Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

The poetry of Louis Untermeyer (UHN-tuhr-mi-uhr) represents only a fraction of his total work. He put his name on well over a hundred books, ranging from The Kitten Who Barked (1962, a children’s story) to A Treasury of Ribaldry (1956), and from his historical novel Moses (1928) to A Century of Candymaking, 1837-1947 (1947). Most of his effort, however, went into four areas: anthologies of poetry, criticism, biography, and children’s literature. Some of the most important works that he edited were Modern American Poetry (1919), Modern British Poetry (1920), and A Treasury of Great Poems (1942, 1955). He broke new ground in criticism with The New Era in American Poetry (1919, 1971) and provided a useful literary reappraisal in American Poetry from the Beginning to Whitman (1931), which he edited. His early textbook Poetry: Its Understanding and Enjoyment (1934, with Carter Davidson) paved the way for Understanding Poetry: An Anthology for College Students (1938), edited by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, and a host of other works. Although Untermeyer published one massive analytical biography, Heinrich Heine: Paradox and Poet (1937), he was better known for the biographical essays in Makers of the Modern World (1955) and Lives of the Poets (1959). Untermeyer’s contributions to children’s literature include collections of poetry such as This Singing World (1923-1926) and Stars to Steer By (1941), as well as many stories and collections of stories—among them, Chip: My Life and Times (1933), The Donkey of God (1932; winner of the 1932 Italian Enit Award for a book on Italy by a non-Italian), The Last Pirate: Tales from the Gilbert and Sullivan Operas (1934), and The Golden Treasury of Children’s Literature (1959, with Byrna Untermeyer).