페이지 이미지



commissioners and a committee of the library. Stack and Dodd and Arpeggio women to assemble the nucleus of a were to sit on the platform. Miss Edith library. And the hope was, they made Granger was to preside. clear, that there would be an appropria As Mr. Arpeggio Shadd left his home tion from the city to house that library. on the evening of the meeting and They waited for no reply. They rose, walked down the long, quiet street, goldbade tbe men, with their thanks, a good en in the slanting, after-supper light, morning, and turned to the door. But he was aware that the faint sweetness of first Miss Granger paused by Mr. the spring was merging into the green Shadd, seated comfortably in his chair. depths of June. June always stirred

"Did you find what you wanted in him. June was no mere promise. It our library? Yes? I was so sorry to

was as if something had come to pass. have been engaged that day, when you His house was on the edge of town, came. Won't you come again?” and where the road forked-part to

“Sure,” said Arpeggio, graciously. know what it was to be a street, and She was beyond the threshold before it the rest to keep on forever occurred to him to scramble to his feet. country highway-he divined a figure Stack, the beau, was showing them out. idling.

Stack, the beau, came back from the “Mamie!” he said. door, and he was rubbing his hands. She did him the exquisite deference "Nice, sensible lot of ladies," said he. of a smile, a fush, a Huttering of the "Up and down sort. No nonsense. Real hands. ladies, each and every one. And this is "Where you goin' to?” he demanded. what I call puttin' up a proposition. Oh, she was on her way to the meetHe fondled the check.

ing. Miss Granger had been afraid that Mr. Purcell was caressing his nose there might not be many out. But first with his five fingers. “Do you know, she, Mamie, had just had to run awaysaid he, “sometimes I think some ladies and smell the country. does some things as good as some men “I'm glad you run this way,” said could.”

Arpeggio. Their look consulted Arpeggio. He Mamie, looking guilty, covered it with had sunk back in his chair, and was star a laugh. She had to run some way, ing at nothing at all. At their "How didn't she? Was he going to the meetabout it?" he gave no sign.

ing? "Everything's different from what I Yes, he was going. Or was he going? supposed,” he said, heavily. He went He looked up at the soft masses of the and gazed out the window. So she had trees in the westering light, green giving been in the house that day when he had back gold in the slant sun. He looked waited for her in the library! But had along the country highway and he he waited for her?

sighed. Mamie was silent. He looked For the first time he perceived that it was at her. A catbird sang out from the not for her that he had waited.

thicket and mysteriously this seemed to

decide him. They were to hold a mass meeting in

“Mamie,” he said, "let's not go to the town hall to discuss the public

that meeting

Why Old Songs Live


HERE has been much Through caverns measureless to man
talk of late of poetry

Down to a sunless sea.
and the technique of it.
Of course, in every age,

or, once more, for:
there has always been She dwelt among the untrodden ways
such talk by men who

Beside the springs of Dove, Uwere not poets. The po

A maid whom there were none to praise

And very few to love. ets themselves, in every age, have gone on practising their “mystery,” knowing

We know, anyhow, that great poets scarcely at all how it was done, and have written these familiar immortalileaving it to the pedants to explain their ties, and that to praise them is necessary masterpieces. They knew this much, at to persons claiming the possession of inall events, that, whatever effects they telligence. On the other hand, it is much were able to produce, while accountable less easy to justify our taste for such up to a certain point, maybe, beyond lines as these, which are certainly no less that, at the moment when what we can immortal, and have attained a still wider only call “magic" steps in, were not for popular currency: the reason to explain.

It has been

The Queen of Hearts, known to certain select spirits for some

She made some tarts, time that the reason explains nothing,

All on a summer's day; never can explain anything and never

The Knave of Hearts, has. But latterly this somewhat aris

He stole those tarts, tocratic opinion has become democrat

And with them ran away. ically diffused, and it will soon be a com

Now, unless one is a very superior monplace that man is not, as had been previously supposed, a reasonable being.

person, one must, I think, admit that

these lines give one a high degree of There is nothing whatsoever that he takes instinctive delight in, from Chopin satisfaction. We love to say them over;

we have probably known them all our to a dog-fight, that can be “explained ”

lives, and are more than likely to carry by the analysis of reason; for all man's

them from the cradle, where we first honest pleasures are those which reason

heard them, to the grave, where it may be repudiates as either ridiculous or gross.

