Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Robert Frost and Darwin | Metamorphosis

Visual metamorphosis
Above Fr. Schmidt, Table 2. Evolution of household articles, animals, etc. according to Darwin's doctrine. Hand-colored lithographic, c. 1870s. Courtesy the Wellcome Library. Creative Commons license CC by 4.0.


Louis Untermeyer, Bygones: The Recollections of Louis Untermeyer. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1965—

[As a young writer]…I was much given to a style that employed epigrammatic checks and balances, appositions, paradoxes, and puns. I remember dismissing a rather commonplace collection of Gaelic poetry as "A Child's Garden of Erse" and characterizing the author of an abortive American epic as "A Yankee Doodle Dante." I referred to a Dowson-Beardsley pastiche as being "less erotic than Pierrotic. I inquired, since much of the Restoration comedy of manners took place in elegant country houses, was it not a comedy of manors? [p. 44]…

[His friend] Robert Frost, the most penetrating as well as the most profound poet of our time, might be expected to have been an anti-punster. On the contrary, he made point after point by punning; one of the favorite games during our fifty-year friendship was hurling word-plays at each other. He insisted that the most American trait was a combination of patriotism and shrewdness; he called it "Americanniness." He made fun of Mussolini and his cultural pretentions as the poet's dictator, "the great Iamb." He wrote about the liberal lugubrious poetry of Conrad Aiken and spelled the name "Conrad Aching." Ezra Pound was, he said, a glittering confuser of showmansip and erudition, a "Greater Garbler." "T.S. Eliot and I have our similarities and our differences," he wrote to me. "We are both poets and we both like to play. That's the similarity. The difference is this: I like to play euchre; he likes to play Eucharist." [pp. 45-46]