RESPONSES: Prose Pieces, 1948-1976 by Richard Wilbur

RESPONSES: Prose Pieces, 1948-1976

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Responses is both a modest and an accurate title for this collection of sixteen short essays by the Pulitzer prize-winning poet. Although each essay was prepared on the occasion of an invitation to lecture, to compose a broadcast, to address a graduating class, or introduce a volume of poetry or drama, each slips beyond formal expectations as easily as Wilbur glides from Housman to Milton and St. Paul, back to Housman and beyond. Wilbur's readings of Shakespeare, Poe, Emily Dickinson, Whitman and Frost are well within the formalist tradition, but they're scrupulous, original, and rousing; his courteous arguments with the precepts of William Carlos Williams are balanced and instructive; the seriousness and quick sensibility he brings to the complex issues of aesthetic motivation, poetic imagination, and literary convention reflect the concerns of a masterful poet as well as those of a scholar. Though the range of the essays is narrow, together they give us the glimpse of a highly concentrated mind making its precursors available and alive.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1976
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich