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The June Advocate and the Class-Day Advocate, fresh from the press, make a very strong finish to a hard year's work on the part of the editors. There is much good grain among the chaff. The Class-Day number contains the Class Poem by James Gore King Jr.--remarkable above all for its sincerity. One stanza every man in 1920 who hears it and every man in every other class who reads it will not forget:
"For they gave all they had for liberty,
Which they had learned richly to value here;
In faith they gave it, and humanity,
And left us guardians of what they held dear.
Must now the torch die out where last they dropped it,
Where bullets stopped it,
Or shall we bear it on, still burning clear?"
There are particularly good things, too, in the political supplement of the June number, and there are other poems and sketches that make good reading but where the bulk of undergraduate writing has not failed to reflect the difficulties of this period of suspense, Mr. King's poem takes a solid place in our hearts by touching on this very topic.
The Class Ode, by Paul Rice Doolin, is a good chore well done, and there is no particular fault to be found with Mr. King's "Comradeship," in the June number. The Lloyd McKim Garrison Prize Poem, by A. Morley Dobson, shows much skill in the difficult sestina, but far too little depth of judgement. In more senses than one, it is simple to uphold one side of the Flume controversy, and only to rhapsodize, not judge, or analyze the question. The normal reaction from this sort of thing has been expressed by an undergraduate some months ago, in the Harvard Magazine:
"Why, gentlemen who choose these subpects, why--
You by whom our "Veritas" is held
Aloft that all Lie's legions may be quelled,
Your "in hoc signo"--why, then, make us lie?"
But it is not so bad to have written this rather attractive sestina "just for a handful of silver" by way of prize, as to have let bad grammar and worse sentiment appear as the product of one's muse. Among the smaller poems in the June number appear such lines as these:
"Either night has really ceased love,
Or the light arise from you."
"I hear the trumpets of the sun resound
In muted cadence, drawing ever nigh
And saw, from where I lay on grassy mound,
The naked arm of morn stretched through the sky."
When it comes to politics, the outstanding item is the very clear exposition by Frederick W. Dallinger '93, of "Liberty and its Relation to Patriotism as Illustrated by the Berger-Case," followed by an adumbration of the issue, with a "qualitatively different perspective," by Mr. Harold J. Laski, who thinks that to act as Mr. Berger did "is of the essence of citizenship," and that "What we (meaning the English) would almost above all forget is our imprisonment of Bertrand Russell." He compares the intolerance of the United States to that of Germany before the war, and that of Russia before the revolution, and ends with the comforting remark that Mr. Berger's case only faintly reflects the temper which caused such upheaval, yet its appearance must be distressing to all who value the traditions for which America came into being." Clearly, we should all have refused to fight, as Mr. Berger wanted us to do; clearly, we should have made him dictator and interim, pending the arrival of the Kaiser's Governor of the United States. One thing we can learn from all this--that England has had her troubles, and that the worst is not quite over over there.
The faults of these two numbers of the Advocate are the weakness or obscurity of some of the essays on literary matters and the dearth of good fiction. "Beneath the Cliff," by Mr. M. A. Kister, in the June number, though perhaps decadent in spirit, shows undeniable power. And in the Class-Day number the fifth of Mr. J. F. Leys' "Billet Ballads" has real fun in every line. But there are not enough such contributions. Except in the field of politics, the essays are somehow strained and dull.
The College could enjoy more articles on industry, more biographical and historical sketches and more good stories. Next year should see the Advocate fulfilling every requirement that the most exacting of critics can lay down.
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