Sunday, June 23, 2019

Hmm …

… *Talking to Strangers*, the new Malcolm Gladwell book - Marginal REVOLUTION. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don’t seem to have any trouble talking to strangers, and strangers don’t seem to have any trouble talking to me, at least judging by the conservation struck up with two people in a waiting room last week. As for poets dying young, many have, certainly. But I just compiled off the top of my head a list of some who didn’t. The first group made it into their 80s and beyond, the second into their 70s. I don’t think this proves anything one way or another, but then I’m not trying to advance any grand theory.

Robert Frost

Carl Sandburg
William Jay Smith
R. S. Thomas
Marianne Moore
Ezra Pound
John Masefield
Walter de la Mare
Robert Bridges
Alfred Tennyson
John Hall Wheelock
Maya Angelou
Eugenio Montale
Mario Luzzi
Gwendolyn Brooks
John Ashbery
Adrienne Rich
Edgar Lee Masters
Stephen Spender
John Betjeman

William Carlos Williams
Walt Whitman
Wallace Stevens
Denise Levertov
John Betjeman
William Butler Yeats
H. D.
Walt Whitman
J v. Cunningham


  1. Plus Geoffrey Hill and Wm Wordsworth for the first group, Robert Browning for the second?

  2. It looks like what Gladwell calls the brief "life expectancy of poets" is more simply that death at a young age means not outliving a temporary "poetic" phase.

    The long-lived (real) poets list can go on . . .
    Richard Wilbur, John Crowe Ransom, Ruth Pitter, David Ignatow, Robert Francis . . .

  3. As Baceseras says, the "list can go on," but let's not forget the grandest and best (in my humble opinion) old poet of them all: Thomas Hardy, who died at 87, and who published five substantial collections (his best, arguably) after the age of 70 (beginning with Satires of Circumstance in 1914, at the age of 74). One more: Robert Herrick, who died at 83.

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