Autumn 1939 • Vol. I No. 4 Book ReviewsOctober 1, 1939 |

From That Island

Modern Poetry: A Personal Essay. By Louis MacNeice. Oxford. $3.00 Mr. MacNeice’s matter is more personal than his manner, which is highly unindividual; the straightforward, general, elevating tone, varied judiciously with jokes or pieces of slang, the reassuringly commonplace analogies, the frequent little guidebook summaries, the general air of more or less talking down, of goodhumoredly and sensibly overlooking any unprofitable or embarrassing complications, make his book remind you of one of those endowed series of lectures by some prominent physicist, who also gets you to accept what he knows by putting it simply, what he believes by putting it inspiringly. (Sometimes Mr. MacNeice does worse, and his sentences have a haunting ring of the Scout's Handbook: for instance, when he decides that rhyme is desirable because it presents a "healthy technical problem,” or that writing light lyrics for music is a "healthy” occupation.) He writes an efficient undifferentiated prose

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Randall Jarrell was a poet, critic, and literary essayist. From 1937 to 1939 he taught at Kenyon College, where he met John Crowe Ransom and Robert Lowell.

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