Thursday, December 15, 2011

On being criticized for decisions made in editing a poetry anthology

"My anthology continues to sell, & the critics get more & more angry. When I excluded Wilfred Owen, whom I consider unworthy of the poets' corner of a country newspaper, I did not know I was excluding a revered sandwich-board Man of the revolution & that some body has put his worst & most famous poem in a glass-case in the British Museum - however if I had known it I would have excluded him just the same. He is all blood, dirt & sucked sugar stick (look at the selection in Faber's Anthology-- he calls poets 'bards,' a girl a 'maid,' & talks about 'Titanic wars'). There is every excuse for him but none for those who like him. . . ."

-- W.B. Yeats, from a letter of December 26, 1936 to Dorothy Wellesley


Jordan said...

I read anthologies only to see who's slighted my favorites this time.

Errata: Reads "I read" and "my," should read "Everyone reads" and "his or her"

מבול said...

This is classic. You can’t write good prose and fill it up with the type of lower middle class detritus that Yeats cites. But a good poem is anything a good poet wants it to be, which is why Frost’s Stopping by the Woods, nothing but undergraduate rhymes and doggerel, is a good poem.

Michael Gushue said...

"...a revered sandwich-board Man of the revolution..." is brilliant. I will be stealing it for my own nefarious purposes.