Page images

your job back. I went and saw Mr Granger, and asked him, and he said yes. I was coming home from there when the automobile came along-and I'm not so keen of hearing as I used to be."

He relaxed upon the pillow, exhausted. The boy thrust his clenched hands in his pockets and stepped to the window, and looked unseeingly into the street below.

Yale Kneeland, Jr.

Let us speak of conundrums. "A conundrum," says the Century Dictionary, "is a conceit, a devise, or CONUNDRUMS

a hoax." It is also something to be tried, like Reconstruction and Bobby Burns cigars. It has been necessary to the human race since the world began. Johnson and Boswell played at conundrums; kings decorated courtiers who composed them. They were formerly to be found in every periodical from the Atlantic to the Tarrytown Daily. Their glory has passed. The name of Sam Lloyd is forgotten and the works of his lifetime slumber undisturbed on the dusty shelves of the British Museum.

What has driven them from their honorable place on the back pages of magazines? Is it the epigram or the jig-saw puzzle, the anagram or the acrostic? No. These, too, have vanished; but lest Reason totter on her throne, Providence has given usthe psycho-analytical novel and the problem play. The simple problem of "What is black and white and red all over?" has been replaced by the more intricate puzzle: "Will the betrayed husband forgive the wayward wife and become a burglar, or kill her and enter the ministry." The anagram has been superseded by the Einstein theory. Acrostics are neglected by the world in the worship of the Ouija board. Though the art of mystification flourishes, a mighty change has taken place. The dwarf conundrums have given birth to a titan race of economic consequences of the peace. From the simplicities of the jig-saw puzzle have been evolved Futurist portraits of nudes in various stages of disrepair. The old puzzles have gone. Evolution in its relentless progress has cast them aside like a worn overcoat.

They survive only in a few backward communities; in benighted regions ignorant of Eugenics and The Higher Criticism. In this enlightened land they have become rarer than the tsetse or pre-war prices in Erewhon.

Twenty cenThey have been corner, awaiting

Conundrums have gone, but they will return. turies of progress have failed to destroy them. driven into hiding, but they lurk around the their time. When we have tired of the eternal riddle: "What is the Student Council?", they will make us forget it in solving

the important problem: "When is a hat not a hat?"

Montgomery Evans, 2nd.

"Step lively," rasped the subway guard impulsively, and

[ocr errors]



I did so just in time to bring my feet safely through the Scylla and Charybdis of the carINTERNATIONAL door as it clanged shut. Fearful and breathANTITHESIS less I clung to the porcelain strap and waited for the next station. Here we were fearfully and breathlessly on time. It is the American way.

I am abroad now-in Europe-in Italy. My tram to the Alban hills was twenty minutes to half an hour late in arriving and has been the same in starting because the motorman preferred to eat a mandarin and drink a glass of wine with a crust of bread and then flirt with the conductress rather than attend to his less appealing vocation. But I hardly minded-it was all done so pleasantly and gracefully, not fearfully and breathlessly. It is the European way.

It is a far cry from one to the other of these two modi vivendi in the simon pure form. Here in America, where we are forever panting, and forever young, Mercury is enthroned. The haste and efficiency of commerce is ours. We do the thing that lies nearest us, little recking how; but we do do it. Our slogans warn us that our steps are so staccatoed with intensity that we must watch them; and so "safety first." The less heed do we pay for that. With ebullient energy we bubble through trafficinto the jaws of taxis, into the mouth of subways; across Fifth Avenue, across Forty-second Street, in a debauch of hurry. We

lilt and tilt into soda shops where a dun, jetty liquid of gaseous chocolate is slopped down before us by wastefully intense and active fountain clerks. With anxious hurry, we arise in the aisles of our train and, standing for fifteen minutes, wait till our belabored locomotive pulls in. Thus we rest our weary limbs! Or, we may go book-buying. A blustering demand for the best-seller-$3.00, is it?—and without further ado in a rapturous, ecstatic moment of impulse we empty our wasteful coffers of the sum as precipitously as coal falling down a chute. And the dividends of the book-shop increase, due to our sense both of fair prices and extravagance. But it is all, much of it at least, haste and waste. And the result (if we are poets) is vers libre-God preserve us—or Amour libre-or both.


