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centenary review 

From the Editor: 

This is the first issue of a new literary magazine, 
the centenary review, published and edited by the 
Venture group, young writers possessing similar ideals 
and literary principles, who feel that there is a de- 
finite need for literary expression in this section of 
the country. 

A new magazine such as this has been the long 
felt need to give more voice to both younger writers 
and established ones whose work will appear from 
time to time in this review. Manuscripts will be wel- 
comed and will be subject to the approval of the 
Editorial Board. 

Credit for the birth of this review must go to the 
members of Venture who have laboured very long 
and very hard to make its publication possible. 

Albert Paris Leary 

the centenary review 

3 VICARIOUS James Aswell 


10 TWO PORTRAITS (verse) Charles Raines 

11 "AFTER SUCH KNOWLEDGE" Mary Jane Callahan 

12 TWO TRIOLETS Robert Regan 


21 TO PETER VIERECK (verse) 


Albert Paris Leary 


23 OUR DRIED VOICES Albert Paris Leary 

25 THREE POEMS Mary Jane Callahan 

26 HEART-FLOWER (verse) 




Second Class Mailing Permit Pending. 

Next Issue ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Cleanth Brooks 

Ralph White 

Richard Kirk 

This Issue ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Evan Campbell is a young author in the field of economics, study- 
ing for a degree at Centenary College; his interest has been devoted 
mainly to factual writings, but he has in preparation a number of short 
stories and other essays such as Trouble In Paradise, found on page 7. 

Albert Paris Leary is a young poet studying for degree in literature 
at Centenary College. His interest is widely divided, perhaps with an 
emphasis on poetry. He has a novel in preparation, another part of which 
may appear in a future issue of the centenary review. 

James As well is a well known writer whose novel, The Midsummer 
Fires, was published last year; his short stories have appeared in national 
magazines for a number of years. For those readers who have followed 
Mr. Aswell's works closely it will be of interest that Vicarious is the 
exact point at which he changed his focus from what people do to the 
terrors and dramas inside the mind. It is a schizoid story; the outcome 
of this technique may be found in The Midsummer Fires. Mr. Aswell 
is currently at work on a new novel. 

Raymond Carey has been interested in Carl Sandburg for quite 
some time and has written many illuminating essays on that poet. Per- 
haps the tersest and most evaluating of these is his verse on page 22 ; 
this must not be taken as mere parody; it is something far deeper than 
any parody ever is. 

Mary Jane Callahan whose sharp satire on Venture appears on page 
11 is esentially an essayist; however she is also interested in verse, and 
three of her shorter poems appear on pages 25 and 26. She has gone into 
Public Relations work after receiving her degree from Centenary College. 

Ada Jack Carver, whose play The Cajun is one of the most mem- 
orable of Oneacts, has been a Harper Prize Winner and a contributor 
to nationally known magazines for a number of years. (Perhaps her 
most famous stories are Red Bone, Treesby and Cotton Dolly.) At 
present she is at work on a new play. 

(Continued on page 36) 




Author of "The Midsummer Fires" 

Professor Maurice Tenters of Southeastern Tech's mathematics de- 
partment hung his lean, bespectacled face forward as though his chin 
rested on a wire. His heart beat fast in a strange cold delicious dark- 
ness. It was coming. It was coming now. And no one, no one would 
ever know how he felt. 

Hot; lush, balmy-hot — deep summer night in the deep South. 
Resin rose from the pine seats of the old arena to spoil pants and dresses 
unheeded as the preliminary black boys sparred and slugged and grap- 
pled under the baking ring lights. The crowd, a damp, summery, farm- 
and-village crowd, moaned with delight. 

The Plantsville arena was small and steep, seating maybe five hun- 
dred people; it was full. Ropes divided the tiered seats into white and 
colored sections, like a cake iced half with chocolate and half with 

And high in the vanilla section the gray-eyed girl named Nan 
pulled Professor Tenter's sleeve. 

"Look. Ted. He's coming. Oh Lord, I hope he wins!" 

Professor Tenters unhooked his chin from the non-existent wire. 
He put the automatic part of him into operation. He could do that. 
He made a deprecatory noise in his throat, patted Nan's shoulder. 

"It's not important, dear. You mustn't be so excited. It's simply 
experience for Ted. He can look back on the whole thing as a unique 
intellectual adventure, rounding him into manhood. I always say this 
boxing will make a better teacher of him, show him things about psy- 
chology he could never otherwise learn." 

Automatic talk. He had said these things so many times. Even 
to Ted. No one, not Ted or Nan ever, even after they were married, 
would guess the earthquakes which shook his heart tonight. 

"You're so cold about it, Professor. I don't see. — Oh, he is lovely 
to look at, isn't he? And suddenly Nan bit her lip and went silent, 

The Professor made the sort of noise kindly old professors make 
in the presence of young love. But he thought: Lord God sloe's right. 
My son is a beautiful thing to look at. 

And Ted Tenters was that. He stood easily in one corner of the 
makeshift ring, pawing the canvas with his hard legs. He was Y-shaped, 
all brawn and hair-trigger sinew. That physique was no accident, either, 

/ ) 

Professor Tenters reflected with sly pride. It was no accident that a 
gnome-like man wearing horn-rimmed spectacles had taken a three-year- 
old motherless boy by the hand that night long ago and, in the school 
gym, introduced him to parallel bars and Indian clubs and shadow-boxing. 

Nan, her confusion forgotten, was talking excitedly again now. 
"Oh, Professor, look at his opponent! He looks like a brute, Professor. 
Oh, if I were Ted I'd be scared to death. I hope — " 

Professor Tenters clucked softly, reassuringly, turning the automatic 
valve again. "My dear, you simply musn't agitate yourself so. Ted 
won't be hurt. He's never even been knocked down in all his amateur 
and his five professional fights. And what if he does lose? This is 
not his work, dear." 

"But you're so cold about it. How on earth can you — " 

Professor Tenter's eyes were narrowed as he studied the big red- 
headed youth opposite his son. George "Killer" Doyle, of Memphis, 
with a record of forty-six professional knockouts — in small-time stuff, 
of course, but a potential comer. He was without question a disturbing 
animal with that flaming hair, those prehensile arms and cunning eyes. 
But Ted couldn't lose. Not possibly. Not after all these years of pre- 
paration, all this waiting — 

The referee was giving final instructions now in the center of the 

Nan said: "I think that man in the Panama hat near the ring is 
the fellow who came over from New Orleans to see Ted work. If he 
wins they say he'll be offered a contract. Oh, Professor, I hope he 
does win!" 

Professor Tenters gave a hollow laugh. His classroom laugh. 
"In that case I certainly hope he loses." 

The bell. 

Professor Tenters shot his chin forward, galvanized past all pretense. 
It was beginning. He was down there now in the ring, fighting with 
Ted, feeling every blow, consulting in every strategy. 

Both boys sparred off warily. Ted danced around the red head; 
feinted; experimented with several gentle lefts. Now Doyle moved 
in and fired a left and a right which glanced off Ted's gloves. Ted 
retaliated with a vicious hook. It landed, but not squarely. They 
clinched and the referee broke them. 

Ted was dancing again. He charged and fired three or four ex- 
perimental lefts. Doyle replied with a hard right which missed. They 
clinched again. 

Suddenly Professor Tenters became aware that he had been yelling 
and that he was involved in some sort of altercation with the man in 
front of him. 

" — got to keep your feet to yourself." 

Nan was tugging at his sleeve. 

"Professor! You're annoying people in the next row. Sit back 
a little. There. Well, you're at least human!' She grinned. 

"Of course." 

The round was over now. Ted was safe. He had the other fellow's 
measure. He'd romp home now. 

Professor Tenters apologized to the man whose back he had been 
belaboring with his knees; relaxed, grew almost gay with his automatic 

"Yes, my dear, I suppose I did respond a little to the excitement 
of the fight. But as I always tell my classes, and I've told Ted since 
he was a little boy, there's more pure excitement in an idea, more wallop 
from sheer intellectual curiosity than from all the sports and games and 
physical stimuli there are." 

"Uh-huh," said Nan, her eyes on Ted. "But I think that man in 
the Panama looks interested." 

"My dear, you certainly don't want our boy to get into the fight 
business — not seriously. You know as well as I do that Ted has his 
heart set on teaching psychology and he'll make a great teacher." 

"Of course," said Nan. 

The bell for the second round exploded like an ice bomb in Pro- 
fessor Tenter's head. He went away again from Nan. 

Ted moved in grinning now. He took three short jabs to the body 
and uncorked a swinging right which landed. Doyle shook his head, 
danced back and in. They traded lefts and rights briefly on the ropes 
and then Ted fired a really hard one, the first serious blow he had at- 
tempted and it caught Doyle on the chin. He was staggered. They 

Professor Tenter's heart sang. Of course. It was coming. It was 
coming now. Lies, lies, lies. What did they matter? Intellectual ex- 
citement, his foot! Ted would win and go on winning, up and up. 
Fierce, dreadful battles, near escapes from defeat, high victories in a 
hundred cities, life, all the dark hot juice of life pumping free. And 
a little near-sighted boy with a skinny chest and a drawer full of cor- 
respondence courses in muscle development from the advertisements, 
a little near-sighted boy who worshipped Jim Jeffries but who had a 
strange, dull talent for doing sums in the head, would come into his 
own — after fifty years. 

Now Ted broke carelessly from the clinch and Doyle got in two 
hard, thudding blows to the mid-section. Ted broke away, dancing, in 
agony. But then his face cleared. The grin came back and he moved 
toward Doyle purposefully. The bell ended the round. 

And simultaneously the patron in front of Professor Tenters lunged 
back so hard that the Professor was catapaulted against the knees of the 
man behind him. 

"Hey, you — " the Professor screamed. And then: "Oh, I beg 
your pardon, sir. I forgot — " 

Nan giggled. 

The third round began fast. Ted carried the battle now, with the 
air of a man who wanted to get something [finished. He took three des- 

perate rights to the head and then crossed a pair of vicious blojws to 
Doyle's head. Doyle went off balance and Ted ;fired another stick of 
dynamite at his ribs. Doyle went to his knees and then to the floor. 
He got up on the count of nine, but the crowd was roaring now and the 
kill was imminent. 

But in the next fifteen seconds many things happened. The man 
in front of Professor Tenters, for one thing, lunged back so angrily that 
the Professor was sprawled into the lap of a fat man behind him. And 
for another the crowd, with the exception of the Professor, who was 
struggling wildly to join them, was on its feet, yelling. At last he 
fought his way up, in time to see the referee standing there with — Oh, 
God ! — with Doyle's hand in the air. On the canvas lay the prone form 
of Ted Tenters, moving feebly. 

$ $ 4 

Ted walked up to the car, parked under a street light, and said, 
"Hello folks!" 

He was paper-pale. One eye was blue. 

Nan cried: "Ted! Are you hurt?" 

"Not a bit. Well, not much. A little dazed." 

Nan put the car into low. Professor Tenters, on the back seat, 
murmured harshly: 

"You lost!" 

"I sure did, Dad. And you know, I'll never know just how I lost. 
I had Doyle whipped. And then a funny thing happened. I saw the 
look in his eyes. That fight meant so much to him, with that man from 
New Orleans watching and all. Why, it was his whole life. And he 
was losing." 

Ted chuckled then and went on after a pause. 

"Day, I think you lost me that fight. You've always said that there's 
more wallop in a pure idea than in any sport or game and suddenly I 
had a notion. I'd write my master's thesis on the psychological reactions 
of a fighter and on how it felt to be knocked out. I didn't do it purposely. 
I wanted to win — with my conscious mind. But I think something 
subtle and exciting from deep inside my mind made me open up a little, 
give Doyle his opportunity to come inside my guard and strike. And 
he did — and how!" 

"Most interesting," said Professor Tenters. 

And that night, standing in his pa jama trousers in front of his bed- 
room mirror, the Professor felt his frail, sore body over gingerly. Lies, 
he thought. So many lies, so many years. Automatic talk — lies come 
home to roost. But were they lies? Were they really — ? 

Anyhow, maybe it was just as well. He was a mass of bruises — 
knees and back and chest. 

"He'd have fought the big ones eventually," he murmured con- 
fusedly. "I never could have taken it. Louis — why even Galento would 
murder me." He felt a blue elipse on his right kneecap. "Yes. Those 
big ones would have murdered me sure." 

nouble Hn PabadUe 


It is immediately apparent to the student of the matter that a shift 
is taking place in the established distribution of industrial capital in the 
U. S. Since the late thirties, there has been an ever increasing tendency 
for both population and industry to move away from the crowded and 
generally unsatisfactory conditions of the Northeast to the relatively un- 
developed South and West. The center of population has moved from 
Ohio to Illinois since the nineteen thirty census. The cities of the Mid- 
West and South- West have recorded an almost phenomenal growth in 
population and capital. Consider the most outstanding example of 
this, Houston. The 1940 census gave it about 360,000, but the latest 
estimate places it around 600,000, an almost two to one jump. Accom- 
panying this were hundreds of new industries and businesses, which 
are flourishing in a way remeniscent of the old time boom-town. 

Although Houston is perhaps the best known of the new growing 
cities of the section it is by no means the only one. Along with it are 
Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, New Orleans, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, 
Jackson, Little Rock, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and many others. The list 
of industries migrating to these cities sounds like a roll call of the machine 
age. Every type of major manufacturing and retailing is represented, 
along with many others unique to this area. 

There is one thing which the last few years has not changed, the 
importance of oil. Throughout all the southwest, the highways are still 
crowded with the big trucks which carry the blood of an industrial nation, 
and the railways have thousands upon thousands of tank cars bearing 
the names of oil companies. In hundreds of places the sprawling re- 
fineries and cracking plants spread their surrealist shapes against the 
southern sky. Although the other industries are rapidly assuming their 
rightful positions of importancee, the petroleum industry still pervades 
every aspect of the scene. Many of the cities owe their growth to it. 
Tulsa would still be a small plains town had it not been for this gift of 
the earth. 

There is still another factor which is gaining tremendously in the 
Southwestern economy and that is its foreign trade. The new International 
House in New Orleans gives testimony to the awakening interest of 

Southern businessmen to the advantages of trade with other countries. 
This building enables foreign business and tradesmen to meet with both 
the representatives of American companies and those of other nations. 
This, in addition to the International Trade Zone, has sent the harbor 
traffic of New Orleans booming to new heights. The principal source 
of this trade is Latin America, but on any day the flags of every nation 
may be seen in the port, which is the third largest in the nation, in volume 
of traffic. There are mile after mile of docking facilities and excellent 
freight connections to other parts of the country, but do not think that 
New Orleans enjoys unrivaled control of the Southern import dollar. 
There is a bitter and constantly growing feud between it and Houston 
which at times assumes almost warlike proportions. Every year, thou- 
sands of ships, particularly tankers, come up the Houston ship channel 
to buy and sell in the Texas metropolis, and to pour millions of dollars 
into the young economy. 

All this progress is still a relatively new thing to the South and it 
is far from complete, or even well started. There are several factors 
which serve only to retard progress and in some cases to stop it altogether. 
There are several of these deterrant factors and it is hard to say which 
are the most important, but in examining them one should never lose 
sight of what they are: merely the inevitable barriers which all progress 
must and will overcome. 

First of all there are the diehards, the old guard that resists any 
change because it is new and because it interferes with the established 
pattern by which they have lived and prospered for so long. There are 
many of these in the South, the Rankins, Bilbos and Talmadges that live 
their parasite existences on the bigotry and ignorance of the people they 
supposedly represent. They try always to prevent anything which will 
upset the order which supports them and their kind. The very existence 
of new jobs and new ways of living makes them shudder in new spasms 
of bombastic horror. But every year they can feel their long held power 
slowly but surely sliding from their tenacious grasp. Men like this can- 
not forever hold back the change which is much too strong for them to 
stop. One day before many years have passed, the tenant farmers and 
sharecroppers are going to realize that it is the very men that they have 
kept in power who are preventing them from finding the plenty for which 
they have been working blindly for so many decades. There are men 
such as these everywhere, but they are all seeing that their days are 
numbered and that the awakening is due. Here in the Southwest it is 
the blind, obedient, and foolish following of the communists toward 
the promised land, or the wistful ideals of the socialists. On the other 
hand there is little similarity to the robber baron tactics of early Ameri- 
can Capitalism. No, it is something new, and the old men of the South 
don't like it. They are still powerful, and will be for some time yet, 
but the change is coming and these remnants of a dying civilization 
must realize that they are in the twilight of their power. 


The second factor is somewhat more dimcult to analyze than the 
first, and also more temporary. It lies in the remains of the one-crop 
agricultural economy which held sway for so long. As a matter of pure 
economics it is obvious that no good can come of the continued over- 
production of cotton, although to say this is practically heresy in some 
circles. Although the entire South suffers from this, the most apparent 
sufferers are the small one-family farmers. These victims of the law 
of diminishing returns are what the economist calls marginal producers, 
i.e. they put more into the land than they get out of it. They are com- 
pletely tied to the price of cotton, and thus they lead an even more up 
and down existence than most farmers. Although the warehouses are 
full of more cotton than could be used in several years of normal use, 
a surplus is produced every year and the pegged prices won't allow the 
normal oversupply situation. The entire agricultural set up of the South 
is changing away from this sort of thing, even though it is a rather 
dimcult transition. New crops are being introduced and many of the 
people who were formerly hoeing cotton are now operating drill presses 
and power lathes in some city. 

Third comes the more complex problem of absentee ownership. 
To anyone sincerely interested in southern development, it is a dis- 
agreeable fact that a large number of the industries of the South, par- 
ticularly the later arrivals, are owned, at least in part, by Eastern capital. 
Now this is considerably more than a matter of resentment of outsiders. 
The view is widely held that the money made in the South should stay 
in the South to be reinvested and to create more wealth in the develop- 
ment of the new progress. There is a good deal of justification, both 
economic and moral, in this, but the situation is partly taking care of 
itself. Many of the industrialists who opened branch plants in the South 
were so pleased at the results that they are moving the entire business, 
thus bringing the capital back. However, this is a problem which must 
be solved before the transition can be complete. 

The last of these factors to be mentioned is perhaps the most difficult 
of all to unravel and take out into the light. It is the attitude of the 
rest of the nation, especially the Federal Government, toward the South, 
which has long held the position, possibly justified, of a poor and not 
too desirable relation. This is evident in practically everything that 
Washington has to do with states below the Mason-Dixon line. Ap- 
parently the heads of our Government feel that certain demagogues 
represent the entire Southern population and act accordingly. The in- 
stances of this sort of behavior are too numerous to be catalogued here, 
but a good example was the rider which was almost attached to a Federal 
education bill which would have prevented aid to any state practicing 
racial segregation. Now on the surface this might be logical and right, 
but it also denies this aid to all the other residents of these states, and 
that is definitely not right. Tho only possible way that this can be 
worked out is for both sides to realize that it is to their mutual benefit 

to forget old differences and work together to a common end. 

Yes, there is trouble in paradise, the kind of trouble Rip Van Winkle 
must have felt when he awoke to realize that he was in a different world. 
It's trouble all right, but there are people who like that kind of trouble, 
and their ranks are growing every day. The South is about ready to 
greet a guest which is long overdue, but still welcome. 

e+« C*9 C*d 



Four Old Men 

In these four faces 

Four dawns reveal their 

Not so absconded places 

Rare in the demi-light of evening, 

Obscured by ages and time, 
Replaced by memory 
Falling vaguely in their 
Lime-colored minds 
For sake of old man's revery. 

Sitting four together 
Observed by children in the street 
They form the feather 
Movement of time. 


An Old Woman 

Springing in light 

The farther method of despondency 

Comes home in lines of visaged age. 

For when tall shadows no longer lumber 

On the walls the home has spent 

Its sententient hour. 

She awaits the coming of memory 

And watches for purple stilts of afterthought, 

Fictitiously rocks upon the porch 

In front of where the world has settled 

At her feet. Not moving to be exchanged 

For fancy-world nor progress in the street: 

Only waiting in time, a catalyst for her thoughts. 

— Charles Raines. 


"After Such Knowledge" 

By Mary Jane Callahan 

September is the cruellest month, blanketing the dead grass with 
multi-colored leaves and bringing the renaissance of the hopeful literati 
who gather in smoke-ifilled rooms to chat knowingly of Peter Viereck 
and Truman Capote, and place fresh flowers in front of selected volumes 
of T. S. Eliot. 

Ever and always there is the college avant-garde movement — tight 
little groups of intense people avidly discussing the latest in who pub- 
lished where, world politics, and the limp-watch school of art. 

Meetings, like members, are serious and intense, and marked by 
the sharp rise and fall of too many authoritative voices. 

Perhaps the typical example of the avant-garde movement, which 
leads the remainder of the students like a flying wedge, may be seen in 
a college organization of our acquaintance known as the "Exploit Club." 
Their motto is "nothing exploited, nothing gained." 

Better insight and description of the local literary luminaries might 
be gained by giving a fairly accurate account of one of their meetings. 

Last time we attended one of their gatherings, we entered a room 
filled with smoke which was not due to the five leading brands of cigarets 
they were smoking, but to incense being burned in front of a volume of 
T. S. Eliot bound in human hide. The hide, we were told, formerly 
belonged to a member who, in a moment of weakness, confessed to 
reading Eddie Guest on occasion. 

The meeting began in earnest when Amy St. Vincent Teasdale, 
president, arose before anyone could protest and began to read one of 
her own poems. The first stanza went "Go 'way, little ducks in my 
back yard, ye make me nervous," and the chorus repeated the phrase 
"Little Ducks" 3,917 times. Miss A. St.V. Teasdale went on to explain 
that the first stanza expressed her distaste at the sameness of the menu 
in the cafeteria plus her abnormal desire to use day-old transfers on the 
trolley, while the chorus expressed the number of light years between 
Praxiteles and Dostoyevsky. 

The sudden rise of a nasal voice in the corner turned our attention 
to T. S. Sandburg who was standing on his hand-hewn soap-box with 
the gilt handles and ranting about the sordid effects of the Taft-Hartley 
law on Scotch-Irish children under five years of age. At the climax of 
his oration, the room rang with "amen" and wild huzzahs. Members 


clapped their feet together wildly and called for more vodka and beer, 
mixed, in which to drown their individual and collective woes. Amy 
St. V. T., forgetting all propriety, sprang up on the coffee table and cut as 
neat a buck and wing as ever was seen. 

At this point someone mentioned Karl Shapiro and the group silently 
and automatically chose up sides and weapons and joined in a merry 
little free-for-all. When everyone sat quietly or lay unconsciously on 
the uncarpeted floor, the entertainment of the evening was introduced, 
consisting of the second movement of Johann Sebastian O'Houlihan's 
memorable composition "Who Threw The Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy's 
Ovaltine?" For an encore, miss sapho sapho sapho, clad in a simple 
shift of plaid horse blanket, rendered a short reading from the "Master" 
which moved her so that, as she concluded Shantih 

Shantih, she fell in a 
dead faint. 

The meeting ended with the president reading solemnly from "Old 
Possum's Book of Practical Cats" while members stood with bowed and 
bared heads, after which they ifiled quietly out, shouldering their manu- 
scripts and kicking aside old bodies and cigaret butts. 

September, like we keep saying, is the cruellest month. 

(T*3 <T*3 CVO 


My darling makes her cross on breast so fair 

That I scarce know which spheres my soul has sought. 
As from her sensuous lips there issues prayer 
My darling makes her cross on breast so fair 
That all the spheres of heaven, earth and air 
Are fused, as I, with one unholy thought: 
My darling makes her cross on breast so fair 

That I scarce know which spheres my soul has sought. 


The ramifications of death are daemonic, 

The start of the stopping, the swell and contraction 

Of watched toward the watcher. A thought near platonio — 

"The ramifications of death are daemonic" — 

Serves circumlocution, prevents the ironic 
Reality's finding a moment for action. . . 

The ramifications of death are daemonic, 

The start of the stopping, the swell and contraction. 

— Robert Regan. 


By Ada Jack Carver* 

Everyone, even the grown people in the old town on the river where 
we lived, knew that Suellen told stories. Oh, whoppers, some of them! 
Like the time she said that her father had betrothed her in infancy (that 
was Suellen' s phrase) to a fabulous Sudanese prince, who was coming 
to claim her when she was Sweet Sixteen, — the Sweet Sixteen was Sue- 
ellen's too. 

