Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 143

silence upon a rhetorical question," and are thus taken through a
detailed exegesis of these . chapters: "Grammar: the Universal
Solvent," "God: the Copula," "Nature: the Predicate," "Love: the
Genitive," "Education: the Reflexive," "Man: the Idiom," "So–
ciety: the Circumlocution," "Death: the Period," "Immortality:
the Infinitive," and thus to "full diapason upon 'The Lyric Tense,'
the chapter which gives title to the volume." We hear that
Upon the text, "Death: the Period," Sczornik preaches a para–
doxical sermon of hope. Death is the period.
is not the dash
of the psychologist, nor the comma of transmigratory philos–
ophies, nor the semi-colon of Mohammedanism, nor the colon of
Christianity. Still less is it the Finis and croised dolphins of the
skeptic. It is the period. But beyond the period the thought of
man goes on, clothed in new capitals, indented to new paragraphs.
. . . The same fire of hope goes on beyond the grave into the
unknown. "Immortality: the lnfinitive"-here is a symbol for
the soul! The moving verb, the urge to become, launches us into
and lastly that
The final chapter, "The Lyric Tense," is worthy of its superb
caption and of the volume it crowns.
is, in brief, a discussion of
the aristocratic life. Grammaticalness is nothing: it is the merest
morality. Style alone is the distinguishing quality of life. Great–
ness lies in manner and form, not· in stiff correctness.... The
whole framework of life erected upon grammatical laws exists
only for the joy of that man who shall be great enough as stylist
to destroy the order of dogma. From this Olympus, Sczornik
surveys the pageant of humanity. "Great women live in Homerics:
great men in the epigrams of the Anthology.'' "The career of
Napoleon marched in resonant iambics to the lamest of feminine
endings." ... "Mr. Wilson is a ballade that forever repeats its
one great line." ... "Bolshevism, splendid and Platonic slang."
To such gems of phrase what word of ours can lend lustre?
The mind may he excused for reeling before these paragraphs
it must be noted how closely their tone and frenzy conforms to
Mr. MacLeish's later visions of human salvation. This discovery
of the mystic significance of the colon, dash, and period, this tub–
thumping clamor of hosannas, this faith in pageants and the dim
processions of history, this praise of "style" above "grammatical-
80...,133,134,135,136,137,138,139,140,141,142 144,145,146,147,148,149,150,151,152,153,...160
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