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in the town and country that we creed: “Literature decays when it no know.

longer makes more beautiful, or Mr. Yeats, like Browning, writes more vivid, the language which both lyrical poems and dramas; but unites it to all life, and when one he is at the opposite remove from

finds the criticism of the student, Browning in everything except the and the purpose of the reformer, gift of song. Browning was so de- and the logic of the man of science, voted to the dramatic aspect of art, where there should have been the that he carried the drama even into reveries of the common heart, enits seemingly contradictory form, the nobled into some raving Lear or unlyric. Every lyric is a little one-act abashed Don Quixote. ... I have play, and he called them dramatic been reading through a bundle of lyrics. Mr. Yeats, on the other hand, German plays, and have found every. is so essentially a lyric poet, that where a desire not to express hopes instead of writing dramatic lyrics, and alarms common to every man he writes lyric dramas. Even his that ever came into the world, but stage-plays are primarily lyrical. politics or social passion, a veiled or Those who are interested in Mr.

open propaganda. . . . If Homer Yeats's theory of speaking, reciting, were alive to-day, he would only reor chanting poetry to the psaltery sist, after a deliberate struggle, the should read his book, Ideas of Good temptation to find his subject not in and Evil, which contains some of his Helen's beauty, that every man has most significant articles of faith, desired, nor in the wisdom and enwritten in limpid and beautiful durance of Odysseus that has been prose. Mr. Yeats cannot write on the desire of every woman that has any subject without illuminating it come into the world, but in what by the light of his own imagination; somebody would describe, perhaps, and I find his essays in criticism full as "the inevitable contest,' arising out of original thought-the result of of economic causes, between the years of brooding reflection. In these country-places and small towns on short pieces his genius is as clear as the one hand, and, upon the other, it is in his poems.

the great city of Troy, representing I admire his absolute devotion to one knows not what 'tendency to the art of poetry. He knows that centralisation.' politicians and practical" men at In other words, if I understand the very best regard him as a harm- him correctly, Mr. Yeats believes less dreamer; for to them he seems that in writing pure rather than apto be talking in his sleep just when plied poetry, he is not turning his he ought to be wide awake. But back on great issues to do filigree more regard him worse than

work, but is merely turning aside harmless, for they cannot understand from questions of temporary import how, in the midst of political ex- to that which is fixed and eternal, citement, he can calmly go on writ- life itself. ing poems and lyrical dramas. But John Millington Synge was born he will not apologise. Nor will he near Dublin, April 16, 1871, and died use his poetic genius for any purpose

in Dublin, March 24, 1909. It is a except for the creation of beauty and curious thing that the three great the interpretation of life. He will Irishmen of the Celtic renaissancenot turn Pegasus into a dray-horse, the only men who were truly in. and make him haul cart-loads of spired by genius-originally studied political or moral propaganda. In another form of art than literature. his fine apologia, The Cutting of an

Mr. Yeats studied painting for years; Agate, he states and restates his A. E. is a painter of distinction;

as

Synge was an accomplished musician reached the summit of dramatic before he became a man of letters. achievement. There is not the slightest doubt that Synge was a terrible person, as the effect of these sister arts upon terrible in his way as Swift. When the literary work of the Great Three Carlyle saw Daniel Webster, he said, is pervasive and powerful. The "I should hate to be that man's nig. books of Mr. Yeats and Mr. Russell ger.” I do not envy any of the men are full of word-pictures; and the or women who, for whatever reason, rhythm of Synge's strange prose, incurred the wrath of Synge. He which Mr. Ernest Boyd ingeniously was never noisy or explosive, like a traces to Dr. Hyde’s translations, is dog whose barks are discounted, to full of harmonies.

whom one soon ceases to pay any Dr. Hyde ought to be one of the attention; we all know the futile and happiest men in the world; he has petty irascibility of the shallow- . not only witnessed a new and won- minded. Synge was like a mastiff derful literary revival in his country,

who bites without warning. Irony but he has the satisfaction of know. was the common chord in his coming that he is vitally connected with position. He studied life and hated its birth and bloom.

death; hated the gossip of the Synge had the greatest mental en- world, which seemed to him the gabdowment of all the Irish writers of ble of fools. Physically he was a his time. He had an amazingly pow- sick man, and felt his tether. He erful mind. At Trinity College he thought it frightful that he should took prizes in Hebrew and in Irish, have to die, while so many idiots and at the same time gained a lived long. He never forgave men scholarship in harmony and counter- and women for their folly, and the point at the Royal Irish Academy of only reason why he did not forgive Music. As a boy, “he knew the note God was because he was not sure of and plumage of every bird, and His existence. The lady addressed when and where they were to be in the following “poem” must have found.” As a man, he could easily read it with queasy emotion, and have mastered the note of every without the slightest difficulty have human being, as in addition to his unwillingly learned it by heart. A knowledge of ancient languages, he photograph of her face immediately seems to have become proficient in after its perusal would look like fuGerman, French, and Italian with turist art. singular speed and ease. He was an

