It's an event when a student magazine appears at Harvard; the only one that arrives with any regularity these days is the HSA Calendar. This winter the Lion Rampantemerged from Winthrop House looking very triumphant in its shiny new cover. Looks, unfortunately, aren't everything.
The Lion Rampantcontains three good poems. Richard Kershner's "Three Preludes." Kershner, a junior at Johns Hopkins, apparently writes a lot; more of his poems will be published this fall in a volume by young Baltimore poets. More importantly, his work shows what the other poems and the one story in the Lion Rampantdo not-a degree of artistic accomplishment Kershner can work with words; they make his ideas tangible, add relevance to some very personal thoughts.
In the first prelude, which is untitled, Kershner shows the emptiness of a man's mind by filling his attention with a clutter of objects. But he yearns after his missing lover, and the objects become cruel and taunting. The grapes seem cruel because they are "hard," the saucers and chairs because "they do not choose to speak." He uses versification cleverly, with ironic intent:
...the faint, sweet smell of burning...
The other poems, "The Body Vigil" and "Im Herbst," although both are rather weak in organization from stanza to stanza, show that Kershner has developed a poetic vocabulary. He speaks again and again of the seasons, of ice, of wind, of worms, of fire, and these images come to define, not merely describe, feelings.
It is difficult to criticize the other writers at length; you can't say much once you've said "It's bad."
John Casey, whose story, "A Taste of Cherry," begins "I cannot describe to you very well the boarding school," deserves a nod of agreement and a sigh. Lee Grove, a young man distressed by what old men think, rates a prize for non-sequiturs and bad puns. Kevin Lewis, who has written two poems about vapid lives, could be accused of writing method poetry.
Lynn Phillips has sketched often. Once, on the cover, she has drawn crazily--a horse that, by all rights, should be a lion, and looks like a reindeer. Once, in illustrating William Simmon's unbelievably naive poem, she has drawn well.