In Memoriam: Frederick Morgan (1922-2004)

By Pritchard, William H. | The Hudson Review, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview

In Memoriam: Frederick Morgan (1922-2004)


Pritchard, William H., The Hudson Review


In his fine introduction to Fred Morgan's last and perhaps best book of poems, The One Abiding, Dana Gioia ends by invoking the "uniquely gifted, indomitably imaginative, and inimitable man whose life work has enhanced and enlarged our literature." It's impossible to improve upon that wholly just tribute, and Gioia is especially convincing in his description of the distinctiveness of Morgan's achievement in poetry. I want here to say the briefest word about how Fred's guiding of The Hudson Review through five decades enhanced and enlarged American letters, and also how, like so many others who have written for the magazine, my own career as a minor man of letters is immensely indebted to him.

On the suggestion of a mutual friend, Fred wrote me in early 1967, asked if I would be interested in writing something for Hudson, and proposed an omnibus review of some slim volumes of poetry from the past three months. Thrilled, scared, and eager to please, I took on the assignment, measured in various terms and tones the contributions of fifteen poets, and was heartened to receive a postcard from Fred that contained the word "excellent." Subsequent assignments followed, with novels, biographies, and literary criticism alternating as challenge to my powers. How many others have a similar story they could rehearse about the stimulus, the intelligent, genial encouragement-above all the sheer attentiveness this remarkable editor provided?

Hudson was the first literary magazine I regularly read, beginning as a college senior, and one can't look back over its early years without gaping at the names: the Men of 1914-Pound, Eliot, and Wyndham Lewis-decades after their early triumphs; the New Critics-Yvor Winters, R. P. Blackmur, Allen Tate; Empson on I. A. Richards, Kenneth Burke on Othello, Northrop Frye on Coleridge; Hugh Kenner on Joyce; Robert Martin Adams, Joseph Frank, R. …

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