Joe Rosenblatt Fred Cogswell - Essay

Fred Cogswell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The first four parts of Winter of the Luna Moth demonstrate the truth of the adage, "one touch of nature makes the whole world kin." The similarity between fish, birds, bats, pigs, insects, etc., and human beings with respect to alimentation, reproduction, growth, and death is used to transfer human values and attributes to the world of our finned, furred, feathered, and scaled partners in life on the planet. Such a transfer possesses two poetical advantages. It enables the poet to support his belief in the one-ness of all life, however ugly or beautiful; and it provides him with a fresh vocabulary and an original set of images with which to adorn his work.

The poet's world is the familiar one of the disillusioned idealist—a world in which beauty and nobility are threatened or ruined by the greed of predators, but the expression is anything but familiar; at its most extreme form it is Browningesque grotesque…. At its best, it is fine-textured verse that moves with effortless ease…. (p. 71)

[Part Five, "A Hall of Mirrors,"] is Joe Rosenblatt's most ambitious poem, and a creditable one at that. But, to me, it does not succeed so well as "The Bee Hive (An elegy to Che Guevera)". As one reads this minor masterpiece, one realizes that all the cleverness and the amalgam of fish, moth, bat, pig, etc., with human in the work which had gone before had been apprentice work, leading up to this apparently effortless fusion in which an event in contemporary history takes its place in the perspective of the twin hives of religious symbol and human society.

Winter of the Luna Moth, while sometimes jarring with too heavy rhythyms, too obvious alliteration, and too Joycean attempts at punning, is all the same an original, ambitious, and impressive book of poems, and a reviewer is quite safe in saying that Joe Rosenblatt has in this work found himself as a poet. (p. 72)

Fred Cogswell, "One Touch of Nature," in Canadian Literature, No. 40, Spring, 1969, pp. 71-2.∗