THE POETRY OF HARVARD UNDERGRADUATES.

THE average undergraduate poem seems to me to possess any of the characteristics of so-called true poetry. The undergraduate poet rhapsodizes over a ditch bordered by hummocks of meadow-grass and clumps of scrubby, unsightly bushes; he goes into ecstasies over a frog-pond in a cow pasture; he personifies familiar objects; invests them with a glamour of brilliant colors, and imagines various noble fancies about them, or draws high lessons from their imagined actions or feelings, - what more does the true poet? In short, in criticising poetry it is hard to say just where sentiment leaves off, and sentimentalism begins. Many pieces that, appearing under famous names, are extravagantly praised, would be characterized as trash if they appeared anonymously in the corner of a country newspaper.

One does not have to hunt long amongst undergraduate poetry to find passages that are far more original than beautiful; one writer, for instance, calls swallows "volatile air-swimmers," - a painfully original metaphor. Another describes a mountain as

"A soaring shaft

Of crystallized eternity."

Does eternity usually crystallize in pyramidal forms? The first stanza of another poem ends with the lines, -

"Hard as coral is the heart,

Oh how many feel thy dart,

Minnie Gray."

And in the last stanza we have, -

"Thou canst never find a mate,

Though lingering at the gate,

Minnie Gray"

Why "hard as coral"? Why has this poet forsaken that classic drudge, adamant? and why the abrupt transformation of a resisting person to one throwing darts? In the last line of all there is an abrupt descent from the sublime to the ridiculous, but then "gate" is an excellent rhyme for "mate." A little poem entitled "Crepusculum" attempts to describe the twilight season. In the second stanza the poet speaks of

"The far-off busy hum

Betokening eventide."

According to most poets, "eventide" is "betokened" by a stillness. The third stanza informs us that "The robins all are still." My own experience has been that at the time of twilight the robins are the only creatures that are not still. A short piece entitled "In May Days" has a somewhat peculiar construction. The writer begins by enumerating some of the features of spring, and in the first three stanzas rolls up a ponderous compound subject, containing, among other things, a relative clause attached to a relative clause, but as yet brings in no predicate; in the fourth stanza he takes a fresh start and sums up the long subject, - still no predicate; here he evidently gives up the idea of getting in that predicate at all, for, putting a semicolon at the end of the fourth stanza, he takes another new start in the fifth, and the rest of the poem is rather pretty and quite well expressed. A piece addressed "To Fancy," published about a year ago, presents some curiosities in the way of figures. The third stanza is as follows: -