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November 02, 1958 - Image 14

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1958-11-02
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_____________________________ ~ - - - -- - - ~- -~

Tho Really Wants
A New Cositution

The Dark Houses-Creao off
Donald Hall Examines the Human" Condition in His New Boo

By DAVID TARII

THERE IS, at times, a strange
affinity between o p p o s i n g
forces. Take, for instance, poli-
tics -- Michigan politics to be
exact.
One of the strangest mixtures
of political and special interest
groups in many years has result-
ed this fall from the proposed call-
ing of a convention to revise
Michigan's 50-year-old constitu-
tion. The issue has drawn togeth-
er groups and individuals that
David Tarr, magazine edi/or
of The- Michi, arI) il , ~iwrr
/he 11w NI ich a al y, examines
the role /olifial and /ressure
grou ps hate //ayed in ihe issue
ofer re icing Mui higan's con-
s/ilrr/jn.

normally cannot agree on the
time of day.
For many years now students
of government have been lament-
ing the sd'rry condition of Michi-
gan's constitution, a document
written, they say, for an era when
the horse and buggy could still
outdistance the automobile.
THIS TUESDAY Michigan vot-
ers will have the opportunity
to decide if the constitution will
be revised. A proposal to call a
constitutional convention to re-
vise or amend the state's basic
document will be on the ballot.
If the vote is yes, a convention
will be called to rework the con-
stitution which will then be sub-
mitted to the voters for approval.
It is almost impossible to find
anybody who claims the constitu-

tion does not need some sort of
revision. But the chances of a
favorable vote Tuesday are, to say
the least, slim; there is little ac-
tive campaigning for the issue,
and almost no one seriously be-
lieves it will pass.
The reasons for the issue being
quietly ignored in the election
campaign are simple, but they
involve a curious mixture of po-
litical partisans.
AGREEMENT there is on the
need for a new constitution.
Agreement there is not on how to
achieve this.
The problem centers partly on
the method of selecting delegates
to a constitutional convention
were one to be approved by the
voters. It also focuses partly on
the desire of rural interest groups
to keep the strong position they
now hold in the state government
vis-a-vis urban interests groups.
As a result, urging a no vote
next Tuesday are such un-likely
partners in crime as the Demo-
cratic Party, the Michigan Farm
Bureau, the AFL-CIO, and the
Michigan Townships Association. ;
Equally unenthusiastic about a
constitutional convention is a sec-
tion of the Republican Party, com-
posed largely of state senators,
that fought vigorously but unsuc-
cessfully at the state GOP con-
vention to defeat a resolution put-
ting their party on record as urg-
ing a yes vote on the issue.
Lined up with the Republican
Party, which has seen few of
its candidates campaign strongly
for the convention, are the Michi-
gan Municipal League, the Michi-
gan Congress of Parent-Teachers,;
the United Church Women of
Michigan, the Michigan Federa-;
tion of Business and Professional
Women's Clubs, the American As-;
sociation of University Women,;
the Michigan Junior Chamber of
Commerce, the Michigan Educa-
tion Association and the League
of Women Voters of Michigan.
T OTHERside of the spec-
trum - the groups opposing;
the calling of a convention - has
a more interesting tale to tell,
however.
As one observer put it, certain
Democrats are fond of telling par-
tisan audiences how their party
has been "dragging the Republi-
can Party, kicking and scream-
ing, into the 20th Century."
Now these Republicans are
quietly smiling back at the Demo-
crats for being left in the dust of
governmental reforms wondering
how the opposition will explain its
objections to constitutional im-
provement.
For the Democrats, it's all very
simple. The present constitution
requires that any convention
called to write a substitute must

STATE CAPITOL-Michigan's 50-year-old constitution may be
rewritten if voters approve this Tuesday the calling of a constitu-
tional convention. The capitol building includes executive and

Saffell
and Bush
clothing and
furnishings
are planned
especially
for men in the
University
world,
who are
aiming high,
and
to whom a
commanding
appearance,
is an ally.

legislative offices.
be composed of three delegates
chosen from each of the state's
senatorial districts.
The Democrats claim that the
Senate districts have been gerry-
mandered so that most of them
are predominately rural in char-
acter. As a result conservative and
rural interests would dominate a
convention, thereby b l o c k i n g
many if not all the reforms more
liberal individuals and urban in-
terest groups think are needed.
If the delegates were elected on
a partisan basis, the Democrats
charge, the Republicans, who now
have a 23-11 majority in the
Senate, would completely dom-
inate the convention.
IT SHOULD be added that Demo-
crats said they favored the idea
of a constitutional convention, but
could not "in good conscience"
advise a yes vote. The AFL-CIO
passed a resolution last February
saying it favors the constitutional
convention "if and only if the
delegates are selected on the basis
of equality so that each citizen's
vote counts the same in selecting
delegates."
So far, so good: the Democrats
and the AFL-CIO long have been
bedfellows. But also under the

sheets with these two groups are
the Michigan Farm Bureau and
the Michigan Townships Associa-
tion, neither having been noted in
the past for cooperation with
Democrats or labor.
Both the Farm Bureau and the
Townships Association have urged
a no vote on the issue next Tues-
day.
The Bureau, which has a mem-
bership of 71,454 farm families
and has been a powerful voice in
shaping state government policies
since its formation in 1919, says
it believes gradual amendment is
a "more intelligent way of deal-
ing with constitutional change
than to subnilt to the voters an
entirely new document."
The iBureau said its opposition
to a convention will be a contin-
uing thing.
BUT THE more basic objections
of the Bureau can be found in
statements it made when asked if
"minority rights" in the constitu-
tion might be endangered by re-
vision.
"Obviously, the elements of se-
curity and the safeguards em-
bodied in our present constitution
See POLITICS, pale 9

