[Passport to the War] is a sincere and sound achievement. It is the work of a talented craftsman, with a sharp and elegant mind, and it concerns itself with the most significant problem of the modern world—the murderous and efficient mechanization of our environment that has invaded and corrupted the mind itself. This problem is implicit everywhere in Mr. Kunitz's poems, where under the pressure of our failure, energies that might have been concentrated upon the service of humanity or the love of God are dissipated in frustration and hysteria. This is the inescapable theme of serious modern poetry, and the war gives it the immediacy of an explosion. "How shall we uncreate that lawless energy?" is the question forced on us as we stand with Mr. Kunitz
in the center of that man's madness,
Deep in his trauma, as in the crater of a wound.
And the lawless energy, we realize, is not that of the enemy alone, but that of the undirected forces of mechanization and "progress" that the western world, and especially the Anglo-American world has lived by for nearly two centuries.
"In the destructive element immerse" has been the practical wisdom forced upon this poet, but the method, which has the virtues of necessity and honesty, has also its nullifying weaknesses. Mr. Kunitz is intensely sensitive, intelligent to the point of scepticism, and so agonizingly aware of the pity and horror at the base of the modern dilemma that he has been thrown off balance and has come to the point of making his most effective...
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