Eric Mottram

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 128

Whatever the level of discourse a Williams poem will pun, pause and turn, combine invention with echo, autobiographical experience with literary information. Its sheer liveliness is exhilarating (and, rarely, self-indulgently buoyant, as if the poetic action shifted to formal abstraction only out of pleasure in virtuosity). Few other contemporary poets...

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Whatever the level of discourse a Williams poem will pun, pause and turn, combine invention with echo, autobiographical experience with literary information. Its sheer liveliness is exhilarating (and, rarely, self-indulgently buoyant, as if the poetic action shifted to formal abstraction only out of pleasure in virtuosity). Few other contemporary poets have his range of appreciation of rascality and corruption, his love of innocence and the ecstatic, and his intuitive and cultivated feeling for the visionary. He can finesse like Sahl or Bruce but he returns to a core of romantic vision for stability: Blake, Palmer, Vaughan in poetry and visual art, the voices of Thoreau and Clare, and the paintings of the Norwich watercolourists and "Mad Dick Dadd". (p. 106)

Eric Mottram, "Jonathan Williams," in Vort, Fall, 1973, pp. 102-11.

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