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The White Cliffs (1940): It Brought to His Mind the Turgid Ebb and Flow of Human Misery

Alice Duer Miller, The White Cliffs (Coward-McCann, 1940)

photo credit: Barnes and Noble

And here we are as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and fight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

I finished this a few days ago, and have been trying to come up with something positive to open this review with ever since. I gave up about five minutes ago. Things get worse since I googled Coward-McCann and found out that by 1940, they were an imprint of Putnam. Which means that far from the vanity-published mess I thought this was, it’s actually a major-label release. It’s absolute doggerel:

“Strange to look back to the days
So long ago
When a friend was almost a foe,
When you hurried to find a phrase
For your easy light dispraise
Of a spirit you did not know…”
(–from “XVII”)

And we wonder why major publishers stopped publishing poetry? Because this came out on Putnam. And people, presumably, bought copies. (Someone must have, or I couldn’t have run across one in a used book sale.) And probably had the same reaction I did when I was bogged down in it, which boils down to “why am I still reading this again?”. *

For those who are unfamiliar with the subtitle and caption on this post.

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Poems (1952): Even Worse Verse | Popcorn for Breakfast

  2. Pingback: Worst I Read, 2013 Edition | Popcorn for Breakfast

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