June 07, 2012
Sanctuary in the Wilderness: A Critical Introduction to American Hebrew PoetryBy Alan Mintz (Stanford University Press, 520 pp., $65) I. ON DECEMBER 17, 2007, on the storied stage of the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Hebrew language—its essence, its structure, its metaphysic— entered American discourse in so urgent a manner as to renew, if not to inflame, an ancient argument. The occasion was a public conversation between Marilynne Robinson and Robert Alter: a not uncommon match of novelist with literary scholar.
The Spiritual In Art
February 18, 2009
Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater Jewish Museum Mystic Masque: Semblance and Reality In Georges Rouault McMullen Museum I. THE WHEEL OF fashion, which turned Marc Chagall and Georges Rouault into has-beens a few decades ago, is turning again. These two misunderstood moderns are being taken seriously. The rise of identity politics in the intellectual world has certainly played a part.
Sing for Me, Muse, the Mania
October 08, 2008
Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell Edited by Thomas Travisano with Saskia Hamilton (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 845 pp., $40) '"Your poem came to the right buyer," Robert Lowell wrote to Elizabeth Bishop during the spring of 1976 after receiving "One Art," the nineteen lines that Bishop called "the one & only villanelle of my life." Composed in a tightly repetitive form inherited from the troubadours of the late Renaissance, "One Art" may be the best known, most anthologized American poem of the past half-century.
Dark Darker Darkest
January 22, 2007
The Notebooks of Robert Frost Edited by Robert Faggen (Harvard University Press, 792 pp., $39.95) ROBERT FROST'S POETRY is full of actions taken on obscure impulse. A man reins in his horse on "the darkest evening of the year" to watch the woods fill up with snow. Why does he interrupt his journey? "The woods are lovely, dark and deep." Another man hesitates where "two roads diverged in a yellow wood" and takes "the one less traveled by." These poems are so familiar that it is almost painful to quote them. Others less well known are no less driven by impulse.