Books: Feathers in the Canyon

THE STRUGGLE OF THE MODERN by Stephen Spender. 266 pages. University of California. $5.

In the words of Wordsworth, Milton had a "voice whose sound was like the sea." So, in their own way, did Wordsworth or Pope or Walt Whitman. But today the roar of the sea has subsided to a whisper; poets are so soft-spoken that they are often not noticed. Stephen Spender, a poet who is a bit becalmed himself, offers some provocative reasons for the sea change in modern poetry.

Poetry fell on difficult days at the end of the last century, writes Spender. It grew obscure as the...

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