M(acha) L(ouis) Rosenthal William E. Stafford - Essay

William E. Stafford

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

M. L. Rosenthal, in attempting to share an understanding of what is valuable in poetry, faces the barrier of having to assume some of that understanding in order to identify that value. A remark attributed to Louis Armstrong comes to mind: "If you gotta ask you'll never know," or in Wordsworth's translation, speaking of the poet: "… you must love him, ere to you / He will seem worthy of your love."

In this instance, a result of this complexity is a book [Poetry and the Common Life] that is probably too good to achieve its aim.

The poetry of common life is hardly ever identified by common people in actual poems; yet it is in poems that poets and their like ordinarily seek...

(The entire section is 473 words.)