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Theodore Roethke he was a modern kind of nature poet a biology poet with the eyes of a microscope. You're always the poet of the candor and the earliest games of the mind and heart. All those wounded soldiers and shot down men turn back into children for a wounded man as again a child. In the poem called the state the child says when they kill my mother it made me nervous. I thought to myself it was right. Of course she was crazy and how she ate and she died after all in her way for the state. But I minded How queer it was to stare at one of them not sitting there. In his earliest collected work one of those five sided anthologies of which New Directions invented to launch young poets. You're all worried the bone of romanticism trying to find a rationale for his departure from what he called modernism. The crux of the problem of our generation was the modernism which had been pounded jaws represented and which through all said did not apply to him or to us.
He pretended that modernism was dead but knew how well it would flourish in the academies. He catalogued the faults of modernist poetry as well as has been done. The emphasis on connotation texture extreme intensity forced emotion violence obscurity emphasis on sensation perceptual nuances and emphasis on the part rather than the whole and much more. He even enumerates the modernist poets attitudes anti-scientific Darrelle was one of the few poets of our age who was not anti scientific and who understood that science was not necessarily the intruder in the house anti-common sense and anti-public. He ends this essay which is very early and very fine with a touch of the style of him. He has his hypothetical reader asking a question the reader may have thought curiously does he really suppose he writes a sort of poetry that replaces modernism and he replies with an ambiguous a diplomatic. Yes. It was say Elliott who was yet the most convenient target of attack for new poets because
alue directed targets wherever his mind let him. It was Al youth who invented modernism and had it patented and it was Arden who first shot at the target and missed. Your rel took care of modernism in practice better than in theory as later he took care of it. It became necessary for everyone my age to attack him as sculptors must attack Mt. Rushmore. Nevertheless autumn and Mt. Rushmore still stand and probably always will. Darrelle I think failed to help establish our generation as a separate force and simply not so simply went his way to write some of the most quietly agonizing poetry of our time. His overestimation of Lowell represented a kind of fear that generationally speaking we did not exist. He half feared being ingested by the Lowell's. I am a child so if you rail I am the Bapaume But let me go and I will send you much juice your poets. I'll send you my mother and father and a fat girl in the library and even my cat.
When John Charedi put together an anthology of our generation with self introductions Lowell was too busy to write his as I was too and you're all reprinted his and calmly I'm about Lowell for Lois introduction. The roster of the generation in that version reads Richard Wilbur Peter Varick Uriel Rue Kaiser Theodore wrathy Carl Winfield Townley Scott John Frederick Nims E.L. Mayo Robert Lowell Randall Jarell John Holmes Richard Everhart John Charedi Elizabeth Bishop and Delmore Schwartz. It is an impressive list in my view a loose confederation of states which had no president. I must say something about Schwartz. In closing Dwight McDonald wrote a memorial about him in the September 8 issue of The New York Review of Books and Alfred Kazin wrote a similar one later in the Tribune. And it MacDonald said all the things an editor the Partisan Review should say. All the
high culture cliches which the Partisan Review takes as gospel. It's strange that this great publication one of the great intellectual corduroys of our century should always have been so obtuse about poetry as if which I believe was the trouble. They didn't understand it. They took a Stalinist view of poetry which is that poetry should go back where it came from and then modified that view with Trotsky's rather 19th century Bohemian view of poetry which reminds one touchingly of perhaps very lame. They could swallow the Four Quartets hook line and sinker and turn on the beat poets like the old GP you. McDonald politically brilliant a jaded libertarian with the old Marxist leadership principle in his heart. McDonnell says that Schwartz was killed by America. A statement that wouldn't stand up five minutes even in a provincial psychiatrist's office any more than that same college cheer that went America killed Dylan. McDonald says
poetry is a dangerous occupation in this country as a by biographers of too many of our best 20th century poets show from as rip out on including the recent deaths of Randall's the rail and Theodore wrathy. This is not a new thing. And then McDonald launches into both of their own pose quote for the United States was nothing more than a vast prison unquote know it. This dismal sociologically oriented view of poetry which is now being taught in junior high school was shared metre by Schwartz nor Jor-El nor myself nor any of the poets I knew of. Whether poetry is more a more dangerous occupation in America than tree surgery or insurance salesman it's hard to say. MacDonald points to Delmore Schwartz is tremendous urge toward self-destruction but contents himself with the easy out that America got down. It's one of those facile aesthetic lies which lead to the formation of poetry committees.
