WHERE STEEL WINDS BLOW: Poets on War by Robert--Ed. Cromie


Email this review


This anthology of poetry on war aligns good gray poets (Southey, Shelley) with more current ones (Yevtushenko, Babette Deutsch, Louis Simpson). Mr. Cromie chose only poems he liked, and, as he points out, these are rarely pro-war. But primarily the poets are anti-death rather than anti-war and for human not political reasons. Sassoon's bitter comment on a friend's death in World War I: ""I wish you'd caught it in a better show"" is a minor refrain. More representative is Langston Hughes' disillusion with any war seen in the poem that gives the book its title: ""You got to go/ Out yonder where/ The steel winds blow/ . . . A medal to your family--/ In exchange for/ A guy."" There is a smattering of poetry from the ancient Chinese and then heavy reliance on rather romantic British and American verse, with some inexplicable choices. Of the Lowells, James Russell and Amy appear, but where is Robert (our major contemporary pacifist poet)? Similarly, mediocre poets (Charles Norman) and bad ones (Edith Lovejoy Pierce) are overrepresented. The book, then, is a widely inclusive collection of some of the best (but much that is less than that) poetry that is pro-life: ""For a lost flower is a little thing/ But a lost lover means the end of spring."" Mr. Cromie's name will add to the popular rather than literary appeal of the anthology.

Pub Date: Dec. 2nd, 1968
Publisher: McKay