Selected Poems (Magill's Literary Annual 1978)
Robert Penn Warren’s Selected Poems: 1923-1975 represent his retrospective and evaluative view of over a half-century of productivity as a poet. At the age of seventy-three, Warren can look back on an honorable and honored career as a poet and novelist. Promises (1957) won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry; eleven years earlier All the King’s Men won the Prize for fiction. In reviewing this book, therefore, we are reviewing Warren’s career as a poet and his critical judgment in selecting the poems he would like to preserve for posterity.
None of this is meant to imply that Warren’s career as a poet is over—far from it. In a recent New Yorker, he has published “Inevitable Frontier,” a poem which successfully employs a highly developed conversational style to help with a smooth transition from the details of a dreamlike frontier to broad statements of conclusion. We are in a world where “all tongues are sloppily cubical” and “food is, of course, forbidden.” It is also a world where
among others, the namesOf Plato, St. Paul, Spinoza, Pascal and Freud must not be spoken and when,Without warning, by day or night, the appallingWhite blaze of...
(The entire section is 1645 words.)
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