Stanley Kunitz Poetry: American Poets Analysis
Stanley Kunitz constantly sought to achieve higher and higher ground, both in his thoughtful aesthetic and in his themes. Kunitz’s first poems were composed after the initial wave of modernism, led, in poetry, by T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, had crested. They resemble, to some extent, the earlier, tightly organized, ironic poems of Eliot, though the influence of the seventeenth century Metaphysical poets, particularly George Herbert (again an indirect influence of Eliot, who was largely responsible for the resurgence of interest in the Metaphysicals), is probably more preponderant. Moreover, by the 1920’s, the work of Sigmund Freud had successfully invaded American arts and provided the introspective poet with a powerful tool for the analysis of self and culture.
The poems of Intellectual Things sketch many of the themes that would later be subject to elaboration and enrichment: the figure of the regenerative wound that is both the fresh scar of loss and the font of the power to transform experience into art; humans’ willful capriciousness (the “blood’s unreason”) and the inevitable cargo of guilt; and the search for the father, which is ultimately the search for identity, authority, and tradition. These topics pervade Kunitz’s later poems as crucially as they pervaded his early verse.
Eloquent and formally rigorous, the poems in this first collection show a poet already mature in...
(The entire section is 5519 words.)
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