THE fundamental fault in modern poetry is its lack of morality. In presenting this thesis in his Charles Eliot Norton Lectures for 1929-30, here published, Professor Garrod does not shrink. To tell a world of poets who detest the touch of morality when they grope in the dark for the hand of beauty that the weakness of their work is their own attitude requires, if not courage, conviction and firm bases.
These chapters rearrange some of the portraits in the gallery of letters and lucidity of style adds grace to the arguments employed to justify the changes. If Professor Garrod does not destroy contrary convictions he shakes them thoroughly. Arnold, Clough, Emerson, and Bridges, he treats with scholastic insight too rarely found in company of poetic comprehension. His light is sharp and deeply cuts into the body of poetic expression while his own vehicle is characterized by a delicacy that is pleasing respite from the brutishness of many modern critics of letters.
The criticism takes a firm stand and is a happy work because of its clarity and well-denied standards. Too often critical essays of letters are based on ill-expressed foundations. Though at times the lectures may fall into questionable severities, they come as a reactionary warning that will prove valuable to poets of letters and life in their attempt to solve the pale geometry of snow.