Kenneth Rexroth wrote in the tradition of contemplative, mystical, visionary, philosophical, and prophetic poets such as William Butler Yeats, D. H. Lawrence, Walt Whitman, William Blake, Dante, Du Fu, Zeami Motokiyo, and Sappho, all of whom influenced him. Rextroth was an eclectic student of many traditions from many cultures: Judeo-Christian, classical Greek and Roman, Chinese, and Japanese. He was a modernist poet with a passionate commitment to tradition—to that which has lasted for centuries and is worth saving. His work as a whole, expository and autobiographical prose as well as passionate love lyrics, heartrending elegies, ferocious satires, and richly intellectual epic-reveries and dramas, must be read in the context of these diverse traditions. His style ranged from cubist innovations that ally him with Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, T. S. Eliot, and other revolutionists of the word, to the limpid simplicity he learned from Chinese and Japanese masters. This stylistic variety, however, is informed by an unwavering central vision of mystical love, universal responsibility, and spiritual realization.
The Collected Shorter Poems
The Collected Shorter Poems offers a brilliant diversity of styles and forms drawn from Rexroth’s work over four decades. “Andromeda Chained to the Rock the Great Nebula in Her Heart” and other cubist poems share affinities with Gertrude Stein and Louis Zukofsky, as well as with African and...
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