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About Oregon daily emerald. (Eugene, Or.) 1920-2012 | View Entire Issue (May 28, 1921)
Campus Authority Contends
Whitman Started Free Verse',
Writers Differ in
(Frep verso, of which so much
can be found in the current maga
zines and in the books of new poet
ry, is not a new movement, but a
very old one, according to Miss Julia
Burgess, professor of rhetoric, who
says in the following article that it
originated with Walt Whitman in
185.8, who in turn adapted his free
verse from the Bible. Miss Burgess
is n firm exponent of this form of
poetry, and believes that if it were
read in the right mood there would
be a greater appreciation and under
standing of it than is prevalent
among a great number of readers.)
By MISS JULIA BURGESS.
In Boston there is a church called
“The New Old South”; it would be ap
propriate to speak, in a similar way. of
The New Old Poetry. For, though the
term “vers libre” originated in France
in the late 19th century, free verse itself
did not originate there, but here in
America in 1855 with the publication of
“Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman.
And where did Whitman’s own free verse
come from? From the long continued
familiarity to his ear of the rhythmical
cadences of (lie translations of the poet
ical books of the Bible and other Orient
al scriptures. So it is a very old new
ITis own desire was to write a Bible of
Democracy, and this hook celebrating
freedom among equals in the broad land
of “These States,” must not be itself
fettered and cramped; it must be all em
bracing in subject and ever varying form.
Whitman wished that this fluidity of
form should suggest both the living,
growing spirit of democracy and com
radeship, nnd also the vastness of the
nature in which it was set. with the
motion and music of the wind in the tree
tops and of the ocean waves. And he
didn’t care if some parts were plain
prose to symbolize the workaday aspects
of the common life.
Whitman Influence Spreads.
By a curious course Whitman’s in
fluence traveled first to England, where
lie found interpreters in William Ros
seti, Swinburne, and others; then to
France, where the form received more
attention; and from France back to the
United States, where he had waited long
Carl Sandburg is one of these success
ors. He celebrated Chicago as Whitman
did Manhatta. He, like Whitman, is a
humanitarian; he has taken part in labor
movements and is doubtless urging sanity
in such reform, when he writes rather
inelegantly, “I Can Keep My Shirt On.”
He acts upon Whitman’s suggestion when
he uses the subjects of industry and
commerce; the railroad, steel construc
tion, etc. Take, for example, his “Pray
ers of Steel”:
“Lay me on an anvil, O God.
Beat and hammer me into a crowbar.
Let me pry loose old walls;
Let. me lift and loosen old foundations
Lay me on an anvil, O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a steel
Let me be the great nail holding a sky
scraper through blue nights into
Or this one, entitled “A Fence”:
“Now the stone house on the lake front
is finished and the workmen are be
ginning the fences.
The palings are made of iron bars with
steel points that can stab the life out
of any man who falls on them.
As a fence it is a masterpiece, and will
shut off the rabble and all vagabonds
and hungry men and all wandering
children lookiiig for a place to play.
Passing through I he bars and over the
steel points will go nothing except
Death and the Pain and Tomorrow.”
Sandburg Writes For Images.
But Sandburg often writes for the
an image, as
mere pleasure of creating
“The fog comes
On little cat feet.
Tt sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on."
Arturo Giovannitti, far more radical
than Sandburg, uses free verse power
fully to set forth tlie wrongs of all who
suffer injustice. His “Walker, ta P’1
oner in his cell), is a masterpiece of
.Tames Oppenheim is another follower
, f Whitman—the cosmic Whitman. e
does not write of industry but of relig
ion: bis religion is a mystic optimism
like Whitman’s, but modern in J’sy
etiological interpretation. It m juhi'a -
faith expressing itself in self-radiant
action and in laughter.
Imagists Use Free Verse.
There is another group of free 'pr.
writers—the Imagists-who do not pa -
take of Whitman’s spirit. The>
been influenced much by such ' f .
poems as Coleridge’s Ancient '■
by the Irish poems of Yeats, and b> the
French symbolists and impressionists.
The futurists, under Marinette, rep
resent a more extereme but less im
portant movement. Amy Lowell is the
princess of the Imagists. Another in
teresting set. of ancient origins in un
covered in this school. For H. D. and
Richard Aldington are their inspiration
to poetic ideas of Greek mythology, anil
Lzra Pound is the ardent exponent o!
the pure color and delicate but clear
image of early Chinese poetry, which
lie lias made known to the western
world by translation. Amy Lowell uses
both Chinese and Japanese forms in
her recent book. “Pictures from the
Floating World.” An illustration of the
brief Japanese liokku is found in “The
“When I am alone.
The wind in the pine trees
Is like tile shuffling of waves
l pon the wooden sides of a boat.”
Another example is the “Ephemera.”
"Silver-green lanterns tossing among
So an old mai thinks
Of the loves of his youth.”
Or. as a satire upon wisdom:
“A wise man.
Watching the stars pass across the
‘In the upper air the fireflies move,
Amy Lowell is Praised.
As free verse is a revolt, against,
hampering and monotonous form, im
agism is a revolt against commonplace
diction. Its insistence upon originality
sometimes leads to the bizarre, but it
lias also produced many new and beau
tiful figures, as in Amy Lowell's well
known “Patterns,” or in her lines to a
“You are beautiful and faded
Like an old opera tune
Played upon a harpsichord.
In your eyes
Smoulder the fallen roses of outlived
My vigor is a new minted penny
Which I cast at your feet.”
Ezra Pound describes a slow tenta
tive movement, “as if the snow should
hesitate and murmur in the wind,” and
Aldington reproaches his beloved. “You
had the ivory of my life to carve.”
Imagism almost always gives a sense
of life and vigor:
“Our meeting was like the upward
swish of a rocket
In the blue night.
T do not know when it. burst;
But now I stand gaping
In a glory of falling stars.”
Figures of Imagism Vary.
Sometimes the figure is large and
noble, as in John Fletcher’s, “Lincoln.”
“Like a gaunt, scraggly pine
Which lifts its head above th*. mourn
ful sand hills:
And patiently, through dull years of
Untended and uncared for, starts to
Ungainly, laboring, huge,
The wind of the north lias twisted
and gnarled the branches;
Yet in the heat of midsummer days,
when thunder clouds ring the hori
A nation of men shall rest beneath
The imagists, like all these poets, are
(Continued on Page 4.)
Clean Up Sale
One assortment of tennis rackets.
Balls and mils.
One assortment of base ball gloves, mitts
bats and shoes.
Bathing suits $4 to $10
Shoes and caps.
Men’s women’s leather outing boots.
Fishing tackle, guns and ammunition.
Hauser Bros. Gun store
Outfitter to Athletes aucl Sportsmen.
JIM, THE SHOE DOCTOR
With an Automatic Bake Bite Dough
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141 East 9th Ave.
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