Lewis Turco Hyatt H. Waggoner - Essay

Hyatt H. Waggoner

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Turco as poet has tended to preserve and rework Modernist attitudes in our post-Modernist period, and Turco as critic has—how consciously I don't know—taken on the role of valiant defender of the timeless verities of the poet's art against all those who promote confusion by putting first what is properly secondary, for instance by writing "confessional" poetry or striking a "prophetic" stance. (p. 50)

[In] Turco's latest poems, the effects of a warming trend in the poet's mental weather is evident, so that his next volume may be expected to surprise those who have not followed the newest poems as they have appeared in the magazines. The "new" Turco may well appear to be attired and equipped not with greatcoat and club but more in the fashion of Whitman…. (p. 51)

Images of winter, of silence, and of either a cold darkness or a cold whiteness suggest, and sometimes establish, the prevailing mood of Awaken, Bells Falling. Quite often they seem to echo early Stevens or early Frost, or both at once. In the title poem the climactic passage in "The Whiteness of the Whale" in Moby-Dick is, consciously or unconsciously, drawn upon to enrich the suggestions of the images. Reading "Winter;/allcolor; whiteness…." we can't help remembering how Melville put it: the whiteness of the perpetual arctic snow was "the colorless all-color of atheism." When we read the final lines of the poem—"… Bells fail in the streets;/the hall empties us into ice,//sheeted, sheer as mirrors, unreflecting."—we find ourselves in the not too different world of Stevens, who thought one must have a...

(The entire section is 670 words.)