Page:Some soldier poets.djvu/112

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SOME SOLDIER POETS

national foibles. Seeger contrasts with Grenfell as Byron with Shelley rather than as Yankee with Britisher. Only by crushing the grapes of his thought against a fine palate shall we be able to distinguish their flavour from very highly prized fruit. After a few pages his clarity, like that of Swinburne, confuses the reader, for if his virtue is not to hesitate, his fault is to let the thread sag in the hurry and volume of eloquence; and this great fluency and facility accompany a lack of delicate choicefulness. In vain you search for such precision in joy as inspired Ledwidge's happiest images, or for details that amount to revelations as did Thomas's best. All kinds of beauty are welcomed, but too indiscriminately. "You will say they are Persian attire; but let them be changed," is the instinctive comment of many resolute minds on encountering to-day that flaunting habit which ranges women and wine in a single category. Rakish nakedness offends their studied composure, and others may be surprised to find neither fatigue, hopelessness nor cynicism in the voice that proclaims:


"And in old times I should have prayed to her
Whose haunt the groves of windy Cyprus were,
To prosper me and crown with good success
My will to make of you the rose-twined bowl
From whose inebriating brim my soul
Shall drink its last of earthly happiness."


This is from one of a series of sonnets written during leave from the Front. Another with the same object pursues:


"Enchanting girl, my faith is not a thing
By futile prayers and vapid psalm-singing
To vent in crowded nave and public pew.
My creed is simple: that the world is fair,
And beauty the best thing to worship there,
And I confess it by adoring you."

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