But most of her lies, her little white lies, which after all were not 
so little and not so white, were concerned with being poor and in want, — 
Suellen, whose father could buy out the town, people said. On Spring 
afternoons when school was out, here she'd come, Suellen, sashaying 
along under the trees, that were dripping with flowers, dressed in bor- 
rowed rags, a pair of Bluebell's high-heeled slippers (Bluebell was the 
colored maid at Suellen's house) hanging sloppily to her feet, slippers 
she'd ifished out of the ash-heap to make herself look thrown-away. 
And if you so much as looked at her she would plant herself in your 
hammock, or join the grownups brazenly in the best chairs, and without 
batting an eyelash she would begin to spin her yarns, — on and on and 
on and on. . . . 

"Suellen," someone would say, a grownup probably, "tell what 
happened to your Uncle Clint." 

And that would start Suellen off. Why, her Uncle Clint was in 
jail, Suellen said. He had killed three men and a child in cold blood, 
a small innocent new-born babe; and naturally they had locked him up. 
And now his children were running about the streets half -clad, Suellen 
said, with little tin cups begging and pleading for a few nickels and 
dimes to buy themselves a crust of bread. And in two or three weeks, 
Suellen said, her cousins were coming to live with her, a whole tribe of 
cousins like an orphan asylum; for her father planned to adopt them, 
and had already written her Uncle Clint in jail, and the cousins would 
share her room, Suellen said; and one of them, Jasmine her favorite, 
would share her bed. Oh, on and on and on and on, — with the grown- 
ups by this time shaking their heads and smiling, and us children frankly 

"Dear heart!" my mother would say. And jumping up, her em- 
broidery hoops flying, "I'm going straight and telephone Dennis, and 
give him a piece of my mind. That poor child, that poor neglected 

* Harper Prize Winner. 


Dennis, you see, was Suellen's father. He was handsome and tall, 
and he ran with a fast set in New Orleans, and the plantation people 
down in Baton Rouge, who were fast too, and came up in droves for 
his parties; and once when my father and mother were invited they 
heard Suellen say, right in front of the guests, who didn't seem at all 
shocked, "My daddy beat me up last night. You ought to see my back, 
just a mass of whelps." 

"Not whelps, Suellen," my father said, "Welts." 

"And someone else, one of the other guests, said: "Well, I don't 
know, we ought to look that up." And another: "Why, Suellen, honey! 
Unbotton your dress, and let us see." 

But Suellen said no, she wouldn't shame her father; she'd die first 
and go straight to Hell (yes, she would say it out like that, when the 
rest of us wouldn't dare even think the word) ; however, later when she 
told this tale, how her father beat her, she would add that maybe she 
wouldn't be at home after all when her cousins came, because since her 
father had grown so cruel she was running away before long, to join 
Paul English's tent-show, for they needed a little girl to play child-parts 
and to brush the leading lady's hair, and wash her pretty silk under- 
clothes, and run and light Mr. English's pipe. 

"Suellen, go along with you!" we said. 

That was the summer Suellen fell in love, — not with Paul English, 
the show-man, as the rest of us did; no, the object of her affections was 
Miss Lucy Blade, her music teacher, — and my music teacher, too, though 
I disliked Lucy Blade and considered her just too prissy for words. Well, 
it was called a "crush" then (oh, do you remember?'), and because no 
one, at least in our town had heard of Freud, or child-psychology, or if 
they had, paid no attention to it, young girls used to thrive on crushes, 
because people believed then that Nature ordained this in a growing girl 
(and in her glands'), to prepare her for the Real Thing; yes, a beautiful 
safe love, pure and undefiled. And yet, I remember now, it was a sticky 
suffocating sort of love, for those who had to put up with it; a love that 
almost consumed Suellen that summer and caused purple patches under 
her eyes and made her crave pickles and lemonade, sucked through pep- 
permint sticks, and gallons of ice cream and chocolate-covered cherries, 
and scores of other things, too numerous, too indigestible to mention 
now. However this side of Suellen's love-affair was pleasant to the 
rest of us, whose glands, though in a less violent way, were also be- 
ginning to function. . . . 

"Let's go down town and buy some pickles," Suellen would say, 
"and sit and watch if she goes by." 

And so we would go to town, though heaven knows it was no treat 
to the rest of us to sit and watch Miss Lucy pass, — Miss Lucy who kept 


little vials in her purse, of this and that, and who would sit and crunch 
little pellets even when she was invited to your house, to play the Moon- 
light Sonata, washing them down with water behind a sheet of music, 

or her fan Yes, Suellen had it bad. And just before vacation 

she was so infatuated with Lucy Blade that she tried to make her father 
marry Miss Lucy, so she could always have her near. And as part of 
Suellen's strategy she had her father invite Miss Lucy to dinner one 
night. Suellen's father, Dennis, invited my father and mother too, and 
me; and this was disappointing to Suellen who wanted Miss Lucy to 

Well, I had told Mother what Suellen planned to do, I mean about 
having her father marry Miss Lucy Blade; and so my mother stopped 
Suellen's father on the street. "Dennis, you ought to be ashamed of 
yourself," my mother said. "And Suellen's right, you ought to get 
married again, and give this child a home. The right kind of home," 
my mother said. And when Dennis laughed in his mocking way and 
said, well, now, who would marry me ? . . . . my mother thought a moment 
and said: "Have you considered Lucy Blade?" 

And at that Dennis lifted one eyebrow. "Lucy Blade," he said. 
"Kmhm. . .do I know the lady?" 

"She is your child's music teacher," my mother said. "She could 
sit and play you the Moonlight Sonata." 

"But I don't want the Moonlight Sonata," Dennis said. "I want 

the moon!' 

And then in his mocking way, my father looking on, Dennis bowed 
over my mother's hand, and touched a curl of her pretty hair, delicately, 
with his finger ; and he said, well, the loveliest ladies are already married, 
you see,— and in love with their husbands, — so. . . . 

"Oh, go long with yourself!" my mother said. 

Well, Dennis invited the three of us to dinner then, and Miss Lucy 
Blade; and at the table he was gracious and mocking to Miss Lucy, and 
scared her half out of her wits. And when she left he kissed her hand. 
"I hope my poor little motherless girl isn't being a nuisance" he said. 

And at this Suellen threw a fit, though not in the usual way. She 
grew very still, and she turned pale, and she clutched at Miss Lucy's 
hand. "Miss Lucy," she whispered, "pay no attention to this gentleman, 
I beg of you. He isn't really my father, you know. I was left on his 
doorstep when an infant child." 

* * * 

That was the summer Suellen developed her famous Inferiority 
Complex, though of course people didn't call it that then. We just knew, 
we realized, that Suellen felt humiliated oh, because of a lot of things: 
because her house was too large and too elegant (I lived in a big house 


too, that had known elegance in my grandmother's day, but was old now, 
and a little shabby, and our colored people lived across town, on the 
hill, while Suellen's lived on the premises in a separate wing, especially 
Bluebell, their light-colored stylish maid) ; besides, my family had no 
car, and had to get by with a surrey. But it was fashionable then to be 
poor, just as maybe it is now, and some of us used to wish, like the poli- 
ticians, that we had been born in log cabins. Only Suellen didn't just 
wish — she made it up that she had been born in a shack on the riverside. 
Oh, and she felt ashamed too, because people thought her father charming. 
"If you only knew. 1 " she'd say. And when we laughed at Suellen she 
would tear into us with nails and teeth; or she would grow remote and 
still, with a faraway look in her eyes. And that always got us, and in- 
variably we would make up with Suellen. Suellen felt ashamed too of 
the wild company her father kept, of the beautiful ladies down from the 
North who would come and stay for days, bringing their chaperones with 
them, for the duck-shooting or Mardi Gras, and to run around looking 
at old houses, and buying up antique furniture. . . . 

And Suellen was ashamed, too, because her mother was dead. 

This last Suellen felt was pure disgrace, — as if her mother had 
done a shameful thing by dying, and leaving her in a cold world. "Kit," 
Suellen would say to me, at school perhaps when a new girl moved to 
town, or we had a new teacher, "don't say anything about You Know 
What." And I would know what Suellen meant. I knew that Suellen 
felt different because there was only one of her, an only child. And be- 
cause her mother was dead, and only a slab of granite on a hillside and 
a marble monument with a spray of marble lilies across it, and a name, 
and a little iron garden chair that nobody could ever use because the 
birds had claimed it first, tilting on its iron roses and dropping their 
little messes on the iron seat. . . . 

Suellen's mother had been beautiful. "She had skin like gardenia 
petals," my mother said. "Oh, I know! Anemia made her look like 
that, and just being plain sickly. At the same time, it was becoming, — 
and Dennis, well he worshipped her. She died when Suellen was born." 

And so Suellen grew up with some sort of distorted notion, per- 
sisting into girlhood, that her mother long years ago when Suellen first 
saw the light of day, had come in from the garden one morning, her 
arms full of roses, and had seen Suellen deposited all red and squirmy 
on the couch, right in the drawing room, and had taken one look and 
had gone away, never never to return. "Not that I blame her," Suellen 
said, "because I'm not at all good-looking, — am I, Kit?" And her 
words would trail off, in a sort of desperate yearning that I, a child, 
too, ten years old, could not fathom or comfort. And of course Suellen 
wasn't good-looking then, with her strange hungry asking eyes, and her 
way of looking poor and forlorn dressed in somebody's borrowed clothes, 
Bluebell's or Bluebell's little girl's, — when her own closets were full. . . 


"Well!" her father would say, meeting Suellen on the street in town, 
"Upon my word, is this my daughter, this little waif?" 

Looking back on it now I know that Suellen's inferiority complex 
caused her to get religion too; religion, that at eight or ten years old 
prepared her for the Real Thing, later when her soul grew up. But her 
inferiority complex caused her to act awfully silly too, we used to feel; 
because one day Suellen walked up the aisle and joined the Presbyterian 
Church, and in a few months she felt inferior because of the Presbyterians, 
for some reason of her own, and joined the Baptists; and then because 
of the First Communion girls she felt inferior again, and tried the Catholic 
Church, only this was too complicated, and she gave it up. We all felt 
that God got terribly provoked with Suellen, and I'm sure the town-folk 
did too, and her teachers. "Poor Suellen," people said. "Really, some- 
thing must be done." 

But it was a darling town we lived in, and the river made people 
lazy; and so for the most part we laughed and shrugged, and put up 
with Suellen and her ways. 

* * * 

It was Spring, I remember, that Suellen got religion, I mean really 
this time, the Real Thing. And she fell out of love with Miss Lucy 
Blade, at one and the same instant. "It was like something suddenly 
left me cold and bare," Suellen said. "And — sort of exposed. And then 
suddenly something. . . .alighted near me, like a bird, something with 
the feel of wings. Only I couldn't see it." And as I looked at Suellen, 
and envied her to my surprise tears welled in her eyes, and Suellen 
crossed herself, reverently and rapturously, — though our little Catholic 
friends, when we told them, said that Suellen had no right. But Suellen 
went on and took the right anyway, and made the sign of the cross just 
the same, every chance she got, in school, in the halls between classes, 
even walking down the street. "Suellen's crazy!" we said. 

But she got even more crazy as time went by, and one day that 
spring she and Duckie almost landed in jail (Duckie was Bluebell's 
little girl, their stylish upstairs colored maid). For Duckie and Suellen 
sent off for a punchboard full of Anger-rings to sell, at ten cents a punch, 
and a Grand Prize for the one with the lucky number. They sold three 
punches, I think (I bought one), and then got tired and gave the rest 
away, even the Grand Prize which wasn't so very grand, just a bracelet 
made of tin. And then Suellen and Duckie began to get letters from 
the firm. They were form-letters, but bitter, and each one was stronger, 
more bitter than the last, and the firm began to threaten the frightened 
girls with jail. Suellen told one of her biggest stories then. She wrote 
to the firm and said she was a friend of Suellen's, and that she regretted 
Suellen couldn't pay the $1.98 still owed to them, because poor little 
Suellen was dead, she had died quite suddenly. 

That was Suellen that Spring when she was still in love. But after 


she got religion, the Real Thing, Sueilen changed. Changed, that is, 
after she bought herself a white dress, and took communion in the Catholic 

It was in April one day, I remember, when Sueilen sent for me. 
She took me up to her room. "Kit, I want you to come to my First 
Communion." Sueilen said. I could only stare at her. Then she got 
out her First Communion things: an exquisite dress, like a fairy's, white 
slippers and stockings, and a veil. "I shall be a Bride of the Church," 
Sueilen said. I understood how she felt, for I too longed to walk up the 
beautiful long cathedral aisle, holding a candle in my hand, with God 
waiting to receive me and with incense in a cloud around my face. . . . 
I stood and looked at Sueilen. "But you are a Methodist," I said. "Or 
whatever it is you are, at present!" 

She smiled pitingly, as if she shared with God a secret the rest of 
us could only guess. "God has called me into the Catholic faith," Sueilen 

The little Catholic girls, our friends, were shocked when they heard 
about it. "You don't know all we've been through, — Catechism and 
everything. You can't just go up and make your First Communion in 
cold blood, — why God-the- Father might strike you dead!" 

Poor Sueilen! She had a hard time buying herself a rosary, because 
the older sister of one of the little First Communion Girls kept the 
Catholic shop behind the church. So Sueilen made a rosary for herself. 
She bought three long strings of pearls from the iive-and-ten cent store, 
and looped them together, and hung a crucifix upon them. She needed 
more prayers than the others, Sueilen explained to me. 

Now, I have said that Sueilen fell out of love. Well, in a way that 
is misleading. Because Sueilen somehow got religion and love all mixed 
up, and still being in love with Miss Lucy, in a way, she invited Miss 
Lucy to come and see her make her First Communion in her white dress, 
her hair curled under the veil, the pearls clutched in her fingers. 

And Sueilen went through with it, somehow, for I saw her myself 
with my own two eyes, and Miss Lucy saw her, because we went to the 
church to see, and stood waiting inside the vestibule ; and suddenly, there 
was Sueilen, as lovely, as consecrated as the rest, so that we had to look 
twice and keep on looking to realize it was she. And once more I envied 
her, envied the beauty of her face, and her curious asking eyes, and the 
beauty of the Catholic Church ; and I longed for Suellen's brazenness 
and wished that I too were walking up that aisle, in love with God. 

But before the procession started a dreadful thing happened at the 
door, near the Holy Water font, where the little girls were lined up. 
"Sueilen!" You could hear the shocked whisper in the street outside, 
and in the pews. "Sueilen, you're a bad, bad girl. You can't go up 
the aisle, you and your imitation pearls! Why, Sueilen, you want to sin, 


and you want us to sin. . . .here in the sanctuary!" And then as Suellen 
turned upon them, as I knew she would, the fire mounting in her eyes, 
and as Miss Lucy stepped forward to remonstrate, the imitation rosary 
broke, and the imitation pearls scattered in every direction, under the 
pews and under the beautiful Blessed Virgin's feet; and there was a 
mad scramble, and some said Miss Lucy fainted, and a few pearls were 
recovered and pressed into Suellen's hand; and Suellen picked up the 
crucifix, tears of anger and shame in her eyes. But when quiet was 
restored, before anyone could do a thing, she marched up the aisle with 
the others, as brazen and proud as you please, so it's a wonder the saints 
in their niches didn't turn their faces to the wall. And after that every 
now and then, for months, someone would nnd one of Suellen's imitation 
pearls lying under a pew, all mashed into a sticky paste, or in a crack 
of the marble floor, whole and shiny and just the shape and size of the 
tablets poor Miss Lucy kept, to swallow behind a sheet of music, or her 
waving palmetto fan in school. And for months, and years it seemed 
to me, when there was nothing else to do, we would go and look for 
Suellen's pearls 

Yes, Suellen got by with it. That is, she wasn't dismissed from the 
altar that day, and whatever arrangement was made, or understanding 
come by, or compromise agreed upon, was between Suellen and Father 
Joseph, the priest; and between Father Joseph and God. For a few, 
near enough to see and hear, said later that they distinctly saw Father 
Joseph lay his hand on Suellen's head, and saw him give her the Bread 
and Wine, and heard him as he talked to God, words not in the ritual, 
people said. . . .beautiful words to remember. 

But soon after that the nuns and the priest, Father Joseph, and the 
Baptist and Methodist ministers, and the choir leaders, and Suellen's 
music teacher, Miss Lucy Blade, met in conference over Suellen; and 
my mother insisted on sitting in on it (this was before the day of the 
Parent-Teacher business), as a sort of mediator, Mother said. And: 
"Father," she'd say, turning to the priest. . .And then: "Oh, but Brother 
McCain !" this to the Baptist minister, — Father, Brother, Father, Sister, 
two hours of this, and more! It was a lively session, Mother said, 
although it accomplished nothing, in the way of so many conferences. 
And yet in the end they were all smiling together. "Dear little Suellen!" 
Sister Bonaventure said. And the Baptist minister, chuckling, held the 
door open for Sister Bonaventure, and stooped and gallantly pulled her 
robes loose when they caught in the shrubbery going down the walk. 

Well, Suellen after that stayed in love with religion: beautifully 
and with strange tranquility, and a total absence of sin; yes even lying, — 
all through that period when the rest of us in our set were falling in and 
out of love with boys, and with young men in college who wouldn't 
look at us, and with the heroes of stage and screen, one today and another 
tomorrow, through High School 'till we were Sweet Sixteen, and off to 


And somehow, after that, we lost track of Suellen. 

S$S Sf* SfS 

But the reason I'm thinking of this, and raking it out of the past, 
is because not long ago Suellen wrote me a letter, and asked me to come 
and visit her. And in the letter Suellen said: "Do you remember, Kit, 
when I took my First Communion ? How wonderful Father Joseph was ! 
And the nuns were wonderful too. And God was wonderful, not striking 
me dead. Well, I'm a Methodist now, in more or less good standing, 
and maybe for keeps, — who knows! And Staff is a Methodist too (Staff 
is Suellen's husband). But I have brought along with me through the 
years a little of every church, of every faith I have ever loved, and es- 
pecially the Catholic. And I have fashioned a little chapel in my house, 
and all of them are in it, Kit, and you and me and all I ever knew. 

P. S. I plan when you come to give a bridge-luncheon for you, or 
would you prefer a tea?" 

And then at the end of the letter, on a separate sheet of paper, 
there was another postscript: "Dearest Kit," Suellen wrote. "Honey, 
how you ever put up with me! Well, you'll be glad to know I'm a 
Perfectly Normal Person now, and very, very happy. I hear you have 
two children. Well, I have five, a brood. Five, to guide through the 

heartaches and ecstasies of religion, and falling in love Come, let's 

talk things over, you and me. ..." 

And so I am going to visit Suellen, and Suellen's husband and her 
brood, — because through her I hope to recapture something out of my 
childhood, lost to me; something of a lovely town that I lived in once, 
a town lovelier and more gracious, more worldly too, and yes, sophis- 
ticated, than the places and times I know today. 

And because I would like to take Suellen a present I plan to go 
to that Church, some day soon, when it is empty; past the Holy Water 
font, where I shall dip my fingers. And I shall stand inside the church, 
and get down on my hands and knees and look. And perhaps in a 
crack of the marble floor, where a sunbeam will seek it out, or beside 
a column, or under a pew, I shall find an imitation pearl. And I shall 
whisper a prayer for my Baptist and Episcopal kin, and a prayer for Jew 
and gentile, and a very special prayer for Father Joseph, the priest. 

And still on my knees I shall take a bobby-pin out of my new 
permanent, and prize the pearl out of the crack, and put it in a little 
velvet box, — for my friend Suellen, with love. . . . 





In your groping for utterance 

your jagged poetic fingernails 

have nicked the hard edge of life 

and a bit of the centre shows through. 

In your struggle with words. . .for words 
you must have known adolescents' terror 
in finding that words in themselves 
mean so little yet so much. 

So you took the crackly husks of poetry, 

these troublesome formations of letters, 

and blew them away from the seed 

with fluid draughts of knowing. 

You planted the seeds in fertile fields — 

poems ? 

What are poems, Peter Viereck — 

those awkward pieces of perfection which you write? 

What is poetry — 

your straggling lines which almost speak your mind? 

Yes, that is poetry, Peter Viereck. 


And he took his torntongue fire 

and burnt up words. 

No one language could contain him 

so he burnt up words. 

As Dedalus could but destroy 

so he could not create 

but grovel in the brilliant ashes 

of a language he almost killed, 

babble in the cold cinders of genius. 

If only he had been less brilliant — 

if only he had still been searching 

for an answer 

for an expression 

for a purpose 
but instead he almost killed a language. 

— Albert Paris Leary 


Vaudeville Bandit of Poetry, 

Verse Maker, Yawper of Words, 

Player with Facts and Nation's Why-Asker; 

Turbulent, rowdy, bombastic, 

Poet of the Tall Smoke Stacks: 

They tell me you are radical, and I believe them; for I have heard your 

rantings to push the world where you think it should go. 
And they tell me you are unjust, and I answer; yes, it is true I have 

seen your brutality play on prejudice and hate. 
And they tell me you are uncouth, and my reply is; into the ante-room 

of Beauty I have seen you track a ditch digger's mud. 
And having answered so, I turn once more to those who sneer at your 

poetry, and I give them back the sneer and say to them: 
Come show me another poet with pen idiomatic scratching so free a 

nation's soil and proud to steep in its savor. 
Seeking always to exhalt the underdog, here is a raucous sandpaper voice 

rubbed cross-grained against the little soft reformers; 
Angry as a volcano disgorging a mountain's roots, tempestuous as a 

hurricane riding an ocean's back, 

Head-strong, convulsive, abrupt, 
Under the Smoke and Steel, both fists a-swing, shouting the bigness of 

Under the Slabs of the Sunburnt West, shouting as a wild sky shouts, 
Shouting even as in Chicago Poems, whispery-hoarse sometimes, or 

Shouting Good Morning, America and The People, Yes — out from the 

depth of its soil shouting the hope of a nation, 
Shouting ! 
Shouting the stormy, turbulent, reckless shouts of Life, loving, reforming, 

redeeming, proud to be Vaudeville Bandit, Verse Maker, Yawper 

of Words, Player with Facts and Why-Asker to the Nation. 

— Raymond H. Carey 


cvi D>UecL 1/oiceL 


A Chapter from O My Prodigal, a novel in progress. 

Marcus lit a cigarette and sat very still on the parkbench, trying 
to count the leaves that fell from a large elm tree across the walk. Yellow 
they were — flat yellow leaves which whirled, paper helicopters, to the 
cinder walk. 

The sun was fading like an overripe plum into the sourcream horizon 
and the small boys who had been sailing their boats on the lagoon and 
skipping stones across its still face were being recalled by nearly identical 
nurses and packed into respectably dark Cadillacs. 

One boy wearing bluejeans bleached to the colour of old bluewhite 
milk was left alone; he sailed no boat and had stood watching the other 
boys with little expression on his sharpfeatured face. When he turned 
around to make sure that no one was watching him he did not see Marcus. 
Suddenly with an angry gesture, picking up a handful of black cinders, 
he threw them with all the force of his short arm against the blank 
visage of the lagoon. Marcus knew — in that blow were all the despera- 
tions, angers and furies of youth, the young youth who are so soon to 
pass by the terror and glory of childhood and meet the terror and decorum 
of adolescence. In a few seconds the boy walked away wiping at the 
tears on his face with the cindery palm of one hand. 

Marcus smiled a little because he felt so old and wise and hollow. 
Not hungryhollow, not hollow as when he used to be enchanted by the 
fairyness of reality but hollow with an emptier feeling than ever before. 
Pulling at the tough leaf which had fallen on his knee, he tried to adjust 
his back to the iron bars of the rhadamanthine parkbench. 

What was this passing of adolesence — the functioning of new 
organs, the loss of belief and gain of ideals? What did it signify that 
such names as T. S. Eliot and Peter Viereck were constantly on his lips? 

Sometimes when he and his friends were listening to music and 
heatedly discussing poetry or sex his mind would lead his vagrant thoughts 
away from the discussion and force his head away too and he would 
begin to think: 


'After such knowledge, what forgiveness?' Part of him would 
listen to the dear wishedfor voices of his friends; someone was saying 
that Whitman's writings were prose after all not because of the free 
form but because of the content. (His closest mind was saying 'Marcus, 
how should you begin? Where can this lead? Why is it. Anything? 
Is it only children who know the answers to absolutes? When you were 
a small child and knew the only genuine things were impossibilities 
didn't you know so much more than now? Wasn't poetry more beautiful 
when you didn't understand it?') The leatherette phonograph was play- 
ing Saint-Saens. After such knowledge, what forgiveness? 

