cover image Their Ancient Glitter Eyes CL

Their Ancient Glitter Eyes CL

Donald Hall. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $22.95 (348pp) ISBN 978-0-89919-979-5

``Curiosity endures, surviving criticism or philosophy,'' affirms poet and critic Hall ( Here at Eagle Pond ) as he introduces a distinguished gallery of poets--Frost, Thomas, Eliot, Moore, MacLeish, Winters, Pound--with verisimilitude and freshness enough to satisfy readers. An expansion and revision of Remembering Poets (1978), this records the younger Hall's involvement with the ``old ones'' even as it adds depth and grace to his designated genre of ``literary gossip.'' His respect for the writers does not preclude frankness or significant revelations: readers learn that the elderly Frost, behind his mask of benign farmer-poet and eventual reputation as a monstrous egotist, was startlingly vulnerable--burdened with sadness, driven by guilt. The most thorough portrait follows Hall's relations with Eliot, disclosing a personality rather than a ``monument''--an unusually humorous and surprisingly ``American'' poet. And his reminiscences of the lonely, disconcerted Pound may be the book's most insightful. Although Hall's voice in these recollections and interviews is quiet, even self-effacing, he writes as a trustworthy and sympathetic witness, one who reveres his subjects: ``Their presences have been emblems in my life, and I remember these poets as if I kept them carved in stone.'' (Aug.)