ON THE SHELF
If your go to the Harvard Archives on the fourth level of Lamont Library and take from the shelves the back issues of the Advocate, you will find that T. S. Eliot wrote fragile but rather meaningless verse for its pages, and Norman Mailer contributed stories whose characters were the crudest sort of obvious types. There is no telling where an undergraduate may go from those days when he's trying to find himself. Most of the writing in the Commencement Issue of the Advocate reflects some of the failings of this formative period, some of it shows promise.
There is a fragment of Robert Bly's Garrison Prize winning poem "The Indian Trail" printed under the title "Famine." It is the most finished piece in the current issue, and it is unfortunate that only a portion of the whole poem could appear. Mr. Bly's images and choice of words are always clear and appropriate; probably because he has chosen to write about something definite--a Sioux Massacre of 1862. Lyon Phelps' poem "Deutschland, Deutschland," which won honorable mention in the Garrison contest, strongly echoes Eliot in rhythm, symbols, and the use of the device of repeating fragments of a broken phrase. Phelps succeeds in effectively communicating to the reader the mood of fallen Germany in this post-war period.
It is when verse in this issue departs into the realms of the more ephemeral than the starving Sioux that it sometimes fails in communication while attaining technical perfection. For instance, "The Hunter" by Charles Neuhauser fails to convey even a clear image though it seems to be struggling after some psychological mood. Similarly Donald Hall's "Old Home Day" goes to unnecessary, and near baffling lengths of symbolism in creating a brief impression of what seems to be the dying granduer of Wilmot, New Hampshire. His other Garrison Honorable Mention is more successful in expressing the feelings, arising from memory mixed with desire that must come to the old when watching young lovers.
There are three prose pieces by Raoul Gersten, Fred Gwynne, and Jerome Rubenstein in this predominately poetry issue. Gersten's story is the smoothest. Gwynne attempts the difficult description of the relationship between a man and his wife as it finally disintegrates. Unfortunately he has worked in a couple of goldfish which weaken rather than strengthen the story: the characters are warped to fit the symbol, rather than the symbol developing naturally out of insight into their behavior.
"Apart," by Jerome Rubenstein, concerns itself with the individual crises confronting various members of a family following the death of the father. There is a plethora of material here, but it is precisely this excess which hurts the piece. More careful selection and better organization might have made it more forceful.