Stanley Kunitz’s Life and Poetry
Stanley Kunitz though barely appraised by the literary critics of his time can be considered one of the most prominent American poets of the twentieth century. Perloff assumes that academic critics were little receptive to his poetry rarely mentioning him in famous anthologies or professional surveys of Rosenthal and Glauco Cambon (Perloff 93). Critiques blamed him for the lack of originality or distinctive personal style that would speak for his poems making them visible out of the variety of others. However, the time has proved that Kunitz fully deserves a place of a prominent poets among his generation that contained Roethke, Lowell, and Eberhart. Kunitz’s poetry is flexible and strong, his development as a poet took him rather a long time which is evident from the transformative motives of his poems, their tone, themes and stylistic peculiarities. At the same time, the controversy in his poetic development is to be observed. Even though he might have shifted from the third impersonal narrative models to the more intimate ones in his late poetry, the core feature of his masterpieces is that it might be referred to as a poetry of the soul with one or the other force predominant depending on his career stage.
The themes he dwelled upon are roughly intellectual and spiritual concerning the issues of change, transformation, vision, and time. It needs to be mentioned that all the topics Kunitz raised contributed to the key concept which is the jubilation of life as the ultimate value and beauty no matter how old the person is and which experience he has to go through. The following essay focuses on the analysis of Kunitz’s poetry and the influence of the personal and social factors on it supposing that Kunitz successfully utilized the three forces of poetry to make his poems be the celebration of life and living. Kunitz’s personal life has significantly influenced his professional career defining the model of behavior as well as the choice of topics for his poetry that reflect his picture of the world and life philosophy. Kunitz was a son of the immigrant family from Lithuania. His father committed suicide six months before Kunitz’s birth, a couple of years after which his mother got married again. However, his second father died six years after the marriage which made the poet go over the loss of the father again. Braham assumes that all of the Kunitz’s poetry is marked by the search for the lost father which can be read “through the images and lines of his poems” (Braham 65). It also contributed to Kunitz’s taking over the role of a mentor of the other young poets later.
Thus, he was sometimes called a poet’s poet (Perloff 93). High intellectual ability and the natural inclination to learning enabled Kunitz who has always been the successful student to enroll the Harvard University and have added the scents of the intellectualism in his poetry. It is evident already from the name of his …