Galway Kinnell’s earliest poems demonstrate his ability to express himself in traditional poetic forms governed by rhyme and meter. “A Walk in the Country,” “The Feast,” and “First Song” (from What a Kingdom It Was), among others, have each been critically acclaimed for their tenderness and delicacy. Citing constrictions on creative expression, however, Kinnell came to reject rhyme and meter—a position in agreement with Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and Walt Whitman, all of whose influences can be traced in Kinnell’s poetry—and espoused free verse as the exclusive suitable medium for modern American poetry. Even in his “pre-enlightened” days, however, when the influence of William Butler Yeats was most evident, there was evidence of his preoccupation with secular sanctification of the material world and with humankind’s hope for regeneration after death, though he rejected the possibility of bodily resurrection; these themes would continue to mark his later work, though the form of that work would change considerably.
The last stanza of “First Song” carries suggestions of Kinnell’s more dramatic, mature voice found in his monumental achievement “The Bear” (Body Rags):
It was now fine music the frogs and the boysDid in the towering Illinois twilight...
(The entire section is 2425 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Galway Kinnell Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!