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American Poets Project #2: Poets of World War IIby Harvey Shapiro
Synopses & Reviews
In this American Poets Project volume, Harvey Shapiro identifies a new school of poets: the American poets of World War II. The acclaimed poet and World War II veteran?s pathbreaking collection of work by over 60 poets of the war years ranges from Randall Jarrell, Anthony Hecht, and George Oppen to Richard Eberhart, William Bronk, and W. H. Auden. It features more than a dozen out-of-print poems by such major figures as Vladimir Nabokov, Lincoln Kirstein, Yvor Winters, Woody Guthrie, and Robert Lowell. Shapiro?s selection of works, mostly but not exclusively by poets who served, often reveals the war and the "greatest generation" in an usual light: Witter Bynner opens the volume with a poem about German prisoners in Texas treated more respectfully than African American soldiers; poems by Jarrell, Louis Simpson, and Edward Field speak to antagonisms among soldiers; and poets such as John Ciardi question patriotism with a candor associated more commonly with the Vietnam era than with World War II. Poet-soldiers like Howard Nemerov, William Meredith, Richard Hugo, and James Dickey write about combat with startling immediacy, while William Stafford, as a conscientious objector, demonstrates a dramatically different perspective on the war years.
In his unique, clear-eyed introduction, Shapiro places the volume?s works within both their poets? careers and the larger tradition of war poems. He characterizes his overall project succinctly: "Four hundred thousand Americans died in World War II. This is not a book of celebration, unless it is to celebrate man's ability, indeed his compulsion, to turn terror into art. It is, however, a book with a purpose: to demonstrate that the American poets of this war produced a body of work that has not yet been recognized for its clean and powerful eloquence."
Acclaimed poet and World War II veteran Shapiro's pathbreaking gathering of work by more than 60 poets of the war years includes Randall Jarrell, Anthony Hecht, George Oppen, Richard Eberhart, William Bronk, and Woody Guthrie.
About the Author
Harvey Shapiro, editor, flew thirty-five missions as an Air Force radio gunner during World War II and was decorated for his service. He has edited both The New York Times Book Review and The New York Times Magazine, and his many books of poetry include National Cold Storage Company (1988) and How Charlie Shavers Died and Other Poems (2001)
Table of Contents
Defeat / Witter Bynner — from Canto LXXXIII / Ezra Pound — R.A.F. / H.D. — Pearl Harbor / Robinson Jeffers — "Keeping their world large" / Marianne Moore — Three star final / Conrad Aiken — from By the well of living and seeing / Charles Reznikoff — "When he was small, when he would fall" / Vladimir Nabokov — Ode to our young pro-consuls of the air / Allen Tate — To a military rifle / Yvor Winter) — Witness / Eve Triem — Fury of aerial bombardment / Richard Eberhart — from A song for the year's end / Louis Zukovsky — Careless love / Stanley Kunitz — September 1, 1939 / W. H. Auden — Snatch / Lincoln Kirstein — Survival, Infantry / George Oppen — Rifle range, Louisiana / Charles E. Butler — Pacific / Robert Fitzgerald — Three American women and a German bayonet / Winfield Townley Scott — Spool / Ben Belitt — Cith of beggars / Alfred Hayes — Airman who flew over Shakespeare's England / Hyam Plutzik — Raid / William Everson — Blinding of Isaac Woodard / Woody Guthrie — Navigator / May Sarton — Shot down at night / John Frederick Nims — Scyros / Karl Shapiro — Moon and the night and the men / John Berryman — Jethro Somes' apostrophe to his former comrades / John Pauker — Mined country / Richard Wilbur — Firebombing / James Dickey — Stentor and mourning / Alan Dugan — Still life / Anthony Hecht — Where we crashed / Richard Hugo — Arm in arm / Louis Simpson — Stoic, for Laura Von Courten / Edgar Bowers — World War II / Edward Field — Mothball fleet, Benicia, California / John Haines — War stories / Harvey Shapiro — Sniper / Lucien Stryk — To carelessness / Kenneth Koch — Beachhead / Samuel Menashe — Ten days leave / W. D. Snodgrass — Lost pilot / James Tate.
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