But away off across the Atlantic is Europe, where the people seem forever silent and forever sad, and Pallas, I fancy, is enthroned. A certain Raphaelesque contemplation is theirs. They know that to act is easy, to think is hard, and take the harder and latter course. No mercurial action is there, though the temperament may often in Latin countries reach the boiling point. The Church and State in general are meditative rather than militant. The peace is Horatian-of Old World quiet in the gardens, groves, and nymph-frequented arbors of Soracte. The calm of the Madonna is all-pervasive on the humble brow. You feel it a breezeless day, without tang, on an oily, sapphire Swinburne and Shelley love it, but not always the American. He, with his love of clarity and open-handedness, sees merely the obvious red tape and frequent stagnation in the life. He is accurate. No gracious procrastination for him. At dinner after his coffee he refuses to wait literal half-hours for his check. Philosophic patience is not his line. He chafes when he rides behind a horse which must take hills at a walk. He, the dynamic steam-engine of the world, will not brook the delay of shop-keepers in doing up his goods. This life, he says to himself, may be an elegant sufficiency for the poets and artists, but not for him, the turgid, turbulent traveler. His is the life of action, not of thought, of deed not of faith; his the eye of Mars, to threaten and command.

Such is the counterfeit presentment of two brothers, the

American and the European. I have sent my shafts rather too swiftly and numerously against the former, I fear me, but it is simply as I feel that the European views him. The "him" may stand for my own personal self. So it is hurry on the one hand; calm, on the other. Take them or leave them, as you will. But a gorgeous eclecticism, a judicious mixture of the two were rather the best, and vital enrichment of personality is the reward. James W. Lane, Jr.


Old gods,

Kings of the forest!

Masters of water and cloud and hill!

Come from the shadows and caverns that keep you.
Come-and kill.

Hiding in tree-boles,

Lurking on uplands, aloof and dread

Come, once more, to the homes of humans!

Crushed are the new gods,

[blocks in formation]

Old gods,

Awaken for men are calling!

They summon old things from the past again.

Where are the dryads, the satyrs, the centaurs?
These remain.

[blocks in formation]


Chords from Albireo. By Danford Barney. (John Lane Company, New York and London.)

Mr. Barney's best poetry since 1916 is under this title brought together in very attractive form. Many-mooded as the poems are, a certain atmosphere permeates them through which I should characterize as an other-world sadness and beauty that is indescribably sweet and intuitive, possibly influenced by another poet who saw war, Rupert Brooke. It is the poetry of the sensuous dreamer, much of it full of inspiring rhythm and harmony, as distinct from the realistic work of Mr. Frost or Mr. Masters as the Parsifal dove from a river-bridge, though Mr. Barney's spirituality is often rather more pagan than Miltonic. However, there is at least one example of true spiritual inspiration in a stanza from "Upon the Piper" :—

"Still he sings of the bitter sands
Washed by a restless sea,

Of a man of men long years ago
And a valiant band who loved him so

They followed as he was wont to go
By the shores of Galilee."

Mr. Barney's vision is aspiring, though patient and longsuffering. It is threaded through the poems, many of which are reminiscent of Tennyson. The following from "Men and Stars," which has a tinge of "Locksley Hall" about it, are among the most beautiful lines in the whole volume:

"It's all a master symphony, and every act or dream
Only a minor dominant within the major theme.

Faith in every sorrow

Gleams of a to-morrow,

Light that shadows borrow from cradle to the tomb;
Gain in each achieving,

Loss beyond retrieving,

Are one within the weaving upon a greater loom.”

This has melody which is distinctly audible, though to the reviewer Mr. Barney's unheard melodies are as sweet. We find them

« PreviousContinue »