Louis Coxe Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Given Louis Osborne Coxe’s disdain for poets who demanded that their verse reveal biography, it is not surprising that he was reticent, even after he had achieved a measure of critical recognition, to indulge in personal revelation—therefore biographical details are sketchy. Coxe was born in Manchester, a bustling urban center in southern New Hampshire. A bright student with a love of classic poetry, specifically that of Geoffrey Chaucer and John Donne, Coxe attended a private Episcopalian all-boys preparatory school, St. Paul’s, in nearby Concord. He attended Princeton University, graduating in 1940 with a degree in English. He was particularly drawn to the deep pessimism and unsettling anxieties in the poetry of both Robinson and Robert Frost. He was also impressed by their mastery of conventional forms, their precise and deft handling of prosody, and the apparent simplicity of their verses in an era of burgeoning experimental poetry that worked to reject such conventions. After his graduation, he taught briefly at two preparatory schools, the Lawrenceville (New Jersey) School and the Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts.

From 1942 to 1947, Coxe served in the U.S. Navy, seeing action in the South Pacific theater, and all the while writing verse about what he witnessed, appalled by the amorality and the violence of war. He published those verses after his discharge and subsequently accepted a teaching appointment at Harvard (1948-1949)....

(The entire section is 481 words.)