John Crowe Ransom Poetry: American Poets Analysis
Three salient features of John Crowe Ransom’s poetry are his irony, the distinctive, highly mannered texture of his verse, and the relationship between the two. Ransom admired Robert Frost as poet, but his reservations about Frost derived from what he considered the relative thinness of Frost’s poetic texture. Frost’s colloquial style, Ransom objected, reduces the textural richness of the verse to the barest minimum. What it actually does is to lower the sensitivity to its textural character by making the verse look and sound like more or less ordinary speech. Frost’s style is calculated to create the effect that there is no style at all. Ransom’s style, in contrast, is highly mannered, calculated to call attention to itself through its texture. His use of the texture of that mannered style to mask the terrible ironies of existence is his principal achievement as a modern poet.
“Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter”
A particularly good example of one of Ransom’s exercises in ironic masking is “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter.” The paraphrasable content of the poem, Ransom’s “structure,” is easily accounted for. Adults, presumably the family, are awaiting the beginning of the funeral of a very young girl who has died unexpectedly. As they wait, they remember how active the child was, with dramatic recollections of her playing at war and of her chasing geese across the lawn into the pond. The slightness of...
(The entire section is 3442 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of John Crowe Ransom Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!