that we shall still remember them. They Happily, there is something absurd in humanity which baffles, and will always

have that lasting quality which belongs baffle, the denatured professional mind.

to great poetry, they haunt one, they Now, while the pleasure we receive satisfy certain needs; yet, of course, the from poetry and all the arts is essentially that they are great poetry. Sublimity,

wildest paradoxer could hardly claim mysterious, yet we can, at all events, make a show of explaining why we care for

beauty, magic, pathos, are among the

terms which we employ to explain our Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

pleasure in great poetry, but these terms Thou art more lovely and more temperate: are obviously inapplicable to “The Rough winds do shake the darling buds of Queen of Hearts," which, in fact, pos

And summer's lease hath all too short a

sesses perhaps but one quality, besides date.

its attractive jingle, that of being sheer nonsense. But, in allowing it that, how

much, indeed, do we allow it? For In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

perhaps man's delight in beauty is less A stately pleasure-dome decree, strange than his mysterious love of nonWhere Alph, the sacred river, ran sense-nonsense in all its forms, but


or for:

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Painting by Marion Powers

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

particularly, perhaps, in his love of conscious apprehension of something nonsensical verses. The greatest poets outside its small needs and pains. It have indulged in the making of them- may cry merely because a pin is sticking such an “occult, withdrawn” poet as into it, but it laughs because already it Rossetti, for example, was addicted to sees something that makes it laugh, it "limericks”-though they have seldom knows not why, something that catches approached in success the achievements its eye or ear and seems irresistibly of such unknown masters as those who, funny to it. There is nothing more in a mystery of authorship great as that mysterious than a baby's sense of huof the Homeric poems, gave us “Mother mor. It frequently loses it as it grows Goose," and our other nursery rhymes. up, together with the other trailing

The charm of nonsensical rigma clouds of glory, but most babies are born roles, preposterous rhymings, marvel with it. To satisfy it nursery rhymes ously meaningless words of strange were invented, and to satisfy the same shapes and sounds, is one of the first to instinct in grown people “The Hunting captivate us in our earliest infancy. of the Snark,” that incomparable classic, Why should the tiniest mite of a new came into being; and Calverly and Gilborn being break out into convulsions of bert and Lear stood on their heads, so baby laughter, pathetically revealing its to speak, and performed such verbal yet toothless gums, because its "Nu antics before high heaven as must have Nu” chants over its cradle:

made the very angels laugh. When the

Owl and the Pussy-Cat, having, dined
Ainsi font, font, font,

on mince and slices of quince," "hand
Les petites marionnettes,
Ainsi font, font, font,

in hand, on the edge of the sand,'
Trois p'tits tours

“dance by the light of the moon,” there Et puis s'en vont.

is something which, as Stevenson was

fond of saying, delights the great heart or:

of man.

But, of course, with these
A Paris, à Paris

modern artists of nonsense there is
Sur un petit cheval gris-
Au pas!

usually a deliberate attempt at the gro-
Au pas!

tesque and the absurd. We know why Au trot!

we are laughing, but with the oldAu trot!

fashioned rhymes of which I am chiefly Au galop!

thinking, we laugh-or, for that matter, Au galop!

cry, perhaps—without having any reaor, once more-for here, as elsewhere,

to give.

The old immemorial the French are irresistible masters: catches are just picturesquely meaningIl était une bergère,

less, and jingle quaintly, and that is Et ron, ron, ron, petit patapon,

enough. One would like to ask that deIl était une bergère,

natured professional mind the reason of Qui gardait ses moutons,

the immortality of these lines:
Ron, ron,

Polly put the kettle on,
Qui gardait ses moutons.

Polly put the kettle on,
American babies, no less than French,

And we'll all have tea; have been brought up on these and and these: other such darling French nonsense. They have shaken their little sides over them,

Cross-Patch, draw the latch, just as if they understood what they

Sit by the fire and spin,

Take a cup and drink it up, were laughing at—which is precisely

And let your neighbors in; what, even as they have grown up and loved them still, they have never under and again these: stood. The human love of nonsense is a

Curly Locks, Curly Locks, wilt thou be mine? divine mystery. We have often heard

Thou shalt not wash dishes, nor yet feed pessimists declare that we come into the the swine; world weeping. It is truer, I think, to But sit on a cushion and sew a white seam, say that we come into it laughing. For And feed upon strawberries, sugar, and laughter in a baby seems to be its first



« 이전계속 »