Books: The Chameleon Poet

NOTEBOOK, 1967-68 by Robert Lowell. 161 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $6.

In one of her celebrated remarks, Gertrude Stein once wrote, "Remarks are not literature." However, a poet is a poet is a poet, and Robert Lowell is just the poet to refute this pedant. In his first major effort since Prometheus Bound, Lowell has packaged many remarkable remarks as sonnets, 274 of them, to be exact. "I lean heavily to the rational," Lowell explains in a prose note, "but am devoted to surrealism."

His rationality is formally stimulated by the rule...

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