Fall 1989 • Vol. XI No. 4 Book Reviews |

Keeping the Covenant

A Walk with Tom Jefferson by Philip Levine. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988. 64 pages. $16.95. A Walk with Tom Jefferson is an exceptional book by an exceptional poet. Moreover it signals Philip Levine's determination to continue in the direction taken in his previous book, Sweet Will, towards a more meditative, all-inclusive voice in a line which goes back to Wordsworth and Keats. Keats in particular has been a presence to reckon with in Levine, whether by direct quotation, allusion, or by the frequency with which Keats is mentioned in Levine's collected and uncollected interviews and by the fact that he edited a selection of the poet's work for Ecco Press several years ago. But this assertion of influence needs an explanation. It is as if Levine, like Berryman and Hopkins before him, had found in the letters of Keats a program for the writing of poetry which Keats, except in fragments, did not live long enough to write himself. It is because many of us would not have expec

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