Saturday, 18 of May of 2024

RIP Louis Simpson

March 27, 1923 – September 14, 2012


American Poetry


Whatever it is, it must have
A stomach that can digest
Rubber, coal, uranium, moons, poems.

Like the shark it contains a shoe.
It must swim for miles through the desert
Uttering cries that are almost human.


“Simpson has followed a path lined with signposts sunk so deep in our nation’s poetic terra firma that they’ve practically become part of the landscape. Those signposts declare that a poet born in or around the 1920’s should (1) begin his career writing witty, ironic formal poems bearing the stamp of Eliot and Auden; then (2) abandon that formalism for a more ‘natural’ free verse approach, while (3) dabbling in surrealism; until (4) finally settling on social, conversational poems in the manner of a man speaking to men.” While Simpson’s early books like The Arrivistes (1949) and A Dream of Governors (1959) show the influence of Auden, they also speak to his horrific experiences in World War II, where he served in the 101st Airborne Division and saw active duty in France, Belgium, and Germany. Simpson’s intense formal control, at odds with the visceral details of soldiering, also earned him comparisons toWilfred Owen. At the End of the Open Road (1963) won the Pulitzer Prize and marked a shift in Simpson’s poetry as well. In this and later volumes, like Searching for the Ox(1976) and The Best Hour of the Night (1983), Simpson’s simple diction and formally controlled verses reveal hidden layers of meaning. From