Two New Books of Poetry
PAOLO STROZZI, PAINTER. By May Earle. Chapman and Hall, Ltd., London, 1927. 5 Shillings.
THIS book of five poems is a jewel the ordinary neck cannot wear. We are told so, most tactfully, in words tucked carefully behind the title page.
"These poems now published, in accordance with her wishes, are not of a popular character, but will, it is hoped, be appreciated by the cultural."
But even the cold need of culture dashed on the fire of curiosity can only make a sizzling noise. The fire burns just the same, giving glow enough to draw a sparkle from the jewel most of us are too weak, too pale to wear.
Miss Earle gives in lyric form an intimate glimpse of the life of Paolo Strozzi, Italian painter. His lougings, his moods and inspirational moments, embroidered by Miss Earle's imagination, are as well presented as could be expected when it is an Englishwoman, cold and cultured, who tries to fathom the murky moods of an Italian who never once saw them in clear form himself.
"Paolo Strozzi" is rich in allusions, wealthy in Renaissance background. It is painted in only the deepest and most beautiful Italian reds and Simone Martin blues and golds. (The poem would have been a better success as a prose explanation of a panel painting.)
Miss Earle who has a rich mine of culture has worked it for its most lavish production. She has exploited her vast knowledge of the English vocabulary to a staggering degree. In so doing the length of verse is often subjected to the cause of an extra-size word or two, thus throwing the reader completely out of step. Her lines are vigorous, robust, even Englishly athletic.
In the latter half of the book may be found some small poems which might appeal to those who can not afford to lose strength in an exhausting reading of the title poem. "Wings" has a lighter, almost fluttering rhythm. Probably the best in the book is the short but extremely powerful poem "Extinct."
All the poems have a decidedly mid-Victorian flavor and religious scent. Only as admirable examples of imagination and poetic color can they be placed on the bookshelves of the appreciative.