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about to fall out of the centre of the mirror-ceiling. Minutes drag on-it seems that there is nothing in the whole wide world except this dragon and this soft-cushioned room. The ominous thing draws closer; it now looks as big as a prehistoric reptile. . . . The awful monster descends precipitately down a spiral course. Its huge eyes stare fixedly, then suddenly begin to glow with an infernal light. The mouth opens so near that it seems only a few feet above the floor. Rows of teeth glitter, and a powerful megaphone voice-or, rather, many voices shouting in unison-demands:


'Who are your accomplices? Speak!' A person in normal health might think this monster with a human megaphone voice amusing. But the lonely occupant of the red-cushioned room in Charleston has long ago lost his normal sense of contact with the outside world. His nerves are keyed

up to the utmost tension under the ever-vigilant mirror-sky. He has long since forgotten how to laugh, how to reason lucidly, how to use his critical faculties. He has forgotten all about American technic, about the latest ingenious developments of the cinema, about the clever Mr. Johnson to whom goes the honor and the profit for the invention of this silent room, upholstered in dark red, with a mirror ceiling, for the special use of prisoners sentenced to death.

Later, when the lonely man recovers his senses, he will feel his own tongue, bitten and swollen, and he will begin to laugh long and wildly; he will leap at the walls which he cannot even dent; he will roll on the soft carpet.

In such little rooms, where people lose their power of speech within one year's time, Sacco and Vanzetti have been kept for the past two years, awaiting their turn to go to the electric chair.



[RUBÉN DARÍO, who was probably the greatest poet Latin America has produced, was born in León, the ancient metropolis of Nicaragua, which is now in the fighting zone. This poem was originally published in his Cantos de Vida y Esperanza. In it he departs from his usual dulcet measures to adopt, as he intimates in the first line, the rugged rhythm of Walt Whitman.]

"Tis with the voice of the Scriptures, or the verse of Walt Whitman, O mighty hunter, that we must approach thee!

Cave man and modern, simple but subtle,

With something of Washington, and more yet of Nimrod!
Thou wilt be the United States,

Thou wilt be the future invader

Of the ingenuous America where the native blood lingers,
Where men still pray to Jesus, and still speak in Spanish.

1 From Repertorio Americano (San José Latin American weekly), March 5

Thou wilt be the proud and powerful exemplar of thy race:
Thou wilt be cultured, and clever, and a denier of Tolstoi;
And taming wild horses, or slaughtering tigers,

Thou wilt be Alexander and Nebuchadnezzar in one.

(Thou wilt be a professor of Energy,

As the fools of to-day say.)

Thou believest that life is a conflagration;
That progress is a volcanic eruption;
And that where you put the bullet
You put the future.


The United States is great and powerful.
When it shudders, a violent earthquake
Shakes the mighty vertebræ of the Andes.
When you shout, it is like the roar of a lion.

Hugo once said to Grant, "The stars are yours.'

(Argentina's rising sun was hardly refulgent on the horizon,

And Chile's star had barely risen.) Thou art rich;

Thou joinest to the worship of Hercules the worship of Mammon; And Liberty lifts her torch on high at New York

To light a pathway of easy conquest.

But our America, who has had her poets

Since the ancient days of Netzahualcoyotl;

Who has preserved the footprints of the great Bacchus;

Who read the stars; who knew Atlantis,

As told by Plato in olden legend;

Who from her remotest beginning

Has lived in light, fire, perfume, love;

The America of the great Montezuma, of the Inca,

The fragrant America of Cristóbal Colón,

Catholic America, Spanish America,

The America who taught the noble Guatemoc to say,

'Nor do I lie on a bed of roses';

That America who trembles with tornadoes and lives on passion,

I tell you, men of Saxon eye and savage soul, does live

And dreams, and loves, and throbs, and is the daughter of the Sun!

Beware! Spanish America lives!

The Spanish lion has whelped a thousand agile cubs.

Thou must be, Roosevelt, by ye great gods,

A dead shot and a mighty huntsman

To seize her in your steel claws.

And though thou hast all else, thou still lackest one thing - God!



THE British Note has arrived, with its plain threat of a rupture. The bombshell was expected. The charge of explosives which it contains is rather lighter than Russians feared. It has fallen on a city which takes life with easy assurance. One feels no electric thrill. The news spread slowly, and I would wager that it set the pulse of London beating rather faster than that of Moscow.

To me, with my recollections of the Russia of seven years ago, it felt like an anticlimax. Then we sent munitions; to-day we send Notes. Then we were dangerous; to-day we are merely rude. But, indeed, one feels at the first contact with Moscow that its heroic period is over. I saw it in its moment of romance. A starving nation tightened its belt, dreamed its great visions of a golden age, and faced the ordeal of the soup kitchens, while the young men were targets for Mr. Churchill's shells.

Life in Moscow is easier and pleasanter to-day. Its shops resemble those of any European town. Food is plentiful, and everyone, rich or poor, man or woman, has a coat of sheepskin, if not of fur, to wear. Then, because even cotton was unobtainable, young women went barelegged; to-day they wear stockings of silk. Everything, it is true, is dear, about twice as dear as in Britain, with one notable exception: for a ruble one may hear, in the luxury of the great Opera House, a concert of classical music superbly played; and


1 From the New Leader (London Labor Party weekly), March 11

these delights are scattered in rich profusion every evening in every quarter of the town.

But the stern puritanical tension of the days of civil war is over. Vodka had vanished then; it is freely sold now. Where I had seen a soup kitchen in which the citizens of the Soviet State kept death at bay with a broth of herrings' heads and potato parings, there is to-day a café chantant. The Socialized hotels open their doors to the new-rich of the period of compromise, and like a ghost from the old order a beggar creeps round the tables of the profiteers.

