THE COLLECTED POEMS AND EPIGRAMS OF J. V. CUNNINGHAM by J. V. Cunningham

THE COLLECTED POEMS AND EPIGRAMS OF J. V. CUNNINGHAM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Cunningham's poetry surely reflects all the uses, emotional and literary, of rigid traditional forms, from witticism through moral instruction to a device for psychic survival. His glittering fluency in rhymed stanzas with a clear epigrammatic thrust accounts only in part for his reputation: more important is the resonance -- or range of distinct resonances -- he can achieve with such consistently limited means. This volume makes it especially easy to appreciate deepenings of timbre and feeling, arranged as it is in four chronological sections of uncollected poems, 1931-1968, with his 1963 sequence To What Strangers, What Welcome, and two additional undated groups of epigrams and poems from the Latin. He is not free of brittleness or pomp -- the dangers of neoclassicism -- but he has no illusions either about his art (""I now make verses/Who aimed at art"" is his own disparaging judgment) or about any art's power to mitigate experience (""The music of your feeling has its form. . ./ So yours, so mine. And no one overhears""). One sees the best of these as the hard-won dignity of a wounded romantic idealism, most moving in their scrupulous reserve.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1971
Publisher: Swallow Press