THE POETRY REVIEWS OF ALLEN TATE, 1924-1944 by Allen Tate

THE POETRY REVIEWS OF ALLEN TATE, 1924-1944

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The longer pieces in this collection of Allen Tate's early reviews--on T. S. Eliot's Ash Wednesday and Archibald MacLeish's Conquistador--have been included in books of Tate criticism. And the very shortest--youthful omnibus reviews for the Nashville Tennessean, for instance--are too clipped and generalized to matter in any way except historically. Yet in these reviews of 20 years Tate does reveal the individual: acuities and astigmatisms that his severe vision would be renowned for. (The time bracket, however, focuses inordinate attention on such now-unfashionable writers as Elinor Wylie, Mark Van Doren, Phelps Putnam, John Peale Bishop, Babette Deutsch.) Tate secs what Yvor Winters will be--the ultimate precisionist--while Winters is still an Imagist (1928). He sharply reduces Edna St. Vincent Millay while--the proper approach--taking her seriously. He quotes the unintentionally hilarious lines of Howard Mumford Jones' ""You That Were Beautiful"": ""You that were wonderful/ where have you gone,/ Whose breast of ivory/ like silver shone."" He argues for artistic sectionalism: Pound is treated as a provincial who mistook barbarism for courtesy--a shrewd opinion, if not the whole case. The blindspots: treating MacLeish as a student of Pound; calling Williams the inevitable ""pseudo-primifivist."" The collection may be mostly of archival interest--but Tate, right or wrong, was never less than completely specific, and abundantly so here.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1983
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press