The Stuffed Owl

Backlog of tiny reviews 4

I read D B Wyndham Lewis’ anthology of bad verse in breaks from Empson. I needed the breaks, enfeebled by illness and laziness as I was, and The Stuffed Owl never fails to cheer me up. Both works were first published in 1930, and they both refer to Macaulay’s wonderful demolition of the pietistic Robert Montogmery’s The Omnipresence of the Deity. This is Macaulay, not Lewis:

“Oh! never did the dark-soul’d ATHEIST stand,
And watch the breakers boiling on the strand,
And, while Creation stagger’d at his nod,
Mock the dread presence of the mighty God!
We hear Him in the wind-heaved ocean’s roar,
Hurling her billowy crags upon the shore
We hear Him in the riot of the blast,
And shake, while rush the raving whirlwinds past!”

If Mr. Robert Montgomery’s genius were not far too free and aspiring to be shackled by the rules of syntax, we should suppose that it is at the nod of the Atheist that creation staggers. But Mr. Robert Montgomery’s readers must take such grammar as they can get, and be thankful.

Empson applies the last sentence to Shakespeare. Cheeky!

Which reminds me. Did I mention that Grace and her friends have become fans of Are You Being Served?


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