Richard Tillinghast Henry Taylor - Essay

Henry Taylor

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Sleep Watch] is Tillinghast's first book, and a few of the usual first-book problems show up in it, but on the whole, it has a quiet, insistent strength which makes it memorable. The book is divided into three sections; the first consists of poems in which a high tension is drawn between a quiet tone and a wildly inventive imagination, helped along by devices (broken lines, departures from normal punctuation, transitionless leaps from image to image) which Tillinghast admits having borrowed from Dickey and Merwin. The second section, "The Old Mill," is a long poem relying on these same devices; but the third, "1959–1963," contains surprisingly traditional poems, most of which describe a love affair and its conclusion. The title of this section leads me to believe, I hope mistakenly, that Tillinghast has developed a rigid loyalty to the style of the first two sections. Tillinghast is equally good in both modes, and I hope he continues to be. As it stands, this book is an arrival, not merely a beginning; I hope it does not also signal a too-vehement departure. (p. 350)

Henry Taylor, "Boom, Recent Poetry from University Presses," in The Georgia Review (copyright, 1970, by the University of Georgia), Vol. XXIV, No. 3, Fall, 1970, pp. 349-55.∗