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ON THE SHELF

If Judgment Comes, by Alfred Noyes. Frederick A. Stokes Co., 46 p.p., $1.50.

By E. G.

WRITTEN in blank verse and viewing the current war purely as a struggle between a moustached Mephistopheles and British Righteousness, Alfred Noyes' new poem lacks both rhyme and reason. The stirring ballad style and pointed irony of his more famous poetry has yielded to Carlyic-like turgidity and verbosity. The former Princeton professor approaches a quotable quote only once in half a hundred pages when he condemns amongst the wave of irrationalists who prepared the intellectuals for Hitler, the

". . . Psychologists For whom the living soul had bolts and screws Took the blind engines screw by screw apart For 'Readjustment'--not redemption, now--And working in the dark where none can work, With diagrams of the soul's machinery, Taught the new bogus teachers how to make Their automatic robots of mankind . . . Ready to click their heels at the right lie, And march, to Wagner's music, anywhere."

In the rest of the poem Noyes does nothing but hate Hitler in a fairly incoherent, uninteresting manner. The slim volume may well be stacked against "Mein Kampf" by history as evidence that irrationality calls forth rebuttal in kind and that war never fails to bring out the worst features of mankind along with a few of the better ones. By picturing this war as a kind of Holy Crusade which high school histories record but which the world has never seen, and by prodding the passions of the multitudes (with good publicity, "If Judgment Comes" can run "White Cliffs" a close race for the most popular hack poetry of the year), Noyes may help win the war, but will surely help lose the peace. Only by the frank recognition that this war is no different from 1914 and 1870 and not too different from 1815 and before--springing from the same sources and in danger of being driven by illogical passions toward the same inadequate settlements--can the problem ever be solved.

A pacifist prior to World War I, a paid propagandist for the Empire during it, and the author of the "Victory Ball" which painted the uselessness of it all for the post-war world, Noyes has previously written rhymed rhetoric during his pacific periods and rhymed drivel in his belligerent moods. In World War II the intellectual chameleon has again changed color--the only difference is that this time the drivel doesn't rhyme.

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