When Yale awarded the annual Bollingen Prize* in poetry (and $1,000) to John Crowe Ransom, no one was more surprised than John Crowe Ransom. Said that self-effacing poet, teacher and critic:
There is nothing recent of mine for the committee to have considered."
The Bollingen committee knew all that. Tennessee-born John Ransom, professor of poetry at Ohio's Kenyon College and editor of the Kenyon Review, has published no verse since his Selected Poems in 1945. The award, said Conrad Aiken, committee chairman, was based on Ransom's "contribution to American poetry."
It is a contribution that few Americans know aboutwhether from lack of interest or...