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310 Western American Literature renounce the past, to forgive it and turn away from it: to turn our backs on its symbols and influence as we turn our faces toward tomorrow.” If we are an uneasy mixture of nature and civilization, of appearance and reality, of metaphysical and social truth, then the future of the novel or of imaginative narration is bright, its source of dramatic tension is endless. If the pressure of historical reality in these two books curbs romantic ideology, other forms of historical reality encourage it. For so long as each generation, each individual, is free to assert “uniqueness,” then will follow some form of Dream—American or otherwise—with its attendant follies and victories. No doubt there are those who today eye the moon much as yesterday some regarded the American West—as a place of spiritual rebirth. If these innocents choose, as Fitzgerald wrote, to “beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” alas, what bitter wisdom to know before them that Coca-Cola, Committees, Cruelty, and other impediments of Time will further blotch that cratered face. M artin Bucco, Colorado State University Poems Southwest. Edited by A. Wilber Stevens. (Prescott, Arizona: Prescott College Press, 1968. 89 pages, $6.50.) To review a book of poems by southwestern poets without mentioning regionalism is a manifest impossibility, although, as the editor of this book suggests, nobody agrees as to what regionalism means. One might add that nobody knows what it means. And yet we feel that place must count for something: if it does not form our lives it must at least affect our senses and so our expression, especially if we are poets. And it does, it does, this Southwest, harsh, huge, open, and beautiful. Still, very few of these poems are about or were brought into being by that Southwest if by Southwest we intend only the landscape; most of these poems are of the landscape of man, of the mind and spirit. These are poems, not verbal pictures, not simple reactions to the magnifícense of the land. (In fact, a good percentage of the direct descriptions here are among the weakest parts of the book.) When the landscape is used well, it is used to make a human statement; consider Judson Crews’ “Climbing,” a quiet, marvelous marriage of form and content: Reviews 311 To the petroglyphs over shale and half-melted snow I am thinking that I cannot even read “buffalo” Vultures float high and quietly Their language only clear as my own The manner of Crew’s poem, the how it is done, is also an introduction to the manner of most of these poems. There is little that is strikingly new in form or content in this book, but then innovation is hardly the whole of art (make it new, indeed, but speak to me, not to your neurosis). One can generalize: the poems are written in what we can only call the international style, the surreal-imagistic-abstract irregular line (pace Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams). There are variants, for instance occasional sprung rhythms—or what appears to be sprung rhythms, since what we mean by the term depends so much upon the poet’s actual reading. Winfield Townley Scott’s “Folly to the World,” though, is almost regular in places, a regularity that is a virtue, not a fault: “Where she walked birds flew ahead of her/Lighted and flew again as if they were ribboned/To her fingers and so drew her through the woods/Toward a secret place only they could give her.” Or there is Harold Witt’s regular (and rhymed!—how unmodern and how good) “Camel­ lias” which is a pleasure to the ear as well as to the mind: “God of that garden, I said in bad weather/now it’s all over with—deep at the root/something keeps eating—gopher or weevil—/and I thought sadly, believing in evil,/the fire of the frost will wither the shoot.” And Witt’s “Ballet Fantastique ,” the description of (the creation of, really) an octopus, makes a very formal pattern work. If most of the poems, however, are “international...


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pp. 310-312
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