Babette Deutsch Biography
(1895–1982), Banners, Honey Out of the Rock, Fire for the Night, Epistle to Prometheus
American poet, born in New York, where she was educated at Barnard College, after which she was secretary to the radical economist Thorstein Veblen. From 1944 to 1971 she taught at Columbia University. Banners (1919), her first collection of verse, was followed by Honey Out of the Rock (1925), Fire for the Night (1930), and Epistle to Prometheus (1931), a long poem celebrating the Promethean spirit throughout human history. The emotional and intellectual energies which sustain her best work are held in balance by a discriminating free-verse technique and highly developed command of visual imagery. The social concerns in her verse are frequently allied to evocations of everyday life in New York. Later collections include One Part Love (1939), Take Them Stranger (1944), Coming of Age (1959), and Collected Poems (1969). Among Deutsch's novels are A Brittle Heaven (1926), a substantially autobiographical treatment of a woman who is a writer, wife, and mother; In Such a Night (1927), an experimental narrative about a woman giving birth at a dinner party; and Mask of Silenus (1933), based on the life of Socrates. Her critical writings on modern poetry include Potable Gold (1929) and Poetry in Our Time (1952). With her husband, Avraham Yarmolinsky, she translated much German and Russian verse, including works by Rilke, Pushkin, and Pasternak.