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This article is taken from PN Review 133, Volume 26 Number 5, May - June 2000.

Winter on Winters: Nine Letters to Allen Tate R.L. Barth

The literary friendship of Arthur Yvor Winters and Allen Tate was a long one, surviving a rift in the 1930s, lasting from the 1920s until Winters's death in January 1968. Their attendant correspondence lasted almost as long, 1926-66. When Winters acceded to Alan Swallow's desire to publish a collected poems, it had been almost a decade since his previous full-length book of poems, The Giant Weapon (1943); and when the Collected Poems (1952) did appear, he was pleased to hear that Allen Tate liked the book and planned to review it. He wrote Tate, 'I cannot think of anyone whose praise I would value as much.' At the same time, he noted, '[O]ne or two of your remarks sound ominous. I hope you are not praising me in a denunciatory manner.' In the following paragraph, he mentioned having just seen the galley sheet proof of the review Rolfe Humphries had written for Nation; he thought it 'Cute, patronizing, irrelevant, and generally stupid', although, he supposed, favourable (14 February 1953).

Tate's review, 'Clarity, Elegance, and Power', appeared in the New Republic two weeks later (2 March 1953). It was the lead review and, at four columns, a lengthy one. Tate thought Winters 'among American poets who appeared soon after the first war, Crane being dead, the master'. Furthermore, 'He has conducted a poetic revolution all his own that owes little or nothing to the earlier revolution of Pound and Eliot...' Winters did not agree completely with Tate's review, ...


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