William Rose Benét (essay date 1933)
SOURCE: A review of Ballads of Square-Toed Americans, in Saturday Review of Literature, Vol. X, No. 10, September 23, 1933, p. 135.
[In the following excerpt, Benét reviews Ballads of Square-Toed Americans and praises the pictorialism and gusto he finds. ]
This week I have three books on my table for particular comment. All of them are American. Of the three, one is by Robert P. Tristram Coffin, who has now won a place for himself among the best American poets of his time. This is his fifth book of poems—and his prose work includes two books of essays and three biographies. His present volume, Ballads of Square-Toed Americans, is endemic and chiefly narrative. The Saturday Review of Literature first presented one of the longer narratives, "The Schooling of Richard Orr," to Mr. Coffin's public. I am glad to remember that this journal gave so much space to that poem, because, as I reread it, the imaginative reliving on the author's part of an Indian raid strikes me again, in its forthright vividness, as a remarkable feat. And there are other poems in this book no less noteworthy for originality of treatment. "The Truce of the Mohawks," though not one of the poems designed to carry out Mr. Coffin's more patriotic notion of his book, is an account of an early clambake that appeals to me greatly by virtue of its deft pictorial quality:
(The entire section is 591 words.)