Concerning the "New Poems" of Miss Peabody's title, there is little to be said to a reader of her earlier book, "The Wayfayrers." Here, as there, Miss Peabody is, more than any other American, a poet of the most modern sect - the school of M. Maeterlinck and of Mr. W. B. Yeats. She is so with more
Concerning the "New Poems" of Miss Peabody's title, there is little to be said to a reader of her earlier book, "The Wayfayrers." Here, as there, Miss Peabody is, more than any other American, a poet of the most modern sect - the school of M. Maeterlinck and of Mr. W. B. Yeats. She is so with more balance than before, less in malice pretense. But so she obviously is. Her poetry is still not an intellectual statement but an emotional hint, a matter entirely of connotations. She retains, also, her remarkable lyric gift. Throughout her verse
"The tree tops are astir:
Aspen, and birch, and fir,
And pine the murmurer."
Miss Peabody has, to be sure, added a new charm, freed herself from her greatest fault. One's pleasure in The Wayfayrers was constantly marred by the affectation in the use of words. Now Miss Peabody has much of the supreme simplicity of Mr. Stephen Phillips.
Entrancingly modern as is most of Miss Peabody's verse, she is no longer confined to one key. Perhaps the most notable poem in the volume, in fact, is a deliberately rough Browningesque study of an extreme artist for Art's sake, "The Wingless Joy," which has the psychological accuracy of a novel.
The title-play, also, which is the notable novelty of the book, is an exception to Miss Peabody's symbolism, an entrance upon a new path. Its moral atmosphere, so to speak, is still reminiscent of the charmingly feminine optimism of "The Wayfayrers." No other contemporary dramatist one can think of - except perhaps Mr. Jones - would have made Mistress Fitton really in love with Master W. S.- a fact which makes one query whether that was why Shakespeare made Cleopatra finally in love with Antony. "Fortune and Mens Eyes" is, however, no study in Maeterlinckian greys. It is rather a realistic picture of the time in the manner of Mr. Swinburne. Miss Peabody also shows at times the influence of M. Rostand, - particularly in the slow exposition to give local colour and in her delightfully pungent humour. Most of all Miss Peabody has gone to the Elizabethans. Now there is no influence more dangerous. A comparison, however, of, say, Tennyson's "Queen Mary"with Fortune and Men's Eyes reveals the difference between a man of letters imitating the Elizabethans and a dramatist influenced by them. The play is, indeed, the triumphant revelation of Miss Peabody as a dramatist. "Fortune and Men's Eyes" is, to adopt a useful distinction from Mr. Beerbohm Tree, not "literary drama" but "dramatic literature." The scene, in fact, where Shakespeare's great monologue is yawningly listened to by the inn-boy, Diccon, is one of the best instances the reviewer knows of dramatic irony. Even more notably the ending, with its dying away into life, is so superbly modern that it would charm a contemporary German.
Miss Peabody's new book, as you see, more than confirms her position in our present-day revival. As a poet she stands higher, and also has a position as a dramatist. Fortune and Men's Eyes, in short, is a book of exciting promise, and of fascinating fulfillment.
-"The Harvard Monthly," Volumes 31.
- Category: History
- Binding: Paperback
- Language of Text: English
- Author(s): Josephine Preston Peabody
- Publisher: Createspace
- ISBN: 9781502734327
- Number of Pages: 122
- Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.26 inches