The voice of God. No, Robert's deep voice was cleaving the buzz 
in the room. 'Marcus, you seem to know. . .' Know? — Aquinas would 
hate you. ... 'I mean you seem to have a lot of answers. When is man 
at his prime?' 

Marcus hesitated for he was not in the smokey room but standing 
in Muckleman's Confectionery when hungry shadows were lapping at 
his ankles and eating their way toward his knickerbanded knees. Mister 
Muckleman was reaching into the counter for a strip of licorice. Marcus 
turned to see Mister Muckleman's cat run out the front door into the 
street where it was run over instantly by a small truck. It was then that 
Marcus knew sadness, the .first real sadness that he had ever experienced 
for this was the going out or away of life and Marcus was just now be- 
coming aware that life had a termination. 

He had walked home slowly through the deep snow. As he reached 
the front of his own flat he stopped and looked up at the lights from the 
Christmastree inside painting the snow and him with colour and making 
the spireas glitter; a few houses up the carolers were singing Lo, Hoiv 
A Rose E'er Blooming. Thinking of the cat lying in the street and of 
his mother and of God who stayed behind the organ at church and made 
music come out, he cried. Tears not because he was bitter or sad any- 
more but because he was growing up and even a small child can tell you 
that to grow up is to die a little for the older you become the closer into 
the hands of the Waiting you drift until at last you let them take you. 

How could he tell Robert about childhood? the first thing Robert 
would do would be to call him a coward, romanticist or escapist and run 
for his volume of psychology. So he said 'When the sex organs are 
developed fully' and of course Robert and the other boys were satisfied. 

So Marcus had gotten up and left the bluesmoke room because 
Robert was reading La Putain Respecteuse in terrible French and he wanted 
to be alone with the park. After such knowledge, ivhat forgiveness? 
Then he was sitting on the hard bench and feeling very sorry for himself, 
thinking that selfmurder was indeed heinous but sometimes practical, 
he reached back into the past for orthodoxy and found only himself. 
Then he knew what he must do: he must escape from that past; he 


must write down how youth feels about youth and age — and must tell 
that after such knowledge comes not forgiveness, not guilt but a full sense 
of knowing that in the past lies Truth and in the future fulfillment of 
however much of it one has managed to keep during the transitory years. 

But as soon as these thoughts bit into his mind he knew that he 
could never escape the past. . .and why should he? He would be able 
to compromise and offer it recompense in the form of occasional sadness. 

His shoulders under the plaid shirt shook; he began to cry but 
couldn't find the tears. He felt all hollow inside. 



Misereatur tut omnipotens Deus 

et dimissus peccatis tuis 

perdue at te ad vltam aeiernam. 

Harken not to Lust 

nor to Avarice Pride nor Envy 

Take it from an old sinner, kid! 

Listen to the Word and the Rule 
O my sisters and Believe 
in the Jesus who was Christ 

Domine, non sum dignus! 

In the Lamb which was sacrificed 
In the Blood of the Lamb 

Agnus Dei, qui toll is peccata mundil 


and in sinning have been sinned against 

mea culpa, me a culpa, mea maxima culpa! 

And from here to the bleak house 
with the red light go my sisters. 

Et introibo ad altare Dei, 

ad Deum qui laeificat juventutem meam. 



Dead leaves cover the tired grass 

and soon from the sombre sky comes the cold rain 

quietly sobbing on its evening rounds. 

Autumn brings to me a lonely feeling 

that traces the jagged line of remembered hurt. 

Night winds whispering softly 

remind me of other years 

when life was gay and gay and gay. 

Memory is frequently regret 

and autumn brings too many memories. 


"Good night, sweet ladies. Good night, good night": 

So left my love. His eyes were blue 

and bright with unshed tears. 

I have not seen him since. My heart 

will go with him through all the years, 

and in the spring I'll pick rosemary, for remembrance. 

— Mary Jane Callahan. 



In my yard is a white rose, 

Organism of the night, 

Sickly sweet, growing in paths 

Of silver moon-rays, 

Beautiful, laced with thorns, exuding Hate. 

Watching it from my window, 

I think of the steel of a bayonet, 

Cold, tickling my heart, chilling the beat, 

Demanding respect, no, worship, 

And offering only pain. 

A virgin rose, it thrives 
In a precise ground, 
Fertile with indecision, 
Rich in illusions, 
Poor in stuff creating will, 
More a weed than a flower. 
More a vine than a bush, 


Living on jealousy, fed 

With spasmodic love and stagnant passion, 

It needles, not content to guard, 

Parmeates eternal passiveness 

With spiney fingers 

To poison the flesh 

Haughty is my white rose, and potent, 

Possessed of a narcotic gorgeousness, 

And evil arrogance — 

"Bumblebee, fly, I have no honey!" 

5f£ 3fS 3$C 

I tore a petal last night and my rose bled. 


Apology To a New Critic 

You pick this phrase and then you say to me, 

"What means this thing?" 

I murmur something about Immortality. 

How should I know? I only wrote it. 

I did not hear it from the pulpit, 

Or Pravda or from the Chinese Plate. 

It was whispered to me by a pussy willow sprout 

Held close to my ear; 

(It promised to return next year.) 

It was sighted from the midst 

Of a candy-cotton cloud of rosebud trees, 

And taught me more ideologies than books ever could. 

Have you ever held a dandelion 

In the sun, beneath your chin, 

And seen reflected butter? (Then you're sweet!) 

If you have ever held a bit of Nature 

Up to your own soul and seen reflected — God — 

Then you know what I am talking about. 

— Carl Grantz 



jBringing Up &ditk 

By Ann Byrne 

The increase in literary stature experienced by Edith Sitwell, of the 
Writing Sitwells of England, has not been without accompanying grow- 
ing pains. Not the least of these is the tendency of current critics to 
discount her earlier works as unimportant, by virtue of comparison with 
her later, better poetry. 

That Miss Sitwell is undoubtedly the ranking woman poet of England 
today is evidenced by the fact that she is the only woman since Elizabeth 
Barrett Browning to be considered as a possible poet laureate. Her 
chances are somewhat better than Mrs. Browning's, and without doubt, 
she is more deserving of the title. 

Miss Sitwell's poetry has become more than the nostalgic memories 
of childhood expressed in phrases^ reminiscent of such imagists as "H. D." 
Richard Aldington and John Gould Fletcher. Already an accomplished 
technician, she has gained a depth of feeling in her later subject matter 
which raises her work to the status of contemporary greatness. 

For the grass, rain, hawthorn-blossoms — the child-like symbols 
shown best in the autobiographical Troy Park — she has adopted metaphors 
on a universal scale. The sun, the Bone, the ape themes recur consistently 
in her latest, best poetry. 

Although the war is not directly mentioned in these last poems, it 
is apparent that it has much to do with the maturing, enriching change 
in Miss Sitwell's poetry. "Still Falls the Rain" is the only one which 
mentions the war in any way approaching directness. Other poems in 
which its effect is shown are "Lullaby," "Green Song," "An Old Woman," 
and "Street Song." 

The sun in these poems is a symbol of the omniscient force in the 
world. It is the only good — in "Green Song" the "long and portentous 
eclipse of the patient sun" is winter, and after that, the Spring. In 
"Street Song" "... .terrible is the sun/ As truth." And in "An Old Wo- 
man" the sun is "the first lover of the world." 

Despair is suggested in "Lullaby" by the line, "The Judas-coloured 
sun is gone," and heightened by the closing lines, "And with the Ape 
thou art alone — /Do, /Do." 

This second theme, the Ape, is strongly suggestive of Aldous Huxley, 
whose "First Philosopher's Song," was only the first of many things 
he wrote on that theme. It recurs in "Green Song" as a reference to 
"the beast-philosopher." This poem contains the secondary reference to 
the sun — "that sun the heart." 


"With the age-old wisdom and aptness of the Ape" is the way 
"Man's threatening shadow crouched." in "Street Song." 

The Bone is perhaps the symbol of the material, the earthly body — 
which must be shielded by a heart — a mind or intellect and emotion. 
The "envious ghost in the Spring world" of "Green Song" seems to 
me the exact opposite of the traditional conception of a ghost — it has 
a body, but "I have no heart to shield my bone/But with the world's 
cold am alone — /And soon your heart, too, will be gone — " 

The feeling of the new being built on the wreckage of the old is 
another of the veiled allusions to the war, found in "Street Song." "The 
pulse that beats in the heart is changed to the hammer/ That sounds in 
the Potter's Field where they build a new world from our Bone,. ." And 
before that, "Love my heart for an hour, but my bone for a day — / At 
last the skeleton smiles, for it has a morrow:" 

The despair of the world is unrelieved in "Lullaby," which ends 
on the note of the Ape, but youth is the only hope in "Green Song." 
Between the two is the "Street Song" — "And summer is lonely." 

One of the words used most frequently to describe Miss Sitwell's 
characteristic poetry was "baroque." Her style has changed in inverse 
relation to the complexity of her subject matter. The emotions are deeper 
and the subject matter more comprehensive; therefore she has abondoned 
to a great extent her esoteric technique for a simpler one. 

As late as 1941 critics were saying about Edith Sitwell, "She writes 
sharp, hard, colorful poetry that gives the impression of viridian green 
and Chinaman's-heart's-blood laid on in arabesque by a razor blade." 
(Time, March 3, 1941). 

This is no longer true. The brittle touch is gone. In her last-pub- 
lished book of poetry, A Song of the Cold, Miss Sitwell assumes in regal 
splendor her position — self -assumed — of prophetess, sibyl. Still speaking 
in a somewhat cryptic style, she has nevertheless substituted a directness 
never found in her early, "baroque" work. 

But make no mistake: although Edith Sitwell's later work is deeper, 
although it has inspired Jose Garcia Villa, with the other writers who 
dedicated to her a memorial volume of poetry and criticism, to call her 
the "voice of England," it should not make us discount as insignificant 
her early poetry. 

Just as one poet is not completely forgotten because another poet 
does more important work than he does, so the early autobiographical 
poetry of Edith Sitwell should not be totally obscured by the blinding 
brilliance of today's Edith Sitwell. 

Certainly "Lullaby" is a far cry from her esoteric reminiscences of 
Dagobert and Peregrine — known to you and to me as Osbert and Sache- 
verell Sitwell, her brothers — in "Colonel Fantock" and other poems. 





Notes Towards the Definition of Culture by T. S. Eliot 

(Harcourt and Brace, $2.50) 

Mr. Eliot's latest book is very much under the influence of the Book 
of Common Prayer and yet more in the tradition of the Kiplings and 
Tennysons; however, Notes Towards The Definition of Culture points 
to a more worthy end; it is insular only in its flavour; it is nationalistic 
only in the examples used to illustrate his theses. Mr. Eliot has written 
in a prose style simple enough for any child or highschool English 
teacher to comprehend. 

Some people will no doubt read into this monumental little book 
certain political principles of which Mr. Eliot is not exactly guilty, certain 
ideas which he would probably abhor. He states that 'culture' is the 
manifestation of religion; or, that a nation's culture is the incarnation 
of a nation's religion practised. (Then he turns about and apologises for 
the use of such a strong word . . . ) He further states that individual cul- 
ture and group culture developed fully and unconsciously and blended 
with the end result of religion form the overall culture of a society. That 
this is true, few could deny. What most readers will find fault with is 
the insistence that group membership (the individual groups are called 
elites regardless of rank) must gradually become hereditary. 

Mr. Eliot has done a great service toward humanity: at last here is 
a man who writes that it would be wrong to do away with one's enemies 
either before or after a victory — not only for moral reasons but because 
out of friction comes culture and if the friction be destroyed then some 
of the means to obtain the end (culture) would be destroyed. He has 
also given the most or the only cogent refutation of world government 
proposals by saying very simply that since individual nations' cultures 
blend to form world culture the latter would be destroyed if, again, the 
means be removed. 

In short — here is a most radical book conceived along moral and 
artistic lines; it cannot be termed reactionary — any staid conservative 
would be shocked to discover that if he is not intellectual he will belong 
to an elite, not necessarily lower in rank, but one to which less honours 
and privileges would be given. This book is gravely in error in places; 
but it is the nearest thing to a definition and defence of culture (And 
'culture' is spoken of here in Mr. Eliot's definition) which has appeared 
in our time. The important point to consider is this: his political and 
sociological principles are secondary; Mr. Eliot has set out to define 
'culture' ; he must be judged only according to his success or failure to 
do so. — A. P. L. 


Terror and Decorum by Peter Viereck (Scribner's, $3.00) 

This volume of poetry represents eight years of work by America's 
most fabulous young poet, Peter Viereck, who has justly been named 
Pulitzer Poetry Prize winner of 1949- In 106 pages Viereck has proven 
the ability between the tip of his pen and the top of his head to picture 
just what he pleases in any poetical form or fashion, using middle English 
("Ballad of The Jollie Gleeman"), or the language of a child ("I Am 
Dying, Egypt, Dying"); the cool realism of "Vale From Carthage" or 
the metaphysical "Why Can't I Live Forever?" It is this quality which 
makes the book an exciting whole. Each turn of the page brings a new 
experience of humor, pathos, despair, with no one poem particularly 
resembling its mates. 

"Kilroy," published under the title of "Kilroy Was Here" in the 
Atlantic Monthly, is Viereck's best known work, the one that really 
brought him to light. It reflects in us the eternal desire for adventurous 
wandering, and in four little stanzas creates the scope of all past, future 
and the universe. ..."For 'Kilroy' means: the world is very wide." 

Each line the poet creates has strength and meat; nothing is half- 
said, and he has so much to say! 

"(Listen, when the high bells ripple the half-light: 

Ideas, ideas, the tall ideas dancing.)" from "Incantation" 

"This death is stronger than our life." • — from "Poet" 

"The night is softer than the dark is satin. 
. . .The night is stiller than the dark is dead." 

— from "The Day's No Rounder Than Its Angles Are" 

"For heaven and hell are childhood playmates still." 

— from "For Two Girls Setting Out In Life" 
"... singers wear 
Neurosis like new roses when they sing." 

from "The Four Stages of Craftsmanship" 

"Where memory's white peacock struts as king." 

— from "Convoy From New York" 

Perhaps the strongest poem in the collection is "Crass Times Re- 
deemed By Dignity of Souls," under the title of which the author has 
made this note: "...Lines in memory of the humanistic ideals of my 
brother, Corporal George S. Viereck, Jr., killed in action by the Nazis 
in 1944." It is here he gives his rather dark philosophy of life: that 
the struggles of this world are justified only by the dignity of the soul 
of man, his search for that dignity. 

Peter Viereck, intellectual, poet, a man who does not have merely 
the ability to create, but the power to bend that ability to his skilled 
will, offers you his well named Terror and Decorum. — M. A. B. 


The Midsummer Fires by James Aswell (Morrow $3.00) 


'Man can live without bread, drink, love, pride; the only indispen- 
sable is memory. 

'He backs across his tightwire of time, faster, faster, faster, peering 
always rapt at the glittering streak he has traversed. He backs heedless 
into the myth of hope, knowing the future can gain substance only by 
running under his soft, cloven shoes and becoming the past.' 

With these lines ends one of the most startling books written in 
America in the last five years, The Midsummer Vires, by James AswelL 
In this novel he lays open for examination the mind and actions of a 
forty-one year old commercial artist, Gael Ring, who discovers that he 
is growing impotent. In a manner which is almost reminiscent of the 
treatment given the searching mind of Eugene Gant, Mr. Aswell' s rather 
cunning pen has created one of the pitifully few novels of literary dis- 
tinction written in America for the last few years; he accomplishes this 
by probing in Gael Ring's mind during the period in which the realization 
first comes upon him. The horror, terror, feeling of futility and despera- 
tion is conveyed to the reader in lines which seem easy and fresh — 
compared with the overcolourful historical novels of Costain and Shella- 
barger. One tires of pirate ships, treasure caravans, concealed stilettos, 
and Duncan Phyfe seductions; it is a genuine pleasure to get back to 
the Twentieth Century, to read of men and women one might have 
known, to see that our world has stories to be told and conditions to be 
laughed at, scathed or revealed. One tires of the Renaissance and a bed 
per page. 


Mr. Aswell left in a few places a somewhat muddled condition of 
flashback technique which is not as clear as might have been. In the 
part which takes place in New Orleans one must sometimes turn back 
a page to follow closely. 

Insofar as the more intimate parts are concerned, this must be said 
in their defence (if any be needed): each scene and treatment of Gael 
and his wife, Anne, is done with taste, delicacy, and what is more 
pleasing, with a great deal of truth, both literary and realistic. 

It is in a few relatively minor passages that the frankness is carried 
to what some might consider an extreme. However, it was Mr. Aswell's 
purpose to give a clear picture of this Gael Ring and his troubles, all of 
which stem directly or indirectly from his growing impotency. His work, 
his relationship with his wife, his attitude toward friends and the attitude 
which he provokes from other characters in the novel to himself could 
not have been analyzed so carefully if mere prudishness or some faint 
notion of bygone literary criteria had been allowed to interfere with 


the portrait. After all, once it was the middleclass style to call Heming- 
way, Joyce and O'Neil 'vulgar and obscene.' 


It is perhaps an injustice to an author to state that in his book he 
is under the influence of another writer; especially when he has no 
doubt arrived at his own style by painstaking and tedious labour; yet 
it might not be depreciative to this book to compare it with other books 
which it brings to mind: 

The merciless vivisection of each phase of Gael Ring's decline and 
rise is reminiscent of 'A Farewell To Arms' ; his insistence on frankness 
in relation to Gael's creative endeavours might have been thoughts of 
James Joyce — although far from his style. 


What is most pleasing about the novel, The Midsummer Fires, is 
that it is one of the very few steps forward in craftsmanship in American 
fiction since The Enormous Room and Eimi of e. e. cummings, the earlier 
novels of Earnest Hemingway, and the now unreasonably dated works 
of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Here is a book with a Southern locale which 
does not reek of magnolias and Florida Water; the houses are not all 
whitecolumned but modern to the latest builtin bed; an inference of 
'Suh' does not begin each paragraph ; the Negro maid is neither 'Mammy' 
nor a pancakeless Aunt Jemima. 

To the Southerner whose mind is still entangled in Spanish moss, 
rusty cries of 'On to Gettysburgh' and crossed sabres The Midsummer 
Fires must indeed seem a shocking book. To a reader, a Southerner 
perhaps, who believes that the South of today is good for tomorrow too, 
the novel is worthy of the man whose name is affixed as author. 

It has its faults certainly — the overmelodramatic situation in which 
the little girl, Bili, is killed and some of the flashbacks. But here is the 
work, not of a new 'Southern' writer (And what a despicable term that 
is!, but of an American writer whose book will have the same dynamic 
appeal to any reader whose language is English and whose mind is 
mature. — A. P. L. 

c*o c*a c*s 

ff A Tree of Night" by Truman Capote (Random House, $2.75) 

This is a collection of eight short stories by the twenty -four year 
old Louisianian who wrote last year's provocative novel Other Voices, 
Other Rooms. This, his first book,caused competent critics both here 
and abroad immediately to compare him, not unfavorably, with the 
earlier works of Flaubert, Proust and Poe. These extravagant com- 
parisons seem to have been justified by his second book, A Tree of Night. 


Five of the stories had been previously published by various periodi- 
cals. Indeed, it was through some of these stories, published in Story 
and Mademoiselle a few years ago, that the unusual talent of Truman 
Capote was recognized. The shock of recognition first occured to Cyril 
Connolly, noted editor of England's Horizon. When Conolly came to 
America last year he said, "Take me to Truman Capote, with the exception 
of Faulkner, the only individual in America who can write." The 
American critics were not quite as enthusiastic, though at least one, the 
Associated Press' W. G. Rogers, nominated Other Voices, Other Rooms 
for the Pulitzer Prize. 

Capote was born in 1925 on a plantation near New Orleans. He 
spent his early years in that city and has also lived in Alabama and Con- 
necticut. In 1942 he went to New York and worked for The New 
Yorker as an accountant, but he was transferred to the art department 
when it was discovered that he couldn't subtract. From art he walked 
into great literature as other men walk into their own homes. 

The first story in the collection, "Master Misery," subtlely shows 
the sincere sensitivity of the author. It is constructed with the crafts- 
manship of a Maugham retaining the delicacy of the later short stories 
of Cather. It also is indicative of the highly imaginative stories that 

If one accept the premise of Harold March that, "There are two 
worlds, one the world of time, where necessity, illusion, suffering, change, 
decay, and death are the law; the other the world of eternity, where there 
is freedom, beauty, and peace. Normal experience is in the world of time,, 
but glimpses of the other world may be given in moments of contempla- 
tion or through accidents of involuntary memory. It is the function of 
art to develop these insights and o use them for the illumination of 
life in the world of time," if one believe this, then I believe it will 
follow that Capote will be accepted as a mature artist of considerable 

To my mind, the story "Children on Their Birthdays" is Capote's 
best example to date of the development of insight into the world of 
beauty. In this story he is absolutely sure of himself and consequently 
he writes with the imaginary finesse of a Chekhov. There seem to be 
instances in which he is not as familiar with his subject as he might be, 
and his writing suffers in proportion. But never does he write poorly. 
I doubt if he could write poorly. He is a born writer. . ."By now it 
was almost nightfall, a firefly hour, blue as milkglass; and birds like 
arrows swooped together and swept into the folds of trees. Before 
storms, leaves and flowers appear to burn with a private, light color, 
and Miss Bobbit, got up in a little white skirt like a powderpuff and 
with strips of gold-glittering tinsel ribboning her hair, seemed, set 
against the darkening all around, to contain this illuminated quality. 
She held her arms arched over her head, her hands lily-limp, and stood 


straight up on the tips of her toes. She stood that way for a good long 
while, and Aunt El said it was right smart of her" ; again "It was supper- 
time, and, not knowing where to eat, he paused under a street lamp 
that, blooming abruptly, fanned complex light over stone; while he 
waited there came a clap of thunder, and all along the street every face 
but two, his and the girl's, tilted upward. A blast of river breeze tossed 
the children's laughter as they, linking arms, pranced like carousel ponies, 
and carried the mama's voice who, leaning from a window, howled: 
rain, Rachel, rain-gonna rain gonna rain! And the gladiola, ivy-iilled 
cart jerked crazily as the peddler, one eye slanted skyward, raced for 
shelter. A potted geranium fell off, and the little girls gathered the 
blooms and tucked them behind their ears. The blending spatter of 
running feet and raindrops tinkled on the xylophone sidewalks — the 
slamming of doors, the lowering of windows, then nothing but silence, 
and rain. Presently, with slow scraping steps, she came below the lamp 
to stand beside him, and it was as if the sky was a thunder cracked mirror, 
for the rain fell between them like a curtain of splintered glass." For 
me, this is as close to poetry as it |is to prose; it is also why I believe 
Capote is better at description than dialogue. He possesses an intro- 
vertive imagination of a Gothic nature that makes his writing more 
Decadent than Classical and makes him more akin to late Nineteenth 
century French writers than Twentieth century American writers. This 
rare quality also places his collection of short stories with those of Mans- 
field, Woolf and Bowman in England, and Faulkner, Porter and Welty 
in America. — W. S. G. 

CONTRIBUTORS: (continued from page 2) 

Charles Raines is a student as Tulane University where he is study- 
ing for his Master's Degree in English. He is mainly interested in 
literary criticism but has done some poetry also, some of which appears 
on page 10. 

Ann Byrne lives in Shreveport, Louisiana; she has recently com- 
pleted her requirements for degree at Centenary College and plans to 
continue with her work in journalism. 

Carl Grantz is a teacher in a local school; he is occupied mainly 
with poetry. 

Robert Regan is studying for degree in literature at Centenary College 
of Louisiana; he is interested in the artificial French forms in poetry, 
some of which appear on page 12. 


the centenary review is published by the Venture group at 
Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport. Address all 
correspondence to "The Editor, 407 Merrick St., Shreveport, 


ALBERT PARIS LEARY, editor-in-chief 
MARY JANE CALLAHAN, make-up editor 
ANTOINETTE TUMINELLO, business manager 
EVAN CAMPBELL, assisting editor 
ROBERT REGAN, assisting editor 
QUINTON RAINES, assisting editor 
MARY ADAIR BROWN, secretary to the Board 
MARY WILLIS SHUEY, advisor to the Board 

Printed by Bains Press, Shreveport, Louisiana 


II fifty 

1949 cents 


centenary review 

the centenary review 

vol. 1 fall, 1949 no. 2 


3 ORIGINAL SIN .Cleanth Brooks 



Albrecht B. Strauss 

23 BERG ON FLOE (verse) .... .... . .Retep Kcereiv Setisreht 

24 THE LADY AND THE SNOW .Joseph Patrick Roppolo 

31 LIGHT VERSE Richard Kirk 





36 LOATHER Mason Jordan Mason 

36 END OF A DAY Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni 


37 KEYBOARD Lee Richard Hayman 

38 THE DEAD FIELDS Albert Paris Leary 



45 THE DREAM (verse) Helen Hoyt 



51 THE HUNTED DEER (verse) 

51 OUR SOUTH Charles Raines 



BY CHAD WALSH Albert Paris Leary 






BY FRED GIBSON Mary Adair Brown 

Second Class Mailing Permit Pending 
Copyright 1949 by VENTURE 


Lee Richard Hayman is a young Cleveland poet. He has published 
in numerous literary magazines including Antioch Revieiv, Saturday Re- 
view of Literature, Golden Goose, Cronos and others. 

