Babette Deutsch

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Hayden Carruth

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Anyone who wants to study the difficulties of writing descriptive poetry should not neglect the work of Babette Deutsch, which deserves a more systematic discussion than I can give it here. Briefly and in the first place, metaphor is all; there is nothing else to carry the poem along…. In the second place, since this is so, the metaphor must be contrived with the utmost care and must never be allowed to outlive itself; it must expire at the precise moment when it fulfills its capacities. (p. 116)

Suppose you succeed perfectly and luck gives you just the right metaphorical progression over your landscape, what good is it? It says little, may be even doltish. And so why bother? (p. 117)

Miss Deutsch has ventured courageously on a kind of writing that is difficult and very rarely accomplished well…. It isn't surprising that [Coming of Age: New and Selected Poems] contains some failures, but it contains some successes too, notable specimens that will bring pleasure to any reader of poetry. (p. 118)

Hayden Carruth, "Three Poets," in Poetry (© 1959 by The Modern Poetry Association; reprinted by permission of the Editor of Poetry), Vol. 95, No. 2, November, 1959, pp. 116-21.∗

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