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ON THE SHELF

THE ADVOCATE

By J. P. L.

Harry Brown, in the past occasionally a member of the Class of 1941 and now a sort of out-of-course poet laureate, has contributed often to the Advocate since leaving Harvard; and his poems have sometimes been the only saving grace of otherwise subnormal issues. But this month's Advocate is so consistently excellent that it would rate a whole row of stars even without Harry's magnificent "Ode For Richard Eberhart."

A short story by Nelson Gidding at his newest best, Billy Abraham's poignant "Wind In Dry Grass" and his "Concertino," and Bowden Broadwater's "Jewelled Channing Sisters" are worthy companions to Harry Brown's masterpiece. But "The Ode For Richard Eberhart" is the outstanding writing in the issue.

Brown speaks as a poet to another poet, Eberhart, and the subject is the common goal of the two--to attain universality of sympathy and expression. The goal is one which no poet has attained--there is a lingering but powerful hint in the poem's background of the author's realization that he may be doomed to failure in seeking it. But the poem is more an exhortation to achievement, in which the author incites himself and another to accomplish what previous poets have failed to do.

Paced in musically broken stanza-sentences, the ode's complicated theme, about which many subsidiary thoughts and counter-thoughts are skillfully woven, develops with unique rhythmic clarity. Brown creates telling poetic figures, uses them interestingly, and achieves by so doing the communication of a soul-stirring idea in its emotional and intellectual entirety.

In "It's O.K., O.K.," Nelson Gidding displays a facility of technique and a mastery of dramatic detail that make his story excellent reading. The emphasis on character psychology, combined with these technical qualities, results in a stimulating narrative which increases steadily in intensity to the end. Gidding saves the final knockout punch for the last few lines, although if the reader has the perception, the conclusion will come as no surprise. The story is probably the best the author has produced so far.

Another short story of the psychological variety, but one in which the main character is of even more an introverted and frustrated type, is Billy Abrahams' "Wind In Dry Grass." Pure character psychology, without recourse to actual external detail, is a tough assignment, but Abrahams handles the job well. The kaleidoscopic emotions of the dying intellectual, frustrated by the realization of his physical inferiority, are portrayed poignantly and effectively.

Cleverly chosen artificialities, collectively representing the tinsel world of both men and peacocks, form the main body of "Concertino for the Death of a Favorite Peacock," also by Abrahams. The poem propels a telling shaft at a world crowded with forests of obelisks, pilasters, and Byzantine roadhouses.

Bowden Broadwater's satirical fantasy entitled. "The Jewelled Channing Sisters" is a rather brutal, though skillful, revelation concerning the inner lives of a pair of tortured New England virgins from Woonsocket, where men are scarce.

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