THE • YEAR'S • AT • THE • SPRING
by the fact that most of the verse written on the subject of the War turns out, surveyed in cooler blood, to be, as any sound judge of literature must always have known, definitely and unmistakably bad. Much of it is by now, or should be, repudiated by its authors. It was too often "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings"; it too seldom originated from "emotion recollected in tranquillity."
Rupert Brooke's sonnets "The Dead" and "The Soldier" were popular almost from their first publication. They belong undoubtedly to the best traditions of English poetry. Julian Grenfell's "Into Battle," and, in a lesser degree, the "Home Thoughts from Laventie" of Edward Wyndham Tennant, have acquired popularity among a larger number of folk than can be included in the general term 'literary circles.' Neither of the composers of these verses was a professional poet. Both were men of attractive personality and strong feeling, with education, taste, and an occasional impulse to write gracefully. Intrinsically either poem might as easily have been inspired by an Indian frontier raid as by a European war. They do not affect the traditions of English poetry by subject or by form. It will be found, as the years pass, that always fewer 'War poems' can still be read with pleasure, the incidents which gave rise to them having become dim in human memory. And these will not be read because of their association with the Great War, but for their qualities as poems and their power to stir enjoyment or sunrise in the reader.