IT HAS never been my intention to write this book. For many years I have waited hopefully for someone else to write it--someone with more learning, authority, and literary competence than I have. This book, or a more judicious version of it, should have appeared a full generation ago, but we are still without it. The dictatorship of intellectual "modernism," the sanctimonious ministry of "the Tradition," the ugly programmatic quality of twentieth-century criticism have maimed our poetry and turned it into a monstrosity of literature. This criticism and the poetry it purveys have corrupted the curriculum of literature at every level in our schools and universities and have effected a complete blackout of public opinion in the art of poetry. An opposing voice will indeed seem quixotic; yet it may be the signal for a general assent.
These essays are addressed to the general public, to young poets and to teachers. The vast and well-organized army of critics will of course negate me; the intellectuals will drop their poses of serenity and hurry to defend their editorial castles. But poets, teachers, and public will, I hope, find comfort in these pages and once more take courage in the act of spontaneous