To edit a volume of college verse is a labor of love; to disparage a labor of love is an ungracious act. Yet it is impossible to commend unreservedly "The Poets of the Future: a College Anthology for 1916-17"--the collection of 165 poems that Mr. Henry T. Schnittkind presents after culling over the "several thousand" that were submitted to him by the poets of "several hundred colleges"! One can have nothing but admiration for the patience and industry of an editor who has performed so stupefying a task; also, one can only marvel at the enthusiasm that has survived the pains and that has expressed itself in an exuberant introduction. "I accept as genuine every poem in which the author sincerely and reverently calls out through the night and finds an echo of gladness and recognition," says Mr. Schnittkind. It is a dark night and many of the poets seem far from home.
Notably in the sentimental-romantic, of which there is a cloying surplus.
Why do the arms of me yearn?
Why do the lips of me burn?" sings a young Sappho of Rockford College; on the next page the Swinburne of Rutgers enjoys a cognote ecstasy:
"Tell me, did you ever see
How it is that Love could be
Sweetness poured on me like this,
Sweetness burning in a Kiss!"
There are poets of passion who strike a bolder note, but there are few such highly seasoned passages. By far the greater part of the volume is given over to harmless tinklings. The section of war poems is interesting. Surely here, I thought, will be poems that show the heart and imagination of our colleges astir and aflame. But the poems selected are all of a neutral tinge and most of them of a pacifist taint; possibly they reflect the personal prejudices and predilections of Mr. Schnittkind. There is not one that breathes the spirit of hearty indignation, healthy hate, and noble devotion that I believe animates most American college men in these days--and that must have been expressed in much college verse.
I do not wish to dismiss the collection as one without merit. A few poems shine out: "Thy Heart," by Sigourney Thayer of Amherst, "To Josiah Royce," by Brent Dow Allinson of Harvard; "The Winds of Day and Night," by Russell Lord of Cornell; "Unidentified," by Marie Louise Hersey of Radcliffe. Best of all I like "Rime of the Cross-Cut Saw," by R. S. Clark of Michigan Agricultural College. Many Harvard men after their activities of the vacation may appreciate the lines:
"I've often said, young feller,
An' I always shall insist,
If you've never pulled a cross-cut