I, Erzählende Schriften 30, Casanovas Heimfahrt, Seite 71

17 February, 1923
most definers, I am driven to adopt both methods and to
hard, gemlike Hame, to maintain that ecstasy is to be
insist that, whatever else poetry may lack, it must have
a ##lecess in life. Has the reader ever seriously
its roots in ecstasy, that it differs from pedestrian prose
reflected that“to flit from flower to flower,' far from
in the lift, the exaltation, the moment of rapture. This
being the manifestation of a trivial and degraded
lift'' may be inherent in its subject; it may be evoked
character, is to reveal a vitality, a patience, an almost
by the intensity of a communicated emotion or by a com¬
austere intensity in tlie pursuit of perfection which
bination of verbal precision and musical passion. It
can, which ought to be, admired? Most of us, let us
starts, as Mr. Robert Frost has said,“with a lump in the
admit frankiy, are not quite up to it. We are no of
throat, a homesickness or a love-sickness. It is an effort
ihe blood of the martyrs. Trained in the naive tradi¬
to find fulfilment. A complete poem is one where an
tions of the “prep’’ school and the Junior “prom,' we
emotion has found its thought—and the thought has
lapse, almost before we are aware of it, into a cult of
found the words.“ It may have its basis in an idea,
monogomy which may or may not be noble but #sch
but it must reach out to something more. This some¬
is certainly unimaginative. It is not so with that
thing more is what seems to be lacking, not only in the
unconquerable idcalist, Don Juan. For others, more
cerebral lines of Miss Moore, but in the work of an
happily constituted, the villa and the flivver; for him
entire unorganized though recognizable group. Although
the open road, the waste land, the pathless sea and the
its products may be diverse, its hall-marks are identical:
lonely horizon. In journeyings often, in perils in the
intellectual dexterity, technical preciosity and, as Mr.
city, in perils arong false brethren, in weariness and
Aldington has pointed out, a tone that alternates between
painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and in
obscurity and condescension. In a provocatively con¬
thirst; baffled by a thousand disillusions, he fares on
troversial review of Mr. Waldo Frank’s “City Block,“
with a stern ardour, an invincible belief that some¬
Mr. Kenneth Burke illuminates our indecision from a
where exists the Ideal, and in this faith he lives and
somewhat more acute angle.“If we have to choose be¬
dies. Old age is, of course, the only tragedy that can
tween an artist who is passionless and clever, and an
come to darken this sublime adventure of the senses,
artist who is tumultuous and non-clever the former,?
and before that inevitable Visitant, there is, unfor¬
concludes Mr. Burke, “would be nearer to art.“
tunately, culy one thing to be said to his soul by this
If one is prepared to grant this, if there can be a poetry
martyr of the Ideal: Fool, would'st thou live for
without passion—and one could as easily imagine a music
ever ?°
without sound—Miss Moore’s achieves a special sort of
Curnazar Waldhr.
distinction. Hers is no loose structure of fortunate or
faltering phrases; the form of her expression is as hard
as the contours of her thought. But the critical faculty
Wuy, it has been asked by others besides Mr. Richard
predominates. If, for example, one compares liss
Aldington, is the writing of Marianne Moore so gener¬
Moore’s poem to George Moore with her prose diagnosis
ally absent from most anthologies of contemporary
of the same subject, one finds it difficult to understand
American poetry? Why has she had to wait more than
why this analyst writes so little in what seems to be her
eight years for the publication of her first volume, and
native medium. Nothing short of a perversity of choice
why, even then, has it been necessary for a few friends
explains the selection of the form of poetry for subjects
to “pirate' her work and bring out her one volume in
and titles like Pedantic Literalist, In This Age of
England? Why have critics applauded creations of far
Hard Trying Nonchalance is Good And—. Such
less originality while remaining silent—in these days of
stanzas establish a mood of critical, half-scornful clever¬
howling controversy they could scarcely plead ignorance—
ness. But do they furnish a poetic communication?
concerning an idiom as unique, however difficult, as hers?
Arethey, to ask the question which prompted this inquiry,
There are, doubtless, several contradictory answers to
related by anything more than their apparel to poetry?
these questions. My own prejudiced conclusion is that,
In spite of his admiration for Miss Moore’s recondite
while Miss Moore has elected to offer her highly intel¬
brilliance, at least one reader is compelled to answer in
lectualized dissertations in the form of poetry, she is not,
the negative.
in spite of the pattern of her lines, a poet. It is not to
be inferred from this dogmatic finality, that I do not ad¬
mire Miss Moore’s acidulous and astringent quality. On
the contrary, all of her work displays a surface of flicker¬
Purpir-ORAroky as an art seems in the United States to
ing irony, a nimble sophistication beneath which glitter
have grown out of fashion; either it is not cultivated or
the depths of a cool and continually critical mind. Hers
it is not popular. That there is an interest, however, in
is witticism of a strange genre; but it remains witticism.
the orators of the past, is shown by the frequent appear¬
It is the critic and the wit rather than the poet who can
ances of compilations of ancient and modern eloquence.
combine words and ideas in such a pattern as:
Of the French orators of the pulpit, Bossuet seems to be
There is a great amount of poetry in unconscious
the best remembered, but one finds an occasional refer¬
Fastidiousness. Certain Ming
ence to both Fénélon and Bourdaloue. The title of this
Products, imperial floor-coverings of coach
book“ should have been, Bourdaloue and the Court of
Wheel yellow, are well enough in their way but I
Louis XIV, for Dr. Reville gives us a clearly sketched
have seen something
background of conditions in that brilliant, vicious and
That I like better—a
constantly interesting coterie at Versailles, which the
Mere childish attempt to make an imper¬
Duke de St. Simon has made immortal.
fectly ballasted animal stand up,
A determinate ditto to make a pup
There are two questions which often occur to casual
Eat his meat on the plate.
readers of the Duke de St. Simon and of the“Letters of
Madame De Sévigné.? Did Bourdaloue and the court¬
I see that I have involved myself in the snares of that
preachers compromise in their discourses before the Sun
tangled problem which concerns a definition of poetry.
King, the autocrat, the Prince who never neglected daily
The effort to fix this fluctuant power in a phrase usually
Mass but who for many years publicly kept mistress after
ends either in a hopelessly vatic gesture or a reckless
1Herald of Christ, Louis Bourdaloue, S.J., King of Preachers and
leaping from one generality to another, In common with
Preacher of Kings. A Portrait.“ John C. Reville. New York: Schwartz,
Kirwin & Fauss. Sr.55.
1 Poems.“ Marianne Moore. London: The Egoist Press.