TALES TOLD OF THE FATHERS by John Hollander

TALES TOLD OF THE FATHERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

John Hollander is a poet of Parnassian intellect whose audience consists of other poets. His new collection speaks to them forthright, with dedications to: Auden (who launched him as a Yale Younger Poet in 1958), Mark Van Doren, I.A. Richards, A.R. Ammons, Robert Penn Warren, James Wright, David Kalstone, Daryl Hine. Posted at the entrance of each poem, they're like warnings, ""Private Property: Keep out."" You must stand off to admire Hollander's splendid artifice. He is a model of the self-conscious poet, with a freely tuned ear and an enormous linguistic range (albeit too Victorian in diction for our tastes). But his ruminating is deeply abstract: ""Only the gleaming mind kicks, in its element of green/ Surface aflutter, and refractures broken images."" Their sublime geometry threatens to swallow these poems entirely -- they are ""pictures of pictures,"" marked by closure, dominated by the poet's passion for his own ""inexorable syntax"" and altogether removed from the plainness of sincerity and feeling. Hollander is ""Captain Consciousness"" in the service of ""Father Form."" Like his statue of the storyteller at loannapolis, he receives his only necessary homage from ""a little parade of our own fictions."" Like Greek statues, his poems are graceful, smooth, hard, and cold -- painfully cold.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1975
Publisher: Atheneum