Contemplative Poetry of Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, and Yvor Winters

Author: Hoffpauir, Richard
This study challenges the entrenched view that 20th century American poetry is essentially Emersonian. It examines the current critical debates, outlines assumptions about knowledge, morality, and poetry that lay behind the pursuits of these three poets, defines and lists the chief characteristics of ‘contemplative poetry,’ and then examines poems in depth.


". . . Hoffpauir's study of the poetry of Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, and Yvor Winters is timely, acute, provocative and helpful. . . . .Hoffpauir's readings of the three poets delineate with rigorously sharp focus their varying participation in what he clearly defines as an anti-Emersonian tradition in American poetry. . . . In addition to the major contribution of this book, a reader gets the benefit of the exquisitely refined readings of an outstanding explicator. His years of teaching poetry gave Hoffpauir the skill of making clear especially the support of meaning by style. . . . The benefits of a sensitive reader are over and above, yet simultaneously supporting, the value of the larger argument which proves his thesis of a tradition of contemplative poetry in American literature. This is a book to be read and taught and discussed by those who take poetry, any poetry, seriously." - James A. G. Marino

"For Hoffpauir, contemplative poetry is poetry that reveals a poets mental processes, placing emphasis on thinking over reason. Further, it has an underlying current of ethical and moral concerns&. Throughout the book Hoffpauir examines style as a concomitant of a poet's thinking. No comparable study exists.Upper-division undergraduates and graduate students interested in the subject will find Hoffpauir informative and at times provocative." - CHOICE

It is a searching exploration of an under-appreciated and not widely understood tradition of American poetry, and it offers illuminating commentary on a large number of individual poems by Robinson, Frost, and Winters.  John Baxter

Hoffpauirs argument is carefully reasoned and clearly expressed, balancing a vast range of historical, critical and personal thought with first-rate close readings of relevant examples from the poetry and letters of Robinson, Frost and Winters.  John R. Woznicki

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface by Helen Pinkerton Trimpi
1. “But This We Know, If We Know Anything”: The Conditional Contemplation of Edwin Arlington Robinson
2. “I Am Not Here to Urge Anything”: The Foreshortened Contemplation of Robert Frost
3. “With the Firm Mind for Gain”: The Protective Contemplation of Yvor Winter
Notes, Bibliography; Index