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untold number, and trade and traffic fort to be built at once, which must with each other. Some of these two- have been completed by this time. I bankers or canoes which I saw were left there as many men
as seemed propelled by seventy or eighty paddlers. necessary, with every kind of arms and
The peoples of these islands do not with sufficient provisions for a year, differ from each other in appearance, together with carpenters and ship customs, or language. All of them carpenters. The friendliness and kindunderstand each other when they talk. ness of the local chiefs to our people is This is very useful for the purpose of beyond belief, for these native tribes our Royal Sovereign, who I assume is are kind-hearted and docile and their intent upon converting them to the chiefs pride themselves on the fact holy faith of Christianity. So far as I that I let myself be called their brother. was able to inform myself, they are very And even if they should change their apt and well disposed toward that. mood and wish to harm those who
I have said that I coasted along the have been left behind in the fort, they island of Juana from the west toward could not do so, because they have no the east for three hundred and twenty- weapons
and about naked and are two miles. With reference to that part very timid. For this reason those who of my course, I can say that this have possession of the fort can domiisland is larger than England and nate the whole island without being in Scotland together. For as I have said any danger from the population as above, it is three hundred and twenty- long as they do not overstep the two miles on the side toward the west. instructions we have given them. In addition, however, there are two On all these islands so far as I provinces that I did not visit, one of learned a man has only one wife, except which the Indians call Ana. The the chieftains and princes, who may inhabitants of that province are said have as many as twenty. The women to be born with tails. Those provinces seem to work more than the men. I extend for a distance of one hundred have not been able to ascertain whether and eighty miles, as I was told by the they recognize private property. I Indians that I carried with me and who observed that whatever one person had know all these islands.
he divided with the others, especially The extent of Hispaniola, however, food, vegetables, and the like. I is greater than that of all Spain from discovered no criminal among them in Catalonia to the Rabida River. This is the ordinary sense of the word. The easily inferred from the fact that the people are timid and friendly and are fourth side, which I coasted from the not black like the Negroes. They have west toward the east, is five hundred long, smooth, straight hair. They do and eleven miles long. This island must not expose themselves for any length be subjugated, and I have taken of time to the direct rays of the sun, for solemn possession of it, as of all the the sun is very hot in that part of the others, in behalf of our victorious world, because this region is only King, and dominion over that island twenty-six degrees from the equator. throughout its whole extent has been On the mountain heights it is exceedtransferred to the King for his profit ing cold, but the natives endure it and trade. In particular I took posses- because they are accustomed to it and sion of a large town which we named because they eat great quantities of after the birthday of the Saviour, La very heating food. I have seen no Navidad. There I gave orders for a criminal among them and I have learned of no crime among them, in the fort I mentioned have found or except on an island named Charis, as I believe they will find. I myself did which is the second of the islands not stop longer at any point than wind encountered by people who sail from and weather forced me to, except at the Spain toward India. A tribe (the town of La Navidad, where I arranged Caribsdwells there which is regarded for erecting the fort and the security of by its neighbors with great horror. the place. Important and unpreceThose people eat human flesh. They dented as all this is, I could have done have many kinds of two-bank canoes, much more if the ships had obeyed me, with which they invade the other as reason dictated. Nevertheless, this islands and plunder and steal whatever that we have done is great and wonderthey can. They do not differ in ap- ful. But thanks for all this is not due pearance from the others except that to our services, but to the holy Christhey wear their hair long like women. tian faith and piety of our Royal They carry bows and cane arrows with Majesties; for what the human spirit sharp points on one end, for which alone cannot attain God grants to men, reason they are considered very savage for God is wont to enable His servants and are greatly feared by the other and those who love His law to perform natives. Their women dwell apart incredible things, just as it has been from the men on the island Mateunin, vouchsafed us in the present case to the first island that you reach when accomplish what has never hitherto traveling from Spain to India. These been granted to the powers of a mortal women, however, perform no labor being. For when anyone has written or becoming to their sex. They carry reported about these islands it has been bows and arrows like the men. They upon vague conjecture. No one has wear copper ornaments, of which they been so fortunate as to see them. They have a great quantity. The Indians were regarded almost as legendary also told me of another island which is places. For this reason the King and greater than Hispaniola, but the in- Queen and their Princes and their habitants of that island have no realms and all the other lands of lances, although they have a great Christendom may thank our Master, abundance of other things, including Jesus Christ, who has granted us such gold. I have brought with me natives a signal victory. Processions should be from the island of Hispaniola and the held, solemn sacrifices should be made, other islands to bear testimony to what our churches should be adorned with I have reported.