THE CURSE excellent performer on the piano, flute, and violin, did conjuring To a sister of an enemy of the author's who tricks, and delighted the natives of disapproved of The Playboy." the Aran Islands with his penny

Lord, confound this surly sister, whistle. He must have had a posi

Blight her brow with blotch and blister, tive genius for concentration, ob

Cramp her larynx, lung, and liver, taining a real command over any

In her guts a galling give her. thing to which he cared to devote his attention. Mr. Yeats found him in Let her live to earn her dinners that ramshackle old Hôtel Corneille In Mountjoy with seedy sinners: in the Latin Quarter, busily writing Lord, this judgment quickly bring, literary criticism in French and Eng. And I'm your servant, John M. Synge. lish, and told him as an inspired messenger to go to the primitive folk (Mountjoy is a prison). in Ireland and become a creative Irish exaggeration is as often seen artist. He went; and in a few years in plenary curses as in plenary bless

ings; both have the quality of the poems which follow the Preface humour. The curses are partly com were mostly written "before the pounded of robust delight, like the views just stated, with which they joy of London cabmen in repartee; have little to do, had come into my and the blessings are doubtless com head." mingled with irony. But Synge had No discussion of modern verse a savage heart. He was essentially a should omit consideration of this rewild man, and a friend of mine had markable Preface—for while it has a vision of him that seems not with. had no effect on either Mr. Yeats or out significance. He was walking in Mr. Russell—it has profoundly ina desolate part of Ireland in a bleak fluenced other Irish poets, and many storm of rain; when suddenly over that are not Irish, Mr. Masefield, for the hills came the solitary figure of example. Indeed much aggressively Synge, dressed in black, with a broad “modern" work is trying, more or hat pulled over his brows.

less successfully, to fit this theory. As a stranger and sojourner he In the advance, Synge was more walked this earth. In the midst of prophet than poet. Dublin he never mentioned politics, read no newspapers, and little con Many of the older poets, such as Villon temporary literature, not even the and Herrick and Burns, used the whole of books of his few intimate friends. their personal life as their material, and Everyone who knew him had such the verse written in this way was read by immense respect for the quality of strong men, and thieves, and deacons, not his intellect that it is almost laugh by little cliques only. Then, in the town able to think how eagerly they must writing of the eighteenth century, ordinary have awaited criticism of the books life was put into verse that was not poetry, they gave him-criticism that never and when poetry came back with Coleridge came. Yet he never seems to have and Shelley, it went into verse that was not given the impression of surliness; he always human. [This last clause shows the was not surly, he was silent. He difference between Synge and his friends, must have been the despair of diag. Yeats and Russell.] nosticians; even in his last illness, it In these days poetry is usually a flower was impossible for the doctors and of evil or good; but it is the timbre of nurses to discover how he felt, for poetry that wears most surely, and there is he would not tell. I think his burn. no timbre that has not strong roots among ing mind consumed his bodily frame. the clay and worms.

Synge wrote few poems, and they Even if we grant that exalted poetry can came at intervals during a period of be kept successful by itself, the strong sixteen or seventeen years.

Objec things in life are needed in poetry also, to tively, they are unimportant; his show that what is exalted or tender is not contributions to English literature made by feeble blood. It may almost be are his

dramas and his prose said that before verse can be human again sketches. But as revelations of his it must learn to be brutal. personality they have a deep and melancholy interest; and every word

Like Herrick, he wrote verse about of his short Preface, written in De

himself, for he knew that much biog. cember, 1908, a few months before raphy and criticism would follow his his death, is valuable. He knew he

funeral. was a dying man, and not only

ON AN ANNIVERSARY wished to collect these fugitive bits of verse, but wished to leave behind

After reading the dates in a book of Lyrics. him his theory of poetry.

With Fifteen-ninety or Sixteen-sixteen characteristic bluntness, he says that We end Cervantes, Marot, Nashe or Green:

With

over

your teeth.

Then Sixteen-thirteen till two

score and

Yeats is Ariel and A. E. is Prospero. nine,

He is the Master of the island. As a Is Crashaw's niche, that honey-lipped divine. literary artist, he is not the equal of And so when all my little work is done either of the two men whose work They'll say I came in Eighteen-seventy-one, we have considered; but he is by all And died in Dublin. ... What year will odds the greatest Personality. He they write

holds

his contemporaries a For my poor passage to the stall of night? spiritual sway that many a monarch

might envy. Perhaps the final tribQUESTION

ute to him is seen in the fact that I asked if I got sick and died, would you even George Moore treats him with With my black funeral go walking too, respect. If you'd stand close to hear them talk or One reason for this predominance pray

is the man's absolute sincerity. All While I'm let down in that steep bank of those who know him regard him clay.

