The Connecticut River, and Other Poems

The Connecticut River, and Other Poems

The Connecticut River, and Other Poems

The Connecticut River, and Other Poems

Excerpt

The present volume of the Yale Series of Younger Poets contains a poet who is rather hard to catalogue. It is the firmness and tensile strength in Mr. Denney's work, the way in which the individual poems resist breakage as if they were made of some new, tough sort of glass, that interest me most as an editor. I can get no nearer to his particular quality than that, and I am aware that the figure of speech is inaccurate. But while this is work by a young man, there is a deliberate maturity about such poems as "For My Girl's Birthday," which impresses me. It is "modern," it is "contemporary," it looks easy to do, for it goes to a relatively simple rhythm. It is not a bit easy to do, and, if you read it once, you are likely to remember it, and have it come back in your mind. A good deal of modern work is startling but fluid. You will think that you have read a very fine poem, but, a couple of days later, when the preliminary impact has faded, not a line of it will stick. I do not think this is true of Mr. Denney's work. Somehow or other, he has managed to create a medium of his own, in which he can say what he wants to say, about the present or the past, say it in today's language, and yet give it a certain sort of timelessness. That seems to me a considerable achievement.

For subject, he goes where he chooses. He has a good deal to say about America and the American past, and he is able to say it without flag waving. A poem such as the title poem, "The Connecticut River," with its packed connotations and allusions and its incidental reaches of beauty, is like the river itself. It doesn't give up its whole secret at the first encounter, but it repays investigation and rereading. For what Mr. Denney can do in a simpler manner, the reader may turn to section 6 of "Elegy on the Pilot"--the section that begins "Call all the birds of Audubon." Here is something lyric, precise, and yet again, with that intangible quality of firmness which is Mr. Denney's particular gift. I think it, too, is a poem to be remembered.

I suppose that Mr. Denney may be classed with the "intel-

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