RESIDENT ALLEN: Poems by Daryl Hine


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Mountains rise above us like ideas/ Vague in their superior extent."" So, even in these relatively accessible, free-breathing lines, looms the accomplished, disciplined pomposity of Daryl Hine, editor of Poetry magazine, classicist scholar and translator. One can't help being awed by Hine's ability to swim so familiarly in a sea of Latin quotations and latinate English (buoyed by an occasional ""bitch"" or ""Justice is a mother fucker""), just as one is impressed by his mastery of and over form -- there are, for example, the Horatian ode ""Choubouloute,"" the witty, successful Miltonic sonnet ""Phoenix Culpa,"" and a round of ""Vowel Movements"" that runs assonantly from ""Vacant the gymnasium where words once played"" to ""those voices that boil up like bubbles on the face of the void"" and back again. Nevertheless, it is difficult for anyone who does not find himself, like Hine, a ""resident alien"" on the planet earth to tolerate an entire volume of poems, even clever poem, about boredom. How does one empathize with ennui-sodden regrets over ""How fascinating ordinary life is,/ Or used to be!"" (Mr. Hine is 38), or with the wan hope that somehow his alienation is due to the bankruptcy of our debased slang, redeemable (perhaps) only if ""the most recherche style, the most affected/ Can sustain the weight of time and tears and truth""? Students of poetics will surely want to gather round to analyze the historical allusions. But it's not so much the weight of Pound's mantle that makes Hine's endeavors so wearying; it's his attenuation of human tragedy into the ""omnipresent titter of the void"" and the depressing, self-embarrassed admission ""That even when there's nothing left to say/ It's essential to say something anyway.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1975
Publisher: Atheneum