The Charlotte News

Tuesday, March 22, 1938



Site Ed. Note: For a taste of the poetry of Louis Untermeyer, see "Prayer", quite tied to "It Isn't Like Us", and perhaps then uppermost in the mind of Cash as he wrote this day's pieces. And, indeed, reading "Summons", published in Modern Amerian Poetry in 1919, edited by Untermeyer, one can't help but hear the subsequent freshets of Cash's college poetry published in 1921-23 in the Wake Forest Student.

The notion, incidentally, explored in "It Isn't Like Us", that federal housing projects would work to eradicate slum conditions in urban areas, of course, seems ludicrous and naive to us today. But the alternative in 1938, that of doing nothing, would have worked obviously to encourage that which would have led to doing nothing again and again. No one ever suggested that Utopia is on the horizon as a result of the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier or the Great Society. But cynically to attempt nothing on the convenient premise that "it will always be that way" is to have no hope ever of approximating at least Fewtopia...

Indeed, the thought is reinforced in "On the Birth of a Child".

It Isn't Like Us

We burn with no great pride in the matter, but we set down for the record that the slums of Charleston's Catfish Alley, of "The Yellow Dog," "The Ark" and "The Red Devil" in New Orleans, and the shacks of Beal Avenue and the bluff of Old Man River in Memphis--to name only a wretched handful of the world's worst residential neighborhoods--are no more unsightly or unsanitary than Charlotte's own "Blue Heaven" and "'Skeeter Hollow."

And as for Austin, Syracuse or Youngstown, their slums would be almost an elite district here.

Those cities come to mind because their managements have seen the light of slum clearance; have seen not only the obvious fact that the slums are chiefly responsible for tuberculosis, syphilis, colitis, diphtheria, adult crime and juvenile delinquency, but that there is a way out. Charleston, with a new million-dollar project approved by the Federal Housing Authority; Austin with $643,000; New Orleans with $8,411,000; Syracuse with $3,930,000 and Youngstown with $2,835,000--these cities are aware not only that they have slums but also a start may be made in eradicating them. And Charlotte--Charlotte hasn't lifted a finger.


Poet of the First Order

Louis Untermeyer, who will lecture at Queens-Chicora College Wednesday evening, is that rare creature--an excellent poet and also an excellent critic. His career has been a curious one. Born in New York in 1885, he left school after graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School at the age of 17 and entered the manufacturing jewelry business owned by his father and uncle. There he stayed until 1923 when he resigned to give his entire time to writing. Meanwhile, he had already been publishing poetry, beginning with "The Younger Quire" in 1910, and "First Love" in 1911. He has published since more than thirty volumes of one kind and another.

His name would probably have to be included in any list of the first dozen living American poets. And as for critical ability, he was one of the Editors of The Seven Arts, was poetry editor of The American Mercury in Henry Mencken's time, has contributed many articles on poetry, etc. to The Saturday Review of Literature, the New Republic, and other magazines, and is editor of the anthologies, "Modern British Verse" and "Modern American Verse."


Tale Out of Italy

The stooge press of Italy reports that an Anglo-Italian agreement "is expected by Saturday." And says:

1--That Mussolini has brought 4,000 soldiers home from Libya by way of a friendly gesture toward the British.

2--That he has agreed to withdraw all Italian soldiers from Spain.

3--That he has agreed to get completely out of Majorca and other Balearic islands.

On the face of it, that is a bewildering story. For all the dispatches from American and British correspondents indicate that Franco has presently received reinforcements in men and bombing planes and that Mussolini is actually making a final determined drive for the mastery of Spain--with every prospect of achieving it quickly. And of course the maintenance of the mastery of Spain will mean the keeping of a huge army of occupation there.

There is nothing bewildering about the spectacle of Signor Mussolini in the process of lying brazenly of course. He has done it over and over, and this time it promises to net him not only plenty of time to carry out his plans, but also the recognition of his Ethiopian conquest by England. But how on earth to explain Britain's part in this "agreement?" Is Neville Chamberlain actually so great a sucker that he can still be fooled by a dictator's word? Or is it that he must produce a rabbit from the hat with great rapidity or lose his job? And is he willing for the Empire to pay any price to avoid that last catastrophe to himself?

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