Reprint: Australian Poetry: To the Editor of "The Mercury"

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Sir, - I have elsewhere called attention to the widely exaggerated estimate of our local verse on the part of a Sydney coterie, and their fierce resentment of English criticism. In the "Daily News" of September 14 there is a long and severe review of Mr. Essex Evans's "Secret Key." Some faint praise is given, but mostly the reviewer (Mr. John Maxefield), is very rough on Australian poetry as a whole. "As generally happens in a book of Australian poems, a full third of the 'Secret Key' is mere thundering rant, with no particular meaning, no sense of poetic style, only a delight in rapid movement, as though the writer were gotten upon a pegasus, and galloped full tilt, devil take the hindmost." Again, "He is not a poet, he is not a creator, he sees with an ordinary vision, he does not think, he does not deeply feel, but he has studied the art of writing, and can make his emotions plain, even musical." In all twenty-five lines are quoted in justification of praise or blame. Out of half a dozen long notices of Australian verse recently given in London papers, this is the most severe; and, though in a measure we have provoked it by such rejoinders as Mr. Baydon's in the Christmas number of Steele Rudd's magazine. I think it is unjustifiably severe.  

-Yours, etc.,  


First published in The Mercury, 28 October 1907

Note: I'm unsure whether the "it" in the last sentence above referes to the English review or Mr. Baydon's rejoinder.

[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 14, 2011 7:13 AM.

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