Death and General Putnam

by Arthur Guiterman
[Dutton, $2.00]
Bay Window Ballads, by David McCord
[Scribners, $2.50]
HERE are two poets — and I always use
That term with caution in my book reviews.
The first, an older man who has grown gray
Providing me amusement by the way,
One who, in trivial times not worth a filbert,
Still had a touch of the authentic Gilbert.
For where is found a neater and completer man
At matching rhymes than Mr. Arthur Guiterman?
Delightfully he danced from day to day,
Full up of mirth and without pressing gay,
And never once, however he might dance,
Was seen declension from true elegance.
Here you will find him in less comic mood,
Yet with his racy nature unsubdued.
And you’ll be touched or startled, I opine,
By many a stern and many a plangent line,
When at the back of Alagash beyonds
He writes deliciously of ‘Little Ponds,’
Or, in a stark verse full of pith and weight,
Conjures up Israel Putnam, Death, and Fate.
Some might object, he more securely dwells
In regions where he wears the cap and bells.
He has when serious perhaps a way
Of not avoiding always the cliché.
But the stuff’s clear, sweet, gentle. And that’s that.
And I accordingly remove my hat.
Thus having touched him off in the exordium,
Now let me celebrate the Cor McCordium.
They say he fuses doggerel in a fire
Of high emotion. See Louis Untermeyer
Quoted on the jacket (something that disturbs,
Because it proves that truth may be in blurbs).
It gives me pause, ingenious as I am,
When I attempt his psycho-cardiogram.
Poet, who by a spiritual twist
Transforms himself into a colyumist!
Colyumist, who with a wrench before you know it
Has twisted back into a burning poet!
Now up, now down, here, there, and in between
Misfiring, choking, hitting on all sixteen!
Sometimes a thought so thin that none can love it.
Sometimes a line that Robert Frost might covet.
With quip-like slash he rams the ball across,
Or throws himself for a twenty-five-yard loss,
Catches a forward metaphor on the run,
Or, punch-drunk utterly, blocks his own pun.
Harlequin, who with equal pleasure plays
With a lousy catchword or a lovely phrase!
Depend upon him, he’ll leave you in the lurch
And be found — sitting on the eagle’s perch
To stare as lesser men have seldom done
At the golden rondure of the splendid sun.
(Parenthetically, I add, the illustrations
By John L valle are n’t casual fabrications.
The author, as the joke goes, should present
His compliments for such a complement.)
But turn back to our poets who are not
Of the. theoretic modernistic lot,
Weighed down with hateful apparatus Persian,
’Who yelp of Art and practise its perversion.’
(That’s my opinion and I dare intrude it.)
These two love Poetry and have ensued it.
That’s my opinion. Another hides behind it.
These two love Poetry, and deserve to find it.
LEONARD BACON