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I The Lyrics of a Miner. I


I The Lyrics of a Miner. I I ^EW VOLUME BY LANARKSHIRE CHECK-I WEIGHER. I SONGS OF LABOUR-PESSIMISTIC AND OPTIMISTIC. [bongs of a Miner, by Jas. C. Welsh. Crown ?'o., cloth boards 2/6 nett. Herbert Jen- ?s, Ltd., London.] There is no man on earth who extracts so Jlluch enjoyment out of lyric poetry as the | ?u'u, and there are few books published in the 1 nghsh tongue that will appeal to his sense of Iht and shade, and rhythm than the Songs ûf Vner'" just puM?hed from the pen of Jas. ? ?- Wlsl, a Lanarkshire checkweigher, who sees ?e effusions of his pen for the first time in book lorJ1 this week. Personally I confess to a greater king for simple lyric verse that goes singing through the ears with a pretty lilt,than the more Ponderous forms of the poet's genius; and few our minor working-class poets have sung in sweeter cadences than Mr. WaLsli, who, I think, gives us the secret of his style and appeal in Jus d Dedication to my Wife," where he says:—- "I have sung my songs as the throstle singe, They come as the roses come. (In mines where. deepest darkness clings, Or safe in the case of home." That dedication gives us not only an explana- tIO of his style and appeal, but it also throws J'ght on wliat is a weakness inseperable from tms style of composition—that the message shall depend on the mood. I know that there are ?any who argue that this gives naturalness t* ?"e lines; and involves an insight into the psy- chology of the poet that is iliol?(? than a recom- Xlell,e.foi- the occosional moods of poesimism that the employment of this style of spontaneous art Necessarily produces. And it is defended, too, °h the grounds that it is realistic; a defence, or serIes of defences that I personally do not up- hold. Pessimism is not realism, it. is a disease, transcient, occasionally morbid and le, that is not real to life, and is induced OY artificial restrictions that stifle the natural hope and aspiration that is the real plasm of the average human life mentally and physically. J-here was a time when pessimism in poetry was ;accounted a. mark of art, but I think that it was oranky. fashion and was deservedly short-lived .as a, mode in criticism and I am genuinely sorry to find black despair occasionally sitting on Mr. Walsh's shoulder and dictating his pen to write, -as lie, writes in "Labour, "Conceived in the mire and the murk. Born in the slut and the slime, Hocked in the tempest of work, Fed on the garbage and grime, Lashed through the dungeon's of life, Like sins through the horrors of hell, Stabbed by the storm like a knife— Curse on the things that I tell! Brute lust and self rule my lot, "Ideals for me can't exist, Fancy with me cannot float Where gods by the angels are kissed; Braised in the hell upon, earth, I." Scorched in a hell when I die, I should have sought better birth When calling to life passing by." One can easy Imagine the mood of our author which produced this sombre picture of the workers' lot, but not its dfrge-like tune; not its shce?r abandon of hope, by one who does see the ultimate goal of Labour as he sees It, for in the next poem, "The Miner," he points unerringly to the cause of the suffering and misery he paints ,'So (,rapliica.Ily: You've built from our lives your success, "Ye swear now 'tis war to the knife, •\ s Your progress is shaped to oppress, Ye spare neither children nor wife; The gold ye have set for your crown We'll melt in the streams of your blood, By the god* that ye worship and own "We'll o'rwhelm all vour schemes in its flood. 'so- (I init l A prophecy which is expressed with a poet's licence, and which I, personally, hope will never ne an actuality, for I should hate to think that the dawn of Freedom and Love will necessitate the reeking shambles which we vision through the lines. And Mr. Walsh also sees the futility ft the barricade and guillotine in his Tribute to Robert Smillie," a particularly fine one by the way, for he tells us— But some have glimpsed The eastern streaks that bring triumphant day. Press onward still, the future holds your <, dreams, ,j Though dark the night the dawn shall come m Tho tigli dai-i?, the the, (lawn ,,ha-11 come in hen loud hosannahs from the morni- ng hIlls ?hall herald in the day of brighter worth, £ And hope shall crown your triumph with men'* love." There are many more beautiful things in the h, ook wherein one senses the ideals of the de- mocrat giving breadth" and scope and joy to the Pen of this our poet; and more in which his broad humanism and love of beauty more clearly show how black must have been the mood that f-°niured up that picture of the shambles that Will precede our triumph, and I find it possible to wish that he had written his lines on our final Overthrow of the powers of Capitalism after, say, a visit to Casey and while still exhalted by the aI'.t of that master of art, instead of when fired With indignation and hurt at some graphic re- collection of daily life as we of the working class know it only too crudely. Mention of Casey by the way, reminds me that that virtuoso has sung loudly the praises of Mr. Welsh often; and that the admiration is fnutual is proved by the sweet little poem included in this collection en- titlsd, 14/When. Casey Plays." The book is a Really good half-crown's worth, and one that I ^onhdently recommend. A. P. Y. I


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