Stops Of Various Quills – William Dean Howells
‘Stops of Various Quills’ is a remarkable book, concerning which there will probably be considerable difference of opinion among readers of current verse, though there ought to be none, and will be none among those who are capable of looking beyond and below mere poetic technique into the thing which is poetry itself – the thought which is in the poet’s mind, the feeling which is in his heart, and which, whether he has captured it in his verse, or whether it has evaded him, is individual, vital, inevitable. Mr. Howells has given us here a remarkable book, as we have said, and one which we would select as an infallible touchstone of the poetic knowledge or ignorance of its readers. If they are enamored of perfect technique, it may not please them ; but if they know what poetry is, apart from its technique, they will be profoundly touched by it and will return to it again and again.
Stops Of Various Quills.
Excerpt from the text:
A WEFT of leafless spray
Woven fine against the gray
Of the autumnal day,
And blurred along those ghostly garden tops
Clusters of berries crimson as the drops
That my heart bleeds when I remember
How often, in how many a far November,
Of childhood and my children’s childhood I was glad,
With the wild rapture of the Fall,
Of all the beauty, and of all
The ruin, now so intolerably sad.
O blithe the birds sang in the trees,
The trees sang in the wind,
I winged me with the morning breeze,
And left Care far behind.
But now both birds and trees are mute
In the hot hush of noon;
And I must up and on afoot,
Or Care will catch me soon.
O you wish me, then, away?
You should rather bid me stay:
Though I seem so dull and slow,
Think before you let me go!
Whether you entreat or spurn
I can nevermore return:
Times shall come, and times shall be,
But no other time like me.
Though I move with leaden feet,
Light itself is not so fleet;
And before you know me gone
Eternity and I are one.