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April 03, 1940 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1940-04-03

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Pale Ten


LLNTRYN L Continued from Page Three

croaches upon our feelings, and limits
them or turns them aside. The center
of our existence becomes the center of a
smaller and smaller circle, and though
the rhetoric of our feeling may be as
grand as ever, what our words refer to
is less and less. The forms we had first
worked out for our expression we had
really developed for other things, and
they fit loosely now. If we grow con-
scious of this, but still wrapt in some
private disenchantment, away from the
world, we at least can try the remedy
of refining our metres and rhythms,
using repetition to avoid the variety
that would reveal" our emptiness, sub-
stituting rhythm for sound because all
sounds have become monotonous, re-
turning to a strict couplet in the final
chance that art may be an end in it-
self. Not that disintegration will come
about in easy sequence, in art any more
than in life. For to make an art of
the dispersal of one's strength betrays
a kind of hope that strength will not
be dispersed, and the potentialities for
ordering artistic expression are not
completely wasted until the poet has
ceased - as Rimbaud did - to write.
In poetry "the very effort to take over
a form that was true to something once,
to the West Saxons or to the eighteenth
century - as Mr. Auden and others are
doing now - is an implicit recognition
that something is wrong and something
is right. There are hopes of finding
what is right, and hope has the charm-
ing power of reviving sincerity. Which
I take it is the reason ultimately that
we are in no position to sit in judgment

on a man's life, what we merely need
to do is to prove our own sincerity.
And in this, I think, lies the special
virtue of Mr. Auden's lecture. His criti-
cism was so sweeping, in undermining
what we stand for, and so charitable,
in that damning us he did not spare
himself. In effect he was reminding us
that we should prove through our acts
that what he said was not true, that it
is up to us to find a decent way of liv-
ing for the individual in society. There
is a kind of gallantry in so complete
a challenge, so that we are able to hate
without despising.
And to see finally how at one moment
the values a'man holds and the form of
his poetry are related, we may turn to
one of Mr. Auden's most recent poems,
In Memory of Sigmund Freud. The
stanzas in this poem reveal no other
pattern than that which is broken up
so that no repetition in beat or quan-
tity will define the lines or stanzas as
verse. There is a rhythm, as in good
prose, but it is a rhythm whose only
control is the comma and the period,
and which has no reinforcement ex-
cept that of syntax. And not merely is
the metre contrived so that it is in-
dependent of sound or beat repetition,
but there is also the compulsion, I think,
to permit no harmony of vowels or con-
sonants to stand in the way of the prose
meaning, no music to be an expression
of the sense. Which is not to say that
discord has been maintained, but only
that the prose has been designed to
prevent music: I think this is because
Mr. Auden conceives the necessity of
a kind of astringent thought, 'the strict

and adult pen,' which is apparently
thought divorced from belief. Such an
aim, I think, would come as one loses
the hope of communication, and relies
upon the 'unobjectionable' thought, as
if through the bareness which is left
when one knows of no common faith in
people, negation is the single means
through which a context of belief and
thought may be created eventually, and
poetry restored. This a false hope, for
when you tear away a man's beliefs,
the residue is not thought, clear and
strict, but fear. And thought is mean-
ingless unless it is true to the whole
I have been trying to make distinc-
tions about the necessary relation of
a man's thought and feeling and te
form of his work, trying not to simplify.
And this is not so much for the sake
of criticizing one poet. It is more im-
portant that this poet is much imitated,
and that he has achieved a special re-
spect through his politics. Young revo-
lutionary poets often admire and im-
itate him before they find their own
styles. If their devotion is literal in
any artistic sense, they give to what
is good in the technique they are assim-
ilating their new strength, and they also
give it to what is bad. One may con-
ceive that such followers are capable of
taking the good with the bad, turning
what they find to their own purposes.
If taste and judgment develop soundly,
they will carry on or turn upon this be-
ginning convention according to their
several necessities. And while one may
not always require of them articulate

statements of their poetic beliefs, one
may at least demand that they under-
stand what they admire. If I have
been right in describing some close con-
nection between the subject and frm
of poetry, it becomes especially 'neces-
sary that those poets who have taken
after Auden because he was a revolu-
tionary symbol, and are now to various
degrees disillusioned, must, in order to
preserve their own promise, discover
to what extent the technique of Auden's
verse is adapted only to beliefs that are
not endurable, and to what extent this
form is useful for the affirmations they
make in their own living.
I think they might begin in renounc-
ing one of the boasts implicit in Mr.
Auden's lecture, a theory that has been
current for a long time. It is that poets
reflect the age in which they live, that
through some special insight they un-
derstand the world better than other
people, and that, when it comes right
down to it, they do our living for us.
I think that other people are also alive
and aware of the world; and when the
poets learn that these others live as
they do, quite as consciously ordering
the principles of their existence, they
will learn that it is not merely poets
who live by what is true and beautiful
and good (which are continually neces-
sary words), or so at least I think when
I remember something Stark Young
once said, that goodness is the highest
form of the imagination. In these terms
the machine age has taken the life of
action from no one, and people are
still able to communicate with one an-

