William Pritchard is a fine, old-fashioned critic who reads fiction and poetry for their literary qualities. Yesterday’s Times Book Review featured Pritchard’s essay on the publication of Robert Lowell’s Collected Poems: “The whole Lowell.”
Speaking of Lowell’s For the Union Dead, Pritchard concludes: “[W]e hear the depressed, regretful tenor, again ‘frizzled, stale and small,’ of most of the poems in ‘For the Union Dead’; then at book’s end the title poem, which moves beyond private turmoil into civic, momentous statement. About a number of poems in these two volumes it can be said what Jarrell said about ‘one or two’ of them in ‘Lord Weary’ — that they ‘will be read as long as men remember English.’” Here is “For the Union Dead.” See for yourself.
The Times caption reads: “Robert Lowell in 1962.”
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