THE POEM OF THE MIND by Louis L. Martz


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Professor Martz finds his text in Wallace Stevens: ""The poem of the mind in the act of finding/What will suffice."" But it is only in the concluding chapters that he deals with the late American poet. His opening pages are devoted to Donne, and in them he explores Donne's ""meditative voice,"" especially as it is heard in the Holy Sonnets. The sequence on Donne and other metaphysical poets, such as Herbert and Vaughan, accents the idea of controlled imagery and perceptions, ""the firm pattern of a concept, of a figure, of a will,"" which is carried through in the essays that follow, touching particularly on the little known work of the 17th century New England poet, Edward Taylor. Martz then describes the various symbolic schemes or dramatic metaphors of Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Eliot, Carlos Williams, Theodore Roethke, and Stevens, showing how each achieved a style in accordance with the demands of the meditative self. This procedure is rather abstract, and at times unconvincing, or simply odd, re the parallel interpretation of Whitman and Dickinson. But Martz, though devoid of what one can call an engaging style, has nevertheless written a valuable work, both for its close readings of individual poems or passages, and its interesting, insightful of elaboration of connecting historical and esthetic motifs. Further, the Patterson commentary is nothing less than splendid.

Publisher: Oxford