Of the generation of American poets who came to prominence in the years following World War II, Robert Lowell has emerged as the acknowledged master and, evidently, the most likely candidate for greatness, the odds-on favorite to fill the shoes of our century’s first generation of poets, the generation which included Pound, Eliot, Williams, Stevens, and Frost. In the 1960’s he has managed to win acceptance and unquestioned recognition by all cliques and schools of contemporary poetry and by a dazzling array of critics at home and abroad. While it must be admitted that some of his reputation is the result of pervasive American insistence upon celebrity in all aspects of our culture, still it represents no slight achievement for Lowell and, equally important, seems to indicate an end to the long, tedious, and largely phony cold war between “the academics” and “the Beats.” In point of fact, Robert Lowell has been recognized as a poet of repute since his LORD WEARY’S CASTLE was published and won for him the coveted Pulitzer Prize, but for a poet to fulfill his early promise and to gain steadily in stature and popularity is rare, especially during a period of literary conflict, questioning, and change.
LORD WEARY’S CASTLE was a powerful and, within the extremely limited precincts of the world of modern poetry, popular introduction to the new formalism which dominated American poetry for a decade following. World War II...
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