Jay Tolson has caught the particularrnwatchfuhiess of Percy, his reserve, evenrnhis pride and accedia, and rendered arnconvincing portrait of an idiosyncratic,rnthoughtful, and sometimes indignantrngentleman. At the end, Percy’s is a noblernleave-taking, the capstone of a goodrnlife. This compelling biography of anrnintellectual conveys drama of thoughtrnand agony of composition while filling inrnthe impression of flesh and blood. Relaxed,rnpersuasive, nuanced, and balanced,rnTolson’s life of Percy is a movingrnand even morally challenging biographyrnof a moralist in an immoral world.rnWhat more can we ask of such a book?rn].0. Tate is a professor of English atrnDowling College on Long Island.rnVisible PoetsrnbyR.S. GwynnrnTheir Ancient Glittering Eyes:rnRemembering Poets and More Poetsrnby Donald HallrnNew York: Ticknor & Fields;rn348 pp., $22.95rnMany readers will fondly recall thernearlier incarnation of Their AncientrnGlittering Eyes (the title is takenrnfrom Yeats’s Lapis Lazuli), published inrn1978 as Remembering Poets. That bookrncontained Donald Hall’s reports of hisrnclose encounters with four giants ofrnmodernism—Robert Frost, DylanrnThomas, T. S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound.rnWhen Hall began revising for a newrnedition he decided, happily for us, tornadd his reminiscences of three morernpoets—Marianne Moore, ArchibaldrnMacLeish, and Yvor Winters—plus tworninterviews with Moore. The result isrndoubly valuable in that it returns arnsplendid collection of short memoirsrnto print and adds Hall’s recollectionsrnof three other key figures in the historyrnof modern poetry.rnHall has been fortunate in his careerrnin several ways. He decided on his vocationrnwhile still in high school, and afterrnhis Harvard years, during which hernwas editor of the Advocate, he went tornOxford, where he won the NewdigaternPrize and made the contacts that wouldrnaid him in coediting the two editions ofrnThe New Poets of England and America,rnone of the most influential collectionsrnof its type ever published. Later he returnedrnto Harvard for three years as arnjunior fellow, then spent a year studyingrnat Stanford before settling in atrnthe University of Michigan as poet-inresidcnee.rnUnlike most contemporaryrntenure-hugging poets. Hall left a successfulrnacademic career behind in thernmid 1970’s to live on a family farm inrnNew Hampshire, and that bold careerrnmove gave him the freedom to write onrna remarkably wide range of subjects,rnfrom poetics to baseball.rnThrough most of his life, Hall hasrnbeen blessed with the company of poetsrnof several generations. He attendedrnthe Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference atrn16 and encountered the formidablernRobert Frost there. At Harvard, his contemporariesrnincluded John Ashberry,rnAdrienne Rich, and Robert Bly, and herntook a writing class from MacLeish.rnWhile studying in England, he metrnT. S. Eliot, whom he had encounteredrnthrough correspondence as a result ofrnan undergraduate faux pas (the Advocaternhad reprinted Eliot’s juvenilia withoutrnpermission); went pub-crawling withrnDylan Thomas; and later traveled tornItaly to interview Ezra Pound for thernParis Review. Back in the States, hernstudied for a year with Yvor Winters andrnlater interviewed Marianne Moore twice.rnHis book is filled with fascinatingrnglimpses of many other poets: the youngrnJohn Hollander “sitting on both sides” ofrnEliot at a Harvard dinner; the anthologistrnOscar Williams receiving a chillyrngreeting from Eliot; Winters worryingrnwhether the British poet Thom Gunnrnwould be able to manage Californiarnhighways; Theodore Roethke callingrnHall in the midst of one of many celebratedrnepisodes of mental illness, offeringrnto do a reading with money that existedrnonly in his manic fantasies. Notrnsurprisingly. Hall manages to tell a goodrndeal of his own story as well; indeed, thernstages of his poetic rites of passage oftenrnprovide the necessary tensions in his relationshipsrnwith his mentors that makernthe prose come alive, as when he findsrnhimself reading a satirical poem onrn”preachy political poets” in the presencernof one of his obvious targets, MacLeish,rnwho during the performance stared “atrnthe floor with his mouth a straight line.rn’An interesting social document,’ hernsaid.”rnReaders too young to remember thernmembers of this remarkable generationrnwhen they were alive may find it difficultrnto believe that poets could have beenrnsuch visible cultural figures. But Frost,rnwho relished playing his role, what RandallrnJarrell once called “the Only GenuinernRobert Frost in Captivity,” was almostrnconstantly on the public stage forrnthe last 30 years of his life, ending hisrncareer with an appearance at a presidentialrninauguration and a visit withrnKhrushchev in the U. S. S. R. Eliot, as arnNobel laureate and author of The WasternLand, was a chief arbiter of literary tasternboth here and in his adopted England.rnPound and Thomas were best known forrntheir notoriety—Pound for his pro-Mussolinirnbroadcasts from Rome and postwarrnincarceration in a mental hospital;rnThomas for his outrageous, self-destructivernbehavior on American readingrntours that led to his premature death.rnMacLeish, who has recently been thernsubject of a full-length biography, combinedrna successful literary career withrnimportant posts in business and government.rnEven the eccentric Moore, thernleast likely of the group to court therncrowd, became something of a mediarncelebrity in the last decade of her life,rnunsuccessfully lending her talents tornFord Motor Company to name a newrnautomobile (it turned out to be the Edsel!)rnand appearing on the Today Showrnto discuss baseball with Joe Garagiola.rnOf the seven, only Winters was a fulltimernacademic who never appeared inrnthe public arena, but even he carried thernaura of secure reputation about him.rnHall’s account of their first meeting revealsrnthe man’s essence, which Hallrnterms “pugnacious and nuts”: “‘Yourncome from Harvard,’ said Winters . . . ,rn’where they think I’m lower than the carpet.’rnA moment later he added, ‘Do yournrealize that you will be ridiculed, thernrest of your life, for having studied a yearrnwith me?'” One of the most memorablernmoments in the book is when Hall,rnafraid of becoming yet another slavishrndisciple of the strong-willed Winters,rndecides to bail out of Stanford: “We attendedrna party at Winters’s house late inrnspring. In a crush of students and faculty.rnWinters asked a small favor: WouldrnI fill the ice bucket from the bag in thernkitchen? Asking the favor, he addressedrnme as ‘son.’ When I heard the monosyllable,rnI went weak in the knees.rnGeronimol”rnDespite the appearance of several full-rnAPRIL 1993/33rnrnrn