DELMORE SCHWARTZ: THE LIFE OF
AN AMERICAN POET by James Atlas
Farrar, Straus & Giroux;
418 pages; $15
When Saul Bellow wrote his roman a clef, Humboldt's Gift, even knowledgeable readers had trouble recalling the model for Von Humboldt Fleisher. The difficulty would not have occurred if Bellow's chief character had been based on Robert Lowell or John Berry man or Theodore Roethke. Yet, for these celebrated poets, Delmore Schwartz was once the front runner of their generation.
No young poet since has so dazzled his peers. When Schwartz's first book, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities,...