Their Ancient Glittering Eyes: Remembering Poets and More Poets : Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot, Archibald MacLeish, Yvor Winters, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound

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Ticknor & Fields, 1992 - Poetics - 348 pages
""Great poetry," wrote Donald Davie in the New York Times, reviewing an earlier version of this wonderful portrait gallery, "is a record of sanity maintained and achieved . . . I suspect that Donald Hall has written a modern classic." Young Donald Hall was fortunate to know and study with some of the great poets of the century, and to conduct interviews with others. This book, enlarged, enriched, and rewritten, lights up the elder poets it describes with freshness of approach and clarity of vision." "Robert Frost, behind his performing mask, was not only kinder than his biographers admitted, but more egotistical than legend allowed. Hall catches him in both attitudes. To cope with Dylan Thomas on one of his sprees was as harrowing for young Donald Hall - and as productive of hangovers - as for anyone else. Hall got to know T. S. Eliot first through an act of inadvertent copyright violation, but relations soon and profoundly improved. Archibald MacLeish, at ease in the White House and the Library of Congress, was somewhat awkward among his students, while Yvor Winters, terror of the critical quarterlies, evinced depths of unexpected tenderness. Marianne Moore, unpredictable and zany, proved to be a source of wonder and delight amid the knickknacks in her Brooklyn apartment. Ezra Pound, interviewed with great pains in his old age in Italy, could barely bring himself to speak of his past acts and opinions." "Hall's portraits of these giants of twentieth-century American poetry not only depict them as they were in their lives, but illuminate their work and their attitudes to it, born of diverse sources of talent, sympathy, and understanding. Other books on the great poets of our century have been either scholarly or strictly biographical. This book speaks of poets as poets, evoking W. B. Yeats's great poem "Lapis Lazuli":" "On all the tragic scene they stare./ One asks for mournful melodies;/ Accomplished fingers begin to play./ Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,/ Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay." "No wonder that Hilton Kramer has written of this book, in the New York Times Book Review, "I am certain it will be read and savored for a long time to come.""--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - unclebob53703 - LibraryThing

I found this hard to finish, too much detail on some poets I didn't care that much about. It's no spoiler to say that the most beloved of them, Robert Frost, turns out to be an asshole. Read full review

THEIR ANCIENT GLITTERING EYES: Remembering Poets and More Poets

User Review  - Kirkus

Hall (Here at Eagle Pond, 1990, etc.) has updated his 1977 book of literary gossip—memories, anecdotes, psychoanalytic clues- -beyond the original quartet of subjects: Dylan Thomas, Frost, Eliot, and ... Read full review


Old Poets
Vanity Fame Love and Robert Frost
Dylan Thomas and Public Suicide

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About the author (1992)

Donald Hall ranks among our foremost writers. He is the author of numerous books of verse & prose, including "Without," "The Museum of Clear Ideas," & "The Old Life.

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