Crosby’s "Rivals" Essay, Research Paper

from the Atlantic Monthly, 1922


Theodore Maynard

The band began its music, and I saw

A hundred people in the cabaret

Stand up in couples meekly to obey

The arbitrary and remorseless law

Of custom. And I wondered what could draw

Their weary wills to this fulfillment. Gay

They were not. They embraced without dismay,

Lovers who showed an awful lack of awe.

Then, as I sat and drank my wine apart,

I pondered on this new religion, which

Lay heavily on the faces of the rich,

Who, occupied with ritual, never smiled –

Because I heard, within my quiet heart,

Happiness laughing like a little child.

Biographical Note: "Theodore Maynard, a poet new to the Atlantic, sends us

his sonnet from California."

from the Atlantic Monthly, 1925

Mississippi Melodies

Virginia Moore

III. Cotton Chorus

Niggah standin’, niggah squattin’,

Flirt yo’ fingahs in de cotton

Boles what huddle thick;

Tag along de Aprul harrow

What wedged wobbly, deep, an’ narrow –

Pick, pick, pick!

Drap no riffraff in de cotton,

Nothin’ sharp an’ nothin’ rotten

Lak a leaf o’ stick;

Swang it on yo’ giant shouldah

‘Foh de racin’ sun am oldah –

Pick, pick, pick!

All de cankahs in de cotton,

Wo’ms an’ weevils am fohgotten

An’ fohgotten quick,

When de bended backs an’ fingahs

Ob a hund’ud blackbird singahs

Pick, pick, pick!

Gunny sacks ob cleanes’ cotton,

Lak a goss’mah cloud a-clottin’,

Once was flowah-sick –

Pink an’ pale an’ vi’let gloomin’,

Color ob a ‘latto ‘ooman –

Pick, pick, pick!

Augus’ sun am pow’ful hot an’

Set on arguin’ wid de cotton

Lak a luni-tick –

But de cool ob night am comin’

An’ de dimmy stars am hummin’

Pick, pick, pick!

Biographical Note: "The primitive and natural melodies of Virginia Moore are

rooted in the earth of the Mississippi plantation where Miss Moore and her family have

lived for generations."

from The Atlantic Monthly, 1925

Conversation Baln?aire

by Archibald MacLeish

I indicate the evening sea. I say,

This endless silence edged with unending sound!

I say, This colorless where colors sway

and swim like lustre in a pearl, this drowned

moonshine, this shallow of translucent air,

this bubble that the winds break, the clouds change,

this smooth, this vague, this sea!


merely stare.

You turn your face to me. You say, it’s strange,

unreal almost. I don’t know what they mean,

these waves, this water. If I shut my eyes

it’s gone—like that—as though I’d never seen

the sea at all.


I, But realize

how many more have looked on it as we,


Your eyes change. You

say, The sea!

from The Atlantic Monthly, 1925


by Bliss Carman

My glorious enchantress,

She went in silken hose,

With swaying hop and curving lip

And little tilted nose,

As full of fragrant fire

As any English rose.

Her voice across the morning,

Like olden balladry

Or magic notes from woodland throats,

It laid a spell on me

As wondrous as the west wind

And haunting as the sea.

She might have walked with Chaucer

A-jesting all the way,

Her figure trim a joy to him,

Her beauty like the day,

With that unfailing spirit

Which nothing can dismay.

Her heart was full of caring,

Her eyes were touched with dream.

In happy birth, in noble worth,

I thought that she did seem

As fair as Kentish roses

And rich as Devon cream.

I loved her airy carriage,

Her bearing clean and proud,

When glad and fond she looked beyond

The plaudits of the crowd,

Or when in prayer or sorrow

Her comely head was bowed.

I loved her eerie piping

Of measures without name.

Wild as a faun at rosy dawn,

Out of the crowd she came

To breathe upon old altars

A fresh untroubled flame.

