I come from nothing; but from where
Come the undying thoughts I bear?

Down, through long links of death and birth,
From the past poets of the earth.
My immortality is there.

I am like the blossom of an hour.
But long, long vanished sun and shower

Awoke my breath i' the young world's air.

I track the past back everywhere Through seed and flower and seed and flower.


Or I am like a stream that flows
Full of the cold springs that arose

In morning lands, in distant hills;
And down the plain my channel fills
With melting of forgotten snows.

Voices, I have not heard, possessed
My own fresh songs; my thoughts are blessed

With relics of the far unknown.

And mixed with memories not my own The sweet streams throng into my


Before this life began to be,
The happy songs that wake in me

Woke long ago and far apart.

Heavily on this little heart Presses this immortality.



‘Now dreary dawns the eastern light,

And fall of eve is drear,
And cold the poor man lies at night,

And so goes out the year.

'Little is the luck I've had,

And oh, 'tis comfort small
To think that many another lad

Has had no luck at all.'

That clearly is the expression of a tragic mood, almost even a forlorn one which is less than tragic. And the note pervades Mr. Housman's new book. Even such occasional relief as is found in his longest poem 'Hell-Gate, with its final overthrow of the black city, or in

'O Queen of air and darkness,

I think 'tis truth you say,
And I shall die to-morrow;

But you will die to-day,' hardly modifies the extremely grim character of this beautiful collection of poems. The passionate, brooding protest, that came out of the west-midland landscape twenty-five years ago, is unchanged. To say that the technique of Last Poems'is better than that of the best of the 'Shropshire Lad' would be to say that the impossible had been achieved.

But it is as good, and more consistently good. The little poem at the head of this paper is perfectly done, and hardly a page of the book fails to match it. The old manner is often here, but it is no less arresting because Mr. Housman himself happens to have done it before.

"When summer's end is nighing,

And skies at evening cloud,
I muse on change and

And all the feats I vowed

When I was young and proud.... So, it would seem, in these poems where the loved landscape is now rather one of recollection, the youth that once saw so much bitterness in the promise of life has passed to a maturity when the old fears have but proved themselves. Circumstance itself, as apart from a general philosophic view of life, would seem to have worked to the same end.

"When I would muse in boyhood

The wild green woods among, And nurse resolves and fancies

Because the world was young, It was not foes to conquer,

Nor sweethearts to be kind, But it was friends to die for

That I would seek and find.

'I sought them far and found them,

The sure, the straight, the brave, The hearts I lost my own to,

The souls I could not save. They braced their belts about them,

They crossed in ships the sea,
They sought and found six feet of ground,

And there they died for me.' And yet the consoling thing about this book is that it vindicates anew the belief that art, truly done, however desolate its mood, can never be desolating in its effect. It is not merely the fact that the poet here faces his tragic conclusions with so fine a courage that makes the book, when all is said, an inspiring one. The truth is that despair is no longer despair when it ceases to be dumb. Perfect expression, such as it finds over and over again in Mr. Housman's new poems, purges despair of its own disastrousness and transfigures it into a mood that knows not only to endure, but even to delight. If one had to say in other words what Mr. Housman thinks of the world, it would be no very inspiriting story. But as we listen to his statement, made in terms of an exquisite poetic art, we know that there is a beauty which is not at the mercy philosophic denial.


When recently Mr. Edwin Arlington Robinson reached his fiftieth birthday, he was publicly greeted by nearly every poet of any distinction in America as the master of them all. Enlightened criticism in that country has for long recognized him as having more clearly the qualities of permanence, perhaps, than any other American now writing. Even a poet so unlike Mr. Robinson himself in aim and method as Miss Amy Lowell devotes a long chapter in her book on ‘Tendencies in American Poetry' to the work of one whose distinction she finely acknowledges. A new book by Mr. Robinson has in America, among the austere critics at least, as much importance, shall we say, as a new book by Mr. Yeats has to those in this country. And yet,

, with all this, there is, I suppose, no poet of anything like his excellence in America who is there so little known as more than a name, while in this country at present he can hardly be said even to be a name.? In reviewing a recently issued anthology of contemporary American verse, at the length of two columns, the 'Times Literary Supplement’

1 Read to the Royal Society of Literature from the Chair of Poetry.

? I leave these words as they were written, though happily they could be modified to-day.


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