The Sonnets of Merrill Moore

The Sonnets of Merrill Moore

The Sonnets of Merrill Moore

The Sonnets of Merrill Moore

Excerpt

I undertake this task with considerable diffidence. In the first place, I have been associated with Merrill Moore's literary activity for ten years--ever since the publication of The Noise That Time Makes, which I reviewed for Hound & Horn. In the second place, I was personally involved in the preparation of the book I propose to discuss in this essay: the thousand sonnets that make up M were chosen from God knows how many thousands read and, as it were, graded by a kind of Jury composed of John Crowe Ransom, Donald Davidson, Alfred Starr, Louis Untermeyer, and myself. This jury never sat as a body, and, so far as I know, its members never communicated their findings to each other; but the consensus of its judgment was of prime importance in guiding the author's final choice for his book. For these reasons I am in a sense disqualified as a critic: I can not speak with complete objectivity of the poetry of Merrill Moore because I have been too close to it in the making. But no one, so far, has shown any disposition to treat the subject with the seriousness I think it deserves. The almost universal reaction to M--as to Six Sides to a Man and (to a smaller extent, since the author was then unknown) The Noise That Time Makes--has been that of amused tolerance, of irrelevant, half-ironic applause. For there is a Merrill Moore legend,--the ten sonnets daily, the fifty thousand yet unpublished sonnets in the bound files, the prescription blank, the laundry- check, telephone-pad jottings for poems, the sonnets scribbled at . . .

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