Reynolds Price Poetry: American Poets Analysis - Essay

Reynolds Price Poetry: American Poets Analysis

(Poets and Poetry in America)

In the preface to The Collected Poems, Reynolds Price writes that his encounters with poetry began during his days at public school; the poems that he read, studied, and memorized there continue to be important to him. Emily Dickinson was an early favorite; later, however, Milton became his specialty. Even as Price wrote his early prose, his desire to write poetry increased. He yearned to apply rhyme, assonance, rhythm, and other poetic devices to his writing to preserve an event, a religious experience, a dream, or a memory.

For years, Price did not consider including his early poems in his published collections. However, he included two earlier poems, “The Sleeper in the Valley” and “I Say of Any Man,” in The Laws of Ice and Vital Provisions, respectively. Price uses a metaphor of sleep for a war casualty in “The Sleeper in the Valley.” “I Say of Any Man” promotes “good” and “wise” as ideals.

Many of Price’s poems are sonnets. In his preface to The Collected Poems, he admits to having often used the four-stress line common in Beowulf (c. 1000). Although most of Price’s poems are short, some of them—such as the eleven-page “House Snake” in The Laws of Ice—are much longer.

Vital Provisions

Dreams are significant in Vital Provisions. Price devotes whole poems to dreams and uses the term “dream” in poem titles to indicate their importance. Three such poems are “The Dream of a House,” “The Dream of Lee,” and “The Dream of Food.” The other major theme in this volume is religion; religious topics are the subject of ten poems, including “Bethlehem—Cave of the Nativity,” “Jerusalem—Calvary,”...

(The entire section is 722 words.)