Reprint: Victor Daley's Last Work

| No TrackBacks

Most of the work in Victor J. Daley's
"Wine and Roses," is so good as to deserve to be called splendid. There is every evdence of a fine poetic sense of things, graceful reflectiveness and truth and moderation of statement. Probably no recent book of poems published in Australia is of quite equal merit. There is in much Australian verse a kind of rather obvious insurgent note, a tendency to arraign the scheme of things which seems founded more on personal feeling than on philosophy -- a flavour of wilful pessimism which seems incongruous in a new country. Nothing is more marked, at any rate, among the male writers than an absence not so much of the religious tone but of the spirit of reverence, and of the awe and mystery of things which feeling has furnished the mould for the highest and most lasting achievements. But it is plea- santly evident in Daley's work. He has an appreciation of the wonder of life and the universe, and has to a degree escaped the desiccating influence of the "Bulletin" school, which is frequently excellent in technique but burdened with its "passion" and cynicism.

The opening poem is on "Romance.":--

   Right grim gods be Reality and iron-handed Circumstance.
   Cast off their fetters, friend! Break free! -- and seek the shrine of fair Romance.
   And when dark days with cares would craze your brain, then she will take your hand,
   And lead you on by greenwood ways unto a green and pleasant land.

There may be a suggestion of jingle, but it is a graceful piece of work. The "Spring Song," too, is buoyant and beautiful:--

  "I am the Vision and the Dream
      Of trembling Age and Yearning Youth;
   I am the Sorceress Supreme.
      I am Illusion; I am truth.

   I am the queen to whom belongs
      The royal right great gifts to give;
   I am the Singer of the Songs
      That lure men on to live and live."

In "Players" there is the same perception of
underlying, beauty:

  "The things that are; the things that seem--
      Who shall distinguish Shape from Show?
   The great processional, splendid dream
      Of life is all I wish to know.
   There lives -- though Time should cease to flow,
      And stars their courses should forget--
   There lives a grey-haired Romeo,
      Who loves a golden Juliet."

"The Old Bohemian" has a touch of
Thackeray, for whom Daley seems to have much regard, and whose spirit he has largely caught:

  "Where are the songs -- the talk --
      The friends that used to be?
   I with my shadow walk
      At last for company."

Quotation, however, does not do justice to
the sustained beauty of this book, which will charm not only those who like observance of form but all, whether their tastes be simple or cultivated, who like the spirit of poetry. It is a good book of poems that can keep a reviewer reading till midnight, but these poems did that. They are excellent work and attain high water mark for literary and artistic execution. The book contains a well-written memoir of the author, who died in 1905, a victim to consumption. The get-up of the volume could not be better, paper, print, and everything being of the first class. (Sydney: Angus and Robertson.)

First published in The West Australian, 22 April 1911

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

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 18, 2012 9:02 AM.

Australian Bookcovers #302 - The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead was the previous entry in this blog.

Combined Reviews: Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en