PREFACE TO POETRY by Robert Hawkins


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Robert Hawkins is Master in English of a plush Connecticut prep school, and at the bottom of his acknowledgments list we find: ""Finally, I must express my gratitude to the countless Hotchkiss boys who, year after year, have guided and stimulated my teaching of poetic appreciation."" His book is certainly one for ""the boys, sort of study one thought the New Criticism had driven into the ground. This is probably too harsh a judgment, since Hawkins' expository intent is not geared to the college level, much less the graduate school one. Even so the book has a decidedly old-fashioned air, not only in the sweet simplicity of its commentaries, but also in the choice of representative poems. What old chestnuts deck these pages! ""The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,"" ""Sohrab and Rustum,"" ""Morte d'Arthur,"" ""My Last Duchess,"" ""The Raven,"" etc. The book is divided into six sections, covering the ballad, the epic, narrative verse, the sonnet, lyric and free verse, and examples of light or satiric verse. Eliot's ""Journey of the Magi"" is the only touch of modernism, though such contemporary figures as Frost, Miss Millay and Conrad Aiken are also Present. On the question of selection, it seems regrettable that one 'gets Mathew Arnold but no Milton, Lovelace but no Marvell or Pope or Byron and so forth. Still there's no sense quibbling: Preface to Poetry is what its title indicates, and as such it succeeds in showing the variety of form and the growth of sensibility within English and American verse.

Publisher: Basic Books