wreaths and garlands. Christ should Finally, to summarize the profits rejoice on earth as He rejoices in and advantages of our journey, and of Heaven, Who in His providence has our early return thither, I promise provided that the lost souls of so many this: I will bring our victorious King people shall be saved. Let us also rewith only a little support and assist- joice on account of the exaltation of our ance from him as much gold as he faith and the extension of our present wants, as much spice, cotton, and knowledge, which will benefit not only mastic as is found only in Chios, as Spain but all Christendom. To this much aloewood and as many heathen end I have made this brief report. slaves as His Majesty may wish, as
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS much rhubarb and other medicinal
Admiral of the Ocean roots as they whom I have left behind LISBON, March 14
THE PRESENT STATE OF POETRY
BY EDWIN MUIR
To disengage the qualities and estimate seems to be a fact of experience that to the rank of the poetry of one's genera- the supremely creative, the poetic, tion is peculiarly difficult. In the first power, the spirit of enlightenment, place, the qualities that the critic has to when it is widely disseminated, bediscern — seeing that he too is of the comes inimical. Science, enlightenage are in a sense his own, and can- ment, skepticism - these make us look not be seen objectively; and secondly, coldly, and involuntarily, automatically it is impossible for him to separate his so, upon the things that the poet must reactions to them from the rank of the contemplate with passion. The theopoetry which they distinguish. Arist's impersonality of intellect becomes third thing will influence his judgment insensibly an impersonality of general
the quantity of contemporary poe- habit, and eventually an impersonality try. There is very little poetry being of feeling. We have all been influenced written to-day, and it is legitimate by the theories of science, and the incriticism to note that by its nature it is tellectualization of imaginative literanot poetry that could be produced in ture has been going on for a long time. great quantity. It is the kind of poetry It produced in the generation bethat is written in an age of general fore last such things as the dissolvent poetic debility, that is achieved against plays of Ibsen, and — perhaps its most the current, caught adroitly where it finished expression
finished expression - the pity of Anacan be caught, or seized desperately in tole France, so admirable in the man, so the midst of hostile forces. It has the inadequate in the artist. For France qualities of a thing which must use its did not pity the immediate object, nor wits: it is stubborn, violent, or clever. even pity in him the human race; he In the Victorian age poetry held its pitied humanity directly, passing by own; in the Romantic era it was su- the particular case in indicating it, preme, and even the prose-writers were making it an open occasion for a quite dominated by it. But to find another impersonal emotion of which it served age in which the genius of prose was so only to remind him, but which it did not immensely more powerful than that of intensify. The pity of France is not poetry as it is now we have to go back typical of this age, but his impersonalto the eighteenth century.
ity is; our emotions are colder, more That century was the century of en- generalized, more intelligent perhaps, lightenment; our age too is one of en- than they were fifty years ago. lightenment, but on a far vaster scale. The growth and dissemination of The genius of our generation, as Mr. science has made our approach to exBertrand Russell has said, has gone perience more impersonal; the circuminto science, not into literature. And it stances of modern life tend to do the 1 From the Calendar (London literary month
same thing. No one has investigated ly), January
properly the effect of the growth of
cities upon literature, politics, and feelings that expressed his relations popular conceptions of morality. Yet toward his circle of acquaintances is no the effect of such a vast change must longer relevant. He develops, therefore, have been great. It is impossible, for another set, the peculiar set of imperexample, to conceive a poem like 'The sonal feelings that all town-bred people Waste Land' being written anywhere carry about with them, without guessexcept in a huge modern city; the small, ing it, from their birth — the feelings dirty, leisurely London of fifty years ago that seem to make them a part of the did not contain the atmosphere for it. crowd and yet keep them outside it, The atmosphere was not there, but that permit them to know it and yet neither was any way of life, any class of ignore it. Everything, moreover, is on experience, that could make such utter- such a large scale — business, the popuance as this comprehensible. As we lace, the machinery of life — that read “The Waste Land' modern Lon- nothing seems to matter so much. A don, though not deliberately evoked, calamity is one in a series of calamities; seems to rise up around us like a wall. a man is part of a crowd. In the last Miss Sitwell's poetry, too, recalls us to hundred years England in general has London, and, if we except that of Mr. come from the country to the city. The Squire's followers, there is hardly any city as we know it, moreover, is like poetry of the present day that does not nothing that the human race has seen do so. In the main, English poetry has before. These attitudes, these emobeen a poetry of the English country; it tions, are therefore new. They were is now a poetry chiefly of the town. bound to influence thought and feelThis is a decisive change. But it is also ing, and to bring a different note into a comprehensible and natural one; for literature. the cities are alive, the countryside Still another thing has helped to is no longer so.
