The poetry in the magazines for this past year has been of a general high standard. The long poems have been well sustained, and there has been a larger quantity of pure lyric pieces than in the past two or three years. The influence of Masefield has shown itself in American verse, notable in the two long poems by Harry Kemp, "The Harvest Hand" and "The Factory." One of the noblest poems of the year is Henry van Dyke's "Daybreak in the Grand Cañon of Arizona," which breathes a fine national spirit, full of reverence for the greatness with which the American destiny is symbolized in the natural grandeur of our country. Mr. Markham, has a long narrative in "The Shoes of Happiness," full of his visionary and spiritual promptings. And in "The Vision of Gettysburg" Mr. Robert Underwood Johnson reflects also the national spirit wiht particular significance.
The poetry of the year in volumes has not been as ample as last year. The three poets who have aroused most discussion are the Bengali poet Tagore, who brought to the Western wold in "Gitanjali" a spiritual message full of mystic but exalted idealism; Francis Thompson, the great Catholic poet, because of the publication of his collected works; and Robert Bridges, who, by his appointment to the British laureateship, became known to a large number of readers who had hitherto been unfamiliar with his very perfect and delicate gift of lyric beauty. Of American poets the volumes by Fannie Stearns Davis, William Rose Benét, Josephine Preston Peabody, Margaret Root Garvin, and George Edward Woodberry are the most significant. The most important book of poems of the year by an American poet, however, is that of Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, "General William Booth Enters into Heaven and Other Poems." Here is a man with a big vision, with a fine originality, and an art that is particularly his own. There has been no "Lyric Year" this autumn, but a little volume that serves in some sense its purpose is Miss Jessie B. Rittenhouse's "Little Book of Modern Verse," which is intended to represent the quality of contemporary American verse.
I want to call attention ot a poet who has not yet presented himself except through an occasional magazine piece, but who has written two of the finest sonnets in American poetry. Last year I reprinted, in my annual summary, Mr Mahlon Leonard Fisher's "As an Old Mercer," and pronounced that an achievement which could hardly be surpassed. But in the sonnet "November," which is reprinted in this book, Mr. Fisher has done, I believe, something that is even greater. It must rank with Lizette Woodworth Reese's "Tears" and LongFellow's "Nature" as the best sonnets that have been accomplished by American poets. I have known one competent judge and lover of poetry to declare that not since Keats' "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer" and Miss Reese's "Tears" has there appeared so fine a sonnet in English poetry. The man who has written "November" has added something to American poetry that cannot be too highly estimated.
Another poet who has enriched the magazines this year, after a period of silence, is Mr. Edwin Arlington Robinson, and in "The Field of Glory" we are under the spell once more the that characteristic magic with whch he is endowed alone among American poets.
As in former years, in my annual summary in the Boston Transcript, I have examined the contents of the leading American monthly magazines. I originally started, nine years ago, when the first summary appeared, with these six: The Atlantic, Harper's, Scribner's, Century, Lippincott's, and McClure's. Later I turned to The Forum. The poetry in McClure's during the two years previous to the beginning of the present year had fallen off; the magazine would reprint occasionally verses from the books of accomplished but little known English and Irish poets, which, with the small amount of space that it devoted to verse, left but little chance of encouragement to native singers. This year I have included The Smart Set, which, under the new editorship of Mr. Willard Huntington Wright, himself a poet of considerable attainment, has been the means of offering the public a high and consistent standard of excellence in the verse it printed.
To the six magazines, namely, Harper's, Scribner's, Century, Forum, Lippincott's, and The Smart Set, I have added this year a weekly, The Bellman. West of New York, it is the best edited and most influential periodical published. Indeed, it is widely read in the East. In its pages three of the younger American poets of distinctive achievement have been presented. Though the late Arthur Upson had published some two or three books of verse before The Bellman was established, yet it was practically the first American magazine to print his work. Amelia J. Burr made her first considerable poetic appearance in The Bellman, and the best work, the sonnets that have placed Mr. Mahlon Leonard Fisher in the forefront of contemporary American, or English, sonnet writers, appeared in this same publication. As last year, I have winnowed from other magazines distinctive poems for classification and notice, one each from The Outlook, The Independent, the North American Review, Poetry, A Magazine of Verse; three from the Poetry Journal and three from the Yale Review.
The poems published during the year in the seven representative magazines I have submitted to an impartial critical test, choosing from the total number what I consider the "distinctive" poems of the year. From the distinctive pieces are selected eighty-one poems, to which are added five from the other magazines not represented in the list of seven, making a total of eighty-six, which are intended to represent what I call an "Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1913."
