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Delmore Schwartz Biography

(1913–66), In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, Partisan Review, New Republic, Genesis I, Vaudeville for a Princess

poems selected poetry york

American poet, born in Brooklyn, New York, educated at Harvard and at New York University. Schwartz published his first book of poems, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, in 1938. He was poetry editor for the Partisan Review and the New Republic and taught writing at numerous colleges. A man of wide-ranging intellect, a brilliant teacher and conversationalist, he partook of a life of bohemian excess in Greenwich Village. His collections Genesis I (1943) and Vaudeville for a Princess (1950) were followed by Selected Poems: Summer Knowledge (1959). A victim of mental ill-health, he published little poetry after the success of Selected Poems, and died in isolation in a Times Square hotel. His Selected Essays appeared in 1970, followed by Last and Lost Poems (1979), and a selected edition of his Letters in 1984. His translations of Rimbaud's A Season in Hell appeared in 1939. Schwartz once wrote that the subject of poetry ‘is experience not truth’, yet his own early work is animated by an oppositional dialectic familiar to the philosophic mind, where the binaries of mind and body, appearance and reality, flesh and spirit, Heaven and Hell become the focus of his quest to relate his sense of the individual ‘I’ to all that lies beyond it. The power of his early poems had much to do with his use of traditional forms. In later years, his use of the newly fashionable long lines of open form was ultimately fatal to his reputation.

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