Homage to Robert Frost

Joseph Brodsky, Author, Derek Walcott, With, Seamus Heaney, With Farrar Straus Giroux $18 (0p) ISBN 978-0-374-17246-6
While in life Frost (1874-1963) took on the persona of a gentlemen farmer, he emerges from these essays as a far darker and more complex figure. And certainly no poet could ask for better critics than these three Nobel laureates. The late Joseph Brodsky offers a masterful close reading of two of Frost's poems, the lyric ""Come In"" and the narrative ""Home Burial."" Seamus Heaney's piece, though slightly less focused, is filled with insights and reads like poetry itself. Derek Walcott's essay, the most broadly focused, argues that Frost's straightforward colloquial voice was as important an innovation for American verse as the more ostentatious experiments of Williams and Cummings. He sees in Frost the heir of both Whitman and Dickinson. Each of these essays was originally published in magazines--Brodsky in the New Yorker, Heaney in Salmagundi and Walcott in the New Republic--and this book would doubtlessly have been even stronger if it had been created by design rather than happenstance. But these pieces are criticism as an art form, and a superb invitation to explore the work of a great American poet. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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