Winter 1992 • Vol. XIV No. 1 Book ReviewsJanuary 1, 1992 |

Two Courses in Poetry

An Enabling Humility: Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, and the Uses of Tradition by Jeredith Merrin. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990. 185 pages. $35.00; $17.00, paper. The Didactic Muse: Scenes of Instruction in Contemporary American Poetry by Willard Spiegelman. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989. 278 pages. $45.00; $12.95, paper. "Tradition," "scenes," "instruction," "didactic," "enabling," "humility": these six words, which I have extracted from the titles and subtitles of the two books under review, neatly convey not only shared concerns but also a kind of atmosphere I want to evoke by looking at each word in turn. It's obvious that these words combine to map a particular scene of instruction—a classroom, or perhaps a seminar room. But where the seasoned critic Spiegelman is a suave lecturer, relaxed enough to digress, bursting with information yet concise, moving along at a brisk pace, Merrin, in what is after all her first critical study, is a

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Four Voices Thinking out Loud

By Rachel Hadas

An Enabling Humility: Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, and the Uses of Tradition by Jeredith Merrin. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990. 185 pages. $35.00; $17.00, paper. The Didactic Muse: Scenes […]

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