By a further process of elimination, similar to that of previous years, I have made another selection of forty poems which for one reason or another in the purpose of this estimate seem to stand grouped above the others.
The medium of magazine publication, towards which some critics, and some poets too (a fact which can hardly be justified), and a considerable portion of the reading public have a disparaging opinion, is deserving of better repute for the general high quality of poetic art that is published. Not many years ago, it was a favorite exercise of the reviewer, when noticing the average book of verse which happened to include selections reprinted from various mangagines, to term the work "magazinable," or the poet a "magazine poet." Even poets who detested being called "minor" poets preferred that rather vague and indiscriminate distinction, rather than the unrespectable "magazinable."
Quoting what I have written in previous years, to emphasize the methods which guided my selections, the reader will see how impartial are the tests by which the disctinctive and best poems are chosen: "I have not allowed any special sympathy with the subject to influence my choice. I have taken the poet's point of view, and accepted his value of the theme he dealt with. The question was: How vital and compelling did he make it? The first test was the sense of pleasure the poem communicated: then to discover the secret or the meaning of the pleasure felt; and in doing so to realize how much richer one became in a knowledge of the purpose of life by reason of the poem's message."
In one hundred and twenty-one numbers of these seven magazines I find there were published during 1913 a total of 506 poems. The total number of poems printed in each magazine, and the number of distinctive poems are: Century, total 58, 30 of distinction; Harper's, total 57, 29 of distinction; Scribner's, total 45, 30 of disctinction; Forum, total 53, 27 of distinction; Lippincott's, total 66, 21 of distinction; The Bellman, total 53, 25 of distinction; The Smart Set, total 169, 49 of distinction.
Following the text of the poems making the anthology in this volume, I have given the titles and authors of all the poems classified as the distinctive, published in the magazines for the year, only excepting those that are included in the anthology; in addition, I give a list of all the poems and their authors in the one hundred and twenty-one numbers of the magazines examined, for the purpose of a record which readers and students of poetry will find useful. (Ed. Note: The list of all poems is omitted in this electronic edition.)
I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness and thanks to the editors of Scribner's Magazine, Harper's Magazine, The Forum, The Century Magazine, The Outlook, Lippincott's Magazine, The Bellman, The Independent, The Smart Set, the Yale Review, Poetry, A Magazine of Verse; and to the publishers of these magazines, including The Poetry Journal, for the permission kindly given to reprint in this volume the text of the poems making the "Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1913." To the authors of these poems I am equally indebted and grateful for their willingness to have me reprint their work in this form. Since their appearance in the magazines and before the close of the year when the contents of this volume was made up, two poems herein included appeared in the original volumes of their authors. For the use of William Rose Benét's "The Marvelous Munchausen" I have also to thank The Century Co., publishers of "Merchants of Cathay," in which volume it appears. As far as I know, only three of the poems here included are to come out immediately in books by their authors. The last four stanzas of "A Threnody," by Mr. Louis V. Ledoux, are reprinted by permission of the editor of Scribner's Magazine, and the rest of the poem is published in advance, by permission of Messrs. G.P. Putnam's Sons, from a volume of Mr. Ledoux's poems, which is also to include the "Hymn to Demeter" from "A Sicilian Idyl," they are to issue in January, under the title of "The Shadow of Ætna." The two selections by Mr. Richard Burton, "Here Lies Pierrot" and "Human"; the two by Willard Huntington Wright, "What of the Night?" and "Later"; the one by George Edward Woodberry, "St. John and the Faun"; and the two by Richard Le Gallienne, "May is Building Her House" and "Desiderium" (which while this Introduction is being written has come out in Mr. Le Gallienne's volume, "The Lonely Dancer and Other Poems," John Lane Co.), are also being issued immediately in forthcoming volumes. If there are any others I do not know of them, and in which case I would gladly give credit, so I trust any omission of such will be charged to ignorance rather than intention. I wish it to be understood that the privilege extended me so courteously, by both the authors and the magazines, to printe the poems in this voume, does not in any sense restrict the authors in their right to print the poems in volumes of their own.
A significant fact which the poetry in this volume must bring to the reader's mind in considering American poetry of today is, that these selection have been published for the first time during the current year. Our poetry needs, more than any thing else, encouragement and support, to reveal its qualities. The poets are doing satisfying and vitally excellent work, and it only remains for the American public to do its duty by showing a substantial appreciation.
Lastly, I wish to thank the Boston Transcript for the privilege of reprinting material in this book which originally appeared in t eh columns of that paper.
Cambridge, December, 1913. W. S. B.
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