In those days the Red Army was in the field against Poles and 'Whites' at once, and, because paper was short, we read of its perils, its disasters, and its triumphs on broadsheets placarded in the streets. One heard at all hours of the day the throbbing pathos of the Revolutionary Funeral Hymn, as burial platoons carried the fallen to the grave. To-day Moscow celebrates the ninth anniversary of the creation of this Red Army.

I attended one of the celebrations organized in the peasants' clubhouse. There was some oratory of a rather conventional type, and then, one after another, the veterans of the Civil War came forward-they are surprisingly young, these Russian veterans - and told their tales of adventure. One man described how they had crossed the Urals with a ration of seven cartridges for each week, how they met Kolchak's men, proudly equipped in their British

uniforms, and captured their munition dumps. Already these struggles are a legend which has lost its horror and its tragedy, to gain a tinge of humor in the haze of idealizing memory. When the speeches were over, a comedian with a false nose entertained us with what is called 'eccentric' dancing, and a quartette of veterans sang comic songs. The Funeral Hymn throbs no longer in these streets.

But to me perhaps the most arresting proof that times have changed was the absence of visible propaganda. I recall the days when every railway station on the long line from Poland to Moscow had what was called its Agit-punct, its centre for agitation, a room covered with placards and packed with leaflets in prose and verse. Every poet and artist had been mobilized for this work. The cinemas showed nothing but propaganda films. Screens were stretched at night in the great central square for open-air films, and, on the very walls of the Kremlin, drawings were stenciled which in their impressionistic manner conveyed a revolutionary lesson. Punch moralized in radical verses at the street corners, and in the country it was my luck to meet one of the famous propaganda trains, which toured incessantly with its theatre and its lecture-room to convert the backward villages.

All this has ceased; the films show the usual dramas of passion, the placards have vanished from the stations, and the propaganda train is used, I am told, only to instruct the peasants how to combat malaria and locusts. This Government, it is evident, feels secure. It needs neither verses nor pictures to speak for it. It has lived nine years. It has a record.

In this atmosphere the arrival of the British Note was not an earth-shaking event. It had more effect, I gathered, on the simple-minded masses than upon

expert politicians. The speakers at the Red Army celebration, most of them workingmen, saw in it what it did not plainly contain, a threat of future war.

Russia is, I believe, at this moment the land most resolutely bent on peace. Her experience of war was longer, more recent, and more terrible than that of any other country. Her only thought, as one realizes almost at the first contact, is how to expand and reëquip her backward industries; she thinks in terms of imports of machinery and exports of wheat. Her will is bent to this patient work, and she sees in any war, or threat of war, only a senseless interruption.

There was no whining at this meeting; there was even some talk of the need for preparedness, but there was also the aspiration, clearly and sincerely stated, for the ending of these dangers and the conclusion of a firm peace.

Better-informed observers take the Note rather more lightly. It is so obviously a move in British party politics, designed to quieten the clamor of the Die-hards. Its discourtesy has startled even the Soviet Foreign Office, which is accustomed to hard knocks. The reference to Chicherin's nervousness is surely without a parallel in diplomatic intercourse, and, by a rare breach of the conventions, it was published before it reached the Russian Embassy in London. The substance of it suggests a curious reading of the promise to abstain from hostile propaganda. For all the speeches and articles of which the Note complains were addressed to Russian audiences. The promise which the Russians understood that they had given was that they would not attempt to embarrass the British Empire by stirring up disaffection against it in or around its own possessions — in India, for example, or Afghanistan. But in Moscow, they insist, they must be free to speak their minds.

I had to-day a talk with Mr. Litvinoff, the acting head of the Foreign Office. I will not attempt to anticipate his answer to the Note, which will be published before this article can arrive. He spoke frankly of the impasse which Russians see before them whenever they address their minds to the desired end of improving Anglo-Russian relations. At present diplomatic relations can hardly be said to exist. Mr. Krassin, I believe, saw Sir Austen Chamberlain once, and the present chargé d'affaires has seen him twice. The Foreign Office insists, it seems, on two preliminaries to any further conversations, which are both, in the Russian view, impossible. The first is the cessation of propaganda, in the strained sense which the Note gives to this word. The second is the 'recognition' in principle of the obligation to pay Russia's debts.

It is impossible for Russian Communists to desist from speaking their minds about imperialism, British or other. That is of the essence of their creed. It is equally impossible that they should cease to believe and to express their belief that world revolution at some time is inevitable. That is a prediction; it is not an incitement. It rests on an analysis of the economic basis of present-day society; it is a scientific conviction, like the belief of

physicists in the inevitable cooling of the earth's surface. Over theoretic beliefs of this kind it would be absurd to bargain.

As for the debt, the Russian position may be summed up in a paradox: they will pay their debts; they will not 'recognize' them.

Formulas were found in the agreement with the British Labor Government which disposed of this difficulty. An equally satisfactory solution is likely to be reached very soon with the French Government. If the British Tory Government (or, for that matter, the Washington Government) insists on the threshold upon an impossible formula, it must be because it has no sincere desire for normal relations with Soviet Russia.

To this extent the directors of Russia's foreign policy are pessimistic when they face the immediate future. On the other hand, they do not fear that the British Note, even if it should be followed by a rupture, will result in isolating Russia. The rest of Europe will not follow the lead of the British Diehards, for the prospects of a cordial understanding with M. Briand are thought to be good.

The heroic period of the Revolution is over. Moscow works, and in the intervals of hard work it enjoys life again with zest. Its need is peace.

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