PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Subha Mukherji Dying and Living with De la Mare Carl Phillips Fall Colors and other poems Alex Wylie The Bureaucratic Sublime: on the secret joys of contemporary poetry Marilyn Hacker Montpeyroux Sonnets David Herman Memories of Raymond Williams
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This article is taken from PN Review 109, Volume 22 Number 5, May - June 1996.

To Fit a Late Time: a reading of Five American Poets Jeremy Hooker

The idea or feeling that we are situated 'late' in time is a potent one, especially for poets who are heirs to the modernist tradition, and who seek to find or reconstruct a common world among the ruins of civilization. John Matthias, in an essay on Robert Duncan and David Jones, quotes Jones's view that, 'Normally… the flowers for the muse's garland would be gathered from the ancestral burial-mound.' Matthias notes the implication, 'that we live in abnormal times, that we come very late indeed into the world of our ancestors'. Consciousness of 'lateness', in one sense or another, is shared by the poets with whom I am concerned in this essay.

I shall base what I have to say on readings of new books, or books published quite recently, by five American poets whose earlier work was represented in the anthology of that title published by Carcanet in 1979: Robert Hass, John Matthias, James McMichael, John Peck, and Robert Pinsky. One reason for grouping the poets in the anthology was that they had been students of Yvor Winters at Stanford. Michael Schmidt, in his Introduction, says that if they 'share a debt to Winters, it must be as much a moral as a poetic debt', and claims that 'all five poets evince one element of Wintersian disdpline'. This is 'sanity'; in the words of John Matthias, 'sanity at work in poetry even where emotion is nearly intolerable'.

It is not my intention to pigeonhole ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image