The poets nearest to us in time often seem the most remote and difficult. Helen Vendler closes the distance. She keeps the poet in view not only as thinker and artist, but as a man or woman whose humanity never disappears in her analysis. With her penetrating critical gift, Vendler assesses American poets from T. S. Eliot to Charles Wright.
Vendler exhibits in abundance the qualities our poets long for, virtues that make the essays and reviews here collected useful to everybody concerned with the nation’s culture. High among these virtues is the fullness of Vendler’s sympathy with the poets whose work she examines, but even prior to that gift there is her point of view.
Helen Vendler puts herself entirely at the service of the poets she is talking about. Although she writes too well to be invisible, she does not compete or pontificate either… What she does is to offer the poetry to you.
Part of Nature, Part of Us is a book that asks to be reread until it is completely possessed—like a poem. It is significant not only for what Helen Vendler finds in poetry, but for what she brings to it; what she sees in what she reads and what she shows to us is a function of who she is. In all that she writes it is manifest that Helen Vendler reads new poems with knowledge and intelligence and passion and wit and warmth; she comes out to greet them. Because of that, she herself becomes a writer to whom one can return for a sense of life.
Helen Vendler is the best poetry reviewer in America. Her virtues are a rigorous attending to verbal structure and texture; the ability to quote appositely and economically; a sure though not a too-exclusive taste; above all, the ability to do the poem one better by putting into words the relevant responses we might have had if we’d been smarter and more feeling… In her brilliant fusion of reviewing and criticism [she] is the legitimate successor to P. R. Blackmur and Randall Jarrell.
- 390 pages
- 5-3/4 x 9 inches
- Harvard University Press
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