Four volumes of poetry for the most part more curious than interesting. The best and by far the least strange is THE IRON PASTORAL. This is a sheaf of strong, rational, well-controlled verse about modern, and especially metropolitan, life, by a new poet who really knows how to handle his medium. His interests are compounded of city and academic associations -- his expression of this combination is so virile, so masterly, that his work is outstanding. He could perhaps be likened to Karl Shapiro, though he is less mature. But like Shapiro, he is firmly rooted in a kind of sane, clean rationalism, which in these chaotic days, is a rod and a beacon. Nims is a new voice worth listening to.....In the not too strong class is A PRIVATE HISTORY. But if these somewhat lyrical verses are not strange, they are weak, obscure and rather inconsequential. The best ones relate somehow to the war; the other lyrical pieces, though they strive for effect, fail to achieve it. This volume is negligible; it arouses practically no emotion.... No one could exactly pass over THE BLUE HEN'S CHICKENS by McHugh. The title is arresting; McHugh says it is ""an old American idiom, denoting rare and wonderful things- or, as in this case, persons"". (Delawareans would offer another version of its origin.) ..If the poems in this book are not exactly ""rare"" and ""wonderful"", they have an air of rarity, of impassioned, though delicately indicated, madness. Nothing is quite clearly revealed, but splinters of genius are apparent; the moods are by no means always serious, one hardly knows whether or not the poet is spoofing -- but there are glimpses of the moon. The metrical devices used are original, not always controlled, but of an individual music. Under the casual verses there is something rare. These are difficult poems to evaluate; they will elude most readers and interest a few. ....The most elusive of the four volumes is POEMS by Greenberg. This purports to be a selection from the manuscripts of a man no longer living, who was born in Vienna, came as a child immigrant to this country, grew up on New York's east side, practised music, art and poetry, and died about 1917. (All this is deduced from internal evidence.) In any case he wrote many of these so-called poems, though they never achieve form or style and are more nearly evocations, rather uselessly collected. A sensibility recording his sensations, but without the necessary discipline or skill to master them. I think this volume is no addition to American letters. It is like having Rilke without his art.
Pub Date: May 22, 1947
Page Count: -
Publisher: William Sloane; Duell, Sloan & Pearce; Random Hous
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1947
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