Retep Kcereiv Setisreht, who sometimes signs himself "Peter Viereck" 
is this year's Pulitizer Prize Winner for Poetry and one of the most im- 
portant of the new poets. He displays in his poem on page 23 an amazing 
faculty for selfcriticism. At present he is in Europe on a Guggenheim 
Fellowship, writing, as he says, "another (better) book." 

Julia B. Meyer lives in Shreveport where she and her husband own 
the city's largest bookstore. From time to time she enrolls in a course 
at Centenary College where she and the Venture group have formd a 
profitable association. 

/. C. Crews lives in Taos, New Mexico, edits The Flying Fish, a 
digest of "Little Magazine" operations, and considers, as he writes us, 
"the Spender- Auden influence to be the worst influence on American 
poetry in a hundred years." He is married, has an infant daughter and 
has published his work in many literary reviews. 

Mason Jordan Mason, the young poet from Waco, Texas, needs little 
introduction to readers of reviews and other literary magazines. At 
present he is in Palestine. 

Richard Kirk has been spoken of as the best epigrammatical poet 
in the United States. He has published in Saturday Revieiv of Literature, 
Harper's, Scribner's and a host of other magazines. He is the author of 
two books, A Tallow Dip and Short Measures. He taught for many 
years at Tulane University and now resides in Michigan. 

Alhrecht B. Strauss, one of the newest and most valuable additions to 
Venture, is at Harvard studying for his Doctorate in English. He was 
educated in Germany, England and completed requirements for his 
Master's Degree at Tulane University. His father, Doctor Bruno Strauss, 
is professor of German at Centenary College. 

Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni is one of the most interesting women of 
letters in this section of the country; she resides at Villa Rosa in Fayet- 
ville, Arkansas, and has published in Saturday Review of Literature, Good 
Housekeeping, The New York Times, Kaleidograph and numerous literary 
magazines such as The North American Review. 

(Continued on page 59) 



Robert Penn Warren's reputation as a novelist — particularly since 
the publication of his brilliant Pulitzer Prize novel All the King's Men — 
has come to overshadow his reputation as a poet. This is natural in 
view of the fact that the novel as a form is rather widely available to us; 
poetry as a form, much less widely available. For many a reader Warren 
turns out to be a "modern" poet, which means that to a reader, he is an 
obscure and difficult poet. But he happens to be — in spite of the average 
reader's bias against modern poetry — a very fine poet. It is that reader's 
loss ultimately, if the reader is debarred from the poetry. 

This is not the place to explore the problem of the "difficulty" of 
modern poetry: that is a complex problem and will lead us into con- 
sideration of general historical questions of all kinds, most of them remote 
from either Warren's .fiction or poetry. It might, on the whole, be more 
interesting to look closely at one of Warren's finest poems, "Original Sin: 
a Short Story," and try to see what it is "about," and how its theme is 
related to the basic themes of Warren's novels. 

It is not an easy poem, though we shall .find that it is certainly 
not needlessly obscure. The title itself may be thought to aid our un- 
derstanding of it; and help, it does. But it will not take us very far, 
and it can be a positive distraction if we try to make it a shortcut to the 
poem's meaning. We had better take the subtitle ("A Short Story") 
seriously enough to submit ourselves to the narrative. If we do so, 
real attention to the narrative may yield us, indirectly, "what the poem 

It is the story of a man's attempt to shake off a nightmare and his 
failure to do so. But what is the nightmare? If we merely clap the 
placard "original sin" on it (whether we take our conception of original 
sin from Calvin or Aquinas), we will have simply constructed a rather 
thin allegory. To be sure, Calvin, St. Thomas, and even perhaps Dr. 
Freud, may perhaps be of help; but the poem is no mechanical allegory, 
and if we let any of our authorities divert us from an exploration of the 
poem itself, we shall have missed the poem. 

Let me be perfectly explicit here: the poet has done the work for 
us, but he has done it in the poet's way: that is, he has provided us with 
his poem. He has not furnished us with a digest, a paraphrase of his 
poem. He can write the poem for us, but he cannot read it for us: that 
is the irreducible minimum of work left to us as readers — if we are to 
participate in the poem and not merely be told about it. 

The nightmare has a great head, but ft is an empty head: ft rattles 
r 'like a gourd." And its nodding, we soon come to realize, is not a 
gesture of intelligence, a nod of recognition or assent. It is merely the 
bobbing of the awkwardly carried, too-heavy head. For the nightmare 
is as witness as a hydrocephalic child. It cannot form words: it whim- 
pers or mews: its hand is "childish and unsure" as it clutches "the bribe 
of chocolate or a toy you used to treasure." The abnormality of the 
head runs through even the second stanza with its evocation of grandpa 
on the veranda in Omaha. For grandpa's head had a wen, which he 
used to finger, to your wondering amazement — something that you 
didn't have — "a precious protuberance" which set him apart from 
ordinary people and from you. 

You knew the nightmare when you were a child. It belonged, with 
grandpa, to that childhood world. But grandpa was dead, and you were 
no longer a child. That was why you were shocked when it turned up 
in Harvard Yard. But part of the shock was how, whimpering and 
imbecilic, it could ever have made the journey. Perhaps grandpa's will 
paid the ticket — perhaps it was thus an unasked legacy from grandpa. 
At any rate, it was there; and in your first homesickness, you were almost 
glad to see it. Hideous though it was, you were almost kindly to it. 
But your kindness has nothing to do with its ubiquity. It followed you 
whether you felt kndly or loathed it: you could not shake it off. This 
is presumably what "at last you understood": that nothing is ever lost; 
that the past cannot be escaped. 

If the poem were to end here, we might be tempted to say that the 
nightmare merely stands for the past: the monstrous and irrational world 
of the child's nightmare. But the poem does not end here, and the 
stanzas that follow go on to develop and refine the symbol. 

Irrational as it is — imbecilic as it is, the nightmare observes what 
amounts to a gentlemanly code. It is willing to remain decently private. 
It forebears to shame you before your friends. Obviously it has nothing 
to do with your public experiences; what is more surprising, it has no- 
thing to do with your private reformation either. If it were merely your 
memories of the past, it might be expected to appear on these occasions 
at least. 

We shall do well to observe the other occasions on which, according 
to the protagonist, it does not appear. It does not appear at the moment 
of apparent intellectual vision nor at emotional crises: not at the ex- 
perience of poignant — too poignant beauty — the "lyric arsenical 
meadows — Where children call"; nor at the pang of Gethsemane 
agony — the "orchard anguish"; nor even at the moment of full horror, 
when horror has come to fruition and hangs like a heavy ripened fruit, 
asking to be tasted, to be gorged. The nightmare is absent from these 
occasions as it is absent from your calculated prudence, those axioms by 
which you live, or pretend to yourself that you live. 


It was deceptively absent when you made the brave resolution to 
begin again, to found yourself on a new innocence. At that moment of 
insight, you saw with full clarity that we are betrayed by the multiplicity 
of experience itself. We must resolve not to allow ourselves to be dis- 
tracted by that multiplicity, even though it may be rich and glorious. 
We must have better charts: we must strictly adhere to the charts, else 
our purposes become confused and are swallowed up by the welter of 
our multiform world. Yet, after you have made your calculations, after 
all the "timetables, all the maps," there the nightmare was, standing in 
the twilight clutter of "always, always, or perhaps/' The crepuscular 
clutter may seem a different sort of confusion from that of the "sun- 
torment of whitecaps." But both are multiplicity, though one is sunlit, 
the other twilit. The prediction does somehow go awry; calculation 
miscalculates. The confidently voiced proposition has to be revised down- 
ward from an assertion of truth to an assertion of probability — the 
confident always has to give way to the lame perhaps. 

And so the nightmare, we see, is not merely the ghost of the past: 
it is evidently associated with the contingent element in our universe 
which renders the best time-table inaccurate, the most carefully surveyed 
map, defective. In a world which aspires to a certain neat precision, 
contingency is a nightmare, subhuman in its lack of purpose conscious, 
slovenly with its unekmpt locks "like seaweed strung on the stinking 
stone." For the nightmare inhabits a world which defies the clean, 
logical ordering of our daylight, waking world. It is monstrous and 
irrational: the timetable can find no place for it. 

But we have not finished the poem yet — or to put it more accurately, 
the poem has not finished with us. For the last two stanzas make a 
further enrichment of the symbol and suggest how the two main aspects 
of the symbol — its connection with the past and its connection with 
the contingent — are related. In developing this relationship, they 
account for the title of the poem, "Original Sin", with its suggestion 
that man is dowered from birth with some inner propensity toward error, 
some pervision of will, from which his own will can never deliver him. 
(I do not mean to press the theological analogy here. The poem itself 
does not press it. That is, the poem does not lean on the doctrine: it 
constitutes an independent dramatization of an experience — though 
I grant that this drama may throw some light on the doctrine and may 
in turn receive some illumination from it.") 

To return to the poem, however: What is the "sly pleasure" which 
comes from the death of friends — a pleasure to which in his honesty, 
the speaker confesses? Why does such news bring pleasure? Because, 
even in the midst of one's sorrow, there comes a "sense of cleansing and 
hope." One more link with the past has been broken; and with the 
sense of cleansing, comes hope — the sense of a fresh start. But "it" 
has not died. Just then it appears, with the child's innocence, which is 

not an aseptic innocence. It is the irrational you, — "clutching a toy 
you used to treasure" — the you that can not be disowned even though 
there is now one less friend in whom that irrational you is known and 

But the nightmare comes to you, not in the glare of full day, nor 
even in the glare of full consciousness — it comes to you, most often, in 
the twilight fringe of consciousness. Half asleep, you hear it fumble 
at the lock. You know that it is in the house. Later, you may hear it 
wander from room to room. It moves about "Like a mother who rises 
at night to seek the childhood picture," or it "stands like an old horse 
cold in the pasture." To what do the comparisons point? They occur 
in climactic position in the poem? What do they have to tell us? 

If we look back through the poem we find that "it" has been com- 
pared to a child, to an imbecile, to an animal (though a faithful domestic 
animal like the old hound or the old horse), and now, to the mother. 
All of these types of subrationality or irrationality; for even the mother 
acts in disregard of — or in excess of — the claims of rationality. The 
picture will keep until daylight; it will be the easier found by daylight. 
But, obsessed with her need, she rises at night to fumble patiently through 
the darkened rooms. It is a childhood picture. The child has presumably 
left the house — has perhaps long since become a man, and put away 
childish things. But the mother yearns toward the child that was. There 
is no use in reasoning with her, for her claim transcends reason; and, 
anyway she will be happier left to her search. 

But the things to which the nightmare is compared have something 
else in common: none of them has anything to do with the realm of 
practical affairs. The child and the idiot obviously do not have. But 
neither does the mother, the hound, or the horse. They are all super- 
annuated: the old hound snuffling at the door, the old horse turned out 
to pasture, the mother living in the past. The reference to the timetables 
and the maps is relevant after all, for maps and timetables are the instru- 
ments of action, abstract descriptions of our world in which the world 
is stripped down to be acted upon; and all action has a future reference. 
Yet, the future grows out of the past, and is, we may say if we think in 
terms of pure efficiency, always contaminated by the past. Our experi- 
ments never work out perfectly because we can never control all the 
conditions: we never have chemically pure ingredients, a perfectly clean 
testube, absolutely measured quantities. Most of all, we ourselves are 
not clean testubes. 

The new innocence, for which the speaker, bewildered by the sun- 
torment of whitecaps, cries out, would be asceptic, scientifically pure; 
but we ourselves are never that. Animal man, instinctive man, passionate 
man — these represent deeper layers of our nature than does rational man. 
Considered from the standpoint of pure rationality, these subrational 

layers are, as we have seen, a contamination, something animal — or 
actually worse than animal, imbecilic, an affront to our pride in reason. 
But it is in these subrational layers that our highest values, loyalty, patience, 
sympathy, love are ultimately rooted. These virtues are not the con- 
structions of pure rationality. And so the comparisons with which the 
poem ends — to the mother unreasonably yearning past reason for the 
childhood picture and to the old horse, patient in the cold pasture — 
are relevant after all. 

I have interpreted the poem as a critique of rationality, I have per- 
haps oversimplified it in attempting to show that the poem makes such 
a criticism — makes it indirectly, but makes it surely, nonetheless, and 
that therefore it has something of immense importance to say to us, and 
most of all to us who live in the age of atomic bomb when the vaunt of 
pure rationality has risen to a crescendo. 

But I should be unfair to the poem if I ended my account of it 
with such emphasis. For this poem ,is not a tract or sermon. It is a 
poem, which means that it has its own drama. It is too good a poem, 
moreover, for its meaning to be detached from its drama. 

The dramatic tension is maintained throughout the poem: the re- 
vulsion of horror, the necessary association of the horror with the past, 
and specifically with one's own past, the false confidence that one has 
escaped it, the sick realization that one cannot escape it — these are 
dynamically related to each other. Not least important, one should 
add, is the speaker's final attitude as the poem closes: I should not de- 
scribe it as mere passive acceptance; it is certainly more than cynical 
bitterness. It even contains a wry kind of ironic comfort: the listener 
drowses off in the consciousness that, moving about or merely patiently 
waiting, "it" is there, and can be counted upon to remain. 

But any paraphrase blurs the richness and complexity of the final 
attitude. The poet is not telling us about the experience: he is giving 
us the experience. For the full meaning, the reader has to be referred 
to the poem itself. The poem is hard to summarize, not because of its 
vagueness but because of its precision. "What it says" — the total ex- 
perience, which includes the speaker's attitude as a part of it — the 
total experience can be conveyed by no document less precise than the 
poem itself. The full experience — the coming to terms with reality, 
or with God, or with one's deepest self, cannot be stated directly, for 
it is never an abstract description. It can be given to us only dramatically, 
which means indirectly. 

In a sense then the poem constitutes a kind of concrete instance 
of our problem as well as a statement of it. This poem — and any poem, 
I should say — makes use of a method of indirection. The truth of a 
poem does not reside in a formula. It cannot be got at by mere logic. 
Poetry is incommensurable with charts and timetables. It is a piece of — 

perhaps I should say an "imitation'' of our fluid and multiform world. 
That is why fewer and fewer people can read such poems as this. Per- 
haps if we could read poetry we might understand our plight better: 
not merely that we could hear what our poets have to tell us about our 
world: the very fact that we could read the poems itself would testify 
to an enlargement of our powers of apprehension — would testify to 
a transcendence of a world abstracted to formula and chart. A growing 
inability to read poetry conversely testifies to a narrowing of apprehension,, 
to a hardening of the intellectual arteries which will leave us blind to 
all but that world of inflexible processes and arid formulae which may 
be our doom. 

by Robert Venn Warren 

Nodding, its great head rattling like a gourd, 

And locks like seaweed strung on the stinking stone, 

The nightmare stumbles past, and you have heard 

It fumble your door before it whimpers and is gone: 

It acts like the old hound that used to snuffle your door and moan. 

You thought you had lost it when you left Omaha, 
For it seemed connected then with your grandpa, who 
Had a wen on his forehead and sat on the veranda 
To finger the precious protuberance, as was his habit to do, 
Which glinted in the sun like rough garnet or the rich old brain bulging 

But you met it in Harvard Yard as the historic steeple 
Was confirming the midnight with its hideous racket, 
And you wondered how it had come, for it stood so imbecile, 
With empty hands, humble, and surely nothing in pocket: 
Riding the rods, perhaps — or grandpa's will paid the ticket. 

You were almost kindly then, in your first homesickness, 
As it tortured its stiff face to speak, but scarcely mewed ; 
Since then you have outlived all your homesickness, 
But have met it in many another distempered latitude: 
Oh, nothing is lost, ever lost! at last you understood. 

* From Selected Poems 1933-1943, by Robert Penn Warren, copyright 
1944, by Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc., and used with their 


But it never came in the quantum glare of sun 

To shame you before your friends, and had nothing to do 

With your public experience or private leformation: 

But it thought no bed too narrow — it stood with lips askew 

And shook its great head sadly like the abstract Jew. 

Never met you in the lyric arsenical meadows 

When children call and your heart goes stone in the bosom; 

At the orchard anguish never, nor ovoid horror, 

Which is furred like a peach or avid like the delicious plum. 

It takes no part in your classic prudence or fondled axiom. 

Not there when you exclaimed: "Hope is betrayed by 
Disastrous glory of sea-capes, sun-torment of whitecaps 
— There must be a new innocence for us to be stayed by." 
But there it stood, after all the timetables, all the maps, 
In the crepuscular clutter of always, always, or perhaps. 

You have moved often and rarely left an address, 

And hear of the deaths of friends with a sly pleasure, 

A sense of cleansing and hope, which blooms from distress; 

But it has not died, it comes, its hand childish, unsure, 

Clutching the bribe of chocolate or a toy you used to treasure. 

It tries the lock; you hear, but simply drowse: 

There is nothing remarkable in that sound at the door. 

Later you may hear it wander the dark house 

Like a mother who rises at night to seek a childhood picture; 

Or it goes to the backyard and stands like an old horse cold in the pasture. 



The Poetic Theory of Cleanth Brooks 

Albrecht B. Strauss 

A proper understanding of Mr. Brooks's critical position is con- 
tingent, I believe, upon a recognition of the revolutionary zeal with which 
his system is held. Mr. Brooks, it is important to remember, conceives 
of himself as a staunch defender of what he considers the third major 
critical revolution to occur in the history of modern English poetry. 
The first of these three great critical revolts took place in the seventeenth 
century concurrently with the rise of the scientific spirit. Bacon and 
Hobbes were its evil genii. Disparaging the value of poetry, these thinkers 
deplored the poet's antirationalist magic and relegated him to the position 
of a merely frivolous dreamer. The results of such an attitude, Mr. 
Brooks feels, were catastrophic. "The imagination," he writes, "was 
weakened from a 'magic and synthetic' power to Hobbes's conception 
of it as the file-clerk of the memory." ' Metaphor became enfeebled, 
distinctions between "poetic" and "unpoetic" subject matter arose, di- 
dactic considerations were introduced — in short, the intrusion of com- 
mon sense and naturalism into the realm of poetry brought about that 
"dissociation of sensibility," from which, according to Mr. T. S. Eliot, 
"we have never recovered." 2 In the Romantic Revolt, the second great 
critical revolution, Mr. Brooks sees an unsuccessful attempt to free the 
imagination from the strait- jacket which Neo-classicism had imposed 
upon it. Essentially anti-scientific in orientation, this movement might 
have succeeded, had it not, rather than discarding altogether the con- 
ception of a special "poetic" material, offered new "poetic" objects and 
persisted in what Mr. Brooks likes to call "the didactic heresy." It re- 
mained for modern poets to complete the task left undone by the Roman- 
tics. By their refusal to recognize the existence of "poetic" materials 
and by their concerted effort to fuse the intellectual with the emotional, 
the Moderns have given expression to their determination to effect a 
complete liberation of the imagination. 

Of this, the third major critical revolution, Mr. Brooks is a violent 
partisan. We shall do him no injustice, I think, if we interpret his 
books and articles as one extended defense of contemporary poetic 
practices. He is a David battling in the cause of modern poetry against 
the Goliath of academic philistinism. The metaphor is perhaps mis- 

i Cleanth Brooks, Modem Poetry and the Tradition (Chapel Hill: The University 

of North Carolina Press, 1939), p. 52. 
* T. S. Eliot, Selected Essays 1917-1932 (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 

1932), p. 247. 


leading, for it might suggest the figure of a lonely crusader. Actually, 
of course, Mr. Brooks is merely bringing down to the level of the man 
in the street (of whom, he notes somewhere, the average freshman is a 
reasonable facsimile) a battle that had hitherto been fought in the rare- 
lied atmosphere of the more recondite theorizers. "While Brooks and 
Warren have brought the New Criticism into the universities," remarks 
Robert Wooster Stallman, "it is Tate and Ransom who have furnished 
it with systematic aesthetic studies." 3 Mr. Brooks himself readily admits 
the essentially derivative nature of his position. "Such credit as I may 
legitimately claim," he observes in the Preface to Modem Poetry and the 
Tradition, "I must claim primarily on the grounds of having possibly 
made a successful synthesis of other men's ideas rather than on the 
originality of my own." 4 Brooks, we must conclude then, is essentially 
a propagandist for and practitioner of theories that ultimately derive 
from T. E. Hulme, T. S. Eliot, I. A. Richards, to mention just a few. 
The battle is being fought on their behalf. It is important to remember 
this, for, unlike Mr. Brooks himself, his intellectual progenitors frankly 
recognize the metaphysical and political implications of the system they 
have evolved. One thinks of T. S. Eliot's latest book, Notes Towards 
the Definition of Culture, by way of an example. Mr. Brooks does not 
go that far. He is alive, it is true, to the bearing his doctrines have on 
"the much advertised demise of the Humanities," but disavows any in- 
tention of making a "contribution to the rapidly increasing literature 
that demands the resuscitation of the Humanities and tells how that 
resuscitation is to be effected." 5 Perhaps he is right in thus limiting 
his scope. His primary task, as he conceives of it, is to defend modern 
poetry — from Yeats to Eliot. Modern Poetry and the Tradition does so 
by demonstrating, on the basis of analyses of a number of modern poems, 
that contemporary poets, by taking their inspiration from the metaphysical 
poets of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, are well within the main 
stream of the English tradition. In The Well Wrought Urn he continues 
this defense by arguing that the very traits which have generally been 
associated exclusively with the Donne tradition and which modern poets 
are said to have artifically revived are in reality present in all great poems. 
What the precise nature of these traits is we shall have to determine in 
what follows. For the present, however, we must remind ourselves that 
implicit in Mr. Brooks's approach are the highly debatable metaphysical 
presuppositions of men like T. S. Eliot, John Crowe Ransom and Allen 
Tate, to whom Mr. Brooks explicitly acknowledges his indebtedness. 
If we dispense, for the purpose of this paper, with a detailed examination 
of these assumptions, we do so not because such an examination would 

3 "The New Critics," in Critiques and Essays in Criticism 1920-1948, ed. Robert 

Wooster Stallman (New York: The Ronald Press Company, 1949), p. 496, 

4 Brooks, Modern Poetry, p. x. 

sCleanth Brooks, The Well Wrought Urn (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1947), 
p. xi. 


be irrelevant — on the contrary, it would be very much to the point — but 
rather because our concern here is primarily with matters literary.. As 
Professor R. S. Crane has shown in his somewhat ill-natured onslaught 
on Brooks's position, the problems raised by Mr. Brooks's views may be 
considered, more or less satisfactorily, on the literary plane alone. 6 

Our emphasis on the essentially defensive qualities in Brooks's 
work may easily give rise to misunderstandings. Even a cursory glance 
at his writings, it might be contended, would make it apparent that, so 
far from being a defender, Mr. Brooks is constantly on the offensive, 
maligning the Romantics here and castigating the Neo-classicists there. 
Granted. Even so, his point of departure, I suspect, is always the desire 
to protect modern poetry. It is possibly significant that, in Mr. Brooks's 
own terms, "the thesis frankly maintained (in Modern Poetry and the 
Tradition) . . .is that we are witnessing ,or perhaps have just witnessed) 
a critical revolution of ^the order of the Romantic Revolt." 7 By way of 
an explanation for his aggressiveness, we may be permitted the trite 
observation that an attack is the best form of defense. The point is 
perhaps not important. What does matter is that we form a clear idea 
of Brooks's demands on poetry and the grounds on which he posits his 
defense of the Donne tradition. 