I loved her lyric ardor,

Her chosen words and dress,

Her dryad’s face, her yielding grace,

Her glowing waywardness,

Her deep adoring passion

No careless eye would guess,

And all the while as lovely

As early daffodils,

When woodland Spring comes blossoming

Among the western hills,

And from her trilling garments

A mystic glory spills.

O sorceress of raptures

Beyond the dream of art,

be still our guide to walk beside

And choose the better part –

Thou lyric of enchantment!

Thou flower of Nature’s heart!

from The Atlantic Monthly, 1927

The Bestiary

by Lillian White Spencer


In pale moon fields the unicorn,

Crowned by his diamond-piercing horn,

Is hunted, though with poor success.

Man’s trespass he will not endure.

Woman, to tame him, must be pure.

Alas! This causes awkwardness.

Sea Serpent

Through hoary legend and old rhyme

He swims Atlantic tides of time.

Andromeda was once his prey,

And rumor says to Jonah he

Showed depths of hospitality,

And that he sails the blue to-day.


He was the ancient Hebrews’ friend

That to the desert they would send

With all their sins for company,

While, good and dull, they stayed behind.

The emissary did not mind:

"Why, these are pleasure trips," said he.


About the blacksmith’s red forge dance

Elves whom King Francis First of France

Bore on his shield. And, leaping higher,

Around the family hearth they flit.

But men grow bald if on them spit

These glowing scarlet sprites of fire.


Twelve-footed, with a puppy’s whine,

On sea salts only did she dine

(Homer himself has told us this).

Thrusting her six heads through the wave

She snatched up sailors to her cave,

And had for neighbor Charybdis.


White-pinioned steed whose flight is far –

To realms beyond the utmost star,

Where is your glory soaring now?

Here lies a feather from your wing;

There, in your hoofprint, flowers spring;

But men have chained you to a plough.

… [Spencer also writes stanzas on a gargoyle, the herd of Diomedes, porphyrions

and centaurs.]


This lion-eagle’s flaming breast

Guards in the sun his golden nest

And orbs of fire strike thieves dead.

So, to his treasure, men are blind –

Still . . . one or two declare him kind;

Poets can charm him, it is said.


High-eyried on an Eden palm,

His gold wings dripping sweetest balm,

One sings with everlasting breath

Whom Eve sought vainly to entice. . . .

Now, nowhere save in paradise,

Dwells Beauty free from taint of death.

Biographical Note: "Hunting through mythology, astronomy and the classics, Lynn

White Spencer has collected a menagerie the likes of which were never seen on sea or land

– and we include Noah’s."

from the Atlantic Monthly, 1929

Black Songs

by Nancy Byrd Turner

[There are three "Black Songs" altogether; all are in dialect. This is a

reprinting of the one that is a sonnet, entitled "Black Cat."]

Don’t never cross a road what a black cat cross –

‘T ain’t nothin’ but sorrow, ‘t ain’t nothin’ but loss.

Brindle cat, spotted cat, dem’s all right;

Safety in a yaller cat, blessin’ in a white;

But, de black cat ructious, wid a bristle in his tail,

He fotchin’ for de Debble, and he better not fail.

De black cat travel wid his belly in de dus’;

He gwine whar he gwine, and he gwine kase he mus’.

Black cat, black cat – when he cross yo’ track,

No matter where you gwine,

Toa dippin’ or a dyin’,

No matter whar you hurryin’,

To a marryin’ or a buryin’ –


better turn back!

Biographical Note: "Nancy Byrd Turner achieved deserved reputation by writing the

one poem in celebration of Lindburgh’s flight to Paris which was worthy of the

events, and of poetry."

[Note: the poem referred to in this note, entitled

"The Ballad of Lucky Lindbergh," was collected by Turner in Star in a Well

(New York: Dodd, Mead, 1935), pp. 154-157. That volume also collects eight dialect poems,

including "The Black Cat."]

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