Books: The Need to Know

IMPERATIVES (52 pp.)—Anthony Ostroff —Harcourt, Brace & World ($3.95).

Poetry's Rational Man was long ago shipped off to Understanding's rest home, where for half a century he has quietly reminisced about the days when things were as they seemed to be. Poets since then, obsessed by various psychiatric worries and the sound words make when dropped at random, have largely ignored poetry's old didactic chore: refining and explaining experience. The occasional poet who addresses man's need to know the lessons poetry alone can teach (Robert Lowell, for example) has seemed remarkably clear—perhaps even brave....

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