Sister Madeleva: Lyric Poet

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Walsh, Marjorie Hall
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To evaluate the endurance of a contemporary artist is a perilous task. That elusive factor, time, which can dissipate current acclaim into hazy remembrance or catapult obscurity into world renown, must be weighed thoughtfully; else, the critical scales may tilt capriciously. Thus, without the ruthless editing of centuries, nor even the perspective and trial of a single century, the study of the works of any twentieth-century artist can, at best, be the result of careful research, comparative methods, and dependence upon the best critical judgments of our time.|Today, one can readily understand how Shakespeare won popular acclaim in his sixteenth century and why that acclaim persists; yet, the Elizabethan audiences hailed just as loudly, if not louder, the works of Marlowe, and Lyly, and Greene. With our advantageous hindsight, we quickly recognize the reasons for the great bard's endurance, and, today we can readily see why his contemporaries are mere satellites illuminating the globe of his genius. But, could we, or would we, have made that prediction had we sat in the gallery of the Globe Theater in 1597, watching the King's men perform Henry IV?|Intelligent speculations are now being made as to whether Brois Pasternak will be read and enthusiastically acknowledged in the twenty-first, the twenty-second century as this Nobel Prize winner has been in our twentieth century? |Claims are being staked that Robert Frost will be remembered long after the twentieth century Presidents are but a list of dimly remembered names.|And then, what of the poetic voice of America who shall surely be of interest to the literary scholar two, three, four centuries hence? Yes, what of Walt Whitman?|Thus, as we must give full recognition to the insoluble problem of time in any current literary appraisal, we must also consider the highly advantageous benefits of a study of a living, literary artist.|Our subject under scrutiny is a lyric poet, Sister M. Madeleva. We have the distinct advantages of frequent, personal contacts with the author. In private interviews she has revealed her poetic philosophies, her method of creation, her obstacles, and her successes. The poet has added a new dimension to this study which, if done a hundred years hence, would be entirely lacking. For Sister, herself, has told us her poetic aims; she has revealed her literary convictions; she has left little or nothing to the area of speculation.
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