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which the Treaty gives them for dealing with a voluntary default. For him the negotiations of San Remo, Hythe, Boulogne, and Spa, are compendiously summarised as 'mutilations of the Treaty. The causes? There are several: the indifference of the Allies, the malign influence of Mr Keynes, but above all, in France, a want of resolution which creates the idea that France is afraid of Germany: 'propos de soviets et propos de salons ; snobismes révolutionnaires et snobismes réactionnaires, sur quoi, hélas ! a fini par se modeler la politique du pays ('La Paix,' p. 511).
We trust that these illusions are no longer held, if they were ever held, by M. Clemenceau, whom we in this country have been accustomed to regard as a realist of massive common-sense. That impression is confirmed by many pages in the narrative of M. Tardieu. Here, for instance, we have the assurance that Clemenceau never shared the illusion of M. Gabriel Hanotaux, and others of his countrymen, that French diplomacy might bring about a disintegration of Germany into loosely federated and particularist small States. Illusions he had, but of another kind. He long supposed that Bolshevism might be isolated by a sanitary cordon of Allied armies, or even cured by Allied intervention in the civil wars of Russia. He appears to have been deeply enamoured of the Syrian adventure, and over-confident of the advantages to be expected by France from the gratitude of the new States in Eastern Europe. In these mistakes he erred in good company, and has probably realised his error. We should like to believe that by this time he has come to regard the reparations compromise arranged by Mr George and M. Briand (Feb. 1921), as corresponding more closely to the actual situation of Germany than the estimates which were current in French political circles at the time of the Conference.
H. W. C. DAVIS.
Art. 3.—THE WORK OF WALTER DE LA MARE.
Songs of Childhood. By Walter Ramal' (Longmans,
1902); Henry Brocken (Murray, 1904); Poems (Murray, 1906); The Return (Arnold, 1910); The Listeners and Other Poems (Constable, 1912); Peacock Pie (Constable, 1913); Motley and Other Poems (Constable, 1918);
) Poems, 1901 to 1918, 2 vols. (Constable, 1920); Memoirs of a Midget (Collins, 1921).
And other works by the same. It is easier to speak candidly of the dead than of the living; it is easier to praise the dead, it is easier to be just to the dead than to the living. The art of criticism, which may appear to some a purely intellectual exercise, is primarily a moral exercise, for it is not to be practised except with equal honesty and sensitiveness, equal kindness and confidence; but the natural difficulty of applying critical principles to a dead artist is slight in comparison with that which arises when the subject is a contemporary. Those principles themselves are so variable and variously cherished, and the æstheticism which every artist and every critic broods darkly upon is so purely personal, that the task of finding a common ground and using a common language is perplexing as well as exciting. Criticism is not a science, else young men might learn it; nor an attitude, else old men might grow perfect in it; rather is it an adventure calling for a touch of gallantry, a touch of forbearance, a gentle use of logic, a free recourse to imagination, and no more than the faintest hint of dogmatism. If something of this delicate adjustment may be spared when the subject is in the past, certainly nothing must be forgotten in following a living creative mind in its mental travels. The subject is no longer an island to be painfully surveyed, but a ship to be followed, a light to be pursued upon the changing currents of the mind.
Mr Walter de la Mare is a poet to whom it is possible to be unjust, equally in praise and in depreciation. His genius eludes classification. There are many plain things to be remarked as you look at his work, whether in verse or prose, but beyond these you are aware of more subtle and uncertain things to which a reader cannot
fully respond unless his temperament is richly accordant with the author's. The discovery of what may be called a common ground, and a common tongue, is not sufficient for a full apprehension of this poet's uncommon power; and he must be considered as unique, even after he has been considered as traditional.
