Prof. Toy Reviews December Monthly
The December number of the Monthly opens fitly with tributes to President Eliot from three men of note, Ambassador Bryce, President Hadley of Yale, and President Wilson of Princeton. On these follows "A Leaf of Bay," a simple and musical two-stanza ode in praise of a warrior who has conquered and may now rest. The collocation suggests that the allusion is to President Eliot, who certainly will watch the young men with undiminished interest as they "look toward the fight," but whether he will be content to rest "careless of the war about" is doubtful. The other pieces of verse show differing degrees of maturity of thought, poetical feeling and constructive skill. The most ambitious of these is "A Night Song,"--a lover's homage to his beloved as the two sit together in a fragrant garden by the sea. The external situation is finely conceived--the reader feels the moonlight, the flowers, the booming of the sea, the isolation. Part of Milton's canon, that poetry should be simple, sensuous and passionate, the poem is faithful to; it has burning passion and sensuous description; but it has not simplicity. Simplicity involves clearness, without which a poem fails to produce its intended effect. Here I am not sure that I understand the emotional situation: what is the "pain" for which God is to be thanked, and why must the lovers be "brave" in their love? One may surmise the explanation, but it does not seem to me that the poem makes it clear. The piece has emotional and descriptive power. The verse is weakened in places by unnecessary repetition of words and phrases: "that drift--that drift," "wild, wild symphony," and several other expressions. The weird, solemn picture in "The Caravan" is impressive, the wording is good (preponderance of monosyllables), and the vagueness gives the imagination free play. The interrogation points in the second and third stanzas should be omitted. The conception in "The Flower Stall" is good; the poem needs verbal revision. The sonnet entitled "Love and Fate" is worthy of praise for the correctness of its construction, the thought moving steadily and naturally to the culmination, and for the dignity of the language. A vigorous plea ("Yoke-fellows") for loyal service in the cause of the Ideal and a pithy, pleasing love-song ("My Absolute") conclude the poetical material of the number.
The prose story "A Woman There Was," is a study of a coquette, thoughtless but not all bad, and a sturdy unsophisticated rustic youth. The phases of feeling and the development of character are well set forth; but how could the young lady be "enclosed by her background," and what is a "perennial" sermon? The warning against believing all we read in newspapers, "The Tyranny of the Press," is timely. "From Clatsop to Nekarney" is a vivid and interesting description of a long walk on the coast of Oregon. The tragic story of the young musician Roderigo is well told in "The Church of Santa Rosa," and there is a laudatory analysis of Sheldon's play "Salvation Nell."
The editorial pages speak of the coming presentation of Allan Davis's play "The Promised Land" by the Dramatic Club, and of the importance of the work the club is doing in shaping the attitude of the College toward the writing of dramas by undergraduates; and there is a hearty word of congratulation for the victorious football team. The number concludes with a sharp condemnation of Herrick's novel "Together"; for such reviews of books more space should be allowed. On the whole the number of the Monthly must be adjudged to be a very good one