To write genuine poetry, Mr. T. S. Eliot tells us in his celebrated 
essay on "The Metaphysical Poets," "one must look into the cerebral 
cortex, the nervous system, and the digestive tracts." 8 Mr. Brooks fully 
agrees, and accordingly chides the poets of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
century for concerning themselves, to use Eliot's terms, with "the cerebral 
cortex" to the neglect of "the nervous system, and the digestive tracts." 
He deplores Johnson's anxiety "to preserve a certain sublimity which he 
(Johnson) feels is injured by too much show of ingenuity or the use of 
undignified and prosaic diction" 9 and regrets that Wordsworth's dis- 
tinction between "fancy" and "imagination" led him to the conviction 
that "materials which are technical, sharply realistic, definite in their 
details are materials to be shunned in serious poetry." ,0 Both Johnson 
and Wordsworthi — and they, of course, are representative of their age — 
Mr. Brooks ifinds, labor under the misapprehension that "some things are 
intrinsically poetic" and that "the intellectual faculty is somehow opposed 
to the emotional (the poetic)." " The metaphysical poets knew better — 
and so do the Moderns. There is, Mr. Brooks asserts, no such thing 
as an intrinsic poetic quality of the materials themselves. "Our only 

* R. S. Crane, "Cleanth Brooks; or , The Bankruptcy of Critical Monism," Modern 

Philology, XLV (1948), 226-245. 
7 Brooks, Modern Poetry, pp. viii-ix. 
s Eliot, Essays, p. 250. 
9 Brooks, Modern Poetry, p. 8. 
io Ibid., p. 5. 
" Ibid., p. 10. 


test for the validity of any figure," he concludes, "must be an appeal to 
the whole context in which it occurs: Does it contribute to the total 
eifect, or not?" 12 Most important of all, such figures are functional 
and cannot be detached from their context without destroying the entire 
poem. The Neo-classicists and the Romantics apparently failed to realize 
that "the comparison is the poem in a structural sense," 13 for, as W. H. 
Auden has it, "idea and image are one." 14 

Once agreed that there is no intrinsically poetic subject matter and 
that the intellectual and emotional faculities are not incompatible, we 
have no logical reason for excluding wit from poetry. Thus Mr. Brooks 
categorically rejects the time-worn contention that wit and what Matthew 
Arnold called "high seriousness" are antithetical. On the contrary, he 
finds that high seriousness may be achieved "not in spite of wit, but by 
means of wit." 15 Ingenuity, even more than simplicity, might make 
for sincerity and tenderness. In fact, only by showing "a lively awareness 
of the fact that the obvious attitude toward a given situation is not the 
only possible attitude," ,6 an awareness which finds its characteristic 
expression in the use of wit, will the poet do justice to the complexity 
of human experience. The fatal error of the Romantics lay in the as- 
sumption that they could achieve sincerity only by keeping out of the 
poem "all those extraneous and distracting elements which might seem 
to contradict what the poet wishes to communicate to his audience." 17 
The poet, however, must work by contradiction and qualification. Hence, 
Mr. Brooks places his stamp of approval upon what Mr. I. A. Richards 
has called "a poetry of synthesis." Such poetry does not leave out what 
is apparently hostile to its dominant tone," 18 but rather attempts the 
reconciliation of qualities which are opposite or discordant in the ex- 
treme." 19 Since in life, as in art, all mature attitudes involve a mingling 
of the approbative and the satirical, the mature poet will freely avail 
himself of wit. 

In the sense in which we have been using the term thus far, the 
word wit is, of course, a generic term, embracing such literary devices 
as puns, ambiguity, irony and paradox. If only because no words occur 
more frequently in Mr. Brooks's critical vocabulary than do the terms 
irony and paradox, it will be necessary, at this point, to attempt some 

12 Ibid., p. 15. 

i a hoc . cit. 

»«W. H. Auden, 'Against Romanticism," "The New Republic, CII (Feb., 1940), 
187. (This is a review of Cleanth Brooks's Modern Poetry and the Tradition) . 
is Brooks, Modern Poetry, p. 22. 
'6 Ibid., p. 37. 

17 hoc. cit. 

18 Cleanth Brooks, "Irony and 'Ironic Poetry'," College English, IX (1948), 234. 

19 Brooks, Modern Poetry, p. 43. 


sort of definition of them. We should have no difficulty in making a 
distinction, for a reference, in The Well Wrought Urn, to "the character 
of paradox with its twin concomitants of irony and wonder" 20 suggests 
clearly that paradox, as seen by Brooks, is to be classed as a more intense, 
a more concentrated form of irony. This appears to be the way in which 
Professor Crane interprets Brooks's terminology. After having traced 
back Brooks's concepts to early stages of logic and rhetoric, Crane remarks 
that, for Brooks, " 'paradox' would seem to differ from 'irony' only as 
it signifies irony especially in its narrower sense. . .the special kind of 
qualification. . .which involves the resolution of opposites." 21 If this 
be indeed the true relationship, paradox will have to be treated as a 
subdivision of irony. There is much, as a matter of fact, in Brooks's 
various attempts to characterize what he means by irony and ironic poetry 
to justify such a classification. 

"Now the obvious warping or modification of a statement by the 
context we characterize as 'ironical','' Mr. Brooks remarks in a recent 
article. 22 Subsequently, he summarizes this statement once again by 
referring to irony as "an acknowledgment of the pressure of context." 23 
In The Well Wrought Urn, finally, he defines "irony" as "the most- 
general term that we have for the kind of qualification which the various 
elements in a context receive from a context." 24 Needless to say, as 
used here — a use, I believe, that goes back to I. A. Richards — the term 
has been completely divorced from its conventional rhetorical meaning. 
In its new denotation it serves Mr. Brooks handily. Above all, he uses 
it to distinguish the language of poetry from that of science. In mathe- 
matical formulas, he maintains, the individual terms are not modified 
by context and thus afford a striking contrast to those of the poetic or- 
ganism, where "any 'statement'. . .bears the pressure of the context and 
has its meaning modified by the context." 25 We shall not pause here 
to quarrel with Mr. Brooks's denial that contextual qualification occurs 
in science, though Professor Crane challenges even that assertion. We 
might note in passing, however, that the "contextual qualification" which 
Mr. Brooks seems to restrict to drama and poetry is surely to be found 
in most forms of discourse, prose or poetry. Edmund's "Ripeness is 
all," it is true, is meaningful only because it has the weight of the entire 
play behind it — but so, for that matter, is any sentence from a novel, if 
divorced from its context. Though useful, the term must be handled 
with extreme care — and one may wonder whether Mr. Brooks always 
exercises the necessary caution. 

20 Brooks, Urn, p. 16. 

21 Crane, "Brooks," p. 235. 

22 Brooks, "Irony," p. 232. 
" Ibid., p. 234. 

2 « Brooks, Urn, p. 191. 
" Brooks, "Irony," p. 233. 


From the premise that the scientist's language is devoid of that 
kind of contextual qualification which is the peculiar function of irony, 
it follows logically that the language of science must be "purged of every 
trace of paradox." 26 Conversely, it is also true that the poet's language, 
relying heavily on precisely those contextual modifications which the 
scientist must shun, will find much of value in the use of paradox. 
"The method of art," Mr. Brooks believes emphatically, "can. . .never 
be direct — -it is always indirect." 27 For purposes of achieving this in- 
directness the paradox is not only a useful, but even a natural device. 
Indeed, Mr. Brooks goes so far as to say that "the paradoxes spring from 
the very nature of the poet's language" and that "there is a sense in 
which paradox is the language appropriate and inevitable to poetry." 2a 
An analysis of Wordsworth's "Composed upon Westminster Bridge" 
serves as illustration of the fact that even so forthright a poet as Words- 
worth is driven into the use of paradoxes. Nevertheless, many poets 
of the eighteenth and nineteenth century closed their eyes to this necessity. 
It is only the Moderns who have restored paradox, along with irony and 
other devices of wit, to the rightful place, from which it had been dis- 
placed nearly three hundred years ago. This is not to say, of course, 
that the poets between Donne and Yeats excluded wit altogether. The 
Well Wrought Urn, it will be remembered, was written to show the 
prevalence of irony and paradox in all periods of modern English literary 
history. Such wit as did occur, however, Mr. Brooks has us believe, 
occurred only as the result of an instinctive awareness, on the part of 
the poet's sensibility, of its values — and certainly in total disregard of 
pervasive critical beliefs. 

Harmful as the assumption that wit is antithetical to high seriousness 
was, its destructive influence is overshadowed, in Brooks's eyes, by what, 
if possible, is an even more damaging heresy: that which conceives of 
poetry as a statement. To those who uphold this concept — and Mr. 
Brooks implies that most conventional critics do — "the poem is. . .es- 
sentially a variety of prose which conveys a kind of information or makes 
some kind of point." 29 As a result, they "tend to insist on clarity and 
power of conviction as its virtues and to reduce rhythm and metaphor 
to the status or ornament and illustration." 30 In reality, of course, the 
poem is a unified construct, from which, as we saw earlier, nothing may 
be detached without impairing the whole. As early as 1937, Mr. Brooks 

26 Brooks, Urn, p. 3. 

2 7 Ibid., p. 9. 
2 » Ibid., p. 3. 

29 Cleanth Brooks, "The Poem as Organism," English Institute Annual 1940 

(New York: Columbia University Press, 1941), p. 21. 
3 ° Loc. cit. 


was writing that "the poetic quality resides in a functional combination 
of factors rather than in the intrinsic nature of any single factor." 31 
In later articles and books he defines the precise nature of the factors 
which the poet, as a maker, must combine. The structure he requires is 
a sort of Hegelian dialectic which comes to him, I presume, via Cole- 
ridge's concept of the imagination — a concept which takes the imagination 
to be a power whose task is "the balance or reconcilement of opposite 
or discordant qualities." 32 In 1939 Brooks characterizes metaphysical 
poetry — with all the marks of approbation' — as "a poetry in which the 
poet attempts the reconciliation of qualities which are opposite or dis- 
cordant in the extreme." 33 But not only does the poet have to fuse 
heterogeneous ideas into an organically unified whole, he must also do 
justice to the "plasticity of words and the organic nature of their relation- 
ship." 34 We should not, Mr. Brooks warns us, "conceive of words. . . 
as sharply isolated entities, like beads on a string, each opaque and im- 
pervious to others. . . .Rather we have to think of them. . .as burrs — 
predisposed to hang together in any fashion whatsoever." 35 In a good 
poem, then, both incongruous ideas and plastic words are successfully 
joined in such a way as to yield an organically unified pattern. It is 
therefore idle to talk in terms of "content" or "subject matter," for 
"unless one asserts the primacy of the pattern, a poem becomes merely 
a bouquet of intrinsically beautiful items." 36 Content and form are 
indivisible. To attempt a separation of the two is to commit the heresy 
of paraphrase. Since the poem is an organic entity, the attempt to ab- 
stract a prose meaning from it is futile and even dangerous — dangerous, 
because it tends to "bring the statement to be conveyed into an unreal 
competition with science or philosophy or theology." 37 Mr. Brooks 
would have us think of a poem as a drama, regard it "as an action rather 
than as a formula for action or as a statement about action," 38 and realize 
that, since in the theatre "the total effect proceeds from all the elements 
in the drama, ... in a good poem, as in a good drama, there is no waste 
motion and there are no superfluous parts." 39 If we accept the analogy, 
we shall realize that the poet's task is radically different from that of 

3 ' Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, "The Reading of Modern Poetry," 
American Review, VIII (1937), 439. 

32 Brooks, Modern Poetry, p. 40. 

33 Ibid., p. 43. 

3 * Brooks, "Poem as Organism," p. 27. 
ss Ibid,, p. 32. 

3 6 Brooks, Urn, p. 178. 

3 7 Ibid., p. 184. 
z*Ibid., p. 187. 

3 9 Brooks, "Irony," p. 232. 


the scientist. Whereas the latter abstracts experience in order to analyze 
it, the former returns "to us the unity of the experience itself as man 
knows it in his own experience." 40 But a successful poem is more than 
a simulacrum of reality: its unity lies in what Mr. Brooks calls "the uni- 
fication of attitudes into a hierarchy subordinated to a total and governing 
attitude." 41 If this be true, the question of poetic belief need never 
arise. "A poem," asserts Mr. Brooks, "does not state ideas but rather 
tests ideas." 42 So long as it does justice to the complexity of human 
experience by unifying apparently contradictory and conflicting elements 
into a new pattern, which, in turn, will stand up under "ironical con- 
templation," we shall not challenge the scientific truth of the doctrine 
enunciated. If we do, "either through the poet's fault or our own, we 
have," as I. A. Richards puts it, "for the moment ceased to be readers 
and have become astronomers, theologians, or moralists ,.." 43 "A 
poem," Mr. Brooks observes in disposing of the problem of poetic belief, 
"is to be judged, not by the truth or falsity as such, of the idea which 
it incorporates, but rather by its character as drama — by its coherence, 
sensitivity, depth, richness, and tough-mindedness." 44 

Before taking up the discussion of the corollaries of Mr. Brooks's 
position, it might be well to sum up our findings. Mr. Brooks, we have 
learned, accepts the doctrine that the poet thinks through his emotions. 
He therefore considers the emotional and intellectual as by no means 
incompatible and, furthermore, rejects the assumption that there are 
inherently poetic materials. The good poem, as he conceives of it, amal- 
gamates, by the use of irony and paradox, a series of disparate and 
seemingly incongruous experiences into an organic and non-paraphrasable 
whole. Possessing imaginative rather than logical unity, this organic 
construct will prove invulnerable to ironical contemplation and, by its 
complexity, will faithfully mirror the complexity of human experience. 

A concept of poetry such as that held by Mr. Brooks will lead 
naturally, almost inevitably, to, at least, two inferences which we shall 
now have to examine. If, for one thing, the poem be indeed a unified 
and organic pattern wrenched out of the recalcitrant materials of human 
experience, it will have become autonomous and endowed with a life 
of its own. It follows from this that the criteria for judging what the 
poem says must inhere in the poem itself rather than in an extraneous 
frame of reference. The point needs elaborating, for no other doctrine 

40 Brooks, Urn, p. 194. 

«i Ibid., p. 189. 

« Ibid., p. 229. 

43 Brooks, Modern Poetry, p. 49. 

4 « Brooks, Urn, p. 229. 


in Mr. Brooks's poetical theory has been more controversial. Though 
his explications de texte show evidence of a constant use of the fruits of 
historical scholarship — the common complaint runs — Mr. Brooks, by 
concentrating on the poem as poem, tends to belittle the work of the 
historical scholar. As a matter of fact, Mr. Brooks is at some pains to 
acknowledge his obligations to scholars of other disciplines. "The critic," 
he remarks (somewhat grudgingly, to be sure) in an article on Marvell's 
"Horatian Ode," "obviously must know what the words of the poem 
mean, something which immediately puts him in debt to the linguist; 
and since many of the words in this poem are proper nouns, in debt to 
the historian as well." 45 What he does denounce is the widespread 
scholarly practice of drawing conclusions about the meaning of a work 
of art either from other writings by the same author or from biographical 
data. He cites as a horrible example a book by Mr. Maurice Kelley on 
Milton, in which Kelley seeks to establish the meaning of Paradise Lost 
by an examination of the ideas enunciated in The Christian Doctrine. 
Such a procedure, Mr. Brooks points out, rests upon "the dangerous 
assumption that Milton was able to say in Paradise Lost exactly what he 
intended to say; and that what he supposed he had put into the poem 
is actually to be found there." 46 The refractoriness of language alone 
compels the poet into expressing things at variance with those he purposes 
to say. Historical and biographical information is helpful, to be sure, 
and Mr. Brooks readily admits this, but, ultimately, we have to turn to 
the poem itself for an answer to our questions. "No amount of historical 
evidence as such," Mr. Brooks insists, "can finally determine what the 
poem says." 47 It may justly be objected, I think, that in the critic's 
equipment there must be more than a knowledge of what the words 
mean and of the historical significance of the proper nouns. He needs 
to know something of the conventional beliefs of the age in which the 
poem was produced, of the poet's pet theories as expressed in his cor- 
respondence, and so forth. 48 I am not sure that Mr. Brooks makes 
sufficient allowance for all this. Certainly, in his textbook explications 

4 s Cleanth Brooks, "Criticism and Literary History: Marvell's Horatian Ode," 

Sewanee Review, LV (1947), 204. 
46 ibid., p. 199- 
"Ibid., p. 222. 

48 See, in this connection, Arthur Mizener's highly favorable review of The Well 
Wrought Urn. His sympathy with Brooks's methods does not stop him from 
protesting vigorously against Brooks's rejection of historicism. "It would 
be foolish of us," Mizener insists, "thus severely to deprive ourselves of such 
advantages as may be gained by noticing, for instance, the recurrence of similar 
attitudes from poem to poem of a single author, or the similarities between 
attitudes in his poems, his criticism, and his letters, or the relations between 
the attitudes in his poems and the attitudes asserted elsewhere in his time." 
("The Desires of the Mind," Sewanee Review, LV (1947), 446). 


he takes care to create an impression of having disregarded such matters 
completely. By his insistence, however, that more than anything else the 
poem itself will supply answers to our queries about its meaning, he sas, 
I believe provided a wholesome antidote to the vagaries into which his- 
torical scholarship has so often led us. 

The second inference to be drawn from Mr. Brooks's critical theory 
concerns the need for a revised history of English literature. If a poem 
is what Mr. Brooks says it is, the critical principles that have guided the 
conventional writers on English literary history must necessarily be re- 
considered. A new history, Mr. Brooks suggests in the final chapter of 
Modern Poetry and the Tradition, would have to be written in terms of 
the eclipse and rebirth of the type of poetry which is most commonly 
associated with the metaphysical school. By their use of wit the poets 
of the Donne circle had achieved that complete fusion of the intellect 
and the emotion which, to Mr. Brooks, is the sine qua non of all great 
poetry. With the Neo-classicists, the scope of wit has become narrowed. 
The satiric impulse was segregated from other impulses and, as a result, 
tragedy become too noble and too easily didactic. Specifically, Mr. Brooks 
ascribes the breakdown of Elizabethan tragedy to the same cause that spell- 
ed the ruin of metaphysical poetry: that is, the tendency toward order and 
simplification which was introduced as a concomitant of the scientific 
spirit. Like a good poem, a tragedy, as denned by Mr. Brooks, assimilates 
incongruities and yields no positive answers. Naturally then it woulci 
prove wholly unsatisfactory to the scientific mind, with Hobbes, accord- 
ingly, "the incongruous has been toned down — and the tragic tension re- 
laxed," 49 so that ultimately "with the Restoration, sensitiveness to comr 
plex unity . . . became coarsened, or overridden by the all too explicit 
theories of decorum and correctness." 50 Such theories led, moreover, 
to the use of poetic materials merely for purposes of decoration and 
added dignity. The distrust of the intellect and the belief that poetry 
inheres in certain materials, fostered by Dryden, Johnson and other 
critics of the. Neo-classical period, became fatal to the poetry of the 
Romantics. With the exception of Keats and Coleridge, all Romantic 
poets may, as is Shelley, be charged with "sentimentality, lack of pro- 
portion, confusion of abstract generalization with symbol and confusion 
of propaganda with imaginative insight." 51 By the time we reach 
Victorian poetry the dissociation of sensibility is complete. Not until 
late in the nineteenth century, with the emergence of a poet like Hardy, 
is there a revival of the structure of metaphysical poetry. Mr. Brooks, 
I imagine, would probably no longer defend the inflexible bed of Pro- 
crustes into which English literature is forced in this reading of its 

49 Brooks, Modern Poetry, p. 208. 
so Ibid., p. 212. 
si Ibid., p. 237. 


history. The Well Wrought Urn, at any rate, seems to indicate that he 
has found far more wit than he had anticipated in some of the poets he 
had previously spurned. At the same time, it would be an error to 
assume that there have been any essential modifications in his position. 
He has merely found in unexpected places examples of the literary tech- 
niques he prizes. So far as I can see, however, he has never substantially 
deviated from the views he first propounded in the early thirties. 

Of Mr. Brooks's thoroughgoing absolutism, it must be abundantly 
clear by now, there can be no possible doubt. 52 Underlying his entire 
theory there is the firm conviction that normative judgments about poetry 
are not only desirable, but even essential — essential, that is, if we wish 
to preserve the concept of poetry at all. Characteristic of our time, thinks 
Mr. Brooks, is a relativistic tendency to blurr distinctions between poetry 
and scientific prose. This trend, he suggests, can be arrested only if 
we affirm the existence of absolute and permanently valid criteria for 
differentiating between poetry and scientific prose. Unless such standards 
are formulated, the very foundations upon which literary criticism rests 
will be destroyed. The matter is crucial, for not only poetry, but the 
Humanities in general are at stake. If the critic renounces the burden 
of making normative judgments and contents himself with relating works 
of art to their cultural matrix, he must expect to be treated as no more 
than a sociologist — and, as Mr. Brooks points out, not a very important 
kind of sociologist at that. Mr. Brooks, for one, has no hesitations about 
accepting the critic's burden and readily declares that, in The Well 
Wrought Urn, "the judgments are very frankly treated as if they were 
universal judgments." 53 The willingness with which he dispenses 
ex cathedra pronouncements on the goodness or badness of a poem is, 
as a matter of fact, one of the most striking traits of such textbooks as 
Understanding Poetry 54 — and has naturally met with considerable op- 
position, originating from such widely differing camps as that of the 
Neo-Aristotelians and that of the Relativists. 

We have already, from time to time, referred to Professor R. S. 
Crane's systematic assault on what he calls Brooks's monism. Arguing 
with considerable acuteness, Professor Crane accuses Brooks of having 
reduced Coleridge's "multidimensional and hence relatively sophisticated 
theory" 55 to a mere shadow of itself. Of a system that allows Coleridge 

52 "Thoroughgoing," even though, in what was presumably a weak moment, he 
has gone on record with the admission that "no meaningful criterion of poetry 
can ultimately eliminate the subjective." {Urn, p. 230). 

so Brooks, Urn, p. 199. 

54 Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, Understanding Poetry (New York: 

Henry Holt and Company, 1938), passim. 

55 Crane, "Brooks," p. 230. 


"to discriminate aspects of poems as determined now by their medium 
or manner, now by their substance, now by their origin in the mental 
powers of the poet, now by their immediate and remote ends," 56 Brooks, 
says Professor Crane, has retained only two points: "the proposition that 
the 'imagination' reveals itself in the balance or reconciliation of opposite 
and discordant qualities; and in the proposition that the proper anti- 
thesis to poetry is science." 57 Whereas Coleridge was looking for struc- 
tural distinctions between various types of poems as well as between 
poems and other forms of composition, Brooks is merely concerned with 
distinguishing poetry from science. Unlike Coleridge who required 
of the critic the use of at least three sciences < — grammar, logic, and 
psychology — "Mr. Brooks finds it possible to get along with only one, 
namely, grammar; and with only one part of that, namely, its doctrine 
of qualification." 58 The result of all this is that Mr. Brooks's/ critical 
apparatus provides us with no tools for discriminating "between poems 
so obviously different in the special kinds of pleasure they give as are 
the Odyssey and The Waste Land." 59 Professor Crane concludes his 
rather devastating attack by pointing out the obvious fact, suggested 
earlier in this paper, that the type of textual qualification which Brooks 
calls "irony" may be discovered in Plato's Republic or Hume's Dialogues 
Concerning Natural Religion as well as in the poems analyzed in The 
Well Wrought Urn. 

One may speculate what Mr. Brooks's rejoinder to Crane's attack 
might be. Conceivably he might deny ever having been presumptuous 
enough to formulate a poetic theory at all. Rather, he might urge, he 
was concerned with stressing, perhaps excessively, but certainly not un- 
profitably, an aspect of poetry which criticism had hitherto neglected. 
As corroborating evidence he might cite his extremely valuable textual 
exegeses, which Professor Crane somewhat cavalierly dismisses without 
so much as considering them. Clearly, however, the Achilles heel of 
this defense would be the assurance with which he disposes of poems 
deficient in irony and paradox. Only an all-embracing poetical theory, 
it might be countered, would entitle him to sit in judgment on the Ro- 
mantics. Such a theory, however (as Professor Crane has shown) he lacks. 

But even if, for the sake of the argument, we assume that Mr. Brooks 
has succeeded in formulating a valid poetical theory, we may yet find 
that he is unable to justify his absolutism. His inconclusive attempt 
to ward off the implicit assault on his position contained in Professor 

56 ibid., p. 229. 

