Gibson owes much of his popularity to his spirit of democracy and to the story form of his verse. Like Masefield, he sacrifices beauty to dull realism. Gibson manifests less range, less dramatic feeling, than Masefield, but avoids Masefield’s uncouthness and repellent dramatic episodes.
These two poets illustrate a tendency to introduce a new realistic poetry. Wordsworth wrote of Michael and the Westmoreland peasantry, but Masefield and Gibson have taken as subjects of verse the toilers of factory, foundry, and forecastle. Closeness to life and simplicity of narration characterize these authors. They approximate the subject matter and technique of realistic fiction.
Alfred Noyes.—Alfred Noyes was born in 1880 in Wolverhampton Staffordshire. He wrote verse while an Oxford undergraduate and he has since become one of the leading poets of the twentieth century. He has traveled in England and in America, reading his poems and lecturing on literary subjects.
[Illustration: ALFRED NOYES.]
The Flower of Old Japan (1903) is a fairy tale of children who dream of the pictures on blue china plates and Japanese fans. The poem is symbolic. The children are ourselves; and Japan is but the “kingdom of those dreams which ...are the sole reality worth living and dying for.”
The poet says of this kingdom:—
“Deep in every heart it lies
With its untranscended skies;
For what heaven should bend above
Hearts that own the heaven of love?"
The Forest of Wild Thyme (1905) affords another
“Hour to hunt the fairy gleam
That flutters through this childish dream."
There is also a deeper meaning to be read into this poem. The mystery of life, small as well as great, is found simply told in these lines:—
“What does it take to make a rose,
The God that died to make it knows
It takes the world’s eternal wars,
It takes the moon and all the stars,
It takes the might of heaven and hell
And the everlasting Love as well,
Noyes has published several volumes of lyrical verse. Some of it possesses the lightness of these elfish tales. The Barrel Organ, The Song of Re-Birth, and Forty Singing Seamen are among his finest lyrics. They display much rhythmic beauty and variety. He strikes a deeply sorrowful and passionate note in The Haunted Palace and De Profundis. A line like this in The Haunted Palace—
“...I saw the tears
Bleed through her eyes with the slow pain of years,"
indicates the strong emotional metaphor that occasionally deepens the passion of his verse.
England’s sea power, immortalized in song from Beowulf to Swinburne, often inspires Noyes. His finest long poem is Drake: An English Epic (1908), which relates the adventures of this Elizabethan sea-captain and his victory over the Armada. The spirit of a daring romantic age of discovery is shown in these lines that tell how Drake and his men—