up a course of study at Oxford University. Doubtless he has been greatly influenced by the classic associations of that venerable institution of learning, for I can recall nothing more delightful than his series of descriptive articles on life at Oxford. From Oxford he turned his restless feet to the Continent, about which he wandered for a summer.
Now poets, like other human beings, must live. Poetry is not the most remunerative vocation in the world, however honorable it may be deemed. So when Mr. Brierley reorganized the old Montreal Herald and offered Mr. Stringer a position on his staff, the young dreamer got a chance to subdue his overstock of ideality in the stern battle of journalism. But a broader sphere of activity was soon open to him. The American Press Association of New York wanted a man to do special work of a high literary order, and Mr. Stringer was mentioned as the man to undertake it. He was
accordingly invited to come to New York, and he is now hard at work in Gotham shaping out his career.
Mr. Stringer is still a young man, but his has been a busy life. latter day verse does not come frequently as of old, but it comes with the stamp of careful workmanship on it. A little volume of quatrains from his pen not long ago delighted his many admirers; in fact more than one critic has pointed out his power in handling the quatrain, that distinctively modern form of verse.
Now Mr. Stringer has a new volume, this time a volume of prose, the sort of prose that only the poet can write, delicate, sympathetic and human. This book is entitled "The Loom of Destiny," and is made up of a series of studies in child life. The volume has received a marked degree of attention from the critics, and deservedly, too, for the author in this case seems to have a more than ordinary grasp of
child psychology. That conservative magazine, the New York Independent, for instance, speaking of this book, said, "Mr. Stringer's genius is as clear and fine as sunshine on a waste of creaming ocean waves." The New York Outlook, too, speaking of his treatment of children said, "Never have they had such sympathetic record of their joys and sorrows." While the Louisville Courier-Journal went so far as to say, "These clear-cut sketches are equal to Barrie's "Sentimental Tommie or Kipling's treatment of the child in fiction."
So Mr. Stringer may be said to have emerged from the novitiate and is now in his "Sturm und Drang" period through which all true literary workers must pass. He has already done much. But it is to be hoped that what he may yet do will dwarf into insignificance by both its excellence and its quantity what he has already accomplished.
H. A. Bruce.
A SONG OF LOVE.
OVE reckons not by time-its May days of delight Are swifter than the falling stars that pass beyond our sight.
Love reckons not by time-its moments of despair Are years that march like prisoners, who drag the chains they wear.
Love counts not by the Sun-it hath no night or day— 'Tis only light when love is near-'tis dark when love's
Love hath no measurements of height, or depth or space, And yet within a little grave it oft hath found a place.
Love is its own best law-its wrongs seek no redress; Love is forgiveness-and it only knoweth how to bless.
A NEW POET AND A NEW PLAY.
By E. R. Peacock,
Upper Canada College.
seem to have combined to praise him almost as Tupper was praised Of his "Paolo and Francesca," the Saturday Review says, "It unquestionably places Mr. Phillips in the front rank of modern dramatists and of modern poets. It does more, it proclaims his kinship with the aristocrats of his art, with Sophocles and Dante.
AN is by instinct a partisan, and usually extreme in his partisanship. Uncompromising judgments are apt to characterize his opinions of all who do not agree with him. In literary criticism, as in other things, men take sides, and woe to him whose work bears not the marks of their standards. "This will never do," said Jeffrey of Wordsworth, a hundred years ago, and the critical spirit of the foremost critic of his time has been that of most of his successors. In praise and in blame alike, they are extravagant-hysterical flattery or absolute condemnation-for the most part there has been no middle course. True, Matthew Arnold did sound a protest, and honestly try to judge men and their works by the standard of the best things in literature rather than by any preconceived literary dogmas, but even he was too prone to include under the scornful name of Philistines all who saw not eye to eye with him.
He has given us a masterpiece of dramatic art, which has at once the severe restraint of Sophoclean tragedy, the plasticity, passion, and colour of our own romantic tragedy, a noble poem to brood over in the study, a dramatic spectacle which cannot fail to enthral a popular audience and which would in mere stage effect have done credit to the deftest of modern playwrights. He has produced a work for which I have little doubt Mr. Alexander will have cause to thank him, and a work which would, I have as little doubt, have found favour with the judges who crowned the 'Antigone' and the 'Philoctetes.""
So sure is the critic of the soundness of his judgment that he often gets into a trick of omniscience, and not content with assigning an author his place in his own age, is pleased to settle it for eternity. But omniscience in mortals is a doubtful quality, and time often leaves the critic sadly in the lurch. Who now reads Martin Tupper's "Proverbial Philosophy"? Yet, some thirty years ago, this work went into its fiftieth edition, and a leading critic said, "it will live as long as the English language; " while the Spectator assured its readers that "he has won for himself the vacant throne waiting for him among the immortals, and * * * has been adopted into the same rank with Wordsworth, Tennyson and Browning."
