The Coffin collection is familiar verse celebrating the New England scenes, characters and memories. Sometimes his subject matter is in the past, sometimes it is in the present, but always it is written with facility and with a suffusing sentimentality about the now fast congealing American myth. He helps us to see New England, and thus a microcosm of America, as we wish to see it, and places it in pleasing black and white chosen views, much as the popular New England calendars do. At times one is apt to be impatient with this non-modern and over-idealized point of view and with the somewhat glib versification. Still Coffin is one of our folk poets, even though he does not rank with the greatest; and he has a following who will read him with pleasure and relief, sharply in contrast to the feeling evoked by Robert Tallman's DOOMSDAY'S CUE.... Tallman is a young newcomer of such black pessimism and despair linked with obscurity, that he makes one grateful for winsome nostalgia. Tallman has felt the war; he has, himself, had contact with mental hospitals (whether in person or through those near to him is not clear), he is shrouded in disgust and fear, he is haunted by black visions. More than this it is impossible to decipher, though he can rhyme and versify with a certain skill. He lacks the ease and with which even the young must have to face the distracted world. Poets should be prophetic and not backward looking. We are in the midst of maelstrom, but it is of little use to describe it minutely. The crown of laurel is not for screams of anguish, but for him who can see the present with some measure of humor as in FAMILY CIRCLE by Eve Marriam.... With a meagre and underprivileged background of American city life, she has still such a slant of wit and humor for everyday scenes and situations, that she rises above squalor. She has a gift of irony and detachment, and a quick trenchant way of describing an ephemeral but very real emotion. She is not great but she is a woman poet of insight, wit and some charm. Archibald MacLeish in his preface gives deserved commendation, and as ephemeral volumes of verse go, hers is the best of the three in this group, the most original, salty and fresh. ... No one of these is important in the long view, nor does any one of them add to the sum total of American poetic tradition.
Pub Date: Oct. 3, 1946
Page Count: -
Publisher: Doubleday; Macmillan; Yale
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1946
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