Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

 
 
Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace on Socialist Poets
(S644: 1907)

 
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter to columnist A. E. Fletcher printed on page two of the 13 September 1907 issue of The Clarion. To link directly to this page connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S644.htm


     "Dear Sir,--I always read your literary articles in the Clarion with pleasure, and was glad to see extracts from Sidney Lanier's poems, which I had never heard of. But when you call his 'Symphony' the greatest Socialist poem in the English language I cannot agree with you from the passages you give, as it seems to me too rugged and crude to be great poetry--or, at least, great as poetry.

     "To me the greatest poet of Socialism, living or dead, is Edwin Markham. He is a most perfect master of rhythm and language--full of grand ideas, beautifully expressed, and has the most intense poetic feeling for the truest and highest aspects of Socialism as an ideal state of society and a true religion of humanity.

     "No doubt his poems are a little above the crowd, but I think they must impress every lover of poetry.

     "In two small volumes of Poems--'The Man with the Hoe,' etc., and 'Lincoln,' etc., published by McClure, Phillips, and Company, are the following: 'The Muse of Brotherhood,' I should say the finest Socialist poem for the majority of Socialists yet written; and 'The Muse of Labour,' almost as good.

     "In the 'Man with the Hoe,' etc., are 'The Desire of the Nations,' one of the most exquisite and grandest pictures of the coming of the 'King' who will bring Justice and happiness to the nations; and 'Song to the Divine Mother,' very ideal and beautiful.

     "Here is one little bit of the 'Desire of the Nations':

He comes to make the long injustice right--
Comes to push back the shadow of the night,
The gray Tradition full of flint and flaw--
Comes to wipe out the insults to the soul,
The insults of the Few against the Whole,
The insults they make righteous with a law.

     "Grant Allen was also a fine poet of Socialism. In his little volume--'The Lower Slopes'--is one on (I think) 'Sunday on Braemar'--which is an exquisite poem both for its descriptions and its Socialism.

--Yours very truly,
"Alfred R. Wallace."


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