Last Looks, Last Books: Stevens, Plath, Lowell, Bishop, Merrill (The A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts)

Last Looks, Last Books: Stevens, Plath, Lowell, Bishop, Merrill (The A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts)

Helen Vendler


In Last seems, final Books, the eminent critic Helen Vendler examines the ways that 5 nice glossy American poets, writing their ultimate books, try and discover a type that does justice to existence and dying alike. With conventional spiritual consolations now not to be had to them, those poets needs to invent new how one can convey the concern of loss of life, in addition to the paradoxical coexistence of a declining physique and an undiminished recognition. In The Rock, Wallace Stevens writes simultaneous narratives of iciness and spring; in Ariel, Sylvia Plath sustains melodrama in cool formality; and in Day through Day, Robert Lowell subtracts from plenitude. In Geography III, Elizabeth Bishop is either stuck and freed, whereas James Merrill, in A Scattering of Salts, creates a sequence of self-portraits as he dies, representing himself by way of things like a Christmas tree, human tissue on a laboratory slide, and the evening/morning megastar. the answer for one poet won't serve for an additional; every one needs to invent a bridge from an old-fashioned to a brand new one. Casting a final examine existence as they think of loss of life, those glossy writers increase the assets of lyric poetry.

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