Mr. Stedman's Poems Now First Collected

Mr. Stedman’s volume, too, contains much workmanship of an exquisite order. His rhythmic sense is subtle, and he often attains an aerial waywardness of melody which is of the very essence of the lyric gift. By far the most noteworthy poem in the volume, from the standpoint of expression, is the last one, entitled Ariel, addressed to Shelley. “ Vagliami il lungo studio e il grande amore ! ” the author might have exclaimed as he began this poem, for in every stanza his lifelong devotion to the master whom he celebrates makes itself felt, — not as imitation at all, but as susceptibility to those tremulous overtones of melody and meaning which make Shelley’s voice haunting to ghostliness. The hovering and aerial quality of voice in this poem is the more remarkable when taken in connection with the hearty swing of such a ballad as The Dutch Patrol, with the scandalous tankard measure of Falstaff’s Song, and with the large masculine dignity of line in The Hand of Lincoln.

In this respect of matured verse-craft the interest of Mr. Stedman’s work runs parallel with that of Mr. Aldrich, but in mood they are far asunder. Instead of a quiet putting by of the intellectual turmoil, this volume exhibits a deep spiritual restlessness darkened by a sense of doubt and bafflement, but refusing still to be hopeless or uncourageous. It exists for the most part in solution, but where it precipitates itself, as in Corda Concordia and Fin de Siècle, the lines are freighted with such earnestness as to make the remainder of the work seem, by comparison, almost occasional.

Mr. Stedman is of those who have suffered the stress of the day. He has watched the wings of speculation fall crippled from the mysterious walls against which they had flung themselves. He has marched with the armies of belief when they beheld, beyond bristling defiles of thought manfully stormed and taken, mountainous paradox rising stolidly inexpugnable. He sees the century going down on a world which science has sufficed to make only more inexplicable, and the sight is solemn. Just now we felt grateful to Mr. Aldrich for putting all this away in order that the clarity and sweetness of his art might not suffer ; now we feel something like reverence for the man who, in conditions which make for contentment and acquiescence, has not been able to escape these large afflictions.