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True Friendship

True Friendship: Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Hecht, and Robert Lowell Under the Sign of Eliot and Pound

Christopher Ricks
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    True Friendship
    Book Description:

    True Friendshiplooks closely at three outstanding poets of the past half-century-Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Hecht, and Robert Lowell-through the lens of their relation to their two predecessors in genius, T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. The critical attention then finds itself reciprocated, with Eliot and Pound being in their turn contemplated anew through the lenses of their successors. Hill, Hecht, and Lowell are among the most generously alert and discriminating readers, as is borne out not only by their critical prose but (best of all) by their acts of new creation, those poems of theirs that are thanks to Eliot and Pound.

    "Opposition is true Friendship." So William Blake believed, or at any rate hoped. Hill, Hecht, and Lowell demonstrate many kinds of friendship with Eliot and Pound: adversarial, artistic, personal. In their creative assent and dissent, the imaginative literary allusions-like other, wider forms of influence-are shown to constitute the most magnanimous of welcomes and of tributes.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16284-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Prefatory Note
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-71)

    “Opposition is true Friendship.” So William Blake believed, or at any rate hoped. Not but what it would be stretching things to see Blake’s opposition to Sir Joshua Reynolds as true friendship. Others of Blake’s sayings might better fit the case. “Damn braces: Bless relaxes,” perhaps, or “Without Contraries is no progression.” Think of how Blake wrote of Reynolds: “This Man was Hired to Depress Art.” Or wrote to him, angry urgings from the margin.

    Reynolds: I found myself in the midst of works executed upon principles with which I was unacquainted: I felt my ignorance, and stood abashed.


    (pp. 72-142)

    Within Tennyson, “The deep/Moans round with many voices” (“Ulysses”). Eliot quoted this as “a true specimen of Tennyson-Virgilianism”—and therefore “toopoeticalin comparison with Dante, to be the highest poetry.”¹ Within Eliot himself, “The sea has many voices, / Many gods and many voices” (The Dry Salvages). Meanwhile, there is Eliot on Pound: “Meanwhile, inLustraare many voices.”²

    Anthony Hecht was interviewed by J. D. McClatchy, who inquired with imaginative pertinence as to the poems inThe Hard Hoursand how Hecht used “formal ‘limits’ both to define and prompt the differentvoicesthat sound and overlap in...

    (pp. 143-222)

    Anthony Hecht did not think of himself as being—or yet more liberatingly, did not feel himself to be—the heir to anyone in particular. Great though his respect was for W. H. Auden, he was expansively free from all that can make heirdom a frictive matter. In this fretlessness as to whether he is an heir, Hecht resembles both Eliot and Pound and differs from both Hill and Lowell.

    Given that Eliot was American and then English, it is apt to the nature of things that he should have been granted, if that is the word, both an American...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 223-242)
  8. Credits
    (pp. 243-246)
  9. Index
    (pp. 247-258)