change the atmosphere of England, and The effects of this vast change in the to change it subversively - the rapidlife of England must needs be infinitely ity of change. In a stable order of complex, and finally impossible to de- society, or in solitude, men may listen fine. The most one can do is to take to their feelings without much question, hold of a few generalizations, obvious for these feelings correspond to the enough when stated, and yet, perhaps, situation, they have a sort of suitability. generally overlooked. In the first place, But where change is very rapid our life in a large city is necessarily more reactions tend to become obsolete impersonal than life in the country. before we realize it. True of a past in The difference, indeed, is so great that which we always tend to live, the anybody coming to the city from the present delights in refuting them. country has to reorient his values or They become confused, lose their force, else remain permanently at a loss. and cease to give us satisfaction, as Where formerly his contacts were all soon as we see that another set of personal, here he finds that they are responses, which, however, we cannot preponderantly collective. His circle command, would be more suitable. So of acquaintances has been superseded it was inevitable that we should have in by a crowd, permanent but shifting, as contemporary literature a general dismuch a part of the furniture of the trust of the feelings, a conditional or streets as the houses and shops. For ironical presentation of them, and the individual has been substituted the sometimes a frank reduction of them to mass, and to the mass the order of their lowest factors — to those elements
that men never distrust even when they is like the sentience of the blind.' 'This distrust everything else.
modern world is but a thin match-board These things, then, must be taken flooring spread over a shallow hell. into account when we consider contem- For Dante's hell has faded, is dead. porary literature, for they are part of Hell has no vastness; there are no more our environment, and the creative devils who laugh or who weep only writer lives not in a world of poetry but the maimed dwarfs of life, terrible in his environment. If poetry is colder, straining mechanisms, crouching on more intellectualized, more skeptical, trivial sands, and laughing at the than it used to be, this, we see, is a giants crumbling!' natural result of the fact that con- Let us turn to Mr. Eliot. 'I have temporary thought and life impose lost my passion,' says Gerontion, — upon us an increasingly impersonal I have lost my passion; why should I need to attitude. If poetry is conditional and
keep it ironical, affirming and denying in one Since what is kept must be adulterated? breath, what response could be more
And the queries go on through Mr. natural to a world that has changed so
Eliot's poetry: rapidly that no one knows where he stands? And these attributes of modern
'Where is the penny world I bought
To eat with Pipit behind the screen? poetry become more significant if we
Where are the eagles and the trumpets?' see them neither as qualities assumed, nor as a fashion, nor as a new approach “What are the roots that clutch, what branches to reality, but as a reaction, genuine grow if confused, to the world we know.
Out of this stony rubbish?' The poetry of Mr. Eliot, Miss Sitwell,
What shall we do to-morrow? and Mr. Graves, seen thus, is a poetry What shall we ever do? The hot water at ten. congruous with the nature of the age. And if it rains, & closed car at four.' It is neither a complete criticism nor a
And with that finality which Mr. fulfillment; for that we are still waiting. Eliot can communicate over such a But the age makes it comprehensible, keen undertone of rebellion:gives it validity; we see clearly in it the forces that mould and the obstacles
I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only. that inhibit modern life.
Let us take the testimony of the It is the same cry as Miss Sitwell's. poets themselves. Miss Sitwell has a The 'giants crumbling'; the 'trivial few very frank and illuminating notes sands' - the 'stony rubbish'; the in Bucolic Comedies. We are accused hell with ‘no vastness' - the 'penny of triviality; but poetry is no longer a world'; the sentience that is like 'the just and terrible Judgment Day - a sentience of the blind' — the key world of remorseless and clear light.' turned in the door once and turned once “Modern heartbreak is merely a dulling only: these are images of one and the and a retrogression, a traveling back- same world, the modern world which ward: till man is no longer the bastard has risen silently around us, and in
, of beasts and of gods, but is blind, eye- which we have not learned to think and less, shapeless as the eternal stones, or
to feel. exists with the half-sentience of the The response of the poet to this vegetable world — a sentience that is so world is not pessimism, for pessimism is intensely concerned with the material a reasonable and traditional thing; it is world (as apart from the visual) that it rather a bewilderment and distress of