with reverence; and to us who know

him only through his books and his And, No, you said, for if you saw a crew friends, his sincerity is equally clear Of living idiots pressing round that new and compelling. He has done more Oak coffin—they alive, I dead beneath than

any

other man to make Dublin That board-you'd rave and rend them with a centre of intellectual life. His sin

gle force is greater than that of the

whole University. At one time his The love of brutal strength in house was kept open every Sunday Synge’s work may have been partly evening, and any friend, stranger, or the projection of his sickness, just as foreigner had the right to walk in the invalid Stevenson delighted in without knocking, and take a part in the creation of powerful ruffians; but the conversation. A. E. used to subthe brooding on his own death is scribe to every literary journal, no quite modern, and is, I think, part of matter how obscure, that was printed the egoism that is so distinguishing in Ireland; every week he would a feature in contemporary poetry. scan the pages, hoping to discover a So many have abandoned all hope of man of promise. It was in this way a life beyond the grave, that they he "found" James Stephens, and not cling to bodily existence with almost only found him, but founded him. gluttonous passion, and are filled Many a struggling painter or poet with self-pity at the thought of their has reason to bless the gracious asown death and burial. To my mind, sistance of A. E. there is something unworthy, some- It is a singular thing that the three thing childish, in all this. When a great men of modern Ireland seem child has been rebuked or punished more like disembodied spirits than by its father or mother, it plays a carnal persons. Synge always seems trump card—“You'll be sorry when to those who read his books like I am dead!” It is better for men some ghost, waking the echoes with and women to attack the daily task ironical laughter; I cannot imagine with what cheerful energy they can A. E. putting on coat and trousers ; command, and let the interruption and although I once had the honour of death come when it must. If life —which I gratefully remember-of a is short, it seems unwise to spend long talk with W. B. Yeats, I never so much of our time in rehearsals of felt that I was listening to a man of a tragedy that can have only one flesh and blood. It is fitting that performance.

these men had their earthly dwelling In the modern Tempest of Ireland, in a sea-girt isle, where every foot of

moves

ground has its own superstition, and ment and in his work; it partly acwhere the constant mists are peopled counts for his strong influence. Many with unearthly figures.

writers to-day are like sheep having I do not really know what mysti. no shepherd; A. E. is a shepherd. cism is; but I know that Mr. Yeats To turn from the wailing so characand Mr. Russell are both mystics and teristic of the poets, to the books of a quite different stamp.

Mr.

of this high-hearted, resolute, can. Yeats is not insincere, but his mysti- did, cheerful man, is like coming cism is a part of his art rather than into harbour after a mad voyage. a part of his mind. He is artistically, He

among his contemporather than intellectually, sincere.

raries like a calm, able surgeon in a The mysticism of Mr. Russell is fully hospital. I suspect he has been the as intellectual as it is emotional; it recipient of many strange confesis more than his creed; it is his life. sions. His poetry has healing in its His poetry and his prose are not wings. shadowed by his mysticism, they Has any human voice ever emanate from it. He does not have pressed more wisely or more tenderly to live in another world when he the reason why Our Lord was a man writes verse, and then come back to of sorrows? Why He spake to hu. earth when the dinner or the door manity in the language of pain, bell rings; he lives in the other rather than in the language of deworld all the time. Or rather, the light?

light? Was it not simply because, in earth and common objects are them- talking to us, He who could speak selves part of the Universal Spirit, all languages, used our own, rather reflecting its constant activities. than that of His home country? DUST

A LEADER I heard them in their sadness say

Though your eyes with tears were blind, “The earth rebukes the thought of God; Pain upon the path you trod: We are but embers wrapped in clay,

Well we knew, the hosts behind, A little nobler than the sod.”

Voice and shining of a god.

ex

But I have touched the lips of clay,

Mother, thy rudest sod to me
Is thrilled with fire of hidden day,

And haunted by all mystery.

For your darkness was our day,

Signal fires, your pains untold,
Lit us on our wandering way

To the mystic heart of gold.

The above poem, taken from the Naught we knew of the high land, author's first volume, Homeward: Beauty burning in its spheres; Songs by the Way, does not reflect Sorrow we could understand that homesickness of which A. E. And the mystery told in tears. speaks in his Preface. Homesickness is longing, yearning; and there is lit- Something of the secret of his tle of any such quality in the work quiet strength is seen in the followof A. E. Or, if he is really home ing two stanzas, which close his sick, he is homesick not like one who poem Apocalyptic (1916): has just left home, but more like one who is certain of his speedy return It shall be better to be bold thither. This homesickness has more Than clothed in purple in that hour; anticipation than regret; it is like The will of steel be more than gold; healthy hunger when one is assured For only what we are is power. of the next meal. For assurance is Who through the starry gate would win the prime thing in A. E.'s tempera- Must be like those who walk therein,

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