57 Ibid., p. 230. 
ss Ibid., p. 234. 
59 Ibid., p. 236. 


Frederick A. Pottle's The Idiom of Poetry would suggest his inability 
to cope with Critical Relativism. Mr. Pottle raises a perplexing question. 
"Is it not simpler," he asks, "and a great deal more satisfactory to abandon 
as meaningless the search for an absolutely good style, and to agree that 
good taste in literature is, like good taste in language, the expression of 
the sensibility in accordance with the accepted usage of the time?" 6 ° 
The position implicit in this question leads Pottle — quite logically — 
to the conclusion "that all critical judgments are relative to the age pro- 
ducing them, since the measure or standard varies unpredictably from 
one age to another." 61 

It is fair to say, I think, that both Pottle and Brooks are at con- 
siderable pains to exclude metaphysical issues from their critical theories. 
However strenuous their attempts, it is now apparent that this cannot 
be done. At issue here, it seems to me, is the conceptual structure of 
the human mind. If the minds of all men of all ages have certain fun- 
damental concepts in common, Mr. Brooks's attempt to set up permanent 
criteria for evaluating poetry is legitimate. If human minds do not share 
such universally held concepts, Mr. Pottle's objections to Mr. Brooks's 
procedure are well taken. Whether they like it or not, the question is 
a metaphysical one. Its pro's and con's do not concern us here. What 
does matter is that neither Pottle nor Brooks appears to be alive to the 
full implications of his stand. Clearly, Pottle gains nothing by attempting 
to buttress his position with analogies drawn from physics and linguistics. 
He merely beclouds an issue which, I suspect, must ultimately be settled 
on the plane of aesthetics, a field which modern critics are curiously 
anxious to avoid. And Mr. Brooks's "rebuttal," as might have been 
expected, is equally unsatisfactory. Pottle's position, he suggests, would 
"involve us in more complexities than would any doctrine of absolute 
criteria." 62 If it can be disposed of at all, the relativistic position surely can- 
not be dismissed that easily. To point out that by granting each period its 
own standards of criticism we should saddle ourselves with innumerable 
subperiods on the sensibility of which we should ifind it difficult to agree 
is to demonstrate the problems into which Relativism will get us, it is 
true. It is not, however, to refute Relativism on any sound basis. This 
could be done only with a systematic aesthetic — something which, as 
he himself has publicly admitted, Mr. Brooks lacks. 

Mr. Brooks, one fears, is vulnerable on several scores. If we are 
still disposed to consider him a major and thoroughly beneficial influence 

*° Frederick A. Pottle, The Idiom of Poetry (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University 

Press, 1941), p. 30. 
6' Ibid., p. 5. 
62 Brooks, Urn, p. 209- 


on the contemporary critical scene, we are so because his brilliant textual 
exegeses have forced us into reading poems with unprecedented closeness. 
The only one of the New Critics to have made his immediate influence 
felt in the classroom, he has raised issues that had long needed airing 
and has thus rendered an invaluable service to our thinking on poetry. 



(A malicious parody of Peter Viereck's most 
pretentious and humourless verse-style.) 

Is she the Nome and adverb of "to freeze"? 

No Jason ever melts such Fleece. 
No unicorn impales her unwed earth 

Though seismographs record such birth. 

An almost-Palestinian hush belies 

The almost-island of such ice — 
As if she prayed as Sinai's mountain did 
And sprouted saints like other deserts do. 
Or Gothic: like a God-raped caryatid 

Tingling with terrors gargoyles never knew. 

— Retep Kcereiv Setisreht 


Tke Ladu and the S 


Joseph Patrick Roppolo 

They came to New Orleans in 1895 because she wished it. They 
came, however, when he wished it. It had been her dream to spend 
Christmas in the South, to see palm trees and living green-and-red poin- 
settias instead of the swirling, dirty snow of Philadelphia; or failing 
that, she had dreamed of a Mardi Gras season, of a costume ball at the 
St. Charles, of champagne at Antoine's, champagne and music and food 
and . . . laughter. Yes, laughter. There had been little laughter since 
she married him. 

He knew her dream, just as he knew that she hated Philadelphia 
and the snow. And he planned the journey to New Orleans with delicate 
care: they would arrive after Christmas, and they would leave before 
Mardi Gras. It was true that they would not escape all of the festivities, 
but that fact could be turned to his advantage among the neighborhood 
gossips. It was equally true that late January and early February usually 
brought New Orleans' coldest and wettest weather. He counted on that. 

The gossips took their cue correctly. It was wonderful, they thought 
and said, how carefully he always planned things. The young couple — 
the beautiful young bride and the older but handsome bridegroom — 
would be home for Christmas, with their multitude of friends and rela- 
tives, and yet they could enjoy the winter season in New Orleans. Oh, 
she was a lucky girl, this bride. 

And, somehow, in their blindness, the gossips forgot completely 
that it was she who had the money originally. And, perhaps because 
he was handsome, they never noticed the thin lips or the eyes that glinted 
like agates, hard, cold, soulless; nor did they ever become aware of the 
bride's quick disillusion, of her growing fear, of her sense of being im- 
prisoned: all Philadelphia was a prison. It was worse; it was a death 
house. She had been sentenced to it for having money. A priest had 
pronounced the sentence and delivered her to her executioner, "to have 
and to hold, 'till death...." They never knew, those gossips, how 
his fingers had squeezed her arm as he stood, glowing and triumphant, 
by her side at the wedding reception. There were bruises which she 
was careful to hide on the following day; but bruises on her arms came 
to be marks of possession, almost permanent marks which served to 
remind her that she and everything she had belonged to him and that 


to gain his own ends, to further his own ambitions, he was capable 
even of murder. 

She was afraid, but she could not escape the pleasurable excitement 
of a trip to New Orleans. They traveled luxuriously: by train to St. 
I.ouis, by steamer from St. Louis to New Orleans. He enjoyed traveling; 
he enjoyed talking to strangers, boasting a little, buying drinks to flaunt 
his wealth ; and strangers liked him. That gave her a little peace. Some- 
times she could even sleep — until he returned and shook her gently, 
asking, "Are you asleep, dear? Are you asleep?" until he was quite 
sure that she was not. The strangers, of course, remarked upon his 
solicitude; they guessed that the handsome Philadelphians were traveling 
for the lady's health. 

At the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans the young couple acquired 
a suite, but she was seldom out of it. Word spread quickly among his 
acquaintances that she was exhausted by the trip, that she was ill, that 
she could accept no invitations. He went about, smiling, buying cigars 
and drinks for an increasingly large throng, suggesting over and over 
again the fears he held that his bride was seriously ill, that Death, rather 
than Cupid, hovered over their wedding bed. He won the active sym- 
pathy of all the gentlemen hangers-on, and some of the ladies dared 
to smile at him from behind their fans. 

There were, in the hotel, some who were not ladies, some who 
were, in fact, actresses, members of a repertoire group. They were 
bolder; they tried to add the wealthy visitor to their string of admirers, 
but he shied away. The gentlemen found that amusing: when he had 
been married longer, they said, he would come trotting to the stage dooi 
as quickly as any; but they said it gallantly: they hinted that when he 
switched his affections to actresses, they would transfer their adoration 
to his wife. And this was more than humor. The poor, sick lady was 
almost fabulously beautiful; she was pale, quiet, somehow mysterious, 
and forever unapproachable. They would have swarmed about her, 
these dashing gentlemen, but they were firmly discouraged by her watch- 
ful husband; she would not stand excitement, he said; so there were no 
parties. And only occasianally did they go out, once to see Hamlet, which 
she found depressing; more often for walks, on the dampest, coldest 
days of the month. And always he squired her carefully, protecting 
her from the annoyance of acquaintances, helping her carefully across! 
the streets, talking animatedly. The ladies watched and envied her and 
wondered what he would do when she died. They never knew about 
the bruises on her arms; and although they commented on the frequency 
with which she returned from walks with her shoes and her skirts mud- 
died and wet, it never occurred to them that it might be more than weak- 
ness or carelessness on her part. 

He took her to strange places; they visited all the cemeteries, and 
he was careful to discuss the problems involved in above-the-ground 


burial in New Orleans ; he pointed out the bone heaps, all that remained 
of evicted tenants of honeycomb tombs; she saw the slave marts and the 
haunted houses — all the horrible and depressing things that she would 
have avoided had she been able. But she was learning. Occasionally 
she could see a play she particularly wanted to see or visit an old mansion 
that she longed to explore. It was only necessary to convince her hus- 
band that she actually felt too ill to go, that her head was splitting, that 
there were other things she preferred to do, that this was something 
that she particularly did not want to see, that the weather was much too 
bad, and they went. That was how she came to see Tante Marie. 

Even in her secluded, almost isolated situation, she had heard of 
Tante Marie. A Negro voo-doo woman, a witch, a spiritualist, a dark 
priestess, a sort of minor goddess, they called her; but there was general 
agreement that, whatever she was, she would make your wishes come 
true; she had a way with the Fates or the Spirits or the Gods of the Jungle, 
they said; she would place your wish before them and tell you almost 
immediately if it had been granted, or if it would be. There was no 
appeal from her pronouncements ; but one thing seemed certain : the 
wishes which she said had been granted by her gods invariably were 

The young wife heard these whispers about Tante Marie and was 
fascinated, but she kept silent. One day he would mention the old pries- 
tess. . . .And one day he did. 

"I don't want to see her," his wife said. "It's all superstition, black, 
ugly superstition. It's — it's wicked." 

"You'll see her," he said, "tonight." 

"There's a cold wind," she said, "and it's sure to rain. I won't go." 

So she went. The blue fingermarks on her arms, the new finger- 
marks, did not show under the heavy cape she wore. Nor did the triumph 
show in her eyes. 

Tante Marie was more than either of them expected. Obviously 
she was a fraud. She lived in an unpainted shack as unremarkable as 
ramshackle, as unattractive and as untidy as any of its neighbors along 
the Mississippi levee. It was, in fact, one of more than a score of identical 
shacks thrown up hastily by and for freed negroes at the end of the war. 
Its only distinguishing feature was a statue erected in her front yard, 
a poor copy, a parody of a plaster saint in one of the Catholic churches. 
He would have sneered at the idea of an adventure in such an ordinary 
place had he not felt her shudder. It might have been the cold, sharp 
wind, or the clouds that pressed low and heavy over the city, or it might 
have been fear, but she shivered, and, his fingers encircling her arm 
firmly, he guided her up the three steps (scrubbed with red brick dust 
to keep out evil) and into Tante Marie's "chapel." 


The long room was empty and, in the dim and flickering candle 
light, chaotic. It resembled a shrunken shrine that had been used for 
a shelter after a hurricane; it resembled a St. Joseph's altar after hungry 
beggars had eaten their fill; it resembled a church that had been turned 
into a cafeteria during a funeral. Food was all over the place — long 
loaves of bread and platters of fruit, spread over two long tables. Statues 
and statuettes, again crude copies of Roman Catholic figures, smiled and 
leered down at the tables. An altar, made of boxes, leaned against the 
far wall, supporting rather weakly two candelabra, on which eight candles 
were aflame. And everywhere, on the tables, on the altar, on benches, 
en chairs, were unlighted lamps. . .the wishing lamps. 

There was no sign of Tante Marie, but in the space of seconds there 
was the sound of scampering feet, and two black boys, not over five, 
crew aside dingy curtains masking a door near the altar. The doorway 
yawned blackly, and then it was filled with Tante Marie, incredibly stout, 
incredibly old. She was cowled like a nun, but her robes were blue and 
white, and her hood and sash were scarlet. Her "rosary" was a chain 
of teeth, and dangling at one end, where on a true rosary the crucifix 
would hang, was a tiny skull, the skull, perhaps, of a rat or a monkey. 
Or a human. And Tante Marie rolled rather than walked. Her feet 
were invisible beneath the long robes, so that the illusion was perfect: 
like nothing alive, like a monstrous black doll, she rolled toward the 
Philadelphia couple. 

Wide-eyed and silent, the young wife watched. She could not 
have spoken had she wanted to. She was trembling violently, and he 
knew it. When Tante Marie had entered the room, his fingers had 
slackened their hold on her arm ; but they tightened again, now. It 
was as if, feeling her fear, he had regained his own composure. He 
stood slightly behind his wife, his right hand on her arm; his left hand 
began to jangle the loose change in his pocket. The noise was loud in 
the littered room. 

Tante Marie stopped. She looked at her guests carefully. There 
was no trace of a welcoming smile. There was, instead, an air of hos- 

"Why have you come?" she said, and her voice was deep, her in- 
flections, her pronunciations not Southern at all. 

"Curiosity," he said, jangling the coins. "We have heard strange 
things, and we want to see them for ourselves." 

"I. . .1 wanted to make a wish," the young wife said. 

"I am not a fraud," Tante Marie said, addressing herself to the 
husband, "nor am I in need of money." 

They were fencing with invisible rapiers; they were battling like 
ancient enemies ; she was reaching into his mind and answering thoughts 


he had not spoken. Tante Marie knew his thoughts, "and she will know 
mine, too," the young wife told herself. "She will know mine, too." 
She would have gone then, turned and run, as if in confirmation of her 
fears, Tante Marie looked at her suddenly, and her husband laughed. 

Tante Marie's eyes narrowed to slits. 

"I do not like your laughter," she said to the man. "There was 
better laughter here before you came. There was good here. I fed one 
hundred and fifty of my people here tonight. There was good in this 
house until now. Please go." 

But she did not turn away in complete dismissal. It was not over 
yet. She knew. 

"We came to wish," the husband said. 

"Tonight is the thirteenth of February," Tante Marie said. "Evil 
rides the wind and comes with the rain and the cold. It would be better 
if you had remained at home to make your wish. Please go. I do not 
like the smell of greed and hate." 

It was a recitation, not speech at jail. It was something she had 
read and remembered. 

"I should like to make a wish," the bride said; and that, it seemed, 
was what Tante Marie was waiting for. She smiled a little. 

"I do not like the smell of hate," Tante Marie haid, "but perhaps 
the hate of evil is good. Come. We will see what the gods say." 

The three moved further into the room, toward the long table. 

"You will choose a lamp," Tante Marie said, "Then make your wish 
and, while I invoke the gods and the saints, light the lamp of your choice. 
If it burns blue, you shall have your wish. If it burns black, your wish 
will not be granted." 

The bride chose a heavy lamp with a silver base. 

"Must I speak my wish aloud?" she asked. 

Tante Marie's eyes flicked toward the husband. 

"You will not say your wish aloud now — or ever," she said. 

Shadows crawled along the wall, and new ones sprang into being 
as the bride struck a lucifer and applied the flame to the wick of the 
lamp. The wick sputtered, and blue fire ran along its tip. The blue 
grew irregularly, reached its full height, and began a dance with yellow. 
A thin line of black smoke coiled upwards. Blue and yellow and black. . . 

Husband and wife watched with fascination. Tante Marie sighed 
heavily and said, "Madam will get her wish — but only if her husband 
gets his." 


After that Tante Marie could not or would not look at the bride's 
face. But she could not help hearing the husband's triumphant laugh. 

"I'll light this one," he said. 

More shadows joined the throngs on the wall and leaned in from 
the ceiling to watch. 

The blue fire licked along the edge of the wick and spurted to full 

"Blue," Tante Marie said. "Blue. You will get your wish. Both 
of you. But the lady will not speak hers." 

"You will get your wishes," Tante Marie said again. Then she 
turned her back on them and rolled out of the room without another 

"You forgot your money!" the husband shouted; but Tante Marie 
did not turn. He left several coins on the table; he left more than he 
had originally intended to pay, but he felt triumphant; he had scored 
a victory over his wife. His fingers on her arm were almost friendly. 

"D'ye know what I wished?" he said. "D'ye know what I wished?" 
And when she did not answer he went on, gleefully: "I wished for 
snow, six inches of snow — more than six inches of snow — in New 
Orleans. Since you love snow, my dear, you shall have it. And if it 
does not snow, your poor wish. . ." He laughed and squeezed her arm. 
He was still laughing when they reached the St. Charles, and the ladies 
commented on his high good humor and envied the bride, who went, 
pale and silent, to her room. 

It never occurred to her husband to ask her what she had wished 
instead, effervescing, he went down to the bar and told the story of his 
encounter with Tante Marie. In most of his details, he was accurate; 
but the story came out somehow as an account of an attack on superstition, 
with the forces of superstition, as represented by the bride and by Tante 
Marie, cleverly forced to the wall by the bridegroom. 

The thirteenth of February was a merry evening in the St. Charles 
Bar. The men drank and laughed and talked about superstition and 
voodoo and vampires until the chiming of midnight silenced them. 
And then they laughed at their own fears, bred of bourbon and con- 
versation, and began again. 

At 1:38 a.m. on February 14, a traveling salesman opened the 
door to the barroom, took off his hat and shook it. 

"Well, whaddayaknow!" he said. "It's snowing!" 

There was dead silence. 

The traveling salesman looked at the open mouths and the dropped 
jaws and was pleased. 


"Well, it is," he said, and held out his hat for proof. Large flakes 
still clung to the damp felt. 

What happened then the salesman described later simply as "a 

"Everybody ran out, even the bartender," he said. "Man, they 
must like snow!" 

There are tales that a group of gentlemen ripped through the Vieux 
Carre that night. They bought whiskey by the quart and drank in the 
streets. They tramped in the snow, they ate it; they sang Christmas 
songs and snow songs and even Yankee songs. And there is the story 
that one of the gentlemen stripped himself stark naked and shouted, 
"It's MY snow, boys! It's MINE! Enjoy itl" They say he took the 
pure white flakes up by the handful and washed himself with them . . . 

It snowed all that night; and at dawn the bride stood looking from 
a window in the St. Charles Hotel. She was watching the heavy flakes 
fall on the grillwork of balconies, through the green of the palms and 
the potted plants. And there was an unholy light of pleasure in her eyes. 

It was probably the first snowfall that the girl from Philadelphia 
had ever enjoyed. 

Her husband came in at ten o'clock, clad only in shirt and trousers 
and wet through. He was roaring drunk. 

"My gift to you," he shouted, and would have embraced her. "My 
Valentine for my lovin' wife." He rocked with laughter and collapsed 
across the bed. 

She undressed him, rolled him into proper position, and covered 
him carefully. Then she sat by the window. 

By noon he was feverish and coughing. By three o'clock in the 
afternoon, when six inches of snow lay on the streets of New Orleans 
and the snowfall had all but ceased, he was definitely ill, and she called 
the house physician. 

"Pneumonia," the doctor said. 

A supply of medicines was sent up and, at her request, a rocking 

She placed the chair near the bed and sat there, patiently. At six 
o'clock he opened his eyes and looked at her. 

"It snowed," he said. "I got my wish." 

She was silent. 

"Now you'll get yours." 


She looked at the snow on the roofs across the way and rocked. 
She did not say a word. 

"What did you wish?" 
She did not answer. 
"What did you wish? 

He fell back on the bed. His sweat was more than the sweat of 
fever. He was afraid. He looked at his wife, at the slow curve of her 
neck, at the soft curls, at the firm chin, at her eyes, new eyes as empty 
and cold as glass, as soulless as his own. 

"What did you wish?" he asked again, softly; but this time he 
did not expect an answer. He did not need one. 

She sat by the bed and rocked. 

In the lobby, when they discussed the rocker and the bride, they 
called it devotion. 


A Robt. Burns? A Henry Clay? 

"Alcestis rises from the shades," 
Said Landor, praising noble verse. 
So these — and what a host they are! — 
Some magic utterance persuades 
To leave the leafy laureled hearse, 
And stand — each re-arisen star — 
Godfather to a mild cigar. 

Rain Maker (Old Style) 

"Dr. Ripley prayed for rain with great explictiness on Sunday, and on 
Monday the showers fell. When I spoke of the speed with which his 
prayers were answered, the good man looked modest." 

— Emerson's journal, 1838. 

Parson, appropriating God's 
Share in the letting down of rain, 
Nevertheless makes prayer a plea; 
And rising from his bended knee, 
Trusts the petition's not in vain: 
Yet, in a wager, has been known 
To claim the miracle his own 
And give & doubting Thomas odds. 



The Egg and I 

The Child I used to be looks out 
From the grave eyes of seven; 
And what he sees in me, no doubt. 
Makes two aversions even. 

Long years lie blissfully between 
The Sinner and the Little Shaver; 
And conscious of what might have been. 
Each eyes the other with disfavour. 

Yes, you have reason, little lad, 
To loathe your elder as you do; 
But think what beastly luck I had 
In being born a brat like you. 


Conversation Piece 

Mr. Grim met Mr. Glum, 

And the latter said, How come? 

Said the former unto him, 

You are Grum and I am Grim, 

And the reason why is dim, 

Though perhaps not so to some, 

Silent in this interim 

Into which ourselves are come. 

Thank you, yes, said Mr. Glum ? 

Thank you kindly, Mr. Grim. 


The Opportunist 

They marvel how your hand shot out 
To seize that famous lock of hair; 
Forestalling her from going where 
Some other might have done the same. 
There's something to be said, no doubt. 
For their adoption of that view; 
Because it's certain that she came, 
And also that she came to you. 
But I suspect — suspicion grows, 
As I that ribald scene restore — 
That you were just the simp she chose 
To dangle that gold forelock for. 



Brief Candles 

The pictures in the Art Museum 
Are all kept safe from those who see 'em; 
They can't be reached to maul or muss; 
Nobody cares what they do to us. 

Here lies a novelist composed, 
Indeed, we might believe, composing 
Another work of fiction, prosed 
In his inveterate way of prosing. 

This is a work of pure deceit! 
Which is the man, were hard to tell; 
You must have sat at the sitter's feet, 
To learn to lie so well. 

Oh this Lady's grave plant hyssop, 
And other pungent herbs thereon. 
Who'll be filthied by your gossip, 
Ladies, now she's gone? 

Here, gathering dust, where living airs, 
Year after year, are never blown, 
Molder those happy toils of theirs. 
And may that dust be not their own? 

After I have been so bored 
That I cry aloud, O Lord ! 
For a busy intermission 
I'm believed to have ambition. 

—Richard Kirk 



The Season Of Rain 

The season of rain is a season of resisting 
a calla lily blows by my window 

My heart is as wounded as the warrior dying 
the field is charred to cinder 

The aspersion that rankles is deep and diy 
a well as hollow as myth 

The horns of the dilemma are sharper than pain 
I curse my hour of birth 

As old as the reason my fall is ruin 
the season of resisting is rain 

Sloiv Cranes On Bold Wings 

No fiercer pain is bestowed on denial 

than the whisper of love at the farthest nerve 

Vines are less tortured by the grapes gone sweet 
than the anchorite emboldened by earnest dread 

No wine is so sterile that the winter is wasted 
no crevice of longing is spawnless of spore 

The winter that strikes the blossomest season 
is the one most dreaded for wanton destruction 

The bird that pecks dung on the cobblestone street 
is stronger of feather than the loverless night 

No stream is so salty from junction to source 
that the pussy willows shun the rim of its bank 

The bunk of the saint may be coarsened with straw 
but the limpingest passion will warm it to down 

no night past the fealing feathered in flesh 

— J. C. Crews 



Lost Proclivity 

The year had sunk to its hollow season 
as had the seasons of man 

And only fact lifted to the pinnacle 
beneath the green eyed Nemisis 
as they chanted, chanted 
up the sallow land 

Man sunk to his hollow season 

wound the skein of the years 

bound his eye on the eye of Nemesis 

naming her sweet goddess 

because she resided in fact 

because she was the skein of the years 

Thus bound he himself 

to the hollowness of seasons 

shrunk in the towering chill 

The air is green as the eye of Nemisis 
and the odour is fetid, fetid 
the air is green and dead 

The air is dead but real 

The Self Beneath The Stone 

The symbol who is a sword 

I too am symbol 

I too am metaphysical sword 

I symbol oblivion 

the sword cuts 

the teeth of the will 

The teeth of desire 


against the will 

Am I symbol 


desire ? 


I am a metaphysical sword 
cutting all light 
from all darkness 

Such a great darkness 

Where find a will 
great enough to hold it? 

Where find desire 

small enough to abide in it? 



Think not of the half -shut eye 
as the eye of half vision 

nor mocking conceit. The derision 
will cut the cry 

from the throat 

just as the less obvious steel 

would slit the heart. Gloat 

in your own depths if you feel 

gloating there. 

Tempt the tacit beware. 

— Mason Jordan Mason. 

End of a Day 

The sunken eyes of Time blink 

As a last red spark flashes upward 

From the anvil of Day. 

Shades of the Dawn to Dusk dead, 

Scale the spice-coloured horizon 

Bearing blooming stalks of tuberoses. 