There is this about Schwartz's about Jarell both refused that law and both were tormented by the strategy of a scaping from the elite committees which survive by virtue of the lie. McDonnell discussing his friendship for Swartz Schwartz cites the Jewish gentile difference between them as if this were an area of misunderstanding for an editor of the Partisan Review or even McCall's. You rel on like Schwartz did not become a part of partisan review although he edited poetry and did the poetry reviews for The Nation magazine which is intellectually on a DNA file. The nation and our time was more congenial to poetry than the great quarterlies which always subordinated the poem to the ideology of the magazine. Ural wrote some of his best critiques for the nation and that kindly intellectual morass where one was allowed to become rather than be. So after all Zor-El was hung up as we all were by the sense of common sense. Thomas Paine's or Henry Ford's or the
scientist. And after all McDonnell has a cruiser in his craw that poetry I think he meant being a poet is dangerous in danger would be a better phrase as children are in danger. It comes to the sadness about us that poets are not loved or are loved in the wrong way for the right reasons or whatever that saying is. It comes of the fact that America the mother wants to love its children but is much more successful at killing them off or just making them successful. Darrelle had a brilliance sure a subtle mind and would have been the greatest poet since whoever the last great poet was. Had he not lacked the sense of powers he lacked it to his disaster and to his honor. It is what you might call a psychological factor the psychological factor. He came of a generation that could not hate Mother America but which was afraid of her and for her there was no one of our generation who betrayed her or who tried to topple the Victorian Statue of
Liberty into the drink. Darrelle was of the least anti-American of all of us and the most he recoiled from the boredom and the horror and the glory of the day to day life. But what he did in his poetry which had never really been done before was to face the modern scene and to what more is there to say to face it. He faced the music of the American way of life. But the subject wasn't anything that lightly Donald would know about because the elites never stoop to the observation of the actual. It wasn't anything that the power mad poets would ever see because they were so busy climbing Mt. Everest they don't know what Millennium there Ian. Jor-El tried to do the impossible to observe and make poetry of a chaos without being either inside or outside of it. He did it better than anyone else better than it can be done. He did it passionately and with superb control. He did it with lives in subterfuge and great prose. He did it by hiding and spying reporting and keening.
I would imagine that he wept himself to death out of frustration for the Kafka like many others of our time and polluting those of the intelligentsia out of the ambition which he denied himself because he was more intelligent than any of us out of the love of the natural which denies the political. He died you might say because his heart was in the right place and his heart was even stronger than his intellect. Darrelle was split between his heart and mine. He was modern which means hating being modern. He was born after Humpty Dumpty fell off a wall and he knew that TS Eliot scotch tape wouldn't put anything back together again. That is all I have to say thank you. One of the amount of forward. Karl Shapiro now has been heard in a tribute to the late Randall Jarell. This lecture was recorded at the Library of Congress under the auspices of the Gertrude Clark which all of
poetry and literature fond as one of an occasional series distributed by national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network. A.
Library of Congress lectures
Karl Shapiro, part three
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National Association of Educational Broadcasters
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the third of three parts features poet Karl Shapiro, lecturing about poet Randall Jarrell, who died on Oct. 14, 1965, in a Chapel Hill, North Carolina, auto accident. Shapiro spoke on the one-year anniversary in October 1966. Introduction by L. Quincy Mumford.
Series Description
A series of lectures given at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
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Producer: Library of Congress
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Shapiro, Karl, 1913-2000
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-Sp.2-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:10:39
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Chicago: “Library of Congress lectures; Karl Shapiro, part three,” 1967-09-11, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024,
MLA: “Library of Congress lectures; Karl Shapiro, part three.” 1967-09-11. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Library of Congress lectures; Karl Shapiro, part three. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from