Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Seven Modern American Poets

Seven Modern American Poets: An Introduction

Copyright Date: 1967
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 312
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Seven Modern American Poets
    Book Description:

    This volume provides concise critical introductions to seven of the most important twentieth-century American poets, bringing together in convenient book form the material from some of the University of Minnesota Pamphlets on American Writers. The poets discussed and the contributing authors are Robert Frost by Lawrance Thompson, Wallace Stevens by William York Tindall, William Carlos Williams by John Malcolm Brinnin, Ezra Pound by William Van O’Connor, John Crowe Ransom by John L. Stewart, T. S. Eliot by Leonard Unger, and Allen Tate by George Hemphill. Biographical information about the poets as well as critical discussions of their work is provided. A selected bibliography for each poet lists his works and critical and biographical writing about him. In an introduction Mr. Unger, who is one of the editors of the pamphlet series, discusses the poets and their place in the development of modern American poetry. Mr. Unger is a professor of English at the University of Minnesota and the author of a number of critical works, including T. S. Eliot: Moments and Patterns. Teachers, librarians, and others who use the material of the University of Minnesota Pamphlets on American Writers for frequent reference or as classroom texts will find this book particularly useful. It serves also as an excellent guide for the general reader.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3716-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-2)
    (pp. 3-8)
    Leonard Unger

    One of the first things that should be said about the modern American poets discussed in this book is that they are representative. Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot have a special importance in the development of modern poetry — but the general principles by which the other poets are included here (besides the availability of the essays) could be applied as well to several who are not included, such as E. A. Robinson, Conrad Aiken, Hart Crane, E. E. Cummings, Archibald MacLeish, Marianne Moore. By “general principles” I mean no more than certain obvious facts — for example, that...

    (pp. 9-44)
    Lawrance Thompson

    In Robert Frost’s dramatic dialogue entitled “West-running Brook” a farmer and his wife are represented as admiring the contrary direction of a small New England stream which must turn eastward, somewhere, to flow into the Atlantic. As they talk, they notice how the black water, catching on a sunken rock, flings a white wave backward, against the current. The husband says,

    “Speaking of contraries, see how the brook

    In that white wave runs counter to itself.”

    Within the poem, various “contraries” are interlocked to illuminate one of the poet’s major and recurrent themes; yet no harm is done the poem...

    (pp. 45-82)
    William York Tindall

    Wallace Stevens was an insurance man. That he was also a poet seems odd; for nowadays around here poets and businessmen seldom agree. Their agreement in one person, in Hartford, Connecticut, is so strange that some, trying to account for it, have guessed it less agreement than uneasy split.

    Whether an uneasy or an agreeable composite, Stevens commonly kept his sides apart and, in Hartford, kept one dark. At home, tending his roses in the evening, or in the morning walking to his office on Asylum Street, he jotted poems down — but never on company time. Poetry was none...

    (pp. 83-118)
    John Malcolm Brinnin

    Among the poets of his own illustrious generation, William Carlos Williams was the man on the margin, the incorrigible maverick, the embattled messiah. During the years when T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, and E. E. Cummings were departing from traditional English practice in ways that stamped the character of American poetry in the twentieth century, Williams quite by himself was trying to impart to poetry a new substance and a violent new orientation. Something in his blood that was not in theirs had already made him the more congenial fellow of strangers who, unknown to him,...

    (pp. 119-154)
    William Van O’Connor

    On the afternoon of December 7, 1941, Ezra Pound, a famous American literary expatriate, left his home in Rapallo, Italy, took a train for Rome, and over the state radio read the following:

    “Europe calling. Pound speaking. Ezra Pound speaking, and I think I am perhaps speaking a bit more to England than to the United States, but you folks may as well hear it. They say an Englishman’s head is made of wood and the American head made of watermelon. Easier to get something into the American head but nigh impossible to make it stick there for ten minutes....

    (pp. 155-190)
    John L. Stewart

    When he was writing his poem “Survey of Literature” and first put down the mischievous couplet

    In all the good Greek of Plato

    I lack my roastbeef and potato,

    John Crowe Ransom may have had in mind no more than the amusing incongruity of the rhyming words. He had long been a poet of unexpected and witty conjunctions, though none had brought together things further apart than the supernal philosopher and the earthy tuber. But here was more than just a funnymot. If he had aimed at suggesting the informing force of his poetry, criticism, and teaching, Ransom scarcely...

  9. T. S. ELIOT
    (pp. 191-227)
    Leonard Unger

    I perceived that I myself had always been a New Englander in the South West [meaning St. Louis, Missouri], and a South Westerner in New England.” This comment of T. S. Eliot’s, referring to his childhood and youth in the United States, was published in 1928 — a year after he had become an English subject and had entered the Church of England. About thirty years later, in an interview conducted in New York, he affirmed that his poetry belongs in the tradition of American literature: “I’d say that my poetry has obviously more in common with my distinguished contemporaries...

    (pp. 228-264)
    George Hemphill

    One of Allen Tate’s recent essays, “A Southern Mode of the Imagination,” mentions an amiable old calumny against Kentucky: that it seceded from the Union after the fighting was over. Lincoln had promised not to disturb the institution of slavery in Kentucky if Kentucky stayed in the Union, and the promise was kept. Loyal to the Union throughout the Civil War, Kentucky was only nominally in the Union from December 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, until about the time of World War I, when the South generally began to look outside itself and see, Tate says, “for the...

    (pp. 265-282)
    (pp. 283-286)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 287-303)