Brewster Ghiselin Sara Henderson Hay - Essay

Sara Henderson Hay

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Brewster Ghiselin is a young poet of considerable talent. He is an experimenter in slant rhyme, in untraditional form, in freer rhythms, and for the most part his technique is disciplined and expert. Only occasionally do his poems [in "Against the Circle"] seem mannered, and more an exercise in sound effect than the expression of a deeply felt poetic impulse. Sometimes in his effort to create a startling or original impression he twists words out of their ordinary usage—"We do not hear the ancient darkness thicking," for example—or "the cat, heavying with harsher fur"—certainly awkward and obviously contrived artificialities….

But these are extreme instances. He is capable of accurate, unaffected imagery and observation….

And he can write with dignity and profundity of man's eternal search for a symbolic New World….

The best in this book is a poetic achievement of no mean quality; the weaknesses I am sure Mr. Ghiselin will master or outgrow. For all his experimenting, he is at heart a traditionalist—and of the high tradition of fine and enduring poetry.

Sara Henderson Hay, "Three Techniques: 'Against the Circle'," in The Saturday Review of Literature (copyright © 1946 by Saturday Review; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Vol. XXIX, No. 12, March 23, 1946, p. 11.