Twenty years have passed since the publication of Songs of Childhood.' Several of these songs have disappeared from the collected edition of the poems, and others have almost disappeared in the amendment to which they have been somewhat cruelly subjected; the habit of revision having developed in our author from anxious virtue into morbid vice. Such a misgiving as this meticulous habit reveals tends to sophisticate the first simplicities; and to compare the versions of 1902 and 1920 is to become aware that, in trying to make the verses better, the poet has merely made them different. At times the rhythm is faintly altered, at times an earlier awkwardness is removed, an epithet sharpened, an archaic touch annulled; something mature has stepped in, something youthful has passed out; and even the nicest skill does not always conceal the critical mind at work upon a lost imagination. Readers of the earlier versions have lamented these changes, without presuming to question the author's right to make them; and indeed it is not claimed for the 1902 volume that its attractiveness was complete and irresistible. Songs of Childhood' contained the prophecy, but a reader wanted heavenly inspiration before he could clearly perceive the buried Motley' in Mr de la Mare's earliest book. We need not pursue the point, only noting now the early fondness for names and for Poe, for children and fairies, and the almost deliberate attempt to produce a hypnotic state by the repetition of phrases and sounds. The field of the poet, though a small field (even in later years but little enlarged and nowhere unbedged), as yet was new and strange, thus meeting quite easily one of the primary conditions of romantic art. You may find Dr Watts in it, and nursery rhymes and fairy tales, hints of Keats and Coleridge; but, in spite of echoes and imperfections, the book has clearly a character of its own, and for some lovers a peculiar and lasting beauty. Readers, nevertheless, for a long time were few and silent; and, but for
its successors, “Songs of Childhood 'might have expired, where for so long it languished, in a single edition bearing the forgotten name of Walter Ramal' for author.
Nor did the Poems' of 1906 go very far beyond repeating the first promise. The book contained more perfect things—few of the first songs were perfect-and quasi-dramatic Shakespearean reveries which bore little interest save that of autobiography.
These reveries proved how well Mr de la Mare could use the trick of Shakespeare's voice, how well he loved Mercutio, how his heart warmed to Juliet's nurse, and how fond was his apprehension of Hamlet-matters on which later testimony is abundant, but which in no way speeded his self-discovery in poetry. The process has been a slow one, and as natural as the growth of a hawthorn; but that it was not thwarted in the years between the first and second books is proved by the beauty of The Children of Stare' and other preludes to the finer achievement of later lyrics ; witness these stanzas :
And lines of other poems show a yet rarer gift of phrase, as 'amid the violets, tears of an antique bitterness. There is a charming, old didacticism in the 1906 volume which has dwindled but by no means vanished in the later work, and a gravely religious impulse, nowhere explicit but frequently felt-felt, indeed, more strongly with successive volumes of prose and verse alike.
The delayed perfection was found abundantly in The Listeners' of 1912, and developed so consistently in • Peacock Pie' and Motley 'that it is proper to treat the poetry of these three books as a whole.
Mr de la Mare's temperament is not fully expressed in his poetry; a part is uttered in the prose at which we shall be looking in a moment, but scarcely hinted at in
The two characters of Shakespeare already named, Mercutio and Juliet's nurse, are the prototypes of the prose half; but there is no single prototype of the personality which glows ardently and sombrely through the verse, unless, perhaps, you figure to yourself an untragical Hamlet, Hamlet with a mind still narrowly introverted, but turning at first easily and then darkly upon the mirror of itself in nature. No modern poet is less objective, scarce any more severely restricted in subject. A dense thicket has slowly darkened around his mind, concentrating shadow and silence. There is ever a new burrowing into his own personality, an intenser stare into private deeps, a fonder and farther retrospection, a more passionate reversion to a small, grave, haunted child, or faint, haunted spirit. His mind sinks down from the light of common day to the dusk of early consciousness, and again down to the obscurer unconsciousness, thrusting there perpetually for a door, for any least gap in the blind and dewy hedge. A ghost or 'inward presence'urges him into this solitary quest, for it is himself he addresses when he murmurs :
Rave how thou wilt; unmoved, remote,
Solemn adjurations of a like intensity teem in his pages, and must have been too hastily put aside by the many readers who discover only a fantastic delight in them. In the image of a dark château, a traveller listening at an unopening door, a stone half-hidden in a graveyard, a fool ringing his bells, a sunken garden's 'green and darkling spot,' you are conscious of a whispered pleading and protest, a pleading for light, a protest against mortality. His poetry is full of images, and much of it can best be described in an image. No