Books: Poet of the Particular

FOR THE UNION DEAD by Robert Lowell. 71 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $3.95.

"The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows," Robert Frost once wrote in a poem; and another New Englander, Robert Lowell, has created a whole body of durable poetry on that notion.

Lowell is the poet par excellence of the particular. Too prosy for some tastes, he insists that poems must incorporate the prosiness of life; poetry must be as important as prose. He ignores the usual poetical devices that are calculated to woo a reader, makes no concession to...

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