Baltimore Evening Sun (15 March 1912): 6.


The tulips sprout in the Cardinal’s garden. Mount Vernon Place grows pea-green. Exit the pulse-warmer; enter the purple necktie. The spring is on us. And with the spring the poets. For instance, Miss Mary Burke, with this sonorous pæan to the late Abraham Lincoln:

No matter what change time may make
Your name, O Abraham Lincoln,
Will be honored for your efforts
To perpetuate our union!

Pre-eminent above all men,
Universally respected;
Yours the soul of pure honesty;
Blessed the charity which you spread!

By the book, a dulcet, impassioned, insinuating bard! Why her works, now come to three stately volumes, are not adopted by the Old-Fashioned School Board, for the ravishment and edification of the little osseocaputs, I often wonder. Here is verse for the common people. She writes in good, honest American, comprehensible even to school teachers. She is above the tricks of the blue-stockinged, Johns-Hopkinsed minnesingers. Simplicity is her keynote, her watchword. For example, in these lovely stanzas to the earthworm:

God has made some wonderful creatures,
Massive in weight and strength,
But this curious and most useful one
Is but a few inches in length.

With no pleasing features to lead charm
To his anatomy,
Without legs or eyes with which to do work,
A true gardener is he.

The estimable Richard G. Badger, of 194 Boylston street, Boston, Mass., prints Miss Burke’s strophes, under the style or appellation of “School Room Echoes.” Badger is also the publisher of “The Lincoln Book of Poems,” by the Hon. William L. Stidger, in which the heart of Lincoln is compared to an

Aeolian Harp that whispers, cries, and laughs, and sings.

Again, Badger gives us the poems of Mrs. Clara Mai Howe Fuqua, in which appear these stanzas:

I love you when you’re good,
I love you when you’re bad,
I love you when you’re gay,
I love you when you’re mad.

I love you when you’re good,
And your goodness makes me glad,
I love you when you’re bad,
But your badness makes me sad.

Haunting, penetrating, ingratiating stuff, entirely defying critical analysis. The Houn’ Song itself is no more dangerous to peace. It will stick to you like a Haydn minuet or a Sousa march. Less sticky, but still sweet, is this love song by Modeste Hannis Jordan, to be found on page 36 of his “Vagrant Verses” (Cosmopolitan press):

I long to go away with you,
Where the fields are green and the skies are blue,
Where there is no music but the breeze,
That whispers through the leafy trees.
To roam in a garden old, yet new,
A primal Eden--just we two.

A longing common to all young lovers, but too often opposed and made a mock of by pecuniary considerations. A day’s roaming among the daffodils, hand in hand, heart to heart--what refined entertainment, what exquisite joy! But a roaming means the loss of a day’s wages--and those wages may be sorely needed to buy dishpans and salt-cellars for the nascent flat. Mr. Jordan, however, cares no single hoot for such prudent considerations. He is for abandonment, for love uncontaminated, for trusting to luck. Thus:

I builded a nook where the cavernous depths
Of the ocean of life, with its low, ceaseless moan,
Only sounded afar, and I knew that its wave
Though lashing in fury, no closer could come.
So safe was I there, in my nook on the heights,
That I laughed and I scoffed at the rudest alarms
Of the gray, mocking world, for I knew that my heart
Had its shelter supernal in your loving arms.

Which mention of oceans brings us to Clinton Scollard and his latest volume, “The Lips of the Sea,” a series of marines. One quality of the sea, at all events, Mr. Scollard has got into these verses, and that is its tendency to hiss. I quote a few of his swishing strings of sibilants:

Then came a sudden subtle swirl,
And if he saw the slanting spars,
With its shifting shroud of mystery,
Spectral sail or ghostly spar.

Apt alliteration, I fear, has gobbled Mr. Scollard, who is otherwise an agreeable strophist. Not only the stinging s’s, but also the d’s, f’s, g’s and other such unmusical consonants allure him. He is full of “gray gulls,” “plunging prows,” “dipping decks” and “deep sea dins.” Do these ornaments help his songs? I fear they do not.

More poets! Grace L. Slocum, with “On the Face of the Waters” (Badger), a collection of pious pieces that are often bad, but might be much worse. Henry G. Kost, with a patriotic anthem in the “land of the brave” manner, and a lot of miscellaneous stuff following. From the anthem:

I love thee, Columbia, and true o’er to thee
I’ll strive for thy glory, O land of the free!
May “Justice to all” be thy motto so brave,
Where none shall be master, and none shall be slave.

A good song to teach to the children in the Southern cotton mills. Or to the poor bartenders of Baltimore, condemned to labor 12 hours a day, always on their feet, up to their ankles in stale beer, forbidden to take a drink, forced to listen to inane anecdotes eternally repeated--and with soulless cash registers snickering at them all the while!

Which brings us to Grace Granger, whose “Light of the Gods” consists of four brief poems upon Grecian themes, graceful and fluent but entirely uninspired. And to William Dudley Foulke, who offers “Maya,” a poetical drama of the sort that all American gentlemen used to write 60 ot 70 years ago. And finally to Louis Untermeyer, a poet often encountered in the magazines. Mr. Untemeyer’s book in called “Young Love” (Sherman-French), and is a sequence of lyrics upon the one theme. All of the moods and emotions of that zymotic passion are here-- doubt, longing, despair, exultation. A sample:

Only of thee and me the nightwind sings,
Only of us the sailors speak at sea,
The earth is filled with whispered wonderings
Only of thee and me.

Only of thee and me, till all shall fade;
Only of us the whole world’s thoughts can be--
For we are Love, and God Himself is made
Only of thee and me.

A workmanlike song--but, still nothing to bulge the eye. Herein, indeed, lies Mr. Untermeyer’s defect. He is a poet of parts, but he seldom forgets precedent. The best of his verses seem mere repetitions of things said before--and often of things said better. No fault, of course, in one writing for the magazines, for there originality is ever under suspicion, but a drawback in a poet who prints a book. One looks, between covers, for something new. One usually fails to find it in Mr. Untermeyer’s suave stanzas.