The late Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982) is surely one of the most readable of this century's great American poets.ÂHe is also one of the most sophisticated. Like William Carlos Williams, he honed his writing to a controlled and direct language. His intellectual complexity matches Wallace Stevens, his polymath erudition Ezra Pound. He is first among our nature poets. His love poems and erotic lyrics are unsurpassed. Rexroth'sÂ Selected PoemsÂ brings together in a single volume a representative sampling of sixty years' work. Here are substantial passages from his longer poems:Â The Homestead Called Damascus(1920-1925), begun while the poet was in his teens; the cubistÂ Prolegomenon to a TheodicyÂ (1925-1927); the philosophical masterpieceÂ The Phoenix and the TortoiseÂ (1940-1944) andÂ The Dragon and the UnicornÂ (1944-1950); and the meditativeÂ The Heart's Garden, The Garden's HeartÂ (1967). The shorter poems were originally gathered inÂ In What HourÂ (1940),Â The Art of Wordly WisdomÂ (1949),The Signature of All ThingsÂ (1950),Â In Defense of the EarthÂ (1956),Â Natural Numbers(1964),Â New PoemsÂ (1974), andÂ The Morning StarÂ (1979).
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