Books: Damned Gifts

When Charlotte Lowell's husband left home, she turned to her son. "Oh, Bobby," she told him, "it's such a comfort to have a man in the house." The eleven-year-old sharply reminded her, "I am not a man; I am a boy."

So he was, and so he remained. He was not alone. Robert Lowell's closest friends and fellow poets, Randall Jarrell, John Berryman and Theodore Roethke, were also emotionally retarded. The poets, observes Jeffrey Meyers, "felt they should seek suffering rather than happiness . . . All four poets obsessively pursued their private myths, and persuaded each other and the public...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!