Stanley Kunitz American Literature Analysis
Haunted since early childhood by the murky impressions he had of his dead father, Kunitz often wrote about father-son relationships. Perhaps his most familiar poem is “Father and Son,” published originally in Passport to the War and frequently anthologized. In the poem, a son quests after his lost father but, after catching up with him, finds him inarticulate. The son tells his father his story of loss and longing. The father, dead, can offer the son nothing, his face a “white ignorant hollow.” This is Kunitz’s image of his own father, whose fleeting image, as an anonymous face in a photograph, had been ripped from young Stanley’s hand by his irate mother.
Kunitz is a careful poet. His poetic production until the early 1970’s consisted of only three volumes. The first, Intellectual Things, suggested the poet’s potential but revealed that he had not yet fully grasped the technique of writing the kind of poetry that is usually adjudged the work of an accomplished artist. The fifty poems in this early collection were, according to Kunitz, attempts on his part to demonstrate that intellect and emotion are too closely interconnected ever to exist independently.
The strongest and most telling poem in Intellectual Things is “Vita Nuova,” a work influenced by Kunitz’s reading of Dante Alighieri. This poem, traditionally formal in its versification, has a first-person narrator who is closely akin to...
(The entire section is 3212 words.)
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