Monday, May 25, 2009

An ear for the bien-pensant ...

... Patrick Kurp on Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud by Robert Pinsky (editor). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hard to imagine how any editor of a poetry anthology aimed at reading aloud would miss Auden's "Miranda" ("My dear one is mine as mirrors are lonely ... And the high green hill sits always by the sea"). But, as Patrick notes, things like that happen when you let extra-literary concerns intrude.


  1. I half disagree. I think this review shows Patrick's own biases far more clearly than it demonstrates Pinsky's. I refer to the bias towards more formalist, traditional poetry.

    Just because a poem is modern, or free-verse, or less formally metric doesn't mean it's therefore less pleasing to the ears.

    So, while I get his point, I also think this review completely missed the boat.

  2. I think, Art, that any review that provides a reader with sufficient information for that reader to arrive at an opinion of the book under review that differs from the reviewer's is a good review. I certainly have no bias against less formalist poetry (I've written a good deal of free verse; as I'm sure you know, it's hard to do well, and easy to do badly). What I think you, Patrick, and I all dislike is what Auden called (in "Squares and Oblongs") "dishonest and insufferably earnest and boring Agit-Prop for Christianity, Communism, Free Enterprise or what have you."