PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
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)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Sasha Dugdale On Vision Yehuda Amichai's Blessing Chris Miller on Alvin Feinman Rebecca Watts Blue Period and other poems Patrick McGuinness's Mother as Spy

This article is taken from PN Review 226, Volume 42 Number 2, November - December 2015.

The Heavy Bear: Delmore Schwartz’s Life Versus His Poetry John Ashbery

The following text was delivered as a Lecture at the sixty-seventh general meeting of the English Literary Society of Japan, 21 May 1995.

When I was first asked to give a lecture before the English Literary Society of Japan, I had the idea of discussing American poetry of the 1930s. There were two reasons for this. The first was that the period isn’t widely known, even in America, and that much fine poetry between, let us say, the death of Hart Crane in 1933 and the publication of Robert Lowell’s first major collection, Lord Weary’s Castle, in 1946, has been simply forgotten. My second reason was that the poetry in question was precisely that which I began reading when I first decided I was going to be a poet, and it inevitably helped to shape the poetry I was then writing; I assumed, rightly or wrongly, that those who invited me here and were coming to hear me lecture might be interested in my formation as a poet. However, I soon realized that the subject was too inconveniently broad for such an occasion. As I thought of the first modern poets I had enjoyed reading, I kept thinking of more and more names and poems, most of which would be inaccessible to Japanese readers, as indeed they are to Americans (except in specialized library collections).

The thought then occurred to me to devote the lecture to Delmore Schwartz. Though his reputation is sadly diminished from what it was at his beginnings in the late 1930s, it has been kept ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image