The archer of Night pulls at his bow 
Releasing the Evening Star. 

— Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni 



Comparing Rock To Stone 

And only the brave shall know 
how green few virgin pastures grow 
in Elysian fields where dwell 
the simpler aliens from Hell. 

And only the brave shall find 
what virginal patches of mind 
may mirror the echoed groan 
man sends comparing rock to stone* 


What piano keys you become, 
desires: what lovely concerto 
soft fingers pick in spring 
to make eyes dampen with tears 
of memories and sympathy: love 
is your major, playing ripplingly 
of moonlight and autumn flowers; 
time sheds no dangerous dust to .fill 
your motion-loved cracks, monotony 
need never damn your pattern: 

I would rather hear a lullaby 
at dawn and a waltz for no more 
slumber — for you are piano 
keys, strange nidus of awesome 
pounding music: deadly and beautiful. 

— Lee Richard Hayman 


. . . Sic denique in aevum 

Ibit cunctarum series justissima rerum; 

Donee flamma orb em populabitur ultima, late. 

Circumplexa polos et vasti culmina coeli, 

Ingentique rogo flagrabit machina Mundi. 

Naturam Non Patri Senium, John Milton 

These perhaps will be the dead fields. 
Here perhaps the crops will never grow again 
and tall marching ranks of corn will shake 
their plumed heads no more. 

The dead fields. 
Here the furrowed land, the rich and loamy soil, 
will turn into a desert. 

This will be the desert land, the deserted land. 
Once again the locusts and the weevils will emerge 
a little better off than the men who exterminated them. 

The deserted land. 
Here the rivers will give up their waters — 
ours the place of dry creekbeds and dusty bayous; 
from the leveled mountains may be glimpsed 
our rusty girder cities; 

what we know as Truth 
will have long since been buried 
beneath countless tons of rubble. 
And God will shake His head and sigh, 
wondering if it would be worth the trouble 
to start the thing over. 

Place of dry rivers. 
This will be perhaps the treeless place — 
devoid of shade until the sun tires of shining 
for no reason and burns out for good. 
No one to ask himself how or why, 
no one to care — 

only the lifeless life which survives, 
feeding on the earth itself. 
(It will not be the only thing 
which eats away the earth) 
No one left to irrigate. 


No water anyway. 
The dead land. 
Perhaps the winds will have died by then: 
no cool breezes, no hot breezes, no salt breezes, 
not even a dusty breeze — 

only empty stillness. 
On the other hand some good might come of it: 
there would be no wars — no one to iight them; 
no Georgia chaingangs — only broken bones 
and rusty links. 

Lack of food but no starvation. 
The hungry mouths, only bombcraters, 
filled with dust and silt. 
Cure for all the world's ills. 

The dusty land. 


The magnolias are blooming now 
and the clematis are shedding, 
gently and silently falling to the ground. 
The spiraea waves its filigree icicles 
and wind swirls its petals to the grass 
like a perfumed snowstorm. 

The sweet land. 
The greenblue bayou washes softly 
against a mosscovered cypress stump 
and laps at the foot of a tall liveoak. 
A white heron shifts to its left foot 
and the twilight turns the bayou red. 
The shantyboat dweller puts down his knife 
and picks up a sickle and hammer. 
Hammer and sickle. 
These could be the dried 

the deserted 

the dead fields. 

— Albert Paris Leary 

t&e Tfovettet and 'ffya/idef, t&e ^aet 

Julia B. Meyer 

The reader of Thomas Hardy's works is immediately impressed 
with his definite skill in the sharp and incisive drawing of character and 
his ability to portray the life of his day. This, however, is a competence 
of technique which can have true literary value only when employed 
as the art with which a basic philosophy of the author is advanced. It 
is in the examination of Hardy's philosophy of life that one is startled 
by the possibility that despite the gap of some twenty-three centuries, 
Hardy might well have sat at the feet of Sophocles, as his disciple. For 
the philosophy of Hardy is completely parallel to that of Sophocles. 
Yet Hardy shows sufficient independence in his works to negate the 
thought that he embraced Sophocles to the exclusion of his own con- 
cepts; the conclusion is rather that he accepted Sophocles as one who 
concurred with him. 

There is also a striking parallel between the life of Sophocles and 
that of Hardy, — both wrote some of the greatest pieces of creative litera- 
ture at an age when most men have ceased to produce. Sophocles was 
awarded the prize at the Dionysia for his "Oedipus at Colonos" at the 
age of eighty, while Thomas Hardy completed his great epic drama, 
"The Dynasts" at the age of sixty-eight, and continued to write good 
poetry until his death in his eighty-eithth year. 

Analyze one of Hardy's celebrated novels, "The Mayor of Caster- 
bridge." Michael Henchard, the protagonist of this tale, assumes the 
role of a modern Oedipus; Henchard has committed a crime, thrives 
temporarily until his crime is discovered. He expiates his crime by being 
reduced to a lowly position, but through intense suffering attains a 
tragic nobility with ultimate purification in death. This same pattern 
may be traced in Sophocles' account of Oedipus in his "Oedipus Rex" 
and "Oedipus at Colonos." 

In the details of both stories Hardy and Sophocles have plainly 
revealed their philosophy of the indifference of a Creator to the individual 
suffering of mankind, a tendency towards a mechanistic interpretation 
of the universe, which places the utmost emphasis on fate; yet they both 
imply that in some degree a man's character determines his fate. 

Henchard had offended the moral law by his act of selling his wife, 
Susan, to a sailor, a deed which was the result of the combination of 
intemperance and a hot-headed, surly temper. This evil act shaped the 


course of Henchard's life, although fate seemed to play a major role 
in the course of events, and the novelist does imply that man still retains 
some freedom of will, a choice between good and evil. 

A quotation from Hardy himself, as he discoursed on this subject, 
may help to clarify this issue — -"This theory, too, seems to me to settle 
the question of Free-Will versus Necessity. The will of man is, ac- 
cording to it, neither wholly free or wholly unfree. When swayed by 
the Universal Will (which he mostly must be as a subservient part of 
it) he is not individually free; but whenever it happens that all the 
rest of the Great Will is in equilibrium the minute portion called one 
person's will is free." 

Oedipus' sin grew out of his overweening pride, when, he, a king's 
son, was rudely accosted on a highway by servants! Angered, Oedipus 
slew the servants and the old man, attended by them, who unbeknown 
to him, was his father, Laius, King of Thebes ! Thus did Oedipus 
fulfill one part of the oracle, which had declared at his birth that he 
was destined to kill his father and wed his mother. Sophocles has thus 
disclosed his belief that a man's character directs his Destiny. 

Sophocles and Hardy have emphasized repeatedly that fate is su- 
preme, man but the plaything of the gods, and yet both urged the Hel- 
lenic concept of moderation and restraint and saw the great wisdom of 
submitting human life to the restrictions laid upon it by the structure 
of the natural order of which it is a part. 

Both of these writers teach a catharsis of the spirit, a purging of 
impure emotions through suffering, and that pain must be borne bravely 
and with humility, if one is to attain ultimate purification. This is evi- 
dent in Henchard, who does not try to evade responsibility when his 
crime is disclosed, as well as in Oedipus, who does not plead his ignorance 
as an excuse, but accepts full responsibility for what he has done. 

That Thomas Hardy had this in mind when writing his novels 
of Wessex is best proved by his own words, "I wished to show that in 
out-of-the-way places dramas of a grandeur and unity truly Sophoclean 
are enacted in the real, by virtue of the concentrated passions and closely- 
knit interdependence of the lives therein." 

And how does Hardy treat this same theme in "The Dynasts," his 
epic drama of the Napoleonic Wars, which covers the momentous decade 
of 1805-1815? In order to present his philosophy Hardy has created 
a new type of Greek chorus, a group of supernatural figures, phantom 
intelligences, who take no part in the course of events, but observe all 
the action and comment thereon. It is the Spirit of the Years, repre- 
senting the stoically-minded, modern type of intellect, The Spirit of 
Irony, bitterly commenting on affairs, and The Spirit of the Pities, im- 
potently sensing the injustices of suffering mankind, all of whom are 
allied with "It" or Imminent Will, a force which is unaware of the 
universe which It propels. Through the eyes of the Phantoms, Hardy 


discloses his adherence to the principles of Darwin, Huxley, Spencer, 
Hume and Nietzsche. Acceptance of their teachings, Hardy felt, must 
necessarily displace God in the universe. However, Hardy held out the 
hope that "It", the mechanistic force or urge, was gradually becoming 
conscious of the cosmos, as he expressed it in his closing lines of "The 
Dynasts" — 

"Consciousness the Will informing — till It fashion all things fair!" 

Within the framework of these Phantoms, Napoleon is Henchard 
or Oedipus, the man of destiny, who thrives and waxes great, but is 
crushed in ultimate defeat. Hardy makes clear the spiritual dissolution 
of Bonaparte; at first, a man, who accepts with humble gratitude those 
attainments to which his star has lead him, but as time passes, and victory 
follows victory, he is poisoned by pride and becomes gross and less per- 

The figure of Napoleon calls to mind also Sophocles' account of 
Ajax, the great hero of the Trojan War, whose pride leads him to demand 
the arms of the fallen Achilles. Ajax, like Napoleon, becomes so imbued 
with pride that his mind has become dull. In the contest for the arms 
of Achilles, Odysseus, his opponent, is reported by Ovid to say to him: — 

"Tu gerus vires sine mente: cura futuri est mini" 1 — thou hast strength 
without brain: the care of the future is mine — and Odysseus continues: 

"Tu prodes tantum corpore: nos animo" — thou availest only in 
body: I in mind. 

When the award of the arms is given to Odysseus, Ajax thinking 
his honor has been stained, sets out at night to murder Agamemnon, 
Menelaus, and Odysseus, who, he felt, were responsible for his ill treat- 
ment. Athena, angered because Ajax had previously exhibited excessive 
pride and was now planning deeds of violence, sent madness upon him. 
"Quos deus vult perdere prius dementat" or as Sophocles stated, "When 
Divine power plans evils for a man, it first injures his mind." 

In "The Dynasts" Hardy depicts Napoleon as he prepares for the 
invasion of Russia; his horse stumbles, throwing him to the ground. 
The Voice of the Spirit of the Years tells him: 

"The portent is an ill one, Emperor, 
An ancient Roman would retire thereat!" 

To which Napoleon cries: — 

"Whoso spake, such portents I defie!" 

Have not the gods, in truth, visited a form of madness upon the 
Emperor; has he not lost his acuity of vision which formerly guided 
him to paths of victory? But is not this, also, in part, self-inflicted? 
Is not this again the tragic theme of Sophocles' heroes, the single flaw, 
the crack, which corrupts or destroys its possessor? 


"The Dynasts", with its vast panoramic view, is crammed with 
many memorable scenes, — the death of Nelson at Trafalgar, Napoleon's 
announcement of the pending divorce to Josephine, the burning of Mos- 
cow, the dramatic figure of Wellington in command at Waterloo, the 
emblem of English resistance to Napoleon's selfish ambition, all of which 
contribute to the essential theme of Hardy's philosophy. There is effec- 
tive use of dramatic irony in Napoleon's bitter words, as he stands in 
the burning Kremlin, after the fierce struggle he had waged to win 
Moscow: — 

"Moscow was meant to be my rest, 
My refuge,' — and it vanishes away!" 

Sophocles' use of dramatic irony comes to mind in the figure of 
Oedipus, standing before the steps of the palace at Thebes, vowing to 
seek out and punish the tainted one who is responsible for the plague 
which is visiting Thebes, while all the while, he himself is the guilty one ! 

The necessity that the innocent must suffer along with the guilty is 
poignantly portrayed in the scene of the despairing French soldiers, later 
found frozen by the fireside on the wild steppes of Russia. Another 
instance of this same idea is found in Sophocles' portrayal of the faithful 
Antigone, who accompanies her aged father, Oedipus, to Colonos and 
suffers from the ensuing tragic events. 

The life of Antigone, tragic and brief, recalls another of Hardy's 
great heroines, Tess, in his "Tess of the D'Urbervilles." Both are in- 
nocent women, driven by relentless fate to ultimate catastrophe, because 
they elect to obey a higher law than that of man. Tess is inherently 
honest and pure, and these qualities compel her to make her confession 
concerning her past to her lover, Angel Claire. She could have remained 
silent, as her mother had urged, and thereby saved herself from catas- 
trophe, but by so doing she would have lost her soul. Antigone, also, 
was not discovered the first time she performed the sacred burial rites 
for her brother, and had she obeyed Creon's edicts, she would have 
saved her life. Antigone, however, felt compelled to obey the law of 
heaven and reburied the body of Polyneices. When confronted by the 
tyrant, Creon, Antigone said: — 

"Nor did I deem thine edicts of such force 
That they, a mortal's bidding, should o'erride 
Unwritten laws, eternal in the heaven." 

Angel Claire, as well as Creon, discover that pride, despotism and 
stubborness must be punished, that man must preserve his spiritual 
humility and conform to the laws which are sovereign in the universe. 

When reading the shorter poems and lyrics of Hardy's "Wessex 
Poems", a theme frequently encountered is the transiency of love. In 
"Neutral Tones" the poet describes unhappiness in love, the fact that 

love deceives, "the grin of bitterness" on his once beloved's face, as he 
stands by a pond, edged with grayish leaves, on a winter day. 

"Her Initials" reiterates the theme that love passes, that the radiance 
which once eminated from his beloved, no longer glows. 

"Revulsion" expresses the fervent wish that he may live without 
a woman's love, as he is cognizant of the keen pain which accompanies 
loss of love, and he never wishes to experience that pain again ! 

Sophocles treats of this theme, the impermanence of love in "The 
Tracriniae." Deianeira, wife of Hercules, laments the loss of his love, 
but wisely acknowledges and submits to the instability of love. She 
says of herself, "Nor hath she yet to learn that the human heart is in- 
constant to its joys." In a fragment from "Unknown Dramas" Sophocles 
penned, "A woman's vows I write upon the wave." 

In "Poems of the Past and Present" and "Time's Laughingstocks" 
Hardy describes the turmoil of the soul, the bitter struggle for existence 
in nature, the sorrow and suffering of man, the idea "that happiness is 
but an interlude in this vale of tears." This echos the closing lines of 
"Oedipus Rex": — 

"Of no mortal say, 

That man is happy till 
Vexed by no grievous ill 
He pass Life's goal." 

Summing up, one ifinds in Thomas Hardy's poetry and prose as in 
the dramas of Sophocles, these timeless precepts— we are seemingly the 
playthings of the gods, but in reality each man's fate is conditioned by 
the irreparable character of human acts; man must submit to universal 
law and accept with resignation the divine orderings of his existence; 
man is culpable for the sins of pride, despotism and stubborness ; sin 
must be acknowledged, as man has a moral responsibility. It is from 
an understanding of these principles that man derives wisdom and, per- 
haps, his "interlude of happiness." 

The essence of Hardy's concurrence with Sophoclean principles is 
best expressed by the Spirit of the Pities in Book I of "The Dynasts": — 

" . . . A life there was 

Among these self -same frail ones — Sophocles — 
Who visioned it too clearly, even the while 
He dubbed the Will 'the gods' . Truly said he 
'Such gross injustice to their own creation 
Burdens the time with moumfulness for us, 


And for themselves with shame.* — Things mechanised 

By coils and pivots set to foreframed codes 

Would, in a thorough-sphered melodic rule, 

And government of sweet consistency, 

Be cessed no pain, whose burnings would abide 

With That Which holds responsibility, 

Or 'w exist." 



fervent summer pulse of love, 

I felt you beating in my sleep; 

1 felt you beating through the world 

And my heart beating with your beat! 

There was a wind of rushing air, 

There was a stream of sweetest dew, 

There was a beam of arrowy light; 

With radiance I was stricken through. 

As if in my own breast you breathed, 

As if your blood in my blood flowed; 

We lay enarmed in that warm river, 
In the slumber that tide we rode. 

The banks fell back each side our shoulders, 
Slowly went by us town and wood; 

Like oldest memories the trees waited, 

The houses watched us where they stood. 

With eyes half closed we lay and listened, 
We lay and drifted as the waters wound ; 

Echoing with love as a shell's hollow 

Echoes the surf and the wind's sound. 

— Helen Hoyt 

The Social and Economic Background 
of the Comedia Figuron 

Ralph E. White 

The Spanish drama of the seventeenth century is, perhaps, more 
nearly a reflection of contemporary society than that of any other age 
or people. In fact Lope de Vega called the comedia "un espejo de la 
vida." It was the extravagant and somewhat fantastic extremes of this 
complex society that furnished the materials that could best be handled 
in the drama, and especially in the comedia de figuron, which was essen- 
tially a social satire. Thus the figurontsta had only to make use of the 
types around him. Because of this intimate relationship between the 
comedia de figuron and Spanish society an understanding of the latter 
is essential to a complete treatment of the former. 

Madrid, the centre of literary as well as political and social life, 
was the most brilliant capital in Europe. It -was, as yet, undimmed by 
the decline of Spanish military and political supremacy in the world, 
which was greatly aided by the ineptitude of the monarchs Philip III 
and Philip IV. The capital was the focal point of all national life. It 
had drawn unto itself the bulk of the remaining wealth and so became 
the mecca for everyone with genius or ambition, as well as pretenders 
seeking royal favour. At times the floating population was almost equal 
to the number of permanent residents. 

Philip IV, who ruled from 1621 to 1665, was a zealous patron of 
arts and literature, and his reign was the most brilliant period of the 
theatre. But he was a slave to pleasure, giving over the reins of govern- 
ment to his favourites. He had a number of natural sons, some of whom 
became leaders in the Church and the army. The most famous of these 
was Don Juan of Austria, a name borne also by a similar offspring of 
his great-grandfather, Charles V. He was the son of a famous actress, 
Maria Calderon. 

The court, following the king's example, became frivolous and 
pleasure-seeking. Pomp and show were the order of the day, and most 
of the people lived beyond their means. Political and economic decadence, 
set in motion during the last years of the reign of Philip II, gained mo- 
mentum under his successors. According to Hume: 

While the sovereign Philip III was blind and deaf to all 
but his frivolities and the superstituous awe that constituted 
his religion, Spain grew yearly poorer and more miserable 
as a nation, and the favoured classes, the nobles and the 


clergy, practically exempt from taxation, waxed fatter and 
more lavish. 

Soon after the accession of Philip IV to the throne the distress of 
the people was so great that the lands were being abandoned and the 
tenants were wandering on the roads, living on whatever could be ob- 
tained, or moving to provinces where the taxes were lower. The public 
treasury was so exhausted that all revenues were anticipated for years in 
advance and the royal patrimony greatly reduced. The currency had been 
raised to three times its normal value. Idlers crowded the monasteries, 
and hosts of students and beggars depended for daily subsistence upon 
the garlic soup and crusts which were doled out at the gates of the mona- 
steries from the abundance of the friars. 

In 161 8 a commission was appointed to propose a remedy for the 
ruinous condition of the kingdom, began its memorial to the king as 

The depopulation and want of the people of Spain are at 
present much greater than ever before in the reign of your 
majesty's progenitors; it being in truth so great at this time 
that if God does not provide a remedy such as we may ex- 
pect from your majesty's piety and wisdom, the crown of 
Spain is hastening toward total ruin ; nothing being more 
evident than that Spain is on its way to destruction. 

The importation of gold and silver from the American colonies, 
according to N. J. Hamilton, developed a false feeling of wealth and an 
irresistible desire to buy in foreign markets expensive goods which were not 
permitted to be made at home. The king and his ministers held to the 
belief, prevalent at the time, that financial strength rested in the possession 
of precious metals. Exportation of gold and silver was prohibited except 
in payment for wars. Thus the nation was robbed of all return in usable 
goods, the value of money went down, and the result was financial and 
economic ruin. 

Excessive expenditures on dress and other luxuries became a matter 
of grave concern, and in spite of royal decrees forbidding the wearing 
of silks, brocades and gold and silver ornaments, these articles were pur- 
chased and used in both feminine and masculine attire. Fashions changed 
frequently and money had to be spent many times over. Severe penalties 
were assessed against violators of decrees to curb extravagance. Alguaciles 
were provided with shears, and at a given signal, raided the fashionable 
promenades, cutting the fine lace ruffs which dandies wore, and even 
snipping off the curls, called guedajas, which were the mark of the Undo. 

The following is a pragmatic of Philip IV dealing with the hair- 
dress of men: 


Se prohibe a los hombres llevar en el pelo aquel adorno, 
m guedejas con crespo o rizo en el pelo que no habria de 
pasar de la oreja, desponiendo que a los contraventeros no 
les recibiera el rey a su real presencia, ni a las audiencias 
para oir pretensiones, imponiendose pena a los baberos que 
peinasen de aquel modo. 

The homes of the nobility were elaborately furnished. Persian and 
Turkish carpets and hangings were quite common. Very lavish enter- 
tainments were given both in the palaces and the homes. In Guzman 
de Alfarache there is a description of a state dinner at which twenty 
varieties of meat and fowl were served. The historian Ballesteros de- 
scribes a Christmas dinner of thirty-six courses. The menu included: 
"ollas podridas, pavos asados, pichones y torreznos asados, perdices, sal- 
chichas, lechones asados, con sopa de queso." 

At home the men were accustomed to sit at the table, while the 
women sat on cushions on the floor and ate from a cloth spread between 
them. In the living room the ladies sat on a platform which was separated 
by a railing from the part occupied by the gentlemen. 

Besides the bullfight, the amusement of the men consisted in card- 
playing, both at home and in the cafes. Both sexes took part in acadetnias, 
where each guest read a sonnet or other original composition. Sometimes 
these would propound riddles, as the one depicted in Moreto's play No 
puede ser. In this instance "what could not be" was to guard a woman's 
honour unless she herself so desired. Lope de Vega, in Le mozade 
cantaro, presents another another good example of this custom. One of 
the first of these literary clubs was formed in Seville at the home of 
Hernan Cortes. Lope de Vega was a member of one called "Madrid" 
and it was to this group that he presented his now famous Arte nuevo 
de hacer comedias en Espana. 

On one occasion some of the leading literary figures, assembled in 
the palace, improvised a burlesque on the "Creation of the World" for 
the king's amusement. Velez de Cuevara was the Supreme Being, Calderon 
was Adam, the role of Eve was taken by another favourite, and that of 
Abel by Moreto. 

Court etiquette did not permit the king to attend the public theatres; 
but Philip IV was a constant visitor at both, going incognito and often 
masked to sit in a private room, watching the play as well as any new 
beauty who appeared on the stage. He has been credited with writing 
several comedias which were published as the works of "un ingenio da 
la corts." 

In Madrid there were two famous theatres or corrales: El Principe 
and La Cruz. These, as well as the royal theatres, El Buen Retiro and 
El Alcazar, were the settings for the comedias. Into the royal playhouses 
were introduced many innovations in lighting and stage decorations not 
found in the corrales. The king brought a Florentine architect, Cosme 


Lotti, to plan the settings and supervise the productions in his private 
theatres. Jose Pinuelo, a writer of the time, refers to these novelties: 
Lotti causo pasmo por sus decoraciones magnificas y sus 
complicadas tramoyas, hasta el punto de apodarse El He- 
For the performances in the palace the king sat in front, his chair placed 
upon a carpet, the queen at his left on her cushions. The actors exer- 
cised great freedom in their roles. An incident is related by Pinuelo 
concerning the famous actor Juan Rana, who, presenting an entremes, 
suddenly began as though conducting the other members of the cast on 
a sight-seeing tour of the palace. Catching sight of two elderly ladies 
with high headdress and painted faces at a window, he pointed to them 
and began to improvise: 

Contemplad aquellas pinturas. jQue bien y que a lo vivo 
estan pintadas aquellas viejas! No las falta mas que la 
voz, y si hablasen, creeria que estaban vivas, porque en 
efecto, el arte de la pintura ha llegado a lo sumo en nuestro 
In the corrales the performances of the comedias took place in the 
early afternoon, since no artiiical lighting was available. As the main 
patio was open to the elements, the sun gave ample light. It was usually 
necessary to arrive early to secure a seat. The women of the middle class 
were seated in the cazuela (sauce pan), also called the gallinera (hen- 
bouse). This was an enclosure in the rear of the theatre into which 
no men were allowed to enter. The mosqueleros (men of the lower 
class) stood' behind the banco s and applauded or hissed the performance 
as it happened to strike their fancy. They were frequently the deciding 
factor in the success or failure of a new play. The gentlemen and ladies 
of the nobility sat in the balconies of the surrounding houses. 

