American Writers, Supplement 2 by Walton Litz

By Walton Litz

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In a chapter entitled "Enter the Middle Class," he deprecates the black literary tradition as not being informed with the same "legitimacy of emotional concern" one finds in coon shouts, the blues of Bessie Smith, or bebop. With his own middle-class origins and recent literary allegiances no doubt weighing heavily, he sees the main function of literature as that of having eased the black writer into the bourgeois aspects of Western culture. " Although Blues People does not directly investigate the inadequacies of literary form, it validates in historical and aesthetic terms Jones's rejection of himself as a traditional poet.

And onward until the last poet named, Goethe, whose poem "Gegenwart" provided Auden with the meter for his. Auden spent only one winter in Oxford. He found it lonely and provincial after his years in New York. Then, in 1973, he spent his usual summer with Kallman in Austria. When the time came to return to Oxford, he closed up his house and left for a weekend in Vienna before W. H. AUDEN I 27 his flight. He died there in his sleep in the early hours of September 29, 1973. He was buried in the village cemetery of Kirchstetten.

In "A Guerilla Handbook," egocentric poets "Convinced / of the lyric" are reflexively trapped within the form, "knowing no way out / except description " In "Political Poem," near the end of the collection, Jones sees the poem as "undone" by its own irrelevance. Enshrouded in the lyric, he is left with only a "polite truth" and his illfated title role: "... " If The Dead Lecturer winds down in a series of politicized rejections of lyric individualism, there are several poems, conspicuous for their intensity, that move well beyond isolated selfaccusations, toward a determined identification with the collective feelings of Afro-America.

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