Review of the February Monthly
The Monthly is very fortunate in having among its editors such a keen-eyed traveler as is Arminius. We who read the paper can only hope that he traveled far and wide if he can give us glimpses of other countries as vivid as that of Sicily in the current number. And as Arminius has succeeded in giving us landscape, so V. W. Brooks '08 in his essay "The Daemon of Poetry" has given us what perhaps is more unusual, a suggestion of the visions that are sometimes granted to our prosaic souls and that are the life of poets. The essay is very delicate, often subtle, and withal simple. "Chesterton and the Philosophy of Paradox," by L. Simonson '09, is very thoughtful but not thoroughly worked out. The author has not given Chesterton, the whole man. He recognizes the value, critical and philosophical, of many of Chesterton's paradoxes, but is inclined impulsively to give equal importance to all, including those which are mere exercises in verbal ingenuity. We read Chesterton with delight because of his manliness, because of his courage, because he has ideals; we honor him because he insists on the value of ideals and of faith as springs of action; because he would substitute for our modern, sentimental purposelessness the energy of a brave purpose; because he is not what the author concludes, with the worst kind of Chestertonian paradox which consists in twisting a word entirely out of its accepted meaning--because he is not the most decadent of the decadents. Chesterton is a force for manliness and for righteousness; such was not the most typical of the decadents, Oscar Wilde. Of the stories, "The Treasure Voyage" by E. G. Curtis '09 and "The Difference" by E. B. Sheldon '08, it is enough to say that the first shows far more definite attempt at plot and the second more vigorous character drawing than one is accustomed to find in undergraduate productions.
Of the poems it is pleasant and appropriate that the first in the number should be a sonnet to William Vaughn Moody '93, who bids fair to take very high, if not first rank among American poets--and, as an editorial suggests, among American dramatists also. It is noteworthy also that this sonnet should be the work of Percy Mackaye '97, who delighted all of us who heard the play with his strong musical verse in "Jeanne d'Arc." "Villanelle," by W. H. Wright Sp., and "The Descent of Istar into Hades" by J. H. Wheelock '08 enshrine some of the tricks and a little of the fascination of the school of Rossetti. Both show imagination, the second especially has some excellent lines. "The Song of the Revolutionist" by A. Davis '07 has a good galloping rhythm, and "O I'll be there at the Merrymaking" by R. J. Walsh '07 has enough human tenderness to make us forget the time-worn theme.