IT WAS the condescending, patronizing attitude of book reviewers and critics toward light verse that caused me to write innumerable newspaper paragraphs, from time to time, assailing the patronizers. Their loftiness is based on fear--fear that the critic's readers will think that he is a light-minded fellow; a man who feels that it is creditable to praise Robinson Jeffers; but to come right out and say that Dorothy Parker is a better poet is anarchy. I am opposed to the ranking system in art or literature. Yet the Pulitzer Award for Poetry has never been given to a writer of Light Verse. Of course, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Stephen Vincent Benét, Archibald MacLeish, and Leonard Bacon have written light verse; but it is a small fraction of their work; and most of the other so-called serious poets are ashamed of their lightness.
Not that most poets wouldn't prefer to write a great serious poem to the best light verse ever written. If I could write either the best "serious" poem or the best piece of light verse, I would vote for lightness, nor is my wine from these grapes sour. I am unashamed. I am unapologetic. Much have I traveled in the realms of verse. Most of mine was mediocre; and almost all of it was written to catch newspaper deadlines. Bad light verse is more to be condemned, it sets the teeth more on edge, than bad serious poetry. Light verse should be flawless in execution; it should have something to say, and say it well. It needs little critical ability to tell whether light verse is good or bad; the difference between good and bad "serious" poetry is far less