Summer 1958 • Vol. XX No. 3 Book ReviewsJuly 1, 1958 |

Catullus

Catullus—The Complete Poetry translated by Frank O. Copley. The University of Michigan Press. $3.75. Catullus is our first great lyric poet. If some of his Greek predecessors might present a prior claim, it would have to be answered not only that too few fragments remain of their work, but that too little can probably be understood about the relation of their poetic dialects to the speech and writing of their contemporary Lesbos and Alexandria. And it was by his manipulation of dialects and usage levels, by his confrontation of literary conventions with the rhetoric of public life and the directions and indirections of the most closeted causerie, that Catullus accomplished what is for our age that requisite task of the lyric writer, the ironic representation, rather than the unmixed report, of his feelings. He is our kind of lyric poet, paradoxically enough, just because his expression is sufficiently removed from actual singing. His poems engage us in their actions—pleading

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John Hollander was the author of numerous books of poetry. His first, A Crackling of Thorns, was chosen by W.H. Auden as the 1958 volume in the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He also wrote criticism, including the award-winning Rhyme's Reason: A Guide to English Verse and The Work of Poetry, and edited or coedited twenty-two collections, among them The Oxford Anthology of English Literature, and American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century. Before his death in August, 2013 he was Sterling Professor emeritus of English at Yale University.

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