By NELSON S. BO
THE DARK HOUSES. By Donald
Hall. Viking Press, 1958. $3.
As THE SECOND published vol-
ume of poetry by Donald Hall,
Who is now Assistant Professor of
English at this University, The
Dark Houses is a surprisingly uni-
fled book.
Such a total kind of unity rare-
ly occurs in the works of the mod-
ern poets even though such vol-
umes are unified by the poet's per-
sonality. Theirs is not the same
kind of exploration of idea from
many views and directions, the
reason being partially that the
majority of the modern poets have
not been able to establish a per-
vasive system of ethics, or values
rather, from which they could
draw and around which, they cen-
ter.
This centering is a personal
thing, the ultimate result of a cer-
tain way of life, requiring both
courage and a particular temper
of mind. The poetry of this vol-
ume is the demonstration.
THE RATHER slim volume is di-
vided into two sections which
are inextricably bound together
yet are opposites of each other.
The first part contains the poems
rejecting a materialistic way of
life and its resulting paucity of
inner space. The second deals
with men themselves, and is the
depiction of the human condition
in humanistic terms. It is the first
division which prepares the way
for the second.
The poem which begins the book
and from which the title comes,
is a criticism of people who live
without personal inner freedom,
without greater love than for the
material and status quo.
For example, "the cars as lon'g
as hayricks," and the "trips to
Rome" become symbols of mater-
ial affluence and against this,
there is the juxtaposition of the
idea that this is a form of dying.
The "dark houses harden into
sleep."
At one point in the poem, after
describin; the life of the people
he speaks of, he steps out of his
role as poet to make a bold, blunt
statement that "this love is jail,
the other sets us free." Although
it seems out of place and is not
particularly a fine line, we can
pass over it with little noticenpar-
ticularly considering the sincerity
of the poem and the poet.
WNHILE THE VIEWS are becom-
ing quite safe in poetry, none-
the-less, he is one of very few in
the recent generation of poets
who is sincerely interested in deal-
ing with problems of this sort in
poetry.
His forceful statement of his
position is unusual among the
poets of his decade and s ucli
frankness has become somewhat
pass6 and at times embarassing to
the present generation of rather
blas6 and sophisticated readers.
To doubt that Mr. Hall believes this
kind of concern with values and
with the forceful and blunt com-
munication of them is the func-
tion of poetry is to assume that he
is not aware of what he does. Such
an assumption is not justified in
view of his awareness of the prob-
lems' of poetry. Therefore, it seems
clear that the didactic nature of
the poetry is deliberate, and with-
in this purpose he is quite suc-
cessful.
HOWEVER, there is a school of
thought which accepts the dic-
tum that "poetry should not mean
but be," to quote one of its well
known exponents.
The difficulty is that some
things, the things which lie in
the imaginative world cannot al-
ways be communicated by point-
1 Nelson Howe graduated from

the University in 19J7 receiving
a _BA in English. He is now
workinsg toward a BS in design.

. *..and they walk
less image or sheer sound. Even
this exponent has not accepted his
own statement at-face value.
The fact of the matter seems to
be that poems do mean and the
problem for the critic and the
reader becomes a problem of de-
termining the line between non-
poetic preaching and p o e t i c
preaching.
One reason this particular poem
is not entirely satisfying seems to
be that the poem is primarily ob-
jective description and in the very
middle, naked and alone, there is
one bald moral statement, a moral
judgement. Until then, the poet
stands behind his description and
after this he slips back behind
description to end the poem. The
sudden step out of context is not

under discussion but it applies to
the work of the whole volume.
ANOTHER POEM from this sec-
tion which is more consistent
but less interesting in its tech-
nique is "The Foundation of
American Industry" which begins:
In the Ford plant
at Ypsilanti
men named for their
fathers work at steel.
It is a criticism of another as-
pect of the modern concern for
the 'common good' and the 'stan-
dard of living' and it goes on to
deal with an America of assembly
lines "where generators m o v e
quickly on belts, a thousand an
hour," where men "go home to
their Fords . . . or watch TV and
work toward payday."
When they walk home
they walk on sidewalks
marked W
P A 38
their old men made
them, and they walk on
their fathers.
While neither of the poems cited
are the best in the volume, they
do show a marked trend toward
the more textured and complex
kind of poetry.
This poem just quoted is one of
the most straight-forward and di-
rect of them all and certainly one
of the more powerful ones in terms
of initial impact, due in part to
its simplicity and in part to the
almost eptgramatic ending. It is
true that the issue is one of our
age but the method of handling
it is new and refreshing.
WHILE MR. HALL still uses his
rapier sharp wit in this vol-
ume, he tempers it carefully to
the poem and theme and when he
does slip the metaphorical dag-
ger in, it is without a smile.
These poems of wit are not so
much in evidence as they were in
his earlier Exiles and Marriages.
While he perceives more than
what appears to the eye, he tem-
pers it with a sly and almost un-
seen wink. It is true that not all
of the poems are marked by this
but it does apply to most of them.
However, the general tone has
become more serious and more
subtle and at the same time, the
balance has shifted to a poetry

on their fathers."

a satisfying solution to the poem
and detracts considerably from
what is essentially a very fine
work.
If we look again, we find there
is a reason. Because Mr. Hall so
violently rejects the materialism
which characterizes so much of
this country's population and so
thoroughly inhibits the growth of
other values, he suffers a slight
and forgivable lapsus linguae only
because he has felt that his posi-
tion is important.
As he says in a later poem,
"wastage of life will create the
implication of death which means
that you must tell your love while
you reveal your hate." This is not
only the justification of the poem

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