I hope a similar fate does not await England's latest literary lion, Stephen Phillips, but certainly the reviewers
Such extravagant flattery, is surely the result of an emotional spasm which has momentarily paralyzed the critic's sense of proportion. Before considering the play however, let us glance at some of the poet's earlier work.
His chief interest is humanity, and certainly his work gives evidence that he has a natural gift for discerning the subtleties of character and reading the secrets of the soul. He loves, for instance, to pick out a face from the crowd on the streets of London and reveal the thoughts and emotions it but half conceals. Some of his efforts show the 'prentice hand and while striking are not poetic, but his later work proves this to be merely the fault of youth. Indeed, the steady advance in the power and poetic quality of his work is its most promising characteristic. The tragedy of human life, and the faith.
which overcomes it, especially appeal to him and find expression in several poems, of which, perhaps, the finest is "The Wife," a gruesome but powerful tale. His two most ambitious efforts previous to" Paolo and Francesca," were "Christ in Hades" and "Marpessa." The former elaborates a striking conception of Christ's relation to man and the sorrow it involves for Him. There are several fine passages, notably that in which Prometheus foretells the sorrows of Christ. But the blank verse moves a bit stiffly as yet, and there is a certain lack of felicity in the working out of the idea.
"Marpessa" is a Greek Idyll, based on Marpessa's choice of a lover. Apollo and Idas are rivals for her hand, and she chooses the mortal. The form of the poem is evidently suggested by the famous passage in Tennyson's "Enone," describing the award of the apple of discord. The sentiments expressed, particularly Marpessa's reasons for her choice, are modern rather than Greek, but perhaps not more so than Athene's speech in Tennyson. The imagery and setting are Greek, while the execution is always delicate, and often exquisite. The verse is flexible and musical, yet dignified--hardly the verse yet of "Paolo and Francesca,' - but an immense advance on the earlier fragments.
There is a fine magic of style in Apollo's speech, which stirs the fancy; look for instance at the free mastery of rhythm in the following lines, and the large phrase, warm, ethereally imaginative like that of Keats :—
"We two in heaven dancing,-Babylon
Idas' avowal of love is one of the finest passages in the book-a few lines will serve to indicate the subtle suggestion and delicate phrasing which picture so finely to the imagination the intangible charm of Marpessa.
"Not for this only do I love thee, but
Before passing to the tragedy, just one more quotation to illustrate another side of Mr. Phillips' talent. It is a love lyric this time.
O to recall!
All the roses under snow?
Stars that toward the water go? Not these.
O to recall !
All the greenness after rain?
Joy that gleameth after pain? Not this.
O to recall!
Not the greenness nor delight,
Not the roses out of sight,
O to recall!
Not the star in waters red,
Laughter of a girl that's dead,
"Paolo and Francesca" is a poetic tragedy in four acts written for the stage, at the request of Mr. Alexander, the well-known London actor. It possesses the directness and simplicity necessary for successful stage production, is lifelike in its action, and above all, has a clear, tragic plot-interest of sufficient depth and intensity to hold the attention and touch the sensibilities of the ordinary theatre audience. It is not a mere study play therefore. The theme is old, and yet ever new-it is that form of love which since the days of David and Bathsheba has offered perhaps the most fascinating inspiration
Many others have tried the story, with but slight success. Mr. Phillips
has chosen to treat it with the utmost simplicity, and throughout the play, there is a sense of calmly wielded power, of strength held in reserve which is admirable. The play opens abruptly, and from the first there is an atmosphere of impending tragedy which lends a sober background to the beauty of the action. The consciousness of fate grows upon one as the plot, swiftly and without unnecessary words, unfolds itself. One finds here the strong influence of Greek tragedy, so evident in the earlier volume. The dramatist never allows himself the pleasure of a poetic outburst, for the mere beauty of the poetry. Every speech springs from the action and is necessary for its development. On the other hand, he does not bind himself by all the laws of classic drama. The influence of Shakespeare is evident in the lighter relief scenes, in the prose
Lastly, there is Lucrezia, a childless widow, cousin to Giovanni, and hitherto his faithful housekeeper. She is a bitter, disappointed woman, "Childless and husbandless, yet bitter-true.”
The story is briefly this :-Giovanni, tyrant of Rimini, a famous soldier tiring of strife, makes peace with Ravenna, and to cement the alliance, arranges a marriage with Francesca, the young daughter of the Tyrant of Ravenna. Busy with affairs of State, he sends his younger brother Paolo to conduct his bride to her new home. It is the old story of Launcelot and Guinevere, each learns unconsciously to love the other. Paolo realizes this, and true to his brother, seeks escape, on a pretext of war, but Giovanni demands that he remain and takes every opportunity of bringing the young pair together.