Those who have followed Mr. Auslander's work from his undergraduate days know that poetry has been to him from the first a sustaining power. Instinctively he has absorbed it and made it a part of himself; instinctively he turns to it for self-expression. His early poems show that "the numbers came". In blank verse his master was Milton; and he was an apter pupil than many; in light metres he could produce such a lovely little quatrain as,--
The shadow-sentinels will know
And let my spirit pass;
The breezes will forget to blow
A warning to the grass.
A master of versification, he took, as his right, a master's freedom. He was lavish of trisyllabic feet in iambic measures, giving anapaestic movement to line after line of a sonnet. His vocabulary was large and luxuriantly responsive, too ready to encourage love of words for the sound's sake. With closer attention to his art he has resolutely checked unthinking profusion: what he gives his reader is the quintessence of the poetry that is in him--his closely packed, severely chosen best; and in this best; and in this best are individuality, imagination, and beauty.
Proves Feeling For Rhythm
Again and again Mr. Auslander proves his feeling for rhythm and his skill in versification. Here are the first two stanzas of "The Ship Sings":--
Wind-torn, wave-worn, still I sing delight of it,
Buffeted of breakers, I am jubilant and free!
Storm-trod, nearer God, flung into the fright of it,
Battered to the teeth by the sea!
Rail-wrenched, sail-drenched, swung along the swell of it,
Lifted to the level of the rime-stung stars!
Deck-chopped, wreck-dropped, down into the hell of it