Books: Poetry and Guilt

PERSON, PLACE AND THING—Karl Jay Shapiro—Reynal & Hitchcock ($2).

BLOOD FOR A STRANGER—Randall Jarrell—Harcourt, Brace ($2).

Modernist poetry constitutes, in its entirety, a piecemeal bible of human guilt. In some of the bible's sections—T. S. Eliot's poems, for instance—human guilt appears as a world poison emanating from mankind's sins against God. Other modernist poets leave God, for all practical purposes, out of the picture. Human guilt, in their books, is simply the poisonous sum of people's transgressions against other people and against themselves. But whether the modernist poets speak as religionists or as non-religionists, they all seem to be trying to say that...

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