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December 09, 1923 - Image 1

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SUNDAY MAGAZINE
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9, 1923
Mr. Frost Rejects Pedantic Cataloguing
Being Partially A Review Of "New Hampshire"

NEW HAMPSHIRE, by Robert Frost,
Henry Holt, 1923.
Mr. Frost has discovered thq sophis-
ticated world. There have been indi-
cations before now that he suspected
the existence of that brittle, quaint
Cockaigne, but he has always lacked
complete desire to pass beyond his
own hard, clear, sharp universe. In
this volume, however, we see him
Wandering with a sly smile among'the
cardboard houses and the fantastic
mosques formed (as he alone sur-
mises) of glass. Occasionally he
fetches out from the streets some glit-
tering manikin, and, holding his dis-
covery betwixt blunt thumb and fore-
finger, interrogates him with Satyric
(which is not quite the same thing as
satiric) interest.
And then he returns to his earthly
and almost anticltmatically definite
New Hampshire. In fact, we ,may be
sure that only the sophisticated world,
but even the whole world outside New
Hampshire, is for him but Cockaigne.
He draws his lips back in a serene
smile at thought of the fragile crea'
tures who, trying to be Slavicly tra-
gic, impute to our sleek generation
desires it never had and sorrows it
could naet understand. "How," he in-.
qures
"Are we to write
The Russian .novel in America
As long as life goes on so unter-
ribly?
We get what little misery we can
estingly?
Out of not having cause for misery.
It makes the guild of novel-wrt- I
era sick
To be expecting to be Dostoievskis
On nothing worse than too .much
luck and comfort
But no less does he find a bit off cen-
ter the traveller from Arkansas
"Who boasted of his state as beutl-
ful
For diamonds and apples" 1
in commercial quantities. And so it
goes with not-too-malicious laughter
at the Californian with a climate to
sell; at the New York alec, prattling
"About the new school of the pseudo-
phallic"; at Matthew Arnold;- in
fact, at all our little artificial people
who talk and talk, and
"Know too well for any earthly use
The line where man leaves off and
nature starts."
Is Frost, then, merely repeating
the vague, meaningless back-to-na-
ture cry of Wordsworth and Crabbe,
even of Pope? Can professors stick
him in the cubby-hole tagged Nature-
poet and thus leave him to rot? No;
for he is sincere, and, what is more,
clear-sighted. He is unafflicted by the
myopia that tilts earth up into hea-
ven and sticks a hierarchy of angels!
in every blasted stump. No delusions
claim him as to the "place of man in
nature." His last word is the indif-
ference of our world to us. Consider
the concluding poem in this volume.I
The house had been burned down, the
farm had been deserted, only the barn
was left. In and out of its broken
windows flew the birds,
"Their murmur more like the sigh
we sigh
From too much dwelling on what
has been

I

I T cf T r r,% i-1, n r"

LISLE ROSE This creed, if one should indeed call
it so, has certain definite artistic as
well as philosophical advantages. On
this one hand it prevents that disdain
of nature which comes with super-
sophistication. No less does it pre-
vent didacticism and mysticism. It
has taken our modern poets and -still
noore our modern critics a long while
to escape from the Platonic theory of
beauty. Formal beauty alone we re-
fuse to recognize. Wordsworth must
dress nature up in cassock and gown,
put in her hands Bishop Butler's An-
alogy of Religion, and then play the
assiduous stenographer. Swinburne,
in revolt against Wordsworth, sees
now the Norse now the Greek divini-
ties peeping through. And the red-
blooded hard-fisted he-men bea their
1 / breasts and chant of Nature red in
tooth and claw. Robert Frost smiles
a bit at-the whole crowd if he happens
to think of them; mostly he goes
! smoothly along, seeing but not stalk-
ing beauty. Thus he alone of almost
all our latter-day poets, can perceive
woods, waters, stones, mountains, as
frrntlife -t12 they are, free from any man-imposed
eT7mes @osef.. values.
He carries this attitude into the
study of men. Finding no sharp line
of demarcation between ma and na-
ture, he tends to adopt what the phil-
osophic jargon of the present day
would call a behavioruristic view.
Brad McLaughlin, in "The Star-split-
ter,"
ROBERT FROST Burned his house down for the ire
Yet for them the lilac renewed its But though they rejoiced in the nest insurance,
(aAnd bought a telescope with what
leaf, they kept, it caie to."
- -- - - - One bad to be verse in country
For them there was nothing really things Here is no pother about tight and
sad. Not to believe the phoebes wept." wrong: Frost Is gettig away from
that. He has largely left o oo his
f____concern with the tragic; te 'Vey
ord as become meaningless. Frost's
way of regading life is, We are be-
cosi* mre and more convn tie
woks are not Hamlet, Lear, thello,
b't Cynibeline and *The Telninest,
wherein he is troubled 45'more 'by ont
futile storm and aatess, but meanl's
STUDIES IN SU$TLETY what we term animate no less than
I p what we term Ihaimate Hfe,F pters-
M AC ly aesthetic standards. Why ahiobid
we become aroused over events: it all-
"TRAGEDY"matters 'so little in the end. Accept-
(To Marion Clyde Wier) ance 'has always been the word with
(Ta Marn ClydeWierFrost, but hs acceptance is now qui-
She said, "How permanent!" eter, surer.
And be, "How indomitable!" Yet his growing awa eness o so-
"Oh, to be back where phistication has brought with it a
Methods do not nibble my desires change if not in his true attitude, at
Like oxen in a pond. least in his idiom. Ie is more ob-
To feel again the satisfaction of tension viously taking sacount of the mani-
And the waterspouts fold interpretations of a situation.
Of pain!" When this newly-acquired anxiety to
miss none of life's implications is
He answered, joined to the New Englander's habit-
"My dear, that is powwow. ual indirectness and understateinent,
If it were true the poet's style Is a bit harsh or at
We should monopolise least resistant; but I for one found
The incomparable." the conetions well worth working
She wept. after. Occasionally, let it be admitted,
Aherpte.rsthis knowledge of the sophisticate's
And her tears fell attitude has inspired the sophisticate's
Like oranges . superficiality; once or twice, in re-
Into a harbsr. jaction from a scorn of feelig, Frost
descends perilously near sentimental-
"ALTRUISM" ity. In "Nothing Gold Can Stay," he
(For Robert Ektrtron) oven sounds like a very young an
imitating Tom Moore or the worst of
Fences never did a thing. Housman. But such failures are so
They were always old, rare that it is the part of none but a
And their hearts were soft as shad. (Continued on Page Five)

'A

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