there is a further strain of pure narrative effect, and this concerns itself wholly with the mortal struggle and final escape of the small red animal that gives the poem its name. The story is conducted with great spirit and variety, and is a notable addition to the rare successes in animal

poetry. Reynard takes his country with fine dramatic effect, and he becomes very much an object of our concern as we read. He is not sentimentalized by the poet, and in his own vagabond kind he crawls at last into his earth, exhausted but safe, a not unworthy fellow of Mr. Ralph Hodgson's Bull. And as he crosses woods and pasture and rivers, Mr. Masefield finds again an opportunity of drawing the English landscape that he loves so well and sees so vividly. There is no contemporary poetry that has in it more deeply the poignancy of the earth than Mr. Masefield's, and in this poem he, perhaps, excels his own tenderness. We think little or nothing of the crowded folk behind as the fox makes his lonely yet perilous way, with death but at a field's distance, across one of those midland counties that have their own very special and intimate beauty. It is, perhaps, an unconsidered effect in Mr. Masefield's poem that while our interest in the hunting's end never fails, the fox yet seems to be a creature apart from the excited pur, suit, moving through a world of natural loveliness that is wholly undisturbed by the little tumult of the scarlet-coated field. Ghost Heath cares nothing for the run. But, unconsidered as it may be, the effect is none the less one of very subtle art, being also the one reminiscence in the poem of Mr. Masefield's rare tragic gift.

The story of 'Right Royal,' the horse who wins the Chasers' Cup, is unerring in its construction from start to finish. It is in every way a worthy companion to 'Reynard,' and will be read with sheer imaginative delight by thousands of people who ordinarily are not much concerned with poetry at all. But, over and above this, the poem is a poem. Surrounding the story is a spiritual life which is the genuine shaping of experience, truly Mr. Masefield's own experience, and that, it might almost be said that only, is what poetry must be. Here we have to surrender to the poet and accept his experience, in this case the radical English fervour for sport, as being significant, but we are not asked to enter into a conspiracy with the poet to accept an experience which is not his but merely one of convenience. To find work of which this can be said, and of which at the same time we know that all sorts and conditions of men will share in the delight, is a matter for uncommon gratitude. In doing it no poet of Mr. Masefield's generation is serving his art more truly.

Although it may be said that 'Reynard the Fox' and ‘Right Royal' have not in the detail of their workmanship quite uniformly that cameo-like sharpness that is the surest guarantee of permanence in a long poem as it is in a lyric (in all literary forms, in fact, as in Mr. Hardy's novels, for example), there is a general distinction in the work that can only be attained by an excellence in the parts composing the whole. If the texture is not of the very rarest quality, it is always compact and sound, and the cumulative impression is one both of simplicity and of richness. The poems are likely to serve Mr. Masefield's reputation well. The history of this reputation is not an uncommon one, and affords an interesting comment upon public opinion. Fifteen years ago Mr. Masefield's poems caught the ear of a few careful listeners only. It was then a mark of alert culture (following the careful listeners) to praise him. The poet's audience suddenly became a large one with the widening of his own poetic interests and the introduction into his work of certain popular (but by no means worthless) as apart from purely poetic qualities. There was general applause, and alert culture became shy at first, then a little angry, and finally in disdain left Mr. Masefield for the discovery of Mr. S—and Mr.SM, who in a day or two will likewise be disowned. Alert culture, the truth is, is but the assertive voice from year to year of the very latest literary débutant; we have, I suppose, all been there ourselves.


Mr. Masefield has happily been untouched by the coldness of this disapproval, being more concerned in his work, and consoling himself doubtless with the affection of thousands of readers who are simple enough to think that Tennyson and Wordsworth and Milton were great poets. And his poetry has moved in steady and admirable development, until now in his maturity the wheel is coming full circle. Already alert culture is praising him again, just as it has been announcing to an obtuse world the discovery of that new lyric poet, Mr. Thomas Hardy. You are apt to look a little foolish if you continue in disparagement of a man who can write poems like 'Reynard the Fox.' So that until

‘ the next turn of chance Mr. Masefield is secure of his greater and his lesser public. And he possesses himself surely enough to make his more durable fame, when chance shall have played all her tricks, a matter of but little doubt.



POSTERITY, untroubled by the regrets and intimate sorrows of friendship, untouched by the resentment with which we cannot but meet what for a moment seems mere brutality of accident, will see in Rupert Brooke's life, achievement, and death, one of those rare perfections that attain greatness by their very symmetry and fortunate grace. It is truly as though the gods would have this man great; as though, having given him all bright and clear qualities of brain and heart, they were impatient of any slow moving to the authority for which he was marked, and must, rather in divine caprice than in nature, bring him to untimely and bewildering fulfilment. His brief life, with its inevitable intervals of temperamental unrest, was happy in disposition and in event. It shone with many gifts other than the great gift of poetry. Wit, the cleanest kind of chivalry, inflexible sincerity, and the dear courtesy that only the sincere man knows, courage and reverence duly met, intellectual ease and great personal charm and beauty — all these made his friendship one of the most treasurable things of his time. But they did

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