Page:Some soldier poets.djvu/41

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A HALF PLEIADE

Timon of Athens is frequently enacted in small on the nursery boards, often with a sixth act, an act as touching and more heroic than the prodigal son's last, when the scorned scorner returns to his world. In the splendour of early manhood such a repentant Timon is a rarer and grander figure—stooping his proud, honest head because though men are servile and treacherous, he who is neither is yet their brother in so many other ways that when Athens is besieged he claims to share their agony as a privilege. Such is the figure gazing on which my admiring eyes are misted, after reading this sonnet Banishment.

Less passion, and an easier commerce with actuality would seem to characterise the poetry of Captain Robert Graves. His is a taking smile.

"The child alone a poet is:
Spring and Fairyland are his.
Truth and Reason show but dim,
And all's poetry with him.
Rhyme and music flow in plenty
For the lad of one and twenty,
But Spring for him is no more now
Than daisies to a munching cow;
Just a cheery pleasant season,
Daisy buds to live at ease on.
He's forgotten how he smiled
And shrieked at snowdrops when a child."

As reason wakes, lads find themselves asked to accept not only the dumbfounding universe but monstrous social and political accumulations; and, for the most part, religious ideals tangled with fabulous legend. For all this there is no simple and clear defence; even genius is at a loss to create so much as an appearance of straight-

forwardness or to deduce a practical course which you can pretend is, or has been, followed. This world's sublimest tact is the inept stare that refuses to see difficulties. Youngsters laugh, however seriously minded, for laughter

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