Agustin de Rojas, an author as well as an actor who toured many 
parts of Spain, states that comedias were acted everywhere, even in the 
smallest villages, and that the dramas were more accommodated to public 
taste than any other form of amusement. The principal centres of dra- 
matic activities outside of the capital were Seville, Toledo and Valencia. 
Rojas describes some of the novelties which were seen in the theatres: 
Llego al tiempo que se usaron 
las comedias de apariencias, 
de santos y de Tramoyas, 
y entre estas farsas de guerras. 

Y al fin no quedo poeta 
en Sevilla que no hiciese 
de algun santo su comedia. 
Cantabase a tres y a cuatro, 
eran las mujeres bellas, 
vestianse en habito de hombre, 


y bizarras y compuestas, 

a representar salian, 

con cadenas de oro y perlas. 

Sacabanse ya cabal os 

a los teatros, grandeza 

nunca vista hasta este tiempo 

que no fue la menor dellas. 

En efecto, esta paso, 

llego el nuestro, que pudiera 

llamarse el tiempo dorado; 

segun el punto en que llegan 

comedias, representantes, 

trazas, conceptos, sentencias 

invenciones, novedades, 

musica, entremeses, letras, 

graciosidad, bailes, mascaras, 

vestidos, galas, sortijas 

y al fin cosas tan diversas. 

Al fin la comedia esta 
subida en tantas altezas. 
Que se ne pierde de vista; 
plegue a Dios, que no se pierda. 

Juan de Zabaleta, cronista of Philip IV, wrote interestingly of the 
life of Madrid during this period. El d'\a de fiesta por la manana was 
published in 1654 and its continuation in 1660. He presents several 
of the same types which are satirized in the comedias de figuron, among 
them the galen and the dama. 

The galen or Undo is presented as he makes his toilet, preparatory 
to attending Mass on the festival day. He awakens at nine, the servant 
brings his perfumed clothing, adjusting his girdle in order to make his 
form appear very slender. Then the shoemaker brings his shoes, which 
although about two sizes too small, are forced onto his feet. The barber 
shaves him and arranges his hair in curls. Next a large ruff called a 
golilla is put on. Zabaleta compares this to inserting one's head into 
the stocks. Finally the dandy girds on his sword, that indispensable 
companion of the young gallant. The final touch is added as the servants 
servants carefully place his beautiful and expensive cape upon his shoulders. 
It is now time for the two o'clock Mass. As he saunters forth, he is 
fully convinced that no feminine heart can withstand the allure of his 
beautiful figure. 

The above description is almost an exact likeness of the hero of 
Moreto's El Undo Don Diego. 

Zabaleta also permits us to see the dama as she enters her dressing 
room, places her chest of beauty aids by her side and begins to improve 
upon the work of God. No matter how homely she may be, she tries 


to transform herself into an angel. Her skin must be as white as snow, 
her brows delicate lines, her cheeks roses, her lips coral and her throat 
alabaster. She does her hair with ribbons of many colours, like a bouquet 
of flowers. She then puts on an immense hoopskirt which our author 
characterizes "el desatino mas torpe en que al ansia de aparecer bien ha 
caido." When she goes out to Mass she is accompanied by a page or 
squire and a duena. 

The Duchess of Aulnoy adds some information about Spanish ladies: 

It was not enough to have one set of jewels, but they must 
have eight or ten; some of diamonds, others of pearls, 
rubies or emeralds. Rings, bracelets and pendants were 

When the dama went out to seek adventure she concealed her identity 
by wearing a mantle which hid her face, except one eye. Tapadas, as 
such women were called, are familiar figures in the comedias. 



The Hunted Deer 

For I have known what it is to be laid out 

in the retrospection of the moon, 

the hunted deer and I have known 

and we two together 

knowing how the hunter the moon is, 

knowing how far to be unremindful of the past 

to be alone in present fear 

rushing to the brink 
the sad and lasting recollection running, 
O deer hunted by the moon. 

Our South 

Once a twilight kingdom, 

Now a tale told across a dusty candellabrum 

As obedient voices settle down the stairs 

Echoes in the halls 

Avoiding the sun's rays 

In the brittle windows. 

— Charles Raines. 





C. S. Lewis: Apostle To The Sceptics, by Chad Walsh 


In what may one day be called the thirty-second year A.P.A.O.O. 
(after 'Prufrock And Other Observations') there has been created, or 
rather the creation has become evident of, a literary-religious hierarchy 
in Anglo-American letters, consisting of two invisibly divided branches 
under one head, Mr. T. S. Eliot: there is the literary department in which, 
under the watchful eye of Mr. W. H. Auden, a sort of combination 
Prime Minister and Heir Presumptive to the Throne, men and women 
like Charles Williams, Dorothy Sayers, Evelyn Underhill, C E. M. Joad 
have been busily propagating Christianity and thus playing an important 
part in the return to Anglo-Catholicism. 

One by one certain prominent intellectuals have entered the sanctu- 
aries of the various Anglican churches, drawn by the writings of the 
above mentioned people and the work of such clergymen as Bishop 
Launcelot Andrewes ; while the Roman Catholic church boasts of Thomas 
Aquinas, Dante and Chesteron, Anglo-Catholicism has in its ranks a 
host of minor writers — minor, at least, in relation to such a towering 
figure as Dante: John Donne, Bishop Andrewes, George Herbert, Robert 
Herrick and more recently T. S. Eliot, Dorothy Sayers and W. H. Auden. 

In the literary department of Dictator Eliot's governmental system 
a foreign office has been set up in the United States; although, as he 
tells us in Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, there is little hope 
for any future contribution to culture from America, his followers have 
striven at length to convert this country. Mr. John Crowe Ransom and 
Mr. Allen Tate have energetically carried the Gospel According to Eliot, 
with true evangelistic zeal, throughout the literary and academic United 
States; populariser Cleanth Brooks, aided by Mr. Robert Penn Warren, 
has brought the message to the people, to the classroom, and to The 
Man In The Street; and Mr. Richard Purvis, the young American Anglo- 
Catholic composer, has added weight and merit to the cause with his 
Anglican masses. 

Back at home base in England, with the spirit of T. E. Hulme, a 
sort of literary John the Baptist, hovering in the background, there is 
a consistent effort to make the newly won territory secure; the ineffable 
Mr. Eliot, from his cathedral chair at Faber & Faber, issues from time 
to time, ignoring the death rattles of last-stand Humanists, guidebooks 
for the group as Idea Of A Christian Society, Thoughts After Lam- 
beth and the recent Notes Towards the Definition of Culture ; speedily the 


ideas are incorporated into the writings of his whole band of eager 
workers, or caught up by himself — e.g., The Cocktail Party, his new 
play. (Incidentally, if the word 'band', used in the last sentence gives 
the idea of paucity, then it is indeed the wrong word.) Some I imagine, 
are wondering when the English speaking world is going to wake up 
and realise the effect of Anglo-Catholicism upon its Twentieth Century 

Outside the efforts of Mr. Eliot, and his American ambassadors of 
good will, there has been one man responsible in a great part, perhaps 
the greatest, part, for what one might well call the Twentieth Century 
literary Oxford movement. And that is Mr. C. S. Lewis, apostle to the 
sceptics, to borrow the title from the very excellent book by Mr. Chad 

Mr. Walsh has given us an informal history of the Anglican move- 
ment in his beautifully written cogent biography of C. S. Lewis; it is 
almost a spiritual biography, for Mr. Walsh has given only perfunctory 
mention to the somewhat boring requisites for a biography, birthplace, 
parents' histories, early years, etc. He has instead chosen very wisely 
to study Mr. Lewis's life from his atheistic period to the finding of faith 
in the Church of England. (It gives, perhaps, a mistaken connotation 
to say that Mr. Lewis found faith in the Church of England ; rather, as 
Mr. Walsh tells us, he evolved his own beliefs from a theological void, 
and, finding that they concurred with those of Canterbury, cast his lot 
with it.) 

Since then has has achieved remarkable success in the field of formal 
and informal theology — fantastic theological-philosophical science thril- 
lers, scholarly papers (such as 'Miracles'), and radio broadcasts published 
in book form. Easily, to my way of thinking, the greatest orthodox 
mind since Thomas Aquinas, Mr. Lewis has a rather ironclad theology 
to offer. It is orthodox, of course, but his metaphors and methods of 
proof are so strikingly original and clever that it fashions what Christians 
accept anyway into an exciting framework for existence. His emphasis 
is on reality, as Mr. Walsh shows us, the reality of Hell, the reality of 
the Devil, the reality of God; he tells us that it is the powers of Evil 
who rule the world today — good Christians are those who have broken 
loose from that power. We are shown that through repentence and a 
complete surrender of oneself to God one becomes, in reality again, a 
new person, not 'a new person' in some vague moral sense, but really new, 
possessed through surrender of a personality more real and individual 
than ever before. He believes in the reality of Christ's second coming; 
it is a doctrine somewhat uncomfortably ignored even by those who pro- 
fess it; but Mr. Lewis insists that for some it will simply be too late — 
when it occurs — and in the same vein, insists that when death comes, 
one either conquers it through Christ. . .or is conquered by it. 

In 'The Great Divorce' (written not as an answer, as is told us in 
the preface, to Blake's 'Marriage of Heaven and Hell' but rather suggested 


by it) Mr. Lewis portrays humans in the Garden of Paradise, being given 
a choice: either to choose Heaven or what, if it be chosen, will be Hell. 
One person is too concerned with theology and church affairs to bother; 
another, a grieving mother, would rather have her son in the other place 
than be without him in Heaven ; another, a painter, demands to be allowed 
to take a look around first to see if the scenery is suitable for paint and 
canvas. The Spirits, those already in Heaven, try to explain that it all 
doesn't matter, .if the mother will just forget her son for a little while, 
he will be given to her in such a way that she couldn't dream of; if the 
painter will forget his painting for a little while, he will be rewarded 
with Beauty beyond even the dreams of the great masters. The Spirits 
infer that life spent in the actual presence of God will be fun. . .in a 
like manner, Mr. Lewis tells that an earthly life spent as much with 
Christ as possible will actually be fun. . .and he means the word in the 
fullest sense. 

One could elaborate at great length on his charming metaphors 
and great power of intellect, but Mr. Walsh's book can do this best; it 
can serve as either an introduction to C. S. Lewis, or a summary of his 
work for those already familiar with it. One wonders if Mr. Walsh is 
Anglo-Catholic himself; the book is so objectively and fairly presented 
that the author's personal beliefs rarely, if ever, show through — and 
this, of course, is as it should be. C S. Lewis, the greatest member of 
the religious department of Mr. Eliot's hierarchy (though at times un 
abashedly a dissenter in literary matters) has been handled with justice 
and humour. The book is recommended to all readers. 

— Albert Paris Leary 

Actfive and Other Poems, by Archibald MacLeish 

(Random House) 

This volume of poetry, Mr. MacLeish's latest, at least reassures the 
reader of the poet's genius as a writer of verse. The best lines of the 
long title poem approach the beauty of such earlier poems as "Ars Poetica" 
and the supremely achieved "You, Andrew Marvell." The shorter poems 
which comprise the latter half of the book are statements of belief, for 
the most part, and contain a refreshing amount of lyric beauty. 

The long poem, "Actfive," definitely harks back to the earlier and 
more successful "The Hamlet of Archibald MacLeish." In the latter 
poem, Mr. Untermeyer remarks, "the half -conscious breaks through . . . 
remote associations, shifting allusions, disordered griefs, phantasms, fag- 
ends of memories ..." are intended to bring about an identification 
of the reader with Hamlet. In "Actfive," through similar devices and 
constructions, coupled with constant and often totally ineffective repetition 
and question-and-answer and question-and-no-answer, the reader is to 
find himself in a land where "the flesh has its belief and the bone its 
expectation" and "where vultures huddle and the soft and torpid rats 
recoil and crawl." The condition of this land, according to the poet, 
is the regression of man: 


. . . once, time's companion, 

Gentled by labor, taught by stone and wood, 

By beast and rope, by rain and sun and seed, 

To bear and be born, give need for need. 

Live and let live, answer ill with good, 

Keep peace, hate war, bind wounds, be patient, love — 
but now "murdered and his sweetness blown with maggots of the in- 
tellectual lies . . ." 

The element which has been most responsible for Mr. MacLeish's 
success as a writer is suspension. When a poet depends upon suspension 
to set the cadence, mood and structure of his poem, he is very often 
likely to fall into a sort of poetic ductility. When MacLeish has avoided 
this ductility (by this I mean the absence, through various types of fault 
in construction and effect, of that quality which Mr. Allen Tate has 
called "the ultimate effect of the whole" which comes as a 'result' of 
a configuration of meaning") he has proved himself to be a master of 
constructive verse; when he fails the saving grace of his poems is chiefly 
their pungency of expression. The influence of Eliot and various modern 
French poets has doubtless played a vastly important part in the develop- 
ment of a suspension technique in MacLeish's poems. 

Another element which is important in MacLeish's verse is intention. 
Idea always enters into his writing. "The Fall of the City" is perhaps 
his first real triumph of idea. If MacLeish is remembered as a poet, 
however, he will be remembered as a modern lyricist. His political 
thoughts and stands are highly important and relevant to our time, but 
when they are heard and heeded the world will have passed into another 
era of political thought or perhaps the labyrinth which he himself predicts 
for the unmindful and misdirected world. 

Meaning is by no means obscurative of being in the lyrics. Of the 
shorter poems in Act five "Psyche with the Candle" will provide an ade- 
quate illustration of this fact. "Love is the most difficult mystery . . ." 
the poet announces. 

hove is a bird in a fist: 

To hold it hides it, to look at it lets it go. 

It will twist loose if you lift so much as a finger. 

It will stay if you cover it — stay but unknown and invisible. 
This type of lyricism compares favorably with the enduring lines of 
"You, Andrew Marvell": 

And here face down beneath the sun 

And here upon earth 's moon ward height 

To feel the always coming on 

The always rising of the night . . . 
To some readers MacLeish's lyrical beauty will come as a relief 
from the classical verse of the Pounds, Eliots and Audens. These people 
will only be delighted, the poetry will not hold much more for them. 


To other people the verses will be the latest supreme achievement in 
the world of poetry: these will be the staunch MacLeish followers who 
have never wavered since the day they became literary nouveaux riches. 
To the rest of the readers the poems will be much needed expressions 
of ideas in art. 

— Charles A. Raines. 

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (Harcourt & Brace) 

In the last few years an increasingly large number of sages and 
writers have become concerned over the expanding powers and domain 
of the State. Of all these worryings on paper, only a few manage to 
convey to the thoughtful reader any conception other than that of an 
author who is trying to get votes for the other party. Of these few 
exceptions there are none that can approach Nineteen Eighty-Four by 
George Orwell for sheer, terrifying credibility and thought-provoking 
narrative. Mr. Owell is to be complimented on his restraint in several 
portions which could have easily degenerated into cheap melodrama or 
dogmatic propaganda. He resists the temptation to let his plot run 
away from him or become merely another "It Can Happen Here" piece, 
although in its simplest connotation that is exectly what it is. It differs 
however in that it remains throughout a terribly convincing book and 
thoroughly real possibility. 

The action takes place in the strange world of the year 1984, in 
the city of London, "Airstrip One." The harrassed and pitiful, though 
far from comical, hero is one Smith, Winston, a minor clerk in the all 
powerful Party. He lives a life of total subservience and frugality, exactly 
like all of his fellow workers. The society of his world is divided into 
a hierachy of three rigid and absolute categories. At the zenith of the 
State is the Inner Party, an oligarchy presided over by an almost mythical 
leader, known as "Big Brother," who dominates the lives and destinies 
of the State, although he is never seen by any of his subjects. 

The middle level of Society is the Outer Party, composed of such 
people as Smith: minor functionaries, clerks, and office personnel. These 
individuals lead colorless, completely regimented lives, with no freedom 
of expression, marriage, love, or even thought. 

At the bottom of the ladder is the miserable and ignorant proletariat, 
spoken of contemptuously as the "proles." They are factory workers 
and manual laborers who live in a world unto themselves, so unimportant 
that the government doesn't even care what they do and think, so long 
as their work is completed. This is one of the great paradoxes of the 
entire book. It is ironical that the government, which originally was 
merely a leftist party purporting to support the common man, now reviles 
him in a manner reminiscent of the serfdom of the middle ages. 


The government, the ultimate in complete police states, is divided 
into four administrative departments under the hand of the unseen "Big 
Brother." The first two are the Ministry of Plenty, which is concerned 
principally with rationing and the restriction of consumer goods, and 
the Ministry of Truth which has to do with the propagation of lies and 
rigid dialectic designed to keep the people in fear and reverence of the 
party. The third is the Ministry of Peace, which contains the heads of 
the warmaking machine upon which the entire structure of the economy 
is based; the fourth and possibly the most important is the Ministry of 
Love, the home of the brutal and efficient Thought Police. 

The Party has named a number of things as crimes against the 
State, punishable by death or worse. Among these are Thoughtcrime, 
which consists of thinking wrongly on any subject; Facecrime, the wearing 
of an expression which indicates that the individual is not completely 
and sufficiently happy with the party and determined to exert his best 
in its behalf. The methods by which these are checked include such 
things as the Telescreen, which is a two-way television screen in the 
homes of the lower Party Members over which they are watched con- 
stantly for any signs of disloyalty. 

This leaves in the reader a sort of apprehensive fear, not so much 
of what may come from the other side of the world, but from his own 
country, his own government; it is the story of what may happen to 
man kind should he forget that peace, not war, is the destined way of 
life, and that power in the wrong hands can, and perhaps will lead to 
the destruction of not only western civilization as we know it but of all 
the forward developments of the last three thousand years. Power is 
Orwell's central theme, not merely power as a means of control, but 
pure power for its own sake, absolute and total. In this sense it means 
not only the control of the economic and political destinies of the people, 
but absolute control of their beliefs, families, happiness, language, and 
even their very thoughts. Although when seen in the light of our present- 
day democratic form of government, these possibilities seem remote 
indeed, one has only to consider the lesson of history to realize that 
the future is indeed a closed door, an unknown quanitty. Think of the 
glorious French Revolution, which disposed of a tyrannical monarch, 
and then a few years later found itself under the heel of Napoleon 
Bonaparte, a worse despot than Louis ever was. By this one should 
not, of course, imply that tyrany necessarily follows social progress, or 
that popular governments lead to dictatorships, but it is true, as Orwell 
so effectively points out, that power can and will be misused, even when 
the people deliberately place it in the hands of their so called benefactors, 
if these individuals are infected with "the foulest passion of all," ambition 
for power. 

Mr. Orwell seeks to teach a lesson that should be required reading 
for all economists and politicians. Until the world realizes that truly, 
all men are brothers and that the world is able to give everyone in it a 


good measure of its riches and that the simple rights of man are more 
important than the "Manifest Destiny" of any one nation or group of 
people, this lesson will be important. Only when human rights are con- 
sidered above states rights will we be able to laugh at this book and say 
that it couldn't happen to us. 

— Evan Campbell. 

Hound-dog Man, by Fred Gipson (Harper & Brothers) 

In little more .than 200 pages Fred Gipson has completed with ele- 
mental beauty all the requirements of a good novel. Each character stands 
in strong black and white, ever fulfilling the principles of decorum, ever 
true to himself. The story, as told through the lips of a twelve-year old 
boy, is told with the heart and mind of a child, his simple wiseness, his 
sense of the poetry and beauty of life, and sometimes his lack of under- 
standing of the antics of grownups. Hound-dog Man embodies the life, 
loves and hates of the American farm folk who gave us truely American 
literature in ballads and folk-lore. 

Our hero is Blackie Scantling, whose excuse for his single state 
was really his philosophy: "You can starve him half to death. . .run him 
till his feet's wore off. . .git on a high lonesome drunk and kick him. . . 
But he's still your dog. Ready to lick your hand and warm your feet of 
a cold night. Now show me a woman that'll do the same." His dogs, 
Old Rock and Drum, and the game filled woods were the loves of Blackie, 
not that he wasn't a lady killer on the side. 

Cotton Kinney relates the tale of his idol, Blackie, the big coon- 
hunt and its outcome. He is a real boy, detailed with excitement, tiny 
hurts and jealousies, embarrasments and love. A hound of his own 
was his dream ; Spud Sessoms is his plump bosom pal ; his main trouble ? 
"I knew I never would amount to anything wasting my time on school 
nine months of the year." But poor Cotton was forced to his imprison- 
ment by his kindly parents, Papa and Mama Kinney. 

The rich-man villain, Hog Waller, is thorough-goingly yellow- 
bellied and villainous and suitably makes his living from his vicious, 
marauding range hogs. 

Little Dony, the girl who "matched Blackie, look for look" and 
gave up her reputation to protect and catch her man, serves her purpose 
in the plot's double climax. She ends the romantic wanderings of Mr. 
Scantling and fulfills Cotton's dream with a gift. 

Mr. Gipson has colored his word canvas with touches of the tricks 
of hunting coons, rabbits, squirrels, gobblers ; with small inner stories 
(Blackie on all fours charging a charging bull; fooling the poor arma- 
dillo who chased the pebbles thrown in front of him, thinking them 


bugs); food descriptions which almost reach the sense of smell; the 
tall-tales of the older folk and the musician's fiddle playing. The setting 
is given in lines almost poetry; ". . .canyon was filling with blue shadows. 
The moonshine was white magic that night. It lay in puddles between 
the brush and rocks." 

In Hound-dog Man Fred Gipson has some of the humor and child 
ren's philosophy of Mark Twain and some of the folk-lore, humor and 
setting of Stone's Devil Take a Whittler, but this is absolutely his own 
bright creation, original and as outstanding as an albino coon up a tree. 
Hound-dog Man is that novel about which readers smile and sigh, "That's 
the most pleasant book I've read in a long time." 

— Mary Adair Brown. 

(Continued from page 2) 

Cleanth Brooks, the distinguished American critic, makes his first 
appearance in the centenary review this issue. He is the author of Modem 
Poetry and the Tradition, The Well Wrought Urn, and several widely 
used text books. He is perhaps the only member of the group often 
called "The New Critics" to make his influence felt directly in the con- 
temporary classroom. 

Albert Paris Leary is a young poet studying at Centenary College; 
he has lately' had work accepted by Experiment, Carolina Quarterly and 
Arizona Quarterly. A one act verse play of iiis, The innumerable Caravan 
was produced by "The Louisiana Players' Guild" in Baton Rouge last 
July. Currently he is at work on a libretto for a one act opera. 

Charles Raines, a graduate student at Tulane University, has appeared 
before in this magazine. He lives in Shreveport where he was one of 
the founders of Venture. 

Ralph White, author of the essay on Spanish comedy, is a professor 
of Spanish at Centenary College. This essay is part of his recent Ph.D. 
work. He is married and lives in Shreveport. 

Joseph Patrick Roppolo is a graduate student at Tulane University, 
and a native of Shreveport. He became associated with Venture this 
last summer. 

Helen Hoyt, the distinguished poet, needs little introduction to readers 
of literary magazines. From the time in the early 'twenties when she 
began to appear in Poetry: a magazine of verse and other reviews, up 
through today she has occupied a high place in American letters. She 
now lives in California. 

Evan Campbell is a student at Centenary College. He is interested 
in a wide variety of current affairs and devotes most of his writing to 


articles on contemporary economic developments and thought. His 
analysis of the industrial movement in the South, Trouble In Paradise. 
appeared in the last issue of this review. 

Mary Adair Brown is the originator of Venture. Through her efforts 
aided by the Editor of the centenary review, the Venture group was brought 
into being on a memorable evening (to the staff of this magazine) in 
November of 1947. Miss Brown is interested in art, music and writing. 
She sang one of the title roles in Hanzel And Gretel produced by the 
Centenary School of Music last year; she is a member of Mademoiselle' s 
college literary board. 

the centenary review is published by the Venture group at 
Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport. Address all 
correspondence to "The Editor, 407 Merrick St., Shreveport, 
Louisiana. ,, 


ALBERT PARIS LEARY, edit or -in- Me] 
ANN BYRNE, circulation and business manager 
ROBERT REGAN, poetry editor 
EVAN CAMPBELL, assisting editor 
QUINTON RAINES, assisting editor 
MARY ADAIR BROWN, assisting editor 
ANTOINETTE TUMINELLO, assisting editor 
MARY WILLIS SHUEY, advisor to the Board 
MARY JANE CALLAHAN, assisting editor 

Printed by Bains Press, Shreveport, Louisiana