Эссе: Zabel, Morton Dauwen. A Critics Poetry


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... Again in the "Sonnet to Beauty" and "Resurgam" the mask of sophistication is worn at a decidedly rakish angle, and in "To a Romanticist" the failure to penetrate to any original idea is very obvious indeed. We are left with no more startling conclusion than this: You think the dead arise Westward and fabulous: The dead are those whose lies were doors to a narrow house.

 

In many of these poems we find ourselves depending for soundness of judgment on our recollection that Mr. Tate is a critic of marked skill who has in great measure justified his claim to be read patiently and judged fairly. Yet poems that need this kind of support usually fail to serve any free purpose, and Coleridge's accusation against Wordsworth's verse in the Biographia Literaria might be transferred with a vengeance to Mr. Tate's: it seems to be written to illustrate the applicability of a critical theory. Without the constant intimation of scholarly backgrounds, and without the trappings of quotation and reference, such verse is usually found to have a very feeble body and a highly derivative substance.

 

The virtues of this collection soon become those of prose composition. It is usually idle to draw a line between prose and verse in such matters as theme, viewpoint, interpretation, and diction, yet if poetry is to retain any definition it must embody certain emotional states, certain psychological appeals, which manifest themselves in unmistakable cadence, rhythm, and pattern. If spontaneity is subjected, page after page, to analytical motives, the glow of passion is lost. If the ripe smoothness of organic form is reduced to a tortured syllogistic design in poem after poem, we search in vain for the lucid serenity of finished art. If imagery loses all suggestion of rapid sensory reaction, and becomes instead a kind of system of intellectual indexing, its vitality vanishes. ...