(Continued from Page Two)
Not sure of what he would do eventu-
ally, as in a dream Evan wrenched open
the wooden door, looked anxiously in-
side. For a second he saw nothing. Then
there on the bed; his mother had pulled
the covers up to her face. She was not
moving. She seemed too frightened to
move. Wondering - now, Evan glanced
around to see what it was. Why the
scream, the fright? And then he saw
the burglar.
What was it that held him so fascin-
ated. He kept watching the man who
was glaring at him with wondering
eyes. The burglar began to shift un-
easily. True, he had a gun, but this
tender looking kid was looking at him
with an intensity that didn't seem nat-
ural for a youngster. Why was the kid
watching him. so hard. The burglar
shifted again, made as if to move to-
ward the dresser in search of loot, but
stopped. The kid had a funny gleam
in his eyes. The burglar was waiting.
Evan looked at the burglar with a
mind that was clear for him. Something
about the burglar held him, and he
wondered what it was. The burglar. was
an odd looking person, as he scratched
his hand through his hair. The hair
was quite thick on his hand as the man
in the zoo. The hair was thick all over
like that man, and it was matted
and grew even around his neck.
The hairy man had said what a
cute little tyke, and he had grabbed
the scared five-year-old and had said,
doesn't my little man want to look at
the -apes, The great belly laughs he
belched hurt-the.little boy even more,
and the apes in the cages were making
awful sounds. He was screaming and
yelling and the ladies who had brought

him didn't want to insult the man. Fin-
ally, when the hairy man had let him
down, he had fainted. Funny, after that
time when the hairy man had scared
him, he was always, shy.

ed and left th
the door slam.
Evan went b
closed the do
He settled dov
in th livin

AND NOW the burglar was really up- anbook. After
a book. After
set. The boy had kept staring at him his chair. He
and his hairy hands and neck. He won-
dered why the boy didn't say anything.
A curious gleam had come into Evvie's
eyes. But the burglar, now quite rest-
less, began to move toward the boy. He TU
was new at this, he was getting frigh-
tened. The boy didn't seem afraid. And
he was so big, and the boy so small. Why (Contin
doesn't he tremble? Look, his mother is
trembling. Why isn't he afraid? _
Then, the burglar was afraid. It look-
ed funny. Maybe somebody was fixing T was onl
to trap him. Not going to take me. Not Neil told r
me, nossir. Backing toward the window, ing those
the burglar took a last look at the boy. story with g
His expression now was one of Wonder. had happened
He seemed 'to be smiling. He seemed fore that.
self-satisfied. It was all very strange. "I guess I¢
The burglar couldn't figure it out . . . things someti
Silently, he dropped through the wine he told me. "
dow that had been open. His padding about the tim
could be heard as he crept softly away. broke into tl
Empty handed. Glad to get away. My brother
Inside the room, Evan looked at his been with th
mother who didn't say a word. He walk- days duringN
ed slowly over to the window and peered home. "Hisa
out. He didn't see anything. He closed said. "I can re
the window, looked at his mother, turn- in a cellar wit

e room. His mother heard
. She sat in bed for awhile.
ack to the front porch;.
or, after coming back in.
wn in the large easy chair
room and started reading
a while, he fell asleep in
had been tired.
ued from Page One)
y a few months ago that
me what he had done dur-
six days. He told me the
reat clarity, although it
d almost eleven years be-
used to do pretty funny
mes when I was a kid,"
I think I ought to tell you
e I followed the man who
he jewelry store."
Neil told me that he had
is man for the entire six
which he was away from
name was Stanley," Neil
member well that he lived
h his mother, and that he

took care of the furnace. There was
only one room in this cella, and in
it were Stanley and his mother and the
My brother told me that of all the
men whom he had followed, Stanley
was the only who had accepted him,
and, more than that, the only one who
had talked to him as he wanted. "I
listened to what he said for six days,"
Neil said.
"He told me that he had come from
Wilmington two years ago -with his
mother when his father had died. 'That
Wilmington is a hell of a spot,' he told
me. He told me also about robbing the
jewelry store. 'I'd been thinking about
that for a long time,' he said, 'but the
funny part of it was that I didn't get
anything. I didn't want to cut my
hands any more, so I didn't reach. in
through the glass.'
I remember his telling me about
wanting to live in the country," Neil
said. "There's nothing at all living on
a farm,' he told me, 'but the country,
that's something else again.'
Once we even went to Willow Grove
Amusement Park for the afternoon,"
Neil said. "I had a good time out there."
Knowing my brother as I do I know
that all during this time he said noth-
ing to Stanley, but merely listened to
him. He listened also to the old woman.
"Don't you believe what my boy Stan-
ley tells you about robbing that jewelry
store," she said to Neil.
"I was very sorry wnen the police
took Stanley away and I had to come
"You might think that my doing
something like that was pretty crazy,"
my brother said to me, "but I think that
it is the reason that I understand people
so well now."
But I know that my brother no longer
understands people even as he did then,
because he can no longer go unasham-
edly into their homes and listen to what
they are saying. He is a grown man
now, and has changed a great deal since
that day when he followed the man with
the bleeding hands down the street.

A Burglary on Locust Street, by Dennis Flanagan .......Page one
Shy, by Alvin Sarasohn................ ...........Page two
Doyle Press, 1940, by Shirley Wallace ....................Page four
Waiting, by Elizabeth Allen .......... ................Page five
Gallantry in Hell, By John Arthos ....................Page three
by James Green, Nancy Mikelson, Gwenyth Lemon, Howard Moss,
John Brinnin, Georgia E. Christlieb, Charles Miller, Agnes H. Stein.

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