Shadows on Thf, Down

By Alfred Noyes
THE two strongest traditions in English poetry are the poetry of the English countryside and the poetry of national feeling. Both these traditions have lapsed during the last twenty years of poetic revolution, and the old matter and manner have been felt to have had their day. In one of these poems Mr. Noyes comments on this attitude, indeed, by describing a country poet arriving in London, where his songs are laughed at as ‘crude and outmoded and lacking in Art.’ At any other time than the present most critics, perhaps, would dismiss Mr. Noyes’s poems in the terms of his Londoners: they are simple and sincere, but they have very little distinction and are conventional and thin. But because the things of which he writes are in the blood of the English, and they love them, the English or Anglophile reader supplies the emotion which the poet does little really to create in his lines, and finds his heart yearning over memories of the English tradition and the English scene: over the flowers that Chaucer loved in the Kentish meadows, the sea thrift on the cliff’s, the winter violets, the apple blossom mot tling the orchards, the whale-backed downs covered with
the purple thyme
Flowing by windmill and by wattled fold
On to the white chalk coast and sparkling sea.
The poems, in fact, are sentimental; but this is a time when sentiment is strong in most of us.
E. D.