Quotation of the Moment

Quotation of the Moment

Poet James Wright, in a letter to poet James Dickey, discussing and quoting poet Stanley Kunitz on August 12, 1958:

“Do you happen to know Stanley Kunitz’s poems? He hasn’t had a wide reputation, but I like him tremendously. I’m going to review his newly published Selected Poems for Sewanee. I really think you would like his poems, and I think I’ll type a couple of them for you on a separate sheet of paper, so that you can see what he’s like. For a long time, virtually unnoticed and yet enduring, he’s been writing poems of real agony and love in a kind of lost and transient underground of the American jungle of academies and businesses. I think that the appearance of his Selected Poems is inspiring. It shows that defeat, though imminent for all of us, is not inevitable. He wrote to me recently, since I know him slightly–and you might like his concluding words: “it would be sweet, I’ll grant, after all these years to pop up from underground. America, it’s true, either spoils you with success of withers you with neglect. What other morality has the artist but to endure? The only ones who survive, I think, beyond the equally destructive temptations of self-praise and self-pity, are those whose ultimate discontent is with themselves. The fiercest hearts are in love with a wild perfection.” Those words mean much to me. Please write. –Yours, Jim

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