Babette Deutsch Introduction - Essay

Introduction

Deutsch, Babette 1895–

Deutsch is an American poet, critic, novelist, and children's book author. She has also translated Russian, German, and French verse, sometimes working with Avrahm Yarmolensky, her husband. Although some critics find Deutsch's intellectual poetry lacking in emotion, her work is generally well received. She is also a respected critic, well known for her study of modern poetry, Poetry in Our Time. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed., and Something about the Author, Vol. 1.)

There are so many of the younger poets whose chief delight it is to tramp in the mud of realism and then leave a gritty trail across the emotions that it is with something approaching a sense of relief that one turns to the author of Banners. Miss Deutsch's muse is close enough to earth for a touch of common humanity, but she does not mire her sandals in all the puddles. As a consequence there is a fresh vigor in her imagery, and a quickness of vision which carries her past some of the pitfalls of expression. What one finds lacking however in many of [the poems in Banners] is an appreciation of the positive values of repression. Miss Deutsch embroiders too heavily upon her pattern, thrusting in new figures, until the fabric is hidden in the profusion. By succumbing to this occasional temptation to overelaborate she lessens the dramatic effects which are the fruits of determined pruning. Her poems reveal a subtle sense of the contrasts which lie in crowds, and the contradictions between the revers of modern life and the verities of nature. Pessimism is in the roots of many of them, but pessimism without bitterness. Their philosophy is significantly mirrored by the recurrence of the adjective "alien" to designate those who have died.

"Notes on New Books: 'Banners'," in The Dial (copyright, 1919, by The Dial Publishing Company, Inc.; reprinted by permission of J. S. Watson, Jr. and Scofield Thayer), Vol. 67, August 9, 1919, p. 120.