ocean, it would not be the first time that our most indigenous art has
reacted upon the art of older nations. Besides Poe--who, though
indigenous in ways too subtle for brief analysis, yet passed all
frontiers in his swift, sad flight--the two American artists of widest
influence, Whitman and Whistler, have been intensely American in
temperament and in the special spiritual quality of their art.
If Whistler was the first great artist to accept the modern message in
Oriental art, if Whitman was the first great modern poet to discard the
limitations of conventional form: if both were more free, more
individual, than their contemporaries, this was the expression of their
Americanism, which may perhaps be defined as a spiritual independence
and love of adventure inherited from the pioneers. Foreign artists are
usually the first to recognize this new tang; one detects the influence
of the great dead poet and dead painter in all modern art which looks
forward instead of back; and their countrymen, our own contemporary
poets and painters, often express indirectly, through French influences,
a reaction which they are reluctant to confess directly.
A lighter phase of this foreign enthusiasm for the American tang is
confessed by Signor Marinetti, the Italian "futurist", when in his
article on 'Futurism and the Theatre', in 'The Mask', he urges the
revolutionary value of "American eccentrics", citing the fundamental
primitive quality in their vaudeville art. This may be another statement
of Mr. Lindsay's plea for a closer relation between the poet and his
audience, for a return to the healthier open-air conditions, and
immediate personal contacts, in the art of the Greeks and of primitive
nations. Such conditions and contacts may still be found, if the world
only knew it, in the wonderful song-dances of the Hopis and others of
our aboriginal tribes. They may be found, also, in a measure, in the
quick response between artist and audience in modern vaudeville. They
are destined to a wider and higher influence; in fact, the development
of that influence, the return to primitive sympathies between artist and
audience, which may make possible once more the assertion of primitive
creative power, is recognized as the immediate movement in modern art.
It is a movement strong enough to persist in spite of extravagances and
absurdities; strong enough, it may be hoped, to fulfil its purpose and
revitalize the world.
It is because Mr. Lindsay's poetry seems to be definitely in that
movement that it is, I think, important.
Table of Contents
Introduction. By Harriet Monroe
Poems intended to be read aloud, or chanted.
The Santa Fe Trail
The Firemen's Ball
The Master of the Dance
The Mysterious Cat
A Dirge for a Righteous Kitten
The Black Hawk War of the ArtistsDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>