chapter  117
3 Pages

Thom Gunn, Review, 'yale Review', Autumn I960

There is some kind of idea behind this passage, but the writing is so tired that it has no chance to emerge. Almost everything possible is wrong with it: the style is recognizably Auden - too recognizably, for he is using his own mannerisms like an imitator; 'a lover's Yes' is a sentimental indulgence worthy of Cummings; the movement is dull, the meter being impossible to identify; and I suspect that the identation of alternate lines serves no purpose at all. The passage is typical of the serious verse in the new volume, though not so bad as 'There Will Be no Peace,' perhaps the worst of Auden's poems I have seen in book form. Besides the serious verse, there is a collection of semi-epigrammatic prose notes which amount to a confession of inadequacy and nothing much more, and a lot of comic verse which is pretty light-weight compared with his other work of this kind.