year, literally screaming “Geronimo!” asrnhe leaves Palo Alto in his dust. Cassityrnlands Winters’ “granite integrity” and hisrngenius for “response to the immediate.”rnBowers puts the lie to Winters-as-tyrantrnmyths, speaking of the egalitarian spiritrnthat ruled his classroom and stressing, inrna letter to me. Winters’ ability to exciternyounger poets to engage in a shared endeavorrnthat does not fit the usual stereotypernof poetic influence. Even Levine,rnwhose working-class affectations havernranged far from his mentor’s stance,rnadopts his voice for a typical aphorism:rn”Philip, we must never lie, / or we shallrnlose our souls.”rnWinters’ personal influence as a teacherrnhas remained strong, but his reputationrnas a crihc and poet has not weatheredrnthe academic storms of recent years.rnThe intellectual dominance of the NewrnCritics, with whom he was usually (andrnmore erroneously than not) connected,rnhas waned in times when deconstructionrnand raceclassgender bean-eounhng haverndominated academic approaches to poetry-;rnnevertheless, Winters’ self-chosen positionrnas an outsider makes him a stillprovocativernadvocate of poetry. Hisrnrejection of most aspects of modernism,rnhis distrust of the romantic mode, his insistencernon the “audible” sense of Englishrnmeters, and his championingrn(which to mc seems largely ill advised) ofrnobscure figures like Fulke Greville, JonesrnVcrv’, or Elizabeth Darv’ush set him apartrnas a fierce original. He had the foresightrnto appreciate Hart Crane’s doomed attemptsrnat creating an American poetr}’ ofrnepic scale, and he delighted in skeweringrnthe reputations of Poe, Whitman, andrnErost, to name only three. His curiousrnnotion of poetr}’ as a “moral evaluation”rnran counter to the poem-as-object biasesrnof the New Critics; on the other hand, hisrndefinition of “moral” embraced neitherrnthe shoddy dogmatism of 1930’s Marxistsrnnor the preachiness of the Victorians.rnPoetic morality, for Winters, meant thernestablishment of a balance between conceptualrnthought and the demands of thernemotions, a sort of golden mean of pocHcalrnconduct that stressed character overrnpersonalit)’ (a strange notion indeed inrnour self-obsessed era). As he once noted:rnThe basis of evil is emotion; Coodrnrests in the power of rational selectionrnin action, as a preliminary tornwhich the emotion in any situationrnmust be as far as possible eliminated,rnand, in so far as it cannot berneliminated, understood.rnIt should come as no surprise that one ofrnhis key works is titied In Defense of Reasonrnor that he unreservedly saw himself asrna classicist.rnWhat, then, of Winters’ own poetry?rnR.L. Earth’s edition of The Selected PoemsrnofYvor Winters, with a helpful introductionrnby Helen Pinkerton Trimpi, supersedesrnseveral earlier attempts torncollect his work (my own copy of the CollectedrnPoems of 1960 is a much slimmerrnvohnne than the present one) and arrangesrnthe poetr}’ chronologically. Oddlyrnenough. Winters began as a late-bloomingrnImagist, repeating some of thernPoundian experiments of the first decadernof the eentur}’. “The Precincts of Eebruary”rnsounds like vintage H.D.:rnJunipers,rnSteely shadows.rnFloating the jay.rnA man.rnHeavy and ironblack.rnAlone in the sun,rnThreading the grass. .. .rnWinters eventually came to regard thisrnbare-bones technique as a dead end andrnturned to the metrical style, rhymedrnmore often than not, that is characteristicrnof his mature work. In many ways, it isrnnot an easy poetry to like, with many dr}’rntakes on mythical subjects and manyrnmore poems bearing the mustiness of thernEnglish department lounge. Winters’rnpoetry is not devoid of sentiment, but it isrnremarkably free of the gestures toward anrnaudience that both humanize and occasionallyrncoarsen the work of his most successfulrncontemporary, Robert Frost. Setrnsomething like Frost’s blank-verse closetrndrama “Home Burial” beside Winters’rnepigrammatic “A Leave-Taking”:rnI, who never kissed your head.rnLay these ashes in their bed;rnThat which I could do have done.rnNow farewell, my newborn son.rnThe third line here strikes me as purernWinters; its power is built on understatementrnand a couple of small turns ofrnrhetoric, and, unlike most modernist poetry,rnthere is not an image in sight.rnIf Winters is not a modernist in manner,rnhe is paradoxically among the mostrnmodern of poets in his subject matter.rnYears before Auden and company werernexhorting poets to “get the gasworks in,”rnWinters was writing poems about airrnbases, military rifles, airport terminals,rnthe wrecks of dirigibles, and the landscapernof suburban California. “In Praisernof California Wines,” “John Sutter,” andrnthe memorable “Before Disaster” capturernin poetr}’ for the first time the multiplernessences of a region that, throughrnmovies and television, most Americansrnnow find at least as familiar as their ownrnhome turf The last of these, written inrn1932, captures one California innovationrndecades before it became ubiquitous: thernmodern freeway.rnEvening traffic homeward burns,rnSwift and eveir on the turns,rnDrifting weight in triple rows.rnFixed relation and repose.rnThis one edges out and by.rnInch by inch with steady eye.rnBut should error be increased,rnMass and moment are released;rnMatter loosens, flooding blind,rnL.evels drivers to its kind.rnWinters knew the future when he saw itrnand knew the futility of romantic resistancernto it; the poem concludes, “Treadingrnchange with savage heel, / We mustrnlive or die by steel.”rnIn the early 17th century, Ben Jonson’srninfluence on the younger poets who imbibedrnboth his tavern stories and his classicismrnwas such that Herrick, Suckling,rnCarew, and company proudly styledrnthemselves “the tribe of Ben.” Winters,rnwho used to gather his students in hisrnhome for beer and the Friday NightrnFights, exercised a comparable effect uponrnJ.V. Cunningham (1911-1985), arnsometime colleague at Stanford, and uponrnEdgar Bowers (who died as this essayrnwas being completed) and Turner Cassity,rnwho now reigns as the eminence grisernof hisliterar)Tine.rnThe Poems of ].V. Cunningham, scrupulouslyrnedited and annotated by TinrothyrnSteele, a respected poet and metrieist,rncollects the work of one of the century’srnfinest miniaturists, a Martial to coimterpointrnWinters’ Horace. Steele corrects arncouple of generally accepted mythsrnabout the relationship of the two poets:rnCunningham, who came to Stanford as arnstudent at Winters’ behest, never took arnclass from the older poet, and their relationship,rnwhile on the whole friendly, enduredrnmany strong differences of opinion.rnAt his best. Winters is a poet whornbegins with strong specifics; his better po-rnAPRIL 2000/25rnrnrn