Directly connected to the exceptional critical flowering is the equally remarkable flowering of American poetry of these years. Among other things, as mentioned, not a few of the main exponents of the first are also figures of particular importance in the second. Literary schools and magazines have, even in the training of young poets, decisive importance and prominence, so that through them mainly the Eliottian and Poundian dictatorship mentioned above is expressed, directly or medically. More recently, the weight of WH Auden’s physical, poetic and editorial presence in the United States had to be added. The value, and the limits, of these influences have been variously interpreted and evaluated,
In the meantime, some of the germs of the years around the First World War, and even earlier ones, reach full development in these years. So the publication of books such as the complete critical edition of Emily Dickinson, edited by TH Johnson (The poems of E. D., Cambridge, Mass., 1955) or as the last volumes of Ezra Pound (The Pisan Cantos, 74 – 84, 1948. the cantos of E. P., 1 – 84, 1948; Section: Rock – Drill, 85-95, de los Cantares, 1956) or the reissue of Personae: the collected poems(New York 1950) or, again, Paterson Book II (1948), Book III (1949), Book IV (1949), Book V (1958) by William Carlos Williams, are literary events that characterize and define the last decade as much and perhaps better than the new and very new voices, the current poetic and cultural climate is still closely linked to the sentimental and intellectual humus that initially expressed them. Alongside the names mentioned, many poets of the elderly generation who in recent years have published books or reprints of considerable importance. From Marianne Moore (Predilections, 1955; Like a bulwark, 1956) to EE Cummings (χαῖρε, 1950; 95 poems, 1948), by Robert Frost (A masque of mercy, 1947; Complete poems of R. F., 1949) to Wallace Stevens (Collected poems, 1954; Transport to summer, 1947; The auroras of autumn, 1950), from Allen Tate (Poems, 1920-1945, 1947) to John Crowe Ransom (Poems and essays, 1955).
As for the generation of “means”, whose poetic work appears almost entirely in this period, it, although sentimentally and contentistically conditioned by the experience of the war, has come to give different colors and directions to the questions of the “Waste land” and its Puritanism steeped in classical thrills, is still expressed in forms and manners that derive from the immediately preceding poetry. Thus we also have the reference to a more immediate and direct lyrical effusion, expressed in different ways by a Peter Viereck (see above all his Terror and decoration of 1948, which earned him the Pulitzer Prize in the same year) and by a Karl Shapiro (v. in Mid – Century American poets, New York 1950, edited by J. Ciardi, his statements in this sense) are essentially resolved in poetic expressions of extreme formal control, in which even the hottest and most open sensuality, or the most accurate and burning sentiment (see for example some of the war poems) or the most desolate sense of isolation are composed in the exercise of a mastery that sometimes unfortunately attenuates the fundamental lines of the drawing to the point of suffocating them at all. Formal skill and pure technicality, combined with a subtle aptitude for capturing the echoes of one’s own tenuous sentimental moments in the voices of the poets of the American tradition, are also, and indeed in the main form, the characteristics of the poetry of a younger poet, Richard Wilbur, in which, in fact, the search for “composing oneself in the composition” is more evident
Robert Lowell’s poetry, on the other hand, although it is itself extremely polite and formally elaborated, and while enriched by all the cultural contributions alluded to, as well as being clearly aware of the weight, not only cultural, of tradition, seems to vibrate deeper and more profound. constant sentimental vein, and feed on more solid and humanly alive poetic material. Good, if not very high poetry, however, is all that of this generation. From Elizabeth Bishop (North and South, 1946; A cold spring, 1955) to John Ciardi (As if, 1955a, from Randall Jarrell (v.) To Richard Eberhart (v.). Of all the nervous intensity of Theodore’s poetry stands out. Roethke (The lost son, 1949; Praise to end, 1951; The waking, 1953), full of genuine, human fervor.
As for the most recent generation, which some, with reference to similar European situations, have defined the “fourth generation”, it does not yet seem to have found ways and tones that substantially characterize it. And yet hers should have been different from the previous problematic, as profoundly different was the material and spiritual environment of America in which she found herself surviving and trying to recognize herself; and otherwise the formal problem of poetic expression should have been posed, now radically transformed and upset by forty years of experimentalism. And yet, do you want this poem of young and very young people to come out of the classrooms of the great universities (from Hecht to Horan, caves New Yorkers like Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac or Gregory Corso ended up enjoying with the San Francisco group (from Lawrence Ferlinghetti to Charles Olson, to Marcia Landi) of a sudden popularity that has extraordinarily reverberated in Italy, it does not seem however that they there they are saying new things, nor are they saying them in a new way. Thus the elegant verbal arabesque of the one as well as the calculated vocal excess of the others, arouse well-known echoes that the same apparent avant-gardism ends up ironically backdating. It is true that most of this very latest American poetic production has so far been published in scattered university or avant-garde publications, and therefore obviously lacking a panoramic and overall vision, but it is still worth noting for the moment that in time to flourish of verses are not given, for now,