Menu Close

From The Westminster Gazette: “The May Magazines”

The new number of the Yellow Book (John Lane) is notable for a
fine poem by Mr. William Watson. It is called a “Hymn to the Sea,”
and is a very successful essay in the elegiac metre. We will permit
ourselves to quote the invocation :—

Grant, O regal in bounty, a subtle and delicate largess ;
    Grant an ethereal alms, out of the wealth of thy soul ;
Suffer a tarrying minstrel, who finds and not fashions his numbers,—
    Who, from the commune of air, cages the volatile song,—
Here to capture and prison some fugitive breath of thy descant,
    Thine and his own as thy roar lisped on the lips of a shell,
Now while the vernal impulsion makes lyrical all that hath language,
    While, through the veins of the Earth, riots the ichor of spring,
While, with throes, with raptures, with loosings of bonds, with unsealings,—
    Arrowy pangs of delight, piercing the core of the world,—
Tremors and coy unfoldings, reluctances, sweet agitations,—
    Youth, irrepressibly fair, wakes like a wondering rose.

The song which the poet has caged while tarrying on the southern coast
draws a series of parallels between the genius of the sea and the spirit
of man :—

Man with the cosmic fortunes and starry vicissitudes tangled,
    Chained to the wheel of the world, blind with the dust of its speed . . .
Man that is galled with his confines, and burdened yet more with his vastness,
    Born too great for his ends, never at peace with his goal.

The poem moves throughout at a very high level of thought, and never
falters either in the ebb and flow of its cadence or in its choice of the
felicitous word. In the same number there is “A Fleet-street Eclogue,”
by Mr. John Davidson, which contains some fine passages, but hardly
shows its author at his strongest. Among the prose contents we may
notice a pleasant paper by Mr. H. D. Traill, entitled “The Papers of
Basil Fillimer,” and a powerful story of modern journalism—in which,
however, we may hope that the agony is piled up a little too high—by
Mr. James Ashcroft Noble. Among the pictures, Mr. Aubrey Beardsley‘s
are conspicuous—by their absence.

MLA citation:

“The May Magazines.” Review of The Yellow Book, vol. 5, April 1895, The Westminster Gazette, 6 May 1895, p. 3. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019.