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from The bookman (London) 1916-oct, pp 21- 22.


  In a bundle of nine little books, three are called by
names sadly and gloriously familiar to us — Ypres, Festubert,
Neuve Chapelle.  It seems impossible, indeed, for the poets
to get away from the heart-wrenching war, that great fount
and inspiration of poetry in our day.  The war has uplifted
and cleansed poetry.  It has created it where else it would
never have existed.  As one who for years has been a
reviewer of poetry, I am amazed at the quality of the great
output of verse in our days.  Pity and suffering, death and
exaltation, make for a finer poetry than love of nature or
love between men and women, and very often were sadly
inadequate.  As for corruption, which has sometimes
quickened the poets, that note jars in our day, when it is

  To begin with the more remarkable of this group of nine,
let us give first place to "Ypres, and other Poems," (1)
because it is a soldier's book, and that is a precedence
that neither Mr. Maurice Hewlett nor Mr. W.G. Hole will
grudge Mr. Shakespeare.  Sidgwick & Jackson's name on a
volume of poetry is nearly always a guarantee of its
quality, and in this slender volume no lover of poetry will
be disappointed.  These songs are of the pity of the war,
the love of comrades, the love of woman, soldier songs that
have found their clean inspiration in great and simple
things.  We shall want to keep the three Ypres poems as
living and flaming impressions of the war.

     "Hope and mirth are gone.  Beauty is departed.
       Heaven's hid in smoke, if there's Heaven still.
     Silent the city, friendless, broken-hearted,
       Crying in quiet as a widow will.
     Oh, for the sound here of a good man's laughter,
       Of one blind beggar singing in the street,
     Where there's no sound, except a blazing rafter
       Falls, and the patter of a starved dog's feet."

  Mr. Hewlett, who must else have had pride of place with
"Gai Saber"(2) — a punning title — has an opulent mind.  he
makes tapestry with anyone, and he has great fecundity of
thought and image.  His is the true Spirit of Romance.  One
might do worse in these days of stress and suffering than to
wander in his faery forests and find a golden way of escape
from the human sorrow.  But, when all is said and done, one
turns to the war-poems, or poems in war-time, at the end of
the book, not the less welcome because of their sanity, and
sanity is a quality much war poetry misses.

     "'O mother, mother, isn't it fun
     The soldiers marching past in the sun?'
     'Child, child, what are you saying?
     Come to the church!  We should be praying.'

     'Look, mother, at their bright spears!'
     'The leaves are falling like women's tears.'
     'You are not looking at what I see.'
     'Nay, but I look at what must be.'

     'Hark to the piper!  See the flags flying!'
     'I hear the sound of a girl crying.'
     'How many hundreds before they're done?'
     'How many mothers wanting a son?'

     'Here rides the General pacing slow!'
     'Well, he may, if he knows what I know.'
     'O, this war, what a glorious game!'
     'Sin and shame, sin and shame!'"

It is these poems in the ballad manner, red with humanity,
that one turns to before Mr. Hewlett's delightsome things.

  Devon is surely a kingdom and a people all its own.  The
breed of Devon poets is a thing as much apart as the breed
of Devon sailors.  Her strain may run through the English
strain, but it does not mingle, and, like Ireland, like
Brittany, she is the mother of patriots.  Mr. W.G. Hole
deserves well of Devon.  He is a true poet.  His "Men of
Devon"(3) is full of the smell of the sea, the colour and
scent of the moors and the combes.  Much of this book is
very remarkable poetry, with the earth-stains in it and the
real stuff of life.  Such poems as "The Post-boy" and "Slow
Poison" ought to live.  Mr. Hole is a true poet who brings
to others not of Devon sense and sight of the magic which
rules the hearts of her sons, and fashions them to great

  "The Sorrow that Whistled"(4) is an unusual little book,
as suits with its name.  The writer, whom one takes to be
young, revels in Eastern colour and fragrance.  He can do
something quite good and simple, such as "While Scouring
Linen."  On the other hand, he can do something extremely
bad, as in the "Thoughts of a Refugee."  Yet there is here a
promise, and, not unconnected with it, indications that J.H.
Stables is a young soldier.  There could be no better school
for a young poet who wants to shed the faults of youth than
the trenches.

  "Festubert"(5) is a dignified little volume.  There is
nothing unworthy of its subject; there is a real sense of
beauty, and very often stateliness and the capacity to make
a picture.  A little quickening of the manner and measure — a
departure from the studied coldness of the blank verse — 
might be advised to Mr. Wynne Sewell, although there is
something to like in this austerity.

  Mr. Bellchambers' "Night Visions and Day Dreams"(6) is a
poetical little book.  This singer has not heard the war at
all.  He is still wandering in Fairyland, and through the
fairyland of the fields and woods.  A delicate and refined
fancy, a real love of beautiful things, a simple and sincere
heart, are in this little book, which is also pleasantly

  "Pastorals"(7) by E.C. Blunden, also comes from the young
poets' friend, Erskine Macdonald.  We are told it is the
work of a public school boy, who ten months ago was still at
school and a scholar-elect of Queen's College, Oxford, and
is not a soldier.  These are very good credentials, and we
turn to the poems with a quickened interest.  But they are
not quite good enough to stand on their merits.  This young
poet has a passionate feeling for the beauty of the world,
as he sees it in his own Kent and Sussex.  He has a
vocabulary; he has style and music.  There is a real
assurance of poetry to come in this little book.

  Miss Gregory's "Apples of Gold"(8) has a good deal of
literary feeling and taste, but little poetical achievement;
and the same may be said of "Neuve Chapelle."(9)  If this
latter was written out of personal experience there is
little to show it.  The war has not uplifted all whom it has
influenced to even the lower little hills of poetry.

                                   Kathleen Tynan

  (1) "Ypres, and Other Poems."  By W.G. Shakespeare.  2s.
net.  (Sidgwick & Jackson.)
  (2) "Gai Saber: Tales and Songs."  By Maurice Hewlett. 
4s. 6d. net.  (Elkin Mathews.)
  (3) "Men of Devon."  By W.G. Hole.  1s. 6d. net.  (Cecil
Palmer & Hayward.)
  (4) "The Sorrow that Whistled."  By J.H. Staples.  1s. 6d.
net.  (Elkin Mathews.)
  (5) "Festubert."  By Wynne Sewell.  1s. net.  (Sampson
  (6) "Night Visions and Day Dreams."  By J.A. Bellchambers. 
1s.  (Erskine Macdonald.)
  (7) "Pastorals."  By E.C. Blunden.  1s. net.  (Erskine
  (8) "Apples of Gold."  By Octavia Gregory.  2s. 6d. net. 
  (9) "Neuve Chapelle, and Other Poems."  By H.A. Nesbitt. 
1s. 6d. net.  (Kegan Paul.)