Read Modern American Poetry by Louis Untermeyer Free Online
Book Title: Modern American Poetry|
ISBN 13: 9781443750332
The author of the book: Louis Untermeyer
Edition: Bowen Press
Date of issue: October 6th 2008
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 2.41 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.1
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(how do you rate anthologies? not on the overall quality of the poetry, surely, but on your opinion of the editor's compilation & choices for inclusion? o goodreads/all sites that include book-rating, how i loathe this feature, forever & always)
this book was given to me by my 100-year-old friend because she figured since i ~love literature~ I'd enjoy this. also because, like everyone else, i am attracted to old yellowed books which (due to their age and jaundice) have an air of importance hovering about them. & yes, predictably, I did enjoy this quite a bit. my copy is the third edition, so the poems go up through 1925.
definitely solidified my view that, for school at least, the books we read, especially poetry, should be given some sort of context, whether historical or cultural or literary. because, man, after reading their contemporaries, i have such a greater appreciation for dickinson and whitman because everyone else was...terrible. mediocre. what whitman did was so unprecedented in american poetry not just during his time but for decades after him. (weirdly, though, although whitman is referenced every so often in untermeyer's pre-poetry-selection biographical appraisals, and gets a lengthy appraisal himself in the preface, he is not himself included in the anthology. fairly sure this anthology is post-civil-war or thereabouts—it starts with dickinson.)
untermeyer's opinionated biographical appraisals of the poets are probably the most interesting/entertaining part if one gets a kick out of watching someone wrongly predict the future. it's ridiculous how many times, when talking about some poet i'd never heard of prior to this book, some poet who ends up being average/unmemorable/mediocre/&c, he remarks how such and such poem will surely be remembered or deserves a place in history or whatnot. and on the flip side his usual disdain for the much of the poetry that has ended up surviving or being remembered or digging a little place in history is hilarious—his middling, sometimes distrustful reviews of the imagists, of william carlos williams, of wallace stevens, of t.s. eliot, of e.e. cummings (not to say that cummings is universally appreciated among critics today either, but he certainly did find a place in poetical history)...(to be fair, untermeyer did often give them props for their use of language and image, because how could you not, because, let's face it, everyone else was totally boring with their way of expression.) (also to be fair he loved edna st. vincent millay, but she's easy for him to love because she rhymes and writes sonnets and such. however unlike many in the pack here she still manages to write really great stuff (even transcending her archaic thee/thy thing...come on, edna, it's the twentieth century)—this was the first time i'd really read her besides that short little candle poem, you know what i'm talking about. must investigate her further.)) also contrary to what this paragraph might imply untermeyer is actually a pretty good editor, far more open to experimentalish poetry, it seems, than others of his time.
which isn't to say that only the big-name poets that have survived into the modern day are the only ones worth reading—there was plenty of poetry in here i was glad to discover (a few names, tossed out: john gould fletcher, conraid aiken, lola ridge, maxwell bodenheim (that's cheating i already knew bodenheim)), and if you're only in poetry to read great poetry...well, typing that, i realize that's a highly reasonable approach. but it's not much fun, i suppose.
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Read information about the authorLouis Untermeyer was the author, editor or compiler, and translator of more than one hundred books for readers of all ages. He will be best remembered as the prolific anthologist whose collections have introduced students to contemporary American poetry since 1919. The son of an established New York jeweler, Untermeyer's interest in poetry led to friendships with poets from three generations, including many of the century's major writers. His tastes were eclectic. Martin Weil related in the Washington Post that Untermeyer once "described himself as 'a bone collector' with 'the mind of a magpie.'" He was a liberal who did much to allay the Victorian myth that poetry is a high-brow art. "What most of us don't realize is that everyone loves poetry," he was quoted by Weil as saying, pointing out the rhymes on the once-ubiquitous Burma Shave road signs as an example.
Untermeyer developed his taste for literature while still a child. His mother had read aloud to him from a variety of sources, including the epic poems "Paul Revere's Ride" and "Hiawatha." Bedtime stories he told to his brother Martin combined elements from every story he could remember, he revealed in Bygones: The Recollections of Louis Untermeyer. When he learned to read for himself, he was particularly impressed by books such as Alfred Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King and Dante's Inferno. Gustave Dore's illustrations in these books captivated him and encouraged his imagination toward fantasy. Almost fifty years later, Untermeyer published several volumes of retold French fairy tales, all illustrated by the famous French artist.
In addition to children's books and anthologies, Untermeyer published collections of his own poetry. He began to compose light verse and parodies during his teen years after dropping out of school to join his father's business. With financial help from his father, he published First Love in 1911. Sentiments of social protest expressed in the 1914 volume Challenge received disapproval from anti-communist groups forty years later; as a result of suspicion, Untermeyer lost his seat on the "What's My Line" game show panel to publisher Bennett Cerf. During the 1970s, he found himself "instinctively, if incongruously, allied with the protesting young," he wrote in the New York Times. In the same article he encouraged the spirit of experiment that characterized the decade, saying, "it is the non-conformers, the innovators in art, science, technology, and human relations who, misunderstood and ridiculed in their own times, have shaped our world." Untermeyer, who did not promote any particular ideology, remained a popular speaker and lecturer, sharing criticism of poetry and anecdotes about famous poets with audiences in the United States and as far away as India and Japan.
Untermeyer resigned from the jewelry business in 1923 in order to give all his attention to literary pursuits. Friendships with Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, Arthur Miller, and other literary figures provided him with material for books. For example, The Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer contains letters selected from almost fifty years of correspondence with the New England poet. The anthologist's autobiographies From Another World and Bygones relate as much about other writers as they do about his personal life. Bygones provides his reflections on the four women who were his wives. Jean Starr moved to Vienna with Untermeyer after he became a full-time writer; Virginia Moore was his wife for about a year; Esther Antin, a lawyer he met in Toledo, Ohio, married him in 1933; fifteen years later, he married Bryna Ivens, with whom he edited a dozen books for children.
In his later years, Untermeyer, like Frost, had a deep appreciation for country life. He once told Contemporary Authors: "I live on an abandoned farm in Connecticut ... ever since I found my native New York unlivable as well as unlovable.... On these green and sometimes arctic acres I cultivate wha
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