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Books And Persons: Being Comments On A Past Epoch 1908-1911 - Love Poetry Post by :Mark_Thompson Category :Nonfictions Author :Arnold Bennett Date :May 2012 Read :3386

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Books And Persons: Being Comments On A Past Epoch 1908-1911 - Love Poetry

(_16 Sep. '09_)

In every number up to August, I think, the summary of the _English Review began with "Modern Poetry," a proper and necessary formal recognition of the supremacy of verse. But in the current issue "Modern Poetry" is put after a "study" of the Chancellor of the Exchequer by Max Beerbohm. A trifling change! editorially speaking, perhaps an unavoidable change! And yet it is one of these nothings which are noticed by those who notice such nothings. Among the poets, some of them fairly new discoveries, whom the _English Review has printed is "J. Marjoram." I do not know what individuality the name of J. Marjoram conceals, but it is certainly a pseudonym. Some time ago J. Marjoram published a volume of verse entitled "Repose" (Alston Rivers), and now Duckworth has published his "New Poems." The volume is agreeable and provocative. It contains a poem called "Afternoon Tea," which readers of the _English Review will remember. I do not particularly care for "Afternoon Tea." I find the contrast between the outcry of a deep passion and the chatter of the tea merely melodramatic, instead of impressive. And I object to the idiom in which the passion is expressed. For example:

_To prove I mean love, I'd burn in Hell._

Or:

_You touch the cup_
_With one slim finger.... I'll drink it up,_
_Though it be blood._

We are all quite certain that the lover would not willingly burn in Hell to prove his love, and that if he drank blood he would be sick. The idiom is outworn. That J. Marjoram should employ it is a sign, among others, that he has not yet quite got over the "devout lover" stage in his mood towards women. He makes a pin say: "She dropped me, pity my despair!" which is in the worst tradition of _Westminster Gazette "Occ. Verse." He is somewhat too much occupied with this attitudinization before women or the memory of women. It has about as much to do with the reality of sexual companionship as the Lord Mayor's procession has to do with the municipal life of Greater London. Still, J. Marjoram is a genuine poet. In "Fantasy of the Sick Bed," the principal poem in the book, there are some really beautiful passages. I would say to him, and I would say to all young poets, because I feel it deeply: Do not be afraid of your raw material, especially in the relations between men and women. J. Marjoram well and epigrammatically writes:

_Yet who despiseth Love_
_As little and incomplete_
_Learns by losing Love_
_How it was sweet!_


True. But, when applied to love with a capital L, and to dropped pins despairing, a little sane realistic disdain will not be amiss, particularly in this isle. I want to see the rise of a new school of love poetry in England. And I believe I shall see it.

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