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himself.” No apology need be offered for putting forth such comfortable advice, even if it is not especially ethical or significant.
The paper on Robert Herrick is to be taken more seriously. It ranks him high-in his field. He is not great; but he is a "great little poet.” He is eminently English-"there is no English poet so thoroughly English as Herrick.” He is in that, in form, and all, unique. “As Shakspere stands alone in his vast domain, so Herrick stands alone in his scanty plot of ground," he concludes. The whole discussion is sympathetic, and interesting; but like the rest of the book it is entirely non-belligerent, and entirely comfortable.
What an adverse critic can find to abuse in the Papers, I am at a loss to discover. As if the substance were in need of apology, Mr. Aldrich prefaces them mildly. “They are named as they are," he says, “because there is something typical of their unpretensiousness in the modesty with which Ponkapog assumes to being even a village.. more thinks of rivalling great centres of human activity than these slight papers dream of inviting comparison between themselves and important pieces of literature.” Now that is exceedingly unkind of Mr. Aldrich; verily he leaves not where the critic may stand; one can only appreciate. Which is quite enough.
W. H. L. B.
It is always pleasant to chronicle the appearance of a new essay in Arthurian verse, still more so when it is the work of a man born and bred and dwelling still in a college atmosphere. There is a growing belief that academicians can never become true men of letters. Professor Santayana has said-howbeit his statement is contradicted by the example of his own literary career--that real literature can be produced "only by a man moving in the world, but of sufficient power to hold the world and its concerns at arm's length.” The academic litterateur does not move in the world; or rather he moves in a world of his own, peopled only by beings of a certain type, where he can never come into first contact with the multiform humanity whose common aspiration it is the function of literature to express. Such a man can write keen criticisms, scholarly essays, verse that shows the effect of much reading and profound reflection; but never by any chance an absorbing novel, a play that will act, or poetry of the kind that sings itself, that stirs the emotions and affections of many. His appeal is to a limited class, and his achievement is restricted by the limitations of that class. This being the case, the publication of a metrical romance* by a Professor of English in Yale University may well excite interest and the hope that, after all, imaginative literature is not wholly beyond the domain of an academic poet.
By Charlton Miner Lewis.
*"GAWAYNE AND THE GREEN KNIGHT.” A Fairy Tale. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Company.
Naturally, in judging any such production, one tends to compare it with another of similar kind, not by way of reducing it to a standard, but to get a point of departure for effective criticism. In this instance, the obvious poem for comparison is Richard Hovey's Launcelot and Guenevere.* Hovey was one of our Harvard academic poets whose verse, though left incomplete by his death, was in range and style typical of that produced by the younger generation of Cambridge writers. It may not be without profit to contrast the work of these two men, to see wherein their academic tendencies conditioned their failure or success, and whether the academic nature be after all incapable of producing true literature.
First of all, be it said that, judged by the simplest but perhaps most valuable of all tests, the pleasure of uncritical reading, Mr. Lewis has succeeded in creating a piece of real literature, and Richard Hovey has not. other words, the former has written something which appeals to readers of widely different tastes and which has qualities to make it outlast its day; the latter has written what interests only a small audience. Launcelot and Guenevere is a poem of philosophic purpose, with so many literary merits that one cannot find space to praise them all; Gawayne and the Green Knight is a light-hearted romance without more serious intent than to tell a charming story simply and amusingly: yet the latter is a book one reads again, while the former grows dusty on the top shelf. Launcelot and Guenevere gives one much food for reflection and a vague sense of Aristotelian katharsis; Gawayne leaves one happier, more hopeful, readier to believe good things of one's fellow-men.
Perhaps part of the reason for this difference of effect lies in the choice of subject. Hovey took the old story of Arthur's guilty queen and her glori
*“LAUNCELOT AND GUENEVERE.” A Poem in Dramas. By Richard Hovey.
I. The Quest of Merlin: A Masque.
IV. Taliesin: A Masque.